Usually I wake up naturally at around 6:00am, throw on some clothes, and go for a walk with our dogs. The other day Tash started limping, holding up his right front paw. I hunkered down, took a good look at his foot, and found the culprit—an acorn ‘hat’ had worked its way between his pads. After removing it gently, I stood up and we completed our walk without missing a beat.
By contrast, for about a year, I’ve been experiencing low grade pain that has increased to where it’s impacting my life. I let it go for a while before actually checking it out. In fact, I continued to practice yoga, and just generally pushed myself through my days regardless of how I felt. After seeing some specialists, it turns out I have a torn meniscus (left knee), a labral tear (right hip), and a neuroma (right foot). These conditions require varying types of attention, which I am now giving them. But what if, months ago, I had done what came so naturally for me where Tash was concerned? What if I had listened to my body, stopped, and hunkered down to see what the problem was? For my Tashie, it was automatic. I didn’t have to think, not for a second. Of course I would stop to help this beloved creature!
So when did I stop treating myself like a beloved creature in the world? Why did this pain not warrant the tender compassion I gave so readily to my dog? And what about other kinds of pain? The heart spaces that cry out for acknowledgment and attention. What have I done about them? Easy: Facebook, TV, or (this is my favorite) Work. Work that’s not necessary. Work that I just made up, for its own sake. You know what? I would never do this to my dog. I would never, ever let my dog limp along, dragging him down the block, ignoring the signs. And the thing is, he probably wouldn’t complain, either. He’d probably just limp along the best he could, just like my body has been doing. But the point is: I would never put him through that.
As you read this, stop for a minute. Know yourself as a deeply beloved creature in the world. Does this make you consider treating yourself any differently? Stop dragging yourself down the block. Begin listening to what your body has to say to you. We can all tune in every morning in this way. Hunker down with ourselves, give our careful attention to our own internal voices. We can use our eyes to search for and pull out any thorns we see. And in this way, we can foster a more trusting and trustworthy relationship with ourselves.
Keep the image of a tender hand with an upturned paw in it. It might help to bring out the kindness you need for yourself.