Healing Is So Much More Than Medicine

Healing Is So Much More Than Medicine

I am on crutches. Again.

I want to walk, to dance, to run. I want to count my steps in miles run through forests of moss and mist, not in painful hops from my couch to my car.

Healing is so much more than medicine.

“The X-ray shows a distal, non-displaced avulsion fracture of the 5th metatarsal,” the medical report says. “You tore a tendon and broke your foot,” the doctor explains to me.

Breaking is so much more than medicine.

Yes, I understand the medical jargon. I have done this before. I know that the X-ray means weeks of bone healing, months of soft tissue healing. Hopefully I can at least walk soon. Crutches are never easy. I have used them through so many sprains, fractures, joint surgery. But they never become easier. I don’t want the crutches, I want to run, I silently plead with the doctor. But the X-ray, and the pain, tell the truth.

I am terrible at sitting still. Crutches make me slow down and sit still. Just be. Listen inside to who I Am. To learn that there is poetry even in the pain.

I found my way into Reiki and natural healing through my earthly body which bends and breaks easily. Joint Hypermobility Syndrome. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Connective tissue disorder, the doctors say. So many labels for my lifetime of strains, sprains, tendonitis, and fractures, the constant chronic joint pain that has accompanied me since childhood on this earth journey.

But the modern medical system can’t put a label on the spiritual parts of my aching body. How do you label a spirit stronger than its earthly body? I don’t want to break, I want to fly. Reiki helps me to find balance. The splint holds the bones in place while Reiki and prayer hold my spirit in place.

The hardest part is drowning out all the noise of the world around me, and my own inner chatter, to listen to the healing voice of the Holy Spirit. I hold my broken foot in the healing power of Reiki. I gently massage the joints, feeling the heat flow through my hands, and the healing blood flow through my veins. I hear the Holy Spirit singing healing over me. I remember the songs I have learned from the trees through the years.

Healing is so much more than medicine.

Breaking is so much more than medicine.

I was a serious runner when I was younger. I smashed 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons as I pressed toward the legendary 26.2 miles. I celebrated a 25 mile training run through immense pain. I ignored my body’s cry to stop. I tried to outrun the pressures of grad school. I ignored my spirit’s cry to stop. My ankle quit completely as I limped into a first aid tent, not able to complete the marathon.

I spent eight years healing from ankle injuries after that. I tried so hard to run, but there were times I couldn’t even walk. Months of crutches. Years of heartache. Breaking.

There were doctors who told me I would never run again. I did not believe them. I used Reiki to heal my spirit. I used lavender and Epsom salts to heal the physical pain of walking. I kept pressing on toward my goal.

Then last January, God sent me to a wise physical therapist. She helped me take one pain free step, then another. I worked hard on the exercises she assigned, months of baby steps back to running. Soon I ran for one minute. Then five minutes. Then a half mile. Finally the mile.

The mile! My spirit was flying. Oh how I celebrated that moment. Healing is so much more than medicine.

In my excitement I took things too fast. On New Year’s Day, eight months after that first mile, I ran a 10k. I celebrated the accomplishment, but my feet ached from the effort. That week, I stubbed my toe and my battered foot bone cracked. My will to reach my goal was yet again stronger than my joints. Mind over matter rarely works out well for me.

So now I am enjoying time in the pool. I can still walk in the support of the water, still swim, slowly. People say that swimming is the closest human movement on earth to flying. Water is spiritual. I think of all the stories of healing water in the Bible. The angels stirred the healing waters at the pool of Bethesda, the house of grace. Jesus healed a paralyzed man there. I listen inside to the Holy Spirit as I swim and move and fly. I pray for the water to heal me.

Healing. Slowly.

I listen to the wisdom of my body, the wisdom of I Am, the healing that is more than medicine. Through Reiki and the healing of the Holy Spirit, soon enough I will run. Again.

 

 

Image Credits: Heather Katsoulis, "Cora's Friend".

