Ouch! That hurts.

I’ve been experiencing intermittent pain in my left foot for almost a year now. It comes and goes mysteriously, aggravated by hiking, dancing, and bouncing- basically the types exercise that bring me joy. At first I tried to ignore it; after all it’s usually a dull ache, with short spurts of intensity, but generally tolerable. Obviously this strategy was a failure!

For several months I’ve been using all my tools: anti-inflammatory diet, healing essential oils, ice packs, rest, elevation, and of course loads of massage and Reiki treatments. Nothing seems to have any lasting effect. A friend suggested castor oil packs, which did seem to allow for more mobility immediately afterwards, but now not so much. As summer is approaching, the idea of sitting still with my foot in a castor oil-soaked sock wrapped in a heating pad is decidedly unappealing.

So what to do when all the healing techniques you know aren’t helping? It seems there are four basic answers for me, and I’m exploring them all with full gusto. First, get some help. Sounds obvious, right? Trading in fierce independence for a more balanced regime of giving AND receiving through interdependence is a big lesson for me. I am determined to keep practicing this skill. I’ve started receiving acupuncture twice a week to relieve pain and to balance the energy flow through my body.

Secondly, can I accept that forces bigger than myself are at play? Can I acknowledge that I’m feeling frustrated at my seeming failure to heal myself and the resulting lack of mobility? And at the same time, can I investigate the possible silver lining? Can I react favorably to a forced rest period that allows me to read <gasp!> novels and to journal? Can I learn to accept that this is what I have to work with in this moment, and release all my attachments, judgments, and expectations that only increase my suffering? Although I’m not 100% there just yet, I’m convinced that yes, I indeed can do this.

Thirdly, what is the message my body is trying to deliver? At first glance, asking for and receiving help and enjoying more stillness are answers that float to the surface. Yet I want to tap into the deeper layers. Yesterday during my acupuncture treatment, I asked my inner self, “What am I not seeing?” I had an instant vision of dense roots reaching up from the earth, trapping me in place. While I’m still contemplating the full meaning of this experience, it seems obvious that fear of moving forward, of stepping into my full potential, and rising above my current belief system has been tethering me.

It’s tempting to be lured into the story of why, when, and how I got here; I have the tools to release fear and tap into my inner strength, purpose, and willingness to heal without intellectually understanding this ailment. That’s the beauty of Reiki; it is spiritually guided and I don’t need to know. Now that I have a goal of getting unstuck and releasing fear of the unknown that change is certain to bring, I can begin to appreciate the final answer to my question of what to do when nothing is working. Gratitude, mingled with trust. Clearly the universe has a plan in place for my growth and awakening that I am unable to see.

For some reason, this chapter is a part of my journey. For now, I can accept this on faith and remain open to the lessons at hand. I’m also reminded of my upcoming role on a panel for Healthy Aging at my neighborhood holistic health fair. It’s a fantastic opportunity to share my knowledge about growing older while prioritizing health, recharging Ki (life force energy), and heeding pain as a messenger. This helps create a healthy lifestyle that cultivates wellness and vitality, regardless of the hand (or foot) we’ve been dealt.

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