In the final days of an intensive 10 day yoga teacher training, the pain in my left hip and lateral thigh had risen to a new level. It had been peaking over the week and it was all I could do to find a few moments of peace – or tolerance rather. I’m due for another cortisone injection, should I want it. Kaiser called to schedule the appointment early in the week but I have opted not to call them back. The effect never lasts and I am left to find my way to tolerance over and over again.
So instead of calling them, I found myself sitting in an ice bath, attempting to relieve it with yin and restorative yoga, and finally reaching for drugs and bed rest. To no avail. I toss and turn, whimper then sob. Why, oh why?
By morning, the rigor mortis has set in fully. I am stiff and even the slightest amount of movement sets it off. So I reach for more of the strong stuff and head off to class. I opt out of the practice to avoid overdoing it in my medicated state – even if movement generally makes a world of difference in my body.
Later on, our teacher of teachers gives me a little reminder, “You are NOT your pain, Julie.” And I know she is right. I’ve known for a long time that stress and other emotions trigger these exacerbations. In fact, in one of the few quieter moments of the morning, I read about the kleshas from the Buddhist tradition. There was a story of an ignorant samurai being shown the difference between heaven and hell. My reading triggered a rush of emotions and a strong realization that there was a lesson to be learned here for me just as much as the samurai in the story. I read a few paragraphs further, to the descriptions of Avidya (ignorance) and Raga (attachment) and saw a pattern too personal and lengthy to describe. My answer was here, or at least part of it. The question was: how do I pull out of the pattern?
I listened to my teacher’s words and let them resonate through my core. “I am NOT my pain. I am NOT my pain…” I finished off the 10 days of training having learned tons but aware that there is so much more I’ve yet to learn. More than I ever thought I’d need to know yet ever more aware of the importance of the knowledge.
Instead of head straight home to wallow in my pain, I went to the store, then I swept and vacuumed my house, watered the rose bushes, took out the trash, cooked dinner, edited and posted photos from the training, and finally took a nice hot epson salt bath. I crawled into bed full of gratefulness for the day, and then I drifted off to sleep sometime between the focused breaths in and out.
It wasn’t that the pain had magically disappeared. It was just that my need to “fix it” had lessoned…just a little. Let’s see how it goes.