Wednesday, February 02, 2011

How I Got My Juju Back

How I Moved Out of Back Pain That Would Have Kept Me From Everything I Love To Do In Life...

After all this rain, there is a sun! It would seem I lead a charmed life. After the first six weeks, eventually the buckets of rain washed away all previous footing in the horse corral until the big dutch warm blood, affectionately known as ‘Himself,’ after the Irish tradition, churned up a soupy mess of wet clay with his huge feet. It was like quicksand, only worse, because it was on an incline and I was afraid it would suck his leg right under the fence, forcing him into a position he couldn't’t get out of. Miraculously, he never lost a shoe. (I have an excellent horse shoer - my spouse - is the head farrier at U.C.Davis Large Animal Veterinary Hospital). But the mud was treacherous, slippery and seemingly bottomless.

There I was, slogging around digging trenches in the wet clay for the water to drain out, spreading a half ton of gravel into the corral by hand in the downpour, changing out soggy wet blankets in the relentless rain that went on for a good three months solid. My back never once gave me a twinge of discomfort. Not once. I never was incapacitated by back pain, neck pain or a knee problem.

But it was not always this way. Thirty years ago, when I was in my twenties, my back went out while I was picking up a tissue from the floor and I was down for the count of three full days looking at the ceiling. In that time, I had plenty of opportunity to think about what I would be willing to do to be able to walk again. I tried a lot of things as you can imagine. I also had more problems along the way. I have survived seven whiplash injuries including a few concussions mostly from car accidents, but a few from falls off horses - mostly while jumping. 

But still I lead a charmed life. I have never broken a bone.

Yet, the most amazing experience for me has been the slow introduction to the FELDENKRAIS Method. That is what has given me this ability to do really heavy physical labor without any physical fall out. It’s what has taught me to work my body smarter, not harder. It’s what has given me a new sense of self that is stronger, more adaptable and more grounded. Now I can lift, sweep and tote that bale with the core of myself, activated by the use of the pelvic floor in a way that has so completely reorganized my use of self that I no longer fear the work involved in keeping horses.

In short, FELDENKRAIS has allowed me to pursue my dreams and live the life I have always wanted to, in spite of injuries that, for most people, would be so debilitating that most exercise would be suspect or painful at the very least. With this gift, I can continue to be a part of that amazing dance with the horse that is a give and take that is non-verbal; a relationship with the horse wherein my body is my voice; one that has called to me my entire life.

Oh, to sense that soft muzzle in my hand, and to see that beautiful clear eye waiting, inviting, challenging me to play, to run, to buck and to experience the warm sun like any new foal drunk on the warmth of the sunshine after a long hard season of gray fog and rain...

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