The Discipline of Healing

There’s an old saying that says we meet our teachers when we need them most. And another old saying that says the most difficult things (or people) we meet can be our best teachers.

I’m a very lucky person. I keep coming up against difficult things that provide wonderful opportunities for learning. Unfortunately, that’s mostly because I’m very much a “bang my head against the wall” student. I wish I were more intelligent, because then the learning wouldn’t come at such a high price. But at least I’m still learning…

The process of running, of learning to run farther than I did before, or learning to run in different ways, or learning to run with other people, has been for me an ongoing learning in how to live. And many of my deepest learnings have come through having to deal with the inevitable injuries that come with a long-term running practice.

Right now, as I noted in my previous post, I’m dealing with some soft tissue injuries on the tops of my feet. They came about because, when I started barefoot running, I overdid it. Too far, too fast, too soon – and now I’m paying the price. For the past three weeks, I’ve only been able to hobble. Walking’s been doable (though sometimes just barely), but running’s been impossible.

So it’s back to square one again. Perhaps through my own stupidity, perhaps simply because it’s time again for another teacher, I’m learning some very basic things. I need to slow down. (The greatest spiritual truth I know is “Don’t hurry.” When I forget that truth, I’m diminished.) I need to focus. (“Be here now” isn’t just the title of Ram Dass’ book, it’s critically important wisdom.) I need to be open to learning. (Again.)

So I do my exercises. Twice each day, I do a tedious set of foot lifts and stretches, all of which are designed to reduce the swelling on the tops of my feet and make the muscles and tendons get back to doing what they were designed to do. And, at the end of every day, I fill one bucket with ice water and one bucket with very hot water, and I soak my feet. And once or twice each day, I walk, tentatively or meditatively or strongly, depending on how my feet feel and on what the day is giving me.

It’s not fun, and I get very tired of having to do it. But it’s learning, and I’m glad that this teacher has arrived. I’m learning – again – to slow down, to pay attention, to be aware. I’m learning – again -to be intentional about every step, every movement. I’m learning – again – to let go of my eagerness to achieve. And I’m learning once more to allow myself to be myself, to accept what I am and where I am right now.

These new beginnings do me a world of good. I could do with a little less “bang my head against the wall,” but at least I’m still here. And I’m still learning.


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