Today I got home from work and really wanted to go on a non-thinking run. A non-thinking run is a run where I can just run without worrying about anything. I might run hard, I might not, but I don't pay much attention to anything-- I just run. When I got started though, I immediately became annoyed because I could *feel* my knee. It didn't hurt, but I was aware of it. I was instantly resentful of my knee and being injured. I am trying to do my knee exercises and I have been doing yoga on a regular basis (more about this in a minute)-- why can't my knee just get better?
I was about to go into a long rant in my head about how annoyed I was at my knee, when I was reminded of a facebook update I read that afternoon, from a woman I used to work with. She said, "i am thankful for all of the pain, sadness and loneliness in my life because it fuels my art and brings me closer to you." (She's a great photographer, by the way-- check out her site here.) I started to think about how I was so focused on how BAD it was that my knee hurt, I didn't see anything else. One of my favorite buddhist writers wrote once (I can't remember where, so don't ask) that we can use painful experiences to shut us down or to open us up.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not being dramatic and claiming that a mild case of tendonitis is tragic. It's not. I'm still able to be more active on a daily basis than the majority of people in the world are. But this quote made me think today about how I can choose to accept this experience or fight it and try to control it. (I'm going to leave it to you to figure out which is the more traditional Victoria method...)
Then I realized though, that even the experience of recognizing I have a choice about fighting my body or accepting it where it is was a gift. I'm a (slightly) driven person, and I tend to operate under the assumption that if I go after something with, (to quote my partner in trail tartness) "an aggressive plan of action," it will change. Very soon. Patience is not one of my cardinal virtues, as you may have guessed. This is very helpful in certain areas of my life, but not so in others (particularly those involving other people, as one might presume). I could use this experience to be annoyed and mad at my knee (truly a useful pasttime, as I'm sure my knee is doing this out of pure spite), or I could enjoy my body just as it is in this moment, injured or not.
I also started thinking about what an overuse injury is-- basically your body's way of telling you to pay attention for some reason. Either I need to run less or run differently, or work on supporting my knee through yoga and muscle-building-- but whatever it is, my knee is telling me the current situation is not working for it, and it's getting my attention the only way it could-- through pain. I know I would have completely ignored my knee if at all possible (this is the person who finished 8 miles on a broken foot, after all), and the only way I will stop and pay attention is if it really, really hurts. My knee is here to remind me to pay attention to me and what's going on in my own body. These are not strengths of mine either. Ok knee-- I hear you and I promise to stop resenting the hell out of you. (I am well aware that it is a giant waste of energy to resent one's own knee, but I'm just being honest about the conversations in my head, and I'm sure you have had similarly ridiculous inner conversations at some point in your life as well.)
The other really great experience tendonitis has brought for me lately is the return to yoga. I have been a yoga fanatic lately, getting up early for my yogatoday class (core strength today!) and let me tell you-- there is something about yoga that lands somewhere between physical therapy and mental therapy that SO works for me. Paying attention to my mind and body at the same time, noticing what gets me frustrated, where I hold tension and working on letting go? REALLY what I needed. I can literally feel myself shifting and holding better posture outside of classes as the days go by, and I've had some really useful emotional insights while practicing.
It's funny, because one of the things I work on most with the people I coach is reframing. If we can see the same set of circumstances from a different perspective, we can have a completely different experience. I suppose one of the things my knee is here to tell me is, "Physician-- heal thyself!"