As alluded to or mentioned in several previous articles, I have been wrangling with hip pain for nearly two years. The same time period has seen my mother move through the unsettling progression of dementia. Although the two may seem unrelated—one physical, and of my body; the other cognitive, and of her brain—I had suspected and now feel certain of their intertwined dynamic. The following thoughts on the matter introduce a three-part series on physical pain, transformation, courage, and ultimately, hope.

Some background: My mother has always been my “buffer.” Although she could not (nor did she wish to) shield me from Life’s inevitable hard knocks, her consoling hugs and listening heart almost always lessened the impact. Even when “out in the world” pursuing goals and dreams, I carried a strong sense of a warm, safe home base: If I faltered, I knew I could return to the Buffer Zone for a dose of support and encouragement.

I began to contemplate the interplay of Mom’s dementia and my increasingly aching hips when I recalled a strong metaphor that arose shortly after my father’s death nearly 13 years ago. Although my mother had always been the more immediate source of solace and wisdom, my dad was the unwavering stronghold of our family as a unit: He took his role as provider seriously, and he did it well. While his words of love were few and indirect, he, too, delivered a powerful wrap of a hug when we needed one.

And then he was gone. Within 3 months of his passing, my entire inner thigh muscle tore open. My immediate thought? “I do not have a leg to stand on…” Equally applicable to the physical status of my leg, and to my feeling unmoored without Dad’s steadfastness, the phrase motivated me: I would bolster my ability to stand more firmly on my own, physically and emotionally. The years following clearly revealed where I had perhaps over-relied on Dad’s support; the weaknesses showed up quickly, and I continue to try to strengthen them—practically, spiritually, and ceaselessly.

The succinct, undeniable truth of that previous correlation between emotion and bodily injury began to seep into my current consciousness, with regard to my mother and me. So, when I finally visited an orthopedist last week, the diagnosis made perfect sense, both physically and psychologically. The x-ray showed advanced arthritis in both hips: no cartilage, no buffer.

When it comes to how and where the body contends with imbalance, I gravitate toward Traditional Chinese Medicine and yogic philosophy for insight. From time to time, I also consult Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life. An included chart presents the physical area of concern or type of problem, and then suggests possible emotional or psychological reasons for the occurrence. 

A quick look at “hip problems” and “joints” revealed the link between my mother’s and my challenges. “Hip Problems: Fear of going forward in major decisions. Nothing to move forward to.” (It should be noted here that the overarching family concern of the past two years has been whether and where to move our mother. Most recently, I offered to share a household with her, which is a decision I had been resisting. While I remain committed to the challenge, I continue to have doubts.) And then, “Joints: Represent changes in direction in life, and the ease of these movements.” Cue my jaw dropping.

The same night of the day I saw the x-ray, I had a moment of stark realization that my life had changed: There was no going back, nor even would there be a continuation of how I, until that moment, envisioned my future. So often, transformation unfolds almost invisibly; we carry on as our personal evolution simmers away beneath our awareness. This was different: I physically felt the divide between What Was, and What Is—the line was firm and clear. Although What Is is new, and What Will Be remains hidden in the firmament, I have been able to release What Was: To continue with courage and acceptance is the name of the current game.

In Parts 2 and 3: Warmups and Qigong Visualization to Create Your New Way; Pranayama for Pain and Anxiety; and Third Chakra Routine, plus Mudra and Meditation for Positivity and Possibility

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