Tidal Basin


Germination Detail Part III, by Leslie Shellow

contemplations about what stays in the net

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Yoga in Cuba







A Cuban’s day hangs in a constant state of flux. Will the bus arrive? If it does, will it stop in the same place it did yesterday? Abel gets out of his rocking chair and assumes the position of a baseball catcher with a mitt. He shifts his weight from one foot to the other, looking furtively in both directions. “This is me, waiting for the bus,” he laughs.

Any number of things can go wrong in a given day. Perhaps there are no tomatoes in the city, or the bank has closed unexpectedly, or the line to pay a bill is well over two hours long, a bill for which the average salary does not cover, making forays into the black market a daily necessity. 

Yoga doesn’t purport to solve the problems; rather, it provides a lens through which to see differently and deepen our capacity to be present with what does appear. The wrinkles in a day become a landscape to traverse, reflective somehow of our own inner struggles. Doing yoga with Cubans is a lesson in how to survive, how to connect with each other, and how to find joy despite unreliable outer circumstances. And all of this is possible because of a particular brand of humor that becomes the warp and weft of the culture, binding people to each other and carrying them beyond the crisis of the moment.

***


What can we learn from people isolated by politics and circumstance for so long? What have they developed inside their already existing culture of Cubanismo that helps them not only survive but thrive in an ever-changing, unpredictable world? What works when outer things do not function? What inner resources do they draw upon in order to flush acceptance, love and joy to the surface? These are lessons available to learn in Cuba from Cubans.

Eligio and I walk down a busy street in Centro Havana. It is Valentine’s Day, and the entire nation, it seems, has stopped short to celebrate. We have just come from wishing his son, and the shoe maker, and the lady next door a happy Dia de Valentin. We have hugged and kissed them and shouted and reveled in the street. Valentine’s Day, they tell me when I look confused, is about loving life. “If you can’t love life, you can’t love someone else.” This, by far, is my favorite Valentine’s Day to date. To top it off, we have hot chocolate at a cafĂ© because everyone else does.

And because everyone is shopping for each other on this day, we decide to buy tea cups, and this is when the day collapses and we need to find a way to repair it. Tea cups are $1.75 in Cuban convertible pesos which is about the equivalent in U.S. dollars. Eligio, like most professors, doctors, lawyers, waitresses, taxi drivers, and teachers, earns $20 a month. He is outraged at the price even though I have offered to pay for the cups; it was my idea to begin with. His were cracked and leaking. The rate at which most Cubans consume coffee combined with the sheer number of people who casually drop by his apartment to talk each day and drink coffee, made the purchase logical. His grumbling is heard by all the customers and by the cashier, who rolls her eyes in agreement and packs up the cups in a makeshift box she creates by taping bits of cardboard together. “Do you have a bag?” he asks. She burrows around for quite some time before producing one. This seems a small victory for him as bags are hard to come by and he will use it later at the vegetable market.

We leave, deflated a bit from our Valentine’s high, though outside on the street, horns are still honking and people are still hugging. As we cross onto the sidewalk, an enormous bus, a medieval caterpillar, creeps up behind us, one wheel lifting the heavy beast onto the edge of the sidewalk. Instinctively, we move over, thinking it an accident, but the bus drifts into our space, the back wheel now fully rolling where our feet should be. “No, no, no, no, no, no!” cries Eligio, edging out of the way. I can’t help but laugh. There is so much to complain about. Yet, I propose – and he listens – that we try to create a different reality by not complaining.

“If we put a different energy out there, do you think we might experience something else?” I ask. But maybe these laws of attraction don’t work in Cuba and like does not produce like, and no matter how much positive energy we put into the world, a bus will still climb onto the sidewalk and push us to our edge.

