A routine skin check at my dermatologist office becomes a surgical intervention on Monday morning. A growth is removed for biopsy. No worries, just caution! The procedure itself involved a beautiful silver miniature scalpel, with which Dr. C. gouged out a crater. I exaggerate, but only slightly.
The injection of a numbing solution caused the startle reflex, and one of the nurses in attendance was kind enough to place a calming hand on my shoulder. I was then happily oblivious to pain until its effects began to wear off.
On the way to the pharmacy, I experienced searing pain. Observing the pain and my reactions to it allowed me to co-exist with the discomfort. My perception widened to include the whole of my physical self, my thoughts about the pain, and the aisles down which I walked to select my purchases.
Did the pain diminish? No. What changed was my relationship to it. I attribute this habit of mind, that of self-observation, directly to an on-going Alexander Technique practice. Startle, downward pull, contraction, one-pointed focus; all are responses to pain which can be ameliorated with attention.
And then the Advil did its job, taking the edge off the pain. What a team! AT and Advil.