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Archive for the ‘Mind/Body’ Category

I have a frozen shoulder, otherwise known as adhesive capsulitis. This means, I can’t raise the arm attached to that shoulder much higher than the shoulder itself. It makes things like sweeping, washing my hair, putting on pullover tops and the like challenging or nearly impossible without pain. I’m to avoid pain. Nice directive and one for which I need little reminding.

[Let me take a moment to announce to everyone, especially the mid-life women out there, if you feel pain in your shoulder and it doesn’t go away for weeks on end, get it checked out. It is easier to take care of early in the game. Once it adheres, the recovery can be a long one. Natural recovery (without intervention) can take 2 to 4 years. Much of what I’ve read says it is likely hormone related. I would have liked to have known about all of this prior to the adhesion, so consider this my public service warning to all you ladies out there.]

As for me, I felt it last fall, before I went to Hawaii, but I figured it was just another of those aches that goes away if you just give it a little time. While I was in Hawaii, it loosened up as I swam in the warm waters of Lanai. But then, I suspect everything feels better in Hawaii.

There are details of the journey, whom I saw and what they recommended, but where this post really begins is the night after I got a cortisone shot in my shoulder.  Agony was my teacher.

The pain was the worst I’d felt since I broke my foot.  I experienced wave after wave of pain and no position made it better.  There was no break, no breather from the misery.  I walked around my house saying “and this is supposed to make me feel better? Are you kidding me? WTF!”  I began to wonder how people with chronic pain manage and my compassion for those people went up exponentially.

When I went to bed,  I put on the Reiki Whale music I listen to every night and tried finding the least painful position to lay in. At first, I resisted, as in, I tried to go to sleep despite the pain, trying to ignore the pain and listen to the music. That didn’t work.

Finally, I decided to work with it rather than against it. I repeatedly said “You are a part of me. You are a part of my wholeness.” Then I went deeper into the pain with curiosity; wanting to know more about this part of me. I found myself being with its rhythm, riding its wave. Somewhere in that ride, I drifted off. When I awoke, the pain was gone.

That morning, with my focus no longer captive to waves of pain in my arm, I noticed that my big toe joint hurt, my left shoulder was also unhappy and there was a kind of kink in my groin. These typical morning aches and pains felt heavenly in comparison to the previous night’s waves.

I took the contemplation of wholeness to my morning meditation. What was the pain teaching me?  I thought of all the ways I have separated from myself in resistance to pain; physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain, mental pain. Whenever I resist, I am saying, you are not me, you are the enemy.

Then I became aware of all the ways I’ve separated from myself by berating myself. Every time I have found myself wrong, imperfect, flawed in some way, I’ve disowned a piece of me and created separation.  I became aware of the ways I’ve colluded with others who have foisted their own pain on me in the form of disrespect and abuse.

When I am not experiencing myself as whole, I feel broken and feeling broken I chase after whatever I think will fix me. Thus, I’ve set up a cycle of separation and pain.

In my meditation I welcomed it all back, all of it and all of me. I sent messages and vibrations of love to all of me, the whole me with everything included.

Now, the me who is already (and always was) beautiful has an opportunity to catch up to the me that has been chasing after perfection.

Beauty is not perfection.

I said to myself: This is where I not only “see what is,” I accept. I surrender. I stop chasing. Now I can begin again from Love.

As I sat with those thoughts, I noticed little complaints from various parts of my body as if to ask “me too?” “Yes, knee, you too.” And as quickly as it came, the throbbing in the knee vanished.

The prior night’s pain brought me into my body and would not let me escape. Being in my body had me be aware of what it needs. It forces me to listen and that’s all the body wants, for me to be present and listen.

I became aware that if I am self-loathing in any dark little corner of myself, I hold myself separate from me, from others, from life, from God / Goddess / All that is.  This loving wholeness, embracing it all, is the antidote to self-loathing. Rather than focusing on how I am not perfect and all the things that need fixing, which has me not like myself until those things are fixed, I am turning my attention to being whole. I’m loving the whole me inclusively and my body, mind, spirit and heart can all feel safe and loved, rather than marginalized and disowned.

If I want to be heard and seen, best to begin by seeing and hearing myself.

And so, I am re-membering the disowned parts and I am remembering who I really am.

And you, dear reader, what pains you and how is it related to separation?

copyright (c) February 2011, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved
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I meditate.

I contemplate.

I have great internal Board of Directors meetings.

I sing and chant and sometimes even rant.

I fill my heart and empty my mind.

I follow my mind and empty my heart.

