I’ve been dealing with a frozen left shoulder for close to two months. In 6 Lessons Pain Taught Me, I unpack my journey.
From all the work I do, I know the inner is as important as the outer (sometimes more important). So I’ve been tapping and sweeping and clearing. I’ve worked with a crystal pendulum, rubbed essential oils, and dunked myself in Epsom salt baths. I’ve had sessions with a chiropractor who pushed and pulled and released what my body didn’t even know it was holding on to. The odd days when I knew I had to get a lot done, I popped an Advil.
I resisted going to Western medicine for a solution because I favor natural modes of healing. But sometimes it’s necessary to do what you don’t want to do. With no significant improvement, I finally had to give in and go to my primary care physician.
In the course of nurturing this problem, several lessons have opened up for me.
- I’ve chosen to love my body through it. Instead of making my body the enemy if it does not perform to perfect standards, I’ve chosen to send love to my struggling shoulder. I actually place my right hand on the aching joint and whisper I love you many times a day as a practice. I know love heals everything from a stiff shoulder to a broken heart. My shoulder is a part of me and I need to embrace it. Just as I would a child of mine whose behavior was irresponsible.
- It’s okay not to do everything perfectly. Making the bed is my morning ritual. I derive a sense of satisfaction in smoothing the rumpled sheets, plumping the pillows, and making sure the edges are tight and tucked in. Well, my shoulder doesn’t let me achieve that level of perfection any more. I stand back and watch the made bed. The sheets are lopsided and the blankets aren’t folded neatly enough. But I’ve had to let it be. An imperfectly-made bed is not the end of the world.
- It’s important to feel it all. I’m no hero, but I’ve consciously tried not to numb my pain. I’ve breathed into it, meditated, prayed over it and rubbed it down gently to soothe it. I’ve dialogued with the pain and asked where in my life I am being inflexible and rigid. I’ve shifted negative beliefs I’d been holding on to. I’ve cried through the difficult times, like taking a shower and getting into my clothes. I’ve allowed myself to feel the frustration on days when I couldn’t be strong. On good days, I’ve been grateful for what my shoulder is able to do. I’ve tried to be a good student so I can be a good teacher. After all, I do teach about how to embrace pain.
- The pain is only a part of my daily experience. My day is filled with varying degrees of stiffness and soreness. But there’s so much more to my day that lights me up. My work. My loved ones. My books and music and meditation. My walks in nature. It’s a reminder that balance is the truth of our existence. Pain is as much a part of life as pleasure is. When I’m aware of that balance, life is easier.
- I’m okay not knowing. Going through all the healing modalities and not being able to eliminate the pain, not sure what is causing it (I still don’t know), not knowing how long it will be before I feel 100% well are great lessons. What causes maximum suffering is our constant need for guarantees. When we don’t know, we suffer more because we don’t know. My doctor says it could be a tear, or a strain. Age or exercise-related. I don’t know. I’m willing to let go of control. I’ve surrendered to Spirit. There is a reason I’m having this experience. Things will become clearer in due course. But for now, this is where I need to be and I’m okay with that.
- When something needs healing, everything has a chance to heal. In my case, my shoulder called out for healing. In the process, I’ve had to examine my thoughts and beliefs. I’ve had to choose how I will respond to this difficult experience. Blame and hate, or love and grace. I’ve had to talk to my body and listen really well to what it’s saying. I’ve had to clear away cellular debris I’ve been carrying around. It’s wonderful how the body forces us to pay attention. When we do, we have the opportunity to clutter-clear.
No matter what you’re going through, use it as an opportunity to grow. You may think that’s difficult, but trust me. It’s a lot easier than being constantly miserable.