Nothing like a bad back to get the mind moving

//Nothing like a bad back to get the mind moving

Nothing like a bad back to get the mind moving

Late afternoon, it’s pouring rain on the worker’s holiday. Haven’t heard whether the usual union marches went forth or if sales of the traditional (here in France, anyway) lilies of the valley were stable. Never know what to expect in these hard economic times. In fact, the truth is we never know what to expect at any time…
Yet my own day has again been one of slow and limited movement, as all the days have been, to varying degrees, for a week…
And what a week it’s been. Since something in my back locked up last Tuesday, it feels more like months, years, lifetimes, have gone by. Being stuck painfully in bed, unable to get up, helpless and immobile for a few days, now remains like a timeless, sickening memory, neither distant (although it was a week ago) nor near (although it was only a week ago). I suppose in another week this rainy day and my lingering aches will have faded, too.
Nothing like a bad back to get the mind moving, though. And I had plenty of time to let it move, to let it all come and go – or not. Pain was thick and rich. It led me to experience frustration, anger, fear, impatience, helplessness, vulnerability, despair, desire, gratitude, openness, tenderness, acceptance, patience, compassion… and at least ten thousand other emotions.
Learning was also thick and rich. I discovered: I am more impatient than I think I am (I want to recover very quickly). I often move too fast (a bad back is a forced slowdown). I sometimes let myself be sucked into the rhythms and ways of others, failing to respect my own (like not walking at my own pace in the street or Métro). I have a tendency to “do” too much myself rather than ask for help (I had to ask for a lot of help this past week). I realized I’m identified with an image of myself as being “reliable,” and felt that because of my “unreliable” back I was letting down so many people (canceling my presence at a sesshin in Belgium, for example), although a bad back is not a sign of unreliability; it’s a sign of being human.
I can’t say any of this is unusual. It’s not. I also can’t say I didn’t already know these things about myself. I did. But each experience is unique, for each of us, and this one was particularly extreme, for me.
Thanks so very much for all your thoughts, kind words, care, understanding.

By | 2017-04-04T06:58:15+01:00 mai 1st, 2013|Textes|3 Comments

About the Author:

Enseignante Zen et poète, Sensei Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell est née et a grandi à Minneapolis, aux Etats-Unis. Arrivée en France en 1981 pour étudier la littérature et l’histoire, elle y est restée, s’installant à Paris, où elle élève ses deux enfants et gagne sa vie en tant que journaliste. The Zen teacher and poet Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell Sensei was born and raised in Minneapolis, but came to France in 1981 to study literature and history and has lived in Paris ever since, raising her two children and making a living as a journalist.


  1. uhr fakes 23 juillet 2013 at 3 h 33 min - Reply
  2. wild primula 2 mai 2013 at 9 h 15 min - Reply

    I know backpain…
    In tao i am told pain can be transmuted into pure energy. As in Dzogchen emotions, fear can be transmuted into energy by accepting without judgment. Being there completely with what arises. Or even in a strange way it can be transmuted into nothing. Completely wide open unconditionaly joyfull emptiness.
    What is this pain? what is my pain? As Pema Chodron says: what is the taste, the smell, etc … before concepts – before words …of it?
    Our bodies are the physical back up of our history. And even of the history of the ones we inherite our genes. Bodies never lie.

    I wish you presence
    we are there with you
    as Pema Chodron says: all in the same boat.

    lots of love,
    wild primula

  3. Beginner's Mind 1 mai 2013 at 23 h 01 min - Reply

    Quick recovery Sensei

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