The Pain Companion – A Book Review
As a fellow chronic pain warrior and a yoga teacher who works with clients living with pain I was excited to be provided a copy of Sara Ann Shockley’s book The Pain Companion to review. That background is also the perspective I bring to my opinion of the book. I’m always looking for new tips that I can use personally, and adapt to the framework of yoga for my clients.
While many people in this country think of yoga as a system for exercise, it was originally designed as a full person practice ‘exercising’ all levels of your being. In yoga, those are called koshas or sheaths. The koshas are five layers from the outward physical body to the innermost bliss or spiritual layer.
The Pain Companion focuses exclusively on those middle layers of your being, beneath your most outward physical self. There are no exercises or diet tips, only more subtle practices. These subtle practices include breathwork, meditation exercises, and journaling prompts. The book doesn’t address your innermost, or spiritual sheath either.
This is not a yoga book about chronic pain and the author explains she was looking for tools that went beyond the conventional when those didn’t work for her. She doesn’t mention religion in her life so I can only assume that isn’t a large aspect of her life. Her pain levels are bad enough she is sometimes severely restricted in her movement, so she wasn’t going to be able to stretch the pain away and again I was assuming prayer or other spiritual practices were not a method that worked for her either.
The meat and strength of the book is the exercises it provides for dealing with how pain affects your breath, your thoughts, and your energy. One I especially liked was providing space for your pain. You started by noticing where your pain is located, and then found the space around the pain that didn’t hurt. By switching your concentration between the two areas, you gradually shift to allowing the pain-free space to grow, and the painful area to dissolve and weaken into the pain-free area. Resulting in less overall pain hopefully.
Since the book is about pain and different tools work for different people, it would have been nice to at least have some resources for places to go to find tools for other aspects of pain management. Unfortunately, just because we may deal with chronic pain with a specific cause right now, it doesn’t mean our chronic pain won’t get worse or change dramatically in the future. We can’t control the future, and shouldn’t worry about it, but having some skillsets in the broadest array of tools possible always increases the odds we’ll be able to find something that works. That’s why I keep coming back to yoga. It covers all the bases. But that’s me. I think the most important thing for each of us to remember is whatever technique that works for us as individuals to find solace, comfort, and release, even if we wouldn’t describe it as reducing our levels of physical pain, is of tremendous value.
I appreciate Shockley’s candor in sharing her story and the techniques she shared to help others find relief. If you need more tools to help manage pain, get a copy. In the spirit of yoga, and practicing self-inquiry, use the ones that work for you.
If you’d like to read another product review post I did, read my review of Axon Tinted Migraine Relief glasses.
I was provided a copy of the book for free to write a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own. The links to Amazon if used, will result in a commission paid to me, that doesn’t change the price of the book for you. I use that money to buy more yoga books.