Dear Piriformis Muscles,
I hear the burning call of anger
The quivering fear with each step
Disappointment and impatience asking
Where do we go from here?
I’m sorry I mistrusted you
Left you all alone
When you needed me most
Needed someone to understand
I’m here for you
For as long as the healing takes
Here to hold you, support you
Grateful for your special part
In keeping this body whole
For the last month, I’ve heard the burning call of anger, the quivering fear with each step, disappointment and impatience asking, “Where do we go from here?”.
Eleven years of mindfulness and compassion practices weren’t enough. I needed help. “Help me understand what I’ve forgotten, what I need to know now!”
Who was I calling out to, and why wasn’t self-compassion working?
As the piriformis muscles continued to burn and ache with each step, I turned to supportive family, wise friends, and healers who might help me remember. This is what I discovered.
Honesty. I can’t heal what I can’t feel. I’m so used to having a plan, knowing the answer, using spiritual practice to bypass what’s asking for direct attention here and now. Why feel if I know what will heal? The problem with this logic is that I can’t possibly know what will heal, until I’m honest about the anger, fear, disappointment, and impatience present. Until I’m really willing to listen to them, let them be as they are, and show me what is standing behind them. They are not roadblocks to compassion, but doorways.
This is what I’m feeling right now. It’s OK. It’s not bad or wrong. There’s space for these feelings.
Compassion. Compassion is the softest thing I know that cushions the hard edges of reality. It’s what I often use to shield my heart against the extra arrows of self-judgement. It’s easier to practice compassion for someone else who is suffering, and feels selfish, self-indulgence to include myself in the circle of compassion. Over the years, self-compassion became the parent, partner, best friend I was seeking, the ally who never let me down.
I care about this pain. Others have bodies that break down and disappoint them, too. It’s not my fault.
Patience. I’m still surprised by how often I use self-compassion to bargain with life. Look, I’m being gentle and kind. Why is the burning, aching sensation still here? Why do I still feel stiff like the Tin Man? Isn’t self-compassion the oil needed to lubricate this stiffness so I can move pain free? Patience asks me to wait, to let the answers come in geological time. Sometimes, I’m not sure I can wait that long, but am always surprised and humbled by the outcome when I surrender to the elements that shape each and every experience.
This won’t last forever. Everything changes. May I be patient with the impatience.
Gratitude. When physical, emotional pain strike, it’s like a large, dark stain on a beautiful dress, a hole in a perfect picture, the uninvited guest to a party. Help! Bring my old life back! The negativity bias deletes all memories of these piriformis muscles supporting the birth of a beautiful child almost thirteen years ago, meditation and yoga postures that have offered profound joy and peace, hikes that have brought me closer to the womb of the Divine Mother than ever before.
Thank you for carrying this body, for supporting each brave step as best as you can into the future unknown.
Trust. If old age, sickness and death are inevitable who or what can I trust? Why even try to celebrate the 10,000 joys if sorrow is just around the corner, waiting to shadow the light? I’m not sure there is a simple answer to these questions. For me, it’s a partner who wonders what I am trying to prove, recommending I take Advil and rest the body that is being pushed to continue the elliptical and yoga stretches despite obvious signals of discomfort. It’s a teenage daughter who offers glimpses of care and concern by gently patting my behind despite raging hormones and peer conditioning. It’s a mother who cooks and offers to do the dishes when she sees me wincing in pain. It’s a friend who recommends a gentle chiropractor because she knows what I want in a healer. It’s other friends who offer up compassionate listening presence like the sweetest dessert when I have forgotten how to offer it to myself. It’s a chiropractor who alleviates my fears by reminding me of the body’s intuitive capacity to heal itself. It’s Qigong helping to move stagnant energy and encourage flow. It’s wild turkeys on a hike reminding me that life still goes on, a dim sun with so much potential to burn through the fog with love, the Great Mother promising to always be there no matter how this body ages or whether I have direct access to Her.
The people, places in my life will come and go, but there will always be someone, something to remind me of what matters most.
May this reflection inspire all beings everywhere without exception. May we learn to stay with our own experience, so we can support others on their healing journey.