Blessed healing journey

Sunset2 Dec 3 2017

A couple of friends recently commented on my ability to tune into patterns opening in my body.  It’s always nice to hear, but initially I didn’t give it much thought.  Last night, however, I was reflecting on this long healing process in light of their thoughts and noticed how I’ve mostly considered it and written about it as torture.  Now, I often look for the up side and I’ve written posts indicating some positive thoughts, but over all I must admit the general misery and discomfort of unwinding muscles and sleepless nights for the most part fill my focus.

Suddenly I could see more blessing in it.  Not only that the process has forced me to pay more attention to my body than I ever would have given it.  Not only that I have been able to mark progress on many fronts even while many people don’t quite believe healing in this form is happening.  But also a blessing because I seem to be on a very unusual path in this whole unwinding/healing muscle thing and I’m seeing that I’m in the privileged position of being a path finder.

When I first began complaining of fatigue and issues with my muscles, western medicine was swearing up one side and down the other that neither chronic fatigue nor fibromyalgia existed so their diagnosis was that I should see a shrink.  Period.  Alternative practitioners began providing answers and naming the two major issues they found [fyi: when western medicine acknowledged fibromyalgia they also defined it so my symptoms didn’t seem to fit although alternative therapists have often felt my muscles and said I have it…].

According to my first serious therapeutic massage specialist every muscle in my body was wound up like a steel cord, all the muscles in every muscle group were glued together and the groups were also glued to my bones.  Eventually, after many of the larger and surface muscles were in much better shape and most unstuck from the bones, another practitioner saw and helped me realize the underlying intertwining and complex patterns remaining in the smaller and connective muscles.

I’ve been at it for three decades. Some practitioners have been dismissive of what has gone before because they felt it should have all been resolved quickly – and then they failed to resolve it.  I had to accept a long time ago that my muscles were in trouble at a level that was way beyond most practitioners and too complicated to resolve speedily.

It has taken many types of body work, inventing my own exercise program (combining the Psychophysical Method with yoga), emotional release work, past life work, ancestral healing work and more to reach a point where I can see the light at the end of the tunnel pretty brightly.  The process has taken me deep within, led to multiple transformative experiences, taught me a huge amount about how we hold onto the past – not only our own but our past life and ancestral pasts as well – and changed the trajectory of my life dramatically and overall I would say for the better.

After a few decades of being told by one practitioner after another  they’ve never seen this, that, or the other thing as bad as my… psoas, neck, hip, whatever, I know most people don’t have physical issues of the same magnitude.  I also know from learning to move and to observe how others move, that millions of people walk around with tight muscle patterns interfering with their movement, their ability to process emotions, their capacity to feel energy, etc.  And I feel as though talking about my journey and process might help some of those people to open some channels and pathways for their own lives to receive more healing.  In fact, I hear every now and then from someone who says it has helped them take better care; what a great feeling.

As I survey this history, I feel this glow of blessing.  For once, instead of viewing it only as a burden I have unfairly had to bear, I can see the Universe entrusted me with an unusual but important journey and what a gift it is that I have been able to explore all these nuances and share my experience.  Which is not to say I won’t be back whining about my uncomfortable muscles or being kept up all night 😊  But more than ever I also feel gratitude for being sent on this journey of healing.

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The long haul

Screaming it out

I was hunting around today for a post I apparently never wrote, trolling through the first couple of years of blogging.  Looking back always seems to be a big reminder of how incredibly long the muscle problems and the crazy unwinding face/head muscles thing has been going on.  I feel a bit ridiculous because I see myself always expressing the hope that the healing is just about complete.   And incredulous I could have spent this many years, so much money, so many hours of my time on healing my muscles — and it still isn’t over.  So, spoiler alert, I’m whiny…

I’ve mainly only “talked” about the unwinding head portion here.  To those who’ve followed for years even that story probably seems long …  and the unwinding actually started about 7 years before the blog.  The head piece was just the final puzzle to solve in a much longer quest for healthy muscles that started in the mid-80s.  The tightness and pain, etc. that led to the quest had been present for years before I started realizing I had to do something.  By the time someone noticed the muscles in my face and head were blocking the final stage of healing the muscles in my body, most of the major muscles in my body were actually in pretty good shape; you know, except the ones being held in twisted patterns by my head.

