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.