Mind Body Healing

First flowers this spring

Last month I was flat on my back in pain for twelve days due to an intention I set in January. Let me be clear, the intention was not to be flat on my back. The intention I set in January was to “Shift out of my life those things that do not serve me.” Mostly, I was imagining this meant habits and thoughts that were once protective but are now keeping me caged. I read the intention each morning to keep it fresh, but I didn’t notice anything shifting, which is typical of winter, when most of the action is happening underground.

March 2nd (the crocuses were blooming) I head to yoga class. I am as flexible and spry as ever. As I exit the car, I have the thought “I have been unsupported my whole life.” This is not a new thought for me. Some sad, whiney version of it shows up whenever I am having a self-pity party. In the sixty seconds it takes to cross the street, log into class and take off my shoes, my lower back has begun to spasm. I think, “Great! I’m at a yoga class. Best place to work on a mind-body connection.”

I tell the instructor (hereafter know as B.) that my back is a little twinge-y, so if she notices I’m not with the flow, it’s just self-care. I know this instructor well, we are friends and have been through some stuff together. Yoga class is good. I take a very gentle approach and spend the meditative parts thinking about how supported I am. By the end of class, I can neither get up unassisted or walk. What I can do is slide my stockinged feet across the bare cork floor. B. and M. (another student) put away my props and gather up my belongings. I skate my way gingerly toward the door with the increasing realization that I can’t drive. B. and M. have a plan. M. will drive my car. B. will take me home, which includes lifting my legs into her car and twenty five minutes of an awkward two-person dance over grass and concrete and carpet to get from the sidewalk to my apartment.

As B. was driving me home, I laughed and told her that my thought “I have been unsupported my whole life” combined with the intention to “Shift out of my life what no longer serves me” got filtered through my beautiful, intelligent body to “You are supported. Let me show you how.”

One of my sons brought me a heating pad. Another son came over twice a day to get things out of the cabinets, as I could neither reach nor bend. Friends brought soup and offered rides.

I discovered that an hour on the heating pad would provide me one to two hours of slow gentle movement before the muscles extending from my sacrum to my lower posterior pelvic bone tightened like individual violin strings whose pegs have been turned until the string could no longer be pleased to play a melody but only a high-pitched caterwauling scream.

Once on the heating pad, I focused my attention on how I have been supported throughout my life. With the luxury of time for this meditation, I savored memories not thought of in years: the nursing instructor who anonymously bought my Sigma Theta Tau pin, the stranger who escorted me out of a sketchy part of town when I was lost, the friend that took me to the ED when I had pneumonia. Even when I believed that I had to do everything myself, support would find a way, like water through cracks.

I have come to think of this as my twelve day meditation retreat. By its end, my back had stopped spasming and the thought “I have been unsupported my whole life” had lost its grip.


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