Oct 22, 2021
4 mins read
I know I said I was going to share from a conversation I had in early August, but I got my lines crossed, so that post will be out next week instead! In this email I'll be sharing some thoughts on listening to your body, because we all know that shit is a CHALLENGE!
You don't want to be stressed out.
No one wants to be stressed out, yet that is what we create for ourselves, conscious or not, it is what we live in. However, we never stop to ask, how did I get here? Why do I continue with the stress in my life?
In a Sunday Dharma talk, my Zen teacher said, "Ask a 2-year-old child," he bent over as if speaking to a young one, "'Do you want to be stressed out when you grow up? Just like all the grown-ups?' No. The answer is no. It's ridiculous. No one wants to be here, yet we're all here. How did this happen?"
We do have the power to be with ourselves, through that we learn about ourselves and from there we can heal. Healing doesn't necessarily mean being completely free of disease, fear, anxiety or heartache. Healing is a type of peace, it's living amongst all of those things without the stress. And because stress is completely natural and will absolutely arise, it's learning how to be with it, how to accept it, how to support yourself through it.
During our hour work period after the morning meditation, I was stacking wood. I think it was the first time in my life I was actually stacking wood and I was excited about it. I felt strong and able, for about 30 minutes. Then, my joints started to ache. Every little joint between my fingers, I felt my wrist shaking and becoming unstable as I lifted wood out of the pile, and my elbows started radiating with a bit of pain as well.
An internal dialogue started, "There can't be that much time left of the work, Just push through. It's not that big of deal. It'll be fine."
And I continued on for a few more loads, giving myself permission to go from grabbing two or three pieces to just one (which felt super measly). Do the others think I'm slacking? I asked myself. I was stacking with an older man and a woman, older than me, but perhaps not by much. I felt self-conscious, weak, vulnerable. I told myself, "You always go too hard right out the gate, if you had paced yourself you wouldn't be in this position." I had just been sitting for 2 hours this morning, it was easy, in this moment, to notice these thoughts.
Then I shifted within myself.
The thoughts could pass like clouds, because I knew better. My zen teacher had just said in the meditation hall, "If your knees hurt sitting cross-legged, please sit chair style. You should be as comfortable as possible. You should not be in pain." It's taken me [ahem] many years to learn how to listen to my body. To not just push through. To recognize my own personal consequences. To know when I need to back off.
I cleared my throat and said, "It's really hard for me to admit this, but my joints are starting to act up and I think I need to take a break." The older gentleman nodded, "That sounds like a good idea." He said, and I left with a thank you.
Sure, I could have pushed through. Maybe my joints wouldn't have been sore the next day, maybe I could have just taken some turmeric tablets and shrugged it off. I am at a place where I know I don't want to risk the pain that sometimes follows for days to come. It's happened too much.
My question for you is when are you going to start listening to your body? When are you going to make your well-being; body, mind and spirit, a priority? Honestly.
We sit in meditation to remember that we are not our thoughts, to remember that our very existence is enough to be celebrated, to protect our well-being. I've found this experience through yoga as well, through trail running; oh there are so many paths and layers.
So when and how will you start showing up for yourself? How long can you really continue to push your limits at the expense of your life?
As my zen teacher says, "we are visitors here." We are only here for a moment in time. Who wants to spend it in a stressed out state all the time, rushing around, trying to fit everything in? Not I, and I can't imagine you do either.
I hope you believe this is possible for you.
Knowing yourself, caring for yourself. Despite who you are, where you've come from, what you have endured, it is possible. First you have to believe it, then you have to explore. I'm here when you're ready to open that door.