Spiritual pain is a type of pain that both includes and transcends physical and mental/emotional pain.
It is often described as a sense of feeling lost, empty, disconnected, or without purpose.
This type of pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including trauma or loss that we encounter in this life time, or trauma and loss experienced by our ancestors, and passed down to us.
It could also be caused by medications and recreational substances.
Ultimately the root of spiritual pain is a lack of embodying our soul essence—a disconnection from the Source within us.
When a person experiences this type of pain, it can be difficult to find relief, as it is not always clear what is causing the pain or how to address it.
In this article, we will explore the topic of spiritual pain caused by a lack of embodying one’s spiritual nature.
We will examine the various factors that can contribute to this type of pain, as well as the different ways in which it can manifest.
We will also discuss some strategies for coping with spiritual pain, including ways to connect with the body, increase awareness and the kind of professionals who might help.
By the end of this article, readers will have a better understanding of this complex and often misunderstood type of pain, and will be equipped with tools and resources for finding relief and healing.
Here’s a video I made on healing spiritual pain by embodying your soul’s essence:
If you get your edification in the form of audio podcasts listen below or look for the BioSoul Integration Podcast and this episode wherever you listen to your podcasts:
As a result of the trauma and survival patterns that we pick up on in the people around us while we’re in the womb and while we’re children, we are compelled to adopt the same seperation in ourselves.
Everyone has developed some aversion to being completely present and grounded in their bodies in this way.
When we’ve created separation in ourselves like this, we’re not living from a place of wholeness and we’re not occupying our bodies completely.
Seemingly paradoxically, a connection to our bodies and the life force energy that animates them gives us an uplink to the same intelligence that animates all of life—a.k.a. Source.
If we’re living in survival mode and not able to rest in our own body, we also won’t have access to Source.
Spiritual pain can manifest in a variety of ways in our bodies and lives.
It can be difficult to identify because it is often hidden and not easily recognizable.
However, it is important to address spiritual pain because it can involve a feedback loop with physical and psychological pain that can lead to an exacerbation of physical pain and other non-physical symptoms, such as anxiety, fear, grief, guilt, and depression.
There are different types of spiritual pain, and they can be categorized into four main categories:
Since the spine is the conduit of consciousness, I find that certain parts of the spine house different aspects of our being.
The bottom of the neck, the area between our heart and throat, is important when talking about spiritual pain because it’s related to all aspects of our ability to express our soul through these physical bodies and onto this physical plane.
If we’re connected to that part of our spine we’re connected to a quality of “knowing” that trascends mental knowlege.
That knowing is a bandwidth of intelligence related to our soul and, ultimately, Source.
It gives us the capacity to say yes when we mean yes and no when we mean no, to honor the parts of us that have needs in any given moment, which is important in all relationships.
It connects us to our soul’s passion and gives us a sense of what lights us up.
That sense of what lights us up is what our soul uses to coax us in a direction that is in alignment with our soul purpose.
When we’re not connected to that subtle, soul signal, it can lead to feelings of disconnection, emptiness, and a sense of being lost in the world.
It’s possibe that physical injury to that part of the spine could result in changes that disconnect us from our soul’s knowing.
But more often it’s as a result of things that happen much earlier on, which we’ll talk about next.
The foundational nervous system starts to develop in the the womb approximately two to four weeks after conception.
That part of our nervous system senses into the energetic back-office of those around us.
Because we rely on them for our survival, we automatically adopt the patterns they’re holding in their nevous systems, through the process of entrainment.
In adopting those patterns we hold our bodies differently, we put a limit on the range and depth of certain emotions, and we use stories to support survival patterns that may not serve us.
Essentially we are judging parts of ourselves that would connect us with the Source within us, and pushing those parts away.
As children that sensitive part of our nervous system is still online.
As a result of what we’ve already picked up on, and now, as a result of traumas that we might encounter, survival patterns get further cemented in our bodies and lives.
Our ability to know, trust and express our unique gifts gets further stilted.
Medications can contribute to spiritual pain because of the affect they have on our nervous system and the energy moving there.
Things like antidepressants and antipsychotics are used to take the edge off of strong emotional states that are hard to deal with: anger, fear, grief, etc.
However, all emotions are connected in us through the emotional field
Medications act to limit the range and depth of awareness of the whole emotional field.
While they can take the edge off of emotions that are deemed problematic, they also put a limit on the range and depth of positive emotions like joy and passion.
Emotions, especially emotions like joy, passion and awe, are what our soul uses to direct us.
When the emotional field is limited as a result of medication, we can lose our capacity to feel the emotions that would give us direction and purpose in life.
