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An Experiment in Mindfulness

Posted Aug 23 2008 3:19pm

crutches.jpg

Over the past several months I’ve talked about being mindful and present to each moment of our lives. It’s so easy to forget. To fall back on old habits. To blame others for all the bad things that happen in our lives.

This past week, I’ve gotten past the “why me” stage of my broken ankle and have once again focused on being present. While I wouldn’t recommend that anyone break an arm, a foot, or a leg, using crutches has forced me to be mindful of every movement of my body.

Walking up and down steps has been especially challenging. Going up, I need to place my right foot on the step, raise my body until I’m balanced, place the crutches on the step then repeat the process. Going down, I do the opposite, place the crutches on the step below, lower my injured leg, step down with my right. Even after doing this several days, I still have to stay focused. If not, I’m tumbling down a flight of stairs.

Fixing meals is also a challenge. In my small kitchen, I hobble to the refrigerator, take out a yogurt and fresh fruit, hobble to the counter, moving the fruit toward the sink to rinse, hobble to the drawer for a knife, hobble back. After filling my bowl, the next challenge is to carry it to the table while using both hands on the crutches. With a little stretching, I manage to make it to the table in one piece. The alternate, I suppose, is eating standing up in the kitchen, but it’s not as comfortable.

I’ve been very fortunate this past week to have my husband home. He’s made the meals, carried my pillows up and down the stairs, drove me to the doctor’s office and to visit my mother. I’m so grateful. Today he went back to work. So I’m alone, fending for myself.

I realized that breaking my ankle did more for me than slow me down. It made me appreciate the miracle of my body. How many times to we take our bodies for granted? We constantly use our hands and our feet, our arms, legs, neck, and torso. We see, hear, touch, taste and smell without a second thought. Only when something is taken away do we really stop and realize the miracle that we are.

So if you life seems out of control, try this experiment. Take an ace bandage, wrap it around your ankle and walk on crutches for week. You’ll get frustrated, angry, annoyed. You’ll want to rip the bandage off and say to heck with this. But don’t. Keep the bandage on, keep using the crutches until you can feel happy that you still have one good foot, two good arms and hands. You can see and hear, touch, taste and smell. You can love and be loved. Then go ahead and put the crutches away.

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