Why do we feel pain?

Open Yoga journal – Archive of articles


Have you ever felt pain, either physical or mental? Surely, each of us at least once in a lifetime had a feeling of physical or emotional discomfort of various degrees of severity. Have you ever wondered what exactly pain is? Where does it come from and is it possible to avoid it? We shall try to answer these questions from the yoga point of view.

Pain – is a physical or mental suffering, agony, distress, opposite to pleasure, an unpleasant feeling. It is also a reaction to this feeling, which is defined by certain changes, as well as by the act of willing to eliminate the painful factor. Pain is the condition, which any human being is trying to avoid by attaining the state of comfort.  

Is it worth avoiding pain or can it be of any use to us?

“Suffering and pain is a challenge, a protective mechanism of life, directing our attention to the danger” Alexander Herzen

On the one hand we associate pain with something negative, hurtful, unpleasant. On the other hand it stimulates us, forcing us to move forward, to develop, and to find the ways to get rid of pain and change. So what is the origin of pain?

From the perspective of yoga, there is no such thing as the energy of pain.

Yoga teaches us that we have a Higher Self – it is something words cannot describe, it is almighty, omniscient, and free. This Higher Self manifests itself in this world in some particular form, such as a physical body with certain character features, thoughts and emotions.  

The natural condition of the Higher Self is joy, happiness, pleasure and bliss.

However, we do not have the full knowledge of who we really are, we do not feel our natural state, we cannot control our condition or steer our wishes and desires in the right direction. As a result, we feel pain.

Pain is a pleasure, which we divide into halves and create resistance between them.

How does it work? The mechanism of algogenesia is “divide and rule”.

The typical example is when a person works hard and has no rest for a long time, and it is necessary to work more for some extra money. The body is tired and cannot cope with an extra workload. Therefore, the person’s wish to keep on working and the body’s wish to have a rest contradict each other and it hurts.

The more contradictory tendencies, wishes, endeavors a person has in the course of a lifetime, the more pain he or she feels, as these tendencies increasingly start to conflict with each other. Eventually, the individual fails to take in these numerous discrepancies, does not see the escape from this situation and the physical body dies.  

Yoga lets us realize and unravel all contradictory tendencies.   

It is not so easy to notice how we “make” ourselves suffer. By practicing different kinds of yoga a person can align all his or her bodies and get rid of all sufferings.   

  • Kriya yoga helps to “release” our actions and emotions, put all our bodies under control, redirect our flow of life, our thoughts and wishes in such a way, that they don’t conflict with each other.
  • By meditation we can find and realize the reason why our wishes conflict with each other, and when we see the cause we can remove it.  
  • Karma yoga can help to change our attitude to our work and life, enjoy the process of work, irrespective of the outcome. This will also help us to get rid of unnecessary worries.
  • Yoga Triad harmonizes the relationship between male and female, eliminating contradictory tendencies and smoothing over the differences.
  • We can use even the moment of our death to get rid of sufferings and to reach our natural state. Special kinds of yoga of «Overcoming death” can help us to do this.

Every person can choose those kinds of yoga, which give a maximum effect, as the case may be and according to given conditions.

To fight pain and distress yoga recommends that we should follow the main principles:

– The First principle of yoga – “We should make every effort to cause no harm to any living being unless it is absolutely necessary; if we cannot avoid harm, we should follow our duty”.

–  The Second principle of yoga – “We shouldn’t waste our energy or direct our consciousness to things that don’t lead us to the goals we have set in our work, studying, leisure or yoga. Before we get involved in any activity, we should ask ourselves whether it leads us to our goals – if not, then we should give it up ruthlessly”.

The Third principle of yoga – «I will help all living beings to get rid of suffering if they wish so and if I can help them. At the same time I refuse suffering myself. Nobody and nothing has the right to impose suffering on me».

Searching into a deep sense of these principles, we can gradually organize the world around us with no room for misery and pain.

There is a solution in any situation, even the most complex. Our commitment to yoga principles and self-improvement can help to unravel all conflicts and to get rid of any sufferings. By practicing yoga we will definitely reach our natural state of happiness, joy and bliss.

Practice yoga and be happy!

Author: M.Mamontova

Picture by: V. Chaikovskaya

Editors: Kerigona, Мirra

Translator: T. Sugrue, A. Openyoga

Project curator: Kerigona