Sunday, June 4, 2017

Finding Grace in Losing Face

Even the Buddha loses his head.
     While learning about massage and bodywork over the years, one common precaution tends to echo throughout the modalities. When people receive bodywork, you never know what will arise. This brings to mind a 10-day cranio-sacral (subtle bodywork) course I attended. I recalled how many of the participants appeared to have pure craziness, coming up to the surface. I was the outspoken skeptic of the group. I truly didn't believe what I was seeing, or hearing. The idea that "your issues live in your tissues," was not something I bought into.

Fast forward a bunch of years... I've experienced my issues being alive in my tissues, both in yoga practice and on the massage table. These multi-layered, body focused practices can bring tears, extreme discomfort, unexpected irritation, indescribable joy, etc. I can no longer doubt what deep listening and allowing can bring to light. The so-called logical mind might be dismissive, claiming resolution to all things challenging, or of the past. But as the fascinating book, The Body Keeps the Score explains, there's so much more to our operating systems.

It's especially difficult to hold space for oneself. I found I had been cutting my deeper practices short, interpreting difficult sensations harshly, and not allowing certain feelings to stay long, if at all. Cutting myself short started translating into some pretty unskillful and distorted communication with others as well. In cutting myself short, on time and patience, it was clear that I was doing the same to others. I was shocked to hear some of the harsh things that flowed freely from my mouth.

As I was intellectually sorting through things I didn't understand, this self exploration had me doubting my whole yoga practice. If I was capable of being so unkind to my own family, my yoga practice must be defunct. The Dalai Lama said, "be kind whenever possible, and it's always possible." Yeah, maybe if you're the Dalai Lama! Clearly, it wasn't possible for me. It's a great goal, it's incredibly important to keep in mind. However, perhaps it could be useful to embrace, and find grace, in losing face? Either way, that's what was happening. 

It's no surprise to me that I'm both darkness and light. Letting go of whatever I'd been trying to hold together, has meant coming unglued. It hasn't been very pretty. The result is that I now feel a wider range of life energy flowing through me. I hadn't realized how much precious energy was being wasted on creating detours and road closures. Yoga did support me in this process, even as I showed up as someone I didn't quite recognize. I now see the great value of holding the uncomfortable even more gently. Most of all, I feel deeply relieved that my whole self, inner-child and all, has found a place at the table. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Now the Sun's Coming Up

Shadow & Light (Yin/Yang).
      I've been living with an open invitation these past few months. Open to experiencing all the uncomfortable aspects of being a human. Feeling at times, like I'm stumbling around in the dark, hitting my head on unexpected objects. When sensations of pain or discomfort arise, my reflexive habit wants to rush in with distraction. Distraction deadens down the unfamiliar and unpleasant sensations. I've been kindly asking those distracted rescue habits to take a break, in order to feel life more fully.

In a world filled with obvious despair, my own feeling tone had become tired, dark, and heavy. I was starting to wonder,  how does anyone come out from the weight of the unending atrocities surrounding us? I found comfort in knowing that there is never yin (darkness) without yang (light). A willingness to be patient with the prolonged darkness and accept the lightness when it does shine has been key.

Although it didn't coordinate with the calendar's first day of spring, I'm finally feeling the seasons change from inside my body. There is a distinct lightness in my step (I give credit to Feldenkrais classes for this new found bounce), and lightness in my heart.

Tend Your Garden.
Light has come. It's shining on the truth of impermanence, the law of nature. For a few moments, I imagine humanity as a giant garden. Stocked with perennials, annuals, edibles, noxious weeds, poisonous fruits, and dead branches. Some of us root deep and take over large areas. Destroying other plants in the process. Some only bloom once. Some sprout out of garbage dumps. There are bunk, beneficial, and contaminated seeds. This imagery inspires me to care-fully tend my own soil and garden. It dares me to feel joy in a perfectly imperfect world.

Mary Oliver asks, 'What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?' My heart knows the answer to be presence. Yes, I want to be fully present with my one wild and precious life. I want to be willing to accept change within and around me. Willing to feel and evolve in any given moment.

             ~Every inhale enters into darkness, while the exhale returns to the outside light.~