Anti-aging and Masochism – How Suffering Keeps Me Young
By Jan Hutchins
My safe word is “Original Sin” and when uttered my Dominator (dom) releases me from the pain. And, as you know if you’ve been there, the relief is ecstasy. Suddenly all is as it should be – a bliss bath. I’ve learned to soak it in, not rush it, because reality with its time terror and endless entropy, comes all too soon, rousing me from the bliss and all too soon I require another hit, another yoga pose.
I’m 68, been a yogi since I was 18, and after years of doing it for its illusory tight ass, lean body, calmer mind benefits, am now ready to admit, stretching’s real value is the opportunity to suffer where I can be my own dom.
Where I once thought the accomplishment was in contorting my body into a shape few others could match – I now realize stretching’s gift is the patience to withstand pain as I slowly coax openness back into my hips, low back, shoulders and neck as I confront the onslaught of aging.
I’m not a masochist by choice mind you. If you’ve ever suffered serious back pain, and most of us have, you’ll do almost anything to avoid the pain and helplessness. If I don’t dominate myself and manage the suffering necessary to open my hips and low back in every possible way, I know the sadist in my back will eventually drop me to my knees in agony I can’t control.
There is, however, an even deeper benefit in this dynamic. Faced with this need to manage suffering, I’ve had to learn:
- To break my attention away from the screaming mind and listen to the body’s messages
- How to micro-relax every area of my body
- The power to exhale tension out of my body again and again to handle, and even come to appreciate, how much it hurts
- Develop holistic connections in my body. Easing the pain in one area by relaxing unconscious tensions in surrounding areas
- The magnificent peace that’s available when the body deeply relaxes
Developing these distinctions allows me to be able to relax almost anywhere, anytime, in any position or situation.
This is not just true in the exercise system I call PleasureStretch. This dynamic of suffering to reach relaxation, pain to deeply experience pleasure, and recognition everything is connected, is a dynamic you’ll see everywhere once you begin to notice it.
The cost for the endorphin high from exercise is directly related to the intensity of the discomfort one navigates to get their butt on the bike, into the gym or pool and not just “do it” but do it again and again and again – whatever lie or encouragement you have to use to avoid remembering how much it will actually hurt. “Original Sin!”
So whether it’s back pain, weight gain, loss of virility (I’m exercising my prostate as I write this ;-), cheating death, even avoiding the consequences of what you’d like to do to him, her, it or them – conscious suffering is the way, the bomb, the panacea everlasting!
Confuse thee not however, with names and reasonings about suffering. It’s obvious in this world of duality, suffering and bliss are two sides of the same coin. We’re supposed to hurt, suffer, but as I hope I’ve shown you, there’s such treasure in it saints and mystics have long described it as the very road to salvation.
What I’m describing differs from the religious self-abasement, mortification and abstinence to become pure and is instead, a loving recognition of the reality the body contracts over time and begins to block its ideal flow of energy and movement.
Let’s talk about how much suffering is involved in relationships. “Original Sin!” Sorry, that just came out, because if my body requires I suffer to keep it healthy and happy, the dynamic with relationships and love asks even more.
Love asks no permission and gives no warning. It turns us inside out, flays the very skin off us and until we run out of tears and give up on anything but giving, leaves us cold and alone. Superstar Sufi poet Hafiz drops the mic on what love is really like:
A Barroom View of Love
I would not want all my words
To parade around this world
In pretty costumes,
So I will tell you something
Of the Barroom view of Love.
Love is grabbing hold of the Great Lion’s mane
And wrestling and rolling deep into Existence
While the Beloved gets rough
And begins to maul you alive.
True Love, my dear,
Is putting an ironclad grip upon
The soft, swollen balls
Of a Divine Rogue Elephant
And not having the good fortune to Die!
Yet die you must, repeatedly, until the relationship, responsibility, marriage are more important than the small, wounded child in you. Only the mature masculine in you and feminine in the other can be in real love, adult love. Unconditional love is full presence with unconditional attention, acceptance, appreciation and affection that allows the other to be as they really are.
But even that is not enough when our very humanness turns every relationship into a house of mirrors where one either projects onto the other or owns and faces in themselves all the distortions born in the stressful experiences, traumas and social conditionings alive in and between us.
The courage to own our discomfort rather than project it onto the other is the only skill that can save us. The wisdom and willingness to own one’s power to be response-able for living as unconditional love because there is no choice and no reason to choose otherwise, comes only through such intense experiences with suffering as to produce actual empathy and break the shell of the ego.
So whenever in doubt or fear, here’s the mantra:
“Thank you life, may I have another…”
If you’re ready to suffer wisely as a practice rather than suffer endlessly as a victim, choose to try PleasureStretch Anti-aging program. I’ll give you a free sample session. Just fill out the form below.