The Wisdom of Spring

“It’s funny to have the sun shining and the snow falling.”

My words to my husband on a recent family trip to Radium, BC.

It’s not unheard of. In fact, it’s a regular Canadian spring. It’s still funny. Not funny haha. Funny interesting. Curious. Fascinating.

While away, I plunged into Dr. John Sarno’s book, Healing Back Pain. The good doctor writes about his life’s work with back pain patients. He points to repressed emotions as the often cause of much of today’s deeply-entrenched back pain.

As someone who has a 15-year history with this painful dancing partner, I tend to agree with much of Dr. Sarno’s conclusions and have been plumbing the depth of his work as it relates to my life.

How often I felt anger but ‘held it together’ and presented pleasantries. Or allowed myself to be cowed down by someone in order to avoid conflict.

The times of smoothing over seething resentment and loosening my boundaries to accommodate uncomfortable encounters … assuring myself I’d get over it.

Anger is difficult. We know we can’t launch an attack on another, that will lead to bigger complications. But we don’t know what to do with it. It’s not acceptable to express it or perhaps we’ve never learned healthy methods of expression.

With the well-quoted story of the two wolves — which one will win? The one you feed — I disagree. I believe if you starve the wolf you see as angry and negative, it will only suffer more and eventually bite you in the ass.

It’s not intentional to stuff emotions. Maybe it’s cultural, familial or we come to learn that it’s just easier to put on a mask. We assume because there are no immediate repression repercussions that we have effectively dodged that bullet and this reaffirms the repressing. So we continue.

But the tension builds until one day it creates physical pain. And because of our desire to link it to an immediate stressor, we discount the past years of denied anger, disappointment, fear and guilt. As Dr. Sarno explains, our brains choose physical pain over emotional pain.

My early years of practices in yoga, qigong and meditation had me believing I must choose happiness, joy and light-heartedness. And I still believe this is a choice we make. But we must be mindful of the masks. Pushing down anger while putting on bliss is counter-productive.

My more recent years of practice — and conversations with pain — have me understanding that it’s not one or the other. It’s not this wolf or that wolf. It’s awareness, compassion, acceptance and grace for both … in any given moment. The first step is to acknowledge both wolves. I can be both angry and grateful. One does not negate the other.

Mother Nature reveals Human Nature.

Both sun and snow can occupy the same sky.


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