Life changes in a split second.
Deb got up at 6:30 a.m., went to the bathroom, and on the way back into the bedroom she tripped and fell.
“I broke my ankle in three places. There followed an ambulance, hospital and then two months in rehab: everything had changed. I had broken my strong leg, while my other one is too weak to hop around on. And as I was now unable to use either leg, it was hello, wheelchair.
My two months of rehab where in a unit that’s part of a long-term care facility. Which basically meant that for two months I was surrounded by the infirm, physically worn down, lost, senile or mentally confused. Most of the time I could be quiet in my room or at physical therapy, but meal times is when all the residents would be in the dining room together and chaos easily ensued.
“The two months taught me more than just methods of physical recovery. It enabled me to go beyond my normal mental parameters to embrace many varied states of mind as they presented themselves: the repetitive, frightened, and unaware places that create such confusion. Mary, who would only eat one meal a day and refused all help, as no matter how many times she was told otherwise, was convinced she had to pay for everything. Susan, who could see when something was amiss, such as an unfilled container of sugar packets, spent the next 20 minutes repeating the word sugar in one sentence or another.”
A dear yoga friend emailed us recently. She has been practicing and teaching yoga for 40 odd years, yet has had cancer and other health issues. Nancy was questioning why so many of us on the yoga/meditation path have health issues, which made us realize that we’re no different—we all have something.
But while yoga and meditation do not necessarily stop infirmity from happening, they do enable us to deal with such infirmity with greater awareness and humor.
Awareness is the key and it’s what was so missing in the long-term care facility: awareness of ourselves, our bodies, our wandering thought patterns, of how much attention we are seeking and self-obsession, awareness of others, of the bigger picture and of all the smaller pieces that make up the bigger picture.
Without awareness, there is fear and confusion and the self dominates. With awareness there is clarity and meaning, without judgment or chaos. With awareness we are the witness, whether of ourselves, our mental or physical states, or others and their mental states.
We can observe without being attached. We are less dependent on results as much as simply being with what is, as it is.
Ahhh, where would we be without awareness?
Author: Ed & Deb Shapiro
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Ted Eytan/Flickr