Taking Deep Breaths

Photo by Victor Garcia on Unsplash

I saw the doctor yesterday. It was a good appointment. I went on a few new supplements (after going off almost all of them last spring because I was doing so much better!) to help with the ongoing GI infection that affects the absorption of nutrients.

I was reminded that I am sick.

This feels like an unusual statement even to write. Of course, I know, and yet as healing happens, it can be difficult to actually grasp how much I am doing right now–and how much rest I still need and want to engage in, because of all that I’m doing.

I was reminded in a simple way that as life goes on and I meet new people, that each person knows a piece. That’s how life is.

My doctor told me that I needed to slow down, needed to simplify, needed to go back to eating less inflammatory foods, while I continue to heal my GI tract. Yes, I needed that reminder.

Healing is fluid. Sometimes healing means doing more. Sometimes doing less. It requires a receptive posture and a deep trust in one’s intuition to know the difference.

Sometimes it means accepting & heeding warnings from others, and sometimes it means simply knowing that they don’t truly understand and their advice is coming from their own discomfort. Trusting myself, while still being deeply connected in relationship.

I also just started seeing an amazing chiropractor. I’m thankful. I’ve been having increasing low back & neck pain. He just told me yesterday that my body has a difficult time truly resting; sinking into my parasympathetic nervous system. And I said, “Yep, that sounds about right!” The every day task of healing from an autoimmune disease, and living with it. And connecting with this phenomenon on a spiritual plane and knowing this is also connected to ancestry and whiteness. I carry a lot in my body and healing is my task in this lifetime.

I was reminded how light it feels to ask for help. To accept help from humans, but also from nature, from the Divine. To accept help from friends, from scientists, from plants, from myself, from doctors, from family, from my ancestors.

I sat down with a friend for lunch today, who also lives with chronic illness, and just explained how difficult it is to be working full time and finishing out my spiritual direction certification right now. We talked about pacing-about the dance of adding things in, needing to cut them out, and knowing the right time for each. Trusting the wisdom of the body. Taking ourselves seriously and be willing to accept what we need. Taking ourselves lightly, and knowing that whatever we are saying “no” to isn’t us “missing out” but it’s a gateway for permission to say yes for what we really need in the moment. Everything will be okay without us, even if being absent stings a little bit.

I said “no” to being present for a presentation that I helped plan for a few months. And I moved on, accepting that the no was the right thing for me.

In the midst of all these personal decisions, Nathan Phillips sang in the midst of racist acts by the Covington Catholic white boys, and Martin Luther King was honored in some places, and white-washed in others.

I’m talking with my students, teaching, guiding, laughing–pushing back against “love & light” MLK quotes, talking about the Covington Catholic white boys’ racism–pushing back against white silence.

Then there’s resting. And detaching myself from outcomes. And accepting that I’m not in control. And breathing deeply. 2019 is bringing deeper acceptance of this quiet work. It’s already helping me create a new container around what is mine to do.

I’m in my Saturn return year! And I’m excited to see what changes, where I expand and grow and heal. And also, everything is intense (And this Capricorn season kinda felt terrible!) And I’m claiming what belongs, and learning to see what I need to let go of, where I need to become softer.

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A Day to Practice

The practice of reflection and setting goals in the New Year is a funny one to me. The mind can dream big and it can play small. We can express lofty hopes or hide behind our fears.

This practice isn’t “bad”; I engage in it myself. And yet the good-bad binary doesn’t get us very far. What struck me today, as it does most days, is that my body has far more to say than my mind. I’ve been socialized to see what my mind has to say as more valid, more important, more urgent, more in need of attention, love & care. This is what colonization does; elevate the mind to the detriment of everything else—mind, soul & spirit.

I slept well last night, even though I went to bed past midnight. But I woke up exhausted, sad even. I engaged in my morning rituals and practices, and felt a little more energized. But by the time I got out of the shower, I was exhausted again. I felt tender, and just let the tears come.

My mind had all sorts of things to say.

“Push through; there’s stuff you wanted to do today.”

“It’s the New Year, you’re not supposed to feel sad.”

“Maybe tweaking what you eat for lunch will make you less tired.”

I’ve had lots of practice not pushing through. Of resting. Of cancelling. Of saying no. These phrases were old tapes, yes. But also just not as nourishing as accepting the tears as they came. The tears doing all the expression of disappointment without my mind needing to rush all over the place.

Yes, it’s New Years. And it’s just another day to practice. It’s a day to validate my emotions, validate how my body feels, and let my feelings and sensations lead the way. Validating how I actually feel, rather than how I want to feel. Taking the time to be in the moment with myself. The invitation is always there.

The invitation to receive, to be vulnerable, to rest, to feel how I feel. This invitation can be painful, and yet as I cried today, I knew it to be a gift. A gift to let my day be reorganized based on what my body can do, what it needs. And to smile towards myself for listening.