The bumpy road to bliss

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I’ve been working on a post about some of the muscle changes that arise as you heal old patterns and I will post that one soon, but as I’ve worked on it, I’ve been reflecting on the larger issue of many varieties of growing pains that arise on any journey of healing, whether physical, emotional or spiritual.

Most of the time if a practice or a modality or an herbal remedy is working, there’s some not-so-pleasant spell of pain or intense emotion or stuff coming out of you before the blessed relief.  If you’re doing your job of leaving behind your old self in order to merge with Self, you’re going to look at the deep dark corners of your soul, cry, yell…  feel like crap.  If you’re healing physical issues — actually healing, not masking symptoms with medicine — the stuff that works is going to give you a headache or make your nose run, or give YOU the runs or leave some muscle(s) sore…

I’ve encountered many people over 30 years as a student, an assistant, and a teacher who somehow imagine a spiritual journey involves nirvana all the time.  If anything hurts or causes crying or leads their body to release something, they’re stunned and convinced this practice or healing method is bad.  At the first headache or tear drop they’re gone, gone, gone.

One of my earliest experiences came at the first week-long workshop I attended.  The teachers emphasized we really needed to drink a lot of water because we’d be moving a lot of energy and releasing toxins.  I’d never been much of a water drinker, my eating habits were poor and, although I’d not realized at that time, my digestive system was, shall we say, sluggish.

I obeyed the water-drinking suggestion and man did my intestinal tract do some major clearing.  Somehow I completely understood that this was a good thing– both literally and figuratively, getting rid of “old shit”– and, besides all the consciousness raising benefits, my health got a boost too.

In many varieties of body work I have learned over and over how numb muscles are when they’re tightly knotted — and when you open them up and let those numbed-out nerve endings out in the world again, IT HURTS.  The opened muscles are often in pain for days or a week.  I’m always so focused on the relief I feel from the release, I don’t mind that sore muscle at all.

I’ve cried a river of tears, I’ve pounded and screamed, I’ve looked into the dark places of my childhood that I’d buried out of sight.  And I do it all for the healing, for the sweet release into freedom and the ever growing ability to live in a state of equilibrium.

To be honest, I didn’t set off on this path in search of bliss or even higher consciousness.  I started out just trying to be happier and able to get past a lot of hang-ups that held me back.  I did it by going to a therapist who worked with meditation, past life work, affirmations, etc. and I came to embrace the spiritual aspects of my journey but never with a goal of permanent bliss.

However as I’ve opened and grown I’ve realized that bliss is more about being able to hold a space of calm regardless of what comes.  And you get there by healing your physical, emotional and spiritual issues.  But what it isn’t is a state where you’re on some perpetual high and nothing bad ever happens.  What changes is how you react to both the good and the bad.  It’s the process through the pain, the vale of tears, the hidden memories that lets you take the world’s ups and downs with serenity.

But I’ve met a lot of people who are seeking some kind of everlasting high and shudder and shy at anything that causes pain or brings up emotions.  I always wonder how far they really get on their journey.  Because the way I see it, the journey toward a more blissful life …  it ain’t all blissful, baby.  Some of it is treacherous going, uncomfortable and unpleasant.  But on the other side… liberation.

 

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My undulating spine

An animated gif of a walk sequence.

Walking “wrong” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the things I’m most appreciating lately about the changes in my body is the return of my undulating spine.

I figured out some years ago as I released lots of patterns with the Flowing Body work I created,  our spines are naturally meant to undulate as we walk.  When everything is released and I’m mindfully letting it flow, my hips are moving, my lumbar is moving, my upper back is moving and my shoulders are doing full rotations as I walk.

Yep.  Everything is moving.  Separately.  Unlike the guy up above who’s walking the way most of us (in the U.S. anyway–chime in if you think it happens in your country too) do, as if nothing in the entire spine from base to top can move on its own.

As I chatted with my students we realized that around age 12 or so (possibly younger now as children mature faster)

  1. girls get told that swinging hips are slutty
  2. boys get told that swinging hips are girly

and everybody starts walking stiffly.  Add in a lot of admiration for stiff military posture and you get people walking with backs that don’t move and hips that stay stiff and move as little as possible.

Even after I realized how we’re meant to walk and had released enough to be able to walk that way, I’d still stiffen up while taking a walk unless I kept mindfully paying attention to how I walked.  The stiff, motionless style of walking becomes so ingrained, it’s hard to overcome it.

When you walk that way, some muscles are overly tight in order to hold that stiffness.  Over time the tightness starts creating patterns in your muscles which can spread throughout your body.  Other muscles that are intended to be moving are not being used so they atrophy.  The tightness in some muscles and the under use of others together create an aching back.

I’ve talked with so many people who report they, as I did, often finish a walk with a terribly aching back.  It became something I dreaded about taking walks and contributed to why I’ve spent more time in recent years on an exercise bike and doing kundalini yoga.

Last year after my amazing healing session with Osunnike I noticed when I practiced the Flowing Body work for spine, even during the practice my spine already felt looser and moved much more than it usually did AFTER completing the release work and was much freer than ever before when I finished.

Since the latest big healing moment many things have been shifting.  For a while my back really bothered me and after resolving some contributing bedding issues I started realizing that all the opening in my head is releasing muscles all over my body.  As these muscles unfold for the first time in decades, they’re not used to exercise or … moving at all… and they protest.  Some of the back issues came from that.

