For the past four months I've had a cough or a cold or asthma. I'm not sure what it is. It rotates. Finally, after teaching yoga with the voice of a pack-a-day Parliament smoking granny, I decided to take care of my "condition." Convinced I had allergies, I very resistantly went to the allergist to get myself figured out. They tested me for everything. The good news, I don't have allergies. The bad news, if I don't have allergies, what the hell is wrong with me? The allergist referred me to an Ear-Nose-Throat doctor. While reading my chart, this ENT peeked over the file and said, "I see from your chart that you are medication-resistant." So awesome, I thought, "This doctor gets me." "I am too" he said, "That's why I'm a surgeon." He then proceeded to tell me that, while he had no idea what was wrong with me, he was sure that I had given myself a chronic condition, one that needed to be dealt with seriously. In the short ten-minute appointment, the ENT seemed to forget about my resistance to medications. He prescribed me three different drugs and threw in a referral for a CT scan of my sinuses. I thanked the good doctor, took the prescriptions I would never fill and ran from the building.
A week later I found myself in the office of an acupuncturist. I spent an hour in his dimly lit office talking about all the parts of my life, my respiratory system, my diet, my exercise habits, my love life, my own ideas about what might be wrong with me. After listening to me, he did his treatment and then we talked. "Based on the information I have about your lifestyle", he said, "I think you have created something chronic." Great, I thought to myself, this guy is just like the last doctor. "Because you created it", he continued, "you can un-create it." I agreed to eat a lot more red meat, committed to practicing some exercises, and made another appointment.
Like so many experiences in my life outside of the studio, the acupuncturist's approach made me think about yoga, how nothing is permanent. A physical ailment, a state of mind, feelings of the heart can change. What's more, they are all related and interactive. The heart affects the mind affects the body affects the heart affects the mind affects the body. When I wake up and my congestion seems worse than the day before, I remember the words of the acupuncturist. I can un-create this. Everyday students tell me about things that are wrong, or hard, or bad. Knee injury, break up, allergies. I don't believe that we necessarily create these conditions but I do believe that things can and do change. All feelings pass. The pain in knee. The ache in the heart. Nothing is static.
In dealing with my new "chronic" life condition, I understand this idea of change more clearly. "Chronic"- never-ending, constant, persistent, unremitting- means something else to me now. "Chronic" is a state that may be constant, but it is not without change. I'm still congested, coughing, slightly asthmatic. I'm still seeking a cure, an answer, but my chronic state feels better now. I'm in a persistent process, not stuck in a state. Like in yoga, every day is different. Every posture, every moment, every breath.