Eligio pauses and considers my query. He knows I’m talking yoga and he wants to agree.
“Okay, we choose our lens and change our experience.” he says. I nod. We keep walking, our sliver of sidewalk eclipsed almost completely by the still-moving vehicle. Just as Eligio passes the door of the bus, the bus stops, sighs loudly, and the door opens, hitting him squarely on the shoulder. “NO, no, no, no, no!” he yells, his mountain of “no’s” a peaking, troughing wave of frustration. He looks at me and there is a held moment between us and I have no idea where it will take us.

All at once, we burst out laughing.

“You know that’s because you complained,” I say when I catch my breath. He’s nodding, laughing, smiling, crying, and for the rest of the day, el dia de Valentin, he does not complain. There are moments we are both tempted for sure, but each time we think of the bus, we dissolve into fits of laughter, our Cuba now one of our own creation, and all I know is that we feel better laughing.


Eligio speaks of his idea of experience. “These are vivencias, Sarah. Lived moments. There is no such thing as experience.” Eligio explains that the word experience locks you into a samskaric etching of sensation, feeling, and response, and often a fear that things will be relived in exactly the same way. Vivencia is a more freeing concept. It connotes the possibility of newness. Each lived moment is just that, a moment. One can never really live that time again exactly the way it was; so, by definition, each moment carries the potential for a completely novel understanding. 

My mind wraps around this concept. How liberating it would be to simply not expect things to be the same as they’ve been in the past, even if they look like they’re heading in the same direction. Is this concept uniquely Cuban or does it come from Eligio’s thirty years of yoga practice, a place he’s arrived out of the necessity to believe in the possibility of change? And then there is the bus, and his loud, forceful braying in the face of inequity: No, this can’t be, again!

Without the constant bombardment of information from television, cell phones, and computers, there is space and time to arrive in each moment. There is no lack of connection nor a sense of loss for not having access to devices; rather, devices become words, gestures, shared circumstances, and, of course, coffee.

***

Maria is a microbiologist. She spends long hours gazing through a microscope lens. She is young. She is healthy. But for two years, she struggled with neck and back pain. Now, as we talk outside of Eduardo’s class as she waits for her boyfriend to finish his practice, she tells me yoga saved her life, emotionally and physically. “I even believe now that there is a spiritual part to it but I can’t explain what that means yet.” She says it has been a year now and she is pain free. Before practicing yoga, she did not understand how to hold herself. “I go to work and I feel fine. I sit differently. I am always aware of my posture and I’m stronger now, too. I think everyone should try yoga, no matter what field they are in.”

Abel Duran, too, has also been bitten by the yoga bug. He hopes to become a teacher some day. I first meet Abel on the MHAI yoga retreat, a collaboration between Canadian yoga instructor, Natalie O’Connell, organizer, Christine Dahdouh, her Cuban partner, Alex and Cuban yoga instructor, Eduardo Pimentel. A group of Eduardo’s students have arrived at the beach in Tarara to share in a yoga experience directed by Natalie and Eduardo. Abel is glowing. His infectious smile makes everyone giggle. Though he humbly claims he has tight muscles and is just a beginner, the next moment he spontaneously slides through the sand in bare feet into rajakapotasana, his front leg extended and his back foot cradled in the crook of his elbow. I rush to take a photo before the sea dissolves his pose, dousing him with tongues of water. Before long, he is on his back again, lifting Maykel into the air, his feet on her sacrum, as she arcs backwards and catches her ankles with her hands, forming a perfect circle. Then, he is running down the beach with Yariley on his back, spinning her around until they both collapse in laughter. Some of these yogis have never met before, but I don’t find that out until later. For now, they all seem like very old friends.

When he slows down to rest, I ask him how he became involved with yoga. “I got into yoga because my girlfriend at the time was really into it. I mean she was vegetarian and got up at five a.m. to meditate and do pranayama. Her whole life revolved around yoga. But I wasn’t ready for her. No, not at all,” he laughs. “She was zipping past me on the highway and I was just chugging along. But I will always appreciate that she opened that door for me.”

