Mindfulness Under Fire

by Megan M. on December 11, 2009 (Blog) |

(Originally written for Social Work prn.)

There isn’t anything in the world that forces you to be quite as mindful as a knee injury.

Okay, I might be wrong—but since I have a knee injury, I feel comfortable making that vast, sweeping statement.

My chiropractor told me the pain I had to watch out for (the under-the-kneecap pain) and said, if you feel other pain, see if you can work through it and keep moving. So that’s what I’ve been doing; working through a lot of pain.

Spectacularly, most of the pain that I’m experiencing gets better the more I move around. I never would have guessed that this would be the case; I thought pain was something to be avoided by sitting perfectly still for 48 hours—waiting it out. This is apparently a completely different situation, which boggles my mind a bit.

Some of the pain is still to be avoided, though. That sharp shooting zing right in the middle of my kneecap? I am avoiding the hell out of that particular sensation, and that makes walking very… interesting.

You see, I’m used to a certain style of walking. I call it Flinging Myself Through Space And Time. PEOPLE. I’ve got places to be. Outta my way!

But I can’t walk that way now.

In order to avoid hurting myself (worse than I already have), I have to keep both my legs very aligned. When I raise my foot and bend my knee, my whole leg needs to stay aligned. My foot needs to point very forward; and when I set my foot down, I need to set down the back of my heel gently, and role my foot forward without pushing too hard with my toe when I move. If I am incredibly mindful, I can walk like this wherever I need to walk. I could probably walk a few blocks downtown, in fact, though I haven’t tried it. I can certainly get across the big wide parking lot to the car when I need to.

But walking mindfully is something I’m only now learning to do. It’s not something I do automatically, though I expect by the end of this whole experience it might be. For now, it’s an act of meditation to move across any sort of significant space. Even going from my desk to the kitchen is an experiment in high concentration.

This exercise in mindfulness reminds me how much mindfulness is actually missing from my life until I am forced to pay attention to something as simple and important as walking. If I insist on flinging myself through space and time, I’m going to get hurt. It’s like the best electric dog collar ever. And since I don’t know how long it will be until my knee heals properly, I’ve got to get used to walking mindfully.

But I’m not convinced it’s a bad thing.

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