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Honoring the Pain in My Knees

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By Becky Schupbach

During most of last year, I experienced significant knee pain, to the point that I was often limping. When I got up from my desk at work, I would actually hobble for a few minutes.

The pain was so significant that I had several acupuncture treatments. I often asked my husband, Jeff, who is a Reiki master, to send me healing energy using Reiki. These approaches helped but only temporarily. I was on the verge of seeking help from an orthopedic surgeon.


Last fall, I began taking the Priestess Path Apprenticeship, a sequence of eight magical weekends over a period of nine months, led by my colleague in both Shadow Work® and Women In Power, ALisa Starkweather.

One of these weekends is similar to the Shadow Work® workshops that I run with Jeff in Kentucky and elsewhere. ALisa asked me to co-facilitate this weekend with her, which was a real treat for me, as I would be working with women who were becoming good friends.

Flying to Massachusetts, I wasn't without apprehension, however. I wondered how the pain in my knees would affect the workshop. I knew we would be doing a lot of standing up and sitting down, and I expected a painful weekend.

On Friday night, we gathered in a circle, and ALisa began a visualization. Since I had no other duties at the moment, I decided to take part with the other women. ALisa invited us to imagine that our Risk Manager was standing somewhere nearby.


In Shadow Work, "Risk Manager" is the name we give to the part of ourselves that is eternally on guard for risks or dangers that we might encounter. The Risk Manager's job is to keep us safe. Constantly on the lookout for threat profiles, the Risk Manager is the one who puts up resistance to new ventures or challenging situations. Sometimes it can be over-zealous in its protection, particularly if it is working with risk profiles that are out of date.

Often, we shame our Risk Manager for its resistance, or try to push ourselves past the resistance in order to accomplish something new or take on a new challenge. We believe that the best way to negotiate a new set of "rules of engagement" with the Risk Manager is to honor it for the part it has been playing all our lives in keeping us safe. By sincerely honoring the Risk Manager, we allow it to relax. We often find that it becomes willing to let us take even greater risks, with its blessing.


ALisa invited us to "step into" our Risk Manager if we chose to do so. That is, we could stand up and move to where our Risk Manager was standing and step into it. Once in that role, we could take on, and speak from, the Risk Manager's point of view as we imagined ourselves still seated in the circle.

Stepping in was optional, however. We could also remain seated and simply imagine the Risk Manager's perspective from a distance.

I chose to step in, as I felt I would have a more powerful experience if I did. As I stood up, I was painfully aware of my knees. I walked to where my Risk Manager was standing and imagined looking back at myself where I had been seated in the circle.

As I began to speak to myself from my Risk Manager's point of view, I was stunned to hear myself talking about the knee pain. I realized it was I, the Risk Manager, who was causing the knee pain. But why?

As often happens with a Risk Manager, I had only to accept that there must be good reasons, and those reasons immediately emerged.


My Risk Manager was trying to protect me from taking chances. My Risk Manager is a she, and she does her job with vigilance and determination. She resists changes in my life not because she wants me to fail, but because she wants me to be protected.

I had been contemplating making some rather radical changes in my life and in my work. The changes meant risking my financial stability. My Risk Manager was afraid that I would be without adequate financial resources for health care. She thought by introducing knee pain, she could convince me not to make these changes. And her plan, which had hitherto been completely unknown to me, had been working!

I thanked her for taking care of me, even though her method had been painful. I honored her for this way she'd been trying to protect me. In a sense, she had been living in my knees, and I imagined her there as I placed my hands on my knees and sent blessing energy to her with my own hands. I felt as if I were blessing her directly.


When the visualization ended, I returned to my seat in the circle of women. I was seated before I realized that my knees hadn't hurt as I sat down. The pain was gone!

It has now been almost seven months, and the pain has not come back, although I do sometimes experience stiffness.

Coming from a family trained in Western medicine, I have always been rather suspicious of psychogenic pain and the idea that I could heal myself with my own mind, or by channeling energy from some other source. I cannot explain what happened to me, nor can I explain it away.

I am naturally cautious and I certainly don't want to make any wild therapeutic claims for Shadow Work® or the Risk Manager visualization. I can only share my experience and tell you that I am deeply amazed and profoundly grateful.

At Women In Power, for which I am proud to act as Executive Director, we do a similar Risk Manager visualization and help each woman to get in touch with this wonderful, protective part of herself.


Becky Schupbach is a Certified Shadow Work® Group Facilitator living in Louisville, Kentucky. Becky and Jeff lead Shadow Work® weekend workshops in Louisville and elsewhere; see the Calendar of Events. Read more about Becky and Jeff.

This article originally appeared in our free email newsletter in July 2006. To subscribe, visit our subscription page.

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