Abel works as a free-lance gardener. His job requires him to do a lot of physical labor. Yoga has helped him stay flexible and strong, but beyond its physical benefits, yoga has given Abel a sense of seva, service in the world. “I used to be really self-absorbed. It’s embarrassing to think of. I went to school for history and I thought I knew everything,” he smiles wryly, remembering a past he has trouble relating to now. “I do yoga every day, and I’ve even got my new girlfriend into it! I’ve passed along the gift I received.” He grows quiet, gazing across the sea, and I wonder where he places himself on this lineage of self-study. “There is so much need for yoga here in Cuba. Every couple of months, we collect clothing and toys and art supplies from our friends and we go to a remote village in Pinar del Rio. I love teaching the children yoga poses!” he laughs conspiratorially, “ but I don’t tell them they are doing yoga. I tell them it’s a game. “ He pauses. “It is, isn’t it, though? Making our bodies into different shapes.”

Later, I invite him and his girlfriend, Claudia, over to Eligio’s house for tea. He wants to show me a DVD he has made of photos and videos of the village in Pinar del Rio. “Show this to Christine,” he tells me. “She has extra art supplies she's giving us, and I want her to know where they are going.”

I ask him more about his service work. Half way through the conversation, I inquire how they get to the village. He casually mentions that they take a bus for four hours and then hike into the wilderness for another four hours, carrying the items in with backpacks. I stare in awe of this man and his thin, bright girlfriend who smiles at me with what I take to be shyness; but as it turns out, she has a lot to say, she just uses few words, as if content with simply being. Abel, on the other hand, fills the space with multiple stories, which he constructs like tightly-knit buildings in a busy city, each overlapping and relying on one another for support. He does not focus on the arduous journey into the village; rather, he delights in telling me about the waterfalls and the hot springs along the way.

Once they arrive in the village, he tells me, they stay with families in small wooden and cement houses with dirt floors. The entire family sleeps in the same room, Abel and Claudia included, and they stay up well past midnight playing dominoes and teaching the children new concepts with the toys they’ve brought. “We take in things like plastic dinosaurs and different kinds of animals and we makes games with the children, asking them what they know about these creatures and how they survived. Everything is about learning something new because they are so isolated.”

Abel and Claudia have a dream. They want to buy land in Pinar del Rio and build a sustainable community. Already, they’ve installed a composting toilet in their tiny apartment in Havana and they’ve planted a vegetable garden on the patio. They show me photographs of their apartment. “Where is the bed?” I ask them. Abel points to the mat on the floor. “We sleep there. It’s easy. We just roll up the mat in the morning. We could buy a bed but we’re saving for other things, like our trips to the village and constructing our sustainable apartment. We figure, if we can do it here, we can show others how to do the same.”

Back to their dream. Abel and Claudia want to invite people from all different faiths and beliefs to come to the community and learn how to live with the land. He knows the people he’s met in the village have this knowledge. He also wants to create a space for yoga and meditation retreats. “It’s all about sharing what we all know and learning from each other,” he says. And they’ve got the village on their side.  

“But how will you get the money to do this?” I ask the question that baffles me in this place where people don’t have enough for the bare necessities let alone to fuel a dream like this.

“We’re saving every month. We live with my family as we’re renovating the apartment. And we save a little bit here and there.” I still do not understand completely how he accomplishes saving money, myself, a school teacher who had difficulty saving enough for this trip to Cuba, even as I live with my parents, too, right now. I decide it will be an inquiry for another day. I would rather know more about Abel’s yoga and how it nourishes his dream.
 
***

In Eduardo's class, we work on Warrior III for twenty minutes. It is not my favorite pose, but over time, because that is what we have in Cuba, I begin to explore it in a new way. I never paid such close attention to the pose, secretly hoping it would be a brief stop in the sequence, but we are here in Cuba and riding out the difficult spots is part of the recipe; so, somehow, Eduardo picks me out of the entire class of breathing, sweating, balancing warriors to demonstrate the complexity of the pose. I am now certain he gravitates towards my resistance, trying to smooth over the rough edges of my distaste.

