Pain radiating down my leg, sharp and burning. Breathe. A painful ‘grab’ and sharp pain spreading across my lower back. Breathe. Little electric bursts of pain in my hip. Breathe.
I’ve spent the weekend grappling with a muscle spasm in my lower back. I was simply doing laundry and bent over to pick up a towel that had fallen on the ground. GRAB. PAIN. STOP.F***.
I feel for anyone who has chronic pain. Two days of this inconvenient, distracting, debilitating pain has been very hard to tolerate. For those of you who deal with pain every single day, my heart goes out to you. It sucks!
Practicing mindfulness is one of my saving graces. (A loving, supportive, helpful husband is another!). Staying in the moment, noticing my pain and breathing did not cure it or take it away. Mindfulness is not a magical cure, but it is magical. I went for a walk, mind you, a very, very slow walk…and I practiced my mindfulness. I paid attention to each and every step. I noticed and named the pain as I experienced it. Radiating. Sharp. Throbbing. Dull. Spreading. Constant. I didn’t fight it or resist it. I breathed. I focused on relaxing my body with each breath and I took another step. And then I moved outward. I engaged all of my senses. I looked around. Red rose. Fence. White truck. Trees blowing in the wind. I listened. As I walked the leaves were crunching under my feet. I brought all of my attention to the crunch and crackle with each step. I listened. The wind was blowing and I could hear the rustle of the leaves in the trees. The wind chimes ringing ever so lightly. I could hear laughter in the distance. I smelled the fragrant rose, the dried grass. I felt the breeze tousle my hair and the sun warm my arms and face. I breathed. I appreciated the moment.
Mindfulness is not a magic cure, but it is magical.
I am still in pain, but the 15 minute walk, the moments of mindfulness were magical, pleasant and most of all, distracting. Whether it be physical pain or emotional pain, taking the time to pause, breathe and notice our experiences is a blessing and a relief. Mindfulness allows us to be present to both our inner experiences and our outer experiences. I’ve continued to use this practice throughout the weekend and I feel a gentleness, calmness and a sense of gratitude that I know are contrary to what pain usually triggers.
I invite you to practice mindfulness the next time your experience pain, discomfort, unease. Allow yourself to simply be in the moment and let go. Breathe.