2 min read

Lessons from my body

My body teaches me in simple ways how to relate to it, and in the process I receive profound life lessons.

Last spring, Macha and I averaged 90-minute walks broken up across the day. I would put in my headphones, hit play on my audiobook, and we would step out in perfect weather. We saw the magnolia buds blossoming into full-blown spring ecstacy and we watched as the dandelions took over the grass. Inner peace and I became friends. I was enjoying all of this to the max when I began to experience severe foot pain. The sides of my legs would hurt, and my low back would scream. I felt devastated. I had missed being active over the winter and was enjoying moving my body in a way that was suitable to me. I tried soaking my feet and taking Arnica. I slept on my "Bed of Nails," acupressure mat. While it would alleviate the pain for a bit, the walks made it worse. Daily.

Then one night, while nursing my sore feet, I googled pain in toes. One of the first things that came up was wearing tight shoes. And a lightbulb went off in my head. My Merrell shoes were new, so they were the correct size, but I had been tying the shoelaces too tight. So much so that my toes were smooshed together. Of course they were hurting! I realized that I was tying them tight in hopes of giving my ankles more support. In the process, everything else began screaming bloody murder.

The next morning, I decided to try and loosen the knot. It felt weird. There was space. I felt a bit unsupported. But I knew my feet were secure. Macha and I walked for 40 minutes at a stretch. Even as I took the first few steps, I knew this was much better. The pain in my lower back and the sides of my legs disappeared almost completely. My toes hurt a lot less.

In two days, my walks were pain-free.

I reflected on why I was suffocating my body in this way and came up with a few reasons:
A. The falls in the previous year had instilled the fear of falling. I was trying to hold on tight, to protect myself.
B. I had misunderstood tight as support. No one really teaches you how to tie a shoelace properly. it should be mandatory teaching/learning since kindergarten.
C. I have always had to struggle in my life - with family, with mental and physical health issues - my nervous system is wired and always ready for a fight. I have trained myself to be in pain. When there is no pain, I feel unhinged. It gives me something to focus on.

These reflections brought home the equanimity teachings in a natural way. While meditating, we are supposed to hold our attention on the anchor with ease. Not too tight that we stop breathing or become frenzied. Not too loose that our mind wanders all over the place. With intention, the right effort can yield powerful results.

My body taught me the same thing. Not too tight. Not too loose. Just right.