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Spiritual Meaning of Pain in the Upper-Middle Back

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To uncover the spiritual meaning of pain in the upper-middle back, ask if you’re getting enough support in the back of your heart.

The upper-middle back is that place between the shoulder blades, also known as the back of the heart. Most of us know it as the place where we have big, intense knots of tension that we could just let someone massage forever.

There are so many reasons we might get pain in the upper-middle back, including sitting hunched over a desk or phone, picking up a baby, gardening, or anything else that requires that we look down or lift a lot. But there is an energetic resonance to this area that is worth considering if you have chronic pain there—think of it as unlocking the spiritual meaning of pain in the upper-middle back.

Back of the Heart

Energetically, the front of the body and the front of the heart is the space through which we give out our energy. We make facial expressions to show how we feel, we gesture with our hands. The front of our hearts is very outward-focused: on what other people think and need, the ways we need to care for others, and how we engage with our communities and families. We rarely think as much, however, about the back of the heart. This is the space through which we receive energy. As much as we may focus on caring for others, especially if we are parents or in a caregiving field, how much attention are we giving to our own care?

[Read: “7 Myths of Self-Care and the Truth of Building Resilience.”]

Self-care is a powerful practice, of course, and it’s important for everyone to do what they can to take care of themselves. But care from others is deeply important, too, and when we're not receiving enough support from others, we can get tied up and exhausted. Here are some questions you could ask yourself:

  • How am I taking care of my body?
  • How am I taking care of my emotional self?
  • How am I taking care of my intellectual self?
  • Do I feel supported by others?
  • What help could I be asking for that I am not asking for?

Upper-Middle Back Pain Rooted in the Past

The back of the body, in general, represents the past—that which is behind us. Sometimes when we have pain in the back of the heart, the heart is trying to remind us of something that happened in the past that has something in common with what’s happening in the present. Often, these are past circumstances where we felt a very deep pain in the heart. Perhaps it is an experience of grief, rejection, or pain.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • What past experiences feel similar to what I’m experiencing now?
  • What lessons did I learn from those past experiences?
  • How might those lessons apply to me now?
  • Is there something from the past that I am holding onto?
  • Have I fully processed my grief/pain from a past experience?

Visualization for Letting Go

Many of us hold on to negative experiences from the past, and there’s a reason for that. We would like to think we could simply decide to let go and that would be enough for us to truly release whatever is sitting heavy on our shoulders. In order to let go, however, we need to understand why we are still holding on. What is it about this attachment that feels so sticky?

Sometimes it is helpful to do a little visualization exercise around letting go. Think about what it is you want most in your life—the thing/s you are craving that you do not yet have. Now imagine yourself actually having all those things. How would your life be different?

Notice if there is any part of you that feels fearful or uncomfortable about this prospect of having the thing you want. If there is a resistance to this change, explore what that feels like in your body. Here is where you may discover the lesson you need to learn or the warning you need to heed before you can move forward towards what you really want.

Releasing Pain in the Upper-Middle Back

Practices like yoga, acupuncture, and physiotherapy can go a long way toward resolving tension in this area, but often the upper-middle back will not release until something changes emotionally. Take the time to meditate with your upper back and the suggested questions above to discover the spiritual meaning of pain in the upper-middle back. Look at what you might need to do in order to shift something around how you are supporting yourself, how you are being supported, and what lessons from the past may be trying to reach you in the present.

Is your pain radiating a bit lower? Consider the spiritual meaning of lower back pain.

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