Illustration by Rachel Hess
Injuries in skateboarding are inevitable. The recovery process is one filled with anxiety and impatience because we all want to get back to what we truly love. But as we’re sidelined from skating, we all deal with it in our own way. Hannah Lee discusses a different approach to curing the mental blocks of healing.
I’ve always found skateboarding to be a form of meditation. During the summer months of COVID-19, I’d ride my skateboard for long stretches of time, focusing only on my breath and the present moment to cope with stress. The more I moved the calmer my mind seemed to be.
That is, until I fell.
I was speeding home to beat the rain when my skateboard came to a very sudden standstill and my body did what high school physics taught me as the only natural result – it went flying. After a trip to urgent care (where the doctor rather unprofessionally gasped with mortification at my wounds), I hobbled back home with bandaged legs and a recommendation that I see a plastic surgeon.
Over the next few days, I kept replaying the accident in my head, thinking of how I might have avoided it. I bounced between strategizing how I might heal faster and despairing at how permanent the damage could be. Illness, injuries, and other physical setbacks can force us to zoom in on the limitations of our health and the vulnerability of our wellbeing. When I realized that the state of my mind was contributing to the pain of my injury, I turned to my Buddhist practice to heal myself both physically and mentally. Here are some Buddhist principles that helped me cope.
Every time I had to clean and re-dress the raw skin on my knee and leg, I would swallow a scream and wince at the piercing pain. Control of my breath, a practice that is at the heart of meditation, helped me resist the urge to give that pain complete power over me. We may not have control over many different sufferings in our lives but we will always have control over our breath.
Meditation and breath work also helped me process negative thoughts and feelings of disappointment, frustration, and sadness that came with my injury. By focusing on every conscious and intentional inhale and exhale, I was able to simply observe what I was going through and recognize there was room to be kind and patient with these emotions.
REDISCOVER YOUR COMMUNITY
In the days following my accident, I found myself obsessed with doing everything in my control to heal faster and get back to skateboarding as soon as possible. I’d stay up late searching Youtube for videos on –
“How to heal scars quickly”
“How to dress deep abrasions”
“How to avoid infection from open wounds”
The videos were helpful but it was the comment section of each video that lifted my spirits.
“Completely scraped my back from a motorbike accident! Thank you for the helpful tips.”
“I got road rash from falling off my skateboard. The pain is a real bitch!”
“So scared that I’ll have scarring from my bike accident 🙁 Thank you for sharing this video.”
I had turned to Youtube for hacks on how to undo the damage of my accident. Instead the comments helped me grow more comfortable with the prospect that my body could sustain permanent damage, and knowing that others are going through similar experiences. Buddhism reminds us that we are never alone in our sufferings. Our pains are never unique and we can take comfort in knowing that we can turn to a community of people who have experienced the same thing.
REMEMBER THAT CHANGE IS CONSTANT
In Buddhism, we are continually reminded that change is constant. While we may be suffering in the present, that state of suffering will change. As it relates to injuries, our relationship with our physical pain will not be the same months or years into the future. Our attitudes will change. Our lifestyles may change. Even our injuries may change as a result of time. In short, nothing is forever.
Three months later, when I got back into the rhythm of skateboarding again I found that I was much braver than I had been before. I was a lot more conscious of my surroundings, my body, and my mind. My injury taught me to trust myself again and I found a new desire to skateboard more consistently and confidently.
Like Buddhism, skateboarding is a practice. The more you do, the more you learn and grow. In the act of practicing, you can face challenges and setbacks but it is important to remember that these contribute to a renewed appreciation of the process and a better understanding of your own self. Don’t get me wrong, injuries suck. However, in skateboarding – they’re inevitable. And yet, we can shift our perceptions so that they don’t define our experience or impede our joy.
This entry was submitted to Quell by Hannah Lee
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