Who’s gonna catch me if I fall?
The words of this song have been haunting me since I first heard them. The song was written by my dear friend’s daughter G, only 18, the first time I heard it, this line made me cry. You see one of the greatest things about being an aunty to your mates’ kids is that you get to share emotional stuff; stuff you wish someone had shared with you at the vulnerable age of 18. Spending Christmas with the family meant plenty of time to share stories with G around our sensitivities and how that played out in relationships with others. When I listened to the words of her recent creation a few months back it resonated so deeply in my heart.
Falling and breaking a leg seems a tad inconvenient for a Yoga teacher, it’s not ideal, but what if we can shift perspective? Is this an opportunity to slow down, to surrender to what is, become more accepting of my vulnerability and receptive to help from others? Perhaps further growth, after all I have always seen myself as " miss independent". As some wise person once said, opportunity is often disguised as loss.
My hypermobile joints are very much part of this story around, the practice of yoga, acceptance of what we feel and developing inner strength to deal with it. The connection between hyper mobility and being a highly sensitive person was never apparent when I first began on my yoga journey, but the more hyper mobile bodies I have taught the more I see the same vulnerabilities, the same “sponginess” to take on others feelings and pain. Instagram is full of pretty hypermobile girls glamorising flexible joints in yoga postures? It saddens me that this has become much of modern yoga today, when the vast potential for human growth and expansion is in our actions and behaviours.
“You are just too sensitive”, if only I had a £ for every time I had heard this phrase, but I certainly have become increasingly aware that my sensitivities are never going to leave me. Now, I have managed to turn things around, my sensitivities are now my greatest strengths and my vulnerabilities are part of who I am, through my work I endeavour to help others to become more accepting of theirs. How can we become stronger and more resilient, how do we harness the power within?
Strengthening the joints has been the focus in my own yoga practice for many years after years of stretching them too far. Slack lining is something I got introduced to many moons ago, as it strengthens the muscles and joints of the legs, particularly the psoas muscle which connects your upper & lower body. When a friend suggested slack lining in the forest I was up for it.
Balancing on one foot has always been the most challenging of yoga postures because of my hyper mobile feet, so I was keen to explore this on the slack line, I was leaning against a tree and tentatively lifting my left leg. For a split second I lost focus and concentration, enough to result in a wobble of the slack line, in that split second so much happened, as I could feel myself falling my mind was racing to find a solution, who’s gonna catch me if I fall? In those Nano seconds I had flicked my leg, perhaps to stop me from falling or even to attempt to fly? Who knows but I heard a crack, then I hit the ground, I screamed so loud I was sure I shook the branches of the trees, the scream echoing deep in the forest and around the valley, it was a scream of many lifetimes of trauma I believe. My hyper mobile knee joints twisted so far as they flicked mid air resulting in a broken tibia and fibula.
But I believe it wasn't the fall that broke my leg; I think it was the fear of falling & resisting the consequences. I believe, everything happens for a reason.
I had been focusing on healing my left leg for many months with an amazing therapist who helps you to dialogue deeply with the body. Deep trauma is stored within every cell of our bodies, each cell having a consciousness an awareness and memory. For months prior to this ‘fall’ the left leg had been presenting stories around the loss of my father and the loss of a relationship around the same time. So much pain and stress occurred that I didn't grieve for my father for about 5 years, the pain so deep and no one to help me process it at the time so the trauma got buried.
My yoga journey began soon after. You mean after all this time (24 years) you are sill working through this? Yes, that's right, do you ever get impatient with your progress? Do you have expectations and time frames about how you should or shouldn't be feeling after events that shake you to the core? Yes I do. Patience is now my daily discipline, and so is standing and walking, each step I take is full of focus and concentration and presence.
One the greatest benefits of going inwards exploring the art of concentration through asana, pranayama and meditation is discovering these tools literally shift the centres of the brain to deal with pain.
Be careful what you wish for though, words are very powerful and are vibratory in nature, I do recall announcing, " I needed a break", I didn't quite bargain for this though! What I have learned is the best way to manage pain isn’t to label it or resist it, but go deeply into it, like a deep dark well. With pure attention it turns into awareness the more you practice. This was the only tool available lying on the forest floor with a 2 hours wait for mountain rescue and the paramedics. When they arrived I refused all pain meds, not because I was being brave, I actually felt no pain.
I even resisted the offer to be lifted on the stretcher, “no I can manage,” I said. “I have trust issues,” I said with a giggle.
However I decided I needed to get over my trust issues pretty quick, as the guys carried me over high walls streams and slippy tracks, I walked in the woods most days I knew the terrain. So I closed my eyes focused on my breath and didn't open them till we reached the ambulance.
No pain meds thanks, I had said to the nurse who I overheard discussing my x-rays, 3 breaks, blimey! As she approached me her eyes wide with the shock that I had expressed I was in no pain. The only time I decided it was perhaps a good idea was when they were putting a cast on and the following two surgeries that I received to make sure the knee and tibia were in place.
I needed a break, I hadn’t realised I’d been so immersed in my work running my yoga training school that I had not taken a real break for some time, time to really switch off. Funny how life, has a strange way of making decisions for you, or is it some higher force, some inner wisdom that steps in when we need to change direction. I wonder, do we live life or does life happen through us?
Life doesn’t always go the way we plan but it is always in our power to go with the flow, to surrender to very moment and ask for guidance and help, so how did I manage the pain for those 3 whole weeks in the hospital?
I never missed an opportunity to breathe into my leg. To visualise it healing.
Every morning I would wake up as I would at home, checking in with the breath and using it to calm the nervous system, some days I was exhausted I would do it on my back, most days I sat up and connected with the spine and the energetic centres that run along it. Every day I expressed gratitude to all those involved, the nurses the surgeons, those cleaners who are sometimes the ones with time to chat and share a kind word. I would use earplugs and listen to my mantras and sing them in my head and hear recordings of my pranayama community doing mantra recitation in India with our dear teacher. Friends brought me CBD oil and arnica. I took super food and supplements; I was fortunate enough to have some amazing friends who brought in home made soup and salads so I didn't have to eat the hospital food. I had people far and wide sending me healing guiding me with their positive light. Checking in daily with sweet messages that would make me cry with gratitude. I used my pemf mat every day (amazing advancing technology to heal the cells) and massaged the leg with aromatherapy oils. The nurses would gather round to come and ask me questions; they were fascinated by my progress and attitude. I was the talk of the ward and got a reputation of being the one who didn't need the meds. I even began teaching Wynn, an 87-year-old lady in the next bed how she could help alleviate the pain in her leg. She was amazed how it worked; she was blind in one eye but could see a light in the room when I chanted on a day we both felt emotional. Those are really special moments of connection and the power of the human spirit to use our inner resources that we are in danger of losing in a system that disconnects us from our power.
Whatever the reason this happened to me, it has been the most amazing journey, filling me with even more faith that this human body is one amazing vehicle of this life force we all share, capable of anything when we put our minds to it.