Like the board game we played as children, life resembles a series of chutes and ladders -- you get to the top of one ladder, and you ride down a chute to the bottom of the next one.
I had been doing a lot better with recovering from my AC sprain. Six weeks of physical therapy really helped, and paying attention to my posture. I'd come up with coping mechanisms and really dialed back on my workouts. Things were feeling good. But you know, any time you get to the top, you know you're going back down to the bottom of some other part of this whole life thing.
I retriggered the injury by sleeping funny, and that lead to all kinds of stiffness, pain, and anger about feelings of regression. It's frustrating to feel like you've made progress, and then you're back to being a beginner again. That said, Beginner's Mind is such a gift in a way. When I realized I was back at the bottom of the ladder (or at least a few rungs down), it made me examine ways in which I'd gotten stuck, neglected my practice, and places I could be kinder to myself.
I'm reading Things Fall Apart, a classic by Pema Chodron, and she talks a lot about how we react when our world is pulled out from under us. Some of us get angry, some are scared, some completely fall apart. But if you can find some space to be kind to yourself, to examine how and why you do the things you do, you can come back to center, find compassion, and start working with change and uncertainty.
It's good practice, because you know that as soon as you figure out how to deal with that particular change, it's time for the next one. Chutes and ladders.
I was thinking too about how my struggles in life have been preparation for the ones I am currently facing. As easy as it would be to be resentful about my anxiety struggles in the past, those same struggles got me to seek out the coping mechanisms I use today to help manage my anxiety about any kind of bodily change. The anxiety management class, the Pema Chodron books, the Mindfulness Class, the spiritual work I do now -- all of these things are tools in my toolbox when I feel overwhelmed and stressed and scared.
I just need to remember to tap in when that happens.
Last night, I had a really hard time falling asleep, which was frustrating. But it also reminded me that I need to work with my body, not against it. So I switched positions, read some Harry Potter and ate some pudding, and eventually sleep came. I am not the most well-rested today, but I know that even this is in preparation for long nights ahead. And that's okay. My reality, while maybe not ideal, is okay. I can work with it. Because I am willing to have Beginner's Mind, to be curious about my current set of circumstances, to work with myself and my body when something changes, I will be okay. And so will you.
If you are facing a body change that feels unworkable, my heart and my compassion are with you. See if you can take some time today to be curious about whatever is going on, and find some kindness for yourself. Think about how you can respond, not resist, how you can make the unworkable, workable. Let's make friends with ourselves.