The Mind on Pain

Yesterday, I sat down at a coffee shop and jotted down ideas, notes and diagrams for two hours. It was the most productive thinking sessions I’d had in three weeks.

On the surface, that doesn’t mean much. Every three weeks is bound to have its own most productive session — that’s just the nature of classifying things by time.

What means more in this particular context is that this was my only real thinking session of the last three weeks.


Because for the last three or four weeks, I’ve been in near constant pain. My back, I believe, has a slipped disc and has decided to pinch down on my sciatic nerve whenever I stand up straight or lean back or sit uncomfortably or sometimes it might do it just for the hell of it. Not fun. Near constant pain.

After the thinking session yesterday I remarked to a friend, “I feel like I just got my mind back” and that was true. It was as if my brain emerged from some thick opaque clouding. Clearness, it was clearness as I just sat there.

The mind on pain, in pain, with pain,whatever you want to say, is barely a mind at all. It is consumed by the idea that the body is in pain and looking for ways to alleviate that.

As my friend and I chatted it out — it became apparent just how distracted the mind can be in pain. Conversations go on, and in the middle, as if on beats of the heart, you come back to this feeling. Pain, conversation, pain, thinking, pain, response, pain, listen. It comes back and forth from pain, as its centerpoint, as its existence point.

And it’s debilitating. To progress. To creative. To daily life, really.

My lesson when I heal is to not take my spine, my right leg or my clear mind for granted. When in pain it’s almost impossible to remember what it was like to not be in pain. I’d like to know that again (and soon) but hopefully this will help me remember what it was to have a mind on pain. As if it were a drug, crowded the conscious with no sign of leaving.

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