Patience for the Better

Patience for the Better

Be patient, things will change for the better.

Good things come to those who Believe, better things come to those who are Patient, and the best Things come to those who Don’t Give Up. Zig Ziglar

My life is a little topsy-turvy right now. I wrote a poem about this in my last blog post. I just experienced a dramatic job loss, a sudden burning of all that I had built over the past year, at the hands of a boss who had given up compassion and care and turned to greed and concern only for The Bottom Line. Her betrayal takes the breath from my emotions and my body. But she cannot touch the breath of God which sustains my spirit body. I may explain more of this story later, but I am learning to exhale and leave it to the hands of our benevolent and all-wise Creator.

I had two job interviews in the last week, and both invited me back to second interviews, so my chances of getting a new job are strong. The Better is coming. I am just waiting for the confirming phone call. But the waiting can be so torturous.

Two quotes came to me today to help me on the journey of uncertainty. Be patient, things will change for the better. This is a cell phone wallpaper I found reminding me to practice patience as I embrace the unknown Better. Even as the last Minnesota snow storms dump on us, I feel the trees releasing energy, buds eager, but patient, to break open at the ends of tender new twigs. I need to learn wisdom from the patience of the trees, as the spiritual season in my life changes from winter to spring. There may be one last snow storm yet, but YHWH, my loving provider, is plowing a path for me through the deep white. The colors and life of spring will always come. No matter how black and deep the winter, the Better will always come.

Good things come to those who Believe, better things come to those who are Patient, and the best Things come to those who Don’t Give Up.

This quote, by author and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, also talks about patience in waiting for the the Better. But Believe is another key word here. I have taken a Reiki healing journey of belief over the last five years. I have hurled my body off the cliff and waited for the angels to catch me in a faith-dance with the Creator. It strikes me that this is the second temptation with which the devil tortured Yeshua, but I think there is a secret lesson; in his hidden and lonely learning years, Yeshua had already mastered this lesson, to let go and be caught by the hands of blind faith. The devil was mocking him and mocking the provision of God.

And so the great tempter tempts me. He tempts me to give into worry and crawl back to the slavery of Egypt. God is my provider, but the tempter tells me that the job is my provider and I am a fool. But I will believe, and I won’t give up, and I will wait for God’s best things to come for me.

I leave winter behind me and turn my face toward the spring.

It will be a spring of healing. I have walked through a valley, a winter of my soul, and I am emerging on the other side with a more developed, more profound understanding of Reiki. A bandaid can never replace surgery for cancer, and Reiki will never take root in a soul that has not been plowed and planted by trials.

If you are experiencing hardships, a dark winter, my friend, look deep and practice patience as you wait for the Divine healing and the Better.

Photo used freely, courtesy of appelcline on sxc.hu

Victims, and Victory Through Perception

Victims, and Victory Through Perception

The snow falls around me,
snowflakes kissing my lashes,
tickling my nose.

I stick out my tongue
to taste the cool wetness on my lips,
and I remember the taste of peppermint
in the candy cane hot chocolate
of childhood winters.

I scoop a wet snowball
in my softly-mittened hands,
as the fast-falling flakes
circle my warm jacket
in an intimate embrace
of white.

I meditate on the moment,
knowing that, for this fleeting gesture,
this silent tick on the forward march of time,
I am at peace.

###

The snow falls around me
in a dizzying blaze of white arrows.
Sharp icicle darts,
are thrown from gray clouds
with angry, thunderous faces.

I duck my face
and cover my head against the storm.
Ice stings my eyes
as blood pounds against my reddened cheeks.

I shiver and curse the wind
that blazes through my coat and scarf,
to wraps its icy fingers around my veins.

Time ticks forward one more agonizing second,
and I wonder if I can last.
I rush forward,
blindly seeking a warm shelter,
a comforting friend,
in the frigid storm of white.

###

Victims, and Victory through Perception

This is my second Minnesota winter. I am still amazed by the vast amount of snow that falls here during the long, frigid winter months. As I watch the snow falling yet again, I am struck by the power of my thoughts.

