Savitri and Me

In the mid-nineties I took a lengthy class with a Sufi master that included some private counseling sessions. During one of those he stopped midstream, staring over my shoulder, and mentioned that he always saw the Goddess Savitri standing over my shoulder and wanted to know if I could feel her.

Well, no, not only had I never heard of Savitri, but I’d definitely never noticed an entity standing at my shoulder. He felt strongly that I should work on sensing into her and learn about who she was. Over the next several years I periodically ran internet searches on Savitri and also tried to find a small statue of her. I don’t know how many of you remember how incredibly primitive internet searches were in those days, but suffice it to say I could find very little.

Savitri is a Hindu goddess who is an aspect of Saraswati. She’s considered an inspirer of speech and word; since I’ve always been a writer and have a long-standing interest in questions of communication as well, it seemed fitting. But I couldn’t find much more. There’s also a mythic Hindu story of a Savitri who I gather was human and I just found the two different tales confusing. Any hunt for a statue of Savitri seemed to lead only to various statues of Saraswati.

I pretty much gave up on the pursuit of knowledge about her or a picture or statue and concentrated on feeling the link. Eventually I felt I had made a connection and have tuned in periodically to commune with her ever since.

Fast forward to recent years, when I’ve moved increasingly into chanting. Six or seven years ago I started a regular chanting practice in which I first spoke the lovingkindness chant and then sang the Gayatri, to which I felt very drawn. Then in 2020, early in the pandemic, Deva Premal and her husband Miten began doing online Gayatri sessions which morphed into a Global Gayatri Sangha with membership and an app and weekly Gayatri. I’ve been participating from fairly near the beginning and feeling ever more connected to the world of singing chants.

Imagine my surprise and delight a couple of weeks ago when Deva introduced a chant to Saraswati and it sparked me to look up Savitri for the first time in years, which led to discovering Savitri is also “Gayatri” and the chant we sing is considered to be Savitri’s. It felt like such a completion of a circle.

I also discovered it’s much easier to find information about her now and to obtain a statue if I decide I still want one. I still find a lot of the commentary confusing and different writers handle all the stuff about “aspects” of goddesses, etc. differently. Some writers consider the Savitri in a story in which she’s married to someone else and seems to be human as the same Savitri who’s a goddess and married to Brahma. Some don’t mention the second story. And the discourse on Savitri vs Saraswati and “aspects” is widely varied. So the connection to Saraswati remains hazy to me; some sources speak of them as if it’s the same being and some discuss the “aspect” thing. But the story of her becoming one with Gayatri and the chant being hers was clear.

I love how the Universe guides us along these paths and brings things together whether we “know” what’s going on or understand all the connections or not.

Some Savitri links:

Straddling the science line

The enormous divide over science wrought by the advent of Covid has left me in an interesting spot. I’ve not seen an allopathic medical doctor in 30+ years and I totally credit an alternative health path with slowly but surely healing ailments that, when I began, Western medicine insisted did not exist.

However, I always felt that allopathic medicine knew what it was doing on certain things. I used to joke that if I’d been in an accident and clearly needed a cast and some stitches, I wouldn’t tell the ambulance to take me to my acupuncturist. And I also think Western medicine has been pretty good at figuring out vaccines, so I had no problem about getting a Covid vaccine as soon as I could and I jumped on the opportunity for a booster.

But the arguments have led to a lot of ugly remarks about alternative medicine and I’m really disturbed by the ignorance with which so many assume “science” has everything right and that if big studies haven’t proven something it means it’s wrong. Acupuncture and many herbal traditions, for example, have thousands of years of history and, as both have been increasingly studied both are being shown to be effective. Yet even such studies have made very small inroads into the arrogance of allopathic medicine practitioners about the superiority of what they do.

Early in the 20th century, the U.S. had a fairly large array of homeopathic, osteopathic, herbal, etc. schools and a lot of people went to such practitioners for health care rather than medical doctors. A seminal paper by Abraham Flexner (who’d been a teacher, not a doctor) in 1910 promoted biomedicine and wound up having such an influence that biomedicine dominated and the thriving alternatives withered away. The Flexner Report of 1910 and Its Impact on Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Psychiatry in North America in the 20th Century

Perhaps my biggest issue with biomedicine is the lack of interest in actually curing people. The orientation is to finding drugs that will mask symptoms and without regard to possibly causing other ailments because of something in the drug. It ties people often to a lifetime of taking a drug– which means continually having to consult with the doctor to get renewals — and then having to take another drug to deal with the symptoms caused by the first drug, also endless because it masks instead of curing.

