Lean In…

I was in my early thirties when I went up for a rebound in a pick-up game of basketball and came down on a much larger guy’s foot. Ouch. I both felt and heard it pop. The guys I was playing with heard it pop as well, which wasn’t a good sign. I have a friend who is a foot & ankle orthopedic surgeon, who I sent a picture of my baseball-sized ankle to as I lay on the bench in agony before they wheeled me out of the gym. He said “tell me that’s not yours.” Yep, it was mine. Thank goodness he went in early to make time for me the next day. I didn’t know what a severe grade three high ankle sprain was, but I found out in glorious fashion. After all, I did get that rebound!

I was in a walking boot for nearly two months. I even had to sleep in the boot. I couldn’t drive for weeks. I remember my first trip to physical therapy when I received the rude awakening about how much it hurt to move my ankle, along with how much strength I had lost after month one in that boot. My Physical Therapist didn’t exactly show signs of sympathy, as her job was to get me back to as close to 100% as possible without any setbacks. There is a certain expression you’ll hear from many medical providers before they perform a task- “this is going to hurt a little.” We all know that “a little” often means “a lot” as well! I can name countless times when I’ve been hurt, sick, needed procedures done, etc., that doctors need to say those little words prior to doing some task to help me heal (or to numb me for the inevitable task). My ankle hurt badly as I learned ways to restrengthen it, from walking to eventually playing basketball again (with a brace now of course). I intentionally allowed a medical provider to cause me pain, understanding that it would make me better in the long run. I actually leaned into the pain and did exercises myself on days where I couldn’t make physical therapy to help the process along. How many times have you had a reason to be in physical pain because you understood that in the long run you were better off?

My main question- why then do we often avoid emotional pain? Why do we bury painful memories and experiences in the dark corners of our minds? Why do we think if we avoid these experiences they will simply go away? I’ve heard countless times that emotions are a form of energy. I’ve also read/heard several times that emotional traumas left unhealed actually can create pain/hurt/sickness within our physical bodies? Most recently my massage therapist brought this up, I’ll interview her later. Eckart Tolle also has a theory called “The Pain Body,” which is worth checking out if you haven’t read his writings. We all have our struggles, anxieties, fears, hurts, hang-ups, regrets, worries, etc.! After all, we’re all human, we all have a past and life isn’t exactly perfect. Painful memories- lean in. Pain in your body over and over again without understanding why- lean in. Feeling sad or depressed- lean in. Feeling anxious or worried- lean in. Feeling sick all the time for no apparent reason- lean in. Holding resentment or anger- lean in. Lean into the pain and the hurts, just please don’t avoid them. We truly are only hurting ourselves by holding this negativity, as I believe it creates a void between us and our higher spiritual self. This can separate us from peace and spirituality, because if we spend more time holding onto human pain we are spending more time in the human world, not the spiritual world, which I find to be much more enjoyable and peaceful. Awareness is the first step, talking to others (vulnerability), forgiveness, understanding, releasing, healing and moving on are a just a few of the others, at least from my experiences.

So, are you running from your past? Are you avoiding memories that continually “pop-up?” Are you unsure why you react how you do sometimes? If so, can you try just once to simply lean in, perhaps even learn, and perhaps eventually heal?

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