"Do you know one side is a lot higher than the other?"
We were in cobra, a pose I'm relatively comfortable with, that I sort of understand at the level of focusing on appropriate muscles and maintaining breath. "This is one of the hardest poses to do correctly. It can take years to get it." Okay, so now I assume I'm still not understanding something, because there's no way I can do one of the hardest poses this easily.
But it bothers me that I start out with both shoulders even and with my elbows looking like "grasshopper wings," but I come out of the pose with one side definitely higher than the other. It's been weeks since Shawna first mentioned my lopsidededness. Every time since I've tried to check out what's going on in the mirror, even though our eyes are supposed to be aiming for the back wall.
I finally caught something this week.
My right side is the side that carries my pain. For years shame lived in and then worked her way out of my right shoulder blade area. For years my right knee would hurt when my back (and almost always something in my life) was out of alignment. And for the last year it's been my right hip, the right side of my sacrum actually, that has been delivering unrelenting messages from my body.
Because I anticipate pain from that side, even if it's not there, I protect it. I don't put as much pressure on it. And so my cobra is uneven. So is the rest of me. Because in protecting what hurts, or what I think might hurt, I've overworked the parts that do work.
The protection isn't bad in itself. The thing that's hurting me is my unconsciousness around the pain. Pain means weakness. At least it did to a number of little girls trying to survive a world that devoured vulnerability and humanity. Pain became something to endure, ignore and ultimately stuff as deeply as possible.
And that worked for years - in the way that all survival behaviors work, never allowing for much more than just survival. Fifteen years ago I began working on the psychic and emotional pain with my treasured Pat, and learned to feel and release it. That's an ongoing process.
It wasn't until seven months ago when it became clear my hip was not going to be quiet or ignored that I began to treat my body like something to be treasured rather than something to be dreaded. Pain has become a signal to pay attention to, information to act on, and very often a release of long held toxins. A friend to honor. Not an ugly thing to be crammed into the deepest recesses of my being.
Coming out of cobra I glanced in the mirror, saw my right shoulder riding high because I was putting all my weight on the left side. With a minor adjustment I discovered I could even out without pain. It changed everything about how the pose felt.
It's time to open up the windows, to look at the remaining protected places and to find out what's really there. It's time to give them the gentle attention tender parts deserve and to help them grow and strengthen in the light of love. It's time to stop protecting, and to start paying attention.
photo from Flickr