This quote really grabbed me last week when a friend of mine shared it on her FB page. How eloquent and accurate it is! Most of us wander through life with a lot of dark corners in our bodies, basically paying them little to no attention. We don’t even think about whether our back is sore from sitting at a desk all day long, or whether our neck is tense, our mind is scattered, or our gut is in knots. Perhaps, even, we specifically block out the parts of our bodies that are uncomfortable or suffering, because we either don’t have time to deal with them, we don’t know what to do about it, or we just don’t want to face whatever it is. Whether we do this consciously or subconsciously doesn’t really matter. Then throw cancer and cancer treatment into the mix. I don’t particularly like to think about the scarring in my chest or the nerve damage under my shoulder from treatment. So one way to deal with it would be to just ignore it completely. Just make a dark, black, corner there and hope it goes away. Obviously you can sense the sarcasm, and realize that this “head in the sand” strategy isn’t probably the most effective way to deal with anything.
One of the many amazing and beautiful things about yoga is that is forces us to become exquisitely aware of all of the parts of our bodies, including the ones that we would otherwise ignore. In doing so, yoga practice brings us in touch with all of the parts of ourselves, shining the light of awareness into all of our dark corners, and setting the stage for healing and transformation. Because let’s face it, we can’t heal something if we don’t even know it is an issue. Many people come to yoga, and are so surprised to find out that one side of their body is much more flexible or much stronger than the other side, that one hip is very tight and the other isn’t, or that they have very flexible hamstrings, but very tight low back muscles, for example. We just don’t notice things like this in the course of our daily lives. Similarly, after cancer treatment, many of us just think it is normal and expected to have tightness, pain, limited motion, or weakness in our chest wall, neck, upper back, or shoulders. And these are, in fact, common side effects of treatment. But if we just ignore them and push them into the dark, how are we to heal, to see how much we can actually recover, if we just know what is going on and where we need to put our attention. There may be some things that cannot be cured, like permanent nerve damage or significant scarring. But even in these scenarios, shining the light of awareness into these dark corners will help us to fully understand how these things affect our daily lives, and perhaps how we might adapt and engage or strengthen other nearby body parts to help compensate for the weak ones. Or what daily activities we might do to help keep the tightness and discomfort from the scarring to a minimum. Once we are aware of all of our dark corners, we naturally begin to transform. But it is only with this awareness that we can truly be in tune with our bodies, working in harmony and balance, healing what we can, and adapting to anything we can’t, so that we can feel our best every day.
So whether it is in your yoga practice, or in your other daily activities, learn to shine that light of awareness into your dark corners. Learn to take the time to notice what your body feels, and how different movements and activities influence that. Really tune in and connect to yourself. It may be uncomfortable at first, but with a little time and effort, you will be transformed, and your body will thank you for it.