How can you tell you’re about to hurt yourself? Part 2
Have you ever noticed that feeling that comes up when you reach just a little bit farther, or lift just a little bit more, or twist in a slightly different way?
I call it the “I’m about to hurt myself” feeling.
Sometimes we notice and listen to this feeling. We back off a bit. Or we try picking something up just a little bit to see how it will feel in our body, before we pick up the whole thing and try to carry it.
Or maybe we experiment with an unusual motion in a slow and controlled manner, before launching into the full version of it.
But sometimes we’re in a hurry and we don’t listen to that feeling. We might be feeling rushed by circumstances, or feeling like we need to get something done.
Maybe there’s some kind of external marker that we think has meaning–just one more rep, or the full mile and half because that was the goal, or getting the whole garden bed done, no matter that we’re tired and want a cup of tea.
If we feel like we’re about to hurt ourselves, or stand a good chance of hurting ourselves by doing something a little bit extra or out of the ordinary…why do we do it anyway?
When we choose to ignore this warning feeling that the body is sharing with us, it’s usually not because we’ve taken a deliberate pause, weighed the pros and cons of moving forward with the action and deliberately chosen to follow through with the movement.
No, it’s usually more of an in-the-moment reaction–without a lot of consideration.
It begs the question, “If we have a tendency to react in a certain way in the moment, how (and when) do we choose a different response?”
This reminds me of an anecdote from a meditation group I used to frequent. Someone was sharing that since they’d started meditating they hadn’t really noticed any change, but one day they were having an exchange with a hostile neighbor. Afterward it occurred to that person how unruffled, and even open-hearted, they had stayed during the encounter. A witness had even commented on it as well, saying how differently the person had handled it compared to similar encounters in the past.
Since we’re not giving thorough consideration to our action when we’re in the middle of it. I suggest that trying to stop ourselves in the moment won’t be as effective as setting ourselves up to handle the moment before we’re in it.
Choosing not to do injury to our bodies, is a spiritual matter–and the freedom to make a different choice can be gained through insight and reflection of the sort that is most often considered spiritual.
Why do we hurt ourselves?
Sometimes we’re frustrated with what is.
Maybe sometimes we feel like what is, isn’t good enough. And sometimes maybe we don’t want to see what is, so we pretend we don’t see it.
I say that this is a spiritual matter because to be with what is, even though it’s tender, is a spiritual process.
Likewise, to have patience with what makes us impatient and frustrated is a spiritual process.
And finally, to still extend love, when the comparisons and measurements don’t look as good as we’d hoped, is a spiritual process.
We have the option to do our tasks–either our workouts or our rototilling or our sport or our job–with a relaxed ease. A relaxed ease that reflects the real love we have, or could have, in our hearts for ourselves and for our bodies.
The happy news is that when we see clearly and lovingly what is, without our expectations and comparisons mucking things up, it opens up the possibility for real and inexorable change.