For the last several years I have felt more debilitated by all this than at any point before — even when far less healthy I was better able to function.  Something about this head thing — and maybe the weariness of how very many years it has taken — has just been too much.

Today I postponed yet another outing I’d looked forward to because I was awake all night with my face being yanked.  [See here for a little video displaying what you can see of the process from the outside.]  Because I haven’t been able to contribute (compounded by stockmarket issues and bad management), my mother and I are facing some very tough decisions about our future.  I don’t get how I landed here…  And it just feels like too much.

Thanks for listening.  I’m sure I’ll meditate and do yoga and restore balance yet again…

 

The Sense-sational Challenge: sensing the physical

Linda over at litebeing chronicles issued a challenge for this month, to write about our senses and the joy they bring.  I actually put up a post a few days ago on scent and realized too late I could have saved it for this.  In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about the senses and segueing into thinking about my healing journey and how it has helped me to “sense” into my body more minutely than ever before.

And I started thinking about how numb most Americans are to their bodies and how interesting it is that it takes a kind of “sensing” to be aware of your body and what it needs and yet we don’t have a “sense” for that added to the usual list of five, nor a word for it.  It has me thinking we SHOULD figure out a name to call it and then promote using it.

In fact, in the long slog of healing my muscles, one of the blessings has been the growing great awareness of my physical being.  As I hung around thinking about the senses during a week when I’d thrown off my wrist, arm and shoulder by overdoing it with holding a mouse and scrolling on my phone, realized how important it is to be able to tune in to our bodies.  Long ago I’d have been in pain for days without realizing what caused it or doing anything about it.

I quickly realized what I was doing that had thrown the muscles and ligaments in my wrist so far out of whack, then started doing my triggers of release work to ease out the pattern in the muscles and started wearing a wrist brace when I’m dong a bunch of research on the laptop or phone.  But the sense of my body is so much more than just registering what’s wrong.

As my healing as progressed, I can feel a tingle in my body when I eat something good for it.  I’m hyper aware of how much all the sleep deprivation of recent years has impacted my ability to function and how much it helps to sleep when I can.  Years of practicing the triggers of release and yoga have loosened my spine and hips so when I walk I’m aware of an undulating, flowing movement when I’m relaxed.  If I walk more stiffly, without that flow, I’ll soon have pain in my lower back.

Awareness has brought such a heightened sense of my physical being and the importance of taking care of it.  I’m having trouble finding the words to describe how much difference it has made to keep growing my awareness of my body and how it feels and what helps it, etc.  Sensing into my body, noting anything that seems sore or out of balance, etc. has become a regular part of my life.

Healing my body has been so tied to healing my emotional issues and to opening my connection to my divine being, I wish I could convey to people how much it would change their lives to know their bodies, to “feel” their bodies and to keep them in good health.

So I think we should figure out a word for the “sense” of our own bodies.  Something conveying an ability to tune in and “know” what’s going on just as clearly as we “see”, “hear”, “feel”, “smell” or “taste” and identify  aspects of our world and our lives by using them.

Next challenge post will be here.

Dungeon Prompts: Mission Statement

I’m running behind on everything blog lately so I’m just getting to last week’s Dungeon Prompt and will try to do better with the one that went up today…

If the journey of your life could be boiled down to a particular mission, what would it be?  What has been the primary focus or purpose of your particular birth?  You may believe that all of life is on a big picture path, but I’m asking about your particular journey.  Is there any lesson or goal that has defined the majority of your life?  What is your life’s mission?

Lately this is a good question.  As my long healing journey has progressed I’ve felt less and less sure that any notion I’ve had about my life’s purpose reflects why I’m really here.  That’s a work in progress.

In my youth and early adulthood, I would have unequivocally told you “music”.  My elementary school dreams involved Broadway or being in the newest movie musicals.  Around the time my interest moved more into jazz and rock I realized my beloved Hollywood musicals were pretty much over, so maturing tastes dovetailed with facing reality.  Through those years I also wrote short stories and poetry and pondered a secondary career possibility as a writer.

