This post might be tagged #better late than never. The usual excuses apply and then some as I work toward physical independence and complete recovery. Most of the things I used to do with ease are still difficult. And some are not yet in reach. I can feel the sadness in my heart as I write these words…the longing to express the physical side of my nature freely and without restriction. To freely and easily write, paint, dance, walk, bike, cook, bake and make love for as long as I like as often as I’d like!
The down side of my situation is just as bad as you think it would be- and worse, squared. And the up side? Yes of course there is an upside. That is the way things work here. For every up, a down. For every in, an out. The trick is knowing how to Engage with the true nature of things including your Self. I like to think of it as seeing through the eyes of the heart. From this vantage point there is always something to appreciate. Start with your breath. If this sounds corny, than try holding it until your gasping for air…get my point…
It may seem counterintuitive, but closing your eyes can help you see yourself better. During meditation we usually close our eyes to help turn our attention inward. Using an eye pillow really helps me to go deeper into meditation and to relax.
I like to use one when I practice the Engaging your Senses body&soul Scan below. I first discovered the pleasure and benefits of this simple tool in Melbourne when my Yoga teacher guided and invited us to relax the muscles around our eyes as she gently placed them the cool, silky, lavender scented pillow over them during Shavasana (deep relaxation).I haven’t looked back since. I’m really excited to tell you I’ll be offering my first Engaging ecourse later this year which will include a silky, naturally fragrant pillow for your senses.
Ok lets get started.
- Start by breathing in and out through your nose, then on your next exhale breathe out through your mouth along with a big sighing letting go sound. hhaaaa… do this a few times. Then breathe normally.
- Now bring your attention to your heart center and let the corners of your mouth turn up into a ‘half smile of the Buddha’.
- Think about the last time you felt truly happy, so happy it made you smile. Really smile- with your eyes as well as your mouth!
- Remember how good that experience felt. That feeling sense belongs to you and no one can take it away! It is always available to you whenever and wherever you are!
- Now imagine the shape of smile entering your heart as you breathe in slowly and deeply.
- Next imagine the shape and feeling of a smile entering your belly as you consciously soften the muscles there.
- Breathe in again and as you exhale consciously relax the muscles of your belly.You may be surprised to discover how often you are clenching these muscles in reaction to stress during a normal day.
- Let the smile move up to your eyes as you consciously relax the hard working muscles around your eyes.
- Continue to feel the smile and let it radiate out of your heart and belly like rays of sun warming the earth as you breath slowly, peacefully, effortlessly through your nose.
- Notice the way the you feel now and make a conscious to bring this sense of relaxation and ease with you when you open your eyes and go on with your day.
“Engaging in this short simple practice first thing in the morning while still in bed sets you up for a beautiful day. Though it works equally well at any time of the day or night.”
So yes, the up side is that I get to, as good old Proust said, “look at the world through fresh eyes” each time I regain a small independence. The first time for years,(and this was only about 6 weeks ago) that I cooked served and cleaned up my own breakfast and lunch with out collapsing in pain afterward. The first time I took a spontaneous outing on my own. I was early for PT and stopped in at the craft store- by myself! O the simple of joy of autonomy…of wandering at my own pace. Hell, the first time I was able to go to the grocery store myself…Who knew picking out my own sweet peas and papaya is such a luxury.
Other small victories are even sweeter- being able to accompany my daughter to get her driving permit. And more recently when she was unwell- being able to make her a cup of hot water with fresh lime, honey and ginger and safely carry it down the long hallway to her room..and later that day heat and serve our dinner…I couldn’t have done that a month ago, or two weeks ago! And whilst things are definitely looking up there may be some days still, where that simple task and act of love is out of reach.
So then what??? Most of the time I remember to Engage my Senses but not always. Even after 18 years of yoga and meditation practice I still get get discouraged and feel overwhelmed and forget to be my own true love- and yes, it feels terrible! And no amount of chocolate, shopping, drinking, eating, watching reality tv, smoking weed, or ________fill in the escape of your choice, will ever make it better. So whilst there is no magic potion or wand to wave to keep me from occasionally falling back on my “vices of crisis”, these episodes grow shorter and less frequent because I have learned to Engage my Senses in order to find my way back home. No matter how lost I may feel or far I have strayed, what I know for sure is that what is always in reach is the Beautiful -which exists- even within the terrible.