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Respecting Relief

“Tension is who you think you should be.  Relaxation is who you are.” ~Chinese Proverb

For the first time in weeks I am not experiencing searing pain in my back.  My left shoulder injury was corrected today by a the skillful manipulation of a great chiropractor and as I walked out the door, I wept with relief. Over the last few weeks, I have come to value feeling well above all else.  My compassion for people’s pain has become visceral as I realize that the very essence of life is available to us in direct proportion to how well we feel.

As I have worked to embrace my pain and discomfort, I have witnessed how fatigue and depression have infiltrated my thinking.  Weakness in my body permeates mind and spirit. Pain is the great equalizer. All the days that I was holding it and I would try to meditate or reflect positively were like starting over again.  All the skill that I so cavalierly claimed was thin and insignificant in the context of my body in pain.  Most days I couldn’t write,  I couldn’t think beyond what was happening in my body.

Although the pain is not fully gone,  its quality  has changed to something that feels workable. The burning, stabbing feelings that prevented me from thinking have ebbed to a low ache. The emotional hopelessness that I was beginning to embrace has also transformed into a tenderness and gratitude for the healing that is real in the world and that is possible in me. With each icing of my back,  bits of weariness lift and I am a little less tentative. Healing is a process.

I witness that bringing this relief into my mind and heart is also a process.  During the last few weeks,  my body’s pain was magnified and intensified at work and only manageable at home.  Now that I am starting to feel well, I need to make decisions about what those messages are asking from me. I know that my work life cannot continue as it is. I have known this for a while but never so clearly and viscerally was I forced to recognize what is not working.

One of the most frequent and insidious thinking errors most people make is after they learn something important while they are in pain and then as soon as they get some relief they are right back at it. Message deleted. This I think is the cycle of disease.  Not for me, not now. I am dedicated to striking a balance in my days that allows me to wake up every day loving my life and grateful to have that day. If these last weeks have taught me anything, it is that our body is the temple of our experience and all we have at the end of our days is whether we enjoyed it or not.

There are three precious commodities of life never to be taken for granted – our wellness, our capacity to love and our relationship to our life. I got the message.