(Author of Want) Julie Peters explains why having pain in your left shoulder might indicate another indisposition.
When it comes to the spiritual meaning of left shoulder pain, your heart is at the heart of the matter.
Pain is a useful signal in our bodies, most of the time. It indicates that something is wrong or that something needs attention. When pain becomes chronic, however, there’s often nothing wrong in the traditional sense—no underlying injury, for example. But it is still a signal, still something that needs our attention, even if it turns out that it is our spirit, and not our body, that needs attention. Exploring the spiritual meaning of left shoulder pain, for example, can help alleviate discomfort in that area of your body.
Spiritual Meaning of Left Shoulder Pain: How is Your Heart?
The left shoulder is the body part that is most connected to our hearts. Feeling pain in this area could indicate that the heart is tender, in pain, or spiritually out of alignment.
Ask yourself these questions to locate the spiritual meaning of left shoulder pain:
- Does your heart feel full and nourished?
- Does your heart feel broken?
- Are you experiencing grief that is unprocessed?
- Are you living in alignment with your heart’s desires?
Spiritual Meaning of the Left Side: Yin Energy
In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s understood that everything has both yin and yang energy in varying balances. Yang energy is all about light and movement, while yin energy is dark and quiet. The left side of our bodies is dominated by yin energy: the energy of emotion, passivity, listening, and feeling. When there is something off on the left side of our body, we may wish to check in with our emotional selves.
From this perspective, certain emotions are more yin-like while others are more yang. Sadness is the major yin emotion. Tears flow like water, a major yin element. Sometimes sadness needs to be felt and expressed.
[Read about “The Restorative Power of Tears.”]
When we are overbalanced in yin energy, however, that can lead to depression, stagnation, or numbness. Too much yin energy can lead to lethargy and resistance to change. In Chinese medicine, pain tends to mean that the energy is stuck somewhere, not flowing effectively. You may ask yourself these questions to inquire into the balance of yin and yang in your body:
- Has sadness or grief tipped over into depression?
- Do you feel lethargic and unwilling to do much?
- Have you been ignoring your anger?
- How have you been moving your body?
- Have you been moving enough?
Yin/Yang and the Brain
In yoga and Chinese medicine, there are energetic pathways along the two sides of the body, corresponding to yin and yang. The energy channels cross around the nose, so the left side of the body is connected to the right half of the brain and vice versa.
This is true scientifically as well: the right side of the brain mostly controls the muscles on the left side of the body and vice versa.
The right brain is more yin-like: It is emotional, visual, and instinctual. The left side of the brain (and, thus, right side of the body) is more logical and rational, focused on things like language and numbers. Pain on the left side of the body could connect to an imbalance in the right brain, the area responsible for our emotions, images, and instinctual reactions.
Practice for Pain in the Left Shoulder
With all this in mind, we can try a simple meditation to better understand the spiritual meaning of left shoulder pain and perhaps help to alleviate it. In addition to this practice, yoga, physiotherapy, and the advice of a doctor may all be needed in order to properly diagnose and treat what’s going on in the left shoulder.
Find a comfortable position for your meditation and close your eyes. If it’s comfortable, place your right hand on the left shoulder where you feel the pain. Breathe deeply, and simply listen to the sensations in your left shoulder. What do you notice? What do you feel? Imagine that your left shoulder could talk to you. What would it say? What does your left shoulder need today?
Wrong side? Investigate the spiritual meaning of right shoulder pain.
8 Steps to Recovering Desire, Passion, and Pleasure After Sexual Assault
Have the courage to heal. We know, increasingly, how common and devastating sexual violence is for women, but we don’t always talk about how survivors can recover from the trauma and return to desire, sexuality, trust, and pleasure. Want is the story of how Julie Peters did just that―and how you can, too.
Move past the fog of trauma. In the years after the assault, Julie was in what she calls the fog of trauma: the colorless, tasteless experience of barely getting through the day. No one―not counsellors, support groups, or other survivors―could give her any advice about how to find the desire that could bring her back to joy, intimacy, and connection. She had to make it up on her own. In Want, Julie tells the story of getting from the devastation of trauma to living a full life in eight sometimes challenging, often bumbling, and occasionally delightful steps.