Anytime we’re greeted with an experience of pain, we have a choice. As with any other experience at any moment of our lives, the choice is Love or fear.
About 10 years ago when I first saw the popular slogan, “fuck cancer”, something inside of me cringed. It wasn’t a response to the so-called profane word; they have their place. It was discord. A song inside my heart felt dissonance.
Years later, it became clear to me why I’d found that statement so distasteful. Despite its intent as a slogan for cancer prevention and early detection, to me the words just didn’t feel right. They felt divisive, upsetting, based in anger and resistance. It’s physics: What we resist persists. Therefore, the choice to ‘fight’ cancer and make it an enemy actually enrages an already ferociously upset messenger of pain surfaced by the human body.
Demonizing our pain empowers it.
Pain is an aspect of fear. It invites us to blend with it through Love, owning our own essential power and soothing the pain, inviting it to calm down and transmute or even evaporate, instead of becoming further enraged.
The human body is a masterpiece that is capable of only impeccable communication. It does not lie. Cancer is a message, an extremely loud — and usually very scary — scream, delivered by the body when its inhabitant, the soul in the body, needs the scream to become very loud.
Though I’ve never experienced cancer in my own body so I cannot speak personally about its impact, I am not immune to excruciating pain and can passionately speak about how to greet it gracefully, giving it the medicine of Love. When I experienced 92 days with severe sciatica just two months after brain surgery in early 2021, it was because my body apparently needed to deliver another loud message for me to truly decide to be her best friend. For decades I had been on and off with this commitment; it was now time to fully de-cide. Decide — what does that mean? To kill off one option, choosing another. For me it meant killing off the choice to not be my body’s best friend. I was being invited to completely commit. Pain has a way of begging us to do that.
Whether you are going through physical, emotional or spiritual pain, you can greet it as an enemy or you can greet it as a friend.
As someone who is not only surviving but thriving, three years after surgery to remove a massive benign brain tumor, my vote is unquestionably for friendship. The choice for friendship.
I named my brain tumor Fidela. For weeks after brain surgery, when the hair on the left side of my head was growing back after being shaved off, people would say, “Oh I’m so sorry,” about my brain tumor. While I knew they meant well, their words just didn’t work for me. So I gave myself permission to respond with some version of my truth:
“Thanks for your compassion. And… if you had any idea what a gift the tumor was, you would see that there’s nothing to be sorry about. Fidela was a messenger I called in through courage. I want all the fear inside of me to evaporate. I want fear healed, because I want to live this Life in Love.”
Only by loving pain can we heal it.
Otherwise, we have simply tucked an unloving relationship under the covers, giving us temporary relief before the messenger chooses to surface in another way that just might fully get the attention of our essence — Love.
Fear imprisons us; Love offers freedom.
Thank you for showing up.
You are not easy to be with. You strike our nerves and muscles, hearts, breasts and kidneys with uncomfortable sensations. Understandably, we react, wishing you would go away at first.
Then, we remember to breathe.
One deep inhale and one deep exhale after the next, we listen for the call of Love within our being. And when we open our eyes to see through Love, we are able to see that you are an invitation to breathe. Something we've done for our entire life without consciously trying...
Breathe. In your company, we are invited to do it with deep mindfulness.
To pay attention.
To feel the fullness of an inhale.
To feel the fullness of an exhale.
Pain, when we are in the presence of you, we are humbled as our ego self surrenders to the truth of who we are, and we ask for help. We accept that we need it, despite society’s fear-based instructions to “do it alone”.
We cannot do it alone.
We need each other because we are each other. One.
And in this human experience where we appear to be separate, Love is the continuous dance of giving and receiving.
Pain, you almost make it easy to ask for help. When you are atrocious, there is no second-guess. We ask. And when we allow ourselves to receive Love in moments of pain, we give others the opportunity to give it — to express it. And that feels good. That is what Love feels like.
Pain, you give us empathy. Thank you. It is the empathy we need as human consciousness, to move through the colossal fear in our culture -- you invite us to choose freedom.
May we learn as a species, as living breathing temples of this great thing called Love, to remember the truth of who we are — and to therefore need less of you to remember.
Jessica Rios, Founder of Leaning into Light, was born with a divine pen in her pelvis. Her heart writes for her; Love is her 'religion'. A lifelong letter writer and a thought leader in Love, her blog is devoted to her greatest passion: illuminating the beauty of the human spirit so we all move closer to remembering that Love is Who We Are.