I will not be at all surprised if, somewhere down the road, an exposé shows collusion between the AMA and big Pharma on keeping patients tied to a lifetime of dependence on their “treatments” and continually adding on more problems created by side effects and drug interactions.

The approach of most alternative medicine modalities is to try to find the source of the problem and discover what combination of herbs, diet changes, exercise, etc. will get to the source and cure the problem. The process sometimes takes time — in my case, years — but leads to restoring optimum health. Suppression of Symptoms is Not a Cure of the Disease

I consider myself fortunate to have landed on the alternative path and I have allopathic medicine to thank for sending there. When I first started suffering extreme fatigue and pain in my muscles, the biomedicine community was quite sure that neither existed and told me to see a shrink. I knew something was wrong and had friends who were seeing acupuncturists, chiropractors, etc. so I got recommendations and set off down the path.

For me the whole story wound up being complicated by the eventual realization that all my muscles, including even the connective ones, were tightly wound around all my organs and glands. Initially none of the practitioners could see that, but their tests showed weaknesses in all the organs and glands and thus kept treating me on a rotating basis for those. Since they were, in fact, weak, all the herbs, needles, etc. gave me boosts that helped me move along but not the type of progress anyone thought I’d make. Once I focused on the muscles and getting the complicated patterns released, everything started improving.

I’ve spent years seeing brilliant practitioners of many alternative modalities and all have contributed progress to the long, slow process of restoring my health from being so exhausted I slept 16 hours a day and then was so weak I couldn’t stand up through a whole shower. Also moved from having every single muscle from head to toe wound up like a steel rod, intertwined with other muscles, muscle groups glued together, etc. to a life in which most of my muscles have been restored to normal and my energy is much greater. Because of this restoration of REAL health, I have enormous respect for alternative medicine.

On the other hand, I can point directly to failures of western medicine to SO many of the muscle issues that resulted from either having injuries to muscles or ligaments that weren’t even diagnosed to injuries for which they felt no need to do anything. I have enormous contempt for their lack of knowledge of musculature. and how much it impacts health. When biomedicine finally decided fibromyalgia existed they came up with a treatment that, as usual, masks symptoms without doing anything to cure. Had I been stuck in that model I would still be taking meds for pain while every muscle remained twisted instead of enjoying more flexibility and healthy movement that ever before.

Ever since I ran into the great divide provided by Dr. Flexner, I have wished we could find a way to return to the broader array of healing choices that used to be the norm. In the meantime I straddle the line, willing to have a vaccine or be treated for trauma by western medicine and looking to alternative medicine for actually being healthy.

A Week of Chanting

The first week of January turned into a week of chanting and chanting for me, not entirely by design, but a delightful accumulation of events. I signed up for “Ecstatic Chant” a six-day workshop featuring Deva Premal & Miten, Jai Uttal and Krishna Das, not having noted that Deva and Miten were also doing the second annual New Year’s week daily 108 round Gayatri and not assuming Krishna Das would also do his regular Thursday satsang. But all were happening and I really worked at keeping up.

Managed to do every day of the 108 round Gayatri, which I find incredibly powerful. This time it also became more of an exercise in mindfulness than usual, which I’ll discuss more below. Also got to tune in for the satsang. The workshop I fit in around the other things (plus, you know, I have a life) as best I could — still have some to watch so very grateful they’re giving us a month to see the videos.

I’m not sure I have adequate words to describe how it felt by the end of the week to spend that many hours a day chanting and/or listening to chant. Extraordinary. Uplifting. Pulsating. All are true and yet don’t quite say how amazing it was. Really loved it!

