It has been six months since I have last posted on this site. I remember the day I wrote the scoliosis post. Has it really been six months???
I have been somewhere else in my mind lately. Trying to be out of my mind really. I listen to books and read them – very entertaining books that have nothing to do with yoga or self care. These books take me to another universe and now I realize that I have leapt across time somehow.
I have escaped, yes, but, I have also taken good care of myself still. This yoga and self-care thing is a habit. My body is healing, my heart is at least not so raw, and my energy is returning.
I have people to live for. My grandchildren, my family, they all love me and it is love that truly heals and keeps us here and together. Something in me has changed. I am changed – surviving the loss of my son – that has changed me. Now I live with gratitude and allow myself to take care of me more than I ever have. Because there are young ones who depend on me and I see that taking care of myself is the best thing I can do for them too.
This one little change has made a difference for me and one that, if you will try it, I think it will also make a difference for you: Just live in the moment. If you need time alone, be alone. If you need to soak in the tub, do that. I still work, I still take care of my home. I am not escaping my responsibilities by soaking or being alone, I am taking better care of my responsibilities – because the better I feel, the more I can do.
The illusion? It is the idea that if you spend time taking care of you, there will be less time for other things. Not true. There will be more.
Scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, can be helped with yoga. I was 21 when I found out that I had scoliosis. Today, there are screenings in the schools for it. However, I think that everyone should go see a chiropractor for a more accurate screening (many abnormal curvatures are missed until it’s too late).
My diagnosis was a bit late for me, but also helped to form who I am today. When I was called into the doctor’s office to look at an xray, I didn’t understand when he said “look at this”. What?
Then he used the pencil and showed me the “S” shaped curve in my thoracic spine. Oh! Is this bad? I said. No, not if you take care of yourself by staying in good physical condition.
Interesting…I recall being about 7 years old when I made the decision to stay in shape for my entire life, so I wasn’t learning anything there. I was a bit worried and back then, there wasn’t google or yoga studios everywhere. So I exercised about the same as I had always been doing.
This wasn’t enough, however. My diet was poor, I was rather wild at age 21. It wasn’t until several years later, when I picked up the Richard Hittleman book about yoga, that I began to explore yoga on my own.
The years have flown by and the progression has been slow, I now manage my scoliosis with a combination of yoga, walking, chiropractic care, massage and a good diet. Sometimes the curvature seems worse and at other times, it is better. In the meantime, it is my teacher, this “S” curve in my thoracic spine.
Just last weekend, I was practicing ashtanga yoga and had a thought. (Finally, connecting some dots). I always wondered why I am constantly fluctuating in my mind with questions “should I”? “shouldn’t I”? I also experience moments of extreme strength and confidence, then the next second, moments of exhaustion, weakness and wanting to lie down and quit.
I realized during my yoga practice that day that these messages are flowing on a curvy pathway (spinal cord) and there is some ‘interference’ This realization somehow empowered me to see things more clearly. I realize the truth of who I am – unlimited in everyway – and anything else…well… it is just not true. So… if I am experiencing limitation, doubt, unhappiness, it is simply not the truth and I can ignore that.
My “test” for truth/not truth is simple. Does this idea fit within the true nature of my soul? Joy? Beauty? Love? If not, ignore it. If so, smile and carry on. I am grateful to my teacher, scoliosis.
I posted this on Facebook one day – although I said that Ashtanga yoga keeps me sane…
The fact is, that this is one time of day, when I do my yoga practice, that everything else is forgotten. There is only me moving by body with the rhythm of my breathing. Some days it is difficult and some days easy. No matter the level of practice or difficulty, I am grateful that I have stepped onto the mat each and every time.
Many of you reading this may say – I’ll start tomorrow – or someday I really have to get back to yoga. I read a quote about someday: “Someday is not a day of the week on our calendar”.
Practice now. Now is the only real time.
I was sick the month of April. I am not sure I am completely well. I have allergies, not asthma. I have powerfully intense emotions which can manifest into asthma when it becomes too overwhelming… and I am currently just fine. Why? Well, I am practicing. Again.
Every day is a different day. I may wake up feeling okay and ready to go take on whatever task I need to do and meet with someone even – spend time with a friend or do some work. Then something happens and I need to just be by myself and talk to no one.
