I first heard this poem while listening to a podcast by psychologist and mindfulness teacher Tara Brach (who is awesome). The poem describes the many ways in which we attempt to avoid all sorts of physical and emotional pain. It also highlights how recognizing pain and accepting it can increase self-knowledge and improve self-care.
I am the pain in your head, the knot in your stomach, the unspoken grief in your smile.
I am your high blood sugar, your elevated blood pressure, your fear of challenge, your lack of trust.
I am your hot flashes, your cold hands and feet, your agitation and your fatigue.
I am your shortness of breath, your fragile low back, the cramp in your neck, the despair in your sigh.
I am the pressure on your heart, the pain down your arm, your bloated abdomen, your constant hunger.
I am where you hurt, the fear that persists, your sadness of dreams unfulfilled.
I am your symptoms, the causes of your concern, the signs of imbalance, your condition of dis-ease.
You tend to disown me, suppress me, ignore me, inflate me, coddle me, condemn me.
I am not coming forth for myself as I am not separate from all that is you.
I come to garner your attention, to enjoin your embrace so I can reveal my secrets.
I have only your best interests at heart as I seek health and wholeness by simply announcing myself.
You usually want me to go away immediately, to disappear, to sleek back into obscurity.
You mostly are irritated or frightened and many times shocked by my arrival.
From this stance you medicate in order to eradicate me.
Ignoring me, not exploring me, is your preferred response.
More times than not I am only the most recent notes of a long symphony, the most evident branches of roots that have been challenged for seasons.
So I implore you, I am a messenger with good news, as disturbing as I can be at times.
I am wanting to guide you back to those tender places in yourself,
the place where you can hold yourself with compassion and honesty.
If you look beyond my appearance you may find that I am a voice from your soul.
Calling to you from places deep within that seek your conscious alignment.
I may ask you to alter your diet, get more sleep, exercise regularly, breathe more consciously.
I might encourage you to see a vaster reality and worry less about the day to day fluctuations of life.
I may ask you to explore the bonds and the wounds of your relationships.
I may remind you to be more generous and expansive or to attend to protecting your heart from insult.
I might have you laugh more, spend more time in nature, eat when you are hungry and less when pained or bored, spend time every day, if only for a few minutes, being still.
Wherever I lead you, my hope is that you will realize that success will not be measured by my eradication, but by the shift in the internal landscape from which I emerge.
I am your friend, not your enemy. I have no desire to bring pain and suffering into your life.
I am simply tugging at your sleeve, too long immune to gentle nudges.
I desire for you to allow me to speak to you in a way that enlivens your higher instincts for self-care.
My charge is to energize you to listen to me with the sensitive ear and heart
of a mother attending to her precious baby.
You are a being so vast, so complex, with amazing capacities for self-regulation and healing.
Let me be one of the harbingers that lead you to the mysterious core of your being
where insight and wisdom are naturally available when called upon with a sincere heart.