The first day of the Gayatri there were either transmission problems or my YouTube was acting up — they often have trouble with signals in Costa Rica and YouTube has been screwing up for me a LOT — but the Gayatri was stopping and starting, stopping and starting. I was using my mala beads but I kept singing on into dead spaces and then picking up again with them when the stream re-started. Soon I was struggling to decide where I was on the beads and realizing the struggle was moving me out of connection with the mantra.

Thus the chant became a challenge for staying mindful. Only at the end did I laugh as I realized I could have just put the beads down… Meanwhile I considered the challenge well met when I wound up in the right place with the beads while keeping attention on the mantra. Afterwards I realized the starting and stopping and beads distraction had kept me from feeling thrown by the super fast guitar playing that goes on in sections of the 108 round version.

The next day the transmission was fine and when the –to-me– frantic guitar playing started my heart started pounding and my stomach tightened up as usual. Then I remember how the distractions the day before had kept me from reacting and concentrated on the lyrics to move me into the chant and out of noticing. Good reminder that I can mindfully make choices about how to react and what to notice, etc.

I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop sessions viewed so far and Krishna Das’ Thursday evening satsangs are always good. I will say as far as the workshop, not much was done kirtan style and many chants were new to me so while I loved every minute, listening was not as spiritually expansive for me as it is to chant the Gayatri with the Global Gayatri Sangha — often thousands of us at a time from around the world.

The overall experience of spending hours and hours in one week chanting was divine. In a future post I’ll talk about how my slow, tentative launch onto a path of chanting is contributing to the “sparkles” I discussed in the last post.

All the Sparkle

Increasingly over the last couple of years I’ve noticed the world looking more sparkly. Literally looking around and seeing things shining, sparkling everywhere.

It started from the very practical purchase of a new dishwasher. a couple of years ago. It took some months but eventually it managed to clear off all the collected lime on glasses and silverware and I started noticing how shiny they looked. But it’s kept going from there.

The last couple of years have seen a lot of movement for me on emotional and health issues, including some big shifts in outlook. A really psychic friend of mine commented recently when I talked about all that’s been opening up in the muscles in my face and how it has been changing my world that she pictured me literally getting rid of anchors all around me that had been holding me stuck in place for years. Perfect fit for how it’s been feeling and my long-time sense the tight muscles have been instrumental in “stuckness”.

This sense of being more free on many levels and finally moving forward is so powerful. And I feel like a good deal of the sparkle I see around flows from that.

A huge amount of the tightness in my facial muscles has been centered around keeping my optic nerve squeezed tight, which causes near-sightedness according to my late, amazing vision therapist, Dr. Sirota. As the muscles finally loosen, I periodically notice increments of seeing more clearly; the clear field moving outward an inch or two at a time. The opening lately leaves me feeling that the changing vision also contributes to seeing all those sparkles.

Wherever it comes from, I must say, I LOVE looking around the world and seeing sparkles!!!

Towel Day

Wow the last two years have impacted blogging for me; not planned just some combo of Covid , caring for my Mom since she broke her hip and coping with my dad’s estate have added so much to my schedule I’ve not managed to reorganize. At the same time, I’ve continued a process I began a while before Covid hit of trying to get back to keeping more of life on a schedule. Coping with health issues for years pretty much threw schedules and normalcy out the window; even things like cleaning and laundry were hit or miss for years.

A couple of years ago I splurged and purchased new towels to replace the old sorry ones I’d had for years. At the same time I decided I wanted to have a schedule for changing out dirty for clean. So Saturday became “towel day”. Every Saturday, fresh towels. It’s also sort of laundry day though laundry often happens more on whatever day a load is “enough”; the change is all of it gets done in the course of a week. So Saturdays, clean towels and some sort of clean laundry.

Towel day has been happening for a couple of years now and today as I shifted out last week’s for the clean ones, I realized how hugely satisfying it is to have a schedule.

Over the same couple of years, some house cleaning projects, dish washing and dishwasher schedule have also been moving into new patterns of regularity. and I’ve been happy to feel those happening too.

It’s funny for me because in many ways I’ve always been a person who fights schedules and rigid lists of what needs to happen when. But after years of chronic fatigue and muscle issues throwing life into chaos where everything became hit or miss, it’s SUCH a comfort to restore some order. I also love that the fact that I can is a reflection of how much better I’m doing.