“Now, Sarah, lift a little more here,” he points to my inner thigh, “and soften,” he takes two fingers and touches between my shoulder blades which miraculously release and spread apart on his gentle command. Energy I had no idea I was holding floods my body, making me feel warmer in the already warm room. “Ah, that’s it. Look,” he says to the students in the room. “You see that?” They nod. “Now, stretch, Sarah, but not with such effort – stretch with ease. Don’t try so hard.”

I had tried so hard to get into this very room – the months of saving money, the hours preparing documents, the days researching how to come, who to meet, what to write, the almost-missed flight…And Eduardo was giving me permission to release now, to sit back on the shore and be lapped by the ocean of my own consciousness, by what I had asked of the Universe: Help me get to Cuba and practice yoga with her people.

I never thought ease was possible in this previously abhorred posture, but I was flying, I was holding my own weight, and it wasn’t so heavy after all.

“Okay. Other side.” That is when I realize I have two sides to my body, and all my resistance comes flooding back. These are vivencias, I hear Eligio say in my mind, lived moments. I am determined to make this side a new lived moment. Even in February’s respite from humidity, we are sweating. We propel our arms towards one another. I sense the metaphor heavy in the air: these Cubans and this American balancing on one foot, reaching towards each other as we struggle to stay grounded, one foot on land, the other in the sky – floating, diving, expanding into the space between us through effort, but mostly through deep surrender and a modicum of faith.

“Thank you. Thank you,” I say to Eduardo after class. He hugs me. With his arm still around my shoulder, he draws me in close and kisses the top of my head. “You like our Caribbean style yoga?” he says. “It’s different, no?” I nod. I am well aware of the shuffling around me as one class leaves and is replaced by a new group, the youngest of whom appears to be about six years old. I want to linger and ask questions and take photos but another day will have to claim those activities. In the end, I will never take photos of Eduardo’s students full of beauty and grace and smiles and struggles. It doesn’t seem right to document this deeply personal act of union with a photograph. Instead, I will return on a quiet day when Eduardo has more time and I will sit in the breezy studio with Eduardo and talk for two hours while his white cat, Siva, weaves in and out of our conversation. In the end, I will take a photo only of the empty studio with the props neatly arranged in the cabinet, the blankets folded and ready for use, the blocks and belts and the chairs: “Your gift to us, Sarah!” Eduardo points at the chairs I had donated.

No, yours,” I think, remembering how he poured my body over the chair for a supported savasana. “Your gift to us, Eduardo.”

I take a photo of Eduardo with Siva. They carry the same squinty-eyed expression of delight and contentment. In the end, I lie down on the dusty tiled floor where I lay earlier in savasana. Through the arched and intricately grated window, I see a lime tree abundant with fruit and leafing out a vibrant green against an intently blue sky. A bird lands and issues a few notes before hopping into the studio through the bars. I think: No separation, only union – the outer world of Cuba coming in because it must, and there is no attempt to keep it out.



Monday, September 15, 2014

Succotash

I am house and dog-sitting a divine place with a huge garden out of which I am eating constantly. I taught a yoga class today about the garden - remember that adage about how you teach best what you most need to learn -- well, it was all about harvesting what is in your garden now, rather than trying to make things out of pineapples which are from Hawaii, for God's sake. Okay, that's paraphrased. I am really trying to see what is in front of my eyes, on my plate, in the ball field--in short, what is here. It is easier to complain about what isn't.