Of course, medication can be helpful short term in some circumstances but they are rarely a very good long term strategy, especially where the growth and evolution that leads to giving your gifts and living your purpose on the planet are concerned.
Alcohol and drugs are mind altering substances.
They too can have an impact our our nervous system that limits our full expression of energy and emotions that are necessary for living a full and authentic life.
I want to add that I’m not suggesting complete abstinence from alcohol or other recreational subsances in what I say next—moderation in all things, right?… Including moderation.
For some people alcohol and recreational substances can be medicinal when used at the right time.
For others, it might be necessary to stop all together.
Each person has to discover that for themselves.
Let me tell you a story from my own life regarding the detrimental effect of alcohol.
One day these painful boils developed on my hands.
The joints in my feet started to swell.
This swelling ended up permanently disfiguring the joints in my feet to some degree.
After a certain amount of time the boils and swelling would go away.
But some time later it would reappear.
With every episode it would do more damage to my body.
To say the least, this got my attention, as unsavory symptoms are designed to do.
Upon closer examination I started to notice a connection to alcohol consumption.
Every so often I would find myself feeling the urge to drink three or four strong beers, or eat a bag of those Boulder sea salt and vinegar potatoe chips.
I noticed that when I felt the urge to drink, there was a subtle agitation arising in me.
Looking even closer, I noticed that there was an energy that would rise up in my body that seemed to be coming from my liver.
About the time it would reach the bottom part of my neck, I’d start to get agitated, frustrated and angry.
And when that agitation arose I felt the unconscious desire to drink beer.
Getting a good buzz going seemed to tamp down that energy coming from my liver.
But about two weeks after one of these episodes, the boils would show up in my fingers (incidentally the boils would show up in the fingers that were innervated by the bottom of the neck area that I mentioned above, the area of the fifth, sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae and the first thoracic vertabrae).
I’d also get swelling in the joints of my feet which left behind scar tissue and permanent damage.
I tried to bargain with alcohol.
Maybe it’s this kind or that kind, cleaner, gluten free, vodka, whiskey, wine, etc.
In the end it became clear that it was just… the alcohol.
So I stopped drinking.
When I stopped drinking I had to learn to manage the energy and the anger rising up from my liver.
Doing so coincided with a big shift in my work as it was about that time that I experienced a breakthrough in connecting with my own gifts—my own genius—and created and named my own technique, BioSoul Integration, and wrote a book.
Over time the swelling and boils stopped happening.
I’ve seen similar things happen over the years in my clients related to that part of the spine and the theme of life challenging them to express their authentic selves and their unique gifts.
Like alcohol, the above pictured substance is a nervous system depressant.
I’ve noticed that it enhances certain energies and dampens others, in particular, it dampens the energy I’ve talked about above that gives us a sense of what lights us up, a soul knowing
Early on in that process, anger often comes to the surface.
And as I’ll talk about a little later, anger seems to be a particularly important emotion when it comes to spiritual pain.
I also have personal experience with the recreational substance pictured above and how it affected my capacity to express my more authentic self later on in life.
Without revealing all the gritty details, I decided to stop that, too.
There have been breakthroughs in my life on various levels (work, relationship and others) that coincided with that decision.
You may think since we’re talking about our spiritual nature that that wouldn’t manifest on the physical level, but that’s not true.
The term body/mind refers to the fact that our body IS our mind, and vice versa.
Things that happen in our mind space affect our body, and the other way around.
When the soul is not embodied, it can result in spiritual pain that manifests itself in physical symptoms.
These symptoms can include, but are not limited to:
These physical symptoms can feed back into mental/emotional and spiritual symptoms.
Through the survival patterns we adopt from conception to about age seven, we put a limit on the range and depth of emotions we can feel or not feel.
Not allowing the full expression of these important parts of us can create mental/emotional problems, anxiety and depression for example.
In my experience anxiety is a resistance to feeling an emotion that’s been deemed unsafe to feel.
Depression is the downward spiral that occurs when important parts of us, along with their cooresponding emotional energy, are not allowed to be expressed.
Spiritual pain can also result in emotional symptoms which are just as debilitating as physical symptoms, if not more.
These symptoms can include:
These emotional symptoms can lead to a decrease in overall mental health and well-being and affect are overall behavior.
All of the above affects the stories and belief systems that are running in the background of our minds.
It’s these innaccurate stories and outdated belief systems that result in our acting out in ways that can have a negative impact socially, financially, etc.
These behavioral symptoms can include:
If you think about it, why else would someone harm themselves or others if they weren’t experiencing the ultimate cause of spiritual pain, if they weren’t disconnected for the Source in themselves?
