Oh being human… sigh

by Melissa West on June 22, 2011

Over the past several weeks I have been struggling against a lot of neck and shoulder pain that is radiating down my arms and also affecting my writsts and my hands. My immediate reaction to this pain that seemed to come out of nowhere was – “but I’m past this!” I used to deal with chronic neck and shoulder pain. Being rear ended in a car on two occassions with resulting whip lash and soft tissue damage has made me an expert on upper back, neck and shoulder pain. In fact I even made a yoga video based on my own recovery program. People would often ask me if I still experienced pain from my car accidents and I will always answer, “I feel like I’m finally past it now. It definitely doesn’t bother me anymore.” And then wham, four weeks ago, there it was staring me down again.

Everything in my being fought against this neck pain that was travelling into my shoulders, arms and wrists. I pretended it wasn’t happening for a while. Denial. As the pain persisted speaking louder and louder, I had to listen. Lots of ego-flavoured voices showed up. “This can’t be happening to you! You practice yoga everyday, you teach yoga, you’re a thai massage therapist, you’re a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist – you’re supposed to be perfect!” And on the flip side, “You’re ruined. You’ll never be able to continue as a thai massage therapist or Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist with this chronic pain… you’re ruining your body!” I have to admit, I duked it out with these voices for a few weeks.

Then something shifted.

Through the help of my friends I was able to give voice to what was happening in my body and in my life and be heard in a non-judgmental way. Last night I was able to honestly feel acceptance for the first time. I said to my husband, “You know this is me, I have neck and shoulder flare ups, this is part of who I am.” We recalled all the times we had been through various events in my life when I had sought treatment for pain in my neck, shoulders, arms, hands, wrists. This time though, it was a gentle remembering; there was a kindness this time. Compassion had found its way into the scenario. Nothing had changed except I had finally shifted to acceptance and compassion.

In Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy group experiences one of the themes we work with is acceptance. From that perspective acceptance is not about resignation or giving up. Acceptance just means this is how things are right now, they won’t necessarily always be that way, but this is how they are right now. Just like in the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy process I brought awareness to the fact that I wasn’t accepting what was happening in my body. From that awareness I was able to come to acceptance that alright, this is how things are right now.

Here is a short quote that I edited from Donna Faulds for one of my Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy classes:

“All it takes is receiving what is here right now inside of me – being intimate with all that’s happening now, and knowing that the act of accepting all I discover, is all that’s needed now.” Donna Faulds.

What else have I learned from this (ongoing) experience? I love what I do. I love it so much that I intend to practice extraordinary self-care so that I can continue to teach yoga and give thai massage and Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy sessions.


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