Today, I took the dogs down behind the house. Once you open the gate, the landscape becomes a forested hill diving down toward a talking stream. We (I, really) tripped over tree roots and slid down sandy patches until we reached the stream, which invited the dogs in for a drink. Gabriel became wilder and wilder until he found himself crashing with abandon through a stand of bamboo. I thought he was chasing a deer but was reassured by another dog walker that there were no deer, only small rodents. Bamboo is easy to crack without effort. So, Gabriel was chasing small rodents through the stand of bamboo and I can only imagine he was doing it because he liked the symphony of breaking branches.  Imagine. I wonder if he felt powerful flinging his body weight around, tearing through the tall tiny trees, a golden body knocking about a screen of green latticework. I called him out because I was scared. Just as he was having his fantasy of his life being the greatest hunter incarnate, I was fantasizing that he was being chased by a rutting buck, antlers poised to skewer his soft, ridiculously flailing body. And I had to back off and stop being overbearing (and judgmental.) Because nature has its way with us. We are not neatly packaged into any one reality. Gabriel's hunting spree was just as real as my fear he was being chased. And ultimately, nature has the last word.

The mid-September garden is dolloped paint upon a fading green palate. Orange and yellow Scotch Bonnets, grass green jalapenos, evergreen poblanos, rust-colored Romas, the thick, orange of cherry tomatoes, and the mulberry eggplant. Each of these vegetables is a remnant of a season past. I eat them to remember the long daylight hours of summer. I eat them to remember the warmth of those days on my face. I eat them not to forget where I've been. I hope they will nourish me as the nights grow cool with exhaustion from the summer's bountiful production.

It is the cusp of fall. I look at what I have in my garden right now: a succotash of my own heart's longing for adventure, the fear that I and those I love will not be safe in the world, the discovery that I create the story in which I live, and the power of imagination. I wonder what will be on the table for winter.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Stilling to a stop. Now my yoga begins. Who knew?




I have been wallowing in a sticky place for too long. I received my Yoga Journal in the mail today-- my own, self-addressed recipe for depression. Look how I’ve become such a raw nerve stretching out into the world. Events in my life have caused me to deepen my yoga practice without movement. That almost sounds appealing. But still. Still… the glowing skin, the thick long hair, the short, cute cuts, the organic riding boots, the avocado mango salsa, the smiles, the couples who have found love through yoga. These all are parts of me that haven’t happened yet or maybe never will. But everyday, I can honestly say, I am in love. The object of my love, the origin of my love, is not human. I have been practicing yoga for 17 years, so what, and I have been practicing yoga all of my life. Haven't we all? Six years ago, I packed my things into the Volvo and drove to Santa Fe to deepen my practice. Now, if that doesn’t sound like Yoga Journal material…

In the desert, I did deepen my practice. I can’t go into it now because, like any hole dug deeply and with intention, the strata hold too many stories to tell. I do know this: I didn’t slow down enough to feel my practice. And my life, unfolding upon my insistence, glanced off my hot skin and did not penetrate. I wonder now if I thought that was Liberty. Eventually, I burned through layers of what held me back, only to find my body slow itself, then break, then still itself; no movement. The place I now inhabit does not bend, stretch, or fold. The place that has no pain has no postures. This place is where the yoga now begins.

I sit with my breath and my mantra each morning. My dog patiently waits for his walk. I can hear him sighing. He hates the flame as it catches and burns the camphor. He hates the camphor’s smoke as it burns in his nostrils. He can’t wait to be outdoors chasing squirrels. I sit. Shiva is the last thing I see before I close my eyes; then, anything is possible. I course through conversations, lists, and dreams. A line for my novel arrives. It will wait if it means business. I coax my mind back to the mantra. I think of paint colors. The mantra. I feel it burn a path inside my body that distinguishes it from the fantasy I am having about true love. I follow its crooking finger and its gentle whisper until I am around the bend, and for a second, I am nothing.

I wake up. My shoulders hurt. I tell myself that this is where the path begins. I tell myself all I’ve been preparing  for is now. I tell myself if I am to be of service to others, I must understand the movement I long for in my stillness is the doorway I have been looking for all along. And still…

I admire those who know that pain is free fuel. By writing this, I have skimmed the surface of what I really want to say. I wonder if I will be brave enough to try again. I wonder, breathe in, if I will in-spire: take spirit inside; breathe out: let spirit leave, and make room for a different kind of flight.