In my twenties I tried to revive the music love and was lead singer for a band for a short time, but it didn’t work out and I was slowly realizing my many years of studying classical voice left me with a voice that didn’t really fit the style of music I wanted to do.  More important, I could see I didn’t have the kind of “push” it takes to make a big music career.  Scrap that mission.

Having become radicalized in college I put a lot of thought into having a career that would make some kind of difference.  I wound up in law school, which I hated, and then in a short-lived career as an attorney fighting against nuclear power plants.  My writing skills landed me the job of writing all the motions and briefs for my office.  I liked winning those cases and the feeling of having helped to do something good but loathed being a lawyer.  My zeal to be a public interest attorney of any sort died; end of that mission.

In the meantime I’d taken up yoga and meditation, earned a teaching certificate for yoga and regularly spent weekends taking classes on various spiritual topics.  I started putting together a whole toolkit of quick, easy-to-use techniques for reducing tension and using them every day to keep the angst in check.  When I decided I couldn’t take the law I decided to teach stress management.

Around the same time the health issues I’d been fighting for some time turned out to be chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia and I reached the point where continuing on a normal work path became impossible.  The next decade-and-a-half was spent juggling between trying to heal, continuing my spiritual and personal growth journey and trying to work as much as my ill health would allow.  I tried stress management, mediation, working as a proofreader and editor for a small publishing company, working part-time for the Institute of Noetic Sciences, wrote a novel, and more.

Throughout these years I kept seeking a career path that felt right for me but none of the hats I wore seemed to be a perfect fit and the health issues interfered increasingly with keeping any kind of regular work schedule. I wound up teaching yoga classes and for myself re-working Robert Masters’ Psychophysical Method into specific sets combining his certain of his triggers of release with yoga.  It made major inroads on the fibromyalgia issues. When I realized the power of this movement work I taught more classes using that than straight yoga classes but have never felt it’s my calling to teach movement.  So no mission statement for that except that I’d like to make it available through recordings so others can be helped by it without me having to be the cheerleader.

Eventually some years back I realized the healing had to come first.  That having the energy and the wherewithal to develop any career had to come first.  Eventually as I’ve worked through not only the physical side but also emotional, ancestral, and past life issues related to the tight muscles I realized that for now this healing journey IS my purpose.  And, since I know we are all one, each a part of the whole, I believe my healing helps others heal too.  So I’ve thought of healing as a mission.

I feel very drawn to work for peace and it has informed much of my blogging.  I designed workshops on the “Journey to Peace” but never managed to market them well enough to draw students in numbers  Put on the back burner while I’ve worked hard to complete the muscle issues, the draw is there but not a sense of “how”.

In these turbulent times my sense of wanting to be peace, to be a voice of peace, to impact world peace in some way has only grown.  I’m drawn toward creating a career path that brings the many things I’ve learned over the years together in service of peace.

But this path has meant letting go of so much of who I used to be and led to so many questions about who I really am, what I really love and what I’m really here for that I have no sense of the mission statement for the next phase beyond “serve peace”.  In many ways I see this desire as a maturing and transforming of my earlier desire to do public interest work and how that desire was born of the hippie protests, etc. of college.

So much is changing in me as my body changes, I’m content to see what feels right when the healing process winds down.

Dungeon Prompts: Where the Wild Things Are

Flushing Park

This week’s Dungeon Prompt:

This week’s prompt is:  Where the Wild Things are.

Tell us all about one of the more wilder things you’ve done in your life that looks a little out of place when put up next to the rest of your life’s journey.  Or take it in another direction and tell us about your monsters, or demons.

For most of my life I’ve been pretty inhibited and very conscious of “good behavior” so I’m afraid there’s not much in the way of a wild story to tell. I would say my demons or monsters have largely been internal…  Well, there was that one boss but I think I’ll just let that story go 🙂

I think the most dramatic moment in the process of realizing how much I’ve stood in my own way came in 1990.  It was the year of my 20th high school reunion.  I didn’t go but one of the organizers collected updates from much of the class into a small “book” and we could buy a copy.  After getting mine I decided that I needed to visit, something I’d not done since my parents moved away in 1980.

