Years ago, I received a video/VHS tape from the MS Society titled “Awareness”. I must admit that I rolled my eyes and tucked it away in a corner while telling myself I was definitely already aware that I have MS.
Through the years, I have successfully programmed myself to focus my thoughts on others or tasks. My thinking was that to concentrate one’s attention on self is selfish and only magnifies pain and problems. Dwelling on myself seemed, well…selfish. I should think of myself only when completely necessary….or so I thought.
I don’t even remember when, but at some point I resolved to put the tape in and watch it. I did just that. It showed a group of people sitting on chairs in a half circle. The leader calmly gave the group directions such as “close your eyes”, “imagine…” It seemed more like meditation than anything else, and a little too 1960’s for my liking. I watched the entire thing, but I dismissed it as silliness.
Some time later, I began to have trouble with pain while sitting. I couldn’t make sense of why the left side of my bum hurt but not the right. I was seeing an orthopedist at the time so I asked him if he had any idea why this was happening. He suggested it may be because my legs worked unevenly. I found myself thinking about how I walked and how I was aligned while in a seated position. I realized I was sitting crooked. I curiously wondered why. Searching for a reason, I became aware that since my left leg doesn’t work well enough to bend at the knee (only swing forward while pulled by the other leg), the muscle on that side had shrunk and sits lower than the other side when I am seated. Yes, because I spent time evaluating how my body was working and the impact some parts had on others, I became aware of how I sit and stand in space.
Being aware of how my body parts work together matters for my well-being and can lead to increased comfort. How they do or do not align helps me determine what changes need to be made to posture, physical therapy exercises or other adjustments. Changes made, whether of my will or of making an adaptation to clothing or equipment can prolong my productivity.
Awareness isn’t so silly after all.