I’ve been thinking about the purpose of pain…physical pain. Yes, we have emotional pain and psychic pain, but they seem to be more lingering and chronic, while physical pain is acute.
It gets your attention.
Most of my pain, historically, has been in my abdomen and head. I’ve suffered from migraines since I was thirteen. As a teen I had really painful menstrual cramps, and later in life, gallstones stuck in my bile ducts (I don’t wish this on anybody).
I’m sure you have a similar list of extremely painful maladies. Maybe your pain turns up in a different body part. It doesn’t matter. Pain is pain.
Pain shouldn’t be a competitive sport. “My pain is worse than your pain,” is a fallacy. It’s a way of dissing the pain of another. It shows an ignorance of the fact that an individual’s pain threshold is unique to him or her.
Watching Netflix or eating a chocolate bar doesn’t soothe it. It’s like the universe whacking you with a 2-by-4. It’s like a voice from within saying, “Sorry to do this to you, but you ignored the previous three warnings I gave you.”
In some instances, I believe this is true. I know eating dark chocolate will give me a migraine. I know how many glasses of wine I can consume without a hangover. Sometimes, it is the two- by -four speaking when I make dubious choices.
Let’s Ask the Universe
On the other hand, does pain necessarily have to be a punitive retribution from the universe? Maybe there’s a higher purpose.
I can’t say I have the answer as to what that higher purpose might be. But I believe one exists. God is always intentional, and that intention is positive…at least in my book. My lack of answers doesn’t negate it.
But, here’s my take. I think, other than being a warning that something needs attention, I think it’s a call for attention.
There’s nothing like pain to bring you into the present moment. That’s the purpose of meditation, actually, but my mind tends to wander a lot more while meditating than it does during a migraine. When I have a migraine, I’m focused on the migraine.
So, maybe one of the purposes of pain could be to bring us into the present. If this seems too Machiavellian, and you have another theory, please share.