Physical Pains And Their Metaphysical Meanings
Everything on the Physical plane is a manifestation of something on the Metaphysical plane. When we speak of abundance, what we are really talking about is an abundance of emotional, mental and spiritual energy. We fill ourselves to the brim with these energies and it is the overflow that is manifest on the physical plane.
The signs and symptoms that are apparent on the Physical plane lead us to inquire, ultimately, more deeply into ourselves as energetic and spiritual beings.
We tend not to worry too much about this sort of thing when our body is working well, we are not feeling pain, or we are not in the throes of some chronic disease. But when our body feels pain or becomes disabled by disease or accident we tend to start reaching out for answers. We want to know why. Or maybe we don’t even want to know why we just want to fix something we perceive is broken.
Realistically, when our body refuses to do what we want it to, metaphysically, it is not actually broken. It is doing its job. One of its functions is to carry messages from the higher energetic planes to us. It is then up to us to interpret these messages and take action.
Western medicine takes the position that we feel pain because we can. Western approaches to pain, as the main symptom of any disease, are pretty much limited to drugs and surgery. Treatment consists of numbing or diverting pain receptors in the body or cutting off the offending organ. While this approach does have its place in acute situations, it is at best a temporary and often harmful way to approach pain or other disharmonies we feel in our bodies. Most often, western medicine has little to offer most of us and incredibly makes us wait until our symptoms become unbearably acute before it can even acknowledge a disharmony.
The trend today, as much for economic reasons, as for reasons of spirit and human development is to encourage people to take responsibility for their own lives. This is the approach of ancient wisdom. We use our bodies to communicate with our selves and with others. We use our bodies to work out emotional, mental and spiritual questions. While we do tend to judge a diseased body negatively, there really is no right or wrong about it.
The ancient Taoists theorized that good and bad, right and wrong, yin and yang, were just different points of view that we all adopt at one time or another. Because the earth plane is dualistic in nature we all view, at one time or another from both the Yin and the Yang ends of the telescope. There does not seem to be a point in judging one good and one bad or judging one good and one evil. These just are the symptoms of being human.
Still, there is such a thing as being well, and there is such a thing as being sick. When we get sick we tend to want to do something about it.
Enter the healer.
A healer is trained in the observation and interpretation of signs and symptoms, and in methods for dealing with them.
Wholistic Healing of the individual occurs at different energetic levels. These are the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. For those on the path, there are a great many more levels and sublevels identified in various cultural, religious and philosophical traditions. But for our purposes we can look at the individual in these four broad realms to at least begin the process of healing.
Healing by the way occurs not only at the individual level, but also at the family, community and global level. When one heals ‘mindfully’, as the Buddhists say, these other aspects of individual healing may become apparent.
There are healers operating today at all these levels. Still, a good place to begin is in the individual body. With this in mind, the following is a list of physical symptoms and the metaphysical disharmonies they may reflect.
Louise Hay, in her book, ‘You Can Heal Your Life,’ has done some interesting work in this area. I use her book occasionally in my Reiki II work. Other references are; Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnostic principals, my own Reiki teacher, Denise Crundall, and my own experience.
Please note that these are only general observations, serving hopefully to illuminate areas that you can look at more closely in yourself or with the help of a healer. You are the one who knows you best. As you go through these observations, try to expand your awareness beyond your own life to see also how these disharmonies are reflected in your own family, community, country and in the world. Ultimately it is our own choice to heal or not to heal and it is our own innate healing ability that is activated.
Headaches; Pain always indicates a separation of some sort from something. Usually we say separation from what is the Truth. The greater the pain the more important that something is. Depending on which part of the head is afflicted the meaning changes. Louise Hay suggests that Headaches indicate invalidating the Self out of Fear. In Chinese Medicine there are several different kinds of headaches according to the quality of the pain and the location on the head. Read on.
Vertex; The top of the head is associated with our connection to the Universe or God. Pain here is associated with separation from that higher power. It is also associated with the Kidneys and the emotion is Fear. Both the Gallbladder and Urinary Bladder channels traverse the top of the head. The Gallbladder is associated with Courage, and the Urinary Bladder through its associate with the Kidneys is associated with Fear. Du 20 (Baihui) located at the top of the head is used extensively to ‘calm the spirit’ in Chinese Medicine.
