Friday is one of my busiest days. Straight after I drop my kids to school I go to
Rusty’s market to buy vegetables and fruits for the week. I come back home,
unpack the shopping and then start preparing for dinner as I have to take the kids
to dancing after school. Soon afterwards, I have to leave home at around 1:30 pm
to be a reading volunteer for my son’s class...I think you’re getting the picture!
One Friday, I came back home from Rusty’s market. I grabbed an apple from the
fridge and started eating it for my lunch while I was walking down the stairs on the
way to get the shopping from my car. All of a sudden, I had stepped awkwardly
and twisted the outer edge of my right foot underneath the inner side which
resulted in a broken metatarsal.
I always think that everything that happens around us carries a very important
message for us - especially accidents, sickness or injuries. I was wondering what
kind of message I would get from my broken toe.
Just 2 or 3 days after I had the accident I received a book from my mother. That
book explained the simple way of Vipassana meditation. For some reason that I
don’t understand, I always seem to get an inspirational book just at the time that I
really need it. The book that I received from my mother said that we should
imagine that there is a live commentary running inside our heads which informs
us of every action that we take. For example, when we walk, we should talk to
ourselves; first step, right heel, instep and toe; next step, left heel, instep and
When I read that book I got a flash back of my accident. I didn’t do that at all. I
was eating and walking at the same time and my mind was probably thinking of
something else - such as what I should make for dinner for that night. I didn’t
concentrate on what I was doing. I was doing everything without consciousness. I
wasn’t living in the present. I knew that we have to do every single thing as if in
meditation. When we walk, we just walk. When we eat, we just eat. I knew that.
But I didn’t do it.
When I practice yoga I am learning to spread my consciousness throughout my
whole body. But, very obviously, I was not practising that in my normal life. I do
many things unconsciously. For example, when I change gears while I am driving, I
do it even without thinking.
The first message from my broken toe was that I should be living in the present
and that I should spread my consciousness throughout my whole body, regardless
of what I am doing and whenever and wherever I am doing it. Our modern lifestyle
is so often very busy. This is the reason why we should be doing this.
Four to five days after my accident I began to get pain in my left groin, the outside
of my calf muscles and in my back. This pain was much worse than the pain in my
toe. This happened because I could not walk properly and was limping all the time,
so the rest of body was trying to compensate. I was always conscious about my
posture. I always stand in Mountain Pose – when I am in the kitchen, cooking, or
even when I am waiting in a shopping queue - so my body started screaming. I did
some therapy yoga for that pain and it really helped me a lot. I realise now how
important it is to have proper posture and to always walk properly. That was the
second message from my broken toe.
Only 2 weeks have passed since my accident. I am still looking forward to
receiving more messages from my broken toe...
The Third Message from my Broken Toe
I mentioned, in the last newsletter, that I received two messages from my broken
toe. The first was that I should be living in the present and that I should spread my
consciousness throughout my whole body. The second was how important it is to
have proper posture. After I wrote the article, I was left still wondering how it was
that my toe became so fragile.
After finishing the Nicky Knoff advanced teacher training course last year I have
been practising the advanced syllabus 3 times a week for almost one year. Some
postures are quite challenging and tricky, such as the handstand series,
backbend series and head stand to chatranga dandasana. Although these
postures and sequences can be quite acrobatic, I have never broken any part of
my body before. I was confident that my body was reasonably strong. When I
broke my toe I hadn’t done any acrobatics or anything strange, I just walked down
the stairs and twisted my foot at the bottom. I was so surprised how fragile my toe
When I do yoga practice I spread my consciousness throughout my whole body.
This is one of the Knoff Yoga ‘Principles of Practice’: “Mindfulness”. That’s why my
body becomes stronger and isn’t fragile. When I broke my toe I wasn’t spreading
my consciousness, so I wasn’t aware what I was doing at all. This is why it became
fragile. While I was thinking about strength and fragility, I suddenly realised it was
another message...”Mindfulness makes us strong. Not being mindful makes us
fragile.” This is true for everything - not only our bodies. How I treat my body
reflects how I treat the world and my universe. For example, what I did to my toe is
often what I do to my children.
After my children come back from school the busiest time of day begins. I cook
dinner and both my children start telling me about different things that happened
to them during the day...at the same time. I am chopping vegetables in the
kitchen and pretending to listen to them, but really I just keep saying yes to them
and my mind is not actually paying much attention to them. This is exactly the
same kind of situation as when I broke my toe. I am not paying attention to them
in a mindful way. If I do that to my children, they will feel that they’re not getting
my undivided attention and, therefore, feel that they aren’t being cared about and
become sad. If this continues, they might even feel that they are not loved. Lack
of love makes them very fragile and, in the end, they will be broken – just like my
toe. If I concentrate on listening to them with mindfulness, without doing other
things, they are satisfied and feel that they are loved. That feeling makes them
stronger. If I do everything for my children with mindfulness they feel they are
loved and become stronger.
I misunderstood what love is until just now. I thought loving something or
someone is doing something for them. But if I want to love something, or
someone, the only thing that I need to do is do everything with mindfulness. For
example, when we grow plants if we do everything from digging the hole, planting
the seeds, covering them with dirt and watering them with mindfulness, they will
be very strong plants. We can love anything in this universe by just doing
everything with mindfulness. This is the third message from my broken toe.