Hubby’s got himself a new osteopath and a new diagnosis for his back pain. It all sounds like progress to me. I like the sound of his osteo — and not just because his description of our yoga together recently got her thumbs up!! So now he’s accommodating to a new way of perceiving his body and what in particular isn’t working in it at the moment. He tells me he needs to reinterpret the pain signals the body is giving him: they’re not as bad as he thought.
I get this. I’m working this way all the time with my own body. On and on. Slowly figuring out when I genuinely need to rest or when I can push on a bit further. When discomfort should be heeded, when it can reasonably be ignored. TT was really interesting in this respect, requiring more of me, beyond where I usually take myself. I pushed through fatigue on and on in a way that would have got my GP rolling her eyes in silent frustration and I resorted to painkillers on two days. Probably not at all what you’re meant to do in yoga practice! But I was determined to pull through, scramble through, muddle through.
I wondered then when the reckoning would come. Answer: yesterday and today. Boring and frustrating, but not a surprise. The real surprise was what I could achieve in the short-term when needs must. Now I’m wondering how to re-evaluate my practice. How much do I habitually hold back? In each āsana, as well as overall in length and vigour of practice. Could I do more? What would this feel like in body and in spirit? Would it take me places I’ve never imagined? Would it be revelatory or disabling?
So yesterday after a day spent largely asleep, muscles tensed against any possible requests for action, I eventually brought myself to the mat, so full of trepidation. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want this body that hurt so much and I didn’t want this mind that offered up doubts and questions instead of hope and positivity.
So I practised with my teacher in mind, because he thinks I can do it, even when I’m sure I can’t. As often as I let him be, he’s right. I started with some restorative poses supported by a bolster, blocks and some blankets, coaxing the body to soften a little, for muscles to find some length, breathing steadily to quiet my mental resistance. And then I rose up, found my feet, found my flow, and allowed my body to lead the way. It wasn’t all liquid light and ease, but it was more than I’d thought myself capable of. There was enough energy for this practice, there was the strength, and ultimately there was some feeling of release. A cleansing almost. Sloughing off habitual fears and tensions.
It was a small awakening, finding light where there was only obscurity.
And the sunset at the end of practice was a beautiful gift.
I will fight this battle with myself again and again, I know, as I learn to understand the messages my body gives before my brain reinterprets and catastrophises. How much is illness and how much is habitual fear and tension? I am militant in my view (along with all other sufferers!) that ME is a real physical illness, but I’ve not found much written about managing the chronic aspect of the illness and how to transition to wellness, letting go of entrenched habits and beliefs, and the tricks and coping mechanisms. I guess this is a question of transformation that’s much more widely relevant than just in the world of chronic illness. It’s an interesting question to consider and to keep probing. No need for judgement. I am what I am. And I am changing all the time.