“Don’t move and try not to inhale deeply,” the nurse said just before she slid me into the center of the massive donut shaped machine. I was face down and topless on a flat sterile slab of cold, my arms stretched above my head when it began. It sounded like the epicenter of a trio of tornado sirens vibrating my every molecule with their 80‘s synthesized wail. The mirror three inches from my corneas reflected a florescent light obscured by a plexiglass forest photo. The clear tube connected to my IV spiraled across the leaves. I ached and the sound was piercing.
All I wanted to do was to leave.
Run away, half-naked down the hall.
But my escape was impossible, so my mind began to race.
Did I just breathe too deeply? Are these sounds even allowable under the Geneva convention? Will this ever end? Shit. Did I just move?
I could feel my heart racing and I knew I had to relax, there was no hiding from this moment.
I focused on my breath and let go of everything else.
Forty five minutes later there was silence.
It was over.
I walked way shaken, fully clothed, and breathing.
This is leaning in.
We cannot avoid pain. Our discomfort is alive, sometimes hurt pulsates to remind us that we are still breathing. We feel to feel. It’s when we forget this fact that we try to escape. We eat more. We sleep longer. We want everything to be better, happy, and painless.
It’s those places that we escape to that become the structures where we learn to hide. At first, the architecture may seem to shelter us but it only keeps us trapped. Lost. Numb. We construct intricate mazes of hallways and elevators that go nowhere. We just want to get away, we run because we fear pain.
That’s how we got here.
Exhausted, unrecognizable, with fancy prescriptions, an empty bag of chips, and an open-mouthed propensity for weight loss infomercials. Stuck.
When we escape we become the habits, addictions, and beliefs that we hoped would keep us pain free and happy. But we are safe already, there is nothing to hide from. Pain is a part of living. There is nothing to be afraid of, so climb those walls. Stop the elevator and quit wandering the halls. Choose to feel. Choose to stay present with whatever you are afraid of. Lean in to the pain. That’s the place where we grow. Lean in and let the fresh air open your eyes.
image by davetron5000 via flickr, used and remixed under a creative commons license.