My tushie has been in major pain for the past two years, two months and four days. Alternating sides of my sacrum become so out of whack that I limp when emerging from a sitting position, and sometimes I lie in bed at night with throbbing pain racing from my sacrum past my hip flexor and all the way down to my knee. Nonetheless, there’s no clear event I can recall that could have brought about this pain.
“It’s your IT band,” my family doctor said. “It’s probably too tight. Try this stretch.” I turned my right toe perpendicular to my left arch and palmed the floor. He literally shouted. “Whoa! I wasn’t expecting that. You’re really flexible.” He told me to take Advil before exercising.
Childbirth does a number on a woman, doesn’t it, ladies? So when traditional medicine didn’t answer my question of why it was hurting, I traced my pain to the day of Kip’s birth. Surely the ole hips were just taking their sweet time getting normal again. Then, for many months of Kip’s infancy, I carried him everywhere in a sling, often while wearing cute but unsupportive shoes. And, when he got too big to be tied to the front of my body, he took his place on my right hip, where he perched while I cooked, vacuumed, fed the dogs and shielded him from the advances of his older brother. Even after he was walking, my right hip was always tilted ergonomically to suit him. So, it made sense my body was hurting.
I loved wearing my babies. Kip liked it, too.
Fast-forward another 12 months. I had my right hip to myself most of the time, and it was still hurting. I went to see our holistic doctor. He’s a chiropractor and nutritionist who also practices homeopathy, applied kinesiology and muscle testing. He got down to business on my muscles, spine and glands and the pain was released. Two weeks later, it came back and this time it was in my left sacrum. My attempts both at energizing my root chakra and at asking my body “why is my booty hurting?” in the stillness following meditation were fruitless, so I returned to Dr. Dan and asked him to tell me why this pain was occurring, and why it wasn’t going away for real.
He silently took me through a series of questions, testing the strength and resistance of my upraised arm when pushed in response to his prompts, and uncovered that I was holding a deep-seated hesitation dating to preconception. (It sounds completely batty, and I don’t really get how it works, but often with muscle testing, together with Dr. Dan, I’ve been able to pinpoint a specific age, place, circumstance and long-lost memory that’s been causing pain in a certain part of my body. Following the treatment, any physical and emotional pain around the memory is gone.)
It took me a while to pinpoint the memory behind the information he was uncovering from my own body, but the tears flooded once I did. And then, like magic, the pain was gone. Only this time, there was a catch: If I wanted a pain-free tush, I needed to practice a new way of thinking and being. My body is telling me it’s time to a.) Embrace a partnership with my divine self, but, in order to do that, I need to b.) Let life flow, be lighter, have more fun in each moment, be less rigid.
“You know when you’re meditating, or even just living your life, and you’re trying really hard to just make something happen,” he says, gritting his teeth for effect. “And you think, ‘I’m doing the work, so where are all the results?! I’m doing the practices just like I’m supposed to and I’m working really hard at it and nothing’s moving.’ It’s kinda like you’re banging your head against a rock, you know? But the really cool things happen in life when you’re just kind of joyfully floating along, kinda like ‘la, la, la.’ More like water.”
And he prescribed a Bach flower remedy, the label for which says: “Rock Water helps you to enjoy life’s pleasures rather than stick too rigidly to your ideals or personal habits.” In other words, he told me to stop being such a tight ass.
“The issues are in the tissues,” Dr. Dan said. “It’s funny. You hear about someone who’s a real ‘hard ass’ or something, and then they come in here and they’re on this table and you see there’s really truth to these expressions.”
I’m definitely no hard ass, but uncovering what’s been up mine all these years has been, I’m delighted to report, liberating. Yet it’s not without difficulty. First of all, the appointment with Dr. Dan was no joyride; before the muscle testing, he dug into some deep physical pain in my glutes. Then, last week after a few days of zero pain, I discovered myself whirring around the house with my jaw clenched, my nerves raging and my eyes eager to spill tears. I repeatedly banged the vacuum into the table legs without noticing, the dogs were running away from me, I hadn’t paused my rabid housework in 15 minutes to so much as glance at my family, and my inner self talk went something like, “This place is a pit. Look at that clump of dog hair. What’s wrong with you that you can’t keep a clean house, Emily? Oh, please. You’ve stepped over that toy 10 times and now you deign to pick it up? What’s the occasion? Geez, and now your hip and leg are hurting again. That’s just what you need right now…”
Whew! That’s some mean talking! If it weren’t for the pain waving a huge flag, I might not have caught myself in the act of banging my head mercilessly against the rock and then I’d be right back where I started: unaccountable for and unaware of the source of my own physical pain. Breathe. Hit reset. Return to the visual of Material Me and Divine Me holding hands, laughing and dancing around like happy little cherubs. Smile. Return to housework with great joy and ease of purpose.
Going back to childbirth, I’m sure it’s not inconsequential that my hip pain surfaced after the birth of my second child. That kind of massive physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual rite of passage is bound to release, uncover and potentially create new cell memories. Labor and delivery, paired with my renewed commitment to nightly meditation around the time Kip turned one, meant I was ripe for the rising of unresolved issues.
Charlie getting in touch with the gardens at Paramahansa Yogananda’s hermitage in Encinitas, Calif.
People often think meditation is all about finding inner peace, and it truly is, but it takes a bit of weed pulling before the beautiful blooms reveal themselves, and as with an actual flower garden, the weeds in a spiritual garden have a tendency to keep popping up. Meditation quite literally stirs the soul, a process, which, on occasion, can be most unpleasant. Memories surface, tightly held ideals crumble, unexpected truths are revealed and, yes, physical pain is unearthed. It takes some chutzpah to dive into the inner depths of your own consciousness. However, once you do it, once you shine the spotlight of your perfect, nonjudgmental spirit into your tightest corners, you release the muck you don’t need anymore, bit by bit and, even in that potentially terrifying moment, you soar. You positively triumph. And then one day you suddenly notice you’ve come a long way from wherever you started. You don’t always get as ruffled about things as you used to. And, even if you’re not living in a state of enlightenment, you’re more able to snag a moment of inner peace even in the midst of your own personal worldly chaos, which, we all know, is unavoidable for those of us who aren’t living in a Himalayan cave devoted to God for all eternity like Mahavatar Babaji.
We can at least try to dabble in enlightenment. When I’m tuned into God and my divine self, I’m not easily fazed, the details of life come together, things make sense and I generally have a ton more fun living. When I’m not tuned in, I get all peeved that things like physical pain in my hips have the nerve to surface, weakening me and distracting me from more important aspects of life and self. However, I’ve grown to know that pain in my body that cannot be traced to a physical event is a clue about something deeper that’s begging to be recognized and possibly even released. As many healers, including Dr. Dan have told me, if it’s coming up, it’s because you don’t need it anymore. Observe it. Now let it go.
Breathe. Hit reset. Cut to the visual of Material Me and Divine Me holding hands, laughing and dancing around like happy little cherubs. Smile. Return to life with great joy and ease of purpose.