As someone who has been practicing yoga for the last decade, I tend to be very aware of my body, how it reacts to certain things, how it is affected by change in diet, weather, fitness routine, pretty much most things. That’s the thing about Yoga I love most, the awareness it creates. Yes, the flexibility, strength, etc., are all great, but the awareness you have over your body (physical and energy body) is immense.
On December 12th 2016, I had the most rude awakening of my life – I woke up and could not get up and stand up straight, or walk without crying. I had shooting pain in my lower back, and no matter what I tried to do, I could not move. My legs felt like they each weighed a ton, I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t stand, couldn’t lie down in any position other than a fetal position. The only thing that got me through the night was to be heavily sedated, and I saw the doctor the next day to figure out what had gone wrong, and found out that my disc is damaged, and more damage and it could easily have been a slipped disc or a herniated disc. This was something I have to be careful about for the rest of my life.
I asked him how this was even possible, I do yoga! I’m in my 20s! Okay, I work a desk job, but I’m very conscious about talking breaks and stretching, HOW could this have happened??
Very calmly, the Doc told me that this could happen to ANYONE. It doesn’t matter how old/young you are, how fit/unfit you are, etc.
It has been over three months, and my back still hasn’t completely recovered. I still occasionally get shooting pain in my lower back, or sometimes a weird pressure in my lower back. There is now a constant awareness in my body that my back is still recovering. I still cringe at attending long meetings, because I don’t like to sit in chairs too long, I now avoid certain kinds of lounge chairs, I am hyper aware when my back isn’t straight or supported, because anything other than perfect posture, my back makes its presence be known, like a tantrum throwing child trying to get your attention. THIS is not fun!
The back incident (as I now refer to it) was a huge wake up call – because I never expected that I would have back issues, in my 20s (okay Late 20s), it made me so angry, all the rage I didn’t know I had came out to play in those days when I was stuck on my back. It was unfair and I definitely didn’t deserve it!
For 10 days I literally did nothing other than wake up, shower, get dressed, get on the carpet on the floor, took pain medication, slept, ate, and repeated this cycle.
The first few days were pure rage! I was pissed off with life, it felt like I was screaming uncontrollably into the abyss and no one could hear me, no one could help me. I felt alone, helpless and very angry.
After my anger tired me out, it turned into plain submission (with a hint of helpless sadness), I told myself that I won’t let this pain go to waste. It HAD to mean something. I know that God (at least the one I know, love and believe in) wouldn’t put me through pain so senselessly. It HAD to mean something. I needed it to mean something.
But what exactly did all of this mean, what was this meant to teach me?
The back incident gave me a LOT of time to reflect, and one of the conclusions was that maybe I had allowed life to go into auto-pilot mode, and just went with whatever life was sending my way, instead of living more deliberately, so much so that life had to give me a jolt to wake me up!
Now I don’t know if I’m right or not, but I choose to believe that it was for some great piece of wisdom that I had to uncover.
Sometimes it is at your lowest point that the most precious lessons are revealed. So what was this too precious lesson that got revealed that I wouldn’t have learnt without pain that put the fear of god in me?
Well here are some of the big ones, at least this is what I’ve come up with so far –
- My family will be there for me no matter what – of course, I knew this. But this was a reminder because when my big brother (who is usually very busy), cleared up his day to take me to the hospital; and my mum spend almost all day with me rubbing my back, getting me hot packs for my back and comforting me; and I found out that my dad actually lost sleep over my new health condition. It made me realize how blessed I am, even if I wasn’t fully capable to appreciating it in that moment. I definitely do now.
- My body is more fragile than I thought – while the human body is capable of surviving in unimaginable conditions, it actually takes real discipline to keep it in good shape. Damaging it is the easiest thing, and recovering might take the rest of my life.
- Life is as unexpected as it is short – we NEVER know what is coming next. It only takes a second of life to make a 180 degree shift, and life as you know it will cease to exist. The impermanence of things is both comforting and unnerving. So enjoy and don’t take life so damn seriously all the time.
- Appreciate everything and take nothing for granted – there are people praying from the stuff we take for granted. So always be grateful and cherish life.
- Meditation helps with unexpected emotional outbursts (in my case rage) – To me, meditation means to simply be still and silence your mind of constant clatter. It is to simply be present. It isn’t always about chanting and getting into an elusive state of trance. It is to simply be still and let yourself be at balance with the world around. I know it sounds new age-y but it works like magic, it has made me calmer and happier.
- Writing about experiences dissipates pain – This makes me want to start a journal (with an actual book and pen).
Obviously there are many more, but I am yet to figure out how to articulate it. Its time to get back to basics, to ignore the external influences, and listen to my inner voice and go back to who I am.
Until next time, be good!