I am in the final stages of recovering from a shoulder injury.
The strength is slowly coming back and finally, after over four months, it is almost back to its pre-injury state.
Injuries are frustrating but we can learn a lot about ourselves, our bodies, our patterns and our attachments through the injury and our attitude towards it. I have gained a new sense of awareness around my whole shoulder girdle.
I have now got insight into what it was that injured me in the first place and have had to let go of the achievements that I made in second series: attachment to our practice creeps in slowly and takes a hold of us; sometimes we need to be reminded that it is not ‘what you can do in yoga that is important.
After returning from a trip away and finally getting back to my wonderful teacher, he shed some light into the error of my ways.
In modifying my poses and working out what was aggravating the injury I had realized that I was jerking my shoulder forward in certain poses such as Eka Pada Shirshasana. Trying to get my foot behind my head was not an easy or natural thing to do with my body and when faced with a physical obstacle (i.e. my leg), I was jerking my way around it, pushing my shoulder forward with such force, I was actually creating a weakness there.
“No spiky movements,” he told me, explaining,
“When we push for something we actually push it away. By the mere action of pushing, we create a resistance—by forcing or pushing too hard, you are creating a repeated jolt of the shoulder joint, making it weaker, not stronger. This is the very opposite of the desired effect. No spiky movements!”
I could suddenly not only see what I had been doing, but I could also feel it.
I turned my attention to my life, or more importantly to my relationships. I was doing the exact same thing off the mat. Same, but different. Same body, same behaviour.
I was feeling a little insecure so I was pushing for things to be defined, pushing for an answer—“what is going on”—but by pushing, or creating this force I was actually making myself weaker.
I was coming across all weak and pathetic and not strong and confident.
I was having emotionally driven, jerky reactions.
Inside I was shrieking “I am just waiting for you to cheat on me”, or “I don’t trust you!” instead of letting things evolve naturally and having a little faith.
It is hard though. When your faith has been crushed many times, you become uber-sensitive about signs.
You search for them and even a hint of similar behaviour related to past pain is enough to make you run in the opposite direction.
However, just because you have been burnt, does not mean that you should never play with matches. Proceed with caution, yes, but you still must play.
In this case, I think I had good cause for creating this push and I was also being met with someone else’s push. All that lead to: two people pushing against each other: not the grounds for a good solid relationship, or for letting things just flow.
It creates an opposing force rather than a welcoming pull.
“You are pushing too hard,” said a wise old yogi friend of mine over coffee, “both in your practice and in your relationship. Pushing doesn’t get you anywhere—in fact it slows you down. Stop pushing and let things just happen. In their own time.”
He was right. It was the pushing that had caused me to injure myself and had actually slowed me down, pushing too hard for a yogic “achievement”. What does happen when you can finally get your leg behind your head anyway, are you suddenly ten times happier? Do you get a million dollar prize? Does your yoga teacher respect you more?
It’s not a competition.
It won’t change anything apart from the fact that you can now get your leg behind your head—and most people don’t care if you can or you can’t.
So what’s the big rush?
It’s the journey that is important and NOT the end result. No matter how many times we learn this little treasure we still manage to forget it time and time again.
It’s the lessons that we learn about ourselves during the course of trying to get our legs behind our heads. It’s the self-reflection that you manage to attain when you injure yourself and you stop and ask why or “what’s it really all about?”
And in love, what is the rush? If we are pushing for something, it simply means that it is not right just the way it is. The “push” that we create is producing the very resistance that we experience. We have to not point at the other person, but stop and ask ourselves what it is that we feel uncomfortable with? What is causing us to push? What is the root of the resistance? What are we resisting against.
That’s where the real learning can take place. Inside us. It has nothing to do with the other person at all. Nothing.
It is all about us.
So stop pushing, stop trying too hard. Let things flow. Practice acceptance. Practice contentment. Accept and enjoy where we are right now. Where we are today. Not where we want to be, but where we actually are.
Be honest about it. Accept it. Rejoice about it.
It is what it is and it ain’t what it ain’t.
Let things happen naturally, when they are ready. Things will happen in their own good time. The foot will slip behind the head when the hip has opened sufficiently. The heart will be able to love when it feels comfortable, relaxed and ready. We can’t make these things happen before their time, so don’t force them—don’t push.
So basically this week, on and off my mat, I am practicing how not to be a jerk.
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Assistant Editor: Bronwyn Petry
Photo: Pixoto via elephant archives