I hurt my back the other day.
I was doing the dishes, which—while it may seem an innocuous enough task—is one of those simple processes that living on a boat, without running water, turns into exactly that: a process. Rather than pour food-soaked water into the plastic basin sink, I dumped it right into the ocean, scrubbing out the pan as I did so.
Only my hand got a little clumsy and released not just the pan’s lip towards the pull of gravity, emptying the water, but the scrubbie as well. I deftly twisted back to retrieve it from the briny deep and heard a few distinctive popping noises.
My back is usually quite ‘cracky’ and I couldn’t tell if I’d jerked myself into or out of place. Soreness and stiffness expanded as a couple of days wore on. A subsequent trip to the chiropractor now has me on the mend—though still experiencing a bit of pain as I lumber around.
What can I take from this experience? I know that all pain is self-created.
Yeah—that has the potential to get heavy quick, doesn’t it? It’s true though.
Mental, emotional and physical; we create all sorts of pain in order to experience whatever it is that we’re seeking to experience, however much we realize we’re seeking it. I don’t mean this in a conscious way particularly, but the practice of yoga teaches me that I’m drawing experiences towards me like a sunny, windy day draws out my urge to sail—it’s simply a fact of life.
Whatever it is that all levels of my awareness want to encounter is going to come at me like a Nor’easter—ready or not. My past experiences of the deliciousness of languishing in emotional pain explains why I’ve created it for myself.
Sometimes it’s just easier to wallow in self-pity and blame than it is to pull up my socks and take responsibility for my life.
Though eventually, that not-so-subtle inner drive to know myself rears itself, and I am forced to look at my surroundings with the yogic understanding that: yes, I indeed did create this in my own doing.
I’m not suggesting that taking responsibility for self-created pain is an easy thing. In fact, it’s really quite the opposite. We don’t have a lot of role models exemplifying just what it means to accept this life is our own and we have no one to answer to but ourselves. Last time I checked, we actually have the opposite.
Acquaintances, family members, that girl in the coffee shop giving you the once over—they all seem to have this idea in their heads of who we should be and can get a bit testy should we delineate from that mold. It’s easy to think our surroundings are silently directing us into who we should be, which is another one of those things that, as you think it, so you become.
Taking back the reigns of creating our own lives is a powerful testament to the creative power of Shakti, the energy of the Divine, we all hold within us. When we are able to harness this power we can unleash broad strokes of inventive and compassionate actions unto the world.
Where does this leave me? Nursing a sore back.
I’ve been in a space of thinking I’ve needed to be a little more lavish than has been good for me. The world is full of cycles. Sometimes that means hunkering down with some good books under windy, open skies—sans sailing.
My mind tells me I should be getting myself out there; teaching and taking all the classes I can, offering myself to the community I find myself in and feeling nourished by the flow of energy I know is present through holding space for self-inquiry through yoga.
But this doesn’t leave room to adequately nourish my present physical state. I’m taking this injury as I’ve been taught to do, as a symbol for deeper forces at play in my life. I’m actively deciding to create in my life this time to slow down, expand my practice, read good books and enjoy the healing powers of meandering through meticulously cared for gardens.
In the quiet of my mind I find healing for my body and healing from the incessant voices urging me towards tangible results being the only measure of success.
Pain teaches me to listen and—when I’m ready—I hear the depth of the messages that tapping into my own inner wisdom provides.
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Assistant Ed: Ben Neal/Ed: Bryonie Wise