Monday, September 16, 2013

Pre-Existing Conditions

When people say "my back went out," what does that mean? It's an old fashioned phrase. I like it. No doubt it means something different to each individual. I think it means the person didn't notice -- until it was too late -- the twinges, tightness or discomfort in his or her back, or noticed and decided it was nothing and would go away on its own. Whatever is out of balance gets a little worse, then worse still. One day the situation passes a tipping point which is what people mean when they say their back "went out."

The sensation of pulling or tightness, soreness or uneasiness indicates something isn't quite right. I am a big fan of the wait-and-see school of healing, for non-acute conditions of course. If I broke my arm I wouldn't wait to see if it would heal on its own, but a little twinge? I might do some stretching, get a good night's sleep, and hope for the best.

When the back goes out, there's no choice but to address the situation -- rest or stop doing something strenuous that makes it worse, go for bodywork or acupuncture -- you know. When it gets so bad you can't ignore it, that is the first stage of healing.

Healing is dynamic, often dramatic. To disorganize the pattern of dis-ease requires a time of chaos. That chaos is almost always painful. In the case of colds and the flu, the fever, sneezing, nose blowing, coughing, diarrhea and throwing up disorganizes the foothold of the offending virus. The symptoms are not caused by the virus, but are part of human immunity. Sometimes the immune response is gentle, but sometimes it can be quite violent. Sometimes, in order to shake off a potent virus, all of life's routines must be interrupted, or so it seems. We call in sick, thrash around in bed, leave trails of used kleenexes all over the house. Every pattern is disorganized. When the virus has been dispatched, we rebuild our lives from what seems like scratch.

Divorce, quitting or getting fired from a job, moving house or to a new location, and other dramatic changes of life situation serve to dislodge stale patterns that are no longer balanced or healthy. I see these experiences in the same light as catching a nasty cold, or suffering when the back goes out. The unhappy accidents of life serve a purpose. I believe this even as I curse these situations when I have to endure them.

Is there something going on in your life or in your body right now that feels like a minor, nagging discomfort? Is there a sense of tightness, restriction, staleness or decay in your muscles, sinuses, relationships, job, house? These are the pre-existing conditions that point in the direction of healing and balance. These are clues that can help you see where you're slipping out of balance.

I have no idea whether it's possible to avoid the calamities that bring a pre-existing condition up to the surface, but I hang on to the hope that if I pay close attention, I'll be able to perhaps, maybe, nip in the bud some of the looming catastrophes that make up the narratives of every human life.

I am such a dreamer. But it can't hurt to try.

Be well. Shalom.

1 comment:

Kerry said...

Some years back I developed back pain & I'm trying to remember what the concurrent situations were. I don't recall! But I do know that's when I came to respect yoga as an avenue of healing. It was really wonderful to realize that there was something I could do to help myself.