Today was another typical, rainy, grey, windy PNW day. I had to drive south for a work project and spent a good amount of time in the car which for me, isn't super great on my body. I had a lot of fear going into this drive and here's why.
Last year, I dealt with a nasty flare up of an old neck injury and spent months relearning how to be in my body without creating strain and pain in my neck. It was one of the most difficult experiences I have had with my own body. I had missed some work, couldn't drive for a few days, and was brought to tears by the immense pain, numbness, and feelings of helplessness and frustration. Fortunately, with a fantastic tribe of healers, body-workers, friends, and flexible work, I came out of it with a whole new level of understanding. My neck taught me three big lessons:
1. My neck (SCM), shoulder girdle, pectorals, traps, and scapular area are my stress baskets. Some people get upper respiratory infections or back pain or sore throats when they are under stress. My stress response is all neck and upper chest and back. Foam rolling, Yoga Tune-Up balls, and core work help all of this. Oh yeah, and breathing. Lots and lots and lots of breathing.
2. Immense pain is debilitating and chronic pain blocks life force. I have such empathy for people who deal with chronic pain on a daily basis. When I had Lyme disease, I experienced chronic joint pain for about a year and a half. No fun. Pain blocks our life force and I lost my spunk real fast.
3. I get to be active in my self-care and my preventive care. Each day I am totally in a place of choice in how I take care of my physical body. Despite my philosophy of being a spiritual being having a human experience, we are given this body as our vehicle in this lifetime. I am so much more aware of the signs, the signals, the internal feelings, and the routine that nourishes me and prevents me from going down the pain path.
So, tonight I came home, ate a light meal, and really tuned in. I asked "What do I need?" I dragged out the yoga props (bolster, sand bag, strap, block) into the living room, put my headphones in, and put myself in my favorite restorative poses. A 30 minute practice unwound my tight body from the driving. I directed my breath into my core and my back. I felt lighter, more present, and not so tight.
And the best part? I realized that I exercised that amazing skill of taking care and being tender. It's a practice. There is no destination with this stuff. We do the best we can with what we have and some days are better than others but today, to be pain free after a long drive like that felt like a huge win.