October 29, 2011

One More Step: Healing What Ails Me

This post has absolutely no relation to what I set out to write about this chilly morning, but that's the nature of the artist's pledge to follow their inspiration. It produces things you least expect. In my case, for more than the last month, I was inspired to find out what was causing my back pain.

And now, just like that, it's gone. After plaguing me non-stop for a month, with constant hip pain for almost 7 months before that, my back pain simply disappeared. I don't mean all little aches from overdoing it or sitting in a chair too long, but the inability to carry my baby or bend over and brush my teeth without spasms...no more. Such is the nature of that type of pain. I wrote a few posts about it and what I believe its root to be (unrelieved tension), but I didn't really note what the specific day was that it stopped. Oh well, it's not important—the good thing is it's gone for now.

The funny thing is, I remembered that when I got up early this morning and carried the laundry basket downstairs. While my back was hurting, my husband would have had to do it for me. All I did this time was peek over my shoulder to see if he or the baby had stirred from slumber while I hauled it up and off the floor, reveling in the fact that less than 2 weeks ago that would have been impossible. And how great that felt. It's funny how little you appreciate certain things until you don't have them anymore, like simple physical abilities. Of course I would be amiss if I didn't reflect at least a LITTLE on what I think might have been the key to getting it to hit the road.

A full acknowledgment that it was stress-related tension was the first step—realizing that not just the back, but the hip was involved was also key. That way, when it started to switch back and forth, I didn't get too worried that something was wrong with me, which I think perpetuated it over the last several months.

A sincere effort to get into a regular exercise routine was also important—one that I haven't even started yet, mind you, but plans are laid—I signed up for swim lessons at the local pool that will start next week. And I also got my bike fixed up and out on the road after collecting dust for almost two years. I'd been walking a lot until my hip started hurting, and that really put me out mood-wise. Just knowing that I'm getting back on track with physical activity makes me feel better about myself, which spreads like ripples.

Regular journaling, and reflective time, whether it be in meditation, affirmation, or prayer, seems important also. Writing gives me an opportunity to process and externalize things that well up inside. The reflective time allows me to either "let go" of things out of my control, or recognize things that I can influence.

There were also a couple miscellaneous things I had to deal with internally, like my mindset about some things. The closest I can come to summing this up is along the lines of the "God give me the serenity" adage. Or, something I believe the Dalai Lama said, which to paraphrase, goes like "If something is in your control, why worry about it; and if something is out of your control, why worry about it?" In other words, don't pretend you can't do something about a situation—have the courage to change it if you can. And if you really can't do anything about something, try to let it go. This is really hard because we get into habits of truly believing something is out of our control when in truth it's in our hands. Indeed, we have quite a bit more power than we think we do, and even that acknowledgment can be frightening because it means we have no choice but to act. The converse is also often true—we attempt to change things that are really outside our influence. Perceiving the difference between these two things is truly a life skill honed with time and intention.

For non-believers, this last piece might be the hardest part to embrace, but I also think that a little daily prayer (to whatever spirit you decide on) is wise in order to align your perspective to the greater context of the universe. Tapping into that source of universal power can be of great comfort... it's not just you who's holding the reins of your life in this world, and you can't always know what's waiting for you on the other side of a struggle.

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