Healing spiritual pain must include connecting with the body, the breath, and an increase in awareness.
When we create the survival patterns that are behind spiritual pain, we wall parts of ourselves off and lock parts down with tension and postural distortions designed to redirect life force energy.
We shut breath down to certain areas.
This is because if we breathe into a part and move it, we necessarily have an awareness of it—we will experience the energy there.
But our nervous system has decided, because of what we pick up from those around us in the womb and up until about age seven, that the energy there is unsafe to feel.
So we shut breath down and lock it down with muscle tension so that we don’t breathe into it and we don’t move it, so that we don’t have to experience it, effectively removing our awareness from that part of us.
If you want to heal spiritual pain, it is essential that you connect with your body.
This can be done through meditation, yoga, or simply walking in nature, as well as other physical practices that help to ground and center the body.
By focusing on your body, you start to connect with the life force energy in your body, which is a subset of the life force energy that animates all of life.
Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts.― Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation
The benefits of breath exercises are becoming more widely known, though the importance of the breath is something that Eastern traditions have known for thousands of years.
Wim Hof, a Dutch motivational speaker, is known for such feats as swimming great distances in freezing cold water and running marathons over snowy terrain barefoot and shirtless, in nothing but shorts.
He is able to accomplish this through his Wim Hof Breathing Method.
Wim Hoff says the goal of the technique is to teach people to control their nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems to help them become happier and healthier.
Indeed, it has been shown to help depression, anxiety, mood, mental focus and pain management.
There are many breathing techniques out there.
The one I’m most familiar with is a technique called SRI (SomatoRespiratory Integration) developed by Dr. Donald Epstein, the chiropractor who developed the gentle form of chiropractic that has been the foundation of my work for the last twenty years.
As our healing journey unfolds there are different rhythms in our bodies and being that are expressed at different points along the path.
We will optimize our capacity to give our unique gifts if we can be present with the rhythm that wants to express itself through us in any given moment.
Donald Epstein’s book, The Twelve Stages Of Healing, outlines those stages and provides exercises for each stage.
SRI is designed to help us connect with those rhythms and has been shown in research to result in people living more connected, effective, satisfying lives.
In my experience the common denominator that makes improvements in people’s bodies and lives like this, is simply life force energy.
Anything we do to connect with life force energy will have a positive physical, psychological and spiritual effect, and connecting with the breath certainly activates the life force energy in our bodies.
Increasing awareness is another important step in healing spiritual pain.
In my experience there is so much we’re not aware of because of the survival patterns we adopt from the moment our primitive nervous system develops in the womb.
We get overwhelmed because we’re using resources to disconnect from experiences deemed unsafe and we’re not able to track them.
We end up with a knarled knot of physical, mental/emotional and spiritual energy that needs to be teased apart.
In my experience the best tool for solving thsi problem is mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness meditation has the goal of training ourselves to tease our physical, psychological and spiritual experience apart so that we can see more clearly.
For anyone interested I would recommend the work of Shinzen Young, author of The Science Of Entlightenment.
He created a kind of periodic chart of human experience that can be used to become more aware of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and integrate the bound up energy that is responsible for spiritual pain.
Connecting with nature can also be a powerful way to heal spiritual pain.
Spending time outdoors, whether it’s hiking in the woods, swimming in the ocean, or simply sitting in a park, can help to cultivate a sense of peace and connection with the natural world.
This can be especially helpful since a part of spiritual pain is simply the resistance to the nature of nature—resistance to what is.
Spending time in nature can infuse us with insight regarding the nature of nature and our resistance.
It’s not possible to do this kind of work on our own.
We will need help at some point, whether that’s an understanding friend or someone who is skilled in guiding people through the physical, mental/emotional and spiritual tangles to their authentic self.
There are many modalities out there but in my experience it has to be body based.
In order to heal spiritual pain we must embody parts of ourselves that we’ve bee habitually pushing away.
These patterns got stored in us at a time before we could even think.
We experienced the world directly through sensation.
So we can’t think our way out of spiritual pain, we can only feel our way through.
This could involve working with a therapist, a counselor or a coach of some kind but they must be body based.
There are a few techniques our there that I’ve found to be foundationally body based.
One of them would be something known as Network Chiropractic or Network Spinal Analysis (also known as just Network Spinal).
Here’s an in-depth blog post I’ve written about Network Spinal that you should check out.
It’s a technique that was born out of the world of Chiropractic.
It’s designed to soften the habitual, conditioned armoring of the primitive, survival nervous system and create safety in the body so that attention can naturally rest in the body.