I also love that my consciousness of gratitude leaves me feeling so happy about nice, still fluffy new-ish towels, always clean and knowing when I last put clean ones out. Small things that mean so much.

I felt a heart break today

Knowing the Chauvin verdict might come in, I checked the news off and on so I heard the verdict was coming down in plenty of time to tune in. As the judge pronounced each guilty verdict my arms shot in the air and I whooped. And then I zeroed in on watching Derek Chauvin’s reaction, noting he was doing his best not to show one.

As I watched, arms still in the air, I suddenly realized my heart was feeling pulled, sad, broken. My ability to tap into others’ feelings has always existed but been pretty random and rare though it’s been growing more common recently. After a minute I understood I was literally feeling his heart break at the future he faces as if my own were breaking.

While still feeling jubilant at the outcome, a feeling of a larger picture swept over. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel he deserved a guilty verdict. But I also felt a profound sadness for how hatred and anger, left unexamined and festering, destroyed so many lives. And then for how the pandemic of hatefulness in our country (and in right wing movements worldwide) is destroying lives.

Feeling his heartbreak at the loss of life as he knew it, I understood how thoroughly hatefulness ultimately destroys the hater too, one way or another. Heartache for everyone who loved George Floyd and then for the one who caused it.

Which led to examining the enormous anger that’s been growing over the last 5 years in me. Anger that leads to lack of empathy for the percent of GQP who don’t want vaccines — I shrug and think, “self-inflicted voter suppression” without an ounce of care for those who will die or live with dire health issues. Anger that leads me to wish Repugs who’ve been spouting racist crap and cops who show no care for human life, etc. could all be lined up and shot.

I know better and I fight it and bring myself back to reminders of the fear that fuels such hatefulness and search for compassion in my heart. Again and again returning to lovingkindness and then being snared by the anger again. The part of me that can tap into a connection with someone else’s feeling can also be ensnared by collective anger. And there’s no distinguishing between righteous leftist anger vs right wing anger. In the web of all life, it’s just anger. And it impacts all of us.

I’m also frightened by the many Democrats I encounter in social media who are snotty, hateful, ready to pounce on any nuance of disagreement with exactly their point of view. I’ve made a few Twitter comments that have led to literally hundreds of people — all allegedly Democrats — spewing at me. Fortunately I don’t particularly care personally about what a lot of strangers with anger issues think about me, but I do care that these are the people who like to claim they care about humanity.

So much anger spewing everywhere. So many people on both sides who think there’s something righteous or right about unloading on people who disagree. So many people who may destroy themselves or people near them with their unresolved anger and hate issues. So many who don’t understand that vitriol and compassion really cannot coexist.

When are we going be ready to make the transformations necessary to stop having so many broken hearts?

Covid Gratitude 5: Masking your breath

I’m in Florida working on getting summary probate going on my Dad’s estate and doing some clearing in his condo. Sticking pretty closely to the condo as much as I can since Covid is bad here.

The only places I’ve been with other people have had strict policies about wearing a mask, which works for me as I would anyway. Today as I drove to the bank to take care of safe deposit box I realized how sinusy I am here, which always leads to worrying about my breath when I have to meet with others.

And then I started laughing because I realized I’d have my mask on when I got near anybody. Which led to realizing how great it is that wearing a mask means you never need to worry about bad breath when you’re out and about.

Some combo of growing up brainwashed by ads about the probability of having it plus actually smelling a lot of bad breath on people in my life left this as an occasional nagging worry. Now, is the ease of that worry enough to want to wear a mask forever??? Hmm…

Covid Gratitude 4: Zoom, Skype and all

While I’ve used Zoom and Skype prior to Covid, the pandemic has opened up new horizons wherein I’m employing them much more than before.

Previously I mostly only set up Skype with friends if they wanted me to show them a yoga or triggers of release move.  Since the lockdowns, I’ve been regularly getting on Skype or Zoom with several friends whom I formerly just spoke with on the phone once a month or e-mailed and it’s been such a nice intimacy to see each other.

