Seeing Things Clearly

The official start of spring doesn’t always feel like very much like spring if you live in Southern Maine. At least not very consistently. There are a few things, like daffodils, that loudly announce to even the most stoic Mainers that spring is really on its way. Other things, like grass, change in a more subtle way and can be easy to overlook.

I hadn’t noticed the grass was doing much at all then first official week of spring. And I wasn’t at all surprised when some of our ‘April showers’ turned into ‘April snow showers’. As I looked at the white crystals of snow nestled around the blades of emerald green grass, I was struck by how tall the grass had already grown. This cold, throw-back to winter snow had provided the contrast necessary for me to see just how much the grass had actually shot up.

I can think of many different levels at which I could use this as a metaphor for life. When I look at my own life, the thing that comes to mind right away is my recent experience living with sciatic pain. For the last six months. sciatic never pain has significantly altered how I live my day to live.  But, in the same way the white snow contrasted the green grass and showed how much the grass had grown, the pain showed me just how much I’ve grown through my yoga practice.

During the worst of the pain, I would often really struggle not to become paralyzed with fear.

But I discovered that I could catch myself when this happened and change my viewpoint to looking at the pain as something to be curious about. While this didn’t take it away, it kept me from making the pain worse by adding several layers of scary stories about the future on top of it.

It was also wonderful to see that years of yoga posture practice really has supported my recovery. I am able to communicate clearly with my health care providers about what the nature of my pain because I’ve trained myself to pay attention to how my body feels in each posture. And the habit of assessing each posture in my yoga practice for whether it’s  ‘not doing anything’ or ‘hurting’, contributed greatly to being able to get the most out of physical therapy without the risk of further injury.

Yoga Sutra 1.14 says “Practice that is done for a long time, without break and with sincere devotion becomes a firmly rooted, stable, and solid foundation.” I would be lying if I said I feel grateful for the sciatic pain.

Just like the white snow made the progress of the grass stand out, living with this pain has given me clearer pictures of all the benefits of having stuck with a yoga practice.

And a profound sense of gratitude for all the teachers, friends, and family that have supported me in being able to continue it over a ‘long time without a break and with sincere devotion’.