“There once was a one-legged dragon called Hui.
“How on earth do you manage those legs?” he asked a centipede. “I can hardly manage one!”
“Matter of fact,” said the centipede, “I do not manage my legs.”
I couldn’t help but laugh when I read this ancient Chinese story told by Chuang Tzu. It reminded me so much of what I’m going through as I relearn how to walk correctly trying to manage my own leg.
“Heel Toe, Heel Toe!” No it’s not a dance step. It’s my walking mantra. I walk across the room one minute getting it perfect only to slip back to using my hip instead of bending my knee. I don’t even realize that I’m doing it wrong again. So I try harder to manage my leg. My steps become stiffer as I try to control it. “No! Like this my therapist shows me again “heel toe! You’re just thinking too much into it,” she says.
A patient getting treatment for PT at the same time puts his two cents in, “maybe you should put a shock collar on her to remind her every time she does it wrong!”
“That’s not nice!” I say.
When my session is over my therapist tells my husband to make sure I’m doing it right showing him the correct heel toe movement. “I try to tell her, but she yells at me.” Poor guy is just trying to help me. We both become frustrated at each other because I think I’m doing it correctly, but he has to keep pointing out what I’m doing wrong.
By now my ego is doing a number on me. “See how stupid you are. You can’t do anything right,” it plays in my head.
As I practice again In frustration I try to stop the negative defeating talk going on inside. Heel toe, heel toe I say over and again, and the mantra that it becomes quiets my thoughts. Suddenly I hear my knee telling my hip to get out of the way, but the hip wants to continue to protecting the leg. The knee thanks the hip for all its done to help it heal and get this far, but it’s becoming more of an enabler than a help now. The knee also tells the brain to stop trying to manage what it knows instinctively how to do.
Think of the trouble the centipede would have if another part of its body tried to manage its legs. It would lose its natural flow of rhythm. So I’m no longer trying to manage my leg, but instead working with my knee letting it figure out how to get back to its own natural flow of rhythm. And yes, I still use this mantra that helps in more ways than one, heel toe, heel toe not only gives me a sense of direction it also brings me back to the quiet of my soul.