Moving Through Fear on my Mat.

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I’ve decided to stop being afraid of hurting my back.

See, I hurt it almost two years ago. Two. Years.

I hurt it so bad that I ended up on my bedroom floor in child’s pose, unable to move and my daughters had to call an ambulance.

It was humiliating.

It was frightening.

I lost faith in my body.

Ever since then, I have been afraid of hurting my back again. I’ve babied it. I’ve taken it easy, doing gentle yoga, and soft, somatic stretches.

But I haven’t really pushed myself.

Once in a while I do, but the moment I feel the least little twinge I back off again.

I haven’t hurt it that bad since then, but I have “tweaked” it and the fear of hurting it like I did the first time lingers.

Then I read an essay by Elizabeth Gilbert in the February issue of “O” magazine where she reflects on a knee injury. How it plagued her for over 13 years ever since her marriage had ended. When she finally got tired of being held back by that pain she asked what it needed She really wanted know. She heard it say it wants to run fast. To move. For her to stop using it as an excuse to hold herself back.

Oh.

Wow.

That’s exactly what I do.

I hold myself back for fear of hurting my back again.

I don’t take  challenging yoga classes.

I’m afraid of saying yes to fun excursions for fear that walking too much or moving in an unexpected way will tweak my back.

But then I realized that the more I baby my back, the weaker it is getting.

The weaker it is getting, the more chance I have of hurting it again.

So, I’ve decided to stop being afraid of hurting it.

I’ve decided to move it. Use it. Strengthen it.

I’ve started taking yoga classes again. Ones that challenge me. That force me to use muscles I’ve ignored for two years.

I’ve decided to say yes to things instead of no for fear it might be uncomfortable.  I ‘m 51, not 91. And even at 91 I want to be saying yes more than no. I want to be like Tao Porchon-Lynch when I’m in my nineties. Hell, I want to have her sprit and vitality now!

Each vinyasa, each lunge, each time I step my foot through between my hands I am moving through that fear. With each breath I am releasing it, making room room for trust, making room for what is happening in my body in this moment not some imaginary moment in my head.

Fear is just a thought.

Fear comes from not being present to this moment where I am fine, where my back is fine.

So, I’m saying yes again to each moment. I’m meditating daily. (104 days in a row so far.) I’m moving, playing, bending, stretching, strengthening and learning to trust my body again.

I’m learning to go toward my fear, befriending it, embracing it.

I’m literally moving through it.

And I’m finding tremendous strength and freedom on the other side.

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Expecting vs. Accepting.

Image: GotCredit / Flickr

Image: GotCredit / Flickr

Since I hurt my low back three weeks ago, then again 10 days later, I keep expecting to wake up, leap out of bed, pain free.

Sadly, that is not how it works.At least not for me.

And it’s got me thinking about what I expect versus what is reality.

I didn’t expect to pull my low back going up into shoulder stand at the end of my practice. I had to accept that that is indeed what happened. Wondering why and wishing I had just skipped that pose or that practice was not helpful. At all.

After a particularly emotional day where I cried and wrote pages upon pages, releasing years of pent up emotion, I expected to wake up pain free.

I had to accept that the healing process was going to go at its own pace. I felt a little better, sure, but there was absolutely no leaping out of bed.

After receiving a Bowen therapy treatment where I cried out of the blue then just as quickly stopped, I expected the pain to be gone with whatever it was that I had released.

I had to accept that it will probably not just disappear in one fell swoop.

I’ve had to accept that I need to rest. To ask for help. To relieve help. To slow way, way down.

Mostly, I’ve hd to accept that this happened for a reason and even if I do everything “right” it will take as long as it takes to heal.