First, a huge thanks to all of you who reached out to offer support with my injury last week! I was overwhelmed at the warmth, compassion and offers to bring food, shop for me, and even offer body work. I really feel loved and held.
My body is healing, and more quickly than I guessed it would. I will be 55 in a couple of weeks and my body keeps surprising me. My mind still holds a belief that I can recover quickly but my body has many different timetables for healing. As I mentioned last week, going slowly and softly are essential now, and they feel so good (once I accept this wisdom).
I am currently deep into a 50-hour online training in somatic awareness. I believe that the practices we’re doing in this training have “midwifed” my recovery. The training, led by Tias Little, includes movement, lecture, chanting and poetry. I need all of these inroads to make education rich and intriguing. I want to focus on a practice we did with a poem by a Native American writer this week, and I’ll do that soon. I want to share that I’ve also done some drawings of the bones and muscles of my injured psoas and sacral region, to increase my intimacy with this body of mine. This is really hard for me! I love making abstract art but precision and symmetry in a drawing mean lots of erasing and going slowly (again!) to really see what is here. By approaching myself in both an intellectual and an artistic or image-centered way, I recognized that I could have a deeper relationship to myself and that this delving need never stop. This is exciting to me! It makes me feel young and light. Every injury or illness or loss has been a powerful teacher.
Back to the poem now. We were to choose one line for our practice, then sit for 5 minutes, repeating the words, noticing how their meaning moved in our bodies. Then we shared with a couple of peers. Here’s the piece, by N. Scott Momoday –
I am the feather on the bright blue sky
I am the blue horse that runs on the plain
I am the fish that rolls, shining, in the water
I am the shadow that follows a child
I am the evening light, the lustre in the meadows
I am an eagle playing with the wind
I am a cluster of bright beads
I am the farthest star
I am the cold of the dawn
I am the roaring rain
I am the glitter on the crust of the snow
I am the long track of the moon on the lake
I am the flame of four colors
I am a deer standing away in the dusk
I am a field of sumac and pomme blanche
I am the angle of geese in the winter sky
I am the hunger of a young wolf
I am the whole dream of these things
You see, I am alive, I am alive
I stand in good relation to the Gods
I stand in good relation to the Earth
I stand in good relation to the everything that is
beautiful…You see, I am alive, I am alive
I chose this line about a fish: I am the fish that rolls, shining in the water.
Sitting, repeating this line, I tried to become the fish. I felt the narrow, smooth face and the sensuous undulations of the head, back and forth. I felt no arms, no hands for expression, no words to speak, just gazing with side-facing eyes, head tracking left and right, alert but calm, gliding along. These side-to-side movements started to include more of my neck and then my trunk followed, serpent-like, moving smoothly and gracefully, articulating every joint with ease. As we stayed longer in the meditation, I could feel this glossy, delightful freedom continue into my lower trunk and even my legs. It felt so simple. My whole body was participating and felt luminous. My first image of the fish was a silver salmon, jumping up, flashing in the sunlight, and holding that flash even back in the water. I was able to both see this brightness and embody it. The poem says that the fish rolls, so played with spiraling, rolling, playing in the practice, remembering my own body undulating in water. Of course we were all once water creatures, while in utero, and maybe we can even feel our fishy ancestors in these human bodies, if we try.
Without leaving my house, or even leaving my cosy yoga space, I connected with nature. I had an embodied experience of knowing that I am not separate from the fish. There are many lines in the poem – maybe I will be a deer tomorrow. Clearly the practice has no end. We can add an otter, elephant or ladybug.
I encourage you to try this, or make up your own version. All you have to do is choose one line, because you are alive, you are alive. How can we pick? Be soft, stay simple, just decide on one thing today. Find a way to be comfortable, sitting or standing or lying down. Give yourself 5 minutes or maybe just 2 minutes. It will make a difference. Remember that you are alive, you are part of this world, every part of your body, mind and soul. Let yourself really feel, use this glorious human mind and body to deepen your experience of life.
Maybe you have easy access to nature and would rather hike or walk, or maybe you go diving and interact under the water’s surface. There are also lots of great documentaries and even short Youtube videos that can facilitate your remembering your place on this earth. You are not alone. We are all here, snuggling our pets if we have them. Make some kind of forray this week, indoors or out, and feel the ease that awaits you. It is healing.
Well friends, I am off to the pumpkin patch to connect with some plants and traditions I adore. May you find your way as well!