In downtown Flushing MI

High school was a miserable time for me and I spent graduation day grinning with glee and giddy because I would soon get to leave.  I blamed the town and the school and a bunch of people in the school for my misery.  Over the years my anger and contempt never dimmed.

By 1990, though, I’d been meditating and exploring my psyche for 5 years and when I looked at the book full of the lives of my classmates I felt a shift begin.  So I booked a B&B in a nearby small town and took myself back to Flushing, MI.  I wandered familiar places.  Drove into Flint–having not been back since GM pulled out, a shocking view of decline.  And hour by hour I realized Flushing is a really lovely, really nice little town.

I breathed it in.  I cried.  I grieved for the good times I could have had if only I’d gotten out of my own way.  I remembered the kindnesses of the many nice kids with whom I went to school.  I acknowledged that some of the snotty, mean kids really were snotty and mean 🙂  And I didn’t have to take their mean remarks personally.

And I had good friends there, a couple of whom are still in my life.  As well as a larger group of girls who always invited me to the slumber parties and birthday parties.  I felt so miserable and “outside” I couldn’t perceive the degree to which I’d been included.  And I could see it was my own neurotic introversion that left me dateless and the wallflower who was never invited to a school dance.  Not one.

When I saw clearly how much I’d been the author of my own misery, I felt the whole history change.  My journey through my own roster of demons and monsters turned out to be in early stages at that point but I think that journey home opened a vista for me, revealing how much it changes everything when you change how you think and feel about it.

About 12 years ago I suggested a trip back to my home town to my mother, who was beginning to have trouble negotiating sight-seeing type trips.  She still had quite a number of good friends left in the area and I thought it would be a good idea to visit while we could still see them.

She reluctantly agreed and I led the way, feeling like this was mostly me doing it for her.  But we both had such a good time that we’ve been back every year since (till this one; Mom is not in such good shape to travel…).  The change in perspective I made so long ago served well to let me see and enjoy with new eyes.  And I treasure every visit we’ve made.

I’ve since worked at sorting through my long list of negative beliefs (still a work in progress) and beside my own childhood issues, discovered some demons bestowed upon me by ancestors and past lives.  Every moment of seeing and letting go opens a place of light and transforms my world.

In the meantime, the spiritual teachings I’ve followed have led me to believe there are never monsters “out there”.  Whatever I see that seems wrong or off in a situation or in someone else is there because of something in me.  So now I ask what I hold in me that creates a vision of monsters in the world.  And then I say the ho’oponopono prayer.

My latest magnetizing forces

If you’ve been following for a while, you know I’ve been trying to do practices toward which I’m drawn instead of setting up a practice and doing the same one daily no matter what.

Back after the election I started a regular practice of saying the lovingkindness chant and then added singing the Gayatri Mantra and Om Shanti Om.  I remained very faithful to that one and for quite a while it drew me as if I needed it like breathing.  Then I started also being drawn to do the short version of Yoga Nidra on my much-loved Swami Janakananda recording, Experience Yoga Nidra [after falling in love with this one I tried quite a few other yoga nidra recordings; none have the same script I love on the short one and the long ones leave out big chunks that are in his].

This practice has been particularly good for me in another spell of not enough sleep since you do this one lying down and it’s short enough I can stay awake all the way through.  I’ve also been loving the variation on alternate nostril breathing which takes up a fair portion of this short one – another one of those things that’s been just what I needed.  So I started alternating this with the chanting.

I lost track of who recommended this Patricia Cota-Robles meditation/affirmation, but I’ve pretty routinely played it as I go to sleep for several months now and sometimes I’ve let this substitute for chanting or yoga nidra.

Lately I’ve been drawn in yet another direction after YouTube kept putting the meditation below near the top of my suggestion list for a week or two.  The final kicker was when Sindy, of bluebutterflies and me, left a comment on one of my posts, including a link to — you guessed it — the same meditation.  I said, “okay, Universe, you don’t have to hit me over the head,” and tried it out.  I really like it.  I’m factoring it in several times a week; I’ve also tried a shorter one from Steve Nobel on the chakras and plan to try out some more.

I find this very powerful although I can’t tell you some “real life” manifestation; I just feel powerful energy forces throughout my body during it and for a long time after.  Just feel very drawn to it right now.

And of course there’s another Deepak/Oprah 21 day meditation event that started this week so I’m trying to do it too.  Some days I manage both one of theirs and the Steve Nobel, other days just one…

Checking in, gratitude and joy

Two or three years ago, when the BeZine was still the Bardo Group, one of the folks (sorry no longer remember which one, though I think Terry Stewart) wrote a post suggesting that we find a partner with whom to do a text check-in every day.  In this check-in you were to say how you’re feeling and what your intentions are for the day.

When I posted it on FB, a long-time friend suggested that we do it.  Since I don’t “do texting” we settled on daily e-mails and my friend proposed adding three gratitudes.  While we miss days here and there, we’ve very steadily kept up the practice, supporting one another through various trials and on our spiritual paths.  I look forward every day to seeing her check-in, following along with her daily life so much more than I’ve been able to do for years (we’ve lived in different states for the majority of the 40+ years we’ve been friends) and in a way that strengthens our bond at deep levels.

I’ve been working for some years on improving my consciousness of gratitude –more specifically noting what I have to be grateful FOR — and this daily practice has been really good for me to add to my habit of waking up and saying thanks for something and generally trying to note and be thankful for the good stuff more.

While I like gratitude practice and find it subtly boosts my sense of well-being and feels good, I’ve never had the sort of grand, magical transformation of life that many who tout gratitude practice imply will ensue.  I see its value in quiet ways and I believe in its worth as part of a spiritual path so I’m pleased to be doing the practice — but not blown away by it.

So when I recently watched Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday with Sheryl Sandberg*  I sat up when they spoke quite a bit about stopping to find gratitude and joy.  It intrigued me to note they talked of them interchangeably but that to me they felt different.  My friend and I have both been working on allowing ourselves to be happy — a struggle for both of us — and to spend more time feeling happiness or joy.

As I contemplated gratitude and joy, I felt sometimes they would be the same thing for me (and everything on a joy list would belong as well on a gratitude list) but there are many things for which I feel grateful that don’t necessarily inspire me with joy.  One example I’ve used is utilities (electric, water, etc.).  Aware of how much of the world is lacking one or more of these, I feel very grateful to have them but they’re a little too ordinary to me for me to be beaming with joy because the lights are working (there might be a side debate as to whether I should and I suspect noting joy leads to feeling joy about everything).

I proposed adding “Joy” to our daily check-in and she readily agreed.  I can’t speak for how she’s feeling (though indications are good 🙂 ) but I am finding a much more transformational shift happening by thinking about joy every day.  Since playfulness and joyfulness, etc. are hard for me to experience, the conscious practice of noting joy is bringing it forward for me.  I’m spending far more time feeling up and positive as I find joy in many places.

One day as I tried to switch from a sliver of soap that broke to a new bar of still-wrapped soap–while soapy and in the shower–I kept dropping everything.  At first frustrated, I was muttering, “damn, that’s slippery” when I burst out laughing because, you know, “imagine, wet soap is slippery”.  Then I noted the joy in the laughing and realized small, silly things are enough — and that made me feel joyful.  My friend dubbed it “goofy joy”, which just seems perfect.

I highly recommend finding a check-in buddy with whom to share a mindful tune-in every day — and I really like our additions of gratitude and joy.  If you struggle at all to find the happy, you might find a “joyful” practice to be more transformational than gratitude.  I’d sure be interested in hearing other people’s experiences!

*I”m linking there but they’re taking it down in December, so this will go dead at some point.  They seem to keep changing their minds about how long to make these available and whether to let people embed them.  At this point I can’t find an easy way to embed and since they’re not leaving it up it didn’t seem worth pursuing…