I have always been a more introverted type and from living with my son for the past few months, who recently committed suicide, I am fully aware of the danger of introversion or isolating oneself too much. Yet, after many years of practicing healthy habits, I am content with my choice to spend much time alone. It soothes me. I also am seeing two health practitioners. One for my physical/energetic health (acupuncturist who is also trained in nutrition, chinese medicine and homeopathy) and another one for my mental health – a counselor who uses a new therapeutic technique called Accelerated Resolution Therapy – or A.R.T.
I am breathing easier and my appetite is back – both good signs for me. One thing I have learned so far from this situation is that other people’s emotions and thoughts projected onto me can feel icky. I am very sensitive – probably hyper-sensitive and hearing that someone is “worried” about me just is not good. “Worry is praying for failure” as Ishwar puts it.
All else did fail for me – everything broke down and now I am piecing myself back together again. Authentically. This is who I am, someone who practices: being present, love, meditation, yoga, being with my family, being with my self, being healthy.
There are times when, in spite of your best efforts towards wellness, that a virus takes hold and wreaks its havoc.
In spite of a balanced practice of yoga, meditation and healthy living, the death of my son was the straw that allowed the sneaky bastard in. The rhinovirus. Not to be confused with rhinoceros, but just as potentially damaging to life and limb.
The first sign was a sudden stabbing and choking sensation in my throat – I couldn’t breathe. My adenoids started up their work of seeing to this nasty, but lo, where are the tonsils when we need them most? Sigh…alas, long ago the valiant tonsils were a victim of the fad of tonsil removal of the 1960’s. Tonsils and adenoids being the first line of defense, I was counting on my yoga practice to keep seeing me through like it always does.
So the 2nd & 3rd day, everytime I practiced, the mucous cleared up and I could talk & breathe just fine. Day 4 – the yoga didn’t work, I was still congested & coughing now. Day 5 – struggled through my workday and finally admitted I was sick. Day 6 -7-8-9…Day 6 I had to cancel out on my daughter who was counting on me for child wrangling during her baby shower, child wrangling my granddaughter is my very favorite activity. Day 7 – not sure I left bed – oh yeah, Angus kept running me Epsom salt baths. Day 8 – fed up started feeding my immune system spirulina and vitamin C. All along, I have been drinking water and ginger tea with lemon & honey too. Tried a few homeopathic remedies that brought some relief.
Now, day 9, I felt like I turned a corner this morning. yet by late morning had such an asthmatic coughing fit I wondered what happened to people who couldn’t breathe that pass out all by themselves? Using the yogic superpowers of observation, I splashed cold water on myself, got more water to drink for when I did stop choking and looked up more homeopathic remedies and found a new one to try. Someone survived that one.
My husband asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. I said no way! I know more about the immune system than most people and know that the chances of dying from an infection in the hospital are greater than at home. I probably have pneumonia. So I wait, I looked up pneumonia and research on Vitamin C shows that it cures pneumonia. The CDC says nothing cures pneumonia but it won’t hurt to take vitamins, although, they say, vitamins can interact with any medication you are on…
So there it is again – our health care system. This is why I know so much about the immune system. This is why I do the work I do. Teach yoga and throw in my little health tips. We are the unhealthiest wealthy nation in the world. Fact.
However, my intention is to move the immune health conversation forward, not rant. Here are some lovely facts about the immune system. The immune system has several lines of defense, skin, those glands, lymphatic system and a bunch of different types of cells with different hi-tech names. I will call them soldiers. There’s this one group of soldiers that waits. They immediately start their programming. While the virus injects it’s DNA into the cell to produce a virus factory, the macrophages study the virus. They capture a few in the lymph nodes and run tests. They reverse engineer the virus and then within 5-7 days – ta dahhh!!! Their is an unstoppable anti-virus army produced. The lymph system keeps up the work of capture and kill then. So this is WHY we drink lots of water. What are our soldiers going to swim in ? Sludge? No! Aimee, there may be a children’s book here for you….
The soldiers are the fastest swimmers in the world, and with your help of moving a little bit, and sleeping a lot, they can do their clean up work.
