I had an accident a week ago at my health club (Laugh. It’s okay. I get the irony.) I, unknowingly, stepped onto a treadmill that was on and moving at a fast clip. Someone had walked away without turning it off. What???
I was suddenly in a free fall tumble trying to grab something, anything, to regain some control of my body. No such luck. When I landed on the floor, one leg was twisted between two treadmills, my head hit the floor and I felt jangled. Everyone jumped off of their machines and a crowd formed with people asking a lot of questions to determine how badly I was hurt. I couldn’t really move for several minutes, but not because anything was broken. I couldn’t move because I was shaken and in shock. I tried to open my eyes but the room was too bright and it felt like everything in my vision was vibrating, so I closed them again and tried to slowly breathe my way back into a sense of calm in my body.
Amidst all the voices, a woman with a soft demeanor asked me a few questions to assess the seriousness of the fall, and gently took my hand and held it, placing her other hand on top. Her hands were warm and soft, and I heard myself say, “You’re holding my hand.” She asked if that was okay and as I said yes, I began to cry.
It was an unknown woman’s simple act of kindness that touched something inside, allowing me to release the tension with my tears. And it was her simple act of kindness that became my teacher this week.
With my eyes still closed, I said I was embarrassed about crying. Such a little accident. I’m really okay. Nothing broken. And here I am, crying. As I spoke, I was painfully aware I was the only one in the crowd minimizing what happened. And still I did it, acting out of some strange habit. Have you ever done this?
In the week to come, with some gentle talk—a kindness I gave to myself—things began to change. I curiously watched as I toggled several times between honoring the gravity of what occurred and brushing off the accident.
I couldn’t work out for the next several days because every time I tried, I would cry. I had cuts and bruises on my leg and hip, but the tears were not connected to those. Over the course of the week, several friends helped me to see that my body and mind had registered a trauma which likely stirred up something old held in the body, hence my emotional reaction to a physical accident. As that began to sink in, I stopped diminishing the accident altogether.
And finally, six days after the accident I cried more fully as my friend, Denise Martini, helped me understand the deeper currents. And later in the day my therapist and I swam around in them together. That day, I loved myself well. I cried for the part of me that has mindlessly disregarded “minor” hurts much of my life. I cried for the old jangles that got stirred up. And I cried tears of gratitude for the kindness of the unknown woman and the friends who were there for me. I will never forget what I learned this week about self-care.
What more could we ask of life? To be kind and gentle with ourselves, to be awake to our experiences and to honor them, to have caring people in our life, known and unknown. So much generosity of spirit in all of it! These are the things that can heal the body and mind.
Note: On my radio show, I interviewed Denise Martini, about her business, SomaSense. To listen, follow the link.