Somanaut's Blog

Just another weblog

The Gift of Pain

As Steven Levine succinctly stated, “Pain sucks.”

It makes us pay attention. Pain means tissue damage. We are getting injured, and we need to know.

Any pain, however tiny, is still pain. It still means we are getting injured. Finding ways to block the pain messages (drugs, dissociation) leaves us vulnerable to more damage.

“No Pain, no gain” is a familiar saying. It’s nonsense. Pain means inefficiency, waste, resistance, struggle, inaccuracy, overload. None of these are helpful.


When we feel pain, we flinch, wince, grimace and recoil. These are all actions that spend our physical resources on something other than the task at hand.

Pain tells us when we are off track. Action that is 100% effective is joyous. When we ignore pain, we override our discernment.

Learning to work without pain can take practice and attention. We have been drilled in the art of denial and self destruction. To get a clearer perspective, we have to put time in accepting our pains, and all sensations, just as they are. This could be formal meditation, or it could simply be moments when we stop and let ourselves feel.

The next time something is frustrating, try pausing for a breath. Check in with your physical sensations. Let go of whatever task or external concerns you have been focusing on, just for a moment. Notice if you are comfortable and relaxed. Notice where and discomfort is located. That might be very clear, or it might be vague. Stay with it, and you will gain a bit more accuracy. Over time, with repetition, this gets faster and more powerful.


August 15, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Workstations part 2, options


Recent research indicates that having your knees lower than your hips makes for less pressure on your spinal discs. This means having your seat high enough so that it is downhill from your hips to your knees, rather than the more common sitting position where knees and hips are at right angles.


Sitting low, like in modern desk chairs, encourages slumping. It might feel nice at first, (the initial stretch can feel great), but curling forward squashes your digestive organs and stretches your back muscles so they overwork. Most of us can’t sit for long in a low chair without slumping. If you have tight hamstrings, the tension will pull your pelvis under and start the slump eventually, no matter how careful you are.


Your feet should easily sit flat. On a tall stool, you will need a prop for your feet, like a wooden box or bench. Any lifting of your feet, or even a partial tilting, will reduce your sense of stability and cause your hip muscles to tighten. This pulls your pelvis out of position, tipping the foundation for your spine. As a result, all your spinal muscles will tense to maintain your balance. Over time, this can lead to massive problems, including the dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, general back pain, and sciatica.


A firm seat is better than a soft one. Soft seats allow us to sag into our favorite spots, and eventually create a depression that almost forces us into bad habits.


The back of a chair is decoration. You should never lean back and work. Leaning back means you have to work your neck very hard to be able to see forward, and then strain to lift your arms to reach the keyboard. Likewise, slumping down, so that you round your low back toward the back of the chair, is brutal for your neck, shoulders, and back. A tall stool makes both of these problems easier to solve. Adjustable stools, like doctors’ exam stools, are nice, but may not go up enough. Lab stools are a better bet. For long-legged people, it will take some hunting to find a tall enough stool.


There are motorized height adjustable desks available, and these are great if you share your workstation, or if you just want to impress people with your cool toys.

August 1, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment