There are two ways to change the experience of pain — that is to say: pain, as the experience of it and the thing itself are synonymous — physical or otherwise.
One is to change what is flowing through the container, or in our case through the person. Turn voltage/flow up, turn it down, change its frequency or flavor or density.
The other is to change the shape, or qualities, of that container.
Both can be incredible medicines. I do think it behooves us to know the difference.
Chemical medicine, from coffee to prozac, tends towards the former. So do certain kinds of bodywork, acupuncture, the feldenkrais method, certain attitudes/styles of shamanism focused on catharsis and expulsion, and a lot of exercise and fitness routines.
Tending towards the latter, I think of structural bodywork, certain kinds of self-reflective psychotherapy, chiropractic and osteopathic medicine, barefoot walking and running, certain attitudes/styles of shamanism focused on digesting wonky energetic patterns, certain ways of practicing yoga, and other movements.
Get the feel?
Moving quickly through a bunch of yoga postures — *for most of us* — can be a really great way to move energy through. Though it’s not the same as fundamentally changing the container, i.e. you, i.e. That which is experiencing the āsana.
On the other hand, too much change without the work of integration — working with energetic patterns in this brand new shape, physical or otherwise — and you can feel blown out of the water too much, too fast.
Anyone who’s sat with deep plant medicines and had a long road integrating that insight into their lives — or, worse, keeps going back for more without yielding, exhaling, to that integration — knows what I mean.
Homework: do you feel like you tend towards one camp or the other? Practice in the realm of the other one for a bit.