Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I have an owwie.

Right now I have an owwwie. It's in my lower back. During Padahastana, it feels like a metal rod is being inserted into my spinal column. But only first set. Second set feels fine. And so does most of the rest of class.

Owwies are almost never just owwies.

The other night at dinner, Lucia was being a jerk, alternating between snappy and bratty and remote and aloof. Great dinner mate. At some point, Lucia started bawling. I didn't see it coming. It was seemingly out of nowhere, like spontaneous combustion. When I asked Lucia why she was crying, she said that she was upset about something her friend Ellen had done "when she [Lucia] was five" which means that this acute bout of crying was about an event that happened at least four months ago. At bedtime, Lucia finally told me that Ellen had given her a rejecting message that hurt her feelings. Ellen, a child with extreme, potentially fatal allergies, had said to Lucia, "My allergies are more important than your feelings." I told Lucia, "Honey, Ellen's allergies are really important. She could die if people don't pay attention to what she's allergic to."

"I knew you'd say that!" Lucia sobbed, "Nobody ever listens to meeeeee."

Lucia was sad, frustrated, exhausted, something. And she didn't know why. She needed something to attach her feelings to--an event, an experience. She needed something tangible that she could use to get love, comfort, support.

The body is the same way. Like my back owwie, my inexplicable owwie. Where did it come from? I didn't fall. I don't have degenerative disc disorder. I haven't picked up any bags of cement. I just have an owwie. My body needs comfort, support, love. A few months ago, my acupuncturist (aka "the healer") firmly advised me, "Laura, you expect too much of your body." Among other things, he told me to eat earlier in the day, to eat more meat, and to sleep more. "Every morning", the healer counseled, "instead of thinking about what you can get from your body, take a moment to resolve how you will take care of your body for the day."

I'm still not great at preempting my body's needs. I rarely take stock of what my body needs at the beginning of the day (or the week, or the month). So I periodically get a reminder in the form of an owwie. This time it is in my back. "Culberg", the owwie squeaks, "Pay attention to me. Comfort me. Support me. Love me."

Like Lucia who finds a way to get her big warm blanket of hugs and attention and love to comfort her inexplicable feelings, I too have found a way to take care of my mysterious owwie. I practice yoga and it makes my back feel better. I slow down because my back doesn't let me speed up. It's not a quick fix. I have to pay attention to what my body is telling me. I have to listen carefully and look more deeply because, y'know, owwies are never just owwies.

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