A quote about controlling life with an image of a woman in a chair reading a book.

There are many ways of dealing with back pain. We can seek western or eastern medical treatment. We can lie in bed until the pain mercifully passes. If possible, we can ignore it, or even pray for a reprieve.

My friend and colleague, Denis Juelicher, recently learned some valuable lessons about surrender as a way of dealing with her back pain blues. Denis is director of the Yoga Shala in Port Macquarie and mover-and-shaker of the Ekam Festival.

Today’s post is number two in the month I’ve set aside to explore the notion of self-care.

Here’s Denis:

A couple of weeks ago I hurt my back in a major way. I mean in an I-can’t-get-out-of bed-without-help sort of way. Not much fun.

It meant dealing with pain. It meant not being able to work. It meant stepping out of a fairly hectic time into a forced break. It was a major and very painful disruption of my life, but I surprised myself in my response to it. There was very little resistance and frustration. It was almost like a part of me was looking on, thinking “here is an opportunity to observe yourself in a bit of strife”. And, “let’s breathe into the pain and see what happens”.

What happened was that I got some badly needed resting time. I accepted help. I learned new things about how my body works. And I was and still am amazed at how quickly I am recovering.

It made me reflect on how many of us – me included – like to be in control of life. And when life turns out to be quite different from what was planned, we struggle. So much energy is spent trying to get life to match our ideas of it, trying to get others act the way we want them to act, trying to be the person we’d like to be.

Yoga teaches us to be present and to observe. Without expectation of a result, without judgement. Being here without wanting the ‘here’ to be a certain way. That’s the key lesson. That’s what we get on the mat for.

One of the best things that came my way, while I was incapacitated was this quote from a wonderful meditation teacher, Jon Bernie:

Don’t let your pain fool you into thinking you are having the wrong experience.