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Reflections Massage Therapy

Monsters and Demons…and Dinosaurs November 1, 2011

It’s All Saints Day today, the scattered detritus of a night of revelry strewn across the sidewalks in front of my house. Last night my door was visited by skeletons and vampires and a zombie or two, some politicians, a dinosaur, a few princesses and a clown. Halloween. In my typical habit of reading into meanings, this holiday in particular has got me thinking about monsters and demons and why on this one day during the year do we let them out of the closet to roam the streets.

What is it about the monsters that both frighten and inspire us? Perhaps Halloween has become such a significant holiday not just for the sugar rush, but also for the chance to look monsters in the face and not fear them so much.

A wise person I know said recently, “If you hate the monsters, you are just another monster.” And that has stuck with me as I visit with some monsters, both physically and mentally.  How do you find compassion for those parts of yourself or of others that terrify or anger you?

One of the fundamental pieces of CranioSacral Therapy is appreciation. Appreciation for the brilliance of the system, for the inherent health and for the inner physician. And this applies to pain. This applies to holding patterns and coping mechanisms that we’ve developed. This applies to the way we jump to judgment as a way of barricading ourselves and protecting ourselves from…ourselves. This applies to those moments when we are so triggered it’s all we can do to get out of bed. And it applies to nailing a handstand in yoga because we trust our body to hold up. It applies to recognizing the true extent of our capacity. And it applies to those moments of quiet when we feel rested and content in our bodies. All of this deserves appreciation because this is all our system exercising its intelligence.

But, I am not going to be the first to say, appreciating pain is about as difficult as having compassion for monsters. How do we soften in the face of fear and suffering? How do we trust that we do not need to hold so tightly to our armor, or our holding pattern, or our anger? What if we could learn to appreciate what those monsters have to teach us? What if we could find compassion for them and as a result for ourselves?

It’s a leap. It’s a leap that we’re not often willing to take, or perhaps not even aware is an option. So, on Halloween, we set lose our monsters, let them roam the streets, check things out, see what’s changed in the past year. Maybe we are a little gentler with them this year; maybe we see them in a different light. And I’d offer an idea. What if we don’t put them away, but let them hang out a little longer? Let them talk, let them rant, let them scream. And listen to them. Because those monsters are no different than the dinosaurs and princesses and clowns (ok, those are still scary to me) that also inhabit our lives. And they have just as much to teach us about what it means to be human.

 

 

I don’t know…gulp. April 19, 2011

Filed under: Massage Therapy — Reflections Integrative Therapy @ 8:16 pm
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So I had this amazing realization the other day: the world, this great big beautiful mix of land and water and air that we all inhabit, actually keeps on keepin’ on whether I am right or wrong. And what’s more, it does not in fact explode or implode or suffer any other form of mass destruction if I don’t know something. New flash, I know. But here’s the thing. I really don’t like being wrong. It’s not so much that I always have to be right, but I really don’t like realizing I’m wrong about something. It feels…uncomfortable. Because in my mind, I’m supposed to know everything, right? Which leads to the next realization – there are things that I don’t know. There’s actually quite a lot that I don’t know.  Yet, somehow I’ve managed to convince myself that I’m supposed to, and if I don’t, I’ve failed somehow. At what? I’m not quite sure. Being human?

But here’s the flaw in this thinking – ok, maybe there a few – being human actually entails not knowing. Because that’s how we grow, that’s how we evolve.

When you cut yourself, your body jumps into action and repairs that wound with a whole arsenal of things I’m not even going to pretend to know. The point is, after that repair, that patch of skin is actually stronger than it was before the wound. See where I’m going here? In our quest of perfection, or to not project, in my quest for perfection, I haven’t typically left a lot of room for myself to be wrong. And one of the problems with that is that when we’re wrong about something and we acknowledge it, we are often also given an opportunity to make repair, and through that repair we can strengthen what is there. So, to not allow for space for that, also means to not allow space for repair and strengthening.

So, in listening to this mind-blowing realization, I am playing with curiosity. I am learning to digest the fact that not knowing something doesn’t make me less of a person, nor does it make me bad or stupid. It simply means that I haven’t discovered something new just yet. And it’s a chance for me to play with curiosity.

In my work, while I have a great expanse of knowledge about the human body – it’s anatomy and functions – when a client presents an issue, the best I can do is use the tools that I have to hypothesize. In actuality, I don’t know anything about what is happening for them. I can’t. I’m not inside their body. I can’t really know what’s going on. But I can have curiosity and an openness to exploring that. I am in fact a much better healthcare provider when I surrender this idea that I know what’s going on and embrace whatever is in front of me with curiosity. In large part, because it makes me far more open to what may surface.  It also means allowing myself to not be perfect. Gulp.

In playing with this further, though, I think perhaps the most enlightened being are in fact not “perfect” but rather fully embrace the imperfections that are inherent in existing in this world – and by embracing them they are able to transcend them.

And while I in no way can claim enlightenment, I would like to offer you this piece that has come from these earth shattering realizations and the subsequent self-reflection and work I have been doing: all of our imperfections are simply opportunities. Opportunities for radical acceptance, opportunities for growth, opportunities for repair, and maybe even opportunities to learn something we didn’t already know. They present themselves to us everyday and everyday we are given the opportunity to get a little bit uncomfortable for the sake of our own growth and evolution.

 

 
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