I did quite a bit of the spine releases and some specific yoga work to help, which actually just pushed more opening faster and, for a while, added to the pain.  But now that area is all settled down and I’m realizing when I go for walks that I’m undulating pretty naturally.  I don’t have to make each walk an exercise in mindfulness about how I move because my back has released so well and everything is flowing so much that most of the time everything is moving as it’s supposed to move.

Right now I cherish to these moments when something shows me clearly how much has changed.  On the trip I saw how much more calm and centered I am.  The walks I’ve taken since I’ve been home (it’s getting HOT so they’re becoming few and far between 🙂 ) have reminded me how much my body has changed and is still changing.

Do all the parts of your hips and back that should be moving actually move when you walk?

 

Pushing the River

Kentucky River by Hall's 3.JPG

Kentucky River, L. Gaitskill 4/16

The week before I left for Marin, I had an appointment at which a big release in my head finally occurred.  Always pressing for this long process to be over, I hoped the release might lead to finishing the unwinding process before I left.

Didn’t happen.  So then I moved to hoping it would finish out there.  Didn’t happen.  Though the unwinding has been moving at quite a pace since the big hang-up piece released, it’s taking longer than I hoped.

it’s not that I don’t know better than to keep pushing.  Not that I’m unaware that when I keep looking ahead I’m not staying in the moment.  Patience and waiting have been major, ongoing lessons for me as I don’t do either naturally :-).  But I’ve found it especially hard to keep myself from looking beyond the pain and discomfort of all this muscle stuff… to  gaze hopefully into a future where my body is free and healthy.

I imagined that the unwinding would be done by the time I got to Marin and I’d spend my weeks there resting and meditating and contemplating my next steps.  Instead, lots of unwinding happened there, though for once it didn’t interfere with sleep and I got tons of rest.  Instead of mapping out the next phase, I slipped into relaxation, allowing the huge shift created before the trip to percolate through.

In spite of those hopes for “doneness” and planning, I quite naturally moved into being in the moment more than usual, enjoying the scenery, the quiet, reading and walking, etc.  Since I’ve been home the unwinding has gone amuck again and is back interfering with sleep.  And I’m frustrated again, wanting it to be over.

So much in my face is now open and so little is left…  but the remaining pieces are the deepest core and they’re SO tight.  I’m not sure how much longer — I just know every day I want it to be the last day.

While I struggle with patience, I’m also understanding all the “wait” messages I’ve been getting for some time.  Besides the inner message I’ve been receiving for a while, lately I’ve been drawing runes and tarot cards with “wait” messages.

And finally I’m settling into a place where — at least some of the time — I am prepared to just wait.  The inner wisdom is that while my body is reorganizing itself (more on that in another post) I need to just sit back and let it happen.  It takes a lot of energy to re-do a body.

But sometimes, I kinda want to push the river 🙂

BTW:  It’s Sunday, so I hope you’ve already found or still have set aside 10 or more minutes to pray or chant or meditate for/on peace.  See CPS page for more info.

Marin Reflections: the up side 2

The biggest reason I love to be back where I used to live is the hardest to describe.  Soul fulfillment.

Part of it is the land there.  Mount Tamalpais has always seemed magical to me and I feel its magic permeates the area.  I often feel I’m being healed just by driving or walking around and gazing at the shimmering hills.

And then there’s the house my apartment used to be in.  Gay, the owner, is the founder of Nine Gates Mystery School.  For the 30 or so years she’s lived there the property has been the scene of frequent ceremonies, meditations, offerings to the devas, a Bhajans group (Sai Baba chanting), etc.  That particular piece of property has a powerful energy thanks to the deeply reverent activities regularly taking place there.

Add the magic of the area and the beauty and power of the house and grounds and the recipe for me adds up to feeling my soul has been nurtured.

And then there are the friends.  Most of my friends in the area are fellow Nine Gates graduates but I know a few folks from other spiritual workshops and one dear friend dates back to junior high school.  While we can swirl through light topics like anyone, we also speak of deep and personal things.  We tell of our spiritual trials and lessons.  And I feel connected and nourished.

My best friends here in KY like to see me go off on these trips because they can see how healed I am when I return.  It’s not that I don’t love the land here or that I don’t have good friends, there’s just something about Marin…

Nothing about the trials and tribulations around the edges of this journey interfered in any way with drinking in the energy and enjoying every moment.  Not so many years ago I’d have allowed the small irritations to rule but I’ve moved into such a different space, nothing could stop me from drinking in the energy and beauty and loving it.

Marin and More Healing…

Gay's house

I’m in the countdown toward another Marin house/cat sit, for which I head off on April 23.  And I just had my appointment with Hanna and her DNA clearing friend, Larry.  So a happy week!

It’s been a couple of years since I last did the house sitting gig.  All the earlier times I sat for Moti, the kitty I helped raise when I still lived there.  Moti died  a year after my last visit so I wasn’t needed so much and didn’t push to take any of the annual gigs.

Now there are two new kitties and I’m looking forward to meeting them.  Curious how it will be since I’ve not met them before — unlike Moti, who spent his first year living more in my apartment than in the main house…

In the meantime, I had the appointment Hanna suggested last time, wherein she did Body Patterning, Reiki and general energy work while her friend Larry did an array of healing techniques.  I felt glad I’ve been around alternative healing and New Age stuff for a long time (30 years!) because the array included crystal surgery, drumming, some kind of sound vibration (I didn’t catch the whole list he rattled off and my eyes were closed during the treatment), crystals and/or stones placed on me, etc.  Seemed normal to me 🙂

They both felt the last piece– the one related to the ancestor witch, bad past lives as a healer/seer/shaman, and shutting down my third eye — clear completely.  And reminded me that I will have a choice occasionally about whether to stay cleared or go back to the familiar shut down.