The nasty thing about the rhinovirus is, however, that it wrecks mucous membranes. Then infection can take over. That’s where pneumonia can show up. However, let’s think about this one….mucous membranes can also be helped by certain healing agents. Some I know of (off the top of my head) are Vit. A. and licorice root (not the candy!!!) and one of the best herbs for soothing mucous membranes: slippery elm. That’s in the Throat Coat tea that my kids loved so well and still do. And water.
Now what can kill pneumonia infection? Vitamin C. Yes! Absolutely a well-researched and proven cure. Check it out if you like reading this kind of thing (I do!). click here
So that’s what I do when I’m sick in bed for four days. I’m just glad I’m breathing well enough to be able to read now. I have a renewed respect for my immune system and renewed motivation to be well. Nothing is as scarey as not being able to breath. I also have a renewed understanding of asthma – I am very blessed to not have it, and pray that everyone reading this will never have to experience one. (that is good for your immune health too…prayer!)
I returned home from the Bhandara and can hardly move. I am so full. Love has filled me and there is nothing more to do. Well, laundry then.
Grieving for the loss of a loved one, whether by death or separation is like being injured in an accident. Some injuries are life threatening and deep, others may be painful, yet not as deep. Everyone feels it the same and differently, both.
In grieving, I can only reflect on my own experience. My healing will take place in my own time and way.
When grieving the separation of my husband and I, I focused on myself. What was I missing that the other fulfilled? It was a focus I could work with. I could fill it myself. With help from my friends.
In grieving the death of my son, it is different. It is like a deep wound that only time, love, patience, rest and living through it with a commitment to life can begin to heal… to the point where, there may some day be, an acceptance of the wound being something I carry throughout my life.
Like a wound, I must tend to it carefully. Allow it to be and change my plans when I notice the actions that tear it open before it is ready to be moved that way.
It is some heavy weight to carry around when life asks me to go on.
What can a friend do for me? Wait and be a witness. The presence and love of a friend is all that is needed. Trust that I will heal in time. Do not disturb the wound by offering unasked for assistance. Know that you will know what to do, when it is time to do it.
Do not worry. For worry infects the wound and the relationship. Be at peace within your own self and your presence, either in person or from far away, will be a light for this wounded warrior to find her way back to living in that peaceful place too.
Let go of expectations. We expect so many conflicting things from the broken hearted. Know that all will heal – or not – and that only my own soul knows the path I must walk.
For the last twelve years, I have practiced self care, yoga, meditation and training my mind almost daily. An average of 5 times a week (or more) I practice yoga. Every morning, meditation. Every day – redirect my mind when it comes up with stinking thinking. What is the positive thing I can focus my attention on?
When times are hard – I feel my feelings – fully – I do not suppress them.
Now, two weeks after the sudden death of my youngest son, Jacob, age 21, I am still practicing. These habits are so much a part of every cell of my body and brain, that I can not “not” do them. This doesn’t mean I am not suffering over the loss. Oh, I am suffering. Greatly. I feel it deeply in every cell of my body and mind. I am aware of the effects this grief is having on my body and mind. And I am still practicing. Daily. It is a habit, an addiction, this self-care.
Am I grateful for this? Not yet. Part of me wants to die with him, to follow him into the afterlife. Yet, I know that there are many many more people in my life who would suffer if I did that. I am aware of all of these thoughts while I am grieving and living still.
So every morning I wake up, once again shocked and devastated to remember his death, his too-short life and that he isn’t sleeping upstairs anymore (in my condo). Then I get up and go sit in meditation for one hour.
I drink the smoothie my husband prepares for me (yes, he is back and making sure I eat
), then I get ready to go teach yoga. Another habit – I have taught at least 12 classes a week for 11-12 years. During these hours, I am me again, normal and present and directing my students on the mat. This is when I know that somehow I will live through this time and be well again, that my life will be forever changed, my heart forever bigger and my son forever a part of all of it: mind, body & spirit.
There is a belief in some native cultures that when a beloved one dies, their closest family members seek to follow them into the afterlife.
Even though I can hear and feel my son still, especially when my mind is quieter, my body seeks to knock on death’s door. To bargain, to bribe. Let him come back or take me too!
This is why in many cultures we have family, we have community. To feed the ones who wish to follow. It is an irresistible pull. So keep up the food, the well wishes for all of us. It is not yet our time to join our beloved son/brother. In this world we must stay and complete our own purpose for living.
Thank you Jacob for the love, peace and joy that you brought to us all.