The Gift of Nature (Jul 1996)

Summer … a late one this year with lots of flooding, which happens every so often. On the front cover is a photograph of a similar time many years ago when the Beaver River washed out several bridges. My brothers and I (the one with the pony tail) thought it was great fun loading ourselves into the trailer that was being pulled by our farm tractor so that we could go to school. Crossing the river from the other direction were our neighbours Vicki and Mel, who were using the Cat to move some of the gravel and let the creek get centred once again. They lived on the riverbank and had their home washed away.

As I sat by Penticton Creek last week, watching it rush by, I connected to my thoughts about water and how it represents emotions symbolically. Tears that were never cried… Emotions rising to the surface… Have I dealt with mine? I have figured out that pain is a good indicator of buried emotions, so I took some time to tune into my body and some more pieces of my puzzle came together. I am grateful that the pain below my ears has lessened, that I can now type without my shoulders burning up and that I can press into my belly without feeling like I am going to burst. With the help of acupuncture, herbs and rest, my body is renewing itself and my energy is increasing. I almost burned out several years ago, so a much needed lesson for me has been to slow down. For as Paul Pitchford says in his book Healing with Whole Foods, “If awareness is neglected, an emotional cripple can find a way to pervert even a sound diet so that it supports his or her current disturbances.” I know it is important to balance emotional work with nutritional education: each gives me energy, so that I may grow stronger physically, emotionally and spiritually. Letting go of fear and breathing through the pain starts with being honest with myself.

During my last four Rolfing sessions, Gary has been loosening my sacrum and pelvic area. When he pushed deep into my hip near my ileocecal valve my hands flew to my neck, for it felt like he was ripping the skin from my throat. He said, “Connective tissue.” I breathed and breathed but the pain was intense, and I was grateful when he backed off just a touch. During the week following the Rolf, I was very aware of my walking pattern and my sway back. As I flattened it I could feel my shoulders roll back, but I had to concentrate to keep breathing. As I did, a song from the seventies came into my mind, called the Wedding Bell Blues. I trust my inner voice and appreciate my insights for I know they are there to help me heal, so I realized that perhaps this song was a clue pointing to the next doorway that could help me go further into process and release some more unfinished emotional dramas.

As I practised walking and being aware of my straighter lower back, I started humming the words … “Won’t you Marry me Bill, I always will…. etc,” went the song, and that got me into my feelings, but I was busy so I told myself that I would spend time with them in the morning. Sure enough, when I awoke and checked into my body those weird feelings were still in my stomach, so I asked it, “What would you like to say to me?” I started humming the Wedding Bell Blues song again. Was my body trying to remind me of something that happened to me? I decided to play along and relived being seventeen years old, asking Mom if I could get married. The emotions surfaced as if it were yesterday.

I remembered how scared I felt when my period hadn’t come and how much I didn’t want to go to a doctor for ‘the Test,’ at the same time knowing deep down that I had to have an answer. I remembered the strangeness of his phone call ‘congratulating’ me on my pregnancy as my stomach quivered. I remembered my weak knees as I walked across the street to meet Rae at the coffee shop to tell him the news. He was delighted and I was relieved that he wanted to be a Dad. Somehow in my teenage wisdom, I knew I had to do the right thing for this child of ours. No abortion and no adoption.

My Mom refused to support my decision to marry Rae. Instead of understanding me she gave me the cold shoulder, which was her way of dealing with pain. As she dictated her rules of conduct to me, I spaced out, for I knew what I needed to do. My mind was already made up and so was hers. She wanted me to finish high school and go to college and she wasn’t about to help me ruin my life. There was no middle ground for either of us to talk. I can still remember how white her face became as she left the room, probably as weak-kneed as I felt. She had taught me to be strong and to trust my decision-making abilities but she couldn’t let go and trust me, when it came this close to home.

What I have been learning lately is to process, to relive emotions so as to feel and express them so that they can be let go. So I asked my seventeen-year-old self, “What is it that I want from Mom?” Tears came and screams of old grief released themselves as I asked for her emotional support. I wanted my Mom to come to my wedding. I wanted her love and her guidance. I wanted her to be happy for me. But instead of feeling all this at the time, I got real busy making plans to leave home so that I didn’t have to experience my heart break. My attitude became, ” It’s your loss, not mine.” Looking back, I can see the gift she gave me. She taught me to be strong and stand on my own two feet, for I learned to make decisions and follow through, without having her support.

My body has always been a good talker, or maybe I am a good listener, for as Jan puts it, “At least you didn’t have to lie on the floor for two years recuperating from back surgery like I did to get the message.” I knew the pain in my shoulders and the gas in my stomach had some deeper meaning for me but the only information I could find at the time had to do with nutrition and proper food combining, etc. I tried the nutrition route for twenty years, getting more and more sensitive as the pain increased. But I was determined to heal my imbalances without drugs or surgery, for deep down inside, I knew they weren’t the answer. Rolfing helped me immediately, and I started reading books about structural integration and discovered how emotions that aren’t expressed get stuffed… usually somewhere in the connective tissue. Pain is a message that an energy meridian is blocked and running low on fuel. I am learning to be in my body and feel my feelings, which is different from being in my head and thinking about them. The Rolfing sessions are intense but certainly no more painful than giving birth and I feel lighter afterwards. I have also learned that repressing emotions, like anger, also supresses others, like joy. Feelings are feelings and they all need to be acknowledged. There is no good or bad, no right or wrong.

I find that getting a massage is a good way for me to get in touch with my body and feel where I store my pain. At the same time it helps me to relax. Afterwards I keep rubbing the sore spots and stretching the ligaments and muscles. Yoga helps me work through the stiffness and meditation reconnects me to the Creator.

Expressing my feelings honestly helps me to stay in my body and is very empowering. To clarify an emotional reaction, I take a few moments to locate where the feeling is: my stomach, my solar plexus or my heart. Then I ask myself, “What is it that I want or don’t want … something that would make this feeling go away?” Usually I have a reaction if I am not asking for what I want. Once I figure that out, I ask myself if I have felt this feeling before. I can usually remember a time when I did ask and got hurt, rejected, ridiculed or ignored. I stay with my feelings, going into the pain by remembering the details. Sometimes I imagine the person in front of me as I speak my truth … from my heart, feeling the energy as it releases. Reliving the past helps me to let go of my attachment to getting what I wanted, which was usually to feel special and loved. As the energy releases from my body, I become a little more aware of my programming and why I am the way I am. Then I take the time to get clear on how I can create change in my life and start reprogramming myself.

From Ida Rolf ‘s book entitled Rolfing: The Integration of Human Structure, I have learned that the key to well-being is aligning the pelvis to the gravitational field of the earth. As my sacrum shifts into alignment, I feel more connected to the earth, and I no longer need to collapse into myself to protect my heart. As my body straightens, the meridians open and my throat muscles loosen, allowing me to be more honest and speak my truth, which allows my body to straighten and lets my shoulders release. At some point the circle will be complete. Till then I feel like I am in a spiral. Each month takes me deeper into my core as I expand further outward.

Learning to speak my truth in the moment and trusting that I can do it without attachment helps me to love myself and feel connected to my angels and nature. Speaking my truth is taking on a whole new dimension as I become aware of words that people use to communicate with. It is getting easier for me to see the repeated patterns of childhood experiences. Events and people are mirrors for me, so that I may see the reflection. I help them heal themselves and in so doing I heal myself and the planet. I appreciate my intelligence and wish to balance the mind with expressing my emotions. As my heart opens and expands, I am given energy and insight to do what it is I came here to do… to help create community for holistic minded individuals.

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