My back went out this week.
Like, out out. I've had pain before. I've had little flare ups here and there. This week, I got to the point where I couldn't move on Friday without excruciating pain. So I went to see my chiropractor. "You really did it to yourself this time," he joked. I knew my back felt a little funny all week. I heard the little musings from my body. I kept pushing. "I'll be fine. It's just a tweak. Yoga will help." I didn't slow my roll. At all. Finally, my body spoke loud. really loud. Loud enough that I was forced to listen. This is not the first time it has happened.
What is it within in us that we ignore the calling of our bodies until they shout at us?
If I'm learning anything this year, on the cusp of another lockdown in Washington, in the cold of winter on the way and 6" of snow before Thanksgiving, 8 plus months into this pandemic... it's the lesson of slowing down. When the first wave of the pandemic hit and I wasn't driving into town 6 days a week... I realized I liked being home. I liked teaching from the farm. I liked the slower pace and the creativity that came from that. As things gradually opened up... I found myself right back at 6 days a week again. Then, we had a couple of COVID cases at the gym. We closed for two weeks. Once again, I felt like I could exhale, slow my roll, get creative. And here I stand, again, after two weeks of driving into town nearly every day and wondering what happened to making change and then my body decided to do it for me. Here's the thing... I love going into town. We need to do it. I teach there, the grocery stores are there, our friends are there...and. I don't need to go every day. There are ways to plan things so I'm saving time driving to be home, to teach yoga, to practice yoga... to relax for goodness sake! With my strained back (that's what we called it). I was asked to lie as flat as possible with as little sitting as possible. So, I spent the better part of two days lying on the floor in front of our tv, heat pad on my back. The first day was excruciating. Not because of pain... the lying still and "not doing anything" part. I'm someone who always like to be doing. All the time. It's rare I sit through a whole movie because I'm "on the go." baking something, cleaning dishes, cooking something, checking that email, doing that little project. I saw these last 48 hours just how much I rarely allow myself to just. be. To binge 5 hours of TV. (this may not be healthy in the long run... and every once in a while I think it's necessary!).
I have this idea in my head that doing means I'm being productive and creating something meaningful and making a difference in-the world and when I'm not doing... well I'm not making a difference.
What I'm seeing now is there is a big difference between doing for the sake of doing and taking action. Doing means I could check my email 5 times in 2 hours and think I'm being productive. Action means I set aside 30 minutes of my day to answer the really important emails... the ones that move the needle forward. Doing means making to do lists and checking off tasks. Action means prioritizing those one or two things that get me where I want to go. Organizing the pantry is great... and it doesn't move my goals forward. Baking is wonderful and delicious and life giving... and not when it's used as a distraction to not do the important things. The thing with action is it's usually those one or two items that feel scary. It's a phone or an email with a request. It's really sitting down and planning out my online course. It's finding a secure place to teach at home. All thing that really matter and yet... I hesitate. There is risk in those things. There is also the potential for failure.
What I got clear on this week is I would rather be in action and risk failure than just DO to feel better. It's exhausting. And my body feels that way too.
I truly believe my back went out, in part, because I have been failing to listen to the calling of my body. I have been failing to stop doing for the sake of doing. I've been caught up in looking busy instead of getting busy on what matters. After two days of really resting... of letting my nervous system cooloff ... of allowing myself to be and read a book and not do much... I woke up this morning with minimal pain. It's not gone. It's enough for me to do yoga. To move freer. To have a clear head. It's also enough to remind me that it's still there, waiting to shout again if it needs to. Our bodies are amazing pieces of wisdom, and they speak to us all the time. Yoga helps us listen in... helps u practice listening in. The key for me, for us, that I am seeing, is once we hear the wisdom from our bodies, then it's time to take action. Is your body asking you to stop doing for the sake of doing? Listen in. Stop it. Is your body asking you to move more? to take a walk once a day? Listen. Start moving. Is your body asking for some quiet time in the morning. Listen. Add it into your day.
For the thousandth time, my body has reminded me that it knows what is best. This week, I'm all ears.