I have never considered my physical rehabilitation a holistic or mind-body-spirit process because my focus has always been physical and athletic. I don’t consider myself a spiritual person (though a psychic once told me I was very spiritual) and I’ve never considered my journey from the perspective of spiritual growth and transformation. I recently finished a dissertation and have spent the last few days ‘recovering’: returning to my physiotherapy studio for daily pilates classes and therapeutic massages to get the stress, tension, anxiety, and frustration that I’ve been carrying around out of my body. This is the first time that I’ve considered this process holistic: I am using the therapy to heal myself of the huge – and slightly traumatic – experience I have just been through. I am ‘treating myself’ in such a way that feeds my body mind and soul, all of which were compromised and depleted through this process.
I have started work with a new physiotherapist. She pushes and challenges me because we are both still ‘new’ to each other and still kind of feeling out our rhythm together as patient and therapist. She is aware of the ordeal that I have just been through, but she is tough on me rather than gentle in order to help get me back into shape and to banish all the negativity my body has carried around for so many weeks and months. I don’t feel I am fully better, but I am getting there. This process feels more spiritual than it ever has before because my focus – at the moment – is not ‘ridding my body of every trace of my disability’ but ‘making myself feel better’ which is certainly spiritual in nature.
When I went to a yoga therapist, I wanted to figure out the best kind of yoga to practice in order to lose weight and manage the weight loss. She told me to focus on healing yoga for the time being and to consider any exercise a form of self-care rather than a goal-focused practice. I agreed, and I know now that I can consider this process from both perspectives: athletic therapy to maximize my body’s function and ability and holistic therapy that ‘takes care of’ everything else that I am. I am not just a disabled body that can be transformed with exercise. I am a person with a heart and a mind and a spirit, and the adversarial perspective I have adopted with my therapy means I sometimes lose sight of that. An energy healer once told me that it is our spirit that animates us, that energizes us, and gives us life. I often don’t consider that as part of my therapy and my life; I think I will have a healthier mindset with regards to therapy if I consider it not necessarily a spiritual experience, but an experience that feeds every part of me.