The Path To Bodhichitta

You start where you are, the practice will meet you there.

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Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Monday, October 09, 2006

S Is For Surrender

Surrendering is probably one of the most difficult things to do. Especially when you're already feeling helpless.

Two months ago, my chiropractor told me my scoliosis could never be cured. So I stopped seeing him. I refused to believe his prediction. Especially after reading Elise Miller's article in Yoga Journal about how she straightened her very crooked spine through yoga. Perfect, I thought, I will do the same.

The beginning was good. I focused on gentle asanas that stretched the back, lengthened the muscles and gave me some form of pain release. Alas, that gentle yoga sequence lasted all of a week. In week two, I developed temporary amnesia about my condition and was throwing myself back into the sirsasana (headstand), vrischikasana (scorpion), pincha mayurasana (feathered peacock) and deep backbends. The same way you scratch an itch raw even though it stings like hell later, the same way I used certain asanas to temporarily relieve my pain even though the pain returned with a vengence later. Asanas like adho mukhasvanasana (downward dog), ardha matsyendrasana (spinal twist) and halasana (plough) felt utterly delicious, but I could never resist going deeper than I should. Barely 15 minutes after my practice and my muscles would be on fire. This carried on for a month, until one evening when I was deep in pranayama (believe it or not) and my muscles seized. From then on, I couldn't sit for more than five minutes without wriggling in pain and discomfort. Even as I'm writing this, my spine is doing a jiggy to loosen up the muscles.

So I went on to Plan B: Reread all my scoliosis notes. That's when I realised that the symptoms may have somehow worsened. Not only am I in continuous discomfort, I may now also have decreased lung capacity. I can't take in deep yogic breaths without my muscles contracting angrily. Seeing as I had single-handedly gotten myself into this mess, it was now my responsibility to straighten things out. No pun intended.

Early this week, I made a tough call. For now, I had to surrender to the fact that my body is in no position to emulate a pretzel. Which means I have to drop many asanas from my personal practice. Which means I have to design my own special scoliosis sequence. Which means I have to stop Parveen's class for a while...ok, for a long while.

I did a bit more scouring in cyberspace and found two books that come higly recommended for those with scoliosis. The first is Basic Back Care: A Doctor's Gentle Yoga Programme For Back and Neck Pain Relief by Mary Pullig Schatz M.D. and Structural Yoga Therapy: Adopting To The Individual by Mukunda Stiles. I managed to find the second and am still looking for the first. Borders has a copy, but it's in bad condition.

This time I'm going to stick to the sequence and find humilty, surrender and peace in simple poses like bidalasana (cat), supta padangusthasana (reclining big toe) viparita karani (legs up the wall), trikonasana (triangle), salabhasana (locust), janu sirsasana (leg to knee) and lots of gentle reclining poses. I'm going to surrender the high my ego gets from inversions and deep backbends, surrender my desire to go as far as I can as fast as I can, surrender to my body's own pace of healing and surrender to a true process of self-discovery.

Wish me luck!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish you all the best in your practice of surrendering. May you be free of any pain soon.


10:56 PM  
Blogger starlight said...

thank you Li Peng.

11:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May a million angels be by your side to guide you. If the heart is willing, all the necessary help will come on its way. Have faith.

With love & light

On Pain
Khalil Gibran

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses
your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its
heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the
daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem
less wondrous than your joy;

And you would accept the seasons of your heart,
even as you have always accepted the seasons that
pass over your fields.

And you would watch with serenity through the
winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen.

It is the bitter potion by which the physician within
you heals your sick self.

Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy
in silence and tranquility:

For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by
the tender hand of the Unseen,

And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has
been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has
moistened with His own sacred tears.

8:09 AM  
Blogger starlight said...

my healer friend - thank you so much for this gem. i've always loved khalil gibran but somehow don't remember coming across this poem. it's beautiful. i love the words - your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. and 'much of your pain is self-chosen'. how right!

7:01 PM  

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