Saturday, November 5, 2011

paying attention

Bird Sanctuary, outside Mysore City, Karnataka.

"Writing about attention, I see that I have written a good deal about pain. This is no coincidence. It may be different for others, but pain is what it took me to pay attention. In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past too painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to the right now." --Julia Cameron, Artist's Way.

I marked the passage above last week when reading Artist's Way. It resonated then I moved on from it. Now I understand why.

On the weekend I received a Tui Na massage from my friend Joycee. I'd expected it to be intense as so many of my fellow yoga practitioners around Gokulam who have signed up quite willingly to be kneaded by Joycee's deft fingers, knuckles, elbows and rather small but effectively lethal massage stick have come out with serious bruises--along with glowing success stories of alleviated aches, of course. So I was prepared for discomfort, bruising, and soreness.

Joycee identified right away the culprits to my neck troubles and went to work on my lower back and shoulders. She poked and prodded, "tightness is there," as she pointed out where I was having difficulty in my asana practice. Then she got to he underside of my left leg, where she laid it down: this was where I had stored my emotions. She asked me to think, what have I been running away from that my defenses would try to bury it deep within my own body? What hurt and pain had I trapped within myself so adeptly that I did not notice it?

After my massage, Joycee tucked me into bed to rest, as she worked her rolling pin of a massage on Claudia, where I fell into a deep rest. I was exhausted. Physically relieved, but emotionally restless. Something deep within was stirred up. When I came to, I was instructed to shower then to sit and have tea, chocolate and hugs from Joycee and Claudia. Somewhere in between, I uncovered a well of sadness and hurt which then overflowed for the next few hours.

Hmph, I thought I was over all this. In many ways I am. I've moved on, literally, half way across the planet.

All things considered, the drama that caused all this was not so long ago. And in truth, I am still dealing with the fall out. A loss is a loss, no matter whether it makes sense or not. An injury is an injury even when you didn't do anything to deserve it. It shook me, it shook my belief in others, it shook my belief in myself.

So here I am in India, working on my yoga practice, my key tool being my physical body. And yet, here I am using it as a repository for my sad little story. Joycee reminds me of what I am doing here in Mysore and that I need to remove this blockage. She can get my blood circulating again, she can point out this thing that is stuck, but only I can exorcise my own demons. All I can do is feel it, feel the hurt and the pain that is so beyond my physical body but hurts a great deal more than the grinding roll of knuckles against connective tissue.

And the moment I do, I start to feel better because I'm unblocking the flow of my emotional body. I mean, the hurt doesn't go away exactly, but I feel more myself. Everything feels clearer. I see how much I've been avoiding things, whether its sitting still with myself or writing this blog. I sadly realize how I've been dodging myself for the last couple of weeks, I've not been myself, I've not been wholly present, which brings me back to what Julia Cameron wrote. Now, being honest about the pain, accepting it for what it is, and how certain things are not, in fact, ok, I can be more present. Veils are being lifted. My vision clears.

Hopefully, I can now get to the crucial work of releasing, of letting go.

Thank you, dear Deva. Again, you seem to be behind many of my crucial discoveries here in Mysore. And thank you, Joycee, you have a gift!

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