A quote by Tennyson, given to me as a greeting card a few years ago. The card hasn't left my books shelf since, and it's message is very appropriate at the present time.
The shell must break...
|Footloose, acrylic on wood|
© Corina Duyn
"You are the 'Hatched Woman", Dolores said when we met some time last year. "I love that book." A few months ago, I was proud to show her my handmade book: Flying on Little Wings. She held it in her hands, and uttered the words "precious, it's so precious". When she came to pick up her copy we talked about writing, creating books and about the artwork in Hatched. She asked if I still had the painting 'Footloose'. As it happened, I did. It was one of two paintings still in my possession.
We agreed on a barter for treatment in reflexology and polarity therapy.
This has been taking place during the past month or so. It has set me off on a journey of discovery way beyond the treatment.
Since having a major setback in terms on my health in May, I have found life increasingly more challenging. Pain was unbearable, but more worryingly, so was my mental state. "I don't recognise myself" I uttered. "And I feel cheated out of life". All I love to do and which are a way to help me deal with the effects of illness - gardening, working in the greenhouse, doing my writing and art, were once again taken away from me. I felt that there was little left.
(I have been more or less housebound at the start of the ME 13 years ago, but I had been able to slowly expand on these boundaries.)
Starting this session of treatments, I told all I know about the way my life has progressed over the past 5 decades (almost!) and how illness has effected me. One of the main things that I focused on was that I have never felt "grounded". I have been floating through life.
"Footloose" suddenly had a different meaning from when and why I had created it...
After the second session I was told "we talked a lot. That is unusual."
These few words stuck in my head.
I realised that even during a treatment to help me further on a path of recovery, I was not fully "here". I was not focusing on what was happening right NOW. My body was being worked on and my mind was elsewhere.
I realised that I have been doing that for a VERY long time.
It is easier to ignore the body's messages and "get on with life".
Looking for my '80 Dutch book on reflexology I found a book by a Dutch woman who had had ME. (Bange Helden, Wies Enthoven).
'You know you have to change.' He (the acupuncturist she went to) knew that I was the only one who could make this happen.'
Reading this made my body tingle.
I knew it to be true. I have always believed this but have not been able to 'go' there.
'Let it be' he said.'What remains of me when I can only be? Wies asked herself. 'The struggle I fought with myself to really let go of everything was huge.'
'Dare to be who you're meant to be' she continues, 'was hardly an original revelation, but was obviously new for me.'
Last week I brought a visit to the library and while looking for a book on reflexology, I came across a book by fiction and non fiction writer Tim Parks: Teach us to be still. A Sceptic's Search for Health and Healing. I am learning lots from his frank and open, and often funny account of how he dealt with being ill. How the medical profession looks at one aspect only, and what do you do when they can't find anything wrong.
Breath and be still. Apparently!
Reading Parks's book I realised that I too find escape into words. '...Until I had thought about it in words, or better still, written about it, ... then I possessed it.
'We read to know we're not alone' says CS Lewis.
And for me? I write to understand.
My mind is always busy, which I thought was a gift to help me deal with decline into dark and lonely places due to illness. If I am not actually writing, I write in my head, and come up with plans for creative adventures. While doing guided meditations, I 'tell' a friend to listen to this too. When I am reading, I make a mental note to tell so and so about this book. When I am in the bath I want to get out because there is something I need to write down; when I am 'meditating' my mind goes into all sorts of directions and none of them have anything to do with stillness. When I see a lovely bird in the garden, I have to get my camera in stead of really seeing the bird.
'Mind and body part company', Park realises, 'you're more at home on the page than on the pavement.' ... 'Your mind is you. Your body is your vehicle.'
I was told the same words by Dolores...
All a sobering thought.
I am very busy, and am not- as I thought- working my way through what really matters to me- finding healing, finding a way to improve my well being, physically and mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
'Give yourself the gift of change,' Kerie Logan tells me time and time again during her guided meditations. 'Let go of any resistance.'
I want change.
But have been scared to go 'there'.
There where I have no control. I have no idea where 'there' really is.
Being much more in the moment and being still already brought me to some uncomfortable 'home-truths'.
The shell must break before the bird can fly...
With the help of Kerie, Dolores, Wies, Tim and all of those that have gone before me I will embrace the stillness. And break the shell so I can start my flight with a fresh eyes and healthy wings.
I will make friends with myself as Pema Chodron tells me during her excellent lecture on Matri and and Tonglen meditation.
You know what dawned on my the other night - while sitting in the bath - that Stillness and Illness are almost the same word.
Be good my friends, and maybe be still?
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