“Something very beautiful happens to people when their world has fallen apart: a humility, a nobility, a higher intelligence emerges at just the point when our knees hit the floor.” Marianne Williamson
I recently was brought to my knees by acute back pain and spasms. The pain was so intense that I was literally on my knees, hands clasped, sobbing and begging God to provide me with some relief. I found myself repeating over and over that I was ready to let go of whatever I was holding on to that was causing my pain. I felt like a toddler having a meltdown, not sure how I got to this place, and not even sure what it was that I was holding on to. I just knew that I wanted to be free of it.
I consider myself a strong, happy and balanced woman. Meditation keeps me on a very even keel. For the most part, I take care of myself and lead a healthy lifestyle. Tears do not come easy to me and crying is a rarity. I know that life ebbs and flows and sometimes very high highs balance out with very low lows. Lately, a little too many celebrations and not enough exercise caught up with me, and my body sent clear signals that things were amiss. Life offers a reality check, forcing a shift in focus back to self-care.
I believe there is a direct correlation between our emotions and our physical health and bodies. When we are holding on to fear, shame, anxiety, anger or resentment, they will manifest in our physical bodies in the form of pain or dis-ease. It is our job to read the signals, manage the symptoms and try to get to the real root of the problem. So even though I could attribute my back pain to slacking off on my exercise routine and a few extra pounds, I knew I had to dig deeper to discover which emotions were in need of release.
If there is one thing that I have learned is that pain is our teacher. When you are on our knees in agony, you become humble. Stripped away of any airs, down there in the abyss, it is just you and your soul and God, and you are faced with choices. Sometimes in life, we are reduced in order to heal. In order to move forward, we have to let go of what is. I think of it as the zero-set point that brings clarity. Even if you are already three steps ahead, sometimes, in order to go forward you must first take a few steps back. Like not being able to see the forest for the trees, sometimes we add so much meaning into life that things become muddled, and in order to clear our vision and find better options, we have to remove the meaning and start fresh.
Intent on finding some answers, I spent the rest of the day resting, meditating and breathing deeply. By midday, when the muscle spasms overtook my body, I was able to breathe and relax through them instead of tensing up and cursing. I flowed with them instead of fighting them, thus immensely reducing their significance. Instead of trying to resist and struggle against my own muscles, I relinquished control and let go.
Out of commission for four days and literally knocked flat on my back, I began to reflect and soften. I became aware of areas of my life needing an infusion of love and appreciation. As I put my attention there, I noticed small shifts and slowly began to heal. Instead of fighting against it, I leaned into the pain because I know that if I did not learn whatever it was trying to teach, life would keep giving me the lessons until I did. I knew that if I did not release these emotions or worries or fears, the pattern of pain would persist.
Pain and adversity are truly humbling, and as much as we try to avoid them, they are a necessary part of life. Pain is inevitable (suffering is optional). With awareness, they can help us to grow. They give us choices. We can decide to fight against them, or we can let go. We can ignore them, or we can seek out the lessons that they have come to teach us. We can become victims, or we mightily reclaim our power. We can become bitter or we can choose to rise off our knees, to emerge out of the abyss, with newfound appreciation, keenly intent on living a happy life filled with grace and love.