3 min read
I haven’t been journaling lately, but last month I had no choice. I felt like I was going to explode. Or maybe implode. I’m not sure which, and it really doesn’t matter, because according to a quick Google search, the results of both are bad and will leave you “equally unhappy with your lot in life.” Yep, that’s how I felt, unhappy with my lot in life.
What was I so unhappy with? Let me quote my journal, “I feel like I’ve aged 20+ years in the last two. I feel ancient. I feel decrepit … yoga poses I used to like and do fairly well now hurt and look pathetic. I hate this!” I think you get the picture.
After a page of ranting, I remembered what I’ve been reading in Tara Brach’s Radical Compassion. She describes a tool for practicing mindfulness and compassion when challenging feelings arise. I was definitely having challenging feelings arise. Could I explore the four steps of Tara’s RAIN meditation?
- “Recognize what is happening;
- Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
- Investigate with interest and care;
- Nurture with self-compassion.”
My journaling helped me to recognize what was happening and be with the experience. It didn’t feel good. I’m having some physical issues right now and I’m grieving the loss of how my body used to be. I want my pain-free, stronger, more flexible body back, and that “wanting” is causing more suffering. Tara refers to this as the second arrow. The actual physical discomfort is the first arrow and the wanting it to be another way is the second arrow. Suffering on top of suffering. Fun!
Okay, step three, investigate with interest and care. Be curious. Instead of cursing because I can’t move the way I want to, could I look at what is available to me right now with playful curiosity? Like in Harry Potter when he is shopping for his wand. The first wand he tries blows a whole wall of boxes onto the floor. “Apparently not” Mr. Ollivander calmly observes and chooses a second wand. “Perhaps this” he wonders before Harry blows up a vase and flower. “No, no, definitely not – no matter.” He chooses the third and final wand saying “I wonder.”
Could I bring that same kind of gentle curiosity to my body? If trying to move a certain way isn’t possible, could I calmly think “apparently not, no matter” and modify the movement to what is available to me – no judgement – no anger – no second arrow?
And step four, nurture with self-compassion. Could I just be with what it feels like in this body with its current limited range of motion? Experience that. Not in sorrow for what is no longer available, but in joy for what is currently available. Love that. Nurture what is with self-compassion. The same as I would for someone dear to me. I wouldn’t push them to do more or condemn them for what they couldn’t do. I’d offer them love and support, not a second arrow.
So, my knees and my shoulder still often hurt. And my yoga poses are still sometimes limited. But my spirit feels much better after working through RAIN. I feel more hopeful about the physical therapy and exercises I’m doing. And living in playful curiosity about what my body can do in this moment is much more enjoyable than living in judgement and anger about what it can’t. I wonder …
Dear Lisa, Namaste. Beautiful writing as always. Keep writing.
Keep practicing yoga – the most sustainable practice, the most sustainable device that is One with You.
the other is i feel that when the body
says no when the body
is no longer able to do the things
that i have become dependent on it to do
then what do i do
do i become a victim of my body
or do i recognize this union
between the body and the soul now
the body is saying to the soul i have
done as much as i can
for you now i’m saying no for instance
i can’t breathe you know i have been
affected by something like covid and now
i cannot breathe for you you are going
to have to help me breathe
so the body needs that assistance so
this is where
i think the awareness connected to my
action is very important
that i now become aware of a need
that my body requires from i the soul
so what do i do i will work with some
of my inner spiritual skills so that i
reinforce a confidence first of all
that i can now help my body heal and so
the breathing exercises which is very
um as part of the pranayama as part of
the hatha yoga
will be as effective as
i am in terms of my spirit in terms of
of applying that breathing exercise from
the level of awareness
to the level of the action the actual
act of doing it
and i think it is within these kinds of
connections between what is mortal
and what is immortal that i have to now
make the adjustments
because for me one of the lessons that
in our world today is that we have been
living as mortal beings striving
for immortality now i think the
adjustment or the twist is
i am an immortal being living
in a mortal world and so i have to bring
the spiritual skills
and i have to bring the spiritual
modality of immortality
to give life back to that which is
and which is that which is mortal and
that which is dying
and i think it is only the
yoga and the principles and qualities
and practice of yoga that could
in us this sense of an integral being
because we just can’t live as mortal
we have to re make the adjustments and
return to being that immortal being
and bring back all those qualities
or the yogic principles and the yogic
back into this um this place this place
Thank you for the link to the United Nations Guest Speakers Kickoff For The 2021 International Day of Yoga and for the relevant relationship to the body transcript. I will definitely continue to practice yoga and to write. Namaste 🙂
Hi Lisa, This really struck a cord with me. Thanks to my huffing and puffing caused by asthma I no longer go outside for a walk. However I have exercise and walking tapes I do inside nearly every day. A good thing.
I have put on lots of weight due to sitting too much ,snacking etc. As a result my legs swell. Well I know Phyllis has that problem but I had a hard time accepting that might be part of me now. So I’m taking control of my eating and I know it will take a while to see the effects, but I am positive it will happen.
I guess I never thought of my age before. So I’m working on accepting at 76 maybe I have to make some adjustments. I am still golfing. I will swim in my neighbours pool.
Life is good.
Sent from my iPad
Thank you Joan. I agree – life is good. And for the record I think you are an awesome 76 – golfing, swimming, exercise tapes 🙂
Beautiful! I can relate on every level. When I get frustrated and even angry at how my body doesn’t do what it used to and doesn’t look like it used to and I have thoughts that I wish I looked and moved like I did 20 years ago, I remind myself that in 20 years I am going to want the body I have now. So why not focus on being grateful with what I can do. Thank you Lisa for reminding me of this. I love your posts!!
Thank you Vicki. Agreed – focus on what I can do and smile when I think of my 80 year old self looking back 🙂
I agree with Vicki, I love your posts too, Lisa. Always something to think deeply about and somehow, totally topical. I am also struggling with joints that are not working as I’d like them to. I love Vicki’s point, in 20 years you’d be happy to have the body you have now. So true! Somehow I feel that I was just cruising along, and all of a sudden, Bam! However, I must also admit that since I have been walking regularly, I am now able to walk at a faster rate than a year ago, and I also have much more stamina enabling me to climb 4 flights of stairs most days. So thank you Lisa, for giving me the opportunity to look at my body and appreciate what I can do now as opposed to a year ago.
Good point Cheron. My legs have gotten stronger from the physiotherapy exercises I’ve been doing. I’ll take some time to appreciate that the next time I have to climb a hill 🙂 Thank you.
Thank you Lisa; this post resonated deeply with me. This past year has been so traumatic for us all…and I kept at my exercise routine, even stepped it up and yet, I am still rounder than I was before. But as Vicki says, in 20 years I will be wishing for the body I have right now. I will RAIN my current state of health.
Thank you Victoria. I agree how traumatic this past year has been. Good for you keeping up your exercise routine. I think many of us aren’t moving as much as we did pre-Covid. Enjoy the RAIN 🙂