Body pain, emotional pain: why I don’t work out at the gym


Working out challenges me. I am challenged physically, of course, and also in terms of my attitude and thoughts, so I guess I could say that I am cognitively challenged, too. I have to stay positive, to avoid over-thinking and to just DO IT.

But what I have found out about working out at home, is that the sensations in my body allow to me access other kinds of emotional responses than I thought likely…or even possible. I suppose if I had not been a client of bioenergetic therapy for more than ten years, I would perhaps not feel free to allow the behavioural expression of my experience. But I do, and I am amazed and full of wonder at what is going on.

Specifically, when I work through some of the deepest and most chronic of my body tensions, it hurts. It hurts a lot, but I am okay there, knowing that what hurts is my own tension. I am not injuring myself but pressing extraordinarily tight tissues against gentle resistance, such as the foam roller, or opening my hip outward using a strap to support my leg. What happens is this: I wait with the sensation, sink into the intensity, try to allow relaxation to happen around the exquisite pain of the place where my resistance meets the roller (for example). And I am moved to sobbing, deep, deep sobbing, tears and wailing. It feels pulled out of me, from my deepest self, like part of me is tearing apart. Rolling my thoracic spine over the roller has a piquancy that is like nothing else, but as the roller descends toward my lower ribs, to the area of my diaphragm, the intensity increases. It is painful, genuinely painful, but I know it is not the pain of injury. It is the pain of my chronic tensions, chronic defenses against living my own life, resisting the pressure to soften, to release, to let go, to allow, to surrender.

So I do let go; I let go into the sobbing and wailing and that contributes to some softening and relaxing. I can’t stay for long; the sensations are too intense, my reactions are big, and I can only hold that space for a few moments.   There it is:  my body letting go another tiny bit, releasing ancient tensions through sobbing and vibration.  I don’t have any stories to tell myself about WHY I am crying, don’t have any need to locate a reason in my everyday world.  It just happens.  Then it is over.  And then I can step away, take a deep breath, and rest in the experience of a new and different body, a calmer and more alive self than just a few moments before.  The ground feels more secure, the world looks brighter, and I am intensely present to myself.

4 thoughts on “Body pain, emotional pain: why I don’t work out at the gym”

  1. Hi Leslie!

    Just read your post. It is such an intense experience you shared! I don’t think you would be able to do that in a gym? I mean to let go of your feelings? (i never saw that) It might be a silly question, but how can you tell the difference between physical and emotional pain? I’ve started to train again, and the phrase my trainer says often is : no pain, all gain! I’ve started to use a half roller for an exercise. I can use it only few minutes, because my back starts to talk…That would be physical pain right? Or could that be emotional pain as well??Can it be a mix of both?

    I did notice something though, since I’m training at the gym. I prefer to go to the Northside. Much smaller and less noisier. I’ve been to the South Side few times, and everytime i went, there were guys training with heavy weights and they were literally dropping them down on the floor. I quit earlier than intended to, because I really didn’t like the noise (it made me feel quite uncomfortable, like very very nervous). I also sense my energy shifting when i train…and i can also pick up the positive energy from others.

    I wish to be able to have a good crying fit someday. I know it’s hidden somewhere in me…it rarely comes out..

    On another note, I’m already looking forward to Belcourt (also I must say i’m nervous about it…fear of the unknown :-)).

    Roxanne Lalibert

    Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2014 13:07:49 +0000 To:

    1. Yeah, crying in the gym is probably not socially appropriate. People might think something was wrong, when it is only an expression of intensity. Your trainer might say ” no pain, no gain” but you do have to learn the difference between pain that means ” I’m getting injured here” and the pain of tense muscles and other tissues. My main point was that when I sink into the intensity of the stretch, my body reacts with energy discharge…heat, vibration, and sobbing. It was unexpected when I first experienced it; now I can welcome it. I am glad you decided to go to Belcourt!

  2. The body is a amazing thing :-). Do you allow it to happen a lot? Sometimes, I’m not quite sure how to differenciate where the pain comes from. My physiotherapist says i have a “cold” shoulder. Meaning it’s tensed and that is what is causing the physical pain i experience. I guess despite all the work I did with you, I still have things to learn on how my body reacts…

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