Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Physical Pain is an Illusion

When we think about physical pain, we tend to remember injuries like bruises from bumping into the door face first BAM or stepping on something sharp. As a Martial Artist, pain was a routine like breathing. Sometimes you'd get hit with the shins on your stomach and feel that volume of cutting force into your stomach or the knuckles of a good punch straight on your cheekbone all with crushing devastating force. Sometimes the pain comes as a 'sting' like a finger needle poke into the softest tissue parts of the human body, the feeling of being stung with all your thoughts concentrated on this particular point. So besides all these beautiful eXamples (Yes, I'm a Masochist), what is physical pain really? At first during my early training days, I had a tough time progressing because of all the pain I had to endure until my Master taught me a valuable lesson which was: Physical Pain is Not Real. It's an illusion of an illusion. Now not to sound all inception like, I'll be detailed but first let me eXplain biologically what pain really is. 

So as you already know that the brain and spinal cord make up the Central Nervous System where electrical messages are carried out by impulses from the environment either eXterior or internal. Specialized nerves known as Nociceptors are designed specifically only to detect pain. I'm going to use an eXample of stepping barefooted on a 'sharp' rock. When tissues are torn, electrical messages from nociceptors are fired to the brain with the coded message that 'Something is Wrong'. Take into consideration I wrote that the message is being interpreted as 'Something is Wrong' instead of 'Warning: Pain'.  So please take into consideration that anything that is wrong can be 'righted'.  

So when the pressure on the tissue by stepping on the sharp rock has been alleviated by taking your barefoot off the rock, the nociceptors stop firing. If the tissue has been damaged, there's a continuous firing until it has been repaired. Makes sense thus far, yeah? 

So these electrical signals (and that's all they are) go to the part of the brain known as the Thalamus, which also sends the signals to multiple places for interpretations of course. These interpretations are some what like: "Is this pain caused by burning, stinging, force?etc" 

Now, for some trivia - did you know that the same area of the brain responsible for pleasure is also the same spot with pain? That means violence and pleasure are interpreted in the same spot of the brain. Now this should make sense to people why we always have been brute beings waging war from day 1. This also can be interpreted seXually why people are sadists or masochists. Both a butcher and a surgeon have the same tendencies but as you can see, it is interpreted differently depending on the personalities and interpretations in the brain. The butcher just loves cutting and letting the blood spill while the surgeon enjoys being careful, cutting with precision and prudence. The Serial killer and the sociopath also have these tendencies. 

Now not to digress completely, for that is a topic on its own - it was just important you take note of these facts. Now as for pain, I just gave you a neurological graph how everything the human body does it interpreted in the BRAIN. So mind over matter works here. To give you an idea how I started to neglect pain and believe it's an emotion, I just had to focus strongly. For eXample, there are many of us that start crying if we get pricked by the smallest of things but there are times unconsciously that the things that hurt us the most have no effect on us when we're in an emotional state. You want to know how that's accomplished? Well, if you've read thus far then I assume you do. Imagine you stepping on that sharp rock and you're hurt and crying and whatever. Now imagine you won a billion dollars, found the cure for AIDs etc and you're in a state of euphoria jumping around and you step on that sharp rock. 


That is why your MOOD at the moment is what counts. If you had a fight with the entire world and nothing is going right and you stepped on a smooth rock, you might throw a tantrum or feel it as if you've stepped on needles. So like I said, it's mind over matter. Sensation and Perception in action. 

So as a Martial Artist, I learned to accept pain as a simple electrical signal saying something's wrong but can be righted. So remember the neXt time you get a roundhouse kick to the chest and the devastating force damages tissues, take it in - enjoy the vibration because if there isn't pain, there isn't gain. The gain part is that your tissues and bones can be conditioned to automatic repair and become stronger so the same amount of damage will no longer even be interpreted by the body. So basically the force is there but the nociceptors aren't firing because they don't see it as something wrong but something they're used to. I believe I've eXplained fairly enough without going into biological details with the chemicals involved etc 

Have a nice day and become stronger than you were yesterday.