On Healing with the Mind

I went too hard on my stilts. How Weird Street Fair and I was back in the Bay and so excited to just play on high with my girls. There might have been a little booze involved.

An epic dance collaboration that happened shortly before my injury

An epic dance collaboration that happened shortly before my injury

It had been hours of dancing up there and I literally said to Claire “I should get down now, I’m getting tired,” and I did want to dance to that Dancehall coming from the Crystal ship more freely than my stilts would allow. But….this guy started dancing with me and I kept going…hard and low. I took a funky back step (in a bad way) and almost lost my balance….could have fallen but caught myself barely…and when I did…something popped out of place in my left knee.

I grabbed him, told him to put me on his shoulders and take me to the closest wall…luckily he was on it and understood right away. He said he would come back but didn’t and that’s ok. At that point I already felt like it wasn’t nothing and I just wanted to feel it out. I took my stilts off and limped backstage. It definitely wasn’t nothing.

Over a month later, after the emotional roller coaster that was falling between the cracks of the insurance system (it’s not set up for people to travel or move and when I was finally able to see a doctor after hours of crying on the phone she didn’t think I needed more than physical therapy, though I was convinced I needed an MRI to find out exactly what it was) and many bodywork sessions with the incredible AbrakaDebra, I decided to fully embrace taking my healing into my own hands. The system wasn’t working for me, and as a dancer and performer the thought of a serious long-term injury was devastating. Luckily this happened while I was taking a break from being on the road, but it was also seriously debilitating when it came to trying to do my work on the farm and keep up with aerial training.

I’d held a nice long pity party for a couple of weeks (which in some ways was good because I needed the rest that came along with babying it a little bit) before deciding to go back to circus class and focus on what I could still do with just one leg (mostly on the Lyra, thank you Holly!) and starting to incorporate ab workouts and some exercises from my Dad’s physical therapy after his knee surgery as well as some online sources. My best guess was that I had a strained or torn quadriceps tendon, but who knows? That all started to help slowly, and definitely boosted my morale, as did a couple nights of one-legged and seated dancing in the city (I knew it would be hard for me to control myself so I asked Claire to make sure I wasn’t going too hard and she did an amazing job at policing me despite my protests in the moment-thank you!), but then I realized that, as with all my injuries, I would have to heal my state of mind and my outlook around the injury before I could really move forward.

I took an evening for myself, free of technology, libations, and distractions, and finally finished a book I had been slowly working my way through for over a year. Then I decided to go back through and revisit pages and passages I’d marked as important. Low and behold the first one I opened to had to do with healing the physical body! It prescribed:

–Giving “the disease” your full attention and breathing into it instead of blocking it

–Asking your body what it needs to restore balance

–Letting it know you have acceptance for its pain and encouraging it to communicate with you

–And finally, apologizing to your body for overriding and ignoring it.

*”Becoming aware of beliefs you have been holding about your Body, and what it needs, and releasing them is another helpful part of any shifts you make in the way you have been treating your body.” –Right Use of Will

So I gave into all of this and fell asleep just listening for some answers. They came to me later in my dreams. I remember very vividly getting a strange new sort of MRI where they flew over in a helicopter and took aerial shots of my knee with an iphone! The images came back to me in the form of old-school photo slides, you know the kind that come in sheets that you run through a projector. It was hard to see without one but I could make out a singular dot at the epicenter of where I felt pain. It looked very small. Someone present identified the name of the injury, which I don’t recall and in retrospect didn’t sound like a real thing, and described it as very minor and self-healing. It was a huge relief, especially since I think I had been sort of victimizing myself because I was encouraged to get an MRI by everyone I talked to (except the doctor) and had started to really believe it would solve all of my problems, or at least tell me how to proceed, but I couldn’t get insurance to cover it no matter what I did. Finally getting one and having a name for the injury, if only just in a dream, marked a huge shift for me. The next day I woke up feeling great and I ended up dancing around my house for hours that afternoon totally pain-free and full up with a new kind of creative spark after not being able to really move for so long.

Yesterday I had an appointment with Debra, mostly to confirm the improvement I’d noticed. “Which knee was it?” she had to ask after feeling around…which was enough proof for both of us. I know I still need to take it easy, and I will try, but God what a huge relief.

Looking back some pretty magical little things have come about because of, or in addition to, the circumstances around this injury and my recovery that I wasn’t able to see until I was on the other side of it. Everything that happens to us, whether we see it as positive or negative in the moment, teaches us something and paves the way and opens to the door to other things that we are meant to encounter or learn from. I also remembered that I’d had a similar experience before when I coughed my ribs out of place on tour. So much emotional baggage from the circumstances in which it happened got wrapped up in the injury and the pain lasted for months. It was until I had an incredible somatic healing session with my friend Daniel that I was able to identify and release and accept that and finally complete the healing process.

Often we are our own biggest obstacles when it comes to healing. We are so quick to look to outside sources and technology and medicine, which definitely have their place, but we forget to just take a moment to listen to our bodies, to ask questions, to forgive and accept, and then actually listen and respond to the information we are constantly receiving. Often the solution and the cure is already with us, we just have to remember how to unlock it and get out of our own way long enough to do so.

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