I have a secret, I have pain every day. Yes, chronic pain.
I have been a Physical Therapist, Educator, and Researcher for over 25 years. But it wasn’t until I began using Yoga and Mindfulness in my personal practice that I truly blossomed as both a person and as a professional.
A few years ago I attended a weekend retreat by Judith Hanson Lasater with the theme being “Empathy”. As a physical therapist for many years, I had received training in empathy before and actually from someone who knows her stuff: Dr. Carol Davis, Professor Emeritus, University of Miami. She had written book chapters and keynote speeches on the topic. So I went into the weekend thinking I would not get much from those lessons. But Judith turned the focus back on each person and her words, “You can’t have empathy for anyone, unless you have empathy for yourself”, hit me hard. She gave us homework for the evening to listen to the inner voice that holds us back. And what I heard was: “You’re not good enough”. This didn’t surprise me as I had actually heard that voice before. Being adopted as an infant, those were my first subconscious thoughts and that voice had held me back in many relationships. But what I didn’t realize until that moment was how it held me back in all aspects of my life, even in my relatively successful professional life.
And what I heard this time was, “How can you help others, if you can’t even help yourself?”. I then realized that those thoughts were actually contributing to my pain. With those thought now coming to the surface, I felt my neck tense. But with each new awareness, comes compassion. This time my pain was different because I knew that there was hope. I knew that as I developed more compassion for myself that I could begin to heal.
So since that weekend retreat, I have come to realize the power of the mind and influence of our emotions on pain. I recognize that we have both external sources of pain, like poor posture, but we also have internal dilemmas as the source of pain, like fear, worry and unmet expectations.
So I ask you to be curious: “What is the deep inner voice that is holding you back?” “Can you listen to that inner voice with compassion?”
So now, rather than struggling with pain, I use Yoga and Mindfulness to be fully aware. I see my pain now as information about what is going on with not just the body but also with the mind and spirit. And I notice my aches and pains slowly dissipating. I know that someday I will be pain free.
UPDATE January 2019: I wrote this introduction in September of 2016. Since then I continue to see a reduction of my chronic back and neck pain. I continue to learn about the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of pain and as I learn I apply those lessons to my life. Awareness of how my thoughts and behaviors play into my pain is the first step. Putting new thoughts and behaviors into action with consistency is the next step and probably the most difficult. I will continue to share the triumphs and the challenges to let you know that getting out of pain is truly a journey. You have to believe that a life that doesn’t focus on pain is possible and it takes commitment and hard work. When you need help, I’m here to help you along the way.
Join me on this journey to pain free living. Together, let's explore the interaction of the body, mind and spirit to develop compassion and truly heal.
Call today: (614) 949-9930. We can work together from anywhere!
Another reason that I do Yoga is to keep up with my active family: husband Erik, son Carter and daughter Kathryn. We like to bike, swim, hike, camp and generally play hard.