Shouldering a Burden: Blending Metaphor with Hindsight.
Way back in my Yoga training days, and since, I’ve heard Yoga instructors espouse the notion that any illness or injury we’re presented with in this life should be considered a blessing in disguise.
Now, there aren’t many yogic ideals I fully disagree with, but this philosophical notion? I respectfully call BS! Perhaps it’s just semantics, however, in my book (and Webster’s too), a blessing is something that brings about happiness and well-being.
Last October, my right shoulder began to progressively lose functionality, for no apparent reason. In some sort of twisted homeostasis, for each degree of motion my joint lost, I gained an uptick on the pain scale. It got to the point where I was unable to dress or undress without excruciating pain (or help), and the dysfunction progressed to not being able to do much of anything purposeful: not even sleeping.
This situation obviously created quite a problem for me, not only as a Yoga instructor, but also as a human being.
While questions swirled — Was there a tear? An impingement? Frozen joint? — and focused therapeutic modalities were explored — acupuncture, MRI, cortisone injection, it became necessary to mitigate the pain by X-ing out a wide swath of activities, most profoundly, my physical Yoga practice.
Now, I’d love to say that because I am a longtime student of Yoga, the extreme decrease in my moving practice significantly upped my meditation game and I was able to blithely move through my experience with bemused detachment. Really, I would! However, that would be a four-alarm lie.
As I said, frozen shoulder, cancer, sciatica, depression and the like, stray pretty far afield from the encyclopedic definition of a blessing. And FYI, I don’t equate the inconvenience of a frozen shoulder as anything nearing the blessing category of cancer! No. Dysfunctions and maladies rarely (if even that) bring contentment to anyone who has not reached some level of spiritual enlightenment.
And since I’ve not (… yet?) reached that auspicious state of being, this immobilized shoulder hasn’t brought anything close to bliss to my table, IMHO.
Thankfully, the time and energy I’ve spent in Yoga study over the years has not been for naught. I am cognizant that my downtime has provided a trail marker toward deeper self-examination and awareness. Each morning I remind myself that every one of us has real and/or perceived limitations (which often manifest as real) in myriad aspects of our lives.
Some of life’s circumstances obviously hold more density than others, yet if we are able to bring our full, unadulterated attention to any situation we’re served, no matter how seemingly trivial they appear, oftentimes these episodes hyper-illustrate the “condition our condition is in.”*
As the dust-up related to my shoulder continues to settle, the parting haze has revealed some pretty deep-seated spirals of self-judgment I’ve cycled through for a very long time. In the quietude of passive stretching, my habit of unconsciously schlepping around personal burdens that, well, just don’t personally belong to me, has also been on display.
And, blending metaphor with some hindsight, it almost seems like a no-brainer in stating that perhaps the weight of my judginess and self-induced martyrdom, among other things, finally became too much burden for my shoulder to bear.
Although I haven’t fully reclaimed full shoulder range of motion yet, I recently practiced Downward Facing Dog for the first time in almost six months. From an outside viewpoint, it wasn’t pretty, necessarily aligned, or particularly relaxed. From my viewpoint, however, once I shifted from judgment to observation, it was delicious! It felt, I suppose, like a gift of sorts. Like, maybe even a blessing?
*Apologies and gratitude to Kenny Rogers and the First Edition
Diane Ambrosini is a lifelong Californian, currently thriving in and around the mountains and beaches of San Diego, who can confirm that, yes, there really is a California way of life! A Yoga instructor for almost 20 years, she believes Yoga is the original medicine, the human heart is a miracle, and that love is the answer… and also sometimes the question. She is currently stumbling along the winding path of life as a peaceful warrior. And even having recently published the second edition of Instructing Hatha Yoga, she is finally allowing the voice of her deepest truths to sprout wings and fly free! She is learning to accept all of life’s serendipitous moments as gifts, and hopes to be able to repay and re-gift these magical moments with her fellow journeyers. You can connect with Diane by checking out Facebook or Instagram.