Being healthy involves an ability to continuously restore balance in response to its continual disruption. – Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living; Using the Wisdom of Your Body & Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness
Next Monday I am starting a 4-week series on chronic pain. It will be a Chairish yoga practice (which means that we will sit, stand, and stabilize using a chair) and teaching about concepts in yoga that I think are especially meaningful and thoughtful to the experience of pain and illness, in general. And we are going to look at some stories from the Christian Bible that give yet another window to look at the experience of chronic pain. Many of these stories include a miraculous healing story like you might see on a late night/early morning “mega church” t.v. show that I do not in any way ever recommend watching. EVER.
If you have any experience with chronic pain I imagine the notion of a fix, a cure, or miraculous healing is a painfully deceptive notion. You want it to be better, to be over, and totally free of whatever “it” is. You maybe have tried all the physical therapy, chiropractic, aromatherapy, apple cider vinegar, yoga & mediation, kale smoothies, alkaline something or other, coconut oil, and hypnotherapy out there. And yet – “it” is still with you. There has been no miraculous healing.
In the 4-week yoga series that I am offering, we will never go around and say what chronic pain we have that brings us to the class. That is just too complicated in my opinion. (And you don’t have to have a reason for coming. Everyone is welcome. No matter what.) Maybe you would identify arthritis as your primary chronic pain. And perhaps along with the arthritis comes the very real chronic pain of depression? Maybe you pin-point sciatic nerve pain as The chronic pain you suffer from. And perhaps the companions are the chronic pains of lethargy and fatigue? Maybe the chronic pain you suffer from the worst is Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which is made even more wretched by the chronic pains of anxiety and isolation.
Maybe your chronic pain is a horrible and traumatic experience from your past that you feel in your body right now. Maybe your chronic pain is feeling uncomfortable in your body for no specific reason and ALL the reasons in one.
That being said – I am offering no quick fix or fix, in general. I will offer no specific poses for your specific ache. I will simply offer the practice of yoga. A very gentle, humble, slow drip healing, daily practice of showing up with, for, and to yourself (aches, pains, and injuries included). My motto about yoga is; Practice does NOT make perfect. Practice IS perfect. You are “good” at yoga if & when you show up for yoga. Being “good” at yoga has zero-0%-absolutelynothing to do with the flexibility in your hamstrings or standing on your head. What makes you GOOD and GREAT at yoga is showing up for it. And maybe after a while, your hamstrings will be more strong and flexible, and you will experience standing on your head in a thrilling way. Who knows!? But, those things are not the marks of someone who is good at yoga. Got it?
This 4-week series starts this coming Monday, January 15th, 7-8:15p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church (corner of Green & Goodwin). You park behind the building, off Goodwin, in a very large, well-lit lot. You will enter through the glass double doors off the parking lot, walk straight ahead and around the corner off to the right. Each class is $5. If you buy a whole bunch of classes and don’t use them all, you can use them for any other of the classes I teach, which are many! I will not refund your money. Got it? You don’t have to register for this class, but I would love to know that you are coming so I can have a seat warmed up and ready for you. I hope you will come. If you have any questions or concerns, email me (Rachel) at email@example.com. And — in February I will offer another 4 week series, this time on Yoga & Grief. Maybe I’ll write a blog similar to this one about all the experiences of grief that we know. But, if you or someone you know needs some time to warm up to an idea like this…start warming up.
If you are one of the unlucky billions of people who don’t live in Champaign-Urbana but really wish I would do a workshop on Yoga & Chronic Pain (or something else) for your faith community — ASK ME. We can figure out a date that works and make it happen. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope it is a good day. Peace on your head, you.