One of the pleasures of my trip to Austria, besides the glorious, exhilarating snowfall we had,

was taking grandkids Lilly and Nick to school in the morning.  The next to last day however, as Lilly and I were navigating down the steep hill to her Kindergarten, I slipped on a patch of ice.  Since we were holding hands, Lilly went down too.  We laughed as we picked ourselves up.

Lilly was fine, but I had put my hand out to catch myself, and that sent a shock wave into my right shoulder, which has remained.  Good thing is that my right shoulder now matches the left one, which is still a bit compromised from an event last year. (That’s a joke. I would have been fine with just one shoulder hurting!)

Dealing with the new injury (and also several older injuries I currently still have), has been most illuminating.  I am holding the vision that I will be able to ski with the grandkids next year (even though it seemed wise to refrain this year), and that my knee and shoulders will be pain free and fully functional again.  This may not happen, of course, but in addition to physiotherapy and other alternative approaches, I am also using visualizations and healing imagery to support the recovery.  This practice is already making a difference.  It’s my belief, and understanding, that the thoughts and images we entertain, as well as the flow of emotions we experience, create a cellular environment that can hamper or aid the healthy functioning of our bodies.  Bruce Lipton’s groundbreaking book, The Biology of Belief outlines the mechanisms by which this happens.

Here’s how it unfolded. At first, when I felt a twinge of pain in the joint, my response was to cringe, contract, maybe even utter a slight curse under my breath.  I would sometimes have a thought such as ‘this really hurts, maybe it will never get better…’ and this would telescope the pain out into something much larger  than it actually was, and make the pain take up more space in my awareness, last longer, and sometimes morph into fear.

Then I realized what I was doing, and saw how it was actually heightening my experience of injury.  So with some intention and focus, I have (mostly!) switched the dynamic.  I now use any pain that I sense as an anchor and reminder to breathe deeply, relax, and invite healing energy to the area.  And that’s part of what I mean by ‘gain’!  It has really made an amazing difference.  I can actually observe the pain shift, soften, and at times dissipate altogether.

A ‘coincidence’ occurred a few days ago.  Or maybe not.  I like the notion there are no coincidences.  (Elisabeth Kubler Ross (and numerous others):  “There are no mistakes, no coincidences.  All events are blessings given to us to learn from.”)

I began to read Eckhart Tolle’s article, Breaking Free, in the January edition of Vancouver’s Common Ground.   Tolle was talking about breaking free from emotional pain, and the “Pain Body” that we all carry around with us, an accumulation from early hurts and old patterns.  But the concept and practice of ‘breaking free’ applies very well to physical pain also.  As I read, I immediately sensed how the piece related directly to me at this moment in time.

Tolle, and many other teachers as well, suggest that if we can be with our pain, (or anger, or fear, or judgement, or any physical or psychic injury), and watch it, rather than completely identifying with it, (as is typical, and just what I was doing before), we can create some space around it.  It does not take us over in the same way; we are not trapped in its tentacles.  This practice has also been very helpful and allowed me to experience significant shifts in the pain.  (See also Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work, helpful to thousands of people with chronic distress, on how mindfulness can transform our experience of pain.)  I feel like I am clearly on the mend, and am most grateful for teachers and practitioners and the qualities of mindfulness.  (And I am not averse to the occasional hit of ibuprofen if needed!)

We are so much more and larger than any given experience, and from this expanded consciousness, we can see and hold other possibilities, such as the opportunity for mindfulness, breath, love, and healing.

Well, the Chinese Year of the Dragon has just begun.  According to tradition the Dragon brings in the Four Blessings of the East: wealth, virtue, harmony and longevity.  Another site says, “This year, we should give love, love, and love. And love will return to us. The whole universe will glow of love energy.”

May it be so.

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self -reflection, and to mine our memorable moments  for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Your feedback is most welcome.

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