Allowing Myself to Heal

14 Jul

The Summer Day

by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

I love this poem. I’m feeling like I need some beauty, some positivity today after hours of doctors and physical therapy appointments. I’ve been MIA from the blog because I suffered a pretty gnarly injury last week that has kept me off my feet, my computer, the running trail, my yoga mat and just about everywhere else that I normally frequent. After meeting with the surgeon and learning that he really wants to operate on my severely herniated L4/L5 disc, I fell into despair at the thought of my body being incapacitated even longer than it already has been. Shouldn’t I be better by now? I went to the hospital, got some morphine, laid around my house for over a week, so c’mon now, why am I not healed?

Jim, my ever patient boyfriend had to remind me today that this isn’t a sprained ankle. This is a pretty serious injury that has led to significant loss of feeling and weakness in my left leg. So now it’s a waiting game, since I’m not jumping into surgery just yet we have to wait and see if it can get better on it’s own. I am not good at waiting. Nor am I good at sitting still. This is going to make for a very wild ride.

But there’s nothing like an injury to give you time to sit around and think, or in my case, feel sorry for myself. And since I teach up to four yoga classes a day and am (was) training for a marathon, I have had more spare time that I could have every wished for. As a yogi, I know that the physical practice of yoga is a very small part of yoga as a whole, yet I find myself lamenting and obsessing that I can’t practice, I mean, I was just about to nail that new arm balance and here I am unable to even lift my leg. So I try to sit in meditation, but all that comes up for me is anxiety, anger and sadness. “This is so unfair!” shout my thoughts. “Why me, I need my yoga, I need to run, I’ll die without them!” Dramatic much? Then there’s the final act, “I’ll never be able to do yoga or run again! I’m ruined and destined to be an overweight, unemployed vagrant living out of a cardboard box and eating cat food for the rest of my life!” There are also feelings of shame and guilt, I berate myself for just sitting around watching reality TV rather than chrurning away blogs and designing a new style of yoga. Need I remind myself it’s been a week and two days? I compare myself to all the other productive, successful and functioning people I see and beat myself up for not being like them.

So maybe this is my yoga practice after all. I may not be sweating my way through a Power Yoga class or helping my students into handstands, but I am practicing one of the most powerful forms of yoga, and that is the practice of watching the mind and one’s reactions. And what I find is that the real suffering comes from the judgement of my situation, the aversion I feel towards allowing myself to slowly heal and the clinging I have to my “health”. The fact is, I’m injured. Plain and simple, it does not have to be any more complicated than that. The grief, the anger and the anxiety are there and I will patiently watch them, patiently sit with them because the reality is that they have nothing to do with the injury and everything to do with how I often treat myself too harshly and without compassion, which is probably how I got injured in the first place. So maybe yoga really has little to do with what I can accomplish on the mat and more with what I can accomplish by getting quiet, getting still, and letting myself heal.

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