The Spiritual Meaning of Pain in the Right Shoulder


The Spiritual Meaning of Pain in the Right Shoulder


Bearing the weight of your world on one shoulder? Consider the spiritual meaning of right shoulder pain and how to address it.

Sometimes our bodies flare in unpredictable ways. Sometimes they do so in predictable patterns. When we have pain in the right shoulder, especially once we’ve seen the doctor and the physiotherapist and whoever else we work with on our bodies, it might be worth thinking about the spiritual meaning of this right shoulder pain.

Bracing for a Blow

When we are under stress, many of us unconsciously hunch and twist in towards ourselves. Imagine someone was throwing a dodgeball at you—how would you protect yourself? You’d turn away from the impact, contracting your abdomen and curling around yourself. Instinctually, most of us do this by showing the metaphorical dodgeball our right shoulder blade—if there’s an impact, it won’t hit the heart.

This movement pattern shows up unconsciously in our bodies when we are under stress or have experienced trauma. It would be difficult for another person to see without specific movement training, but it’s there: The hip flexors are contracted asymmetrically, the back is slightly hunched, and the body is a little bit twisted.

If there is pain in the right shoulder, it might indicate that you are bracing for a metaphorical blow. Have there been any major stressful events in your life recently? Or have you been managing semi-constant stress? Your body may be winding up to protect itself. How can you bring the body back to a place of feeling safe and confident, where you can open your chest again to the challenges you face in your life?

Yin/Yang and Your Right Shoulder Pain

In Chinese medicine, it is understood that everything has either yin-dominant or yang-dominant energy (though they are always both present in some balance). In general, the right side of the body is yang-dominant: it is related to action, decision-making, light, and energy. The right side of the body is the can-do, go-for-it side. This can go out of balance in a couple of ways.

[Read Julie’s “Cool It Practice: Balancing Yin and Yang in Good Measure.”]

Sometimes there is something that needs to be done that we are resisting, but usually pain in the right side means we’ve been trying to do too much—or too much of the wrong things. There is an imbalance of yang energy in the body, and it needs to be balanced with some yin energy—which is related to patience, softness, and rest.

Right Shoulder, Left Brain

From neuroscience we know that the left brain mostly controls the function of the right side of the body and vice versa. For that reason, symptoms that manifest in the right side of the body could be related to the functions of the left brain. The left brain is where we do our figuring out: it focuses on language, lists, counting, logic, and organizing. It is our work brain. The right brain, on the other hand, is more interested in emotion, music, and creativity.

If we are right-handed, as an estimated 90 percent of us are, we communicate and act from the right side of our body. The right is the hand we shake with, write with, and pick up whatever it is we need to grasp. Your right side is your “doing” side, while your left side is your “feeling” side. (And these actions are typically swapped for left-handed people.)

Questions to Ask Your Right Shoulder

With all this in mind, we may be able to inquire into the spiritual meaning of our right shoulder pain. Here are some questions to journal with or meditate on:

  • Is there something you’ve been trying that just isn’t working?
  • Have you been pushing yourself despite signals from your body that you need rest?
  • Have you been trying to figure out something that doesn’t have a solution?
  • Have you been trying to control something that can’t be controlled (like a person or a relationship?)

Wrong side? Investigate the spiritual meaning of pain in the left shoulder.


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