Around 1am on July 10, Kelly and I were cycling home from dinner on campus with a friend. We were gliding down a steep hill on Guadalupe St when a white car pulled out of an alley in front of us. We couldn't stop in time. I hit the car and Kelly skidded to a bloody stop behind me.
My left knee took the entire impact. I couldn't drag myself out of the road and had to be carried to the sidewalk by a stranger. As soon as the initial shock and pain subsided, I realized I had two choices: feel sorry for myself and react negatively, or look for the solution.
Always be looking for the solution!
Immediately I started looking around at the people gathered. Why were these people suddenly entering my life? What surprise did the universe have in store for me?
As soon as I started looking, the solutions began pouring in. The stranger who carried me to the sidewalk turned out to be an EMT. He checked out my knee and declared no breaks! Then his friend came by, and he was a nurse! Another free consultation later, still no breaks! Next, the driver of the car that I hit offered us a ride home, since he had a bike rack. At least we didn't have to call a cab! All through the night and the next morning, the EMT texted me with instructions and kind words. Even though I couldn't walk, the pleasant synchronicities kept coming.
The outer world reflects one's inner world
Kelly and I knew we were a little too tired to be going out, but like petulant children who are having too much fun and don't want to nap, we stayed up anyway. When I'm tired, it gets harder to direct my thoughts and I lose some control over my experience (yes, that is a limiting belief I am working on removing...). As we passed through the fated intersection hours earlier, I had a vision of the crash. I knew it was going to happen. But this vision didn't come like some premonition out of the blue. It came as a reflection of what I already knew–I was too tired!
When the accident happened, we were "going too fast" to stop. It was an extremely literal reflection of our vibration that day, of "we're going too fast, we should slow down and rest!"
Recovery is all in the mind
Losing the ability to walk is horrifying, especially since working out is pretty much my favorite hobby. The day after the crash I tried walking and couldn't do it. So I tried just standing. And I could, a little. I was so relieved! I kept yelling, "I can stand! I can stand!" NOT, "I can't walk! I can't walk!" The most important part of my recovery was focusing on the things I COULD do instead of the things I couldn't.
Gradually, "I can stand!" became "I can play Astrojax!" I credit the Astrojax as my main medicine. They got me in the flow of play, and that flow washed over my whole body. Playing AJ was like inviting a current of well being into my body. "I can play Astrojax!" became "I can walk!" and soon that will become "I can run!"
Live in the Now
The day after the accident, Kelly picked up The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle for me from the library. This book profoundly changed my recovery as well as my entire life. The premise is that all suffering comes from the illusion of time. If we can stop our thoughts of the past and future and truly be present in the moment, we experience the joy of being.
All problems are illusions of the mind.
In the Now, there are no problems. As I was laying in bed with bags of frozen peas on my elevated knee, I had the choice of seeing my condition as a problem, or I could accept it as a solution. In the moment, when I wasn't thinking about how this injury was going to incapacitate me in the future, I had no problem. I could choose to enjoy the time to rest, the cooling sensation of the peas, the lack of pressure to do anything.
Only thoughts of the future made me uncomfortable. Only when I stepped out of the present moment and got lost in thought did the injury become a hindrance. In the Now, I could only bask in the pleasure of being alive.
I wonder what thought I'll have next?
The most illuminating concept Tolle presented was the "silent watcher" of thoughts. Tolle points out that we are not our thoughts–our minds are only tools. When we think we are our thoughts, we get lost in them, dragged away by them. But there is an easy way to disidentify from one's mind–simply ask yourself, "I wonder what thought I'll have next?"
Asking this question instantly removes you from the grip of your mind. When you are able to observe what thought comes next, you are accessing a higher dimension of consciousness. To identify as the silent watcher of thought puts you in the meditative state, and connects you with all of consciousness. You can only be the silent watcher in the Now.
Perhaps you have to read the book for the tool to work as well for you, but asking myself "I wonder what thought I'll have next" has become my #1 strategy against negativity. Any time I have a negative thought, I can step away from my thoughts and instead observe. When I observe, I don't judge or place value on the thoughts, because judgement and value are just thoughts themselves. If you find yourself judging the thought you are observing, you know your mind has hooked you again. Judgement is a thought.
Say yes to what is.
Tolle believes all suffering comes from the illusion of time. He equates the mind with time, because one cannot live without the other. The mind's natural state is resistance–that's why it's a creative tool. We are made up of well being but we come with this tool that can resist well being, and all of creation unfolds from there. I like to think of it as life being clay on a potter's wheel, spinning and spinning. But the tools or hands that shape it are like the resistant mind. They resist the flow, but they shape the clay. Without resistance, there would only be shapeless clay. Without the resistance of the mind, there would be no physical reality–only eternal, infinite well being. And that is why meditation works–it helps us realize that infinite well being is indeed, real.
When you say yes to what is, you stop your resistant thoughts. When I see dirty dishes in the sink, I can think "I hate dishes in the sink!" or I can accept they are there and move on. I only cause myself pain if I have a negative thought. When I observe pain or discomfort in my knee, all I have to do is accept that it's there and not bring up a ton of resistant thoughts about it. No more pain.
When you accept what is, the universe still knows what you want. Accepting what is allows the universe to bring you what you want faster, because you are not projecting a resistant vibration. Although I accept my current immobility, of course I still want to be able to run! But when I'm not constantly thinking negative thoughts about my situation, the universe can more easily bring me the circumstances I desire.
Find the flow in every Now
The Now is the only place you can find relief and joy. The Now is all we really have. Time is just an illusion created by the mind. Whatever comes your way, look for ways to flow with it. Look for the solution. Every Now moment brings new opportunities. One day I will look back on this injury and think "I'm so glad that happened, look at all the good that came from it!" But that can only happen if I choose to find the good in the Now.