The body says what words cannot. ~Martha Graham
It takes great courage and energy to cultivate non-doing, both in stillness and in activity. Nor is it easy to make a special time for non-doing and to keep at it in the face of everything in our lives which needs to be done. ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
Riding the wave of powerful cleansing energy from my Reiki attunement, I thought I would just continue to feel better. After all 21 days of cleansing and balancing just happens, so why wouldn’t it be possible for me to just feel energized by that? So I continued to do too much, and stress too much, and after the first few days, I fell into bed without doing self-Reiki, and went to work in the morning without doing meditation…and you know what? I feel lousy.
In some ways, even though I do feel less drained than I did before, I feel worse, because now my body is even more aware of what I’m doing wrong. When dinner is cheese and crackers and applesauce, my body knows that something is missing. When I’m too lazy to take my vitamins before bed, the things those vitamins are supposed to be balancing act up. Now, all the messages that my body has been giving me all along are too loud to be ignored. Something has to give, and my health has been that something far too often. Even now I feel the ache in the back of my throat and the dull pain in my temple that means I’m dehydrated and overtired, and last night I was wide awake in the middle of the night with thoughts bouncing around in my head.
Self-care is not optional. I knew this when I began training to be a psychotherapist; I knew that in order to treat and care for others, I had to have a way to care for myself. And yet, as soon as I get busy, it’s the first thing I let slide. I wasn’t going to write today – caught up in the whirlwind of final papers, I thought, I should take this time to write papers, not to write something “frivolous”. But this is important. This blog post may not change anyone else’s life, but it’s a reminder that I am committing once again to changing my own. I need to write. I need to sleep, and meditate, and eat good food, and do yoga, and do self-Reiki and make myself a priority. Because when I put everyone else first, we all lose out, because I can’t give them my whole self until I make sure that I’m making myself whole.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; but spiritual beings having a human experience. ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“Who are the women in your story, the ancestors, who have walked the path of their own true stories?
How do you find your beautiful reflection in the world?
How do you tend and nurture your core story, as you would tend a tree in the forest?” ~Sara Blackthorn
I think a lot about the unsung women. Some of my favorite stories are of the women who history glosses over: Japheth’s wife in both Many Waters and Children of Eden, Eve (not glossed over, but much bedraggled) in Children of Eden, Mary Magdalene, the wives of the famous names in history – the presidents’ wives, the generals’ wives, the arranged marriage royalty and nobles, the mistresses of the Popes and Bishops, the cloistered nuns, the mystics…there are a lot of stories that haven’t been told.
But I never really thought about the women in my story…not in this way. My mother, my sisters, my aunts, my grandmothers…they all have stories too…stories that may or may not ever be told to the world.
My story has had its ups and downs…I’ve told parts of it in allegory, in poetry, in personal sharing with friends and family. But will it ever make its way out into the world in its entirety? Would anyone read it if it did?
I focus a lot on the stories of history’s women…especially those tied into religion and spirituality in some way…but the women of the present, and the recent past…their stories are just as valuable in their own way. If I value their stories, I should also value my own. But that’s harder.
How do you feel about telling your story? Do you think anyone would listen? Do you want them to?
“Writing is a process in which we discover what lives in us. The writing itself reveals to us what is alive in us. The deepest satisfaction of writing is precisely that it opens up new spaces within us which we were not aware of before we started to write. To write is to embark on a journey of which we do not know the final destination.” -Henri Nouwen
I have always struggled with composing on screen. There is something visceral about a pen and paper, and scribbling as the words pour out of your mind. While I have grown more able to compose on screen, after years of writing papers and emails and previous blogs, when I write, really write, I am at my best with a gel ink pen, preferably purple, and a lined notebook of just the right size.
Writing is absolutely a sacred space. I have friends for whom the theatre is their church, and I can feel that deeply during the right rehearsal or performance. But when I put pen to paper, especially in a community of others doing the same, it is one of the deepest forms of communion. Communion with myself – time that is just for me, and my thoughts and my words. Communion with the universe/God(dess)/spirit world – opening myself to whatever pours through me in those moments – and there has been more than one poem that has poured out from somewhere beyond myself. Communion with other writers/artists who are adding to the creative energy of the space and time where we all write together.
What I miss about having a spiritual community, I have in many ways rediscovered in my writing community. What I miss about having a spiritual practice I can sometimes touch in my writing practice. I miss the ritual of church, but in many ways, I’ve found a different kind of church.
It gets harder to write each day…already the drive is waning…the focus and attention to daily practice gets harder…and I guess that is the point.
There are so many things I want to change. I want a daily writing practice, a daily meditation practice, a daily fitness practice. I want to find a spiritual community. I want to find self-definition that is real. But I can’t do it all at once.
So this is where it begins. With daily writing practice rooted in something that has been a part of me for as long as I can remember…the practice of faith. And I know this won’t be the only day when it is hard. When there are fifteen minutes left in the day and I haven’t written yet. When I read faith-based websites and personal meditations hoping for inspiration. And then it comes back to this. Sit at computer and write. Practice is only that. Sit at computer and write.
Maybe what I write on those days won’t be as “inspired” or “exciting” but that isn’t the point. The point is the practice. The point is to write.
In the twenty minutes of wandering the internet for inspiration, the one thing I kept encountering was the question of what habits are holding you back. Perhaps what I’m finding as I wander through this entry tonight is that it’s the lack of habitual behaviors that holds me back. I have 40 days to form a “habit” of daily writing practice. Let’s hope it sticks.
Lent is not about giving something up.
I am a Catholic-raised woman, and I know that this sounds strange coming from me. Throughout my youth I gave up ice cream, saltines, various other treats. But the meaning of the sacrifice was never really apparent in the action.
During college, I heard a homily about lent. Fr. Joe spoke about lent as a time to simplify. This resonated with me. Not to give things up just for the sake of giving things up, but to give things up that are superfluous, unnecessary.
But let’s take it to a different place. Lent is a time that Christ spent in the desert…while it’s certain that this was a time of simplicity, it was also a time of reflection. I choose to embrace both.
As I struggle on my rocky Christian path to discover what this journey is all about, I am choosing to take this lent as a time of reflection. To write each day about the trivial and the transcendent, but most importantly to write EACH DAY. Not as a sacrifice, or a penance. Not to give up another less worthy activity. But because writing is meditation, and reflection, and journey. And I need those things on my way to the rebirth of self-discovery.