Friday, August 26, 2011

the Zen of a Torn Meniscus

It may not have been too bright but even though I was told I had a torn meniscus in my left knee, I went to the mindfulness retreat led by Thich Nhat Hanh and the nuns and monks from his corps of caring followers.

The retreat was held at the Rocky Mountain YMCA outside of Estes Park, Colorado. The Y is in an alpine valley, altitude circa 10,000 feet. Other than the floors of various buildings there are probably no flat walking surfaces.

This is not ideal for someone with a torn meniscus.

I had brought my cane and often would be able to get from place to place with no problems. But occasionally, with no warning, my leg would freeze in excruciating pain.

Whenever that happened, there was someone nearby willing and able to help. For the first few days the pain attacks were relatively minor and I could, with minimal assistance, could begin walking (very slowly) again.

One evening toward the end of the retreat, my leg gave out with more emphasis than before. Although it was a time of community silence, I told the woman standing next to me that I had a problem. She immediately moved to my left side and provided support as I tried to move. It took a while. When at last I could walk again, the walking was very tentative – small steps taken in slow motion.

We moved out of one building toward the path to my dormitory room. My assistant saw a friend coming the other way. The friend immediately grasped the problem and when assured that the two of us could continue on our own, offered to find some ice.

The distance from the meeting hall to my room was close to half a mile. We may have set the world record for the slowest half mile in history. But we made it. Ice bags were created. Both assistants told me the best way to use the ice and elevate the leg.

I listened attentively. It turns out that they were both occupational therapists.

How extraordinary. And how predictable. All those participating in the retreat had coalesced into a vigorous, peaceful community that, literally, emanated healing energy. Even if I had not heard Thich Nhat Hanh’s wisdom, I would have learned the power of compassion.

No comments:

Post a Comment