Where the Pain Is

Ida Rolf, the founder of a form of bodywork known as ‘Rolfing’, had a saying that I love for its succinctness (and its hint at her Bronx upbringing): ‘Where the pain is, it ain’t’. What Rolf meant was that if you have pain in a particular part of the body, focusing on treating that area won’t get to the root of the problem. Chronic pain is often compensatory for misalignment elsewhere. For example, an over-pronated foot (as happens with a fallen arch) will cause adjustments in the knees, hips, and spine, all the way up to the shoulders and neck. While your neck might be the squeaky wheel calling for attention, neck work alone won’t prevent the pain returning because its source hasn’t been addressed. Likewise, A Course in Miracles tells us that if we listen to the ego about where our inner distress is coming from, we’ll never get to its source:

‘The ego seeks to “resolve” its problems, not at their source, but where they were not made. And thus it seeks to guarantee there will be no solution. The Holy Spirit wants only to make His resolutions complete and perfect, and so He seeks and finds the source of problems where it is, and there undoes it’ (T-17.III.6:1-3).

The ego tells us that our problems and their solutions, lie in the world. If only some aspect of the world would change, we could be happy. This, of course, means that relief is predicated on things that aren’t fully within our control, and so respite is only ever a possibility, and one located in the future. In contrast, the Course tells us that a lack of inner peace stems from a willingness to be separate from the reassuring presence of the Holy Spirit within our mind — a willingness reflected in feelings of being at odds with others, vulnerable to their actions, opinions, and to a host of happenings within the world: 

‘When your mood tells you that you have chosen wrongly, and this is so whenever you are not joyous, then know this need not be. In every case you have thought wrongly about some brother God created, and are perceiving images your ego makes in a darkened glass. Think honestly what you have thought that God would not have thought, and what you have not thought that God would have you think. Search sincerely for what you have done and left undone accordingly, and then change your mind to think with God’s’ (T-4.IV.2:2-5).

Seeing the source of a problem means bringing our attention back to our mind and its choice for separation over unity, competing interests over shared interests, and maintaining the dark lessons of the past instead of abiding in the living present. The Holy Spirit helps us retrace our steps back to the point where we made this choice — where we chose to indulge in judgements about ourselves and others — and where we can choose to feel freer of the world, ‘above the battleground’ instead of in it.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov, via Pexels

Books by Stephanie Panayi

The Farthest Reaches of Inner Space

Alchemists of Suburbia

Above the Battleground: The Courageous Path to Emotional Autonomy and Inner Peace

Reflections on ‘A Course in Miracles’: Volume One

Reflections on ‘A Course in Miracles’: Volume Two

Reflections on ‘A Course in Miracles’: Volume Three

Reflections on ‘A Course in Miracles’: Volumes One to Three

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