Sunday, February 9, 2020

Retreat









"Time is a box formed by thoughts of the past and the future. When there is only the immediate now - when you’re not dwelling in the past or anticipating the future, but you are just right here, right now – you are outside of time."
Ram Dass


The first photo above is from October when we were dogsitting Georgie and my nephew stayed with us, but it is a good reminder to be in the moment, and it captures multiple sources I draw strength from: the unconditional love from my family; the pure affection and trust from animals; books; plants and sunlight; and lying down on the ground, connecting to the Earth. I was happy in that shot, even though I look - and probably was - exhausted.
 
After the good scan results in December I thought that I would be able to relax a bit until the next scan (which is now only a month away), but so far the beginning of the year has been tough. As much as I like to focus on oneness with all beings, there are times when this is a very lonely road.

The unanimous advice from healthcare professionals was to prioritise self-care and to make the return to work as gentle as possible and keep stress at bay. Instead I have reverted to people-pleasing and spread myself too thin and put the (perceived) needs and expectations of others first, running around and becoming breathless and frazzled.

I have come to realise that I have been trying so hard to function at a time when I need to mind myself and process everything. Then there have been pains and other symptoms, lingering chemo brain and the fatigue hitting me after a long day, and I neglected my routines, so it is no wonder that I haven’t been coping well.

In the past, this time of the year involved working crazy hours preparing for a festival. This year I am overwhelmed by my inbox alone. A lot of tasks feel like wading through treacle.

One of the most enjoyable couple of hours was a recent morning during a storm when the electricity went and I sat at the table reading and writing by candlelight and attempted to heat water on the stove. It seemed like a clear sign to slow down.

So it is back to basics again. I have been talking to people who have been through similar and to therapists and mentors, and what emerged was the need to retreat and to come back into my body and give myself a break. One exercise that is often suggested for grief and trauma is to gently hit or tap your body with your palms or fingertips, and you can do it throughout the day.

For a more passive practice, I often just lie on the floor, either on my front, propping up my hips on toilet rolls in the absence of chiropractic wedges (homework given to me by one of my healers), or in a legs-up-the-wall pose. Both are very soothing for the nervous system. 

Going to work is easier on several levels when I wear thermals and have a flask with ginger in hot water, two simple grounding things my healer also recommended. She also advised me to use oil all over my body. I like to add in warming essential oils such as chamomile.

The books I am reading at the moment are a good mix, though mainly non-fiction, apart from William Trevor's short stories (usually I always have a novel on the go as well). I keep getting the right recommendations at the right time. Joel Goldsmith is a revelation. The Source is further evidence that neuroscience is finally catching up with what Eastern wisdom has known for a long time (though I feel conflicted about some aspects of the Law of Attraction, as they seem to ignore the large proportion of people who are not cushioned in privilege).
 
I am doing Oprah and Deepak’s current 21-day meditation course ‘Perfect Health' and started writing Morning Pages again (I bought Julia Cameron’s book years ago and did some of the exercises in The Artist’s Way for a while, but never kept them up. I am about to join a local course on it). After several nudges towards A Course in Miracles, I am now doing the workbook via Paul Babin's Youtube channel The Abundance, at my own pace. His deep, calming voice has accompanied me on and off over the last two years. He also has new meditations specifically for women with major health challenges.

John gave me a sustainable yoga mat from Eco Yoga as a present, and it is so much nicer to use than the PVC ones. I had a standard mat for nearly 15 years that my sister's cat once used as a scratching tree and am keeping it for when somebody joins me (my nephews!), and I was shocked to read that some studios dispose of mats after three months. This Jute one also has much better grip, and when you are face down on the mat you don't get that plastic smell that never seems to disappear from PVC.


1 comment:

  1. I love it when you post pics of what you're reading....it gives me some suggestions. :)

    ReplyDelete