A teacher took a group of students on a trip across country and ended up breaking her leg and getting a cast. She called me a day later to state her leg was hurting badly. I advised her to go to the nearest hospital ER and have the leg examined, as it could have been incorrectly treated. When the group returned, I learned she opted to continue on the trip because she wanted to wait until she returned home for follow-up, only to find out her leg had not been properly cast and she had to have the bone reset. Her healing took much longer than if she had followed my advice. It turned out she simply wanted to save money by waiting.
When it comes to exercise, I advise patients to look for subtle signs of increased exertion, more effort with breathing or slight signals of muscle fatigue, versus waiting for a pain to signal them to stop. In my physiology classes in undergraduate and graduate schools, pain is usually an indication of cellular damage. In a physical therapy course, one of my instructors said if you have to use ice after exercise to alleviate pain and soreness, the exercise is too vigorous.
Cultivating awareness may be as simple as paying attention to your environment, noticing how your body feels and making a decision to take action rather than doing something routinely without thinking. What do you make a conscious effort to notice each day? Do you notice nature? Do you take time to evaluate your energy level? Do you pay attention to which foods make you feel better and which ones make you feel worse?
Another approach to cultivating awareness is to use different sense organs to experience the world from different points of view. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? How does your body move? What tensions can you feel? How heavy do you feel? What speed of movement feels comfortable to you? What temperature do you notice at various parts of your body? How clear is your thinking? How does your skin feel? What is your balance like?
These are just some examples of ways you can focus your attention to improve your awareness. Who knows what sensation may prevent an injury, prevent an accident and may make life more enjoyable?
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