“Awareness is that state of mind which observes something without any condemnation or acceptance, which merely faces the thing as it is.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
Over the past few years, I’ve developed a form of arthritis related to my illness, that comes in episodes. It typically starts in the large joint of my middle finger (savor the irony), and migrates through various joints over the course of a week before reversing it’s journey and leaving the way it started. At times it can be debilitating, but rather than fight it, I’ve accepted that sometimes we as humans have pain and we must go with it.
The first time one of these ‘flare ups’ as they’re called happened, I was on crutches and pain meds and scared because I had no clue what it was, what was causing it or how long it would last. I would lay in bed, avoiding the pain only to realize the periods of immobility made it worse. Avoiding pain, caused me to have more pain. As a yogi, I knew this, but because I thought I was in control, I created resistance.
As an avid learner, budding yogi, and world’s most impatient healer, I assumed that the more I knew about something, the more I could control it. But knowledge doesn’t necessarily equate to acceptance or awareness. The answers aren’t always the answer to everything. I also believed, early on in my yoga practice, that yoga could ‘heal’ anything. What I didn’t realize is that yogic healing isn’t always literal. Yoga can’t speed healing of a broken limb any more than it can erase the presence of certain genetic disease in the body or stop a hurricane. It can definitely help ease physical and emotional pain, but yoga isn’t a miracle pill that erases anything that is uncomfortable.
What yoga DOES do is help us to see the inherent value in surrender. Do I have less pain when I have these ‘episodes’? No, but I try to move with my pain rather than against it. I know that the pain has an expiration date, so I accept that for now, I have to just ride it out and refuse to give up.
There’s a quote I once read about accepting pain that is a great tool for anytime you may be struggling that I’ve tweaked but still use:
This is a moment of suffering
Suffering is a part of life
May I be kind to myself
May I accept myself completely as I am right now
Don’t lose yourself by resisting the temporary, find yourself by yielding to the infinite.
– Your Charmed Yogi
- Have yourself a thought-b-cue
- Yoga is letting go of results
- Blessings aren’t always in disguise
- It really IS what it is