Two weeks ago I picked up my 2-year-old nephew, Quinn, at daycare. They said he had a minor fall but was complaining of an ‘owee’ in his leg. My heart sank. When I got there (my sister couldn’t get there very fast, so I went ahead to see what was wrong), he began crying as soon as he saw me saying ‘ow, ow, ow’ and pointing to his leg. Poor darling. So little and in so much pain. (He’s the kind of kid who will normally fall and hit his head and get right back up again without noticing any pain). My sister took him to the hospital and it was declared that he had broken his femur. The largest bone in the body!
Hours later after they had sedated him and put him into a full body cast, he woke up in relatively good spirits. (We were all still reeling from this unexpected trauma). Did I say ‘full body cast’ and ‘in good spirits’ in the same sentence? Yes, in fact he was smiling and quite content just to be laying there in his hospital bed.
What if this had been you? (I am not putting it out there for you!)
Well, it is now three weeks in and we just found out that he will be in the cast for three more weeks. That’s okay, as a week ago they said they may have to break it again because the bones were not completely aligned. Our hearts sank. My sister, her husband, grandma, and me (auntie) all working overtime to cart this darling around, keep him entertained, and keep up with all our daily tasks. (He must be turned every 3 hours at night, so mommy and daddy have needed extra help during the day).
As I was reflecting on how this situation, and my nephew himself, had affected me, I was struck by how resilient and positive he was about the whole situation. In fact, I think he fared better than the rest of us!
Here are some life lessons that he reminded me of that I wanted to share with you:
1. Relax about ‘what is’ if there is nothing you can do to change it. When we relax, a softness happens in our bodies, and our minds. This opens the space for the body to heal quickly and effectively, AND it opens the space for something bigger than you to take care of the problem. Whether you want to call it god, the universe, your higher self, ‘it’ is always there hearing your calls for help, even if help does not come in the way you think it should. Conversely, when we are tense in our body and mind, there is less space for the body to work things out in the way it needs to, to heal efficiently and completely. Basically, we just need to get out of our own way sometimes.
2. Smile regardless of what is going on. Your smile is your most powerful ‘yoga pose’. In fact, your smile is a true sign of personal power. This is especially true if you can smile in the face of adversity. Your smile will remind your body that it is okay to relax, and your mind that it can calm down. On the other hand, seriousness is an invitation for the ego to get the better part of us…
3. Stay in the present. We get ourselves into trouble the moment we begin thinking about the past or the future. This is when we get anxious, fearful, nervous, or otherwise out of balance. It is a real practice to learn how to stay in the moment (although kids have it down to a T), but is highly worthwhile once you begin to get it. Eckhart Tolle wrote a great book called The Power of Now, which is an excellent read on this subject.
4. Enjoy the small pleasures. Many people feel as if their life should somehow be more exciting than it feels to them. Have you ever been so engulfed in an activity that nothing else matters? Or perhaps you remember one of those magical days where everything seemed to be in synchrony with everything else, and the day flowed beautifully. In fact, there were spontaneous moments that happened that you could not have planned better yourself? Sometimes when we can enjoy the small pleasures, like eating the first fresh strawberry of the season, or going for a walk with your dog, smelling a flower, or having a nice hot bath, we can enjoy our life much more. Life really is a combination of small moments all strung together. When was the last time you enjoyed one of these moments?
5. Be grateful for what you have in your life that is working. There are so many things to be grateful for, but sometimes, especially if we are anxious or overwhelmed, we can only see what is not working. This unfortunately only perpetuates that cycle of discomfort, and pain.
6. Ask for help when you need it. So many of us assume that we should be completely self sufficient, and then become upset with ourselves when we cannot do it all. But we are meant to be social, and we are meant to live and work together within this community of other human beings on the planet. As we get older, our need for support sometimes becomes that much greater, and if we have some systems and connections in place, it will be easier to ask for help (and get the help) when we need it.
There is another side to allowing ourselves the support we need: we become less resentful of others when we allow them to help us, as we may have helped them. I realized this recently after feeling a little resentful of a close friend. I had offered her support in various ways, but had never asked her for anything, when she had offered in her own way, several times. I later realized that I was both not allowing her the good feelings of having helped a friend, at the same time as not allowing myself the help that would feel good to receive.
7. Let your food heal you by enjoying each bite fully. Quinn is so cute. He’s a kid who LOVES to eat. Almost anything from his green ‘moonie’s’ (smoothie’s) to his cado’s (avocado’s). I’m convinced that this is one of the things that has helped him heal so quickly.
8. Know that your intention, energy, and outlook can all affect how your body heals, and how you re-create each day. We’ve all had days where we’ve gotten up ‘on the wrong side of the bed’, which proceeded to continue to go downhill because our negative attitude was attracting more challenges to us. (Victor Frankl, an optimistic holocaust survivor, wrote an amazing book on this called Man’s Search for Meaning. The title is outdated, but the book is a fabulous read). We really do attract our reality to learn from it. Sometimes the lesson is as simple as ‘smile, this too shall pass…’
9. Know that you are powerful, even if you are not always feeling like you are. When we found out just last week that the bones were not in perfect alignment, and that they might have to re-set them, we did everything in our power to help him to heal. Now sometimes people have karma or lessons to play out and we do not necessarily have control over those things. But other times, we are meant to change the course of events.
Grandma brought over one of her favorite books on visualization, which gave us some ideas on how to imagine the bones healing. Her and my sister and I all sat with our hands on Quinn’s femur imagining the bones aligning and healing perfectly. We did this a total of only 2 times together (for about 10 minutes each time). And we also enlisted friends to ‘see’ his left femur aligning perfectly. (I had about 5 friends who did this, and I myself did it everyday for the past week, from a distance). When my sister and Quinn went into the hospital this morning, the doctor was surprised to see how much more aligned the bones were. Some might have called it a miracle.
10. Love your belly. Okay, you didn’t expect this one did you? I had a love hate relationship with my belly for a few years. The more I didn’t like it, the louder it spoke to me (usually in the way of knots or bloating). (Quinn loves his little belly). I also noticed that the more worried I was about something, the more knots I had in my belly. This is now one of the signals I listen to which reminds me it is time for more self care and inward reflection. Whether it is a walk in the woods, a hot bath, or a little stretching, my body is usually asking for more attention. The more I listen, the more relaxed my belly feels. The more relaxed my belly feels, the more I am tuned-in to what needs attention.
Here’s a practice you can do everyday that will help you to feel more at peace, like Quinn is. 😊
Practice being in the present: To practice being in the moment, sit in a quiet place in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and bring a gentle smile to your face. Notice the breath as it is without doing anything to change it. Just notice. After about a minute of this, begin to breathe long and deep into the belly and then all the way up to the top of the lungs, and then exhaling out of the lungs and out of the belly. Continue breathing in this wave like motion. In and out. Continue watching the breath and when the mind wanders, bring it back to the body. Notice how quickly you can relax a little more deeply. When the long deep breath becomes more natural to you, you can practice anywhere, anytime. It will change your life, and you will be much more zen!