Forehead; The forehead is associated with the 3rd eye, both in Chakra Theory and Traditional Chinese Medical theory. The 3rd eye is associated with introspection and illumination of your own Inner Being. Pain here is associated with separation from your own Inner Being. In Chinese Medicine, Yintang, which is located midway between the inner ends of the eyebrows, Du 23 (Shangxing), Du 24 ( Shenting) which are located at the hairline directly above Yintang and Du 20 (Baihui) located at the top of the head, all have the action of ‘calming the spirit.’ Yintang is associated with the eyes; not only the eyes that look outward but the eyes that look inward and is indicated in some emotional disorders.
Temporal; The sides of the head are associated with courage, especially courage to face your world. Migraine Headaches, usually located in the front quadrants, right or left, indicates a separation from your world. The involvement of the eyes in Migraines indicate not only an unwillingness to look without, but to look within. Most Migraine sufferers report, not only severe pain behind the eye, but also acute sensitivity to light. In Chinese Medicine, a number of Meridians run through this area. The Gallbladder Channel is associated with courage. The San Jiao channel is involved with processing of water (the elixir of Life), and the Small Intestine Channel is involved with deriving nourishment from the world. Both the San Jiao Channel and the Small Intestine Channel are connected to the Heart, whose emotion is Joy and where the Mind is located. Lack of Joy (with one’s self) is strongly indicated by pain in this area. There is also Anger indicated by the Gallbladder channel’s link with the Liver.
Occipital; The back of the head represents your past. Some say also this is an area of spirituality. Pain here represents something in your past that is not complete and remains unforgiven. The back of the head is traversed by the Gallbladder Channel and the Urinary Bladder Channels indicating Anger born of Fear. The Back of the Head is thought to be the seat of Spiritual Experiences. The only way to see them is through inner sight. Pain in the back of the head represents an unwillingness to look deep within for the source of Light & Truth.
Spine; The Spine Represents the support you think you have in Life and your alignment with those supportive forces. Curved spine, or Scoliosis represents a misalignment with Life. Spasms represent an unwillingness to accept the support that is there.
Shoulders; Shoulders represent burdens and responsibilities. Frozen Shoulder for example represents a complete unwillingness to shoulder your responsibilities in Life, especially your own Life. Pain and dysfunction to varying degrees represents varying degrees of unwillingness to be responsible. Moving forward in Life sometimes requires that you ‘put your shoulder to the wheel’ to overcome inertia. the Gallbladder channel traverses the shoulders and indicates Courage ( or lack of…).
The back, in Chinese Medicine, is considered to be your Yang side; the active, aggressive, lighted side. The back also represents that which is behind you. Very often we do not see clearly that which is behind us. Back problems generally represent conflict between the urge to move forward and the inertia of an unforgiven past that holds us back. This tension very often separates us from both and pain is the result. Louse Hay suggests that backs generally represent support.
Mid back; The mid back is the link between the shoulder and the lower back. It can be a weak link. As we firm up our shoulders and become willing to take on the responsibilities of Life, and we have gathered around us the financial and emotional support we need (lower back), something sneaks up and stabs us in the back. This is a blind spot. Not only can we not see it, but is very difficult to reach. The weak link crumbles. It is the saboteur or seducer that takes us off our path. Located in this area are the Tonification points (called ‘Shu’ points) for the Liver, the Stomach, and the Spleen. These organs are responsible for the transformation and transportation of Qi, and the free flow of Qi in the body. Blockages here affect the entire body and can stop you dead in your tracks. The Spleen represents Worry or Overthinking and the Liver represents Anger or base emotions. Both of these can sabotage even the best laid plans. Louse Hay suggests that the mid-back represents Guilt and stuck in the past stuff.
Lower Back; The Lower Back represents support; financial support, emotional support of family and friends, and support of God or the Universe. The Kidneys are located in this area and Kidney dysfunction results in Fear/Fright/Phobias. A sore lower back may indicate that we have taken on more than we think we can handle. This is a dysfunction, only if it is not the Truth. If we have indeed taken on too much, that would be indicated by a physical trauma to the back and all we need to do is lighten the load. Chronic low back ache, though, not associated with any trauma is the one with the Metaphysical application, and the one related to Kidney depletion. Kidneys are considered to have a central function relative to other organs since it is where Yuan Qi or our Primary Essence is stored. Yuan Qi is also known as Primary Qi or Congenital Qi. It is the Qi you are born with and determines your relative strength in the world. It is considered to be quite difficult to strengthen an already weak Yuan Qi, but it can be done. Low back pain is often diminished by strengthening the Kidneys. In short, Low back pain, generally refers to a lack of trust in the Universe to protect and support. Louise Hay suggests Fear of money is indicated.
