In one of my professional roles I am a teaching assistant at Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, CO. Recently, there was a student heretofore referred to as “Bill” to protect the innocent – who appeared to be in pain during the lecture portion of the class. In the normal flow of the class the instructor goes over the material for the day, followed by a students’ rest break of fifteen to twenty minutes. The students then practice the material in a ‘hands on’ style environment, with the instructor and the teaching assistant guiding the students. Bill continued to appear to be in at least a moderate amount of pain, barely able to open his eyes all the way and grimacing whenever he tried to crack a smile. I approached Bill at the beginning of the break and asked if everything was ok. He informed me that he was suffering from a migraine. I invited him to lie down on a treatment table so that I could apply Tui Na and Shiatsu in a effort to alleviate some of his discomfort. Bill agreed. After about 15 minutes of grunting, wincing and deep controlled breathing Bill started to feel better. About 30 minutes later Bill was joking and laughing with his classmates about all of the noises that he had made during his ‘treatment, had a marked improvement in how he felt and was able to finish the class.
I was not trying to hurt Bill with the manipulations I was using yet I was trying to push the limits of what he could take. Sometimes a heavier hand is needed to make things better.
I don’t know if you’ve seen the commercials for either of the workout programs P90X or Insanity. For those who haven’t seen them a man in good shape is talking to the camera shouting out instructions to a group of people who are following the workout and sweating heavily—and that’s it. The P90X/Insanity representatives say they have a ‘secret’ formula and use such words as ‘muscle confusion’ and ‘active recovery.’ But here’s the real secret: they work you very hard! I’m not trying to put down their workouts, program, or anything else, but the bottom line is it’s an extremely hard, consistent workout. They’re each a 90 day crash course in physical fitness.
Pleasure in Pain
Bill was not seeking more pain and discomfort from me. He was looking for relief of his symptoms, and understood that in accepting the short term discomfort of the treatment he would receive the long term gain of being pain free. The people who actually go thru the P90X and Insanity workouts sweating heavily and probably sore for what feels like weeks on end know that a little discomfort in the short term could mean massive gains in the long term.
Psychologist John Leddo “Discipline itself frequently brings pain, but is temporary while growth is permanent.”