A Story of Healing.
In January of 2020, in the "before times" as some might say, I was on vacation in Austin, TX. I was on one of those electric scooters, trying to navigate to a restaurant in a city I did not know, took a wrong turn, and to make a long story short, fell and hurt my left knee pretty badly. I cleaned it up in the hotel room with a first aid kit from CVS, and when we got home, cleaned and bandaged it every day for weeks. I didn’t have time to let it slow me down, so I was working on my feet 5 days a week with a slight limp. By the time COVID hit, and things slowed down in a way I could no longer ignore, I realized my pain was beyond something I could just push through. I started going to Physical Therapy, and thus began my physical healing journey. Oh, what a journey it has been.
I have to be honest– a lot if it has not been fun, but it has been rewarding. As I moved through progressions of corrective and strengthening exercises, muscle releases, stretches and treatments, I learned a lot about myself and the healing process as it relates to all parts of my being– mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. Here are some of the key things I have learned (And am still learning every damn day):
1. We have to be willing to ask for support.
We are not meant to be alone in our grief, in our healing, or even in our celebration for that matter. Admitting that I needed to go to PT is like when I reach out to someone for prayer- I open myself up to even greater collective healing than my one being could manage alone. Even healing in my own body needs the expertise of medical professionals- that's why they study and practice, so they bring those gifts to the world and I can bring mine. When it comes to doing the exercises, spiritual practices, building new mental habits, that's on me. Being self-motivated is a good thing too, but allowing ourselves to be vulnerable enough to admit that we need help, and graciously accepting new ideas, has been crucial for my healing.
2. We have to accept where we are.
When I started my exercise programing, my incredibly patient and brilliant partner Kyle was (and still is) the person to create my workouts and teach me how to do the exercises. He works at the clinic I went to, and having him at home has allowed my workouts to be very personalized. Throughout the first assessments he did to see what my starting abilities were, I cried a lot. I felt so disappointed that I couldn't already do exercises that seemed "easy." I didn't want to be in pain, and I didn't want to have to do more hard things just to stop being in pain. I begrudgingly did the plan he made for me, not really believing at first that I would ever get stronger, but trusting that he knew I would. Once I was able to let go of that sense of disappointment and accept that this is where I was and it was okay, I learned to truly build strength and balance we have to start somewhere and let it build slowly. And while I am still strengthening so that I can be functionally pain free in the activities I enjoy, the progress has come after all. That faith in the process has helped me every time I start a new day.
3. We have to breathe through the pain.
Sometimes releasing tight muscles is really painful. If you have a foam roller, you know what I mean! You have to lean in, and breathe into it for the muscle to release. This is the same for difficult conversations, setting boundaries, and going to therapy sometimes, too. Self-care doesn't always feel good in the moment, but our ability to know that there is something greater at the other side of the discomfort keeps us moving forward. Resilience to me is not about having thicker skin, or not acknowledging when things hurt (that's how we get to the beginning of this story!), but rather knowing that even in our discomfort, we are supported enough to get back at it, try again, and keep going.
4. It's all about regular practice and commitment to doing the thing. It’s a lifestyle to build, not just a phase.
Wouldn't it be cool if we could workout once and be strong? Or pray one time and feel at peace infinitely? Maybe, but I think it might defeat the purpose of the thing itself anyway. It takes commitment to stick with a routine that facilitates healing. It takes discipline to work out 2-3 days per week, do all the stretches, pray, meditate, eat well and cook for ourselves and our families, but I swear it's worth it. I have to remind myself of this every 3 weeks when I fall out of routine and have to firmly and gently push myself back into the knowing that keeping it up pays off... but that's part of it too, I think. Having an expectation to "do it perfectly" is debilitating, but having commitment to do our best is empowering. Even if I ever get to a point where I am totally pain-free, I think I will want to keep exercising… there isn’t really an “end goal” when we decide to live consciously, and I have had to embrace that idea too.
5. It is gradual, sequential, and cumulative, but it is not linear.
I love the phrase that Rev. Brian uses when he talks about spiritual growth- it's gradual, sequential, and cumulative. We can only build upon what we know once we know it, or what physical strength we gain once we have strengthened the muscle. As we keep going, the cumulative nature of growth means we won't lose what we have gradually learned, but that doesn't mean that we won't have any more challenges. Some days I still have flare ups, or soreness, or sadness, or I question my faith. That doesn't mean that all of the strength I have gained in my regular practice is useless, it is just an opportunity to use the tools I have to care for myself and remember that it won't last forever. Even on the low days, continuing to practice our faith and care for ourselves is so important. And even when there are dips and rises, we are part of the infinitely expanding universe, so growth and evolution are natural when we say yes to being a part of it.
Healing is an Action.
The thing that has become clear to me in my physical healing journey, as it relates to my mental and spiritual healing, is that we have to take an active role in our health and well-being. Yes, the Universe has our back, and yes we have inherent love and joy and goodness within, as does everyone else, but passively “knowing” that does not move it into expression. We have to move with the energy of life to co-create that which we want to experience, and truly practicing Oneness calls us to do so in every aspect of our lives. Creative thought is where we start, and it calls spiritual law into action, but we must move with it, and do the work, to really create transformation, whether in our bodies, minds, spirits, or out in the world.