Dance with my spirit and inhabit my body.

Sometimes I am guided. Most often, I dance alone.

This morning the sunrise was a sight to behold. Clouds to the west kissed illuminated hills and homes. I could not sequester myself in my meditation room and miss the morning.

 

copyright(c) Oct 2010, Kathy J Loh

Where does the pathway in the clouds lead?

 

Jackhammers abused concrete somewhere in the valley below. A steady stream of cars snaked its way up Wolfe Grade and silver jets left vapor trails between the clouds…so many people going somewhere.

Is this how we honor the dawn?

Is this how we honor all beginnings?

I don’t know. I only wonder.

Not wanting to miss the changing colors and shapes of the clouds; not wanting to miss the flocks of crows (and one tiny hummingbird) that traverse the skyscape, I began to sing, as I always do to begin meditation.

At first I was aware of my voice and the wending of the melody. Soon enough, I was absorbed by the pastel hues, absorbed by whatever it is that absorbs me, of which I am a part, to which I belong, and the song emerged as a completely self-organized melody; my morning song; this morning song.

Or is it mourning song, like the dove in the pine outside my window? For the tears come as my heart cracks open and I don’t really know what is sad or what is too much to hold.

Perhaps it is gratitude.

Perhaps it is Beauty.

Surely it is Love.

And, it doesn’t need a name.

When I retreat to my mediation room each morning, supposedly to ground myself so as to be more present during the day, to what have I become un-present? Where have I gone and how much of the day already missed?

This “being present to”… this offering of lullaby to the dawn and all the weary travelers, this is what grounds me now.

What is your morning practice?

copyright(c) October 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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Happy New Year!

Last night I danced by the light of the blue moon and sang whatever song illumined my heart. Any day I have written and walked in the woods is a good day. Any day that sends me a sprinkling of synchronicity is one that sparkles. Yesterday was one of those good and sparkly days.

I am contemplating the word “open.”  It’s not my new word for 2010.  It’s a 2009 spillover.  Just because I turned the calendar page, doesn’t mean I’m done with the contemplations of 2009.

Soul-time knows no calendar.

My body, in its infinite though sometimes painful wisdom, is having me look again at this word “open,” by way of a very swollen tendon in my right-hand thumb pad. I did not do this in some noticeable way, like an accident. It just came on and the explanation is likely connected with some way I held the steering wheel during my long drive home. It’s painful. I type very slowly. It hurts to write with a pen. To hold or grasp anything with my right hand, I have to use the fingers only. It’s giving me a new appreciation for the evolution of the opposable thumb!

In Heal Your Body, Louise Hay writes that issues with hands are about how we handle life. I took a walk contemplating how I might be trying to hold on too tightly, steering too much with the masculine (right side of body) “doing” aspect of my being; how it might serve me to release and open more. I took my hands out of my pockets despite the chill, and opened them wide.  As I left the woods and approached the driveway, I thought “I need to get rid of all that stuff I’m holding on to in the garage.” Then I stopped in my tracks and laughed out loud when I heard, “You don’t even need to hold on to letting go.”

The either /or of hold on – let go is a polarity that keeps me distracted with the game of it all rather than living life more freely. There is the baggage without and the baggage within that weighs me down, physically and psychically. In this contemplation it was about stuff, but in the bigger picture, it’s about life.

It’s not the stuff in the boxes that weighs me down. It’s how I think about them. It’s not my past that holds me back, but the story I tell about it and this notion that I somehow have to be entirely free of the sadness and anger in order to feel alive and happy. It’s also some idea I have that if it crosses my mind at all, I didn’t really release it.

I don’t have to do anything. I can do whatever I want: pick through it, let it go, give it away, sell it, never look at it again, let it rot, mold, be destroyed by mice. It’s not about letting go of the stuff. It’s about awareness of my fears; that there is one right or best way to handle it, that I will be letting things slip through my fingers, that I have to honor it, hold on to the lessons, understand everything about it, to release it and be complete. That’s precisely how having to let go makes letting go nearly impossible.

I don’t have to permanently forget people and pain from the past. I don’t have to make them saints for the lessons I learned from them. I don’t have to do anything other than what I want, which is to accept it for what it is, and open wide to accept new people and new experiences into my life. If tears come through now and then, it doesn’t mean I’m not healed. It means I have an open heart and energy moves through and around an open heart.

I want to hand-le life with an open heart!

Clay figure from Bell Pine Art Farm "Open Heart"

"Open Heart" Bell Pine Art Farm* (K J Loh)

*you can get this and other lovely clay figurines from Bell Pine Art Farm.

