This week I had the opportunity to do some of the emotional and spiritual work I support my clients to practice:
namely learning to lean into pain and discomfort rather than turning away. Oh how I resisted this “opportunity” to practice what I preach when the Universe offered it to me.
Friday night I did something that triggered some chronic lower back pain. I am not 100% sure what happened. It might have been driving for two hours with a stressed out dog in my lap in terrifying Saudi Arabia traffic, it could have been the many stressful situations that evening (dropping my puppy off for grooming for the first time at a new place, attending an event where I knew I would see people whose energy is unhealthy for me, returning to a home I just moved away from, worrying about my daughter’s emotional state at that event), or twisting my ankle earlier in the week. Honestly, it could have been anything.
I spent the first part of the week trying to pinpoint the “cause” of the issue. It gave me a sense of control. If I new what caused it, I would know how to treat it, how to make it better, how to make it GO AWAY.
Once I realized I would never know for sure what caused it, I began to look at past examples, and my thinking spiraled. “It happens when I am stressed. Am I stressed? Oh, actually, it happens before I travel. I am traveling next week. Maybe that is why. No, too early for that, usually I strain it while packing. When this happens it usually clears up in 2-3 days. This is Day 5, maybe something is really wrong. Don’t be silly. It must be hormonal. I need to get my hormones tested. Why haven’t I don’t that yet?” and on and on and on. You get the picture.
I tried every remedy on the planet in rapid fire succession, every cream offered by friends, hot baths, cold water bottle rubs, heat pad, stretching, walking, lying down, no pills, pills, anti-inflammatory foods and teas, self Pranic Energy Healing. I threw the book at it, so fast and so hard, I had no idea what worked and what didn’t.
Finally today, when I woke up and the pain seemed worse on day 5 rather than any better…I stopped and asked myself some questions I often ask my clients.
What would happen if you turned toward the pain rather than way from it?
What if you really leaned in and just sat with it instead of focusing on trying to fix it?
We are so programmed in our society for two things:
- Move as far away from pain as possible and as quickly as possible.
- Everything can (and should) be fixed through action.
The truth is that this is not a balanced (let alone realistic) way to live. We can’t live only in the Yang (action). Sometimes we have to embrace the Yin (being) of life.
The Yin AND the Yang.
So today I am made a conscious choice to be present, to sit with the pain and to be aware (without judgement) of what came up in that sacred space I held for my Body, Mind and Spirit.
Here is what I noticed in addition to the pain in my lower back:
- there is tightness in my heart center,
- there are unshed tears stuck in my throat and behind my eyelids,
- my breathing is shallow and quick,
- my core is clenched so tightly it hurts,
- I feel bloated and gassy,
- I am holding my shoulders up around my ears,
- my entire nervous system is activated to the point that light, noises and touch hurt,
- I am thirsty,
- I have a craving for ginger and root vegetables,
- my body wants to go outside in the evening when the light is softer
- my bare feet want to touch the earth and my body wants to be held by the salt water
- I am feeling guilt and shame for “doing nothing”,
- I am feeling alternating frustration at my pets and family for needing me and then guilt for not being able to fulfill their needs,
- I have thoughts about how I will get everything done before I travel internationally next week,
- I am feeling deep grief, anger, sadness and fear about the state of the world,
- I am feeling worry about traveling and separating our family during these times.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what I discovered. Simply by taking the time to just be instead of getting caught up in action.
No wonder my back is acting up.
Does this mean I will not DO anything today when it comes to managing my pain? No.
But it does mean I have committed to listening to the wisdom of my body and what this pain has come to tell me without fear or judgement. During that sacred pause when I chose to just be with my pain I was able to receive some important messages I wouldn’t have heard if I just kept trying to make it go away.
Besides the Physical pain there is Emotional pain and grief that needs to be processed and released.
My Body could benefit from some progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, breath and light work to help spread and absorb the Prana (life force) and healing energy.
My Body is mildly dehydrated. It is craving fluids and nourishment from soups made of root vegetables and anti-inflammatory agents like ginger and tumeric.
My Body, Mind and Spirit are asking for deep rest and that I limit outside stimulation from light, noise, and touch.
My Spirit is asking me to go outside when the light is soft in the late afternoon
to experience the healing of the land and water.
My Heart could benefit from asking my loved ones for help and the time and space to heal.
My work right now is to BE here with, and in, this pain. Learning the lessons it has to teach me. I can try to run away from it, but I will never escape it. The same lesson will continue to come back to me again and again in different forms until I am willing to do the work to heal and move through it.
SO today I will pull my window blinds, drink lots of water and medicinal teas, sip on healing soups, practice some gentle breath work, stretch, sleep, ask my husband to drive me to the beach this evening where I will wade into the salt water and allow it to take some of the weight for me as I float into the magic space of moonrise and sunset, then take a hot shower, oil my body with soothing oils and sleep again.
I will speak to my pain like it is a small child who needs love, and care, and attention. I will gratefully and humbly give the same love, and care, and attention to the many lessons my pain came to teach me.
With love and gratitude,