At any given moment we have a choice as to whether we’re engaged in a process of degeneration or regeneration. The fundamental difference is how we relate to physical and emotional pain in our body.
About ten months ago, I injured my left knee. It was a fairly minor injury but at the time I did what many of us do when we feel pain: I mostly ignored it. And worse, I pushed the pain out of my awareness so that I could continue working on my projects and living my life. Without being conscious of the choice I was making, I pushed my left knee further and further out of my conscious awareness.
Over the next ten months, with my knee pain stuffed safely away (as much as I could manage) the physical state of my knee continued to degenerate. Walking up stairs was painful. Salsa dancing was painful. And because movement was painful I got less and less exercise. My wellbeing generally deteriorated.
So long as I was avoiding feeling my pain, I was in a process of degeneration.
With 20-20 hindsight, there was something deeper going on with my knee injury as well. At the time of the injury I was experiencing heartbreak and a sense of betrayal with a woman I had been in love with. It’s no coincidence that my injury had happened in a part of the body that generally carries emotional issues related trust and abandonment. The injury was physical, but the physical injury was pre-disposed by the emotional pain I was experiencing at the time, situated in that body site.
It took me a long time to realize that I’d been ignoring my knee to my own detriment, but finally, once I started paying attention to my wellbeing again, the knee was one of the first things to shift. I shared about that process of re-connection with my left knee in the article Learning to Trust again.
The long and the short of it is that so long as I stuffed my emotional pain in my knee and converted it to physical pain (which I also tried to ignore) my knee and my wellbeing degenerated. As soon as I was willing and able to re-connect with my emotional pain in my knee, the physical healing has started to progress quite rapidly. I’m in a process of regeneration again.
Only two weeks after re-conencting with what was going on in my knee it feels way better than it has since the injury ten months ago.
Two days ago I sustained another minor injury; this time in my left hip. This time around, I wasn’t going to wait ten months to start the healing process.
The morning after the injury I gently connected with my left hip during my morning yoga practice.
The next night I flew overnight from Boston, USA to Sao Paolo, Brazil – 16 hours from door to door. After the overnight flight and accompanying lack of sleep, I planned on just doing some light yoga to stretch out.
But once I got into the yoga, I noticed that my hip injury was fairly painful. I could ignore it like I ignored my knee injury. But instead I made the choice to delve into my left hip, ensuring that I was aware of and connected to whatever was going on there – both physically and emotionally.
And that choice to keep my left hip in my awareness is making all the difference to the healing process.
I didn’t need to do much today to choose the trajectory of regeneration: just stay connected to what’s actually going on there. Most of the time, that’s all that’s needed for natural self-healing. No big fireworks. No big catharsis. Just a willingness to feel and be aware – even when it’s painful.
Here’s a video summary of today’s exploration. There’s nothing spectacular to see; just gentle and curious exploration of self-awareness.
Personal Development Resources
The guided meditation in this article is the best place to start on your own journey of regeneration: How to Reestablish Your Mind-Body Connection.