Clean pain, dirty pain

It’s almost March of 2022! You’ve made it this far! Woooo!!

For some odd reason, the term, “army crawl,” popped into my head this morning. Odder still, it felt like the perfect way to describe how moving through the past two years has been like: crawling on all fours, with great exertion and stealth, trying to avoid an enemy attack (e.g. a virus, eep!).

I’m looking forward to the warmth of spring, but before it arrives, I think it’s worth pausing to reflect on what has passed. We’ve all been through a lot.

In his book, My Grandmother’s Hands, Resmaa Manakem explains how emotional pain can be “clean” or “dirty.” When we avoid or silence our suffering, it becomes dirty pain. This unwillingness to address what we’re going through creates more pain – and we repeat the harmful patterns of the past.

In contrast, when we turn towards our suffering in the moment, it can be clean pain. We recognize it, move through it, and grow from it. We can reduce future harm. It doesn’t fester into dirty pain.

Clean pain is still pain, so it is bound to be uncomfortable at times. Thus it is important to have a structure in which to do this kind of work. A yoga practice can certainly be that, but there are many ways – may we all find what works best for us.

Take good care,