Interlude: Breathing is a cycle of inhale and exhale and that curious space of nothingness (no-thing-ness) in between.  I use both my fingers and my thumb to grasp things. They are in opposition, like the poles of hold-on and let-go, and they work better together than alone. So, as I open to grasping, I grasp opening. Giving and receiving, I hold one hand turned outward and one hand facing me, and both are open. It’s becoming clear that the lesson for me here is in giving and receiving open handedly.

Living in the paradox (hold on, let go: give, receive) means living in the question. Living in the question is living in that curious space between the in and out breath.  It’s what Julie Daley wrote about in her blog today as the “blessed unrest” and what Beth Follini wrote about in her New Year post as “living with not-knowing.”

I call this space “creative tension.” It’s where we are always at the edge of our frontier as creative, evolving beings and consciousness; where the drop knows it is the ocean and yet still the drop. It’s unfamiliar, edgy and completely natural.

It’s a muscle we build, this willingness to be and live in the tension of the question. The friction ignites our creative embers. I want to warm and heal the way I handle life by the wisdom and courage of this fire. I want to use its light to illumine my way through the ever-unfolding Mystery.  And, while I’m driving the distance, perhaps I don’t have to hold the steering wheel so tightly!

Oh, and my new 2010 Spirit Cards (chosen during my New Year’s Day ritual)?

I Am – Mercy

I Will  – Inspire

I’m dancing with these to the music of Open.

I’m dancing to this song by Abbey Lincoln that my friend Joette Tizzone played for me after I told her about my contemplation during our New Years Eve chat. Enjoy! (The lyrics are below)

Throw It Away (Abbey Lincoln)

I think about the life I live

A figure made of clay

And think about the things I lost

The things I gave away

And when I’m in a certain mood

I search the house and look

One night I found these magic words

In a magic book

Throw it away

Throw it away

Give your love, live your life

Each and every day

And keep your hand wide open

Let the sun shine through

‘Cause you can never lose a thing

If it belongs to you

There’s a hand to rock the cradle

And a hand to help us stand

With a gentle kind of motion

As it moves across the land

And the hand’s unclenched and open

Gifts of life and love it brings

So keep your hand wide open

If you’re needing anything

Throw it away

Throw it away

Give your love, live your life

Each and every day

And keep your hand wide open

Let the sun shine through

‘Cause you can never lose a thing

If it belongs to you

Copyright (c) January 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved (excluding artwork, video, music, lyrics)

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There’s a technique I like to use whenever I feel stuck or stalled. I interview myself and get the energy moving again by creating an internal board of directors meeting.

Who sits on the board?

Well, it depends on who I wish to assemble at the time.

I draw from my internal “cast of thousands.”

Sometimes, it is a gathering of various iterations of child, adolescent, parent voices along with the inner critic.

One of my favorite, though, is a four way conversation between Body, Mind, Spirit and Heart. Generally, these conversations show me where these aspects are out of alignment and how to bring their energies back into balance.

The other day, I was feeling out of sorts, antsy and I caught myself in a procrastination loop. I knew I had the entire day free to go at those boxes of files again.  I sat with this board in contemplation of the issue, attempting to get some clarity as to which aspect(s) was in resistance and why.  It was quite informative. I’ll share it with you:

The first thing I noticed is that mind was at the “head” of the table. (no pun intended)

After checking in on the energies, I felt into Heart first. Heart appeared with some sort of metal ties wrapped around it. It seemed kind of mopey and said it was tired of Mind running the show.

Mind said something about Heart needing to heal and Heart said it is healed enough and it is Mind that needs to “heal” by dropping all those old patterns of thinking.

Body appeared as a giant banana slug…tired…too tired…Mind tires it out. It wants to follow Heart. Body asks when we are going swimming again.

Spirit came from some distant place to which it had retreated, zipped into the room as dragonfly (a totem for me these days) and landed on the table as Shrek and said “It’s all about fun and adventure.”

Then, I got this image of the three of them (Heart, Body and Spirit) sitting around playing cards all day waiting for Mind to get over itself and get on board with them.

It never fails. When I interview Mind, Mind says it is tired of running the show and would like a little support from the other three. Actually, it likes to show its prowess, but then it gets too high on itself and takes over. So I tried something. I let Mind be held by the other three, as if in a hammock.

I asked: What is it to release to the wisdom of heart, body and spirit?

