I had a bit of a scare this past week. Monday night I started feeling a very disconcerting, sharp pain just under my left knee cap. It was shocking and, while not throbbing, frightening to experience because it was unlike any other knee pain I have had (and I spent years with knee braces, wraps, tape and therapy as a teenager). What was particularly scary was knowing the structures that exist under the knee and knowing how pain in any of them is NOT a good thing.
The next morning I went to my Buddhist study group, and we reviewed the hindrances (those things that hold us back in our spiritual evolution), and I discovered that I was deeply invested in each in regard to my recent injury. Here is the break down:
Desire: I wanted to be free of pain. Immediately! I wanted desperately to NOT have an injury. I wanted to be healthy because I felt: "If only I were healthy, I would be able to to what I want to do, be who I want to be, accomplish what I want/need to accomplish."
Aversion: I was afraid that this pain would be permanent and that I would suffer forever. I was angry at myself for not being able to stay injury free. I was afraid of what others thought and that I was going to have to let everyone around me down because I couldn't dance.
Sloth and Torpor: This is actually the one hindrance to which I generally don't fall prey. Whew! But, the truth is I didn't ice the injury until day two. Yes, I put on arnica, wrapped it with an ace bandage and wore sensible shoes, but I didn't ice it when that is the first thing I tell any student with a joint injury. So, there was certainly reluctance and sloth present.
Restlessness: I was nervous (terribly worried) that this injury was going to have lasting repercussions. I was anxious and irritable. I couldn't stop talking about it to my husband. I was obsessed.
Doubt: I seriously doubted that I had any control of my healing. I didn't believe that my body can heal itself. I doubted that I would get over/passed this. I doubted that I would be able to move forward, continue, do great things.
I was in the thick of it. And, I suffered. But, I am glad that I identified what I was experiencing while I was experiencing it. That, after all, is the first step to mindfulness (and ultimately moving beyond it). I went through the list of hindrances as I did above and noted (with attempted non-judgement) to see the situation for what it was. I was not suffering physical pain as much as I was suffering the emotional pain of mere potential repercussions. I was torturing myself as I am so good at doing. (Really, I could totally offer a course on how to make yourself suffer. I'm a pro. I can guarantee great results.)
Four days of rest and a chiropractic visit later, my knee is significantly better. But, I still don't push it. I have given myself the entire weekend to rest. My mantra: avoid plié (a deep knee bend). So, I might try a short walk tomorrow. But, no dance. No yoga.
What I do know, is that you don't mess with joint injuries (knees especially). The first set is free but the second costs a bundle (with a very slow recovery rate). I am now feeling hopeful. And, in someways, proud that I did the conservative thing and took a full day of rest immediately to allow any inflammation to go down before I put it at further risk (even treatment). It was a tough week. Hard to stomach, but I got through it and look forward to restrengthening my knee and being more mindful of its preciousness in the future.
Love the knees. Love them.
Is there something you can work through with the help of addressing the hindrances? If so post them here as a comment. I would love to hear about them.