“You can do it! It takes Courage and Guts!” He shouts and applauds from a house above the trail that I’m running on. It’s snowing and wintery out.
It isn’t taking a run in the snow that takes courage and guts for me, though. It’s to be creative and upbeat in relation to chronic pain patterns that persist over 30 years now.
When I run, I practice mindfulness, to be in my body and quiet my thoughts. I focus on my senses.
Through my eyes, I take in the tall, newly frosted evergreens…the golden wheat colored grasses that bend under the snow.
Through my ears, I hear the press of my feet… my audible exhale…a raven’s raspy ‘Kraa’.
Through my felt sense, I feel the snow tickle my cheeks… my feet push off the cushioned ground.
But what about the pain in my arm and shoulder? I don’t want to pay attention to it and I can’t ignore it.
It’s not a pleasurable sensation like snow kissing my nose. Even after years of healing work, here it is today, again, angry and loud.
So, I invite the painful sensations into expressive movement. Let’s imagine that this pain is a part of myself, a little person who is hurting. I know she wants to run and play, to be joyful too. I know she wants to feel a part of things. Who doesn’t?
Sometimes, these peripheral parts of our bodies sound the alarm because they don’t have enough connection with the whole. There’s a story here, on a body level, of parts being left out because they’re too different or their needs are too great.
So, I let my movements include my right arm, shoulder, head and neck. I playfully move from my core out into my peripheral parts. I wiggle and gently dance as I run! I do small and big movements. I trust and follow what feels good, from the inside out.
I know. “WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK?! You’ll look like a crazy person! This is NOT normal behavior!”
There were actually very few people out on the trail. But here’s what I tell myself; “This is something that I need to do. It’s not going to hurt anyone and they don’t need to understand.” Or as some parents say to their kids, “FOCUS.”
As I turn back towards the sensations in my body, the pain is quiet, at least for now. I feel energized and happy. I know that little one inside is thrilled to be included in the dance. I feel her smiling. I hear her laughing.
So, when the friendly dude in the house on the hill yells out and applauds; “You can do it! It takes courage and guts!”. She hears him. She takes it in. And so do I.
It does take courage and guts to manage chronic pain – no matter whether it’s physical or emotional pain. It takes courage and guts to turn it into a joyful dance!
Let your creative, expressive voice move through your whole body and out into a joyful dance. It’s a gift to yourself and truly, a gift for all of us!