For years, I have dealt with chronic shoulder pain and have found it to be aggravated by something I love… yoga.
A reality that I want to deny. I spend many hours a week teaching and practicing yoga. How can I move through my days without Yoga?
Yoga is how I reset my mind, sooth my nerves, nourish my body, serve others, and connect with my community.
I guess I finally got into enough pain that I had to make this difficult choice.
It’s been 10 days. My shoulders are still very sensitive and so is my mood.
It’s not the actual pain in my body or the fact that I can’t practice (or teach) that is causing my suffering. It’s the way I am thinking about it. I’ve created a big story about how my body has been in rapid decline since turning 50 and that I may never be able to practice again. If I can’t practice then I can’t teach...and so on. That’s just the start! In other words, I let my mind create a victim.
So I have been working hard over the last few weeks to clean up my thinking by:
Accepting the experience. In the words of Byron Katie, “You are not suffering because of the things you are experiencing. You suffer because you think what is happening to you is not supposed to be happening.” I know my shoulder pain and all that goes with it is supposed to be happening. Do you know how I know that? Because it is happening.
Moving from self-criticism to self-compassion. Self-criticism adds to stress and anxiety which never leads to anything good. Self-compassion does just the opposite. It allows for more creative solutions.
Downloading my thoughts. I take all the dialogue in my head and get it out on paper. This allows me to identify the thoughts that are working against me.
Choosing a more productive thought. I replace each negative thought with one that leads to a better feeling and positive action. Whenever I get stuck, I draw on the wisdom of Tennis great, Arthur Ashe, “Start where you are, Use what you have. Do what you can.”
I have to do this work every day. It’s tedious but it’s worth it. The depression is lifting and my power is returning. Although I can’t practice or teach yoga yet, there is so much that I can do. That my friends is what I intend to wrap my mind around.