Most precious to me at this time: when my Dad fell and went to hospital in FL, I couldn’t go see him — not only fears about travel during pandemic but wouldn’t be allowed in the hospital. He quickly deteriorated and moved to hospice and again, wouldn’t be allowed to see him for 2 weeks had I flown down. So the last two days he was conscious they were able to set up Zoom for us on an IPad they’d just gotten and it was so great to be able to see and talk with him. Hard to say how huge my gratitude is for that.

As more and more places figure out how to do classes, meetings, etc. on line, I’m signing up for things and getting more involved than I’ve been in a while. I’m still a bit up and down with unwinding, lack of sleep, etc. and in the past that’s meant I either didn’t sign up for classes or often backed out of events I’d agreed to do. With the ability to hang out in my grubbies, showerless, at home, no driving, no parking, etc. I can get involved. And so many new opportunities are there with these technologies.

Every Saturday I’m joining Deva Primal and Miten’s weekly Gayatri/Meditation practice live on FB. Generally there are 2,000+ of us watching and I can really feel the huge energy we connect into. I’ve also gotten to hear some new Jai Uttal music and listen to a talk by Jack Kornfield.

I signed up to take a “Me and White Supremacy” class in which we’re going through all the exercises in the book.  It’s being offered for free through the Holmes Institute. People from all over the country are taking it. On my own I’ve been reading Rhonda Magee’s Inner Work of Racial Justice and frankly I prefer it and wish the class was going through it instead, but the chance to hear viewpoints from all over and to join a different breakout group every week to talk is SO valuable and amazing.

I’ve also been able to join the Poor People’s Campaign. I’ve been following them for 4 years now and each time some participating friends have given me info on a meeting I’ve realized I would have to drive after dark in one or both directions and I can no longer drive at night, so I’d never been able to participate.  Now I’ve participated in two virtual call-in/e-mail campaigns against McConnell on FB and joined a Zoom meeting with the KY chapter and am now on a committee on which I can do things to help from home.

The women’s group for 60+ I joined at the Spiritual Center I’ve been attending sporadically is meeting now on Zoom every month and it’s so great to be able to see everybody. The center has had streaming services all along, but it has been especially nice to tune in during this time of no in person services. I’m a night owl and not at all a morning person so I have to say it’s pretty great to be able to sit in my sweats sipping coffee every Sunday while enjoying the service.

I’m signed up for a one evening course on Krishnamurti and David Bohm…

You get the picture. Lots going on.  As a continuation on the progress I’ve been making the last couple of years on moving out into the world again after such a long time of cocooning and working on health, this is pretty spectacular. What a gift!!!

 

Growing with Our Founding Documents

So much controversy lately has me thinking deeply about the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  Many are dismissing both as products of slaveowners; because the writers were flawed, the documents are no longer valued goes the thinking.  With a lifelong tendency to see both sides — a product of constantly being in the middle wihtin my family’s arguments — I see a path down the middle.

I’m a person of words, so for me, even over the years since I realized our Founders were far more seriously flawed than our history books led us to believe, the brilliance of the words they crafted still shine.  Largely helped by my long-ago Constitutional Law class in law school, I see a Constitution that has been able to grow and evolve over time.

When you read through the landmark cases of generations you see how the carefully honed document left room to interpret broader truths and equities than the men who wrote it lived within.  They were bright enough and good enough at writing, I don’t think it was an accident that, even though they created restrictions about gender and color, many of the actual words of both the Declaration and the Constitution leave room to dream of literal equality for all, though they may not have foreseen where it led.

The stepping stones from one SCOTUS decision to another also reflect both how we have grown as people in our understanding of what “equality” really means and how the interpretation of the Constitution has grown too.  In those broad words about equality Blacks have found the inspiration to press for them to be true for everyone and that history is one every child should be learning in school.

As I reflect on Independence Day, I see room to reject the flaws of the Founders and still celebrate the brilliance of what they created and how they left a foundation with room to evolve.  At this moment we are in a new stage of evolution in making the notions of justice and equality for all, without exception, true.  Sometimes evolution in law drags us forward, sometimes thinkers who are ahead of the time push the law to change. Together we grow.  

Covid Gratitude 3

Garbanzos over sweet potato

Cooking Easy

 

My cooking habit has long been time-consuming complicated recipes, especially favoring French and Italian cooking and their many layers of flavors. For years I’ve been saying I wanted to learn how to cook some faster, easier things. But, other than a foray 15 or more years ago into Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals, I’ve never developed a repertoire.

