Discussing “Pain” in the Singapore context [part 2]

/Please read part 1 before you read this. Otherwise, you will be pretty lost./

When my yoga practice came to a standstill because of my wrist injury, I was devastated. I was never into fitness prior to yoga and when I discovered yoga, it was as if I discovered my calling. It has brought me immeasurable mental health benefits, and I was finally able to feel more comfortable in my own skin. Although it was difficult to accept that I had to take a break for a few months, I started reframing my view of fitness and of yoga. And I came to the revelation that I was not only in physical pain, I was torturing myself mentally and beating myself down.

This brings me to my next observation of how Singaporeans are not willing to admit their pain. Despite our love for expressing how physically in pain we are, we refuse to admit our mental sufferings and struggles. That is because there is a social stigma attached to mental struggles. People are so afraid of voicing their struggles because they are afraid of being seen as weak. Some even try to convince themselves that they are “feeling fine” in an attempt to suppress those thoughts.

I was not an exception. After I came to recognise what I was doing was not healthy, I started becoming kinder to myself. I later learned in my yoga teacher training course that this concept of being kind to yourself is 1 of the 8 limbs of yoga, Yama, Ahimsa. Ahimsa, being non-violent to yourself and to others should not be confused with complacency and weakness. Instead, I have discovered that you need a certain strength within to apply this in your everyday life. I am beginning to see how it is liberating, as difficult as it is.

I guess what I want to say is that pain should neither be celebrated nor condemned. It should be appreciated as a mechanism that protects us and it should be taken objectively.