Happy New Year!
As we embark on a brand new year, I want to share a transformative, personal experience that I went through this past year.
Pain was my teacher in 2015.
Towards the end of 2015 I experienced a herniated disc in my back. This occurred in part due to normal aging, but mostly because of 'overdoing it' with too much activity (biking, kayaking and golfing) even when I was experiencing painful warning symptoms. Eventually the pain, loss of mobility and debilitation became so severe that my efforts at natural healing approaches were deemed too late and surgery became the best option to prevent further damage to the involved nerve.
My mindfulness practice was a wonderful support throughout my healing and recovery from back surgery. I had to practice what I preach and 'be with the pain,' all through the process. It was a continual learning experience with powerful lessons. It provided an opportunity to deepen my patience, acceptance and self-compassion.
As I brought a mindful awareness to the pain I experienced its healing power. While the pain didn't go away, it was lessened in intensity and character. Relating to it mindfully and compassionately served to soften and change the physical, mental and emotional reactions I had to the pain which, in turn, lessened my suffering, and accelerated my recovery.
Ultimately, I realized that I needed to authentically use and practice what I preach and teach every day! I became very aware that I need to do a much better job of listening to my body and pain - sooner rather than later. Ignoring and pushing through some early warning signs caused my condition to become much worse than it needed to be and take much longer to recover from. Lessons, lessons, lessons.
Physician heal thyself. Indeed!
Listening to the message of my pain provided the opportunity to take better care of myself and treat my body with more compassion and patience as I age.
Basically, I need to follow the advice that I give to others.
It was a truly humbling experience. I've never been in that kind of constant pain and suffering. It made me respect and admire all of my patients even more.