At the beginning of a power yoga class yesterday, my first chaturanga set off an alarm that my shoulder was not happy. Now normally, my right shoulder (because of two unsuccessful surgeries) is never fully 100% content; kind of like a grumpy old man that is always mumbling some complaint or harsh observation. But, this was not the normal nagging…this was a scream, like a young girl who got her ice cream cone stolen by her big brother. Because I’m me and gratefully, not a grumpy old man nor did I have an ice cream cone robbed from my possession, I went forward without much concern, modifying some poses and thinking it was no biggie. Proceeding class, I decided that I was actually going to ice it and work on calming the fire beneath my skin. And don’t even begin to ask me the last time I iced my shoulder! My right shoulder has become the temper tantrum I pay little attention to because I’ve learned less attention is better to solve any problems. But at that moment, I knew it was speaking to me.
After the icing, I noticed that when the cooling went away, my shoulder still felt numb. I thought it was ‘cool’, kinda like after you go to the dentist and it feels so freaking weird, but it’s fun to play with like you’re a gumby doll. Unfortunately, I woke up this morning and my shoulder was still numb…not so cool anymore! Thank goodness I work at such an amazing yoga studio on the weekends where I have access to knowledgeable and loving massage therapists who can help me work through minor problems I seem to acquire over the week. One of the therapists/acupuncturists volunteered to get the blood flow moving to my shoulder (a.k.a. beat me up by punching my arm repeatedly). Now, with a bruise arm and an increasingly growing numb spot on the front of my shoulder, I am yet again, for the hundredth-millionth time in my life, having to analyze what God is showing me through PAIN. This time around, I have arrived at the truth that PAIN equals the Powerful Acceptance for Internal Nurture.
Since my second ACL tear in August, I have taken a step back from pushing myself, and a big leap into myself and looking at what my internal body needs. For the last few months, I consciously have been putting to sleep the ‘go-getter’ in me as often as possible. I guess putting to sleep was more like hitting the snooze button : an annoying sound that yells at us over an over to get the hell up (or in my case take it easy). Pain is the #1 wake up call that our internal body needs some lovin’. We get so caught up in our external responsibilities, conference calls, lunch meetings, happy hours and societal pressures that our connection to ourselves gets muddled into the concoction of existence. Unless pain is extremely chronic, it can be easy to ignore. I understand after years of injuries, ice buckets, elevation and deep-tissue massage, pain should be another name for patience! Whether it is physical or emotional, sitting with pain (acute or chronic) is toxic and hard to deal with on a long-term basis. Can we maintain patience enough to deal with uncomfort? Can we change our concept of PAIN from an intense sensation to a Powerful Acceptance that our body needs some hardcore Internal Nurture? Whether that means some coconut water, kale, yoga, sleep, laughter, exercise, forgiveness or a big piece of chocolate cake :), the message of pain is poking at us for attention.
One of my biggest fears as I age is as I get older and go through more injuries, I may not be able to do the things I want to do at 40, 50, even 80 because I didn’t listen to my pain signals along the way. So maybe pain is just a neural messenger to give some internal love and attention, but on a bigger scale, maybe my body is asking me to accept that I am not the gymnast, athlete, climb a 14er and run down-kind-of girl I used to be at 18. Pain both reminds me that:
1) I ❤ yoga!!!
2) I’m getting older and am not the pink Power Ranger anymore!
The one great thing about injury (maybe emotional heartBREAK, too) is we bond more with ourselves than without it…we have to engage, nurture, and treat our body with concentrated intention. Whether it’s a little nagging from an old man or a loud scream of anger from a little girl…can we listen to ourselves and even the people around us to pain we are experiencing ourselves or maybe, consciously or unconsciously, causing others?? And then, can we nurture the parts of us that hurt so deeply?!