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“It’s not happiness that makes us grateful but gratefulness that makes us happy.” – Br. David Steindl Rast

The Blessing Of Back Pain (and Other Things We Think Shouldn’t Happen)

A note from Carl:

As I’m sitting in front of the computer writing this, it is the first time in a week or so that I have not noticed a nagging little discomfort in my left low back and hip area in sitting. In fact, Erin and I have both been dancing with our own versions of back tweakiness for the last week.

I, like most people, do not love back pain. I love to move with lightness and ease. I love to roll out of bed and up to standing in the morning in a flowing movement, without having to pause and move tenderly through sore spots in a way that makes me feel older than I am.
But unlike many people (and unlike myself at a younger age), these days I befriend my back pain when it comes.
I don’t consider it a problem.
I don’t think that it shouldn’t be there.

The Blessing Of Back Pain (and Other Things We Think Shouldn't Happen)Of course, there is a part of me that just wants the pain to go away so I can just get back to the movement and level of functioning that I enjoy. Part of me that would like to pop a pill or have an expert elbow in the sore area that would just make me feel better. Yet there is another part of me that recognizes from experience that it doesn’t work that way. My deeper knowing trusts that if some kind of pain is showing up, it is an invitation to presence. It is an invitation to a different way of being. A different way of moving. A different way of relating.

We have shared this beautiful passage, Impasse from Daniel Villasenor before, and each time I read it, there are new worlds of exploration that want to come. Today is no exception!

Balance is but the acute perception of imbalance.

Freedom is the dissolving of a threshold.

A limitation is an angel.

But just because something is winged and divine does not mean that it is easy.

The angel of limitation takes the shape of a question.

Can you learn to live beyond force?

And can your impasse become your wonder?

Something subtle and eternal begins to form within you as you explore these prodigious questions.

And sensing your sincerity, your limitation shivers.

It melts; it morphs.

And you want to weep for joy as you pass through it, because the view of the possible has changed in ways you never could have predicted.

If this is called courage, it is also what you were missing in your previous life, before the angel of limitation visited your spirit and made you courteous to every known and unknown thing on the earth, including yourself.

The Blessing Of Back Pain (and Other Things We Think Shouldn't Happen)Can I learn to live beyond force? Can my impasse become my wonder?

These questions can be life-changers. Not just for working with back pain, but for any difficulty, any learning edge. The money challenge, the painful relationship dynamic, the difficult choice that has to be made, the illness…
Often in these situations, I go right to force, right to my will and effort, and wonder is nowhere to be seen.

When I lie down and start to move around on the floor with a tweaked back, I’m aspiring to let this impasse become my wonder. That is what we invite our clients and students to do. What wants to shift? What whats to be known? Where is there freedom of movement? Can I greet this whole situation with genuine curiosity?

It is the paradox that Carl Rogers spoke of, that it is not until we actually accept a situation that the possibility for change arises.
It can be humbling to see how many countless things we do with our limitations other than accept, greet, befriend, or get curious about them.

Something subtle and eternal begins to form within you as you explore these prodigious questions.

And sensing your sincerity, your limitation shivers.

It melts; it morphs.
And you want to weep for joy as you pass through it, because the view of the possible has changed in ways you never could have predicted.

Russell Delman once said: “On a path of awakening, the mail never goes to the wrong address.

We don’t need to like all of the mail, but the mail we receive is our mail.
It is our life.
May it become our wonder.

Wishing you well,
Carl

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