Saturday, December 17, 2011

Finding a State of Grace

My understanding about this tumor, this benign meningioma, has been forced to expand because of all of the delays in getting it out. At the beginning it seemed so simple. Have surgery and recover. Now, adrift in waiting and wonder, I feel compelled to lighten up and get over the fact that someday I’ll have brain surgery. Yet, it hasn’t been that easy to forget about it because it changes my life day-to-day. Since my modus operando is often thinking and figuring, and I know like I know that all of this thinking and figuring actually keeps me in a state of non-action, I also called on my friend Rose last week to be my sounding board. Rose is all about grounding in the body’s knowledge and I have always experienced exquisite peace when I’m around her, even when I was very frustrated otherwise.

Rose suggested that I find a yoga class, specifically restorative yoga, and thankfully the word “relax” didn’t escape into her cell phone. We had a great conversation for several hours in which I told her about Native American legend that I’ve read in various books and websites. Swan is the story of being in a state of grace, and that exactly is very interesting to me. Swan flies by accident into the Dreamtime. No matter how hard she tries to escape, she always ends up back in the very same pond looking up at the Sacred Mountain. She thinks and she thinks about how to escape, and every day she tries to stay awake and aware so that she can find her way out in flight but her efforts are to no avail. She always finds herself landing in the little pond.

 One day she notices a frightening black hole swirling above Sacred Mountain. She worries about it but realizes if she cannot fly away from the pond then there is nothing she can do about it. She accepts it is what it is and returns her thoughts to escape. Later that day Dragonfly emerges from the black hole and Swan asks him how he flew through it and what it means. Dragonfly tells her that it is a punishment to those who work against or worse yet ignore Great Spirit but it is also the entry to meet Great Spirit directly if they surrender to Great Spirit’s plan completely.

Swan gets very excited and tells Dragonfly she is ready and willing to surrender to Great Spirit’s plan for her completely, and Dragonfly tells her to fly towards the black hole then and see what happens. He makes no promise to her that she can succeed. Swan flies into the black swirling hole and re-emerges as the beautiful white bird that we know. Dragonfly asks her what has happened to her to make her so stunning. Swan smiles and reports that she indeed met Great Spirit and that she was transformed by her surrender to the state of grace. 

Trust, it seems to me is the state of grace, and that’s been a challenge for me with this reaction to the anti-seizure medication. I’ve been completely resisting the whispers in my head that tell me to take care of my body as well as I have been known to do in the past. I wonder if it takes a deluge of failure to get us to give up the idea that we can control everything in our lives? I'd like to get past this "efforting" and fly into a state of grace.

It seems obvious to me that surrendering to this whisper is exactly what I’m asked to do at this juncture. Surrendering is not about inaction, but rather about being willing to face fear, even simple anxiety, with a sense of trust in whatever happens.  

One of the things that I learned from Argentine Tango is that I often struggle unconsciously against losing control. When I finally was able to follow a lead through the tango I truly felt like a swan, beautiful and graceful. And, that is the response I got from my dance partners, one of whom actually said, I kid you not, “Oh, dancing with you is like driving a convertible Mustang up Highway 1.” Blush. I know that I have been struggling with this experience for two months because I haven’t been able to get into my body and stop anticipating the next step with my mind. Rose suggested that I try restorative yoga to get in touch with surrendering at least to a few moments of being in the body. Indeed, I do believe this may be the key.

Yesterday, I started on 1/1000th of a dose of the anti-seizure medication, Dilantin, and so far so good. 

Little by little I am feeling better about my slow pace around this pond.  I realize that in 31 days when I am up to the full dose of this medication, I will have the chance to earn and learn trust in this process.  I’m also restarting a diet I know makes me feel better even though it is challenging.  I’ve found a yoga class and my husband is a willing partner in getting me there and joining in. I am turning myself over to a Creator greater than myself to create a future that I can be aligned with and in which I will thrive.

I like the Swan story a lot, but I also know that truly I am a sea turtle through and through. I take a long time between knowing something and finally acting on my knowledge.  This apparent health crisis has caused some to feel uncomfortable with my pace, but I know like I know that this is the most natural way for me to recover, and heal fully.  Integrating the best intelligence of alternative and traditional paths,  I feel that truly this experience will be transformative. The appearance of resistance is not resistance to new information, but rather it is resistance to artificial pacing and the drama about getting this over finally. Whether I resist unconsciously or consciously, in the end I will go at my own pace in this journey.  In fact, if I remember anything I’ve learned in my life is that there is no “getting over with,” but only a long and extended adventure through many related experiences that lead to more.

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