What is the Spiritual Significance of Pain?

This is an image of a monarch butterfly emerging from its chrysalis

© Doug Lemke/shutterstock



While it may not be our favorite part of life, at some time or another every one of us experiences mental, emotional, and physical pain and disease.  Perhaps the most obvious benefit to feeling pain is that it certainly gets our attention.  Pain is like the indicator lights and alarms in our cars indicating something is amiss.  Chances are that we ignored some rather obvious clues before the panic lights came on, such as getting gas, changing the oil, or recharging the battery.



The same is true in our personal lives.  Many times we experience mental, emotional, and physical pain only after we have ignored many warning signs.  How often do we abuse ourselves by not paying attention to the many subtle messages that come in whispers–messages to trust our intuition, slow down our work pace, exercise more, eat more nutritiously, spend more time with our families, or forgive someone?  If we continue to ignore the “whisper messages,” the symptoms escalate until we are forced to pay attention due to a major mental, emotional, or physical crisis.



Like the indicator lights, pain is not a permanent condition in and of itself.  Pain is a symptom telling us that we are sensing something in our lives that requires healing.  In other words, we are literally feeling dis-ease with the misalignment of our physical reality with our spiritual truth of unconditional love.



Because we cannot separate the body and mind

from our soul connection to Spirit,

pain registers physically, emotionally, and mentally.



The obvious place we sense pain is in our bodies because our bodies physically indicate the ease and dis-ease within our lives in a very apparent way.  Although we have a tendency to dismiss bodily pain and illness as “just physical,” in truth, our bodies are the visible physical signals indicating deeper, underlying emotional issues calling out to be healed.  Many times the physical symptoms we see and experience correlate with the emotional issues we need to resolve.  For example, we may say that someone in our lives is a “pain in the neck,” and sure enough, we physically experience pain in the neck.  We may be experiencing an emotional break-up with a loved one and physically feel pain in the heart . A long-term, serious illness is many times a very large symptom of a spiritual issue that requires our full attention and is ready to be healed.  It is like the Universe is shouting out to us to pay attention to something.  For example, an auto-immune disease is a disease in which the body attacks itself–a symptom that calls our attention to the need to unconditionally love our physical bodies.  For some of us, pain registers more obviously in the form of mental imbalance and illness.  While there are a myriad of medical diagnoses to describe mental illness, the bottom line is that mental illness, physical illness, and emotional pain are all indications that our soul is not feeling aligned with how we are experiencing our physical world.



We can struggle with pain or we can move to a deeper level of healing by listening to the messages that it brings:



Many times our greatest growth periods come through the experience of pain.  Those of us who have experienced a dark time in life through serious illness or emotional trauma know the opportunity it brings for enormous wisdom and insight.  Sometimes we have to experience the contrast of darkness in order to find the light.  Indeed, there are lessons within our lives that may be much more apparent in the darkness of our despair because we focus more intensely when there are fewer things to see.  It is like walking into a dark room–at first we can see nothing, yet after our eyes have had a chance to refocus, we begin to see particular items in the room even though the room is still dark.  Likewise, we can have some very profound insights about areas of our life that need improvement when we are slowed down by injuries from an accident or while we are quietly lying in bed recovering from an illness, away from our hectic daily routines.



Painful experiences also remind us how to be compassionate and non-judgmental toward others.  We can theorize about what it might feel like to have a serious sickness, deal with a drug addiction, go through a divorce, watch a friend or relative experience an anguishing death, lose a job, or have serious money problems; but it is the actual experience of living through these types of painful times that opens our hearts to express tenderness and total compassion to others who are wrestling with their own challenges in life.



Pain helps us to appreciate the pleasures in life.  It is through the contrast of pain that we also come to appreciate the pleasures of life.  I understand, first hand, that serious illness and long-term physical, mental, and emotional pain can be extremely overwhelming and very distracting.  All the more reason that it is crucial to our overall well-being to adopt a frame of mind in which we are committed to learn from our experiences rather than allow the pain to control our lives.  Although pain is not pleasant, it is a temporary experience that is part of our human spiritual growth and evolution.  Like the caterpillar emerging from the cocoon, it is uncomfortable but ultimately a part of  the process of humanity’s transformation from a world of separation to a world of Oneness.



  “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. 


Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.


And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy.”

– Kahlil Gibran


Love and Light,





I welcome your sharing experiences with how you are dealing with or have overcome painful experiences.

7 thoughts on “What is the Spiritual Significance of Pain?

    • Dear Cathy: It is wonderful to hear that you received the message that you needed to hear. The synchronicity of life is so fascinating, isn’t it? I pray that you experience the blessings of complete health and peace within.
      Love and Light, Sandra

  1. This is a morning, noon and night experience for me. Tonight, I am listening to delta wave music and thinking about how to teach/share spiritual messages to children. Just thinking about sharing with and listening to the angelic voices of children helps me to pull out of pain.
    Sometimes asking for help from someone I love and trust helps to alleviate the pain. For instance, my husband was happy to lay next to me and gently stroke away some of the pain. This intimacy is a true gift!
    Listening to others who are experiencing distress and offering insights, compassion or just a gentle touch often works wonders.
    And never give up on finding health care professionals that resonate with you.
    And ALWAYS, at least for me, breathing into the pain, praying and spending time with loved ones. I love my play dates with my dearest friends!

    • Dear Krinski: First of all, I feel deep compassion for what you are experiencing. I too have a physical challenge that speaks to me morning, noon, and night, so I understand the tremendous commitment that you are making to align your mind and body with your soul’s connection to Universal Love.
      As I mentioned in my blog, I believe that chronic, long term physical and mental dis-eases are old patterns of separation, deep within our being, that are coming up for healing in a huge way! When viewed in this way, we can perceive our nagging physical and mental maladies as an enormous opportunity to become whole.
      Your suggestions for healing are so wonderful! Breathing into the pain, in particular, speaks to me because I have become personally aware of the tendency I have had, in the past, to be angry with the parts of my body that are not functioning in healthy ways. Breathing into these parts is a very powerful way to express loving attention to where it is most needed. Again, not separating the body from the mind and spirit.
      Your suggestions to listen to delta music, listening to the innocent voices of children, touching someone you love are so inspiring.
      I also appreciate your reminding all of us to be open to integrating the healing energies of the medical profession with natural healing modalities. It is all about intention, isn’t it?
      Thank you so much for your loving, generous response.
      Love and Light,

  2. OK… I am NOW ready to emerge from my cocoon!
    I am NOW ready to BE radiant with grace (physically, emotionally & spiritually) and well-being! I am sending out prayers for all of those in need of comfort and healing. May we all embrace our lessons and emerge into our truest selves. may we know that we are ONE in our wholeness, in our beauty, in our strength, our truth and our love!

  3. My favorite Kahlil Gibran quote offered here is the first one, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses understanding”. I came to this realization because of the isolation that accompanies debilitating chronic pain. Pain is most often invisible to the eyes of friends, strangers, and family. We are literally thrown back onto the self for emotional, mental, and physical survival. It seems to be an ideal heroes journey for those who choose it.
    Sincere thanks for this opportunity to share and learn from others who may be sharing a similar life experience at any point in time.
    Peace, Love, and Understanding to us all.

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