Discomfort Is A Big Distraction


Discomfort is a big distraction, and, today, it is demanding my attention.

Sting, ping, jab, throb. Sting, ping, jab, throb!

I swear that my foot is eight times larger than usual. It’s an unfashionable shade of blotchy-red and it is hot to touch. So please, don’t touch it!


The minute I opened my sweet little eyes this morning, I instantly felt my ‘pain alarm’, and sadly… it does not have a snooze button.

Usually, alarms are a good and necessary part of life. They give us peace of mind, or, at least do so, until they are activated.

Just last week, our neighbour, who we, affectionately, call Mr. Safety, was kind enough to install new smoke detectors in our home.

Although I appreciated his effort, I did not feel any different when I looked up to see the glow of the new tiny green light.

However, I’m wise enough to know that feeling nothing is a good thing.

The same is true when I squeeze our vehicle FOB button to lock the doors on the car. I like to hear the beep-beep sound.

It indicates that the doors are locked – but once again, I feel nothing.


Sting, ping, jab, throb. Sting, ping, jab, throb!

Now, if our fire or car alarm did suddenly squeal and started to make that awful high pitched noise – the one that hurts your ears, you can bet that I would feel something pretty darn quick. Fear, panic, anger, and who knows what would show up once my adrenaline kicked in.

The purpose of an alarm is to give you a window of opportunity to protect yourself from disaster and serious harm, or dare I say, death.

Piece of mind, which comes from our intellect, does not have a distinguishable physical feeling. Relief, on the other hand, is visceral. It’s raw and emotional and comes with a side order of gratitude.


Unfortunately, my pain alarm is still activated (grrr) and, sadly, it caused me to cancel an interview I had planned for today.

The level of discomfort was just too distracting, but rather than being all ‘nasty-pants-annoyed’, I decided to lean into the pain and write this post.

Get curious and lean into pain”, that is part of the wisdom that Buddhists, Pema Chodron teaches.

I’ve discovered that over my many years of living with pain, there is much to learn from each encounter.

I am aware that pain comes from the same source as pleasure, just as happiness comes from the same source as despair.

The thoughts we conjure up around the sensation create our experience – in the moment.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not smiling and telling myself, ‘oh, this foot feels grand’ – absolutely not.

The ‘sting, ping, jab, throb’ really hurts, and, like anyone else, my first impulse is to move away from the pain – far, far away.

But at times, for me and many others, there is no getting away from the pain so the choice then is to either suffer more or lean in.

Leaning Into Pain

How do you lean into the pain and what does that even mean?

These are the questions I am often asked.

‘Leaning in’ takes mindful attention. It allows me to notice the slightest shift in tension, sensation, temperature and more. I think of it as deep inner listening.

Leaning in tells me which tiny movement helps, which pillow brings greater comfort, which sound eases my nerves, which cream cools my skin.

Leaning in takes patience. One of the more difficult aspects of living with pain is being as kind to yourself as you would be to another.

Sting, ping, jab, throb. Sting, ping, jab, throb!

On that note, I want to say thank you. Writing this post has reminded me to heed my own wisdom.

So let us all listen deeply, and, with an open heart – no matter what discomfort may befall you.

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