As I’ve figured out stocking the kitchen and thinking through what that means in terms of meals, I’ve been studying and trying quicker, easier meals to fix, especially since I”m now providing many more meals for my mother than I used to.  I’m grateful not only for a slowly building repertoire of easy, but I actually love some of the things I’ve found.

Baking and freezing potatoes, both Russet and sweet, has already become a standby. Two of my faves:

(1) Mash a sweet potato or two with a couple of dates, 1-2 T of maple syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon. For breakfast, heat 1 to 1-1/2 cups in a bowl, add a spoonful of almond butter and a handful of homemade granola and stir up.

(2) make a batch of spiced garbanzo beans with spinach or kale, stir up a sauce of greek yogurt, fresh squeezed lemon juice and a T or 2 of honey or maple syrup, defrost a sweet potato, heat with a helping of the beans and then drizzle with sauce.

Yum to both. (and both recipes will be going up on the Scribblings blog).

Rachael Ray taught me on my long ago journey that chicken tenders are a great friend for easy cooking. I’ve been making a quicky and easy pesto chicken recipe using skinless tenders for a few years and now I’ve added a baked lemon chicken with asparagus thrown into the pan halfway through.

Still looking at recipes and making plans for expanding the list of easy go-tos — especially looking for toppings to pair with either kind of baked potato.  My stores include gluten free pasta as well as jarred sauces and frozen vegetables–which I never used to keep. I’ve learned it’s easy to make a batch of meatballs to store in freezer and then just cook up some pasta with veggies steaming in basket above, thaw and heat some meatballs and tada. So looking at more pasta sauce possibilities.

It feels a bit like a burden lifted as I’ve felt I “should” cook more but have not had energy to do the former norm of elaborate meals.  This new path of cooking easy and fast recipes means I’m cooking much more often than I’ve done in years and I’m really loving having more control over ingredients, choices, etc.

Another way in which the odd circumstances into which Covid has thrust us has paid off in a positive way for me.

 

Covid Gratitude 2

 

Full Pantry

I was never a cook who kept a pantry stocked for possible long term cooking.  Had an assortment of staples I’d keep on hand, usually enough to make one recipe of each.  And I’ve always tended to cook kind of elaborate dishes in big quantities. So I’d make a list of what I needed for that particular meal and get exactly what I needed.

In recent years, shopping, like most things, has been pretty hit or miss as my energy goes up and down. So when the pandemic hit and advice began circulating about stocking up for a couple of months worth, I quickly realized we were way behind the curve.

It became an interesting challenge, given all the panic buying, to get well stocked. I’ve been keeping lists going on three different grocery sites, checking in often to see who has what and which place on a given day seems likely to provide a fair portion of the list. But slowly built a store.

But, not having thought in terms of being that well stocked, I kept realizing more things that should have been on my list. And then that I didn’t really get enough of others. Slogging through order after order in which a number of things didn’t show up, I finally got us to a place of well-enough stocked to feel comfortable.  Not hoarding piles, just enough.

Quite a learning curve. While I can’t say I appreciated every moment of it, I am grateful for attaining a better sense of how to keep a well stocked pantry. That includes gratitude for a series of really good articles by various chefs in WaPo with their suggestions of items for a well-stocked pantry (some of which admittedly left me blinking and going, “Geez, wtf would I do with that stuff??? 🙂 ). Especially grateful for discerning what allows me to make which selection of things.

I’m so much more tuned in to shopping not just for the meal I plan to make tomorrow but for being prepared to cook from on-hand supplies.  Feeling glad to have acquired this skill. And I have to say, probably wouldn’t have happened without Covid-19.

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.

Delving into anger

Angry, Frustrated Woman

Screaming it out

In my recent post I mentioned feeling angry and doing some exploring. The process of looking within has revealed some new pockets of anger and also circled me back to an old one, with new tendrils to explore.

I’ve been using the Steve Nobel meditation on transforming anger one or twice a week. Must admit I’ve been so tired I’ve fallen asleep during it more often than I’ve consciously made it through.  But it has been having an impact. Most of the time while doing it I haven’t been aware of specific issues, just a feeling of energy having shifted/moved when I’m through.

