Last week I sneezed rather forcefully and my back went out. There went the weekend plans out the window. I was forced to make changes. It was not the first time it happened and fortunately, I have a small ‘TENS’ unit which I can use to send electrical impulses across my lower back and a good ice pack. Using them alternatively helps to ease the discomfort. Regardless, I know from experience that I need to do two things. First, I need to relax and take it easy, resting horizontally for a couple of day. Second, I need to look at why this happened, asking myself what are the physical and spiritual components to this occurrence.
I have come to learn from my own disease of addiction that I am an interconnected: when the body is in pain, so is the soul, and visa versa. I admire societies where a shaman is called who works with the body and the soul to promote healing. Western society separates the role of the doctor and the priest: medicine and spirituality are kept apart. Like my addiction, I know if there is a physical component, there is also a spiritual one. When something is wrong with the body there is something wrong with the soul and the soul-sickness usually develops before the bodily one.
Looking back I can see I put myself under stress physically (more intense gym workouts) and spiritually (holiday preparation, work and not keeping up with my program of meditation-journaling). I believe both of these resulted in my back deciding to go on vacation, forcing me to change some plans, slow down and get back to basics.
I am grateful that I have a recovery program to turn to. I am grateful that I have learned to see the signs, sometimes even before the physical torture of a lower back spasm. My spine is like a river with its electrical impulses flowing up and down. I can dam the flow and when I do that, I cause problems. And like the river, it takes time to take apart the pieces of the dam that restrict the flow but gradually it returns to normal.
These few days have given me time to catch up on reading, writing and appreciating the health that I do have. They have been a reminder to me how important it is to keep up my program and the short distance between ease and dis-ease. The steps of my recovery program require that I live them. They are not a checklist that I can forget about once finished; they require a daily recommitment to keep them fresh and alive.
I know this, and yet I still let things slide once in a while. I am grateful that this is a program of progress and not perfection: one day at a time. Our goal isn’t becoming saints, rather pilgrims enjoying the journey of life with others. I am grateful that I can now recognize when that’s not happening and that I have the tools to put me back on that path. Maybe next time I will recognize it before I can’t get out of bed in the morning.