Coccyx; The Coccyx/Sacrum is the seat of Self-pity. There is a fear of asking for help. One would rather sit and feel sorry for one’s self than get of one’s ass and do something.
Hips; Hips represent decisions in Life, especially decisions about moving forward. Pain in the hips is a sign of being ‘stuck’, unable to make a decision, or see clearly what is needed to be done next. The process of walking requires that we first thrust the hip forward and the leg etc. follows. This is actually, an act of faith on our part, since we are quite literally initiating a fall to the ground and trusting that our legs will save us. The Gallbladder Channel traverses the hip which again represents Courage and confidence to move forward. Louise Hay suggests that hip problems represent fear of going forward with major decisions. Hips represent the idea that the next step in your life is important. Pain or discomfort advises you to slow down or stop, look around, buy a map, or ask someone for directions.
Upper Thighs; Thighs are the link between the Hips & decisions, and the Knees & pride. Very often, when we have made a decision and take the next step, Pride gets in the way. “What if I look stupid? What if it’s not right? What if it doesn’t work out?” Our knees lock up or turn to jelly, and we are prevented from moving forward. The pain that begins in the Hips and shoots down the Thigh (Sciatic Nerve), is the separation from our desire and decision to move forward and our Fear of falling flat on our ass. Louse Hay suggests that Upper Thigh problems represent retaining childhood trauma.
Knees; Knees represent Pride. In spiritual practice it is suggested that one must go down before one can rise up, as Jesus did before John the Baptist, before taking up his own ministry. Pride or Ego keeps us from surrendering to the Will of God or the Universe. In practice, every time we move forward in Life or approach change, we approach the unknown. We may feel vulnerable or unsure. We may stand still, stiff kneed resisting the winds of change. It is interesting to note that stiff, sore knees are a symptom of Kidney deficiency, whose emotion is Fear. Rather than admit our fear, we resist it until it overwhelms us. While knees represent Pride, and it is said that ‘Pride goes before the fall’, knees can also represent Humility which is the wisdom to be yielding in the face of change.
Briefly, Knee problems may be said to indicate being stuck in the Ego, too proud to bend. Louise Hay also suggests that Knees represent Pride and the Ego.
Shins; The Shins represent another weak link. Although the Shins are mostly bone, the hardest substance in the body, the Shins are actually quite sensitive and brittle. A slight whack on the Shins is not only painful, it weakens the entire body and stops it cold. When we have organized ourselves to move forward, to take the next step towards the goal we have set, and are in the process of taking it, something comes along and sends you tumbling. It is something we trip over because we don’t see it, even though it is right there in front of us. In ancient times the shin pads that worriers wore were called greaves. Very often what trips us up is something, the loss of which we haven’t properly grieved. Moving forward always means something gets left behind. Interesting to note is that the three Yin channels of the foot all criss cross at Spleen 6 (Sanyinjiao), representing a confluence of Worry, Anger, and Fear. Moving forward is often marked by a jumble of emotional responses which need to be sorted out, especially if we are resisting it. Louise Hay suggests that problems are fear of the future; not wanting to move ahead.
Ankles; Ankles represent flexibility, which is important as one navigates the twists and turns of Life. Stiff, painful ankles means that change is difficult for you. Maybe you are one who digs in your heels and resists moving forward. The more Life forces change upon you, the deeper you dig in. A broken ankle is a good sign to develop some flexibility in your Life. Louise Hay suggests that ankles represent mobility and direction.
Feet; Our feet represent our connection with Mother Earth. Sore, swollen, numb or painful feet represent the state of our relation with our Mother. Mother Earth, and our base energies. While it is legs that carry us forward into Life, it is the feet that actually make contact with the ground and can stop any advance, or at least make it difficult. In modern society with its asphalt, concrete and High Rises, we lose touch with the Earth and its energies. This may be reflected in our relationship to the one who gave birth to us. Separation can cause real pain.
All the Leg Yin & Yang channels meet and flow into each other in the toes. This is an area of high energy and strong effect on the body. This is an area where strong energies are in transition, so our contact with Mothers, Mother Earth and our base energies is always ambivalent. We want to draw closer to that love, but at the same time move away on our own course.
