Surgeries for an old injury of mine led to weak spinal muscles and deep aching in the back of my hips (the iliac crests) where the surgeons thrice took the bone to use for fusing my lower spine. My yoga teacher suggested that I strengthen my back muscles by lying down on my belly and lifting my legs, one at a time, upwards. This sounded like a logical and powerful way to strengthen my spine. I had no idea of the journey that this seemingly simple exercise would take me on!
I settled down on my belly to do this exercise, took time to position my limbs and head properly and began to use my breath to help me in the act of lifting one of my legs up.
As I lifted my right leg, a stabbing pain from the iliac crest prompted me to let my leg fall to the floor immediately. I thought, “Whoa! That was intense…!” I stopped to reassess my approach to this exercise. “Maybe I should start this a little more slowly…” I tried again, this time only activating the muscles that I needed to lift my leg. I still received the same stabbing pain in the iliac crest – just as strong as if I had actually lifted the leg.
“Again?!” I stopped to rest, breathe and waited for the pain to subside. As I lay quietly, I thought, “I have to slow this process down even more…” My next attempt was to just think about activating the muscles to lift my leg, but not actually activate the muscles.
I still received the same stabbing pain from my iliac crest. “Whoa….! Just thinking about activating the muscles brings the same pain?!” This really got my attention! How could I slow my process down anymore than just ‘thinking about’ using a muscle? What was really going on here?
After some thought, I decided to continue where I had stopped. I lay quietly on my belly, still and breathing smoothly. I focused on clearing my thoughts and quietly waited to discover if any messages came to me from The Uni-verse or my body. Eventually I heard, “The cells where you’re feeling the pain don’t trust you to take care of them.” WOW! It’s 2012 and I’m hearing this message for the first time since 1986, when I had my last surgery! I had been working with every health practitioner I could find, both traditional and non-traditional to help calm this pain, but to little or no avail. This was the first time I had gone directly into the specific source of the pain and it seemed like I was finally getting a clue as to what the real problem was: the fear behind the pain!
For the next eight months I spent ten minutes each day down on my belly focusing on these iliac crest cells, both listening and reassuring them. I kept the process in a slow inquiry as I listened to The Uni-verse and my body. When I thought about activating the muscles to lift my leg, if I experienced any pain, I stopped that thought and thought to those cells, “You’re safe. I’m not going to hurt you. You’re not going to get cut again, either. We’re done with that!” This became my mantra for this eight month, ten-minutes/day meditation. At the end of eight months, I thought, “I’m going to activate the muscles to lift my leg, but I’m not going to actually lift the leg.” Finally, this time the muscle cells believed me and were finally convinced that I was not going to hurt them. I felt no pain with this thought. I then told the muscles, “I’m going to activate the muscles to lift my leg and I’m going to lift it the tiniest amount that I can off of the floor.” So, the cells got the message first, before I initiated the move. I received no messages as I lay on the floor waiting quietly and patiently. Then, I ever so gently lifted my leg off of the floor, using my breath to help with the lift. I got my leg up off the floor just enough so that the skin of my leg was just barely off of the floor. No pain! I gave The Uni-verse my gratitude for showing me such a powerful lesson and gave a mental ‘thank you’ to the cells of my iliac crest. I would have stuck with this practice for as long as it took to get the messages across to these cells, and this area has not put out a pain signal when I lift either of my legs while on my belly or in any other position that requires those muscles to activate. I also thanked my yoga teacher for teaching me enough to be able to find ‘the practice behind the practice.’
This was a lesson in finding the fear behind the pain I was feeling, and it was also a lesson in how to slow down my yoga practice enough to discover the practice I needed to engage in to help ‘heal’ the cells that had been traumatized so many years ago. It was also a great new lesson in my meditation practice in listening to parts of me that I hadn’t focused on in my other meditations.
I hope that this may present TDL Readers with their own “aha” moments in their own healing practice. Please feel free to share below in the comments the tools you use to connect with your body and any messages you have received in your listening.
To empowered, self-healing for all of us!
Love and Gratitude,
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Elizabeth Kipp is an editor for The Daily Love, a patient advocate and is writing a book empowering patients to discover their own healing powers, using the tools she has learned and developed over the last 30 years of her own journey to self-healing. You can find her on Twitter @Lizilynx.