Body, I am Listening
“I haven’t got time for the pain.” … a slogan for a pain reliever. Funny how some things are timeless.
I am on vacation at the beach. This is my very first morning and I open my eyes to a different room, different clock showing the time, different furniture, unfamiliar lighting. Where am I? Then I remember, and sink back into my pillow. That’s when I become aware of a distinct tightness in my neck. The left side. It doesn’t hurt exactly. It’s more like my shoulders are scrunched all the way up under my ear, like it’s shrugging without permission.
I have a history of cervical disc problems and neck and shoulder pain. Normally, I march to my exercise mat, pick up my hand weights and go through a relatively elaborate routine of stretching and strengthening. Not this morning. This morning I am on vacation. I receive this pain news differently. It’s not pain, it’s tightness. Not my enemy, just part of me. Not something to be dismissed but something to be befriended. To be spoken to.
I tell it, calm down. Not out loud, of course. Don’t want to wake my sleeping husband. But I send it a message – how does that happen? – to relax. My mind, very firmly but very intentionally, says comfort. And it does.
I am wondering how often I apply force when what is needed is pulling back. How often I go straight to addressing the situation with my capable approach when what is needed is calm. I am wondering if I can only really discern the right approach when I am on vacation. Resting. When I can attend to my body parts (which incidentally are incapable of lying – they always tell the truth ) one by one without the static of the rest of my life.
Today I am going to keep checking in with that neck (and a left hip that is ornery) and apply the balm of “How are you feeling?” This will be tricky because I have a long-established habit of ‘ignore and go on.’
Whose body is this, after all? The one loaned to me just for this lifetime. When it speaks up, doesn’t it deserve to be heard?