There hasn’t been a magical opening in which every remaining muscle knot sprang open.  But the muscles are unwinding like crazy and I no longer feel them pulling against a steely core that won’t let go.  A big place of holding was in the solar plexus — an area that has received a lot of work and attention in the past as well — and that cleared too.  Again, I feel like a core of strong holding is no longer there, but the muscles in that area are in process.

Hanna said it would probably take about a week for the process to finish, which fits with past experience.  I love the timing because it means I’ll be at the end of this process and the new beginning when I head off to Marin.  I can’t think of a better place to hang out letting this settle, while I rest, drink in the beauty, meditate and converse deeply with long time friends.

Bay area Word Press friends:  I won’t have a car but if anyone would like to have a cuppa and hang out, I’d love to meet my blogging pals in person, so if you have transportation to me in Corte Madera and would like to visit, let me know.  yogaleigh at earthlink dot net

A new perspective on purpose

Kentucky River by Hall's 0

In the flow… Kentucky River by Leigh

Some days ago, Nadine Marie put up a post on Aligning with Truth about purpose in which she explored new ways of thinking about it.  I’ve been thinking about purpose and how it relates to me, and whether I know what mine is, etc. for a while so this was timely and I’ve been pondering ever since.  As I pondered, some things came together for me.

The process of healing in recent years has kept me living pretty far outside the norm and a life that doesn’t look much like most people of my age expect.  So much change has been moving through I’ve let go of many thoughts I had about what my purpose may be or even what I most wanted to do.

In the U.S. (other places, your two cents about your country are welcome and encouraged) there’s a lot of pressure to have a purpose and a plan and there always seems to be an underlying assumptions that purpose must involve either some great act of charity or — more often — something to do with earning a living or having a career.

Since those things aren’t happening for me, I’ve struggled occasionally with feeling inadequate.  The pressure to have a life that suits the norm surrounds me and you might be amazed how frequently other people have made it clear that they consider me lazy or useless because they disapprove of anyone living a life that doesn’t meet their standards.

My health struggles have been going on long enough that I learned long ago to shrug off those opinions though I won’t say I don’t still have moments when their contempt or disapproval hurts my feelings.  For most of the early years of illness I struggled to keep up with the norm and juggled part-time jobs with many failed business attempts.

Finally, however, I realized that my energy vibration was so faint and weak  I could never succeed at jobs or businesses without getting healthy (need to match the vibration) … and also that I didn’t really have the stamina for even the part-time jobs or the attempts at self-employment/business.  Something like five years ago I realized my health had to become the priority.

I’d been going to alternative practitioners, practicing yoga and other healing modalities, doing emotional work, taking supplements, etc. for many years, always with small, steady amounts of progress but I finally got it that this had to be the focus.  Other than teaching some yoga (which for me is very healing) and writing a couple of books (which I can do on whatever schedule I’m up to), I’ve done nothing but work at healing, exploring my inner landscape for answers, etc.

Until recently I’ve tended to think of it as a time spent living outside the world and figured I’d get around to a new purpose and its implementation after becoming healthy again.  Recently, though, as I’ve worked with Hanna on finishing out some of the ancestral issues that have anchored my muscle issues, I’m looking at it all differently.  I’m particularly affected by realizing how much all of this ancestral healing is healing everyone in my extended family tree on some level.

Sparked by Nadine’s post, I’ve now moved to a new view of purpose.  These years of healing WERE/ARE MY PURPOSE!  Not necessarily the only one — as she notes, I think there can be more than one purpose in a lifetime — but a huge part of why I’m here on earth.  Healing myself.  Healing my ancestors.  Learning to be a voice of healing.

As I move toward the end of the healing journey, I’m still in limbo about what’s next and what I think my next purpose may be.  As I just posted on the Scribblings blog (including the above photo), I’m seeing myself as part of a flow and trying to stay out of the way and allow the current to take me to the next destination my higher self has determined.

Off the normal path, in solitude and quiet, I’ve been living a purpose that doesn’t look anything like expectations about purpose held by the mainstream in my country.  But I believe it’s a purpose that’s at least equally important to all that stuff  “out there”  considered to be the meaning of purpose.  I’m even at the point of questioning the usual idea of purpose and whether a lot of these plans made by minds instead of hearts or intuitions are really the raison d’etre for many of those who believe they’re living their purpose…

I’m even pondering many side trips people I’ve known have been led to make and wondering if purpose may often be more about what we learn and how we change from the challenges that blow up our plans than about the outer world and the careers and the normal stuff of “purpose”???  Are attributes like kindness and compassion and healing and nurturing possibly more central to “purpose” than most people think? I’m very interested to hear the thoughts of others…

Muscles: 4 Steps Forward, 2 Steps Back… Forever?

Helen yoga

Helen yoga (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trying to post the last couple of weeks has been an interesting process.  In this time of transition I have SO many ideas swirling through my head, so many realizations arising; much of it is interconnected.  Right now I’m struggling to sort my way through it all and my mind doesn’t seem to have its usual organizational abilities to sort through it all and create posts.  Not to mention that much of it is still in process…

I will get back to J2P Monday again, but right now the one arena where I seem to have some coherent thoughts is about muscles.

