We all have that one friend who’ll give it to you straight, every single time. Whether you’re wondering if your new haircut is a good look, or trying to figure out if you made a mistake in a situation, you know they’ll tell you the truth … and that even if you don’t want to hear it right away, you’ll be glad you did in the end.

The thing is, your body has something like that built into it too. It’s a mechanism we all love to hate, even though it’s only trying to help. We suppress it the second it speaks, and we force it to get louder and louder and louder until we can’t help but listen.

It is, of course, pain.

I get a lot of quizzical looks or dismissive laughs when I say pain is your teacher, or  pain should become your BFF. But it truly is — because, just like that BFF who’ll tell you the truth no matter what, pain ultimately has your best interests at heart. We just tend to misunderstand what it’s saying.

Pain is always a message.

Whether it’s big or little, chronic or isolated, pain is trying to get you to pay attention to something about your health. (Remember, your health includes your body, mind, emotions, energy, environment, and so much more.) We’re so divorced from our bodies that we can have trouble recognizing pain for what it is — sometimes we don’t have the vocabulary to describe the sensation, so we could say it’s stress, or soreness, or it just feels “off”. Numbness is also a message of pain, often one that you’ve ignored for a long time.

Either way, it’s a message that your qi, your vital force, in essence, is stuck. That’s what causes the pain. When your qi (and all the other elements of your body) are free to move as they need to, then the pain and symptoms abide.

So, the next time you’re in pain, say thanks.

I know it sounds incredibly counterintuitive — but it really couldn’t be a clearer message that something needs to change. And, a lot of times, if you listen to the pain, you can even get some clues as to what that something is. It’s certainly not as easy as popping a pill. But true healing takes change, and takes effort. Are you up for the responsibility?

I would love to help support you in taking responsibility for your health. If you’re in the DMV area, book an appointment or drop in for a qigong class. If you’re further away, we’ve got options for that too. Click here to learn more.