Thank the good lord ninety percent of folks coming for physical therapy in my current practice are garden variety. Because atypical requires deeper investigation and the prognosis is more dicey, less definitive. We don’t imagine our own pain might follow a predictable human pattern. We’re pretty convinced we’re weird or special. And we are. But luckily most of us are garden variety, presenting with constant or come & go discomfort in hip or low back, shoulder or neck, knee or foot. Maybe jaw, elbow, wrist, hand. Perhaps with accompanying headache or sensation that radiates into arm or leg.
Once I hear your history, my eyes and hands almost always lead me to feel how it’s worse on one side. Often this comes as a surprise. Luckily most of us are able to feel that confirmed as my hands gently explore. It might all be one-sided or run on the diagonal. It’s always fascinating to feel the gestalt of it, to have some of the mystery unravel in the light of understanding.
I love how the elements—history, observation, palpation, hands-on treatment, responsive change—lead us to the mat together. This magic moment distills the process. The question becomes what might you do at home to reproduce what worked on the treatment table? I do good manual treatment…but not so that you can come back a gazillion times and hand your power over to me. In my little world treatment provides temporary relief and insures a prescription for self care at home that is effective. Looking for someone to fix you? I’m not your practitioner. If you have the time and finances to be treated lots and/or you are just not interested in getting down on the mat, I can refer you to some good people.
I carefully screen incoming patients for this desire to learn, this wish to be in the driver’s seat. The big ask is a devoted 15-20 minutes per day for the two weeks following treatment. That’s the only way we both know if we’re on the right track. Each patient leaves with a cell phone video we create on the spot for home support. After nearly fifty years of handouts and stick figures, even the Letting Go book with its awesome photos….well, the videos have been brilliant. Despite this careful screening, some version of this conversation often ensues:
Patient: (tone ranges from embarrassed to defiant) I know there will be days I won’t get down on the mat to do this. Even though I know I need to.
Me: (tone gently amused, totally compassionate) I get it. I’m the same. Even knowing all these nuts and bolts and dealing with my own lifetime of challenges….I personally know this one. Here’s the invitation. See if you can just roll out your mat tomorrow and have a look see. Or not. If you’re able, sit down on your mat for a minute. Maybe watch the video. Begin by doing just the first thing….or roll it up until the next day.
Here’s the good news: there’s always tomorrow. Well, until there’s not. And us humans need spaciousness to care for ourselves with the kindness we deserve. Love the Sanskrit word prajnaparadha. Intriguing literal translation? Crimes against wisdom. Sanskrit, the 5.000 year old language of a band of wandering yogis, nailed this one. Because these wise men observed it in themselves. Prajnaparadha is the natural human tendency to turn away from what we know is best for us. We just do. And this, my loves, is a moment for kindness. For understanding. For space.
I do love the Gabrielle quote about how it takes discipline to be a free spirit. I get it. But the older I get, the less it feels like discipline and the more it feels like a mulit-faceted curiosity. In the spirit of inquiry, I can let discipline fall away. What arises instead? The opportunity for discovery, for who-knows-what-might-happen novelty. The intrigue of imagination and metaphor. The sensuality of sensation. The play between the ritual and the habitual. The soothing backdrop of music. And all this richness usually begins with some resistance to actually getting down there.
Time to Move was born years ago in a moment such as this, a moment when I had just fallen back into dancing, after the rollers had been part of my life for 15 years. With the music playing, rolling around on the floor with the toys, releasing the stuck….well it really didn’t take discipline. It just felt so good. Once I loosened up, the dancing felt so free and the music just seduced me in. So natural to close with stretching out a body so warm, well-danced, receptive. That’s it: roll, dance, stretch. Ninety minutes. And just a word about music volume. It will not be blasting. A morning class with opportunity for shaking it out, yes. But peacefully in support of our overdone nervous systems.
I hope you can join me for these six Tuesday mornings as we defy crimes against wisdom. Begins June 18, right after Wednesday Waves takes its summer break. BTW, what an amazing 18 month evolution it’s been working heart-to-heart with Juliette and Majica holding Wednesday night. So much individual growth for all three of us as we let go into the unknown. To celebrate that and the close of this season, all three of us will be up front spontaneously taking turns playing tunes on the final night June 12. Come on down and feel the magic because it is…
time to move…..bella