A typical Network session is done in an open room with two to five tables where the practitioner is working with multiple people at the same time, thus taking advantage of a group healing effect.
Another technique that I’ve found to be inherantly body based is something called Brainspotting.
It was developed by an EMDR therapist, so the set-up roughly resembles the therapeutic set-up in which the practitioner is sitting across from the client and working one on one.
Likewise, here’s an in-depth blog post I wrote about Brainspotting.
The technique I created, BioSoul Integration, is a melding of Network Spinal Analysis and conscious awareness practices, in the case of the hands-on work I do, and the melding of Brainspotting and conscious awareness practices, in the case of the online work I do.
In any case, it’s important to find someone who feels like a good fit for you and who can provide a safe and supportive environment for healing and growth.
There’s a myth that healing means that your problems, pains and challenges are going to be taken away without any fundamental change in the way you think, feel and behave.
That’s not how it works.
Those who claim to be ready to heal have to understand what they’re asking for.
Integrating the energy of soul means integrating our shadow material, stretching beyond limits of emotion, limits of sensation, and limits of thought that we previously held.
It will necessarily be physically, psychologically and spiritually challenging.
In regards to reconnecting with the part of us that knows what’s true and right, the part of us that has a soul knowing, we need to integrate especially the energy bound at this place I mentioned earlier as the base of the neck.
In working with the thousands of clients I have over the years, whenever someone is integrating that energy, their experience is of some form of heat in the body.
That could be an actual experience of heat, it could be inflammation.
In that vein, the emotion of anger is often involved.
Back in the day when we entrained to our parents while in the womb or as children, we learned not to value the parts of us that knew what felt true and right.
We learned to devalue those messages.
As we heal that wound, anger is the leading edge of the energy that’s going to give us the oomph to reclaim our power.
If we can give ourselves full permission to be angry without projecting it onto the people or situations in our lives, we will transform that anger into loving resolve.
We’ll start to see how we’ve been invalidating a part of ourselves and gain the chutzpah to stand on the same side as that part of ourselves as opposed to against it.
Along with dishonoring the part of us that knows what’s true and right, we dishonor the parts of us that have needs.
When we devalue the parts of us that have needs we will constantly take care of others before we take care of ourselves… if we ever take care of ourselves, at all.
As the above anger turns to loving resolve we will start to gain the strength to stand up for the parts of us that have needs.
Usually underneath the anger is grief.
Grief is stored in the upper lungs.
As that part of our body starts to open up, we’ll start to feel the grief we’ve caused ourselves as well as grief that went unfelt by those who came before us.
The curves in our spine are critical junctures.
The base of the neck that we’ve been talking about it one end of a spinal curve.
Where the thoracic spine transitions into the lumber spine is the other end of that.
As we start to unravel the bound up energy at one end of that curve, we will also start to unravel the bound up energy at the other end of that curve.
When that happens we will experience the guilt and shame stored in that transition area between the thoracic and lumbar spine.
Spiritual pain, associated with an inability to embody our soul essence, is a complex and multifaceted experience that can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life.
When billions of individuals are disconnected from the spiritual source in themselves the result is a pandemic of suffering.
By integrating the energy bound up in the nevous system, spiritual pain, can be healed on an individual level and, thus, a collective level.
My book, If It Didn’t Hurt: How To Resolve Your Pain And Discover Your Life Purpose is the ultimate guide to embodying your pain’s wisdom and integrating your soul’s essence.
Click the link to buy it and/or read the first chapter of my book for FREE!
I look forward to helping you express more life,
Dr. Jay is the founder and owner of BioSoul Integration Center in Louisville, Colorado. He’s a chiropractor, a hands-on healer, an in-person and online soul integration coach and the author of If It Didn't Hurt: How To Resolve Your Pain And Discover Your Life Purpose. For two decades Dr. Jay has been helping people navigate their healing journeys. Over the course of that time he’s worked intimately with thousands of people. Those who are most drawn to Dr. Jay's work are those who are seeking to integrate and embody their soul's essence and their soul's gifts so they can share them with others. Life will keep nudging us in that direction, anyway. BioSoul Integration helps to speed up the process and smooth out the rough spots created by the innocent and unconscious resistance that lives in our primal brain and nervous system. Click the link to get your Personalized BioSoul Integration Guide.
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Brainspotting: An Embodied Approach To Spiritual Growth And Evolution
The Spiritual Meaning Of The Spine: Five Vibrational, Spinal Lenses That Shape Our Bodies And Lives
Spiritual Embodiment: The Three Essential Stages Of Integrating Body And Soul