Thursday, January 16, 2014



Downtown.

The rogue wintering chickadee
            comes in for a crash landing and takes off again
           
And who are you to not wonder
            how feet so small can carry a collection of feathers
headstrong into a north wind?

A hop

            A leap

                         A simple run.

He clears the bushes in his bumpy flight
and you with your wire-rimmed glasses and red-rimmed eyes
secretly wishing you could do
the same.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

How Observing the Comings and Goings of Emotions can Lead us to Joy

Today, I stand in wonderment at the ephemera that are my emotions. I just learned of this word, having suspected its existence all along. It means "a person accommodated, a house guest." I add to this definition my own meaning: one who visits for a moment, just passing through, unable to be fully caught, like silk slipping through hands. I think of Rumi's poem, "The Guest House" (see below this post) and watch again and again my emotions knocking on my door, begging to be invited in, sitting for a while (and sometimes up-ending the furniture), and then leaving just as quickly as they came.

Today in my healing, I followed the contemplations of The Pilgrimage of Peace near Harper's Ferry, WV, led by Br.Stefan Andre Waligur. This is a beautiful three week rolling retreat  (come when you may, bring what you can, offer what's inside.) http://friendsofsilence.net/event/2013/08/09/fifth-annual-pilgrimage-peace

I am following the lessons on-line until I can be there in person next week. I am particularly drawn to a contemplation of the Beatudes. Here's a clip that captured me:

"Again, there is the movement through the beatitudes, which are each a gate of initiation. And this deep knowing and learning to know, is part of that journey through the gates. First: the gate of poverty, of inadequacy, of loss, of possessing nothing. Second: the gate of grief, of letting go. Third: the gate of releasing the anger and grief and being transformed to gentleness (notice, this is not a gate of meekness and wimpiness — it is a fierce gate, but a transformed one—the lion that chooses gentleness) 

I am moved by the third gate.I know how very hard it can be to release anger and grief and alchemize it into gentleness. For me, it is a choice to remain still when my instinct might be to lash out.The feeling in my body is one of melting. A sudden warmth that permeates breath, muscle, memory. A decision to sit with what is being offered. What am I learning in my stillness and willingness to sit in discomfort and watch the ephemera come and go and come again?

My last entry for me had a twinge of anger in it. Perhaps at the time I felt it was righteous anger. And I belive there is such a thing, but when I sat with my feelings and became still, I discovered grief instead. There was no right being wronged. My friends who had reached out despite their family obligations, were only trying to be helpful. That I feel an outsider here is true. That I try too hard to listen to others here and watch their lives unfold in the service of being supportive, yes. And there is an imbalance, because I don't talk about what scintillates my mind and my heart. I wonder what holds me back. But today, I found a way to tilt the balance so I wasn't falling off. Today, and this is a day with more physical pain than most, I turned my focus to my dreams. The question was, "How do you know when you are ready to help?" and my answer to myself was, "You feel alone because you are looking outside yourself for someone to talk about the topics you enjoy. Now, is the time to reengage those conversations inside. Now is the time to step beyond the idea of helping yourself through juicing and physical therapy and meditation, though all are necessary and good. Now is the time to write with one hand, to build a business, create a website, point your heart directly into the center of this luscious glowing pulsing energetic earth, pull the trigger, and shoot.




The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
    translation by Coleman Barks
http://www.gratefulness.org/poetry/guest_house.htm

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Following Joy

Last night, I decided to take this joy project to the juicer and chemically shift my internal hormone bath (which worked! Yay, endorphins!) Perhaps in no small part because I had chemically altered what I thought possible, I got an unexpected call from a dear friend of mine who was up on business. In the past, he has given me body work in exchange for writing mentorship. Out of our exchange has come a lovely relationship that continues to expand in new directions.

