My morning exercises get a regular mention in these pages. I have used them to highlight the benefits of discipline and routine; of doing something in awareness; and of pushing through to the very end. But this is one aspect I was unsure I’d get to write about, although I shouldn’t be too surprised. It’s about how persistence pays off; proof that you were right to carry on even though prospects appeared bleak sometimes; and that it can all change in an instant.
My journal posts show that I have been doing morning exercises, on and off, for years. 17 months ago I started the latest set of exercises. 12 months ago I overdid some physical work and suffered the first of four back spasms, each of which pinned me to whatever horizontal surface I could find quickest. Although each time I was back on my feet within days, it took me months to recover to the point where I felt the muscles around my lower back were not primed and ready to contract at the slightest exertion.
For as long as I can remember there has been an imbalance in my pelvis, with one side higher than the other. Never sure whether this has been the cause or the effect of my back problems, I have often thought that, with regular exercise, I could somehow get my body back into balance. I hoped it might happen, but each setback left me wondering. Last year was particularly difficult and there were weeks when I felt I was getting nowhere; as though I was exercising just to avoid things getting worse, rather than actually making them better. Sometimes I felt I should just stop altogether.
Eventually I got back into my routine and was returning to a decent level when, three weeks ago, my back went again. I felt it begin to tighten and, over the next few days, it just got worse. It usually happens because I get excited with my progress and do too much, but this time there was no explanation. All I knew was that I would have to wait for it all to settle down and then start again.
But there was something different about the nature and location of the pain. My back was not protecting itself, as it usually does, by tightening the muscles around my lower spine. The affected muscles were higher up and the spasms, although uncomfortable and never far from spilling over to a full-blown contraction, were not as debilitating. Curious, I checked the level of my pelvis. It had shifted. My back has, indeed, adjusted to a more balanced position and my pelvis is now more horizontal than it has been in over 20 years.
The learning point here is that even though there have been periods during which I have felt downhearted, times when I have experienced doubt that what I am doing is right for me, I need only have the courage of my convictions, breathe deeply, gather myself every time it hurts and tell myself to keep going. Right now, perhaps more than ever before, I need to reassure myself of all this again: breathe, gather yourself and tread your path every day, because eventually, if you put the work in, it can change in an instant.