The selfishness of pain.

painDay 247 – Without a doubt, a yoga practice enriches our life.  It gets us through the challenges of day-to-day madness, deeper and more cataclysmic crises, and help fill the cracks that form in our foundations over years of wear-and-tear.   Making time to practice is more than two extremes of self-preservation and selfishness; it becomes ritual.  And it is from this daily ritual that Rolf describes yoga as a mechanism to “open your heart, your actions, your wisdom, and your conduct…[to] look within, and…see that every face is your face.”

This, in itself, is well and good, when one is balanced, but what happens in times of self-preservation or selfishness?  I came to a daily yoga practice in self-preservation, and it has definitely been an interesting journey.  It felt selfish to carve out time, so I did this at the beginning of the day, when everyone was sleeping.  Like many women in their 40s, I was dealing with the beginnings of years of physical and emotional wear-and-tear, and through no fault of my own, fears of death, cancer, and going through the motions of life without being present.  Physically, inflammation and hormonal imbalances began to manifest, which changed my outlook and mental resilience, which compounded my emotional and physical dis-ease.  Self-preservation was my focus, but in return my practice gave me insight that others were probably much like me; I am calmer and more present, and I can look out at the world and “see my face in every face.”

Nonetheless, for the past week, I’ve been dealing with a different type of pain–the acute kind–which, after returning from vacation, has kept me busy.  I agreed to sub all kinds of yoga/stretch classes at the Y this week, to make a little money, and after two weeks off from CF, I thought I would be back at strength training and WOD’ing.  Alas, a slip in the mountains did a little number on my already tweaky left shoulder, which became apparent after a partner Cindy WOD on Monday.  Immediately, I got in to see my amazing chiropractor, and I had him work on my hip (since before I went to the mountains I had an SI issue keeping me from dancing and deadlifting), too.  As a result, I have had to limit my yoga (and every thing else).  I’m just in too much pain most of the day to do much constructive.  My concentration is poor, my body is achy, and I am fatigued.

Yoga practice is my go-to place to find out what I need.  It is not my workout, my mobility work, my therapy session.  It is just a quiet place where I can selfishly rest, reset, and return to the world–it’s probably why I didn’t need it on vacation (and probably won’t need to practice on the cruise I’m going on in Sunday).  After years of self-preservation, I can selfishly pack my practice and take it anywhere.  In fact, today’s practice was at the doctor’s office while I was receiving modalities on my neck.  I settled in and just breathed, concentrating just on the breath and visualizing white light pouring into my neck and shoulder and heart area (it turned to purple light, but that is a different topic altogether).  Nature walks in the mountain with Fred, taking in waterfalls, vistas, and greenery were therapeutic; I’m sure sitting on the balcony or visiting the beach while on the cruise will do the same.

I guess this is sort of a rambling type of blog, definitely not my normal reflection on today’s reading, which was about compassion and love and connection with every single living thing.  What I took out of it was that my capacity to see this has been filtered or even dimmed in periods of extremes:  self-preservation or selfishness.  What is important is that yoga practice cleans the filter and lifts the shade and allows us to reconnect to what was there all the time:  Love.  I hope that anyone reading this who is in a dark period or is in physical pain can see their face in every other face.  You are not alone.

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