Chronic Pain + Mindfulness

The weather has certainly been off to a SLOW start this summer, and so have I ...

Last week I experienced a flare up of an old back injury. This was not my first rodeo with back pain, however it has never been this severe. I could not sit, stand, or walk, let alone teach yoga, without an incredible amount of pain.

So what’s a yogi to do?! I did the only thing I could do ... SLOW DOWN.

I spent two days on the floor with my guard dog in a restorative yoga position to unwind tension in my lower back (pic below). It was the only way I could find any relief. The truth is, when you can’t move around, you have a lot of time to think. After the initial furry and panic that are often associated with pain had passed, I began to tap into my mindfulness practice. I could choose to suffer, or I could choose to make friends with my body and get curious about its present experience with a compassionate heart.

Katie slowing down after some back problems...

Here’s a little snapshot of my internal dialogue:

What am I feeling right now in my body?

“I am in pain.”

"I am tense."

"I am tired."

What does the pain feel like?

“It feels intense and fast, like electricity.”

"It feels hot and sharp, like a knife."

"It feels familiar. I have felt this before."

What are the current qualities of my thoughts?

“I’m angry this is happening.”

“I’m anxious about missing work.”

“I’m worried that I’ll feel like this forever.”

What can I do right now?

“I can breathe.”

“I can pet my dog.”

“I can ask for help.”

So I did. I practiced a gentle breath awareness technique that we teach in almost all of our mindfulness presentations. I tapped into the strong, steady nature of my dog, Lola. I asked my husband for help sitting, standing, walking and eating. I asked my parter, Nicole, to help me find subs for our classes so we could keep our business running smoothly.