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?

Insecurity Running the Show

I was sitting at Chipotle yesterday, which is admittedly one of my favorite “easy” food options on a busy day. This particular day I was sitting outside within earshot of a few other tables. I can honestly say it didn’t take long for me to wish I had brought my headphones. I often tune into podcasts throughout the day as I continue craving ways to connect more on a spiritual level along this journey of life. This particular day however, I didn’t have them. I then naturally assumed that their must have been a reason I didn’t have them and couldn’t help but overhear much of a conversation that was taking place a few tables away….

Two people, one voice. That’s what I heard for 15 minutes as I sat there eating my meal. I couldn’t tell the dynamic of the two and could only assume they were both in their thirties, one man and one woman. The man faced away from me and really just seemingly stared down at his food most of the time as he took bite after bite, hardly looking up. I’m not sure he said a word the entire time. The woman hardly stopped talking. Either of them could’ve been talking, so this has nothing to do with any stereotype some of you might be thinking here, but more what she was saying that struck me so heavily. I’m not sure if I’ve heard as much gossip and talking down about other people within a 15 minute window since adolescence, at least that I actually paid attention to. I found her demeanor very boisterous with both her words and facial expressions. The cinematic impact of “drama” in the conversation was inescapable to detect, even for another human being sitting two tables away. I caught just enough to realize what was happening and the fact that the conversation mostly deflected any attention from herself. I admit, I cannot know what I do not know. I simply call them as I see them and this particular conversation struck me. I left Chipotle almost feeling bad for her, despite the theatrical act she put on while talking nonstop about what everyone else was doing wrong. I found myself asking what would possibly make a person project such negativity onto others? My guess, simply insecurity in who she is and how she feels about herself.

We all talk about others, yet when we speak from a place of shaming, degrading, judging or offering our unwarranted opinions of how someone else lives, aren’t we being a little arrogant? I also think doing so behind others’ back (gossip) actually only hurts ourselves. We are the only ones who actually have to sit and listen to it. I don’t know what that girl has been through, and quite frankly it’s none of my business. She simply got me thinking and I don’t judge where she is on her journey. I also don’t think this gossiping aspect of self is something she’s even aware could be harming her spirit. I do believe that deflecting attention from ourselves by putting negative energy into the world about others is not the frequency I want to live from. I admit, I’ve done plenty of gossiping in my day and if we’re honest with ourselves we are all a tad guilty (at least). Big scheme of things though, I felt sorry for her. Sorry that she felt the need to “be right” in so many situations with so many others. Sorry that her ego was that much in control of her voice, her feelings and her life. I don’t want to live that way and I choose to put positive and non-judgmental energy into the world the best I can. I think I’ll simply pray for more people and do my best not to gossip. I think this is work worth doing.

Today I’m surrendering gossip and judgement, and will continue to work on this due to enhanced awareness via a conversation overheard on a Chipotle patio. Would you care to join me?