This winter I moved into my new office.
Not only did my body feel a release from having a private space large enough to keep physical distance, my body felt alive. I could even tote boxes of books from my car into the office (Thank you physical therapy for helping me strengthen my injured knee!) It was seamless–until that night, when my knee swelled up.
How could something as simple as carrying boxes of books cause such a fierce reaction in my knee?
The rule-following part of me chimed in—”You’ve been doing everything right. Everything they said to do.”
The part of me that I call Negative Nelly retorted, “See! Nothing ever works out!”
My productive and people-pleasing mind came to the rescue, shushing these two parts and encouraged me to keep on keeping on. “It’s ok….you’ve got this. You’re ok,” She cheered. (She’s really good at faux compassion)
In rule-following fashion, I kept doing my exercises while pushing through the pain. As I pushed through the pain for a couple of days, my desire and ability to meditate lessened, and I couldn’t figure out why. Then, my physical therapist invited me to consider resting my knee. Perhaps my body—with its swelling and pain—wanted me to slow down and rest.
The next morning in meditation, my body not only released and breathed deeper than it had in months. It also filled with the deep water of grief. Grief and sorrow over my own difficulty being with and honoring my own body. Grief and sorrow at so much loss, so much tragedy, and frankly witnessing so much hatred and contempt. It felt as if my body had been carrying all of this — It’s no wonder my knee swelled.
In that moment I thought of Tara Brach, therapist, meditation, and yoga instructor. Tara’s words about self-compassion resourced my mind and body. As I had the awareness of the emotional and physical ache, I recognized how my helpful, managing parts, try to avoid or fix the pain…and how I judge myself for not being better. Tara’s teachings on self-compassion helped me shift my awareness and judgment to awareness and acceptance. Tara teaches and practices RAIN. Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture. This is how I engaged my parts. I recognized their thoughts and feelings and allowed them. Then I investigated with kind curiosity.
Oh my goodness, my Self noticed, of course these parts are activated; and of course this hurts so much. From this place I could not only accept where I was and how I felt, I could also move into action in a way that was nurturing to myself and my parts. In this sense, Tara’s RAIN provided a gentle framework to help me move from awareness into acceptance and then action.
Perhaps you relate to this…finding yourself pushing to do more. Shoving pain aside. Chastising yourself when you don’t get it right or your body struggles. If you find yourself wanting to skip awareness and jump to “fix it” mode, you are not alone. If you find yourself not even sure what awareness is, you are not alone. In fact, journeying with someone to help us learn to become aware of and attend to ourselves is an essential part of the healing process. To explore this process further, reach out to me for a free consultation.