Part of the meditation involves looking for anger in your body. During one of my earlier sessions, I quickly focused on my left hip/pelvis area, where I’ve been experiencing a lot of pain.  And noted one of the central areas in the tight pattern revisited an old pattern body work had seemingly cleared.

When I was 9 or 10 and taking riding lessons, we went out in the countryside by the stables one hot August day. Hadn’t rained in ages and the ground was cement hard. We came to a place in the trail with a very short jump/fence across. I rode a gentle horse I loved, who usually needed encouragement to even move fast. We hadn’t gotten to jumping yet but the jump was so low the instructor said we should have no trouble as the horses could pretty much step over it.

My horse took a look at the jump and decided we were show jumping over a 5 foot obstacle. Broke into a gallop shortly before the jump and flew into the air, then galloped a few steps and came to an abrupt stop. I flew over her head and landed on my low back and hips.  The pain was horrible and I wasn’t even sure I could get up.

The riding master unsympathetically informed me crying and help were not allowed, I had to get back on that horse and keep riding. And that I wasn’t really hurt. Years later as I struggled with muscle issues throughout my body that accident turned out to have created a pattern that plagued me for years.

Remembering the story, I realized how much suppressed fury I held, not only for that incident but for a general attitude in my childhood of stoicism and sucking it up no matter how much it hurt.  And more recent fury as I’ve realized how thoroughly western medicine dismisses muscles as a potential source of trouble when there’s been an accident.  So many of my muscles problems started with accidents after which no one offered treatment of any sort for muscle trauma. [pretty much any accident to your body sets up the probability of muscles tightening around pain and if no one does anything, it will generally settle into a pattern that then becomes worse and also impacts other muscles over time]

Getting in touch with this pocket of anger seems to have helped relieve the issues in my hip — not gone, but well on the mend.

Looking directly at my anger over the lies so many Americans are believing with no willingness to look at contrary evidence, I began to note another childhood issue.  In my house there was often a presumption of wrongness. That I was doing something wrong, that if I weren’t martial-ed and monitored, I probably wouldn’t do well.  I’d hit other issues in that general bailiwick but not specifically this one. I could see that part of my anger has been having folks “from the other side” question my careful research and insistence on dealing in facts.

All that questioning of my abilities in childhood has left me always feeling I have to prove myself, have to work harder, and still will likely not succeed.  I’ve worked a good bit on anger over some of that, but seem to still have more. And a side issue of anger at being questioned in arenas where I have worked hard to know my stuff, to feel I’m “good” at something.

Still exploring at this point.  Since hip is doing much better and holding I’m hopeful I’ve cleared the anger in there.  Feeling there’s still some more anger to unearth, just don’t attach it so far to an area of my body.

Two of the best pieces of advice I’ve had on this path were (1) from the transpersonal therapist who set me on this path: it all operates in an upward spiral. You keep spiraling back to the same issues but each time you’ve moved up a level, its hold is less and it’s easier to release; and (2) from the facilitator of my Fischer Hoffman group: every issue is like a daisy chain with many other issues connected, some of which also connect to one another.  Unearthing one doesn’t mean you’re done, you’ve just started moving along the chain.

I think of those teachings often as I work my way through deep issues.  I’ve also been hearing we’re in a time when final aspects of old issues are rising up to be released.  The  back issue related to riding accident definitely feels like something old came roaring back for a final realization. The other feels like some combo of the spiral upward to see the same issue again and also seeing another tendril stretching out on the daisy chain.

For the first 8-10 years after doing the Fischer Hoffman process work, I regularly mined for issues and worked through the process to release them. Then a bunch of deep body work started opening issues from the muscles and I did less delving as memories and associated issues floated up as muscles opened. For a while now I don’t wind up running into issues as often, but I’m aware this is the work of a lifetime.  Always another level on the spiral, frequently another tendril on the chain.

Ripples from John Prine

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Upon hearing news of John Prine on a respirator with Covid-19, I was surprised at how much it affected me. I don’t think I ever saw him play and I never owned one of his records. As the days went by and I read comments from people I know who knew him and read accounts of his life, heard clips of songs I could surprisingly sing along with, I realized his early days in the Chicago music scene touched a lot of places around me.