Last time, I talked about how muscles intertwine, squeeze off energy and can take a long time unwinding.  This time the exploration moves to the up and down process of healing muscles.

You see, no matter how much body work you get or how many muscle-healing exercises you’re doing, life is still going on.  You sit with your head twisted to the side watching television and that’s twisting the muscles in your neck.  You hit your head on a cupboard door and tighten a bunch of muscles in your jaw, neck and shoulders.  Your boss goes on a rampage and you tighten your whole body.  If you have really tight muscles, the tight ones are pulling the healed pieces back into tightness.

For a long time I found that at every massage appointment the first half — at least — was spent getting out the kinks that settled back in between appointments.  Increasingly I tried to make sure to do yoga and/or soak in a hot bath before an appointment so I could work some of the kinks out on my own.

When I created my movement work, it was just for me and I practiced numerous times in between appointments, often achieving more releases.  Sometimes my practitioners said I came back in even better shape than I’d been in at the end of the last appointment.

At this point I generally make appointments at a time when I can spend at least an hour-and-a-half beforehand on doing the release movements and yoga and then soaking at least 20 minutes in a hot bath.  Very little time is wasted in my appointments on retrieving lost ground and the fact that I’m looser and in balance makes it easier to achieve some deep releases.

Even with these efforts, there were times when I fell or slept in an awkward position and lost some ground.  With TMJ, even though the muscles in my face and jaw were unwinding, I clenched in the night and tightened it back up.  Sometimes I had stellar spells when the movement seemed only forward.  But most of the time the process of healing my muscles moved more like four steps forward, two steps back.  Always getting better, but an up and down process…

The healing moved much more quickly when I developed the exercise sets that so deeply trigger releases in the muscles but still it has been kind of four steps forward, one step back.  Always up and down.

When I say I’m almost done, I’m referring to the patterns of muscles currently in my head.  There are still a few other places that haven’t let go.  And I’m always aware, body work and doing my exercises is a life-time commitment because as long as I’m alive my muscles will ever be subject to sitting “funny”, bumping into things, tension, etc.

There is no such thing as DONE with muscles.  If you want muscles that are relaxed, strong and healthy, it’s a lifetime commitment to taking care of them.  Even when you’ve solved any specific issues you may have, you still have to work at keeping them healthy.

J2P Monday: About Unwinding Muscles

I decided to take a little break from using ho’oponopono for healing and instead to bring up an issue from my healing journey that I think also relates to peace.

Few people in the western world make it very far past early childhood these days without developing tight, tense muscles.  Often emotions and issues not dealt with are stuffed into those tight holding patterns  The longer such patterns go without being healed, the more  the patterns spread over the whole body and the more deeply rooted the unacknowledged issues become.

When muscles are tight the knots and twists squeeze the nerves, blood vessels and nadis.  Then blood, oxygen and prana are unable to flow freely, which impacts physical, emotional and spiritual health.  Only when the flow is free can your body experience fully vibrant health and connection to high levels of consciousness.

Hatha yoga developed out of the knowledge that energy must flow freely throughout the body in order to find connection to higher consciousness and to be the Divinely loving being each of us came here to be.  Modern yoga practice in the west often seems to forget that the point of the asanas was not so much physical fitness as energy fitness — opening the nadis (energy pathways through which prana flows) and balancing the chakras.

When muscles have become really tight or have intertwined with others into tight patterns, restoring health is, in part, a process of unwinding.  The muscles can open mainly (but not exclusively) from:

  • certain types of exercise, like yoga or the triggers of release work I do
  • certain types of body work
  • emotional release.

Sometimes a couple of these things happen together.

Often there’s a release in a muscle at the time someone is working on you or when you let go of some emotion but it’s just the first opening.  The initial release creates some space and the muscles release more over the next few days.

I first experienced the phenomenon when the bone in my left lower leg straightened 25 or so years ago.  The bone was twisted from birth, which meant a lot of muscles were pulled out of place.  By the time of the healing, I’d had decades for those muscles to pull on other muscles which then pulled on others; there were issues all over my body that all came from the original twisted leg.

When the bone moved back into place, all the connected muscles suddenly had some freedom and were also being pulled in a new direction.  It unleashed an unwinding process that would begin at my left foot and move, section by section up into my neck and then start back down.  For months afterward I experienced these releases, the muscles yanking and jerking and causing involuntary movements all the way up and down.

So I was reasonably prepared when, after many other varieties of body work, I came to CranioSacral work.  It’s quite typical in this therapy for a release to occur in the appointment — one you may not even feel on the table — and then to have many big releases starting the next day and possibly for several days thereafter.

In fact, it was CranioSacral work that opened enough stuff in my head about 13 years ago to start the unwinding process that continued on its own until now (when the last throes are finally working their way out).  Once I was years in, friends occasionally would ask if I knew of this happening to other people.  It was unusual enough that some practitioners didn’t believe me when I tried to tell them about the unwinding muscles in my head.

Though I’ve known a few people who’ve experienced a lot of unwinding in their muscles, I’ve only found one other who’s experienced the years-long process I’ve been going through.  So, after a recent question about whether this is common, I started hunting on line.  I discovered there’s now a type of bodywork centered around unwinding, which seems to be based in part on working to further the kind of opening created by CranioSacral and Body Patterning.

