I’d say that going from miserable, painful and frustrating to less miserable, painful and frustrating is transformation – even if it’s a little one.
In our June training, we did an Awareness Through Movement® lesson that had me doing a lot of internal growling.
Almost every aspect of the lesson, except for the side resting was difficult and uncomfortable and at times downright painful. Nothing I did seemed to give me any relief or allow me to do the lesson with more ease and comfort. At times, I allowed it to get so painful I had to stop and imagine the movements in my mind. Nothing like being hitting a concrete wall to be confronted with my limitations. I had to stop and rest many, many more times than usual and my ego was being a judgmental jerk.
“You’re flexible enough to do this! Do it!”
“Why can’t you do this without pain?”
“You’re doing it wrong! Stop doing it wrong!”
“Why can’t you do it right?!”
I felt as though I was twisting myself into knots, creating more and tension throughout my spine instead of less. And the only sensations I was noticing were uncomfortable: stiff, sharp pain, grinding, pulling and pushing. This lesson included spinal rotation in side-lying and all of the above was taking me further and further, not only from improvement but from awareness itself. The main experience that had my attention was achievement and pain.
The lesson finally ended 4 hours later! (Not really. It was actually under an hour, but it felt like it would never end.) For the rest of the training day I walked, sat, and stood in various degrees of discomfort with my low back whining and neck feeling sticky and uninterested in turning easily.
If that had been my first lesson, I would have possibly never taken another one. However, due to some learning I did in another less-than-comfortable lesson, I knew that the next time I faced this lesson, it would be a different experience. I hoped it would be a more pleasant experience, but I knew that it might take some time for me to integrate what I was learning from this lesson.
My only real hope was to approach it next time from a less physically hostile place!
Fast forward to today:
After a month or so of opportunities to integrate the richly challenging lesson, today seemed like a good day to revisit.
From the beginning, I felt more able to pay attention to my body’s sensations rather than getting caught up in what my judgy mind was thinking I should be able to do.
I felt the stirrings of pain in my low back as a place to stop (and breathe) instead of a stubbornness to push through. Today my neck felt “congested” instead of contrary. I was able to feel more clearly how much work I was doing in my neck that I didn’t need to.
This time through, the “see-saw breathing” helped me to soften along my spine so that turning was easier and better instead of being another movement to fight through.
I kept the repetitions low in hopes that I could avoid crossing over to the dark side of judgement, achievement, pain and anger, i.e. increased tension and increased discomfort.
Without the pressure of achieving something despite real or perceived limitations, my experience of this lesson was much happier.
I felt the changes that have taken place since the first go-round. I was also present to what I could do a little differently in the moment to increase my skill level with less effort/work.
This time I could create movements that were smooth. Not every movement, but the entire experience was a distinct improvement in every way:
my mind was open, focused and just waiting for information
my emotions were quiet
my sensations were less intense and more pleasant
my body was more responsive and available.
(And, I don’t feel achy and sore as I go on with my day.)
What began as miserable, painful and frustrating is now pleasant, more enjoyable and more relaxed.