Thursday, March 10, 2005

Walking the talk

Just for the record, I'm writing this stuff for myself as well as anyone else who might benefit from it. By putting stuff down in writing, I provoke myself to think about things, and then having made those thoughts public, I increase my obligation to myself and to others to practice what I preach. All of this stuff boils down to practice and perspective, after all. So, having written what I wrote yesterday, I simply couldn't ignore the fact that my shoulder was killing me!!!!!!!!! Wait, let me rephrase that... :-) Actually, for some months now my shoulder has been aching and becoming more and more "useless," to the point where I have been regularly exclaiming "ouch!" during the course of my day. I have not been able to ignore this shouting of my shoulder, but I also have somehow managed to put off doing anything to correct the situation, or understand it's roots. So here are three steps I have taken over the last three days in the right direction.
1) I had, for the love of a friend, taken up his request to give him a couple of bodywork sessions (which work I have not done for some years now). The plan was to go on with this for a while. My shoulder, however, (not to mention my head, but that's another story) was loudly saying "no!, don't do this" throughout the sessions. Well, two days ago, with regrets to my friend but recognition of what I needed to do, I cancelled future sessions. One thing I learned from my days with the Missionaries of Charity in Haiti (another long story), was that the servant MUST take care of hi/rself, or there will soon be nothing to offer. I could have probably pressed on and given another couple of half-baked one-armed sessions, but could have ended up tearing my rotator cuff in the process as well. So I cancelled. I recognized a behavior that was making my shoulder worse. I acknowledged what I was doing without shame. I accepted the fact that I couldn't be of much help to my friend and that I would have to pass on some welcomed income, trusting the universe to help fulfill those needs otherwise. I chose to call and cancel. And I acted upon that choice.
2) I showed up early today for a session with the osteopath I've been seeing (again, the headache story for another day). While I waited for my session, instead of just sitting there reading a magazine--actually a Calvin and Hobbes collection--I decided to DO SOMETHING FOR MYSELF in the spare ten minutes (they are out there if we dare notice them...spare minutes, that is). I did various stretches of the sore shoulder with my arm, and used my other hand to press on spots while I did so. It's not like I couldn't have done this a year ago, but I NEVER TOOK THE TIME FOR MYSELF. (That's another behavior I recognized, acknowledged, accepted, chose differently about and acted on.) After ten minutes, I had significantly reduced pain that I have been enduring for months, and increased my range of motion, which I had been losing at a pace. Then to follow up, I have been stretching and probing at every opportunity, to keep things going in the right direction, and it feels great to do this for myself. My body has been speaking, and I am finally listening. So it's never to late to change a behavior.
3) Now here's the final news flash, and now you can experience my learning curve with me in real-time. As I have been writing this post at my computer keyboard, I have been noticing that while I type, I unneccesarily and quite unconsciously hike up the shoulder that has been hurting all of this time. That "hiking" up of my shoulder represents me (not some anonymous perpetrator, or an "evil" body somehow "other than" my "victim-self") acting in a manner that brings me long term muscle tension and pain. I swear I never noticed it till about five minutes ago, and since then, everytime it hikes up, I have become aware of it (because it doesn't feel good relative to all that nice stretching I've been doing), and have consciously dropped it down, back into a comfortable position for what I am doing. So now I can practice using my body in a way different than the way I recognize may be the root cause of the problem. By taking responsibility for what's going on with myself, I empower myself. I am reclaiming a part of myself that I had left out for a while. No blame, no guilt, no judgement, no cruel self-chastisement. Just some simple introspection and a willingness to try "walking the talk."


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