Three Practices that Healed My Heart after a Traumatic Injury

I remember the exact moment — six months ago — that my life changed: the flash of excruciating pain, the shock and disbelief. I remember gripping my leg, as my yoga-teaching career flashed before my eyes. A distracted driver had crushed my right foot.

She was not a stranger. She was a long-standing member of my yoga community, a studio owner, and my teacher. She never apologized. All she said was “Holy f**k! I ran over a trainee!”

I was getting into the backseat of her car. As I stepped my left leg into her SUV, she started driving. She knocked me down and drove over my foot, completely crushing it and shattering all of my metatarsal bones.

Through my tears and pain, I asked for an ambulance, but the driver didn’t call one, nor did she call the police or the insurance company. We drove to the hospital. After three hours of morphine, the doctors told me they needed to do emergency surgery to reset the bones in my foot.

I went into surgery alone, and scared, while the driver left for lunch. I had a severe allergic reaction to the anesthetic. The last thing I remember is clutching my throat and telling the doctor I couldn’t breathe, then falling into a series of terrifying hallucinations. I woke up surrounded by ER staff, with a nurse rubbing my head. She told me that I had stopped breathing for over a minute.

Where do we go during these moments of trauma, and those that follow? What do we do when the people on whom we depend let us down? How do we begin to contemplate forgiveness?

My emotions were long and strong: anger, rage and resentment toward my teacher; sadness and loneliness in the hospital; grief at the loss of my physical ability.

In the months since, I’ve come to a strong level of acceptance, but I’m still working with forgiveness. I think of Jack Kornfield, who sometimes acknowledges “my friend, the enemy.” When I first heard that phrase, I thought, “Right. That sounds great, in theory.” And then I went back into my “story” and my cyclone of questions. “Why didn’t she call an ambulance? Why did she leave me alone in the hospital? Why didn’t she apologize?”

* This article was originally written for & published in Lion's Roar: Buddhist Wisdom for Our Time. Please follow this link to continue reading: