Covid Gratitude 1

Gratitude

An interesting phenomenon has been occurring for me throughout the Covid-19 crisis — as the pandemic causes me to try different things, change old habits, rethink things, etc. I’m finding many reasons for gratitude. Haven’t decided if this will be weekly or randomly, but have decided to launch a Covid Gratitude series.

Immune Boosting

This one actually started before we knew there was a crisis, when my mother fell and broke her hip.  Because I knew hospitals are a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria, I took her a bottle of Aireborne chewables to take one daily and I started drinking daily (and then eventually every other day) glasses of the fizzy version.

We’d been bucking up for two months by the time the warnings started coming, just about the time she was coming home from skilled nursing.

I’ve used the Chinese anti-viral herbal formula, Ganmaoling, for years (close to 30!) to ward off colds and flus.  Long ago they used to put a preventive dose prescription in the instructions, 3 tablets, 3x/day for 3 days.  So as soon as she came home I put us through the preventive regimen.

Through the advice of some friends I also started us on elderberry gummies, taken every other day.  And I already have been drinking turmeric ginger tea every day for some years (and since Mom doesn’t like the tea, I make her a tincture she takes every day) — some studies have found it more effective than flu shots because of its immune boosting qualities.

So we have felt decently prepared for this crisis. The one time she had an in person doctor’s appointment after this started, we were stuck in the waiting room being sneezed and coughed on by a family of four who all had something. And amazingly neither of us came down with anything, which I attribute in part to our boosted immunity.

Feeling very grateful that not-such-happy circumstances led to us working on immunity before we knew there would be an emergency need for it!  And grateful that I know a bunch of alternative health/remedy stuff to assist. I’m not saying I think this makes us totally immune, just that I feel like we’re safer than we might have been and that gives me peace of mind.

Oy the hip

Psoas

As mentioned in the last post, long-standing hip issues arose in the midst of the trauma and drama of my mother’s broken hip.  Several people noted the irony of my hip at the same time as hers and wondered if it was some kind of sympathy– while I think there was some connection, it’s the other hip and I’d been having some issues with this old pattern for quite a while before she fell. I’m giving a bit of extra detail because these kinds of muscle issues are far more common than Western medicine acknowledges and many people aren’t aware of the ways these things get started or are exacerbated.

Going way back, I was born with a twist in my left leg.  Over the many years of body work on my deeply ingrained muscle issues, we figured out the origin point for many of the problems all the way up and down was that twist.  Then at 25 I was in a car accident that injured the ankle on that side and, undiscovered by brilliant allopathic medicine, a ligament was torn away.

The injury exaggerated the twist and the instability caused by the lack of properly attached ligament led to my left hip constantly going completely out of joint and lots of extra pressure on the now-even-more-pulled-out-of-alignment knee.  As a result I walked with a limp and many days it was so painful to sit I squeezed up the muscles on that side.  There are more details but that’s the gist of why I have a deep pattern in there which keeps recurring even though body work has largely released it. (and for the story of my leg straightening out see here)

Something in how I sit and sleep at home had been causing some issues but the exercises I do for my hips have kept it at bay.  Until I wound up sitting in one ergonomically-poor chair after another for hours a day in one hospital or rehab room after another.  Suddenly my low back had problems and my hip was more “out” than it’s been since the original issue. On top of that some releases in my muscles snapped a chunk of my psoas and groin muscles too far open too fast on the same side.  Because of the proximity the two began impacting one another.

Many days I could barely walk from the pain.  I looked into the “meaning” of hip issues and found both (1) moving forward too quickly — which seemed to perfectly describe the fast track of opening/releasing my muscles have been on and (2) mother issues — which made me LAUGH!  So okay, metaphysical reasons.  But ow, after a while you just want the pain to go away and screw the “lessons”.  I got this one though: barely able to move=enforced slowing down.

Realizing I’d started the issue by not exploring enough about how I was sitting and lying.  I’ve had to change the configuration of my odd “nest on the floor” style of seating because of the hip numerous times, so another change was quickly called for.

It also sank in that as my muscles have been sorted out, my many-years habit of sleeping in weird pretzel positions to accommodate the aches and pains had been segueing into sleeping more normally, including sleeping on my side for the first time, maybe ever.  I knew about the advice to put a pillow between your knees but initially I just moved onto my side in my sleep so… not conscious enough to grab a pillow. But I bought one of the pillows designed for that purpose and am working on staying aware enough to use it when I’m on my side.

In the meantime I’ve been trying to use the yoga and Robert Masters’ triggers that have kept me going all these years.  However, the pulled psoas doesn’t like moving and pretty much everything I do for my hips moves it.  So it’s been an interesting challenge to find balance in how and when to do what in order to keep releasing the hip pattern while not setting off the psoas.

Everything has been better since Mom came home and I no longer have to sit in the chairs for a few hours a day.  But both patterns keep flaring and the extra demands on me for helping Mom and rearranging and cleaning house (our twice monthly cleaners can’t come –social distancing for Mom) make both worse, so it’s been an interesting time.

Because of the long journey through muscle issues, I’m much more hypersensitive to chairs and muscle impacts than most people.  But I’d bet some of the really poor chairs I sat in have started off issues for many people who just didn’t realize at the time a pattern started from the uncomfortable chair.  That’s how they go.  Set a muscle or two off by sitting badly for enough hours and they settle into a pattern and then that pattern begins impacting all the nearby muscles.

I wish allopathic medicine would wise up and start teaching people to get something done (body work) or to do something (possibly yoga or Feldenkrais, etc.) as soon as an injury has occurred or they’ve spent a bunch of time in an uncomfortable position or doing a repetitive motion.  If you keep the patterns from settling in, you can avoid getting to the point of spending months or years trying to fix it.

In the meantime, thank goodness for the Robert Masters work; I’ve been able to do the hip releases just often enough to work probably 80-90% of the re-ingrained pattern out.  I find it hard to heal the psoas since it’s involved in so many of our normal movements, it’s constantly getting flared.  A bit of stretching to keep the pain from locking it up but otherwise staying careful about how much I move…

And then in the midst of all this broken (Mom) and unhappy hip stuff, enter Covid-19!

Hello Coyote

That ol’ trickster coyote showed up within a couple of days of my Determined Again post.  In the last 10 days or so muscle yanking left me with about 3 hours of sleep 5 times and another night a sudden 2 a.m. allergy attack deprived me of some more hours.

For the most part I’ve been pleased that, in spite of the disruption and sleeping later than the plan in order to sleep at all, I’ve still managed to drag up earlier than I had been.  It’s left the whole plan about early rising and re-doing the whole schedule of meals and drinking various things still constantly shifting instead of settling into the routine for which I long.

And today after 3 hours again and a number of things that went sideways, I finally threw up my hands on trying to force the new schedule.  It’s past 11:30 p.m. and I just finished by daily cup of turmeric ginger tea and am still sipping water, the final touch on a day of watching my new schedule go down the drain.

I knew when I started this shift it would be challenging given the muscle unwinding process has still not finished, but the muscles gave me a break in the first couple of weeks of the venture and I felt cautiously optimistic about succeeding sooner than I’d assumed.

Through much of the week I managed to remind myself I was still being earlier and managing a number of items on the shift to earlier list — if not as early as desired or even at consistent times, at least everything was in fact earlier.

I know with some sleep I’ll be in a better frame and one day of sideways won’t change the general trend,, but right now feeling a little down and very tired of coping with all this…

Sage Advice 1: balance first

A big part of my journey has involved physical issues.  I’ve mentioned my journey through alternative medicine occasionally and people have expressed interest in hearing about what I’ve learned.  So I decided to start occasionally posting “Sage Advice”.

When I first started having issues in the 80’s, western medicine held quite firm on insisting neither chronic fatigue nor fibromyalgia existed.  I knew something was wrong and when I grew tired of hearing them suggest I see a shrink, I turned to alternative medicine.

My first foray into the alternative medicine world was acupuncture, a modality I love and stayed with regularly for 15 or so years.  One of the things I’ve loved most about alternative practitioners is they always try to make sure I understand what’s happening and what I can do to help and my first practitioner, Chicago’s Jody Speckman (still in practice, for any of you in the area) taught me SO much.

One arena of advice has been on my mind a lot lately.  When it came to many things to do with what I ate or drank regularly, she told me not to try to stop cold turkey.  It’s mostly a path of frustration.  And the most unusual corollary:  as you move more into a state of balance your craving for the things that are harmful will naturally fall away.  She suggested I cut back as best I could but to let the desire fade as healing proceeded.

I’d always thought cold turkey seemed like a goofy plan and I was so struck by the idea that it’s more important to work toward a place of greater balance/healthiness.  In this case the acupuncture and a lot of horrible Chinese herbs made into “teas” were doing the work.

As you know, a whole lot of stuff was way off kilter for me, so it’ taken a long time to reach the place where I absolutely see the truth of her advice.  I’ve been slowly changing various dietary habits ever since I started seeing her, especially since she found I have mild allergies to wheat and dairy.  But it took years before shifting those habits combined with therapies to get toward that balance.

Lately, though, I’ve been noticing that I’m more naturally attracted to healthier food.  Not that I don’t still love some fried chicken or a chocolate sundae, but far more often I want something healthier.  And for the first time ever I’ve been drawn to eat kale-broccoli slaw or half a grapefruit for a snack instead of some dark chocolate or a handful of potato chips.

This change arrives at the moment when all the years of alternative therapies and medicines and my own spiritual and physical activities have paid off in feeling better than I have in years. Not sure Jody foresaw it would be 30 years down the road before I hit the place of balance to which she referred 🙂 , but it’s so true that when your health is in better shape you tend to crave more of the things that keep it healthy.

It seems such a kinder way to treat yourself.  I’ve watched so many people struggle with going cold turkey off of things and then feeling depressed by failure, a slower gentler approach makes so much more sense to me.  And then it’s so easy when you have improved enough to have healthier cravings.

So first advice:  work toward balance and then watch your habits change to hold the new, better feeling.

And the message is???

In this time of transition both for earth and in my life, I’ve been pretty silent on this blog.  Kind of hard to describe the fogginess that overtakes me every time I try to write up some thoughts…  A lot has been going on so I thought I’d do one of my catch-up pieces about this and that.

Pondering

I’m still pondering the “what am I here for?”, “what’s next?” questions that have been looming for quite some time.  I’ve been seeing how lots of seemingly unconnected steps along my journey are adding up to a greater whole for some time.  But lately I’m realizing it probably stretches on back to my politico college days and the studies I did on government and power (I’ll catch you up on that in a future post).  I still keep seeing a guide book on peaceful activism but I keep feeling there are more pieces to put together first and I’m prepared for change to march me in a different direction…

Body healing

The last few months have seen some significant, if slow, progress on the unwinding front.  The deep, deep places in my face that are opening now are connected to patterns throughout my body and the opening is leading to huge energy flows.  The huge runs of energy have a lot to do with my inability to pull together coherent thoughts and also interfere with sleeping.

I’m hearing that big energy shifts and downloads and weird physical things are happening for lots of folks as this is a big time of transition so I’m guessing it’s pushing my healing process along as well as impacting other levels of transformation.

This last weekend seemed to mark a moment of big shift.  On Friday I whacked my left elbow into the edge of a towel bar which has had it black and blue and, initially, swollen.  The next day, some spilled suntan oil in a store left me splatted on the ground, smashing my left knee and wrist as well as banging my left hip.  By Saturday night I had puffy, black and blue elbow, wrist and knee.

Having learned that it really helps to do the triggers of release work after an accident, I did a number of those exercises Saturday night.  I started experiencing pops and opening at way deeper levels than the accident could possibly have reached that quickly.  It reminded me of another fall, after which Body Patterning practitioner Hanna commented on picking up the feeling that I needed the fall to crack some things open. That’s exactly how this has felt.

Not only did things begin to open more deeply that night, but it has activated a lot of opening in those last, intertwined pieces in my face — the root stuff that has been slow and resistant to opening.  Now, I could do a lot of exploring about some message from particular places I injured (or look it up in Louise Hay 🙂 ) and I do find it interesting all the injuries were on the left (feminine) side, but I’m satisfied that cracking open was the point.

How long? how long?

Over the years I’ve often circled back to wondering why this healing process is taking SO long.  I first realized there were massive problems with my muscles and my health over 30 years ago.  I’ve practiced yoga, spent tens of thousands of dollars on body work, created a new exercise series for it and done countless of hours of energy practices not to mention the affirmations, prayers and visions…

While I’m aware there have been many lessons and I’ve learned a lot about my body I’d never have known without this long slow process, I’m again at a point of saying to the Universe, “Enough.  I’ve had enough.”  Way past the point of getting what benefit there could possibly be to 30+ total years and something like 12 years of just getting the muscles in my face and head sorted out.  Enough.  Not that saying “enough” seems to affect the Universe… 🙂

Love and Compassion

Meanwhile, still working at love and compassion and ever more convinced the answer for these times is to be love, be peace, be compassion.  I posted a Patricia Cota-Robles video a while back in which she leads a meditation basically for healing all humanity and bringing love to the world.  I’m posting it again below, just to make it easy if you’re interested.  I play it on my tablet as I go to sleep most every night and I love it.

Got to see Patricia in person at one of her free events last Sunday, which was SO lovely!  And I’ve been making my way slowly through a Ram Dass on line retreat involving videos from a real world workshop on transforming negative emotions.  Good stuff.

Still chanting as well as seeking out videos and workshops focused on the issues so dear to my heart.

 

Illustration unwinding head and update

Not even half way through the month and I already missed posting.  Started to do one last night and hit a fatigue wall — literally could not keep my eyes open, which lately can translate to falling asleep sitting on the floor with the laptop in my lap…  Decided to save the laptop and go to bed.

I woke up a couple of hours later with muscles yanking around and decided to change my post idea.  It’s been very hard for people to understand this “unwinding head” journey and why it would interfere with sleep.  I’d left my camera sitting nearby, so tried to get a shot while my face was in full-on unwind mode.  I’m not a taker of selfies, so please forgive the poor quality:

Unwinding head 2

 

Nothing you see there is voluntary.  The weird angles of mouth, the uneven nostrils, the yanked up eyebrows — all of that is one example of what happens when the muscles in my face decide it’s time to release a little more.  When it happens the process moves and shifts around, pulling my face into contortions much like the one you see here.  Sometimes this goes on for hours and hours; worst case has been 24 hours.  Does that help the sleep deprivation and difficulty meditating make more sense?

It’s reached a point where every small piece that opens leaves me feeling a degree of ease and comfort around my eyes and/or in my jaw that’s beyond anything I can remember.  It’s pretty exciting, following it step by step into freedom and relaxation.  Also kind of exhausting, restructuring my face.  And, when the muscles behind my eyes are really pulling, a little scary — they’re wrapped around the optic nerve, after all.

More and more I feel how deeply the holding patterns have impacted by emotional state.  For some years I’ve been trying to explain how I often have a sense of holding an emotional state that doesn’t relate to anything that’s going on in my mental state or my current feelings about life.  For all of you with TMJ or near-sightedness (see here for explanation of how that relates to muscles behind the eyes) or super stiff necks, those muscles need to open.

All that tightness blocks the flow of energy.  It affects how you feel on many levels.  Cranio-sacral work is a great way to open those issues; it was how the unwinding started for me.  Whatever modality works for you, I hope you find the way to open those blocks.

More on trauma release

Since there seems to be a lot of interest in the Trauma Release Process about which I wrote my last post, I thought I’d look into a little more.  One of the commenters on the first post mentioned finding a demonstration of the exercises on YouTube so I hunted a bit there (thanks to AThursdaysChild for the heads up).

There’s a nice video of Dr. Berceli explaining how/why the exercises work:

And I found this one that has demonstrations of some of  the exercises:

I’m still working with them so it will probably be a week or so before I’m ready to write up my version of  instructions.

The Eight Key Breaths. And pray for peace

English: Photograph of Edwin J. Dingle, Fellow...

Edward Dingle was a journalist and cartographer who lived for many years in China.  He studied with “The Sage of Singapore”, who sent him to study in Tibet.  It was there that he learned the Eight Key Breaths and the Five Tibetan Rites.  He changed his name to Ding Le Mei and when he returned to the States he founded the Institute of Mentalphysics, where he taught the Breaths and the Rites and his philosophy.  Eventually the Institute allowed a variety of spiritual groups to hold events there and required that each group teach the Breaths and the Rites to participants.  When I went through Nine Gates Mystery School in 1990 we held our second session at the Institute and learned those two practices.

I loved them from the beginning but at that stage the chronic fatigue and muscle issues were so severe that it limited how much I could feel their impact.  I was quite dedicated to my yoga practice–and really needed the regular routine just to keep some of my muscles in a tolerable place– and though I took up the Breaths and the Rites periodically I didn’t stick with them.  As noted in the last post, in about 2008 I decided it was time to practice them again.  By that time my body had opened up enough that I could feel their power much more.

I like to start my practice with the Breaths.  There isn’t a lot written about them and the information from Ding Le Mei is mainly a treatise on prana and pranayama practice with little info about the specifics of the way the Breaths work.  His instructions have been posted here so you can read what he had to say and see the pictures and instructions if you’re interested in trying the breaths.

As I’ve practiced, I’ve paid attention to the construction of the practice and I would add that I feel the pattern of the breaths buids energy/prana in particular areas as you hold and move and the movements help the energy to flow more forcefully.  The overall impact is increased energy but I think it opens some major pathways so that the energy you build moves through more of your body.

My touchstone in the last few years, as the muscles in my face and head have been s-l-o-w-l-y unwinding, has been increased activity in those muscles when I do practices that push more prana through the nadis.  The Eight Key Breaths have really built up energy in those locked up places and helped to push through those knots.

I like them as a beginning practice because they lift my energy so nicely that it gives me more energy for doing the rest of my practices.  I also feel that the enhanced energy then leads nicely into the chi gung practice.  Flying Crane opens major joints and helps chi/prana to flow throughout the body.  When I do the breaths first, I feel the chi gung takes off from the enhanced energy they create.  As the movements open my body even more, the already-increased flow grows more powerful.

After I started faithfully doing these three practices I experienced the most significant forward movement in my long journey to health that I have ever had.

LOVE those Key Breaths!

Collective Prayer Sundays:  In case you’re new, we’re finding 10 minutes at a minimum to pray or chant or meditate (or???) for peace every Sunday.  Details are on the CPS page.  For comments:  you can comment here or on that page or you can go to the Facebook page.

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Unwinding Head Update

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Facial_muscles.jpg

Superficial muscles & structures of human face, Patrick J. Lynch

Recently my mother looked over at me, watching my face contort as unwinding muscles yanked my jaw around and dragged at my eyes, and said, “I don’t know how you’ve stood that for so long.  I think a couple of weeks of that and I’d shoot myself.”  I didn’t know how much I’d needed someone to say that until she did.  This has been quite a ride.  If you’ve followed me a long time you know I’ve posted about this unwinding head off and on, sometimes providing info and sometimes whining

The unwinding has become a touchstone for me.  When I do a practice that builds energy I can feel the energy press through the nadis and assist a little more unwinding. When I do something like the ceremonies I’ve done to break the ancestor’s spell I pay a lot of attention to what happens in those muscles.  Both times I’ve done the ceremony the unwinding has been wild — and has gone to a deeper level in the muscles.  Still not done but I’m certain that the ancestor’s spell and the unyielding muscles in my face and head are related and that I’ve either ended the spell or seriously loosened its grip.

When I started the muscles were wound up so tightly, so tangled with each other, so glued together that as this has gone along I’ve periodically stared at various photos of the muscles of the face, trying to relate what I can feel to a sense of the muscles and until recently I couldn’t sort out one from another because they were too entangled.  I’d already spent many years of bodywork and yoga getting the muscles from the neck down sorted out from the same state: every muscle wound up like steel, all muscles groups entangled and glued together and glued to bones.  My first main massage therapist took over a year to get the muscles in my back unglued from my ribs.

I know it’s not always interesting to read somebody’s health issues but somehow this ordeal has felt like something I need to keep sharing.  Though most people don’t have issues as severe as this, I’ve taught yoga and movement and watched people’s bodies for long enough that I know the majority of people have issues with tight muscles.  I also know that nearsightedness, TMJ, and under-developed jaws are rampant (and many have more than one of those), doctors do little with muscles, and most body workers work from the neck down.  Only a few modalities address the head; the two I use are cranio-sacral and bodypatterning.

All those tight muscles sap energy and block the flow of prana.  Don’t let it go until it’s so bad it takes 20+ years to get it all sorted out as it has for me.

Ego Eradicator–Halfway Through

I’ve now completed the first 20 days of my ego eradicator challenge.  I must admit that I missed one day altogether and another day I got in the ego busting/mindfulness piece but didn’t have time to do the chant I added.  Otherwise I’ve stuck with it faithfully and that in itself for me in recent years is a milestone.

At this point I feel much much more energy and strength than I’ve felt in a long time. All that breath of fire tends to push enough energy into the muscles in my face that the unwinding has been almost violent at times.  The more my head opens up from feeling like a vice grip pressed in all around the more positive my thinking becomes.

I always have to chuckle when I try to evaluate what has created a change because I’ve used so many practices and practitioners over the 28 years I’ve been on this path.  In this case, some examples:  27 years of yoga, 15 years of acupuncture, 4 years of cranio-sacral, 3 years of bodypatterning, lots of Eight Key Breaths and Tibetan Rites practice, creating my own movement series to open my body…

And then, most recently the Break the Ancestor’s Spell Ceremony.  I think the spell started a big opening process and that the Meditation to Bust Through Blocks showed up on its heels to help complete the process but I also think all the previous years and the many layers previously removed were necessary precursors to arriving here.

So I feel the ego eradicator is quite powerful and definitely having an impact but I don’t know how much credit to give when I feel so many things have contributed to hitting this stride where I feel confident that I’ve got my health back (even though there are a few threads to tie off) and positive about what’s unfolding.

I know a few people were going to start using the eradicator — I’d love to hear what you’re experiencing.  Or if any others among you have done this at some point, what is your experience?

Worthiness–Less and More

Salty Being Peace

Salty Being Peace

Note:  my comment on yesterday’s Prayer for Peace is on the Facebook page.

A few days ago a post on Brenda’s Blog left me spinning and thinking and wow-ing.  She wrote that if you’re not healthy or struggling for money then you’re not feeling worthy — worth-less.  Since I’ve been dealing with my health for 25+ years and through much of that time I’ve hovered on the brink of financial disaster, it struck a chord.

I realized some time ago that the ongoing health issues are tied to the financial issues –in more than the obvious way that I can’t work regular hours.  But the notion that both conditions reflect a state of feeling worth-less isn’t quite a way I’d looked at it.  Not that I haven’t hit issues about self-worth and worked on them in this many years of searching but I didn’t realize that something that deep around those issues still held on.

I’ve been walking around thinking and whispering, “I’m worth MORE” ever since.  It’s been another example for me of the many ways this condition of twisted up muscles creating body armor has not only affected everything but also has symbolized some key aspects of my being and issues.  In the post she spoke of keeping ourselves small.  A goose bumps moment for me because years ago my very talented and perceptive acupuncturist commented as he put the needles in, “It’s okay for you to be big.  You don’t have to make yourself small any more.”*

Mentally since that day I have worked on that and affirmed myself as big.  But my feeling is that as long as my body has been holding a tight, SMALL core that’s been impacting my ability to actually be big.  I’ve written many posts about this long healing journey [in the search box on the right put in healing journey Monday if you’re interested].  And I’ve written about how it sometimes takes a while.

In spite of all that work and digging through my psyche, the self-worth issues seem to be present still.  It will take some digging to figure out the source though I think some strong “don’t be” messages have permeated many areas of my life and although I’ve examined that issue I don’t think I’ve found every place where it affects me.  I’m so grateful to Brenda for the post that helped me see this.

Sometimes the process of figuring these things out takes a long time and has many stages.  The first time I accidentally hit publish on this post it had a different ending about a “Slow Movement”.  I’ll be posting that one next.

* If you’re lucky enough to be in the SF area you can check him out in Mill Valley:  Raymond Himmel.  He also has a blog.

Following guidance down a long and winding road

Close to the end of my favorite walk here you hit this shady spot… ahhh!

For some reason I’m feeling an urge to tell the story of my “guidance” about writing and the twists and turns of it even though I haven’t reached some obvious conclusion –like, project became successful or project was total failure, etc.  This is more the story of a process and an exemplar of how following intuition can become a long and complex journey.  The creating reality and law of attraction teachings often imply that you pretty much focus your vision on something, think some positive thoughts and it will come to pass.  I’ve said before that I’ve found it often doesn’t work that way; this is a story that shows that process can go on for far longer than much of those teachings ever reveal.

I began studying all this “spiritual stuff” in 1985.  A couple of years in, in meditation I was told that I was meant to write and I received images and messages that indicated the writing would be very successful.  Since I wrote short stories all the time as a child and then became good at writing essays and briefs in adulthood, this seemed pretty natural so I started trying to follow a writing path.  Initially I assumed that the book would be about my spiritual journey and I began chronicling my journey [in which I assumed I was taking giant leaps forward into highest consciousness :>) ] in a book entitled “Peeling the Cosmic Onion”.  I struggled with it, wasn’t happy with the pedantic tone I seemed unable to escape and put it aside.

When I went through Nine Gates Mystery School (ninegates.org) I finally realized my hubris and humbly began serious study, feeling that I needed to know a lot more before I wrote a book that could serve as advice for others.  A couple of years later my kundalini experience began and I virtually channeled a novel, Echoing Ancestors.  I went through all the steps to get it published and worked hard to get reviews (got one great one), get it in bookstores, etc.  but all for naught.  Other than friends I don’t think anyone ever bought it.  I felt hugely disappointed but a meditation also helped me to see clearly that given the major health problems I still suffered at the time, I really didn’t have enough energy to match the size of my dream nor enough energy to do all that would be required if my book became bigger.

I loved being back in the world of writing fiction and fairly soon started a second novel, at which I worked diligently for quite a while and then it bogged down.  I could see that the creative writing spark I had as a child had suffered in the years of writing academic and legal pieces but I couldn’t see how to get back there.

Because of the book I started a web site and, having read that you should offer something for free to people who visit, I began to write “Insights for the Spiritual Journey” and once a week or so I put a new one on the site.  After a while when I asked in meditation what I should be doing to earn a living, I’d still receive the answer that I should write, but now in the form of “write the insights”.   I chafed for a while because I wanted to be told to write my novel but eventually I caved. For several years I kept writing the insights and posting the insights and having no readers and developing no interest in the novel.  Eventually, though, I’d written so many that I began to see how to thread it together into a book.  The next couple of years I still worked at other jobs and trying to get workshops off the ground but as much as I could I devoted time to editing and writing new material and organizing until I had a complete book, Insights for the Spiritual Journey.

I tried a couple of places that had been encouraging about the novel but got no interest.  I also did enough research to realize that the publishing game changed to include a requirement for new authors that you show up with a sizable market already in your pocket.  Since I didn’t have one I wasn’t sure what to do.  So I put the book aside and focused my efforts on my yoga and movement classes.  After a while I started having “insights” forming in my head again, but this time shorter and pithier and with a sense of humor.  I wasn’t sure what to do with them so I turned again to meditation and received the answer “start a blog”.

First I had to find out what a blog was.  I found WordPress and set up a blog and, again on advice of my meditation “counsel”, began to do two posts a week.  Which I read and a friend of mine read.  For six months…  All these years I periodically pointed out to the universe that if my purpose was to be alive here on earth and writing that it would be helpful if the writing provided a way to actually stay alive…  I usually received either silence or advice to trust and keep writing.  Sometimes I shook my fist at the sky.  After six months I was tired of posting into nothingness so I did some research on how to get people to read your blog which led to posting more often, subscribing to a growing list of blogs,  expanding the blogging life to hours and hours a week instead of a couple…  I got subscribers and made blogging friends and had more fun but still had no numbers that would be interesting to a publisher or that would attract advertising.

But after a year-and-a-half or so, I realized that in the whole collection of blog posts I had some themes on which there was a fair body of work.  I’d also begun exploring the e-book world and the relative lack of constraints (like getting rid of the 180,000 word minimum) and heard a story of a friend’s friend who wrote little metaphysical books for Kindle and received a $300,000 check for one pay cycle.  That really goosed me into thinking about what I could do with those blog posts.  In the meantime the manual for my continuing ed movement classes had grown too big to be copying and hauling so I learned how to work with Kindle in order to put the manual up so my students could all get it easily and cheaply without the clerical work from me.

I soon saw the first topic on which I wanted to do a little e-book.  I’ve also had some crazy little pieces that have kept floating in my head the last year which are soon to form a second e-book that has a working title of Saying No to Mr. Wrong.  The first one, which I’m working on here in Marin, is so far titled Relating Heart to Heart:  A guide to playing well with others.  I’m excited about them.  And I can see that all these many steps along the journey were what it took for me to develop a style that feels right and like me.  To gather the wisdom and insight to have things to teach that are actually helpful.

I also can see how my trust in the universe always had limits which was why I kept trying to take other jobs and teach yoga and then my movement classes.  And I have to wonder whether I might possibly have reached the writing style, etc. faster if I’d just trusted and followed only what I was guided to do.  But really I believe that it all needed to happen this way.  I feel very good about this little book.  My health is also finally good enough that I could do a signing tour or say yes to giving talks, etc. without facing a probability of collapse.  It’s about 25 years since I first received the guidance that writing was my path.  I’ve worn a lot of other hats and made my living doing lots of other stuff over those years.  I’ve grown and changed and become healthier not only physically but mentally and emotionally.

The recent blow up that finally has me focused on the writing even seems like a blessing in many ways.  I kind of wish I’d followed my intuition earlier instead of reaching the point where the universe felt like it needed to yank the rug out from under me.  But I probably needed that lesson too.  The point of all this is that I really believe the messages I received 25 years ago were true.  I also believe that I had a very long journey to accomplish in order to reach the place where the vision could become reality.  It’s possible that I’m going to discover there are some more lessons that have to happen but right now I’m excited to see what happens when the “Relating” book goes up in a month or two.   More important, I’m really enjoying the process of creating it.  And I promise I’ll be posting about it whichever way it goes…

Healing Journey Monday: the walking sway and your back

Microsoft Clipart MH900400345

My walking plan for this visit has been askew and for no particular reason, after having done some walking prep in KY first, I failed to take any sort of walk for days after I got here.  I’m not used to walking hills as daunting as these so I have a straight uphill walk that I start with for a few days.  Once I can get all the way up with reasonable ease I start making longer forays.  As I struggled uphill from my house sit yesterday I started paying attention to my walking and realized I was holding my hips stiffly.  I also noticed after 5 minutes or so that I was experiencing some dawning low back pain, which has become a sadly normal part of walking for me — and from comments I hear from others, it’s fairly common to many people.

Once I realized I was walking stiffly (like the straight up and down walk of the lady in the picture), I took a deep breath and concentrated on allowing the flow I’ve worked so hard to achieve get going (see previous post about getting the flow).  My hips began to sway and I felt my shoulders rotating separately from my lower back which had it’s own movement in between hips and shoulders.  And once everything began to move the way they’re intended to move the back pain disappeared.

Just a little healing observation for today.  Let your body flow and it’s less likely to feel discomfort from movement.

 

Veggies, school yards — floating an idea

Microsoft Office Clipart MH900144270

One major talent I have that I’ve probably not used enough is an ability to synthesize lots of varied pieces of information and find a way to put them together into some sort of new whole.  Sometimes I  put it to good use though.  Out of lots of reading about many things and watching news documentaries and substitute teaching, following environmental issues and exploring nutrition I came up some years back with an idea for edible schoolyard gardens that -at the time, at least (haven’t looked for what’s new lately)– had a broader scope than any projects I could find .  For a while I had a partner who was going to help me work on funding and start-up, etc. but life took her in a different direction and while I’m good at dreaming up ideas like this I’m less skilled at execution (especially in the proposal and fundraising departments; know how to do them just don’t like to)  so the idea has languished.   I thought I’d just lay the idea out in a post and float it out into the world where maybe somebody can make it useful.

My interest is mainly in putting edible gardens in poorer school districts though I think the basic plan can work for any school.  I’d like to see funds included to have nutrition, cooking and gardening classes for parents so that interested families can be impacted at home as well as school.  Since many school yards don’t have enough spare space for a garden large enough to feed a whole school every day, I’d add a community garden component that involves the children and parents as well as volunteers.  The aim would be to have enough crops from the community garden to not only supplement the school’s supply but also to have fresh fruits and veggies for the families of children to serve at home.

I know that school districts make a big deal out of the core curriculum and it’s tough to get that to change, but I think a curriculum that ties multiple subjects to the garden project could be created that could be fit within the regular curriculum.  Studies on experiential education indicate that children like to see how the things they’re learning can be applied in life and learn better if they can experience that application of learning.  I can see ways to tie in everything from simple math and health and reading to advanced math, literature, geography, biology, etc. so the schools could have classes within their classes at every level of public education.  Some of my grant proposal thoughts are to get some education profs to work with organic gardening experts on developing such a curriculum so that each subject could be tied to reality by a component related to the garden.

Many schools are too far north to have vegetables very much of the year.  Northwestern’s Center for Urban Affairs (which has since morphed) started a rooftop greenhouse project many years ago that friends of mine were involved in.  I’ve followed along occasionally over the years as it’s changed and grown with technology and I still think it’s an amazing way to bring fresh food to places without enough land.  The greenhouses also reduce energy use in the buildings so the schools could not only have fresh produce in the winter but also save lots of money on heating bills.

My most luxury component came from a series Jamie Oliver did about how schools in Italy provide nutritious fresh meals for the children on reasonable budgets.  I’d love for each participating school to fly the cafeteria workers to Italy to see it in action and then provide classes stateside to help them transition to use the harvest from the garden project.  If not the fantasy trip, then at least the classes –and maybe viewing the Oliver series????

I realize there are lots of pieces.  My thought was a given school district, if unable to get the funds for the whole things at once, could start with a basic plan in consultation with the Chez Panisse Foundation‘s Edible Schoolyard Project and then keep adding components.  I’d like to create a foundation (or see someone create) that would put the whole package together and do fundraising so that schools could come to the foundation and get assistance for funding and implementing schoolyard/community edible garden projects.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten.  All of this came with a bit more thinking and gathering than I’ve spelled out here so I may do another post or two to lay our some of my thinking about specific pieces.  I’m interested to hear suggestions.  Mostly I’m sending this forth with the wish that it may move out into the world and do something good.

This post is for Jenny Matlock’s AlphabeThursday which is “V” this week.

Healing Journey Monday: Flowing body, flowing life

weeping cherries

weeping cherries

With some nice weather finally arriving, I’ve been out walking lately, trying to get in shape for walking those steep climbs and drops in my old neighborhood in Marin (just a couple of weeks!).  As I walked along today I tried to stay aware of how my body was moving.  In these last five years since I developed the movement work I’ve been using and teaching, I’ve been slowly realizing how much more fluid my body is and that I had lost track of that flow as my natural state of being.

The more I release all the patterns and open my body the more I note that my back has lots of moving parts and they’re fluidly moving around as I walk if I let myself relax into it.  My arms no longer just swing like a couple of blocks of wood but have fluid motion in which the hand, wrist, lower arm, elbow and upper arm are all gently flowing as I move.  All the parts of my legs have their own part to play in the movement of walking.  I had been so stiff that I completely lost any memory of that kind of flow as my natural state.  And when I look around at the way most people walk through the world, I see very few who have any fluidity.  These days I’m sorry to even see that a lot of children are holding themselves stiffly by the time they’re five or six.

Hips, I’ve discovered, have their own special story in our society.  At around the same age (12 or 13 when I was young — possibly younger now) girls were told that swinging their hips was slutty and boys were told that swinging their hips was girly so most of us started tightening our muscles all around the hips and pelvis in order to avoid the slutty or girly labels.  Added to lack of exercise and too much sitting most Americans have practically frozen hips by the time they hit 30.  Those cultural admonitions run so deep that even though my students and I laugh about doing the slutty walk as we flow around the class room, we’ve found that in public we go back to walking stiffly unless we stay mindful of letting the opening we’ve gained stay in play.

When you can apply words like stiff, inflexible, tense, frozen and locked to your body, you can probably apply those words to other aspects of your life as the state of your body reflects the state of your emotions and/or suppressed memories and/or world view and/or your “stance” in life; in other words those words describe you in some way.  As I’ve felt the shift from being stiff and frozen to being fluid and flowing I’ve developed a theory about the Law of Attraction and how it relates to the body:  if the energy can’t flow through your body, it probably isn’t magnetized toward you from outside very well either.   In order to align your being with the life you want to attract it’s important, as many teachings assert, to have a positive attitude, but I think it’s at least as much about energy.

In Hawaiian Huna they talk about building enough mana (chi, vital force energy…) to match the vibration of what you try to attract.  I think an important part of the equation is opening your body so that your energy freely flows through.   In the Kriya yoga tradition as I was taught it, the main point of the asanas is to open the body so that prana (chi) and kundalini (divine energy) can flow freely–and it’s believed that you can’t ultimately connect with your divine nature unless the energy can flow uninterrupted.  Whatever your spiritual path, I think it”s impacted by whether you have a balanced and open body.

Walk around and pay attention to what you feel.  Do you have that flow?  Do the various parts of your body move easily in their own separate patterns as you move?  If you find stiffness and tension instead of fluidity, the state of your body may be a big block to whatever your spiritual goals may be.  Are you willing to do what it takes to flow?