As I’m preparing to facilitate Mindfulness Programs this fall, I was sharply brought back to how easy it is to fall off the “Mindfulness Wagon”. Coming off my annual wilderness canoe trip this past summer, I acutely injured my knees.
When I was in the Emergency Department, the very sweet doctor—he must have been older than a teenager, surely—told me that knees are very common injuries for “older adults”.
I’m almost 60. So I am definitely an older adult. And I am a cyclist, a kayaker, a yoga teacher and a hiker. This is part of my identity and who I am. And I have paid attention to accommodating this “getting older” body to maintain a high level of outdoor activity that brings me joy.
But this knee injury immobilized me for five days. Then I had to use crutches for the next week until I could weight bear again.
The mind slid into future catastrophic thinking, imagining being couch-ridden for the next 1000 years until the body wasted away and finally, with great relief, death arrived.
The mind became crazy. Not mindful at all.
However, I caught it fairly soon. My years of mindfulness practices kicked in. I know there are other ways to approach this intensity of body and mind besides overeating, depression and binging on Netflix. Which I did on and off, too, but not as long, and noticed what was happening.
Slowly, I began to bring my breath into more awareness. I started to notice the thoughts (rather than sinking into them and believing them) racing with fear into the future. And pay attention to the emotions sinking into a morass of helplessness and rage. And the physical body, observing the knees, swollen and hot, were drawing much of my energy. I began to allow the body to do what it needed to do while I started to detach. On purpose. Without judgment.
I went to visit my friend who has been in a wheel chair for coming up to 40 years. His wry, self-deprecating humour laced with acerbic wit, brought me into a sharply compassionate awakening. My eyes began to lift from my own belly button (or knees!) to look at others who live with chronic pain much worse than mine.
So, as I’m preparing to facilitate Mindfulness Programs this fall, I draw on awareness, compassion and kindness, for myself and others.
I invite you to build stability and ease through expanding your mindfulness practices this fall at Janati Yoga School, Wednesdays from 2-4:30 pm, Sept 26-Nov 14 with a one day silent retreat Sun Nov 4. So when something intense happens to you, you can turn to mindfulness practices to support you.
It’s like working out at the gym: you must build muscles to be able to use them when you need them.
I was grateful I had enough practice to move fairly quickly through believing the insane thoughts and emotions and getting stuck in the distress of the body.
Mindfulness is a way of living that I know I can lean into in rocky times.
If you have any questions or want to chat further, call or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org 613-650-7906