Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pain's Tutelage

Pain’s Tutelage

Tim Maddox, movement enthusiast

Right now, my heel hurts because I tried to break The Law. I thought I could escape the inviolable balance of the universe. I thought I could get away with Too Much Too Soon. Turns out, I am not a special snowflake, unique and like no other. I’m just a regular schmoe who is susceptible to all the physical rules and limitations which govern phenomena and circumstances. So now what?

In Days Gone By

A couple of years ago, I’d have dropped into a depressive funk, ruminating over the loss of training time and the setback to my ever tenuous progress. I would have become sullen with a mind clouded by the thoughts of what I was losing. Sorry family and friends, I’m injured, so I’m turning on the jerk-mode and interpreting all events through this single point-of-view. Don’t try to comfort me, my loss is too deep. Ahhh!!! ....the miles I’m not running and the conditioning I am losing. [Rend garments here].

Changed Perspective

Today, I think about this differently by changing my perspective. Instead of bemoaning time lost at my primary passion of running, I will direct my thoughts more toward what I am capable of doing. I now have the opportunity to revisit the activities I set aside during my long distance training. As a result, I’ve done more hiking, belly crawling, low-noise movement, rowing, lifting, climbing, cold exposure and so forth.  

What is the Lesson?

Pain can be a distinct and limiting bummer and honestly my little heel pain is not even on the scale compared to what some folks live with on a daily basis. My words here reflect my personal experience and what has worked for me. But the same mental techniques which can help me overcome this physical issue can also apply to emotional and spiritual pain as well. When I make the choice for the pain to be an opportunity to practice patience, self-discipline and to transmute a negative into a positive, I take control, become the active agent and fight the helplessness or depression which can accompany physical issues. In this instance the pain itself is not the limiting factor, how I interpret its impact on the other parts of my life is what matters most. My perceptions, my mental story, the thoughts I form around what it means to me is the main cause of any suffering. So I make the choice to let the pain teach me about myself, about my arrogance, my pride and how lucky I am to have a riddle in my foot. In this way pain provides me with the opportunity to dive a little deeper into what this bag of bones, sinew and tissues is all about. Am I just an asymmetric projection of my movement abilities, a single-focused, all or nothing actor or am I capable of adapting to my situation, circumstances and finding the best path forward?

In our lives, pain is going to happen, but the suffering, the mental anguish which accompanies pain can be reduced and in some cases turned into joy when the right mental outlook is applied. Can I turn the lead in my heel into gold in my soul? I can if I accept the offering of pain’s tutelage. 


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