"Some feelings hold important messages, and we need to respond and address the conditions from which they arise. Equally often, feeling states are simply present, the atmosphere in which we live. Even when they are strong, we don't need to suppress them, nor grasp and identify with them. Through all these permutations, we don't have to worry: no emotion is final."
Jack Kornfield, The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teaching of Buddhist Psychology.
When I was learning to play the piano (and I still am), my two most important teachers each taught me the same thing, although they referenced and described it differently.
Louise Barfield, my muse and most wonderful friend and teacher of my youth always taught us to lean into the keys. "No skimming! No matter the tempo, you must play to the bottom of each key. That was the path to having a rich, textured tone.
Lawrence Campbell, my stern, witty college music professor preached the message of proprioception. This neurological approach takes the stance that one learns from being in deep contact with where the body is at each moment. That noticing where the pressure is, where the fingers are, where the rhythm of the arms' movement...where the breathing occurs...all lead to a more present and centered performance.
Both of these very important lessons guide me today. Not just as I learn a Rachmaninoff prelude, but also as I experience growth.
Growth...is always uncomfortable. There are moments of joy, peak moments when a scene or vignette from life is completed...a pausable moment to experience an accomplishment. But, by in large, growth is uncomfortable; growth happens on hills.
But being fully present for growth brings joy and aura to one's life. "Ah, here I am in the middle of this expansion...this building of emotional muscle...this breathtaking change of plans in my life...now, at this moment I get to see how well I can go with change...with growth."
When dealing with injury and recovery, this ability to "not skim,' to "play to the bottom of the key," to "be in deep contact with the body" is most important. Noticing where one's breath is, where one feels the stretch and tension of challenging mending bones and healing muscles to have confidence in their miraculousness...there is growth. Or as Norm Fisher might refer to as the "embryo of compassion."
When one is offered up the experience to heal, rejuvenation is the unexpected and often uninvited gift. "Ah, here you are...my chance to come back stronger, different, with more adaptability."
Heal deeply. Own the pain, the process, the moment-by-moment opportunities to learn to move differently, perhaps more slowly one day and then a little faster the next.
Stay in contact with the pain. Make it your partner; your teacher.
Through pain, by breathing, and with patience, one renews.
And each moment is one of rebirth.