When Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced “conscious uncoupling” in 2014, interest in the term “uncoupling” spiked and has remained on an uptrend ever since (as per Google Trends). The pair divorced in 2016.
Uncoupling has been on the uptrend in other domains as well. Ride hailing services like Uber have uncoupled private ownership of car from private transport. Netflix has uncoupled watching a movie from going to the theatre. The gig economy has uncoupled gainful work from employment. There are still tremendous business opportunities in uncoupling. My company is trying to uncouple common language as a precondition for student-teacher interaction (hint – voice translation).
I recently read that our emotional reaction to pain can be uncoupled from pain. Aversion to pain is not the same as pain. Just as liking a movie is not the same as the movie.
What hurts is not the pain but the emotional reaction to it. We always knew it though. Remember “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”?
In yoga (and any form of exercise) the most demanding and beneficial segment is the last few minutes. E.g. if you can easily hold a pose (asana) for 60 seconds, holding for another 60 seconds will be critically beneficial to you though also the most painful (at least that’s what my yoga teacher says).
I tried to eliminate the feeling of pain by focusing my mind on something else – something as mundane as a mark in the opposite wall. The mind did tend to wander back to the pain but using meditation skills, I could make it go back to the all-important mark in the wall.
Miraculously I did not experience the excruciating pain which I used to earlier. The second minute passed away without as much difficulty. My teacher was pleasantly surprised when I offered to increase the asana to three minutes (I have not yet told him my secret strategy lest he starts pushing me for four minutes).
I also considered something else. Usually after a real struggle at yoga or gym we have sore muscles the next day. But we don’t really mind them. We actually feel “proud” of them because they remind us of the hard work we did. Isn’t it an example that our feelings are actually uncoupled from pain. If feelings are already uncoupled post strenuous exercising, we can surely uncouple them when exercising.
Does it couple with sense?