Even in the modalities in which it’s normal to set off unwinding of knots in muscles the conversations are usually about days and sometimes weeks or as much as a few months.  I’ve not found anything that discusses a decade plus of unwinding, so I think it’s unusual enough I doubt you have to worry about setting something off that goes on as long as my process.

Unwinding can be uncomfortable or even painful.  But when muscles unwind, the process frees the nadis, circulatory system and nerves in  your body and allows energy and oxygen to flow freely.  Huge amounts of energy become tied up in holding those patterns, leaving you tired and listless and the opening restores your stamina.

If you want to be peace, to live from the place of peace, you need to have a healthy body in which vital force energy (prana or chi) can move freely.  Practitioners often don’t discuss — or in many cases seem to know about — unwinding and how it can go on for some time or that it may hurt or be annoying.

When you start healing and/or releasing issues or your body, you should be aware there’s a chance you will unleash some sort of unwinding.  Personally, I enjoy it for the most part (when I’m not whining about it 🙂 ) because I know it’s leading to the healthy body and healthy flow of energy I desire.  I recommend embracing the discomfort and feeling gratitude for the healing it represents.  It’s part of the path to PEACE.

Healing Update — Wow!

The structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), ...

DNA: tmonomers being put together. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, it’s supposed to be J2P Monday.  But I had another amazing appointment with Hanna on Friday and, even though I managed to sidetrack and finish writing yesterday’s post, I’m too excited to think up a J2P topic instead of writing about this.

Short version of last visit with Hanna:  she felt someone from Roman times trying to help me remember a past life experience in Rome that was still holding on in my head.  She recommended using Rose and Frankincense oils and a selenite pendant while meditating on this.

I got the recommended items and, while wearing all three, meditated.  Found myself a male healer/seer in Roman days, betrayed by a friend (the guide who’s now helping) and killed yet again by a head injury. 😦

There’s been quite a lot of unwinding since then and when it slowed down I booked another appointment with Hanna.  She picked up on yet another lifetime involving torture and my eyes and was able to clear it.  By the end she said it felt like almost everything left was just residual except one piece that’s embedded in my DNA.

She also picked up on the ancestor witch about whom I’ve written many times (for instance, here)and then that, given my many past life issues with being a seer who was tortured, killed or betrayed because of it, this ancestral lineage was the perfect one for me to enter because it tracked with the past life issues about being a seer.  And put the issue deep in my DNA.

She’s recently started doing joint sessions with a fellow healer who, among things, uses a technique for clearing DNA.  She thought one session should be able to clear that one last piece.  Otherwise it’s just however long it takes for these residual knots to finish unwinding!  In other words, not just wishing and hoping it’s almost done.  IT’S ALMOST DONE!  🙂

In the meantime, in the aftermath of the appointment, insane unwinding going on here…

From Regimentation to Instinct…

My dad, whose childhood was pretty chaotic, loved the Marines.  He really took to all that discipline and order and has lived with adherence to order and performance of daily tasks like exercise ever since.

I don’t think it’s my natural inclination, but after a childhood of being adjured by him to live with equal discipline, I became pretty good at making myself do stuff every day if I “should” or it would be “good for me”, etc.  As a result, until recent years I’ve more or less kept up with one from of exercise plan or another since I was about 15.“

I’d think of it as something I just learned from him but when I look around in U.S. society, I see a lot of importuning everyone to eat certain things daily or exercise daily or meditate daily.  Often there’s an implication that you’re failing somehow if you don’t do it every day… regardless of how you feel or what your instincts may be telling you to do differently.

Discipline has been slowly falling apart for me over the many years of struggling with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.  Even though I was in far worse shape in the early stages, I was also young enough that I managed to push through trying to keep up with some of those “must do” activities.  When I lived in Marin, for instance, I joined a gym and pretty consistently went every other day, doing yoga on the days in between.

In this last few years of struggling with the muscle issues in my head, I seemed to lose the ability to push on through.  I finally just hit the place where I couldn’t cope with the health issues and still keep up a disciplined schedule.  And for a long time that kept feeling like failing.

Recently,, though, I’ve been trying a different path (see here for more) that includes trying new things and not committing to a schedule.  Initially I avoided creating a regimented program because the issues with my head are still leaving me with lots of sleepless nights and too many headache-filled days and I just didn’t want to add pressure.

I’m noticing some things as I move along this path of flowing from one day to the next and tuning in to see what feels like the next thing to do.  I’m exercising more than I had been but I’m not following a plan, as I usually do.  I might do my favorite yoga series one day and a kundalini yoga dvd the next, followed by a day of the 8 Key Breaths and Chi Gung, and then a day with my spine series and a bunch of my triggers of release work.

I go with what feels good or what I’m drawn to do.  Sometimes it’s just a few minutes of something, sometimes I might spend 45 minutes on riding the exercise bike followed by a yoga set.  I feel much less like I’m dragging myself to it and much more enjoyment by doing what feels good.  And I’m slowly getting back some of the ground I’d lost, getting stronger again, getting into better balance and energy flow, etc.

Same thing with food.  Some days I’m pretty pristine, sometimes I’m drawn to foods my more health-minded friends would frown upon but that feel right to me.  I’ve tuned in with guidance more often and been surprised at some of the foods I’ve been pointed toward, always with an explanation of something needed from it that I didn’t have to understand…  Whatever I do or eat each day, I do more readily by choosing to do it instead of “having” to.

