How pain can bring you closer to life by Preet Inder Dhillon

How Pain Brings You closer to Life


2018 has been a tough and rough year for me. Amidst all the chit-chatting still on about New Year resolutions, on the 21st of January, 2018, I lay on the hospital bed in a small town of the UK, crying and cursing and raising my fist to the sky just in case someone up there was pulling the strings. “ Life!!! I need to speak to your supervisor” was all I could croon. I tried meditating to quell my pain by focussing on my breath but in vain. My right kidney was packed with pus and septic, so my temperature remained high and refused to budge. It was only after a couple of days that the reality sank in that I would be glued to the hospital bed for the coming days or months. I wondered: what would happen, if instead of being so quick in trying to kill the pain, I tried meditation to lean into the pain, stay present and curious with it? Would I be able to learn and see it as a guide and understand what it was trying to teach me? 

I felt shattered…my broken remains lay on the ground. Bewildered, I tried picking them up and placing them side-by-side but nothing made sense. But soon, I began to notice how the haphazard curves of the lines no longer looked amiss, but instead wild and untamed. The way the colours and patterns came together was not in a mess of confusion but a mosaic of abstract beauty. Eventually, life with this physical pain started looking more like art, profound and perfect in its own right.    

Preet in Hospital

It took me six months to rebuild myself (this time without my right kidney though). I think this pain cracked me open. I appreciate and value of life more today. I have developed a true, honest and warm friendship with the person I rely on the most: my own self. In that crisis, I was the one who beat up on myself the most. This pain has taught me to forgive myself and move on. My ability to care and my strong sense of compassion seem to have become the most obvious legacy of this experience. I am no longer bitter or looking for answers. I have realised that all these things are ultimately futile and they chip away at the progress. I am taking each day to walk a path that gives me a sense of purpose.

Letting my pain break me wide open allowed me to tap into the nectar that is our essential nature, our true self. This experience has been a catalyst for creativity, passion and contented peace. It’s a commitment to walk through the fire and let all that is not the truth within us burn away. It’s terrifying yet liberating. It requires nothing more than silence, willingness to listen, and faith that something far better resides beyond our pain. Because from the brokenness comes something new…this is what we learn from all the hurricanes that after destruction, there’s always a transformation….