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Monday, March 26, 2012
This life twists and turns
In ways most unexpected
I follow each bend
And breathe into the moment
Trust this is where I should be
I had expected to be at a meditation teacher training retreat starting this evening. Life twists and turns in unexpected ways. I'm home because my doctor determined that it is not safe for me to travel without a companion, and arranging a companion was not possible at this time. I'm still not strong, stable or balanced enough to manage self care unassisted. This is just how it is.
Breathing into this moment, I trust that this is where I should be, perhaps was meant to be all along. After all, it is where I am.
I'll be practicing with my classmates from home. I have the schedule and will sit when they sit, pray when they pray, practice walking meditation with the aid of my walker when they walk, eat with mindful attention, practice gentle seated and reclining yoga asanas as they move through theirs in my bed. It will be a virtual retreat in my home. Yes there will be the distraction of family, but there will also be the loving assistance they provide, helping me to bathe, bringing meals upstairs and lifting me if I fall and can't get up on my own.
Sometimes I think of MS as a form of continuous mindfulness practice. It requires one to slow down, and pay attention to everything, from how we swing our legs over the side of the bed in the morning to meet the floor, the steps we take if we are able to walk, our balance as we move, noticing where furniture and walls are located so we can reach out to them for support if needed. We must continuously scan the space we are in, in order to navigate safely whether walking or in a wheelchair. For some of us there is great attention required in how we move our mouths to form words and mental focus in finding the words that seem to disappear just as we are about to release them. Chewing and swallowing mindfully is vital so we don't choke. These are just a few things off the top of my head. And of course it is different for everyone with MS, as more is learned about this disease it becomes clearer that it is not one, but a cluster of diseases that have similar traits. Living mindfully, whether we recognize that that's what we are doing or not is in fact something everyone with MS shares. While it sounds like a lot of hard work, and it is, there are gifts that arise from this attentiveness to each moment.
Slow and mindful means noticing the tiniest beautiful details of light reflected off the surface of a curly-q vine and spotting the vine on the side of the road in the first place riding in the car, because I'm not the driver.
Slow and mindful changes the quality of time and space so that every day can have a Sabbath-like feeling to it, at least moments within each day. Lots of rest, lots of contemplation; the whole world is a sacred place, a sanctuary. I feel deeply blessed not to have to rush about like other people must (I couldn't if I tried). I have been granted the precious gift of time to appreciate the wonder of being alive without the disruption and distraction of a "regular job" or having to drive my kids here and there, go grocery shopping, prepare meals, do the laundry. This is balanced by a blend of tender sadness and even more thankfulness, for all of these tasks now fall upon the generous shoulders of my superman, Gordon, who does work a full time job plus gigs at least every other weekend, sometimes more. And yes I do miss many of the "old ways" of being in my life, doing my fare share of the household duties, the freedom to get in the car and go wherever I want when I want. I may well be able to return helping with the laundry and some meal preparation again in coming days, we’ll see, but driving does not seem likely anymore.
Truly I am grateful for the simplicity of my days that has been brought forth through the complexity of living with MS. Perhaps this sounds foolish, even selfish considering how it affects my family, but it isn’t as though I have a choice; this is just how it is.
My friend Cathy Aten wrote about this recently too. I happened to read her post after preparing this one, and thought how fascinating, and so like Cathy, an artist, wordsmith and spiritually wide awake woman, to express her experience living with Primary Progressive MS with observations similar to my own. Here is an excerpt from her post:
"I actually am falling in love with the deliberate kinds of movements I must make these days.
I like having to move slowly enough to pay attention to transitions.
There is a particular beauty in ‘the space between’ movements.
The space between an in breath and the exhale.
I really find the spaces opening in my life because of the physical constriction I face.
So interesting. Powerful. Grace-full."
You can read the rest of Cathy's post here.
Life twists and turns in ways most unexpected. I rest in faith, for if we breathe into this moment, trust that this is where we are meant to be, blessing will flow just as mysteriously as these sudden shifts in direction arise.
After 5pm this evening, I will be observing silence for seven days, sequestered at my home-based retreat in my bedroom.
Preset photos will pop up on my blog during this time without text for you to enjoy if you happen by, but I will be offline. May you will find moments of quiet; choose some precious moments for personal contemplation, meditation, healing and renewal in your own life as this week moves forward and spring wakes up a little more each day.