Everyday Healing

Coffee Meditation by Sally Jenkins

In the quiet of the early morning, I take a cup of coffee and sit cross-legged in our wing chair with a pillow placed just right at my lower back so I can be—steady and comfortable. I sip my coffee slowly, savoring the aroma and deep rich taste of the dark roast. I feel the warmth of the cup in my hand, the curve of the cup handle, the smoothness of the porcelain. And I breathe:

Line up the bones and breathe into the spaces between them. Soften the grip on muscles and mind. Wake up the organs and ask for their support. Reassure the nerves and allow them to relax. Let the fluids flow freely through arteries and veins and interstitial spaces.

Breathe into every cell and synapse of the body-mind.

Open up into the quiet within and let it settle into stillness. Watch the movement in the stillness. Look for stillness in the movement.

Movement in stillness, stillness in movement.

Smile. Be glad. Give thanks. Rest on the rhythm of the breath.

Now, I’m ready to get up and go sit on my meditation cushion—steady and comfortable—breathing in and breathing out—

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Great Grandmother’s Loving Hands by Carol Zahner

I love the synchronicity of finding myself reflected in the work of my clients and friends. I had just finished a retreat with the intention of working on self-appreciation, how to improve my own self-love.

My student Zoe is struggling with her boyfriend. She’s pained that he’s not very caring towards her. She wants a different kind of relationship yet is drawn-in by his charisma.

I think this is life-myth work. My student suffers when her family does not take time from their lives to give her individual attention, just as she is suffering in this relationship with her boyfriend. Her parents are successful business people recognized in their community—a community that suffered great difficulties under a repressive government in the past.

Both parents have successful businesses and have been busily working hard all their lives to be productive and provide for their family. There was not much time in the workday to focus on their children. Zoe is healthy, smart, talented, and always did well in school.  That their daughter should be so was always taken for granted.  People refer to Zoe as “the daughter of —-” not by her name. This pains her too, particularly since she has taken a very different approach to life.

She tells me that once she did some inner work imagining back into childhood. She created a cushioned small space for her self that brought the memory of her beloved great grandmother who died when Zoe was six years old. Her great grandmother had been the only one who would just sit with Zoe. Her great grandma had beautiful hands with long fingers and delicate thin skin.  She would stroke Zoe’s hair with the most delicate touch. She was the only one who could brush out the tangles in Zoe’s long hair in a way that never hurt.  Zoe’s grandmother would stroke Zoe’s head very gently and ask, “Why are you so beautiful?  Why are you so beautiful?” with each stroke.

In our work together, I asked Zoe to imagine her great-grandmother: to see, hear, feel her, smell her. I asked Zoe to imagine being great grandma and sit with little Zoe, stroking her hair. Zoe stroked her imagined young self, and then gradually began to stroke her own head with that very, very gentle touch.

Once back in conversation mode I wanted to know if in her active imagination she had asked the question, “Why are you so beautiful?” The answer that came was “Because I am life!”

I’d just been working with my supervisor on feeling inadequate compared to a colleague who has a very organized intellectual style. We worked on self-appreciation for my own way of knowing and working that is more improvisational and seems “to know” without having a very clear rationale. I was able to thank my student, Zoe for helping me with my own work.

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Instead by Paul Herriot

Didn’t “do” my usual

not sun salutation
no sit-ups
skipped the treadmill
space

Instead I sat legs outstretched

my comforter on the floor
next to my cat, who’d already got the spot
by the fireplace
space

I allowed . . .

head dropping forward
spine melting downward
space
gills to widen with each inhale
back fins to unruffle
from real and imagined confrontations
scales flattened caressing viscera
terror-patterns smoothed long
space

Cords of virtue

keeping my back ever taut
posture ever correct
superiority intact
space

Unstrung their steely fibers

their righteous protection
their unholy holding
space

I opened disintegrated, un – integrated

crime leads spread out on a table
for eventual tracking down
space

Then I relaxed on my back

didn’t jump to catch the phone
didn’t pop into the shower
scramble out some emails
scrawl a list of chores
space

Instead

I walked out into sunlight
opened to an inner sky.

 

 

 

 

 

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From a Cloud of Gloom to Jumping for Joy by Aileen Crow

A cloud of gloom has been settling over me shortly after I wake every morning. I’ve been sleeping okay. But soon after waking, my mood regularly changes from normal-happy to disgruntled. I expect something unpleasant in an atmosphere of dread. It doesn’t last long and it dissipates once I’m active.

What it’s about is a mystery to me. So I’ve been tracking it, trying to catch the moment it appears. Today, I decided to really get into it so I could understand why it’s here and what it wants.

This morning when the gloom cloud appears, I catch it.  I don’t just accept it by giving it my usual emotional label of “depressed”; I pay specific attention to what’s happening in my body, and what that’s like. It feels like a clamp on my chest above my breasts. I remember Arny Mindell (Process Work) asking people in training workshops to physically “do” the symptom they were complaining of, to him, in order to see how it worked. Now I do the clamping to myself. I use my left hand—it’s now a strong hand with hard pointed fingers—to forcefully clamp down on my upper chest, to immobilize it, to stifle it.

