It’s risky out there. We can get hurt in so many ways.
A tree could plant itself right in your path as you’re zipping down a hill. Isn’t it curiously adventurous that we stray so far and wide from so many paths in life that we plan out and think are predictable?
A lover could love you and then leave you. Wham-bam ouch! But isn’t that the way it ultimately ends, all of us loving and then leaving? Ultimate ouch!
But risks can be good, adventurous fun. That’s why we choose to take them, to risk this physical and emotional life.
Of course, any of us could slip and fall in the safety of our own homes, teetering off a ladder or tottering off a rooftop.
Getting hurt is part of life. In a strange sense, it indicates we are alive and living. Life is a series of pleasures and pains, rubbing shoulders with the goodness of contentment between them.
I once read that diseases are cured and that people are healed, that cures come from the outside while healing comes from within. And I know from experience that our bodies heal themselves, all of the time, naturally.
But what happens to us when we don’t heal completely? When whatever past pain or injury returns to haunt us, or never even left in the first place?
First off, we can count ourselves lucky, lucky to still be alive and kickin’ (at least figuratively and literally if we’re really lucky).
But once that appreciation subsides, we can be left with feelings of sadness/depression (because we’re still suffering), guilt/shame (especially if our choices had or still have something to do with our pain or problem), and anger/rage (toward this unfair life, even lashing out at ourselves or others).
When I first injured my back, I assumed it would heal, just like my toe, foot, hip, hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder had before it. And it did, sort of. With ongoing palliative care, it’s gotten as good as it is. I hope for it to get even better.
Since then, I’ve lived on, but with a nagging worry, that I might injure it again and the pain will return, quietly lurking somewhere in my psyche. I know it’s there, that tiny bit of fear. So I don’t do the things I used to do. I’m afraid to. It’s not worth the risk.
I suppose a lot of people live like this, whether it’s a bad back or relationship. Sometimes it just seems better not to risk at all.
But is that really living, not living foolishly, but just living as fully as possible? I don’t think so. As much as I’ve been living carefully, gently caring for my back by way of that little bit of fear, I’ve re-injured it several times, most recently just bending over to tie my trainers and coming up with a twist of hot mama hips. Ouch!
So today I’m off to the massage therapist. I wish I had a sensational story to tell her. The last one I shared was about the exciting adventure of stepping down the last step of our stairway and turning toward the kitchen all at the same time. Wow-za! Instead of singing Twist and Shout like when I was a kid, I’m literally living it out loud now.
But, you know, pain is a good teacher sometimes. I’ve learned that the pain in my back is best relieved by mindful means of healing. Sure, I might experience back pain again. That’s a real possibility in my life.
But I’ve learned that I don’t want to live with the mental pain of worrying about a physical pain that has passed, that’s in the past, that’s not real and present at the moment. A mindful approach to pain helps me to heal.
I practice keeping the following things in mind so that I’m in the best state of mind for healing to happen.
The Power of the Mind
I’ve read that the brain is physical, but the mind is not. It is powerfully creative, whether positively, negatively, or neutrally. Some believe it’s powerful beyond measure, limitless. Whatever our beliefs, I think we all know we limit our own minds.
The old saying mind over matter likely came about because the physical world is limited, but the mindful one is not. My simple, mindful practice is to be open-minded and -hearted to the possibility that my mind can create what my brain cannot on its own. It can help the body to heal. And I can consciously help it to.
Have you ever heard the saying you are what you eat? And how about you are what you think? There’s a lot of truth in both. Increasingly, science is discovering the mind-body connection, healthy mind, healthy body. Optimum, ultimate healing comes from this connection.
I remember my oldest little love running up to me whenever she got hurt and pleading, “Kiss it!” And, if it wasn’t a bloody mess, I’d simply kiss it, love her, and she’d run off to her next little adventure. What a strange, simple little way of healing—love works its wonders on our minds and bodies.
Awareness of Actions
For healing to take place and be complete, awareness of our actions must be present. What we do now will affect what happens in the future. This cause and effect reality of life affects our entire lives, even and especially after random cuss happens.
What we think, say, and do now matters most, no matter what happened before or might happen next. It’s so easy to fret over the past and worry about the future, but it’s not happening right now, it’s not really real. I practice being real, right now. Are my words and actions compassionate, kind, helpful, and loving?
The Saboteur Within
Self-to-self and self-to-other connection takes balance. Too much selflessness or selfishness leads to imbalance. And when we’re off balance, the saboteur within can sneak in and stir up self-doubt (inferiority) or conceit (superiority), self-pity or false-pride, resentment or rage, jealously or boastfulness, self-sacrifice or greed—negativity stew.
And while stewing, we can easily say and do things that can hurt ourselves and others. My saboteur usually rushes in unannounced, but always invited, and typically pissed off, donning a mask of justice, a clever disguise. I just practice sitting with it, which is uncomfortable as cuss sometimes. But, like a nasty bout of soul food-poisoning, it always passes, and health and happiness return.
The Wild One Within
I’ve somehow always known that a peaceful, positive, and perhaps permanent state of well-being and peace of mind resides within me. She’s the Wild One Within, bringing me my moment-to-moment natural high fix of good health and happiness.
When I’m in the moment, she appears in many forms—an impromptu, happy little dancer when I open up the World Beat radio station on Pandora, a snuggly, old cuddle-bug when the family hunkers down undercover to watch Downtown Abbey and Sherlock back-to-back, or a relaxed, though a little stiff, middle-aged woman who somehow discovers self-acceptance despite the look and feel of her awkward yoga practice poses.
The Wild One Within whispers to me that all is well, and I believe her. And somehow, I manage to allow myself to open up to her good influence and act on it with good intention. I believe in me and my place and purpose in life, with pleasure, and even when in pain. I practice conscious living with compassion and kindness. I choose love. She and I know life is good.
Life certainly brings us pleasures and pains, as unpredictable as they might be. I didn’t expect that tying my shoe would bring back the back pain, much like I didn’t expect these life-giving rains to finally arrive this morning.
I am happy that Earth and her inhabitants will be cleansed and quenched after a dry spell. And I know my massage therapist will help to heal my back pain.
I also know that I can use my own mindful powers to help heal it too. I am aware of the mind-body connection and open to optimum and ultimate healing by way of taking good care and sharing much love.
How do you open yourself up to ultimate healing? Do you have a practice or story to share? Please do. May you be healthy and happy.