A week ago this time, I was in tears and literally sick to my stomach – I was in that much pain. My head and heart were also hurting big time because I didn’t know just how much damage I had done to my back by lifting the Littles (hmmmm…perhaps if I quit referring to them as Littles, I could remember just how big/heavy they really are?!) over fences. I was afraid I’d be out for weeks or sent back to four years ago when my back was constantly slipping out of place and causing me serious pain and torment. I was also quite tired, quite cranky, and quite concerned for the well-being of my family, wondering if Pain-filled Mama had made a lasting return.
Thanks to multiple visits (no, really – four trips in one week. OOF.) to see my amazing (for seriously – go here. he’s the best) chiropractor, and taking it slow and steady over the weekend, I am feeling so much better. So much so that I even got clearance to go back to yoga which means my marathon weekend in Omaha gets to happen, although it will be a much smaller marathon (and not one at all if I start to feel pain. no way am I compromising my progress/healing just to get a couple more classes in!). And in case you missed the fb post, check out these fantastic pants that arrived today, as if the Universe is also celebrating my return to the mat (although these are totally transparent, so not quite sure how I’m going to actually wear them to yoga)!
Celebrating aside, I wanted to write today about mindfulness because there is no way I intend to move forward (into this weekend or beyond) and instantly forget what this last week has been like. Am I so grateful and relieved it was only a week? Of-flippin’- course. I’ve missed yoga. But more so, I’ve missed being able to sit and play comfortably with my kids, and am beyond thrilled that getting up and getting down are no longer making me cringe in pain. But just because those awful sensations are gone doesn’t mean I’m done with this. If anything, the whole incident has brought everything from almost five years ago, when I had the initial injury, back to the forefront of my mind, and so even once I’m back in the flow of things (I will never get over bad puns, but maybe someday I will just own my love for them and quit apologizing….’til then, sorry!), I want to stay focused. Stay present. Stay open.
Being mindful has been rolling around my brain this last week because it had to be. I’ve had to be so aware of how and when and why I was moving my body because that’s part of what helped me heal so quickly. Not pushing, not straining, not letting my ego take over? None of that is easy for me. But by keeping at it, I keep realizing just how easy it is for us to move through our lives on autopilot. Think about it – how often do you just go through the motions of your daily routines? How often do you sit or drive or hold your phone or cross your legs or do just about anything in the exact same way you’ve done it 1,000x prior? We are creatures of habit. Most of us like routine, at least in some fashion. And the more you continue to move or exist in the exact same way, the deeper you make your connection to those ways (patterns of thought come into play here, too, but I’ll save that for another post), which leads to getting stuck which can lead to creating weakness and injury.
This is not to say that all routines or habits are bad. Great versions of both are totally present in our world. What I’m talking about, however, is being aware of what you are doing. At all times. Not pulling in your driveway and thinking, Wait. How did I get here? Not sitting with your head cocked to the left every time you watch a TV show (I totally used to do this) or crossing your legs whenever you are at the table or a desk (used to do this, too). Not getting out of your car with the same foot first every time. Not curling up the same arm under your head every night as you sleep. Not drinking from the same straw cup every day. Not twisting your wrist to support the baby’s head every time you nurse (OK, I realize this one won’t pertain to a lot of you, but meeting the needs of babies totally creates habits that aren’t always best for the mamas. Just sayin’).
Perhaps you read that list and laughed at me a little bit, thinking I’m being too detailed or too hyper-vigilant. It’s fine if you find this somewhat humorous, but I’m really not kidding. I want to challenge you to think of the small things – the small actions you take most if not all days and consider whether or not you can change some of those patterns. It won’t be easy. You will seriously have to look for ways to change and then seriously have to work and think to make the changes, but try it. See what you find. See what you can change. See how you feel after the fact.
I’m a thinker by nature, so it’s not like I’ve ever been far from mindfulness (or at least not far from being in my mind), but ever since my month in Omaha for yoga training and then even more so since the recent back problems, I’ve been amazed by what being present has shown me. It’s made me aware of physical patterns that I need to stop to help my wrists. It’s made me aware of internet patterns that I need to stop to calm/quiet my mind at night. It’s made me aware of mental patterns that I need to stop in order to (finally) learn the art of self acceptance and love. And it’s even made me aware of the simple act of stepping out the van with my right foot first instead of my left, just to give my body a little more balance by shaking up a normal routine. What you pick to notice and possibly change or balance out, can be that small and that simple. I’m not asking you to move mountains. But guess what? You’ll never move a mountain if you keep on doing things the same ol’ way you’ve always done them, anyway, so you might as well experiment a little and see what happens. I can’t wait to hear what you discover.