I was blessed to hear a talk by Tara Brach at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center in March of 2013. I follow her blog and have read her book, "True Refuge." Rather than fighting or fleeing from the reality of what is, we can shift our awareness to attend and befriend.
"If we can slow down even just for a minute, we can shift from fight/flight to attend and befriend."
She lives with a chronic condition that at times has required hospitalization. She was unable to physically participate in a family vacation one year due to her condition. Rather than feel anger and aversion to her condition, she chose to adopt an attitude of attend and befriend.
This morning in Aquatics Therapy class at Spaulding Rehab, our therapist suggested that we try to make the squats more challenging.
"Put your arms in front of you like a genie and see if you can do a squat balancing on one leg."
I'd been doing squats for over a year now and decided to take on the challenge. Balancing on my right leg, bending and straightening it was a manageable challenge. Time to switch legs.
I had no ability to negotiate the squat on my left leg. I was open to inquiry about what was happening and she suggested that I hold onto the wall with one hand while I allowed my neuromuscular system to organize for the one legged squat.
I remember a time when I would feel angry and frustrated that my body would not do as I wanted it to do. I had an aversion to being a polio survivor and all that went along with it. That's what led me in part to the wrong kind of yoga and KMI structural integration. I thought that I needed to fix my body from the outside in.
I was kind, loving and compassionate with my body this morning. Our therapist did a lot of balance exercises and exercises that isolate and challenge each side individually. Our therapist commented that everyone has one side that is able to do things with greater ease and to be patient with myself.
I remember when I wasn't able to do a two legged squat. I would have to do it against the wall. I was able to come away from the wall but when we introduced dumbbells, I had to use the wall for support again. Now I am progressing to one legged squats and need to use the wall for the support on my left side. Our therapist reassured me that I would be able to gain muscle control and coordination and little by little move away from the wall. I delighted in being able to isolate muscles to build upper body strength without tremors this morning! What excitement to build on new muscle memory; to feel that I can live unapologetically in my body.
When I perceived my body as the enemy; something to be despised and fought with, I manifested states of dis-ease. Being present in my body, being kind and loving and patient, attending and befriending what is, allows me to heal.
Tara's Dharma talk about Attend and Befriend - Healing the Fear Body
Knowing the challenges first hand of living with a neuromuscular condition, on Thanksgiving, I will be running the Boston Volvo 5K Village Road Race to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society New England Chapter. When we unlock the key to one neuromuscular condition, we can unlock the door to many. You can donate to my run on my fund raising page.
The first 7 years of my healing odyssey are chronicled in Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility available on Amazon. I donate 50% of royalty payments to The One Fund Boston to help survivors and their families who were affected by the tragic events of 4/15/13.
I'm working on my 2nd book, "Journey Well," due out later this year: