Renewal in 10 Minutes or Less

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Renewal, the act of not just enduring, but embracing life sometimes takes the long and winding road. Sometimes it takes less than 10 minutes.

I woke up this morning at the farthest point from any sense of renewal. I’m injured, with a possible rotator cuff tear from Pilates/taekwondo/middle age. I woke up in tears last night due to the pain. I’m grumpy. Less sleep and more Monday do that to me. And I’m overwhelmed. The snow is melting which means I’m two steps away from massive gardening chores. I’m supposed to be starting my less-paid-work-more-writing career…today. All the volunteer opportunities that sounded great in the fall are due this month. And it’s my wedding anniversary, with no plans made to celebrate.

It was a good morning to meditate. This morning, meditation meant sitting in my reading chair, ice pack on my shoulder, eyes closed, letting all that anxiety wash over me.

I let exaggerations run wild through my imagination. I imagined having to give up all the physical activities I like to do because I can’t move my arm and keep getting injured. I ran through the long list of things that I would have to do to have a good garden, feeling defeated before I even started. I thought with dread about all I have to do in preparation for the elementary art program I’m helping to present and the fundraiser I’m chairing. I fairly shook with the fears of never making it as a writer after laying all the groundwork. I felt badly thinking about the half-assed effort I made to honor my marriage. I felt a little sorry for myself. And then, I was done.

I saw the pointlessness of my anxieties. Even my worst case scenarios weren’t all that bad. The sun is out. I can hear the long silent birds now singing outside my window. Spring is finally arriving. Right now. In this moment, I can find pleasure. My hot cup of coffee. Writing. The sound of my daughter singing happily to herself in the other room. I do not need to breathe any more life into my anxieties. I do not need to give this moment over to them.

My crazy schedule doesn’t start until tomorrow. I am able to ice/heat my injury whenever I need to today. I will make my lists and prioritize and organize. I will plan my schedule for writing. I will figure out exercise I can do without using my arm. I am going to write a loving note to my husband and wrap the small gift I got him. I am going to plan a nice family dinner for this evening. I’m going to be okay.

Meditation is not for the timid. It’s for people like me, overwhelmed, in pain, disoriented, anxious – we can find ourselves fighting off our worries and anxieties until we implode. Inside me is this field where free range anxiety gallops, roughshod over the greener pastures. I gave it a few moments. Then I put a fence around it. And now I’m here.

28 Comments on “Renewal in 10 Minutes or Less

  1. Oh no!!! I am wishing you a speedy recovery. I have a friend who just tore her rotator cuff. Hers sounds much worse than yours. But she is looking into something called Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP). She already knows she will need surgery and this is a non-invasive alternative.

    Happy Anniversary, btw. Many more!

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      • She’s very excited about this new treatment. I am hoping she is eligible and it works. And I hope you are good as new before you know it.

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  2. Glad you found a sweet spot amidst all the hassles. Happy Spring. Hope your arm gets better soon.

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  3. I love the idea of allowing the fears and anxieties to wash over you, then recede. My mantra when things get like that is, “They’re only feelings. They will pass. I’ll survive.” So far, so good.
    Karen

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    • One of my favorite Buddhists, Pema Chodron always talks about staying with the feelings. So often we do more damage trying to avoid them. Sitting still? I can do that!

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  4. I’ve had days like that. Fortunately, it always gets better. And a rotator cuff injury can be healed – my partner’s is getting better with physical therapy.

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  5. I tore my rotator cuff many years ago – one of the best things you can do is to keep the weight of your arm off your shoulder. It’s a very tough injury, but it can heal. I think that finding that moment of serenity is so crucial when things go awry and we get overwhelmed. At this very moment, everything is fine.

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    • I hope that it heals sooner rather then later. I never loved my ice pack so much! Made it through the day without medicine and it was bearable. Knocking some ibuprofen back before bed, just for the sake of sleep.

      I’m going to have a lot of crazed, anxious moments this month, so I’m making a concerted effort to take some deliberate time to “shake it off”. Some call it meditation, but whatever it is, it feels good to sit still in the middle of chaos and breathe.

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  6. I read this post this morning after my meditation. You stuck with me all day. You’re bang on, sometimes I need to sit and unpack my baggage to realize that much of my anxiety is self imposed. It helps to sit with the feelings and know they won’t kill me. Thanks for the insight!

    And, girl, good luck with that shoulder.

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    • Anxiety is one of those soul-sucking feelings, like guilt. Unless it leads to positive action, it is fairly useless. I used to spend a lot more time with those feelings, but now I try to remember to look them square in the face. Thanks for the well wishes on the shoulder – I am optimistic about recovery!

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  7. I should copy your post, paste it on my wall and re-read it often! I had a very anxious Friday evening. It was so difficult to put the fence around my worries. Reliving the event made it so much worse than it was. I must begin my meditation work. I can’t let this year get away from me!

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    • And it is so easy to get lost in it. One exercise that I have been trying is to imagine the worst outcome for whatever I’m worried about and sit with that fear/anxiety/disappointment for a few minutes. At some point, I realize that I can handle it, whatever comes. Sometimes I even plan what I will do in the worst case scenario. It’s an exercise that helps you realize that you can handle it and makes you less anxious.

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  8. I’d like to wish you a speedy recovery, but rotary cuff tears take a long time to heal. It can take well over a year. But with patience and the right care and treatment they will heal! The RIGHT treatment combined with gentle exercise are absolutely crucial here!

    There were two people in my taiji class who had a rotary cuff tear. (Not from taiji, though.) One had to have surgery after all allopathic treatments and physical therapy failed to yield any improvement. The other healed naturally over a period of time with alternating, initially weekly, then bi-weekly homeopathic injections of arnica and opis. I am the lucky one who healed. I am the lucky one who had a wonderful anthroposophic physician in the area who guided and treated me. All awhile, I continued with taiji and qigong as gently as I could to increase my range of motion and keep the shoulder from ‘freezing up’.

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    • Since I have some range of movement in my arm now, I think it’s not a full tear (tendon off the bone), so I may be lucky this time. I love my arnica ointment and have been able to start some gentle movement exercises.
      It was disheartening to read that this is a common injury after 40, but it just keeps me more mindful of what my body needs. I hope this isn’t more serious, but glad that even if it were, it sounds like there is a road back to health. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. That’s what is so great about spring…really, everything seems better when the trees start budding, and the flowers start blooming. I love to listen to the birds at this time of year. Thanks for the renewal reminder. This is something I’m about due for!

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    • It has been a VERY long winter here and it hit me that I’m still in that mode of grumpiness. The birds outside reminded me that this is almost over. The temperatures are putting up a good fight, so we still have snow on the ground. But the birds always know…

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  10. I am so tracking with you…
    It’s so easy to get defeated before you begin, I know that feeling ALL.TOO.WELL. unfortunately.
    It’s so easy to let all the not-yet-realities consume you. But you’re right, that’s silly, and sometimes you just have to take the time, force yourself to slow down, re-center, make a list, and move into each thing, one by one as it comes. Thanks for the reminder!

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    • The moment-at-a-time thing is so crucial for planners, of which I am one. Sometimes constantly being in future mode means that the present passes us by. It’s easy to be present and I forget that sometimes.

      And overwhelming projects – nothing helps more than figuring out the first step and just doing it. I have to put blinders on and not think about what comes next. Just this right now. This is all I have to worry about – it’s amazing how it leads to the next step.

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