I sketch the hand as it feels now. I see that the hand belongs to a body standing over me: a Kill Joy. Memories come from childhood. I am about five, living in Depression times, living in fear of my drunken, violent father. This is old news to me. It doesn’t have a lot of emotional charge any more, but helps make sense of the cloud of doom and gloom. Family sayings from the past come to me: “You’re laughing now, but you’ll be crying in a minute.”  “Don’t get too happy.”  “The boogeyman is gonna get you.”

All of a sudden my fist spontaneously hits my chest in a strong rebounding rhythm. I recognize it as a joy rhythm! The strong bouncing joy rhythm hitting me on my chest is an antidote to the Kill Joy’s clamp.  I’d like to jump for joy!  I don’t jump, but my hand and my chest are jumping for joy.

I envision calligraphy of the words, “JUMP FOR JOY!”  I take the time to draw the design I imagine. I’m grateful that once again the “Artist” part in me is helping me out.


My chest likes that bouncy hitting. I laugh. I do feel released. Later, I realize that the Kill Joy clamper is not here. I can bring it back by clamping my hand on my chest and pressing down, holding my chest down so it is unable to move. And I can undo the clamp by firmly bouncing my fist on my upper chest, an area I used to call “Poor Pitiful Pearl,” and now am calling my “center of levity.”

All this is not a prescription that will work exactly the same way next time, but to me is a short and sweet example of an everyday healing process.

P.S. from Kill Joy:

Wait! What about me? You’re making me a villain without asking me for my side of the story. I’m just trying to keep you from being a superficial New Age Fathead.

I’m willing to let myself be subsumed within your “Jumping for Joy” project because I like the intensity of its exuberant body attitude.

But, you’ve got to give me credit for keeping you aware that living in joy doesn’t make you privileged and deserving, unlike the undeserving, who are living in pain. Your good fortune doesn’t make you better than, or superior to anyone.

So keep on going for a bigger frame, Aileen.  It’s not all about you!”

 

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AUTHORS

Sally Jenkins has studied Yoga, Tai Chi Chuan, and other mind-body-spirit disciplines for many years with various teachers.  She is trying to make sense of it all and finds it helpful to use some of the basic principles she has learned to continue her personal explorations.

CarolZahner, MS, Process Work Diplomate, trainer & therapist, Maine, USA; 35 yrs of multidisciplinary experience in engineering, aquaculture, somatic education, expressive arts, personal development & group facilitation.  Passionate about Worldwork & Spanish; she teaches & consults in Latin America whenever possible! cz@processworkne.com

Paul Herriot is an organic grower who lives in Mendocino County, in Northern California. Paul has been part of a leaderless Authentic Movement group for the past seventeen years.

Aileen Crow is a Witness / Listener / Movement Process Counselor in private practice in New York City and in New City, N.Y.  Her work combines her trainings and expertise in Authentic Movement, Process Work, Trauma Release, Solo Focusing, Parts Parties, Laban Movement Analysis, NeuroLinguistic Programming, Ericksonian Hypnotherapy, dance/ movement therapy, Alexander Technique, Breathing Coordination, SpaceHarmony and art.  At present , she is particularly interested in releasing trauma through movement and art.


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7 Responses to Everyday Healing

  1. germaine says:

    Wow. These are great! I love the brevity, to-the-pointed-ness. It somehow makes them so TRUE, genuine And they are all so DIFFERENT. So interesting. Thank you for the collage/montage. It is inspiring to me; she that is so captivated with the simple, daily non-spoken healing practices we call living.

  2. Judy Archer says:

    Thank you for this fascinating collage of sharing experiences. Very inspiring.

  3. margaret knight says:

    Thank you so much! I loved these and the insights each one gave me. Healing from an everyday kind of flu and feeling “myself” for the first time in days, I start to see the gifts from the down time, the time I wasn’t in control of my life. Little shifts. Every day healing — so nice and simple, no big deal, but part of making life joyful.

  4. kathy chowanec says:

    very nice in simplicity,content and format…i really like that each had images as well as words on a page. i find my own reflections in my emotional, physical, and mental responses to each of these. thank you for sharing. it excites me that we are growing as a comunity in the way we can share these expressions. good job JAMSI

  5. Paula Gallagher says:

    Thank you all for lightening my day with these inspiring healing vignettes. I’m jumping for joy.

  6. robert holder says:

    Wonderful antidote to the facts /stats driven routine —-and that`s in the mental health profession! simple personal direct light giving . Thank you

  7. Liz Baring says:

    As I sit up in bed coughing and trying to rest, my heat and soul are filled with expectation and joy as I read about your work and experiences. Many thanks for opening another door to life for me.

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