Every pain is an opportunity to find out something new of ourselves and to grow in freedom. That is all they are, opportunities. – Frederick
Last weekend my husband, friend Dave and I participated in the Knightstown Indiana Run For Your Lives event. This is a 5K run through rough terrain and many obstacles. The most difficult obstacle: ZOMBIES. That’s right, we spent an entire Saturday running from zombies and then after the race we danced and partied with, you guessed it, zombies. It was a blast and I highly recommend it to anyone who is even remotely interested.
During the weeks leading up to the race I fell back into some bad habits. I had stopped practicing yoga and meditation almost altogether. I ate more junk food and meat (I’m usually a vegetarian). I have even been smoking an occasional cigarette from time to time! I just seemed to be avoiding everything that I knew was good for me!
I should add that at then end of May I received my Reiki II attunement. My first attunement was mild compared to this one. I felt like all the emotions I had been keeping hidden from myself were suddenly dumped out in front of me where I could no longer avoid dealing with them. I experienced major growing pains in my marriage in particular. It seems that many of my personal feelings of shame, guilt and fear are based my sexuality and previous relationships.
So there I was, all throughout June making poor decisions. During that time my body started to feel icky. I felt flabby, undesirable, low energy and worst of all I noticed a consistent pressure in my right knee. When I did attempt a half-hearted meditation session I couldn’t even sit in half lotus without pain searing through my knee! I thought to myself, I’m only 25-years-old, what the crap!?
Going into the race I felt anxious. I have only gone a total of 3 jogs in 2013 combined. My exercise consists of riding my bike as my primary mode of transport, playing with my dogs and yoga (which I had been totally slacking on). I felt completely unprepared for this (my first!) 5K.
The night before the race we arrived at our campsite and decided to stay up late talking and drinking PBR. I may have had a few too many (NOT 11 like Dave and Erich tried to convince me. But definitely more than was appropriate the night before a race).
On my way back from the restroom I looked up at the Moon. It was the night before the Super Moon and she was looking glorious. I looked around me and saw a spot that gave me a perfect view through trees. As I made my way to that spot I stumbled on some bumpy pavement and rolled my left ankle.
I sat down and grabbed the ankle with my hands, immediately using Reiki to sooth the intense pain. As I sat there somewhat stunned by the stupidity of my action I suddenly became very compassionate towards my ankle. That was the same ankle I severely sprained in high school. As I breathed deeply into the pain and held my hands gently over the area that was already beginning to swell I remembered that day years ago. I thought about what was happening in my life and the feelings I was experiencing as a 17-year-old scholar-athlete.
I remembered the intense pressure I felt. Everyone expected me to play college basketball and at the time I thought I wanted it to, but I wasn’t sure. I never questioned the expectation that I would go to college, but somehow playing ball just didn’t feel right. Perhaps I sprained my ankle before my senior season so that I could avoid consciously making the decision to play college ball or not. It was such a convenient excuse to fall back on, and that is exactly what happened. The rest of my basketball career was spent icing and wrapping and nursing that tender little ankle until the season was over and the pressure to move forward with hooping was off my shoulders.
Then it occurred to me, is that how I feel right now? Am I trying to weasel my way out of this race? It seemed very possible and once I had that realization the pain subsided drastically. When I woke up the next day the ankle was tender and stiff. When we arrived at the race I went to the medical tent to have it wrapped and decided not to let fear of failure hold me back from this race. I wasn’t being pressured by anyone, the guys told me I could sit out and it would be OK. But I didn’t want to, I wanted to run for my life!
Pain is an illusion created by an emotion which is also an illusion, as nothing can be more perfect than who we are when we are free.
The race was amazing. Dodging zombies. Crawling through, jumping over, sliding down obstacles. It was a rush! I met so many cool people and really enjoyed the exercise. Unfortunately, my body was not done teaching me about myself. During the race I ran down a steep, rocky hill and on the way down I did something to my right hip. Later that evening my entire right leg was totally screwed up. I couldn’t bend or straigthen my knee without intense pain. My hip was so stiff that walking was difficult. I realized that this is why my severely arthritic father could be such a wet blanket sometimes. Movement freaking hurts when your joints don’t cooperate! But unlike my Dad, I believe that I am in control of my body. After all, I can unconsciously (i.e. without even paying attention to it) digest food, pump oxygenated blood through my body, convert sugars into energy, and all the other amazing things my body does automatically. My body and I are one. I AM my body… thus, any discomfort is just an indication that I need to pay attention to something that I’m not doing properly.
I knew deep down that yoga was going to be my best chance at learning more about this problem and possibly relieving the discomfort. The next morning Erich and I did a wonderful session right at the edge of a lake. It was glorious. I have been doing yoga everyday since…and guess what? My hip stopped hurting within 24-hours. My knee is completely back to normal. Sitting in lotus is a breeze again. I still had to wonder…what was going on with me emotionally that caused all this in the first place?
To answer my own question I started digging online. I found a great article that led me to some wonderful resources. Here is what I learned from a man I have never met named Frederick:
The right knee pain is related to the left only by the weight you feel, or more precisely the sense of obligation to grow and move forward to claim your life and realize your vision.
The truth: in you are the seeds of freedom already growing and nothing can stop them, you, to shine. You already have done most of the work but still feel as if you need to fix more of yourself. You don’t. There is nothing wrong with you, only right, just embrace it.
This completely resonated with me. I have been feeling an obligation to grow and “awaken” myself, but the truth is I was pushing myself and had placed unnecessary expectations on myself. Yoga, meditation, eating healthy, exercising…these things are all wonderful because they make me feel good. I don’t need to put pressure on myself to do them, I just need to love myself and choose the things that reflect that love!
Once I realized the pressure was off I’m right back on track. I found a new yoga teacher who is challenging me at exactly where I need to be challenged. I have started meditating again, not because I need to, but because it feels good to do it! I also helped start a spiritual discussion group and our first meeting was wonderful! I feel I owe it all to my recent confrontation with my pain and emotional baggage.
One thing that is helpful to remember when we start feeling pressured, uncomfortable or resistant to change is this:
“The greatest discovery of any generation
is that human beings can alter their lives
by altering the attitudes of their minds.”
If this stuff clicks with you definitely read the article I mentioned above and check out the resource below. Each and every pain and dis-ease is a message. You just have to listen and learn and then the pain just goes away.
Namaste Dear Ones,
Great Resource: Spiritual Meaning Underlying Diseases