"It's better to feel pain, than nothing at all. The opposite of love's indifference. So pay attention now..."
--Excerpted from Stubborn Love by The Lumineers
I'm a Rumi fan, and, as such, I of course love the poem, The Guest House. There's something about going beyond the restrictions of judgment and welcoming whatever comes as it comes without labeling it as bad and turning away. How often do we stick our head in the sand and hide when we don't want to see? How often do we blame others when we don't want to look within? How often do we shy away from what deeply affects us in order to protect ourselves? If you can't relate and it's just me, feel free to stop reading now.
I've played this little avoidance game quite a bit (and I've gotten quite good at it). Luckily I have one of those special people in my life who calls me on my bullshit and lets me know when I'm hiding out. A while back I was doing this in a romantic relationship. I knew in my heart that it wasn't the right relationship for me. I could feel it but my mind had other ideas. I had something to prove and I was going to do it in that particular relationship. Every time I was with this person, I could feel myself cringing a bit inside. We'd talk about the future and it felt like I was trying on a garment that didn't fit. It felt like I was trying to force things. Everything felt difficult. Enter my special person with the bullshit meter. He simply said, "Babe, this isn't for you."
One short, succinct sentence said it all. It was simple and yet I just didn't want to face it, admit it out loud. I suppose that's because I knew that once I did, I would upset the safe little situation I had created. My little love story would be blown to bits. My ego wouldn't get its way. The image I had created would have to be abandoned. I would shake things up, make a mess, have to get past the story in order to honor myself. As it turned out, the hardest part was simply admitting and facing the truth. The rest wasn't all that difficult. The love story ended with a quiet fizzle, my ego survied, the image dissolved and recreated itself into something better suited for me, the mess taught me a lesson, and I realized the story wasn't one I wanted to be a part of.
My resistance is what caused my pain in that situation. If I had just welcomed what was showing up (even though I wanted to label it as bad, painful and something to avoid), I could have saved myself a few months of angst. Then again, the angst itself was a BIG teacher. The pain was a welcome change from the numb feeling I had had in my previous relationship. The pain clued me into the fact that something important was there even though I didn't want to look at it.
Interestingly enough, pain recently made an appearance in my life. My dear Bullshit Meter will tell you that there's been a few things that I've been avoiding these past few months. He knows it. I know it. Yet I've been allowing myself to have my fit of avoidance. Not surprisingly, some physical symptoms started to pop up. Nothing serious, mind you. They were just whispers of discomfort.
A few weeks ago, I was feeling moved to go back to the very first style of yoga that I practiced regularly -- vinyasa flow. I dove right in and loved every minute of it. After years of having a more meditative type practice, it felt good to move through my Sun Salutations at a brisk clip. But like I've been doing in my life these past few months, I rushed through without slowing down or stopping to honor what I was feeling. A week and a half later, I found myself in serious pain in my first Chaturanga of the day. Let's just say that I did NOT welcome it. I kept right on practicing. Suffice to say, my blissful yoga face was replaced by a wince.
A few days later I stopped hiding and faced the fact that even though I wanted to continue the practice, I really needed a break (I didn't even need my trusty Bullshit Meter for that one). I acknowledged the pain and stopped trying to ignore it, fix it, etc. Interestingly enough, I found my mind going to those things I've been avoiding the past few months. I sat on my mat and just let it all come to the surface. OW for my wrist and GRRRRRRR, SIGH, and ACK for my life.
It's been just about a week since and am I still wishing that my wrist felt better than it does? Yes. But something interesting has happened. I've taken a few key actions in regards to the stuckness I was feeling in my life (my Bullshit Meter is so very proud of me). Apparently, my little wrist pain guest provided me with the wake up call (and the call to action) that I needed right now.
Right now I'm humming the Lumineer's song I referenced above. Yes, I'm paying attention now.
And for anyone struggling with wrist pain in their yoga practice, here's a little wrist care help that I came across today (you gotta love how little reminders show up in your life at precisely the right time).