For the past few years Iâ€™ve been bothered by pain behind my left shoulder. It often nagged me. Yoga practice helped me relax but hurt the shoulder, rather both shoulders. Though yoga didnâ€™t tell me to ignore the pain. That was all me. It started down the back of my head on the left side and continued beneath my left shoulder blade. It felt like something needed to be cracked. Like there was an electrical short somewhere in the wiring. Tingling and burning. Persistent.
I finally decided to face the problem and get help. I had seen my motherâ€™s chiropractor a couple of times and was impressed with the results, even if only temporary. I got a coupon for the first visit to a well known clinic. I am suspicious of chiropractors, believing I should do on my own whatever they might do for me. I inherited a “Pull up your own bootstraps” kind of attitude from my father.
The coupon included a consultation and x-rays and the followup discussion from the tests. As usual with any exam, I assume the results will show my healthy condition.
Seeing the x-ray photos stunned me. Even before the doctor spoke, I knew. I had no curve in my neck. In fact I had some reverse curve. This was a little scary. At first I thought the cause of the deformation was my new tendency to try to lift the back of my head up, a practice which I also learned in yoga. But to yogaâ€™s credit the advice implies to lift gently, not hang yourself, as I was doing.
The cause was not mysterious, though. The main culprit is my posture from playing clarinet 30 hours a week for 30 years. Despite my attempts to educate myself over the years about my playing posture, I didnâ€™t have enough information to notice how I craned my neck and torso forward when playing. Habits.
Another reason for my poor posture is that Iâ€™m tall. Most people are shorter than me. So I often slouch to talk to people. Habits.
Another persistent cause is gravity. As I age, gravity weighs more.
While I analyzed my posture throughout the day I began to notice another, deeper cause for my neck problem.
At some point in my life I lost a lot of self-esteem. I think we all suffer those blows. Perhaps some of us are more prone than others. Self-esteem is a kind of love. Trust in yourself is both vital and fragile. Itâ€™s not just a blanket of forgiveness, but a compassionate look at both your strengths and failures.
Looking down is not only an effect of low self-esteem. I think it can become a down facing attitude, a negative outlook. I think it can aggravate a low self image. It can become a self-sustaining and chronic condition, both physical and emotional.
Just knowing or thinking about these things helps me begin to heal.
The chiropractorâ€™s touch is also healing. I think the one I’m seeing is gifted. Not only does he know where things need to go back to, how much theyâ€™re out, and why they got that way. But he touches my skin directly. There it is again, the importance of touch.
These treatments will help me a great deal. But I also need to start seeing the whole picture. I need to notice on a second to second basis how balanced my body is. And the angle of my attitude.
A good attitude, both physical and emotional, is the beginning of healing.