(c) Kathy J Loh

(c) Kathy J Loh

This question landed on the backdrop of attempting to seriously downsize my possessions and files. When this internal board discusses letting go of all my stuff, Mind goes right back to all the sorting, organizing, what to sell, donate, etc. Why wouldn’t it do that? Mind is a brilliant strategist and calculator.
The other three just sigh and say, “Stop bogging us down!” They tell Mind that it doesn’t have to be done that way. Just get rid of it. It’s stale. C’est passé!

This is where my heart quickened – that familiar cocktail of excitement and fear.

I know I’m at an edge here.

I put heart at the head of the table, not as the boss, but as a way of realigning the weight of the voices. My energetic motor was restarted and I accomplished a good deal of work that day which I’d previously been avoiding.

Here’s what I know. There is a new way for me to be in the world that I am evolving toward. Since it is new, I don’t know what it is. I call it moving into the Great Mystery. I say I am looking to follow The Beauty Way (as the Navajo call it).

I know that it requires a strong internal alliance and alignment of Body, Mind, Spirit and Heart. Each aspect is called forth to its highest strength and my highest purpose is best served by the strength of the team not one or two individual aspects. Each holds a powerful truth. Together, in their alignment, they provide the point of contact between the human me and my soul.

Together, in alignment, Body, Mind, Spirit and Heart resonate with the one-ness from which I feel so separate and help me re-member that unity.

(Tomorrow, a note on what happened the day after I was whirlwind productive at downsizing boxes and files, because this moving into the Great Mystery thing is way bigger than just clearing clutter. I’m only setting the stage with that stuff.)

Meanwhile, try this stuff at home, kids! Many of my clients get great results with this. I’d love to hear what happens for you.

copyright(c) August 2009, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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I drove the 10 hour run from San Diego to Santa Cruz yesterday, entertained myself with good music and listened yet again to The power of Myth. It’s a 6 CD set of interviews of Joseph Campbell by Bill Moyers and it is worth yearly revisits.

At one point, Campbell (one of the most celebrated scholars of world mythology) talks about the accord needed between the mind and the body to find our center. He says the mind is interested in doings and in finding meaning. The body is not so interested in meaning as it is in being and experience.

I’ve noticed, in myself and in clients, a tendency to separate from the body. We talk about getting it in shape and what it will or won’t do. We forget that we are our bodies, at least while we are here having this human experience.

I don’t know about you, but my body will always get the best of me if I try to do something it does not want to do. It will give me information and feedback in the form of headaches, sprained ankle, a wrist that no longer wants to type, a cold, you name it. I’ve learned to listen to the wisdom of my body.

While the mind is willing to tolerate, to maintain intense focus for hours at a time, the body has its own sense of what’s good for it. When we forget to satisfy all of our senses, we are neglecting our bodies. Our bodies want to feel fully alive!

I just found out this morning that an informal Holy Body Day is happening this Friday May 22nd and I’m inviting you to join us.  I came across this in Moira Mallison’s blog Authentic Body Project. She credits our mutual friend Cynthia Morris with the inspiration. Cynthia  writes in her blog Journey Juju that she was in Portugal May 22, 2008 where they celebrate Dia de Corpo de Cristo. It translates Holy Body Day.  OK, that’s a different event, true, but Cynthia decided to designate it as a personal Holy Body Day.

AND why not celebrate a day of our bodies?

If, when you rise on Friday morning, your body gets to choose what it wants to experience that day, how might it respond? How will your body in-form you?

Trumpet Vine (K Loh)

Trumpet Vine (K Loh)

I’m guessing mine will say:

  • Let my feet feel the soft forest earth beneath them as I follow them down to the river
  • Let my skin soak up some warm sunshine and feel the cool waters run the length of me
  • Vibrate with the sounds of some relaxing music and with the chanting of my own voice
  • Breathe in scents of lavender, trumpet vine, ocean spray, pines in the warm mid-day sun
  • Mindfully attend to cooking foods that delight me and let my tastebuds dance a slow dance with each bite
  • Relax on the patio lounger in the cool night air and feast on the Milky Way (New moon is 24th)
  • Dawdle like a school child while walking nowhere in particular and take in the many curiosities of this world like colorful flowers, butterflies, strange bugs, interesting sticks, singing birds, trees that come alive with “faces” in their trunks and dancing boughs.

Won’t you join us? How will you celebrate Holy Body Day this Friday?

(oh oh, I can already hear someone saying: soaking up the rays of the fluorescents, vibrating with the hum of the lunch room frig, warming myself by the photocopier lamp…) Hey, if that’s you, go for it!

Spread the word!

all images and words copyright(C) May 2009 Kathy Loh All rights reserved

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