Today, we met for lunch and a walk. Note to self:  joy
                                                                               descends
                                                                                       from hope.

Why did I have hope, sitting with this man at our small table in a suburban shopping center? It was because we spoke of the things nearest to our hearts: relationships, the nature of intimacy, our individual writing, and our attempts to clarify the work we do in the world.

It was also because there was no judgement, one of the other. And the topics we discussed were ones that keep me so silent in the suburbs for fear of judgement, for fear I will not find an acknowledging nod.

My voice grew deeper and more assured . My skin softened because I stopped seeking to feel understood. A dolphin out of water is how I've felt here and that feeling has kept me in sadness and kept me from expressing the all of me and thereby healing. It isn't that I don't have people who care, I do. But this is the suburbs, and people live far from each other and exist in their family units, which fit better into other family units, puzzles with no pieces missing.

To feel ''normal," to feel accepted, to talk of the grandiosity of love and its complications and not feel that my less than conventional desires and visions are odd in any way, brings me joy.

My friend helped me brainstorm website ideas for my writing business. I helped him figure out a title for an article he is writing about sexual surrogacy. In weaving together strands of our experiences, we created new pathways. Doing so took heart and curiosity and a willingness to skirt the edges of the unknown and dive in when the temperature felt right.There was no map.

We hike voraciously through the woods, my arm in  a sling coming merrily for the ride without complaint. All the while, brainstorming, brainstorming.

This is where we are, my heart/body/mind/spirit. When we get angry, it is because something is not right for us. It's our way of getting my attention. I've been angry, I admit, perhaps for having listened to other people's stories and for not having shared my own truth. I take responsibility for not expressing myself, but each attempt felt like lifting a boulder and I see now that I've torn both my shoulders -- my lifting structure -- for having tried too hard. There are places I can be the self I enjoy being ~ Brooklyn, Cuba, Ocracoke Island.

There was a time after the first surgery and then after the second, that I worked to be okay with what was, in which I made the best of my circumstances and displayed a courageous and helpful face.

Sometimes, a repeat performance is not necessary, especially realizing gradually, like poison on a slow-drip, that having three surgeries was not necessary.

Sometimes, it's our anger that gets us out and back into love again.




Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Healing Diaries (AKA: The Joy Cure)

In the muted skin of morning, I knew I would cry that day. Cry for the surgeries that hadn't worked. Cry for the dreams I thought I'd lost. Cry for the lies that had been told to my body, the ones I had believed. Cry for those who told them and, bless their hearts, believed they were true. Cry for the beginning of my healing.

It is evening now and night holds the sounds of cicadas close to its heart. I am all cried out. I have drunk my green juice and decided that it is up to me to heal my body. I am on a threshold, before which I listened to experts in the medical field and some in alternative health modalities. I still want them on my team, just the right ones who aren't afraid of death and so bow in awe at the feet of life. I need them on my side. But more than anything, I need me on my side.

And so my directive from headquarters (me) is very clear: I must follow each day my joy, even if it's only found momentarily in the forgetting of pain. I will track the process by which I invite my mind to discover and dwell in things that make me happy and I will watch how that practice affects the healing of my right shoulder from its third rotator cuff surgery, as well as my left shoulder and my left hip, which have tears in the labrum. I will also watch what my beginner's mind initially does in this process and where it goes naturally and if those places bring light or sorrow or anger or relief or desperation or helplessness or hopelessness or joy. And I will continue practices and add new ones to see if I can influence my mood and therefore my healing.

Mind Over Medicine, by Dr. Lissa Rankin, has been an inspiration and I have already seen results in my first effort: having the third surgery in Brooklyn with a doctor highly recommended by a dear friend. Stay tuned for a brief explanation of The Brooklyn Experiment. I write slowly just with my left hand. I think that means my right brain is running the show.

If I don't document this, I'm afraid I'll forget the intuitive healing power of the mind.