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woman practicing walking on crutches in green park and wheelchair standing in the background

On Crutches

One of my most favorite yoga instructors, Lisa Jo Landsberg – who appeared as a guest on this podcast – talked recently about the concepts of “supported” and “unsupported” poses. This was in the context of yoga practice, though as all yogic principles, I feel how this applies in life.

A human baby comes in to this world very helpless. We cannot even hold our heads up. We need full support.

Gradually, we grow stronger, and we let go of our supports, one by one. This is key – self-sufficiency doesn’t happen all at once.

Watching a crawling baby, we think that walking seems like a big step! However, once we are walking, a new goal comes into sight. Pedaling a bike seems like a mountain to climb.

There are levels of self-sufficiency, levels of being able to “hold ourselves up.”

In adulthood, we choose other supports. We may choose excess food, television, shopping, or myriad other “supports” to help us get through our days feeling like there is something to live for. Perhaps we know deep inside ourselves that there is something much bigger to live for, yet, if we aren’t in touch with that always (or even regularly), how can we live in radiant contentment without a crutch to remind us that life is beautiful?

This teaching opened my eyes because it taught me to see these supports as useful, to a degree.

One winter ago, I broke my leg. Boy, was I happy to have crutches! They were the tool that allowed me to go see my friends, attend events at my daughter’s school, her birthday party, and even teach yoga classes.

And it was a clean relationship. Once I was done with them, I was happy to let them go, perhaps to someone else who needed them.

The idea is – that crutch was temporary.

Like my pacifier when I was a little girl.

At the time, I couldn’t dream of living without it. I caused all sorts of fuss over it. I cried and screamed for days when it was taken away from me.

And yet, I never think about it now. I can live quite functionally without my pacifier.

The point is, we aren’t bad for needing crutches. There’s no self-blame needed.

When we are ready to release them, it will be because we have seen that there is something better out there – the freedom of walking, unburdened. Running, even.

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