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Walking & Mindfulness
I’ve just been for a walk. While that may not sound like much, for me - it’s huge right now. This walk involved actual forward motion, no patella brace and no walking stick. Very minimal jerky movement. And no crying with frustration. Last August, I wrote the blog ‘Bad knees and integrity’, talking about the difficulty I was having with walking and how I was contemplating the physical and metaphysical aspects of what that meant for me. It’s been nearly a year and walking has become increasingly difficult, to the point where a walk further than the front door usually brings me to tears.
It has thrown me, not being able to really go for a walk. And while I can actually walk, after about five steps I falter. It’s like my left leg has forgotten how to take steps. So after living with this for a year, with it getting increasingly worse, I decided I needed help.
As a wholistic practitioner, heading down a more conventional path of healthcare can make me feel hypocritical. If I can’t walk my talk, how can I keep talking my talk? So putting my judgements aside (of myself and other modalities) I took a step in the direction of my wellness. I knew I needed exercises to strengthen my vastus medialis, so my patella would track properly. The exercises proved very successful - my knee cap is tracking like nobody’s business! And with that, my walking has actually deteriorated. This has sent me down a whole different spiraling path of despair. If my knee cap dislocating wasn’t to blame, then what was? I was so focused on my mobile patella that I didn’t see there was a deeper issue involved. Something which was going to take a lot more work than just strengthening one muscle. I needed to retrain my brain and muscles to not only keep my kneecap in place, but to not hyperextend.
Over the past year I have been contemplating the multi-dimensional issues around my knee. What is it that keeps me from moving forward with love, grace and ease? In yoga this week, the intention was Mindfulness. The teacher talked about being mindful of our journey. Which got me thinking about my knee. If the esoteric belief is that the left side represents the Feminine and the knee represents forward movement, what was I not being mindful of moving forward in the Feminine? A friend recently gave me her take on my knee. “Maybe it’s about being present.” Being present. Being mindful. Being present to every step on my journey. Being mindful that it’s about the journey (feminine), much more so than the destination (masculine). So maybe it’s not so much about completing a walk, but about taking each step as it comes. And for me, especially lately, it has been hard to be present. I am often looking into the past or wondering about the future. Whereas really, all we have is right now. And right now I need to take one step at a time. Not worry about how my knee used to be, or how I am going to get through a whole walk, but just focus and be mindful of the step that I am in.
I wish you presence and mindfulness in your journey. With gratitude.
I learned the word liminal recently. It was the perfect word, at the perfect time. Like most words, it can have a few definitions, but what resonated with me was its reference to the space between; a transitional time; a threshold. Between what was and what is. Or what is and what will be. The space where we are neither one thing nor another.
I think why I fell in love with this word recently is because it described, in one word no less, where I've been. And as difficult as that space was at times, it was also incredibly joyful.
Most everything in life is a process and often we are unaware of these transitional times. We move seamlessly from one thing to another. Like breathing. We inhale and we exhale, not often aware of the space between breathing in and breathing out. If we focus on that space, the experience becomes something new. Something else.
That leaving of the old to start something new. The space in between is liminal space. And that space can be all manner of things. It can be overwhelming because we are essentially in 'no man's land'. We are not our usual self. We are no longer connected to what was, nor yet present in what is to come. And that is the beauty of transition; of being on a threshold; of liminal space.
In that space, though, we can feel vulnerable, lost, anxious, depressed - it's not a space we are used to hanging out in. We go through transitions all the time, every day. Between sleep and wakefulness; between daily activities; between wakefulness and sleep. We are often not aware of them. And some of the transitions are easier than others. But what about the bigger transitions - changing jobs, partners, homes, towns? Those are all major changes. Do we give ourselves enough time to transition? To be present in liminal space? What would happen if we did?
I have recently been gifted 2 months of, essentially, liminal space. While I was in this space, I was uncomfortable. I couldn't understand what was going on. I was in incredible flow. Highly creative and happy. Yet giving my self such a hard time because I wasn't making money. It was such a fight between what I love doing versus mainstream money making employment. I feel like the space was a gift because it was a special time. And although the transition hasn't been something tangible, I feel like a completely different person; slightly askew from where I was. But totally taken with where I stand and the view around me. I feel like I have crossed a threshold.
I didn't know I was in transition - I just knew I was no longer where I was, yet not arrived at where I was going. Liminal space describes exactly where I was, the whole time. Who knew?! I am ever grateful and ready to step forward.
Bad knees & integrity
I've been having trouble with my knees lately. This isn't anything new. But the degree of how unstable they have become is scaring me. I have never been able to trust my left knee. (And no, the symbolism of being able to move forward into the feminine is not lost on me.) This comes from a childhood of knee dislocations which would have me wandering along quite nicely one second and then crumpled on the ground the next. These scenes were awkward, and painful, to say the least.
I had surgery on my knee when I was 14. And although my knee has not dislocated since, I have never fully trusted that it wouldn't. I am still realising how much this fear has impacted me in my life. I am hesitant to cross roads, I am extra careful around furniture at knee height (not wanting to inadvertently knock my knee cap out of place, like what happened in drafting class when I was 13). But I've always been okay with just plain walking. And I am very thankful for that. Because walking has always been one way for me to process and to ground. When all else fails, a walk helps.
So it is to a new level of fear that I have come into lately as walking has become increasingly difficult. I don't trust my knee any more to support me. I feel like I am going to topple over backwards and this leads to great jerky moves of my whole body. It's really quite freaky. It's like a startle response without the actual startle. I no longer trust in the fluidity of my movement. In short, I feel like my knee is lacking in integrity.
Which is interesting because this week's Ocean Oracle card is Rosa Rugosa - INTEGRITY. What I find interesting is that I am trying to walk a path - walk MY path. And I no longer trust it. And while I know there is something physically wrong with my knee, I can't help but wonder at the metaphysical stuff around it: according to Louise L. Hay's 'Heal Your Body', knees 'represents changes in direction in life and the ease of these movements'; left symbolises the feminine. I remembered today that these jerky movements started a couple of years ago. As I was contemplating the transition from permanent state government job to self-employed healer, I used to walk in the park near my office. It was on these walks that I started to feel unsteady. Now I have transitioned so far into the healing side of things that I forget I was ever an extension horticulturalist. But lately I have been having trouble trusting the process. And although on most levels I feel completely supported, in a couple of ways I feel completely unsupported. It's as if my physical knee is reflecting my internal walk. So as I walk further along my path, in my truth and integrity, I am being challenged by all manner of things which currently seem to manifesting as a dodgy knee. I've got choices up ahead. The path is not only in one direction or even one path. I know I need to keep moving forward, even when that movement is awkward and scary and uncomfortable. And even if my knee is lacking integrity, that doesn't need to reflect the integrity of my choices. In gratitude.
I love the power of story and story telling and writing is an integral part of my healing journey. More about me here.