I’ve been feeling better and stronger since I’ve been just floating around among different choices on different days.  I also feel so much less pressure by letting go of needing to have some kind of daily routine, followed strictly.  The floating includes having some days I just don’t feel up to the exercise and I don’t do it.

I’m asking myself a lot of questions about the need for regimented daily plans.  I’m not saying there aren’t times when you need to, say, take a medicine every day or make a strict dietary change for health reasons or do certain exercises for a while.  But I wonder if regimentation over all is as good for us as so many pundits would have us believe.

I’m not sure this experiment would have been as successful earlier in my life, when I don’t think I tuned in as well–or as often–to what felt right for me right then.  But at this stage, following my intuition about daily tasks like eating and exercise feels so much more relaxed and healing than setting up some “must do” list–usually something put together by my mind instead of my intuition — and berating myself to stick to it, or feeling bad if I didn’t.

While I’ve been pretty good at setting up a practice schedule and sticking to it more or less, I secretly buck against it, so there’s a big measure of relief in this new way.  And I find I much more readily do things when I flow toward them than when I force myself with dragging heels.

Have I ever had times when I felt better after making myself exercise or eat the healthy choice or meditate?  Yes.  Have I also sometimes felt worse for making myself do it when I didn’t feel up to it or eat it when I really didn’t want it or meditate when I knew I couldn’t focus?  Absolutely.  So I check in with myself to see whether I’m just resisting or whether I’m not doing something because it really doesn’t feel right.

Because I know a lot of spiritual practices and types of exercise, I really can’t do all of them.  My belief in the need for regimentation has often led me to mentally run through pros and cons and decide which ones to do every day.  And then I keep doing those no matter what.  This new floating thing is allowing me to tap into the repertoire and bring out whatever feels best at the moment.

This is so much more fun than a strict daily practice schedule.  And, as I mentioned, I’ve really been feeling good.  Muscles that had lost some of their strength are stronger and other that lost some stretch are stretching farther.  I have more energy and it’s balanced.  My body and spirit seem to flourish with variety.  And I’m happier.

As I continue to play with this new path I’ll let you know how it goes…

Some ins and outs of muscles

Collage of varius Gray's muscle pictures by Mi...

(User:Mikael Häggström) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I said a while back that I’d be posting about the long process of healing, and finally I’ve gotten to post #1.

Over the many years of struggling with issues in my muscles I’ve found far more help from alternative health practitioners than from western medicine.  In fact, my experience is that — with the possible exception of sports medicine specialists (no personal encounters there) — doctors trained in western medicine tend to know almost nothing about muscles.

If you’re in an accident of any type, from car accident to a fall in your living room to cracking your head on the corner of a cupboard, etc., your muscles are affected.  You tighten up in the area(s) of impact.  If the pain goes on for a few days you hold that tight pattern.  By the time the pain goes you’re automatically holding that pattern.

Once the pattern is in one area, it starts tugging at muscles nearby, pulling them into tight, off-kilter patterns,  which in turn pull at another.  Over the course of a few years you may have uncomfortably tight patterns all over your body and you may be feeling the most pain in some area(s) other than ground zero, where it all began.

The average doctor, after checking for broken bones and things that need to be stitched, does NOTHING about muscles.  They behave as if the muscles experience no impact and will have no ongoing affect on your health and comfort.

Even with things like sprains, where they at least take an x-ray or two, you should know they don’t routinely x-ray all angles so many things are overlooked.

For instance:

  1. when I was in a car accident some years ago I smashed my ankle.  The ER took pictures from two angles and my doctor saw no need to follow up with anything more.  Ongoing troubles with balance and falling over the years led to discovering one of the ligaments was torn away in that accident, not noted in the two x-rays they took at the time, and short of a surgery that would be elective, there was nothing that could be done to fix it.  Some research revealed that it’s routine to x-ray only one or two angles at the ER or general practitioner level; if you have a problem that can’t be seen from those angles, too bad for you…
  2. When I fell on the ice while racing to the el in Chicago and landed on my hand/wrist, I wound up at the ER to make sure nothing was broken.  They took x-rays from one angle, said it was fine and sent me on my way.  I had ongoing issues for years and found out later a specialist would have taken shots from more angles, probably finding out what really had been injured..  Using the hand portion of my exercises (see below) has largely ended the problem.
  3. Some years later I twisted my other ankle.  I went to the HMO and was told I just had a sprain.  One x-ray.  Six weeks later my ankle was more swollen and black and blue than it had been to begin with.  When I went back the doctor yelled at me for bothering him with something trivial, saying it looked fine.  My acupuncturist/naprapath was upset because she could see by looking something was wrong. She sent me to a podiatrist (which insurance didn’t cover) who took x-rays from several angles and found the torn ligament the HMO doc missed.  Because I’d walked around on it for so long, it took three months in a cast to heal it.

I’ve heard similar stories from others — even when western medicine bothers to take a look, they don’t bother to look at enough angles to know what’s actually going on.  If you can insist on getting sent to a specialist, you may be given a more thorough examination.  They won’t, however, help you deal with the ongoing muscle issues that arise because of the injury. Any time you sprain or twist something, you might want to consider pushing for a specialist and find out if your insurance will cover some therapeutic massage to help keep patterns from settling in.

When I first started struggling with all this, western medicine thought fibromyalgia didn’t exist.  If you had fatigue or muscle issues they directed you to a shrink.  Now that they acknowledge fibromyalgia, they give drugs that mask symptoms but do nothing to deal with the underlying problem.

