Last week, I stepped off of a curb, turned my ankle and broke a bone in my foot. Since then, I’ve been layed up, unable to put weight on my leg, walking on crutches or scooting around on a rolling chair that now is a sort of mascot in our house. It even has a theme song thanks to Dave, our resident songster…(imagine a 1950’s, Chubby Checker vibe) “Rooty Scooty, shake your caboose… “
Week one has been interesting. I cried a few times on day one, both because of the injury and the incredible kindness of people who showed care and concern and provided real help. A few days later, my morale was low and I spent a few hours moping and feeling sorry for myself. Other than that, I’ve been surprisingly okay. This kind of thing would have really bummed me out in the past or left me wallowing and depressed, and though some part of me remembered and realized that, it didn’t take hold. I’d say that’s 2 points for yoga.
I have had to slow down. It now takes time to get from one side of the house to the other. If I go out of the house with my crutches, I have to stop and rest, often, kind of like my grandpa, Honey. Dave took time off of work and I’ve had to depend on him to do nearly everything my arms are used to doing -cooking, cleaning, carrying my computer from the desk to the bed, carrying the pot from stove to sink, carrying anything, because unless I’m sitting, the arms are busy with the crutches.
What’s one nice thing about all this?
I have plenty of time to practice yoga and meditate.
In this tradition, part of what meditation teaches is the difference between what changes and what doesn’t change. My fully functioning foot changed into one that’s purple, swollen and requires a big padded boot in the amount of time it took to fall, without ceremony, to the asphault. The same injured foot changes by the second as my body does everything it can to heal. This foot, this body, is ever changing. I’ve given this some reflection in my practice this week.
With the awareness of what is changing, we might tune into an aspect of our self that isn’t changing –A part that doesn’t break or swell up when you fall, something that is steady, something permanent, something completely you. By discerning between the permanent and impermanent, the stable and the changing, our perspective can shift from one that identifies with things that change to an identity more deeply rooted in the unchanging. I am not my body. My body can change, but I don’t. I’m still in here, untouched. My circumstances are different, my foot may be different, but I’m not. This is where I’ve run into some trouble. This isn’t going down as easily.
Until my broken foot scenario, the natural entanglement and confusion of body and Self went mostly unevaluated. I’ve been experiencing the world through a body that has been able to move and walk without struggle so I haven’t had to deal with any big challenge to the way things have always been, to this body-identification. But now, this has been challenged and I can see that my identity and how I am in the world is unarguably entwined with how I get around and what I’m able to do: I’m a yoga teacher, I like to roll around and snuggle with my kids, I am happy when I can contribute to the household and complete tasks and be independent. As evolved as I might think I am when everything is going well, the inconvenience and the challenges that have come with this injury have me noticing how attached and identified with my body I really am. It makes me wonder how differentiated we can ever be from our bodies, our amazing instruments of perception and the means through which we experience everything while we are here on this planet. I love the ring of, I am not my body, but wow does it make a difference when I am using my one leg pushing power on the ol’ Rooty-Scooty, or I’m unable to carry my tea from the kitchen to the table. How my body functions has a huge impact on what and how I perceive.
In theory, when everything was fine with my foot, I believed I had fair discerning capabilities: I am not my body. I am in my body. Yep, sounds good. In fairness, this isn’t quite as casual as I make it sound here. An ability to bring attention to changing vs. unchanging things in my life has helped me through some sticky stuff in the last couple of years. My expectations are really different for relationships, my marriage, job, body, thoughts, energy levels, seasons, etc. Knowing that they are meant to change, I’m able to hang with these kinds of things without the drama and angst that my old “I never want this to change” attitude would bring, and that’s really refreshing. While it may be true that I don’t hold onto the changing things with quite the grip that I did before, I’m still in the process of understanding how all of this works and feels. I’m still attempting to understand what it means to identify my Self with something other than this wonderful body I’m in. I’ve still got a ways to go.
I teach yoga in the Krishnamacharya lineage, working with students who are seeking personal transformation and deeper connection to the divine within and all around. If this resonates with you and you’d like to find out more, email me at amandagreenyoga at gmail dot com and we’ll set up a free 15-min Q&A.
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