I wasn’t going to mention it here because I thought it would just go away. But when I got my Sunday Reflection today from the Insight Meditation Center (and because the ice/ice/heat regimen isn’t working like I hoped), I decided to blog about what I think is a torn bicep ligament.
Gil Fronsdal is the lead teacher at IMC. He wrote the following piece about radical acceptance and used a sick child as the example. With all due respect to this awesome Buddhist teacher, I inserted “bicep ligament” for “child” in his essay to make the writing more relevant to my situation. I really needed to read this today. I haven’t fully accepted or digested it all, but it will be part of my mindfulness training over the next few days.
Here’s my edited version of Gil’s writing:
“In Mindfulness practice we are practicing a Radical Acceptance of the present moment, no matter what we find there.
“If our bicep ligament is ill, we would want to respond to the situation as skillfully as we are able to. If we use our energy bemoaning that it shouldn’t be this way, that our bicep ligament should not be sick – how could this happen, etc. – the result is a conflicted mind, which is less capable of attending to our bicep ligament. Our attention is entangled in our own conflict, instead of being fully available to our bicep ligament. If we can radically accept the moment, the truth of the situation, that our bicep ligament is ill, and not be in conflict with it, we can be free to attend to our bicep ligament with a more peaceful mind. We will do everything we can to help our bicep ligament heal, but we will be doing it much better if our attention is on what is needed in the present, rather than resisting the fact that the situation exists.
“The practice of mindfulness trains us to learn to accept the moment, no matter what it brings, even if we don’t like it. When we accept the moment, we can respond to it more skillfully. If we sit down to meditate and find the mind is agitated, can we accept that agitation is present? Can we say ‘Ahh! That’s what agitation is like!’ Be curious about it, be interested in it, be non-judgmental.”
My shoulders are messed up, especially the right one. Arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis…and still I lift weights like I’m 20 years old. Today, as I attempted to do the rehab exercises I’ve been doing for more than a year, I had to admit that it’s time to make some decisions. My orthopedic surgeon wants to cut me open, my chiropractor does ultrasound, my family physician can provide me with anti-inflammatory meds if I want (which I don’t take…not even Advil).
But here’s the deal. I’m not sure what to do. The pain is real. The inability to move is real. My shoulder is fragile and in need of my attention. My full attention. No more denying, no more macho lifting. I have to be present to the pain and the source of the pain. I can’t run away from it anymore.
I’m scared, I admit. Not only is my right arm super messed up, but my left arm is starting the same twinge, too. I worry I’ll gain 300 pounds. I worry my blood pressure will go up if I gain weight. I’ll get diabetes and arteriosclerosis. I just know it.
OK, so I don’t “just know it.” But see how easy it is for the mind to wander into panic?
I’m going to work on staying in the present moment. I’m going to deal with what I know, not what might happen. I’m going to eat well, do my cardio and abs workouts, and give my arms a break until I find out what’s going on. I’ll take a passive approach for now, chilling and meditating and asking Claire to climb on to my lap rather than pick her up.
I suspect many of us have a "biceps ligament" issue. It might be physical. It might be emotional. Rewrite Gil's essay with your issue. How does it look and feel after reading it that way? Just think about it and maybe make a plan to deal with it, here and now, in real life and not in the scary unknown future.
Thanks for listening. No need to respond. I’m just grateful I have this forum to express the things that make me happy as well as scare the crap out of me.