Pain Sucks, But it Serves a Purpose


Andrew Luck, the all-American Pro-Ball winning quarterback, just retired at 29! He walked away from a $65 million contract -- and all his hopes and dreams -- because he’s in pain.

I get that.

Anyone who is in the midst of aging, of living, of loving, of dying, of an illness, of a divorce, of a life-change, of just being here knows about pain.

Pain sucks. But it also serves to get our attention.

I wouldn’t have the career I have if I hadn’t walked into Desiree Rumbaugh’s room in 2007 because I was in terrible, awful, breath-catching, what-the-fuck pain. The sciatica nerve pain ripped down my leg into my feet, at night, in the car, in movie theaters, anywhere really. Desiree showed the way for me to change my yoga, focus my healing, and cure my pain.

 Amy Ippoliti furthered my education when the pain returned, this time I had Piriformis Syndrome. Same pain in the ass, literally (I use that word, literally and correctly.).

Just recently, I realized that I had a problem in my shoulder. I was shocked because after practicing yoga for nearly 25 years, teaching for 12, writing and researching it, you would think I’d be above this sort of thing. I hoped so.

But no one is ever above the lessons of being. Pain is a great teacher. It’s pretty impossible to ignore it if it keeps you up at night and stops you from enjoying life. In my recent experience, I couldn’t lift my arm. That got my attention!

So, when pain strikes you simply have no choice but to stop and listen. I am sad for those who never listen and who never change. The rest of us get schooled, learn and move on.

In my mother’s last few months, when it was obvious that cancer would win but we didn’t know when, we got down to business. We cleared the air of all the words that had been unsaid. It was among the very best of her gifts, this fearless honesty to do and say the hard things.

I wish Andrew Luck all the good things. With tears in his eyes he recounted the injuries he’s sustained, and the constant on-going throbbing in his leg. Pain sucks. But most of all it got his attention, as it does for many of us, and now he can move on to whatever is waiting for him in life.

 For a yoga theme on pain, click here.


Michelle Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She’s the author of four books on yoga, most recently Theme Weaver: A Companion Workbook to Plan Yoga Classes.


Michelle Marchildon