In my experience, the feet often store toxic energies (as often to do with grief or resentments as not), as far away from the Heart as possible. This means, in the feet. Often, these are issues that go all the way back to childhood. Lacking the tools to effectively release grief or resentment the body stores it, like it stores fat. Over time, more and more toxic energies are stored here and fill up the receptacle. In many cases, the entire leg can become involved and the waste starts leaking back into the system. This is a very serious situation indeed, that can lead to amputations, blood disorders and even death, as the body struggles to protect the Heart. Metaphysically, it becomes clear that the space you are standing in is painful. The key is to move on. Stop dwelling on the past, release or transform whatever it is that keeps you emotionally standing still. Louise Hay suggests that feet represent our understanding of ourselves, of Life, and others, and toes represent minor details of the future.
Throat; The Throat represents our Will, and our ability to communicate, both with others and with ourselves. Sore throats, lumps in the throat, tumours all represent difficulties in saying what we want to say. Lumps, both physical tumours and those that are non-manifest (Hystericus Globus) are our willful attempts to block free expression of emotion and of our identity. The Throat is another one of those weak links that can seduce or sabotage you from your path. The Throat is the channel between the Head and the Heart. In Chinese Medicine it is said the Heart houses the Mind, especially in its connection with the emotion of Joy and the expression of Love for ourselves and for others. Have you ever had a great idea, gotten your body motivated, put your Heart into it, only to say something completely stupid which makes a mess of things? Have you ever felt the urge to say something complimentary and suppressed it? Have you ever just blurted out something that just seemed to by-pass the brain? How often does a careless or ill chosen word create havoc in your Life? Where this comes from is all the things you have not said over the years that get stuck in the throat, needing to get out, and out they come, one way or the other.
All emotions are designed to be expressed, even the ones we judge to be negative and especially the ones we judge to be positive. Louise Hay calls the the Throat an avenue of expression and a channel of creativity. Problems indicate an inability to speak up for one’s self, swallowed anger , stifled creativity and refusal to change. Thyroid problems indicate difficulty in analyzing, digesting and assimilating the communication between the Head and the Heart.
Chest/Breasts; The chest area represents the Feminine principal of nurturing and nourishing the connection with the ‘breath of Life’ as it flows through the Lungs. In men, pain or discomfort, not associated with any organ or vessel represents a disconnection from the Feminine principal. Breast envy, may exist in men; the desire to connect with the feminine side, the same way penis envy is said to exist in women; the desire to connect with the masculine side. In Chinese Medicine, the front is considered Yin. The chest is the confluence of the three most important kinds of Qi, that nourish the body; Zhong Qi, from the Lungs, Jing Qi, from the Spleen, and Yuan Qi from the Kidneys. Breast problems represents a denial of the Mother/feminine principal to nourish the self and to nourish others. Louise Hay suggest also that the breasts represent mothering and nurturing. Cysts, lumps etc. represents over mothering.
Solar Plexus; Is said to the be the seat of the Ego and Individuation. Some call this the Negative Ego. In general this area represents the conflicts in your life. Pain or discomfort in the Diaphragm area represents unresolved conflicts. In Chinese Medicine, pain in this area indicates Liver Qi Stagnation, usually associated with Anger.
Stomach; The stomach represents digestion, not only of food and physical nutrients, but of new ideas, new ways of doing things, and accepting change of any kind. The Stomach is nothing more than a big flexible bag of muscle whose job it is to ripen and rot whatever is put into it. That is, its job is to break down what is put into it into a form that the body can deal with. This it does by adding Hydrochloric Acid, Hormones, Enzymes and Bile which reduces every sold morsel into an undifferentiated mass called Chyme. Simultaneously it rocks back and forth swishing and swilling this mess until it is liquefied and able to pass through the small Pyloric Valve into the Small Intestine where the actual absorption of nutrients mostly takes place. Metaphysically, when we come upon a new idea or a new way of doing things, the process is similar. First we must swallow the idea, either whole or in handy bite sized morsels, break it down into a form we can handle and finally absorb that which we need to nourish ourselves. In the same way that a bad diet poisons the body, toxic ideas, suppressed emotions and resistance to change can have a poisoning effect. In traditional Chinese Medicine, long standing emotional disharmony is seen as a primary cause of disease. Strengthening the Spleen/Stomach which between them are responsible for transforming food and water into Qi, and transporting it throughout the body, is seen as a key strategy to deal with almost any disease. Metaphysically we need to nourish ourselves every day, just as we need to eat nourishing foods. Just as the physical body needs nourishment to grow and carry on its day to day activities, so do the Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual bodies. Metaphysically, ‘wellness’ is not accomplished by a change in diet alone. Louise Hay suggests that the stomach holds nourishment, digests ideas. Problems indicate dread, fear of the new, and an inability to assimilate the new.