Tuesday, November 2, 2010

365 Lessons-Lesson 303: No Pain, No Gain

My husband Yoon has adopted the English expression "no pain, no gain." His other favorites are "location, location, location," "bundle of joy" and "awesome." He uses words and expressions until he finds new ones. Sometimes, in his yoga class, he says "no pain, no gain." That might sound very against the way of yoga. After all, in yoga you are suppose to tune into your own body and go at your own pace. It's meant to be a journey from within. But when he says these words, I don't think he means for his students to push their limits or suffer a charley horse in class. I think he means something entirely different.

When he says these words I feel love in his voice. I don't feel like he's a drill sergeant up there shouting out commands. When he says these words, it's out of compassion for what each student might individually be experiencing. So much gets released during a yoga session with Yoon. There's a lot of contraction and expansion happening in the class. As we work different groups of muscles, things come out. Every experience we have ever had in life is imprinted on the body. The mind and body are so connected. In meditation, I have often felt a pain somewhere in my body along with a memory. As soon as I witnessed the unpleasant sensation in my body instead of reacting to it, the pain passed away along with the memory. The body says a lot about a person's state. You can't hide how you are feeling, it's written all over you.

So, "no pain, no gain" in Yoon's class means that when we go in and work from within, sometimes we might feel pain or memories. If we stay in our body and work from within, being gentle and kind to ourselves, that which we feel as pain will come to pass, but it might not be a pleasant experience as it is happening.

I'm working on a difficult chapter in my memoir. For those of you who don't know, I have a book contract. My book is called Lessons from the Monk I Married and it will be published by Seal Press/Perseus Books in March 2012. By the first week of December, I have to turn in half the book to my editor in Berkeley, California. It's very different from this blog even though it has the same title. It's about my 14-year journey with my husband, a former Korean Buddhist monk.

The chapter I'm working on was a very painful period in my life. I have found, while writing this book, that my body remembers the experience and as I'm writing it, I go back to that time. Chapter Five has been so painful and slow for me because that's how it was in real life. I read the chapter to my husband and asked him what he thought. He said, "Oh...it's intense. I seriously feel pain."

So I wonder why I am choosing to re-live this experience and my experiences in this memoir. Why am I going through the pain again? It was so hard to go through the first time. I barely made it through and now I'm re-living it again. Why?

Well, it's in the book. I guess you'll have to buy it to get the scoop. No, in all honesty I'm writing it to share my experience. I gained so much through this journey I've been on, but I had to go through some seriously difficult times. I had to follow my heart even though I felt like I might die.

It was a process. Life is a process. We all experience and go through things. What I have found is that its true. No pain, no gain. If you really want to experience life to its fullest, you can't remain stagnant and hide from your fears. Hiding or running from what scares you or what is painful only increases the fear or pain. You have to face life head on. Once you do you will realize that everything comes to pass. That it all changes. Instead of feeling restrictive or holding pain in your body out of fear, when you face life and accept the reality of life as it is, you will find that life becomes more fluid, that you don't feel as much pain, that you are stronger than you think. By facing your life, you become confident. It takes practice, but step by step, it will become so natural. Soon you realize that what you feared or what was painful for you was mostly created by you. By facing yourself and loving yourself as you are through both your fear and your pain, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Also posted on my blog Lessons from the Monk I Married where I have been writing 365 Lessons for 2010.