Friday, May 7, 2021


 A couple of years ago when I attended an Ayurveda Retreat in Kerala, India, I was asked immediately to fill out quite a long form related to my medical and emotional health. After that, two medical doctors invited me into their rooms wherein they measured this and that, felt this and that. They listened to my heart and looked into my eyes. All the while, they said things to one another in their own language. They went over the answers I had written on the long form and then they asked for clarification or elaboration of several of them.

It felt to me that they focused in on my answers related to my state of mind. I recall sharing two important snippets into my life. I shared that my husband could be exasperating. Dr Molly waved this away. This was the way of the world, she said. This was marriage!

This led me to share the other area of anxiety. I worried about getting cancer. There was no need to worry about this, she told me. I was a very healthy woman. Everything was fine. I was given two supplements to take morning and night, as was everyone else it seemed to me. Other than that, did I have ailments to report?

Yes, one. I experience a tight neck on my left side. I was told she would have the therapist focus in on this area of my body. They would fix it, not to worry.

I was given a few instructions. I was not to eat cold food at night. Well, there was no cold food at night anyway, other than dessert. Not too much salad at lunch. Dr Molly couldn't understand why I ate the salad at all. It is not enough food. No, really, I assured her. I loved the salad. She waved at the air. What can you do?

Each day the protocol was for me to come and see Dr Molly. She wanted to know of bowel movements and sleep activity. Then, she said something to the physical therapist and off I went to be massaged in some spectacularly heavenly way for a couple of hours. There were other clients ready with a list of complaints and she saw no reason to prolong our daily visitation.

It was Dr Molly, and no one else, before or since, that put into my mind that I was actually a well person. It was a very liberating thought.

In my childhood I experienced considerable ill health. There were the usual colds but I also had some sort of blockage in my ducts around my ears. This went away by itself, I think. 

I developed osteomyelitis  in a knee as a teenager at the time when I was boarding with a friend's family, when my parents went to the country to manage a business. In my second year of University I developed a benign cyst in my breast that needed to be removed. And, right after having my second child, the osteomyelitis came back.

It all seemed random, bad luck, but these days I have suspicions around the anxiety I was experiencing and the interconnection of those rather serious bouts of bad health and the way my life unfolded as part of the family into which I had been born. I can never know, for sure. What I was left with was a sense of uncertainty around my lifespan that I had trouble shaking, but Dr Molly put my worries to rest.

Of course, at the retreat I was offered only vegetarian fare and this sits well with me and suits me. I had had to go cold turkey at my first retreat five or six years ago, no meat, no caffeine, no alcohol.  I believe in a plant based diet; a little fish and even a little less meat and eggs. I keep processed foods to an absolute minimum because I feel terrible when I eat them.

Maybe I will and maybe I won't live a long life. It feels far more likely to me now that I will have a long life. My mother is still alive. The worry about all that is gone now.

For the longest time, I lived in denial of my emotional wasteland. What I mean by that is that I didn't allow, or didn't even know how to explore my range of feelings. When the emotional pain came to the surface, it was like a tsunami. It threatened to take me down. Since I was forced to do something about it or perish, I did.

There were no easy answers but rather a perilous adventure where I fully explored the trauma, the causes of it; how it felt from every angle. I went deep into the trauma. I may have gone too far, places I didn't need to navigate, but perhaps the depth of the investigation contributed to the healing. To say I understand the meaning of the term 'the dark night of the soul' is to put it lightly.

I am still investigating meditation for the traumatized person because I wonder if it could have been an easier path, and if so, how others can have an easier ride.

Deepak Chopra, in all his great wisdom, might say that embodiment isn't so important since there is no mind or body but simply consciousness, but I feel embodiment was key; feeling into the emotions felt in the body as well as being aware of the space of the body, the space around the body. I wasn't used to that. Until I explored it, my emotional life and the way it interacted with the physical body was quite closed to me.

A vital step was self love; tapping into the traumatized (neglected) child part of me; literally rescuing her from a place where, when I met with her she was always sad and inert; silent. (It was so enriching later to read of people who experienced their inner child in exactly the same way.)

I have now heard a few people say that you should meditate until you don't really need to meditate; that is to say, until your life is a meditation, and I subscribe to that. You have to let the body and mind rest and settle. You need to find those internal states of bliss, satisfaction, happiness, contentedness. You have to experience joy more and more; the taste of your coffee; the sense of being at One, One.

When you can let go of certain outcomes; of being hard on yourself, judging others, trying to engineer great results, the mind appreciates this. Kindness to self and others becomes the default. You are all in this together. You are all walking each other home. You are just the observer of this moment, resting in the moment, however it goes. Everything, let's face it, is fundamentally okay in nearly all our moments. As someone once put it to me, oh so long ago, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

It would be laughable to suggest I don't think thoughts and plan. Right now I am thinking I best move off and get ready for an event tonight. I haven't thrown my hands up and left it all to the pixies to arrange life. I have, nonetheless, found a space in which I can most often rest in equanimity; a hard fought win.