Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pain in the Back

I’m the first to admit, I’m of a melodramatic nature. The refrain of my childhood was my mother saying, “Stop being so dramatic.” So when I reach some physical or mental barrier in kung fu I really do try to reign in the grimaces and groans and involuntary gesticulations of frustration, pain and exhaustion. Everyone is tired. Everyone has pain. Everyone makes mistakes.

This is what my intellect is telling me. But my emotional reactions are, as I said, involuntary, and so controlling them can be difficult. Half of the time I don’t even realize that I am doing X melodramatic thing. Still, I don’t want to look like I am trying to prove something or enlist sympathy through my expostulating, so I am trying to learn to identify and control it. I don’t want to be making excuses even if they are subconscious scowls of pain.

That being said, where’s the line from mind over matter, and when is it ok to say, “I’m hurt.”? Saturday and then last night, Xu and the Sifu both asked me if I was all right. Going to show that however much I might try, my lower back pain has reached the un-hide-able point. I don’t want to be macho and deny that I am in pain. But I don’t want to be a pansy about making excuses. My penchant for melodrama can easily lead into whining and self-indulgence. My back hurts. But it isn’t so severe I shouldn’t be able to train. And if I make the choice to train then I should train. I shouldn’t be half-assing it.

There’s always going to be something bothering me; that’s part of the cycle of building muscles and flexibility. If I’m soreness and pain free I probably haven’t been training very hard. If I am unable to push through my aches without drawing attention to myself, then I need to acknowledge the weakness in my mind or body.

Sometimes I expect too much of myself. But I can’t stand knowing that I could have trained harder but I was being lazy or scared or weak-willed. Or melodramatic. Last night, the pain was not hindering me so much as a mental incapability of pushing through. I got really frustrated and trained worse than my two week back saga warranted. And that got me more frustrated and I was really struggling just to focus on the task at hand. And when a clock is mental and not physical, that makes me feel even more frustrated because the only thing tripping me up is me. Notice the recurrence of “frustration.” It took all my energy to control the melodramatic outburst that was violently bubbling under the surface. I don’t WANT to be irrational. And I recognize when I’m doing it and still can’t seem to flatten my heart.

Tonight I am skipping training to go get acupuncture which I am hoping will benefit both my physical pain and my mental build up. Because more than pain, I am tired of psychoanalyzing myself; I just want to train.


  1. Hey,

    Just a quick note - to all of you =)

    I train in the Graz branch of the Austrian Temple (so technically, you're, what? Grand-aunts and uncles to me?).

    I started a year ago and I share so much of what you guys have been going through pain and frustration-wise, but also in the thinking, the growing and learning...

    It's cool that you blog, it really is a nice thing to know that miles away, there are people experiencing the same thing... The world is a village, after al ;-)



  2. Amituofo Julia!

    Welcome to our blog! I hope you enjoy reading our comments and posts!

    :D Leo

  3. Hi Julia! We wanted to make it to Graz on our trip to Austria but there was just not enough time. Next visit for sure! I love how far the Shaolin family is spreading.

  4. Amituofo!

    I am sure that you will make it to Graz one day... We've heard rumors that some people from the NYC Temple will be visiting Austria again (and the training camp) next summer... So maybe we will be able to meet there...

    We're celebrating our first temple anniversary in Graz at the end of this month.. I can't believe it's already a year! So we've been training hard (yeah!) to put up a good performance for our visitors... I find it inspiring to have people watch when I train, or at performances, lots of chi!

    So this past week I thought of you guys, I was in France, training at dawn on a cliff on the seaside... The most amazing experience - Chuji Quantao as the sun came up, again and again!

    Greetings from Graz,