The more I looked around, the more I became immersed in memories of the fabulous music scene in Chicago at the time I attended Northwestern University, Amazingrace Coffeehouse, friends who were involved at Amazingrace, musicians with whom I became acquainted just by going so often to hear them play…  And even though I didn’t cross paths with him, there he was in lots of places. Partial list of concerts at Grace over the years: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/0/d/1jdo4ecZXxPpf3JSIGaBdwVudT_UtMUFnpxIS-zeJHOw/pub?output=html

It turns out he was considered part of a “big three” in the folk scene emanating from the Old Town School of Folk Music.  The other two were Steve Goodman and Bonnie Koloc and I saw both of them dozens of times, both at Amazingrace and various other clubs around Chicago. Prine played Grace often enough I gather they were all friends with him. I saw enough people there only once that it’s possible I saw him and just don’t remember as I know there are quite a few of those — at this stage with few exceptions I mainly remember the ones I went back to see many times.

The group that founded Amazingrace came together at NU the year before I arrived, part of anti-war/Kent State protests. The year I hit campus, the group got permission to use an area of the (then) student union, Scott Hall, to bring in music acts and serve food. I think that was where I first saw Steve Goodman and fell in love with his music. [Great piece in Rolling Stone last summer on Goodman: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-album-reviews/looking-back-on-john-prine-buddy-steve-goodman-860284/ ]

Before long the venue moved to a quanset hut on campus.  The “Gracers” as we called them, were familiar to many of us on campus, both as activist leaders and front of house figures at the coffee house.  In those days, self-effacing, shy, and utterly lacking in self-confidence/worth, etc. I watched from afar but it never occurred to me I could be part of their –to me–lofty group.

However I wound up being friends with several people who were involved though not part of the central group. Out of those friendships I met some of the other Gracers, dated Steve Goodman’s road manager briefly, met John Burns (that’s him riding around with Prine in top video and playing some of the best guitar you’ll ever hear), who for some years played in Prine’s band… Amongst all those were enough Prine connections that I heard his music often (hence the familiarity with his songs), some stories on occasion, and now, in the midst of his illness and death, I saw lots of pained posts/commentary from people who knew and loved him who are devastated by the loss.

I never stopped listening to Koloc and Goodman, but something about this odyssey through so many faces from those days sent me journeying through those times.  I found Koloc playing with Steve Eisen (sax) and Howard Levy (harmonica) in the band (two more Chicago musicians I’d seen so many times with many bands) Jethro Burns (John’s father) playing with Goodman. (below Burns and Goodman performing one of my faves):

The music scene is so entwined with my NU memories… My time at NU always felt golden and for years nothing else measured up.  Then I realized the comparisons must stop and as I forged ahead on my spiritual journey I let go while still holding a sacred space in my heart for the friends, political awakening, musical journeys, etc.

In hindsight I can see how much more I could have done and been had I been as calm, outgoing, and confident then as I am now.  I don’t care much for regret, but if there’s anything that grabs me now and then, it’s sadness that my own inhibitions meant much more standing on the sidelines than I’d have liked.

Amazingrace has a FB page and as I read the many posts from those “on a pedestal” folks, I’m sorry I didn’t get to know them.  As I read every article my bereft friends posted about Prine, he seemed like an amazing guy and I’d have enjoyed being in the circle who knew him. 

The clubs and the musicians and the joy in the clubs, talking to band members, etc. circles around my love of music, which, at the time, had been a lifelong ambition.  Watching the ones whose music touched my soul, I kept trying to see what in them let them get up there and put out music from the depths.  Wondering what in me couldn’t quite do it.

[Koloc with Steve Eisen and Howard Levy in the band]:

The music dreams died when my one later band attempt went sideways and I found peace with just being a fan who sings in the shower. I’m grateful for the changes I can see, the many ways in which I’m more content, more happy with who I am than in those days.  But boy those were some magic times.  I’m sorry it was John Prine’s death that sparked this wander down memory lane, but there were a lot of lovely stops. Thanks JP! RIP