The long slow process of getting my muscles to the most-of-the-way good condition they’re in has evolved through myofascial massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, St. John’s neuromuscular therapy, Craniosacral, Bodypatterning and more.  I practiced yoga and sporadically used Robert Masters’ Psychophysical method (off-shoot of Feldenkrais) until I developed sets of exercises combining movements from the Psychophysical series with yoga that have helped immensely (and have cleared years-long patterns for some of my students).

Not one iota of getting better has had anything to do with a single western doctor.  Some of the intertwining patterns would not have been there had it not been for the ignorance of doctors about not only how to heal muscles but even the fact that they need to be healed.  If you’ve hurt your muscles or have ongoing tight patterns, you have to advocate for yourself or you’ll not find help.

Trust me when I tell you I KNOW it’s expensive to get alternative therapies but for your long-term health — which is so much more affected by muscles than you probably realize — I highly recommend that you figure out a way.  I’ve often been able to trade for appointments and I know lots of practitioners who will trade for massage or classes or home cooked meals or art work….  The Universe will help you find a way if you truly want to be healed.

J2P Monday: Judging and the environment

English: Heart and Earth

English: Heart and Earth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve noticed over the years (I started recycling, etc. 45 years ago, so lots of years) that environmentalism seems to produce more and more self-righteous folks who decide what you should do and how you should live if you’re a “good environmental citizen” and then look around and judge others on whether they’re “doing it right” or not.

Beyond just pointing fingers at other people, there’s even more finger-pointing about whether governments or corporations are being responsibly green.  There’s something about this issue that lends itself to feeling righteous about the right and wrong of it.  So even among people who say they’re living by principles of not judging, being compassionate and loving, etc., there’s still a lot of righteous judging when it comes to this issue.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this in the context of how our behavior affects the earth (see earlier post).  A couple of threads keep showing up for me.  One is about how it affects the world when people by the millions are constantly borderline hysterically repeating over and over “we’re destroying the world”, “the world is dying”, “the air is poisoned”, etc.  Does it help to keep affirming those things or does it create more of what is being affirmed?  I’ll revisit that one in some future post.

The other thread involves people judging one another (including me eyeing them for doing it…) and the underlying reasons behind such strong feelings of fright and/or outrage.  And how all those issues impact the health of Earth.

  • Is it only fear of “the end of the world” that drives feelings about this issue?  What lies beneath?
  • Why the fear that “others” will cause destruction by the doing or not doing of certain things?  Do we feel a lack of control in the world?  Over our own lives?  That others have power over us and what happens to us?  What’s the source of feeling powerless?
  • Do you offer your own body and health the same intensity of feeling that you feel toward the dis-ease of the earth?  If not why not?
  • Do you feel the same lack of power or control over your own body that you feel regarding the health of the world?
  • Do you feel the same love for yourself that you feel for the earth?  Do you feel worthy of being loved that much… by yourself?  by others?

So many possible ways to heal with ho’oponopono or whatever method of healing you prefer.

  • For all the ways in which I judge others about anything, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.
  • For loving what’s “out there” more than I love myself, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.
  • For the fears within that I haven’t addressed, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you
  • For not loving myself as much as I give love to people and things outside me, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.
  • For all the ways in which I do not feel the love around me and for me, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you
  • For all that I have not healed within me, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.
  • For all the ways in which I fail to offer love instead of judging, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you

Updates and musings…

The Holistic Approach of Alternative Medicine ...

The Holistic Approach of Alternative Medicine symbolized by the aura of man. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several weeks have now passed since I decided to take a blogging break while contemplating how to go forward.  I’ve wound up in another round of unwinding, not sleeping and being too dazed to accomplish much so I’ve reached no firm conclusions.

But I am really clear that I’m glad I eliminated a bunch of blog subscriptions and have been pretty cavalier about which blogs I do and don’t read.  It’s been a huge relief to spend so much less time on slogging through blogs.

As far as my faves, you’ve probably not noticed much difference because I still read and like and comment on your lovely blogs. There a lot of folks I follow who are rarely getting a look from me.  Generally means (1) they don’t ever interact with me in a way that lets me know they’re engaged and/or (2) they sometimes have great posts but aren’t consistently interesting to me and/or (3)  what I can see on the Reader hasn’t grabbed my attention enough to get me to read more.  Saving all that time has felt SO freeing!

I haven’t been writing as much, more because of the debilitating muscle/sleep issues than any intent to not be writing.  The good news on the muscle front is that I’ve hit another one of those new levels of open that feels wondrous — who knew a face could feel this good?  Not done yet though.  Based on what I feel so far, it must feel amazing to have a completely relaxed face.

I have been working a bit, on the Wizard game blog, at spacing out publishing when I work on several ideas at once and I’m liking the way that keeps things going over time.  It takes some pressure off of the no-ideas times if I’ve spread out the scheduling of posts in the moments when I’m full of topics and words.  So I am committed to playing with that.

I definitely plan to keep J2P Monday going. I’m teetering about Collective Prayer Sunday…  I also want to start an ongoing series of posts about my long healing journey, including observations about western medicine vs. alternative medicine, combined with a general look at the relationship between physical and spiritual healing.  Don’t much like having a particular day on which I’m committed to posting, so they’ll just appear sporadically.

So, at the end of the first week of the new year that’s my story.  And I’m sticking to it.  At least until another moment brings another story 🙂

Sideways break… I kind of liked it

Levitating, Meditating, Flute-playing Gnu

Levitating, Meditating, Flute-playing Gnu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My break didn’t go quite as planned.  The first day or two I did relax, exercise, meditate, reflect on the future…  Then the unwinding started again.  Big time.  Somehow when I can’t sleep and my face is yanking around for hours at a time I find it pretty much impossible to meditate and any sort of schedule goes out the window.

THE MUSCLES

At one point I described the muscles behind my eyes as feeling as if they were rooted through the earth and wrapped around a mountain in China and it was a toss up whether the roots would release and let my eyes go or the muscles were going to pull a mountain on to my head….  OK, yes, it’s a little dramatic 🙂 but it was the best I could do to try to describe how it felt.

As of last night the muscles that would not budge finally started unwinding — yea, apparently no mountain-on-head scenario to ensue…  They’re so tight I don’t have a clue how much longer but I’m ecstatic to feel them opening at last.

I did manage, in my one good meditation, to have a good session with my council of guides who assured me the visions and ideas I’ve been putting together about the future are where I’m going but now is not the time to worry about how to get there.  This process has to be completed first.  The lesson in patience goes on … at the moment I’m not learning it very well…

BLOGGING BREAK

Even though I didn’t get to spend the week quite as planned, I did keep up with my blogging break.  Not only did I not write posts, but I cut way back on how much time I spent on reading blogs.  And I really enjoyed it.

I realized I have some decisions to make about how much time I want to be putting into this.  The easiest decision is to cut back on reading blogs.  I’ve politely followed far too many.  I never do read everything, but generally I really try to get around to most of them.

This last week I only read my favorites, generally also the ones written by people with whom I interact quite often.  The people I love and would miss.  I realized, though, that my reader is filled with blogs I don’t have a big interest in, written by people who never interact with me.

I loved not only spending much less time by reading only my favorites but also that those deep, thoughtful posts I love had more impact when not surrounded by reading tons of other stuff.  So I’m going to be paring down my subscriptions and becoming choosier about what I read on a daily basis.

I also realized I tend to go in cycles of having lots of ideas and having posts writing themselves in my head and spells when I don’t.  So in the fertile moments I also plan to work on drafting but not necessarily publishing right away and maybe scheduling posts just for certain days.  I know a few of my blogging buddies post only Monday-Friday so I’m also considering choosing a couple of specific days to take off.

In other words, during the next few weeks I’m going to be experimenting.

And when my eyes quit yanking and I get some sleep I may go back to the plan of less blogging, more meditating and exercise for a spell…

Dungeon Prompt: Why do I blog?

By Okky.novianto (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Dungeon Prompt for this week:

There are many different reasons for blogging. Some do it as a journaling exercise to work through issues. Others do it as a way to communicate with an online community. Some do it as advertising, while others do it to bring awareness to a particular cause. Many do it just as a creative outlet, and to practice and perfect their craft. Why do you blog? What do you get out of it? Are you happy with your experience so far? Let us in on what drives you to keep blogging

I began blogging a little over four years ago because I kept getting a nudge during meditations with my guides to do it.  Short pieces about the spiritual journey had been writing themselves in my head but I didn’t know why or what the forum for them might be.  Hence the meditation to call in my “council” and ask why I kept receiving these little essays and whether I was supposed to do something with them .

At the time I barely knew what blogging was but I’d learned to follow those nudges (at least the ones I’m not resisting 🙂 ) so I did a little research, picked WordPress and started posting twice a week.  And one of my friends and I read them regularly.  Didn’t know a thing about engaging with others or how to get a blog seen.

For months I was fine with that since the instruction to do it was mysterious and I had no stake in whether anyone read it or not.  Eventually, though, it seemed a little pointless other than whatever gains I made from the regular exercise of writing.

So I did some research about how to get readers and started prowling through other people’s blogs, following and liking and occasionally commenting.  Lo and behold, there were soon people following me!

I’ve never really taken to most of the social media stuff so my expectations were low.  The amazing community in which I’ve found myself immersed has been a revelation.  While a lot of mainstream blogging is of no more interest to me than people’s tweets and FB posts about stubbing their toes (in fairness, I’m blessed with friends who are deep seekers and whose posts in those other places tend to be uplifting, touching, interesting…), spiritual bloggers constantly move me, teach me, inspire me.

The world of spirituality blogging has proved to be full of amazing, insightful, deep people and I am now completely hooked on hanging out daily with my blogging pals, reading their amazing posts, commenting back and forth and feeling my world so enriched by these connections.

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a couple of my fave bloggers in person, which has been wonderful.  I hope it happens with many more.

My world has been pretty circumscribed the last couple of years because of the health stuff. And also an odd inverse relationship wherein as my health improves my tolerance for what’s still wrong decreases; I’m much more likely now to skip a party or say no to going somewhere than when my health was far worse…  At any rate, these connections through blogging –along with my natural ability to hang out alone — have kept me from loneliness.

Posts are still writing themselves in my head and, for the most part, I only post when something is tapping on my shoulder and asking to be written.  I’ve been seeing the edges of a larger plan behind the Higher Self advice to start a blog.  Part of it has just been the development of a style to my writing that I think is much more readable than my previous attempts to write of my journey.  The rest of the “larger plan” is still pretty sketchy, so for now I’m just going to wait to write about it.

The short of it is I now blog because (1) I love the community I’ve found (or it’s found me?) and (2) telling my story and the things I’ve learned along the way still feels like the right thing to do.