To illustrate my point, I wrote two poems about the snow. The first is full of joy and wonder at the delights of winter; the second is full of agony and fear in the face of a winter storm. The snow remains the same, but the experiences and thoughts of the onlooker change.

Psychologists often say that your perception is your reality, and I believe this is true, for the most part. Now, some people take it so far as to say there is no such thing as a victim, there is only a “victim mentality.” I vehemently disagree with this; as long as evil exists in the world and people choose to commit evil acts, then there will be victims of the evil. I also don’t particularly like the teachings of the “The Secret.” I don’t believe that a vision board and simply thinking positive thoughts will always bring us prosperity, wealth, and happiness. YHWH, the Divine, is more interested in your spiritual prosperity, and sometimes that involves molding through the fire.

Still, when we find ourselves to be a victim of another, or of our circumstances, or even simply in pain from life’s many storms, we do have a choice how we frame the challenge in our mind. Please do not deny the pain; you must feel your emotions and listen to your heart, your inner voice, all the time. When this voice is a hurt and crying child, listen with patience and nurturing. Feel the pain, acknowledge the pain, and love yourself.

At the same time, try not to stay in the pain. With gentle words and slow, healing touches, coax that little child out to once again face the world. Re-frame the evil events in your life, the times you were victimized, and turn them into a positive. Meditate through the pain, dance over the injury, and come out victorious.

When the storm clouds gather, and the snow falls out of your sky, can you find the courage to somehow change the white daggers piercing your heart into gentle flakes kissing your eyelashes?

Peace, love, and healing, my friends.

Photo used freely, courtesy of ak-girl on stock.xchng

Gaining New Sight

 

Photo used freely, courtesy of Brybs on stock.xchng
Photo used freely, courtesy of Brybs on stock.xchng

I have often said that I am a healer in need of healing. All of the best spiritual healers in the world have suffered many ailments. It takes deep empathy to learn the art of healing. I often pray to walk a mile in another person’s shoes so I can change my world.

Right now I am in great need of healing. I have developed a cataract in one eye that is progressing very rapidly. The diagnosis shocked me, because I am only 32 years old. As much as I know about medicine, I always thought of cataracts as only a disease of advanced age.

I have been near-sighted most of my life, so, ironically, my problem started when my eye suddenly got much better and my glasses were uncomfortable. I went to the optometrist, and she had to change my glass prescription three times in a month, ultimately cutting my prescription in half.

Unfortunately, with each prescription change, I noticed a cloud starting to descend on my vision, like looking at the world through the spreading fog of a bathroom mirror after a hot shower. I also started to lose my near vision, even as my far vision got better. This hurts me because I love to read and write, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so. Working on my websites has also become a challenge.

I have an appointment with another opthalmologist, but they have already said that surgery may be my only option. I do not want to follow that path right now. I had a horrible experience with ankle surgery, and I am not eager to have surgery again. I know that Western medicine has its place, but I want to pursue holistic healing first.

I am practicing Reiki and meditation with my vision. Maybe this is a life lesson for me on my spiritual path. Perhaps my spiritual vision is affecting my physical vision; a temporary foggy patch as I ascend the clouds to another level of the mountain. I also think I need to learn to rest my eyes more, just rest in general. I have a high-stress day job, and maybe resting my eyes is a way to help me learn to calm down more and let all my worries fly away.

I am also learning to empathize with those who struggle to see in any way. I have thought often lately of the story in the Bible about the blind man whom Jesus healed (Mark 8). When Jesus first put his hands on the man’s eyes, the man said he saw “people looking like trees walking around.” Jesus then put his hands on the man a second time and he was healed completely.

I always thought this story was a bit odd. Why did he see people like trees? Now I can empathize, because the blurriness and fogginess that I am experiencing looks somewhat like that description.

This story also reminds me that healing takes time. The miracle may not happen completely or at all on the first attempt, even for the greatest Healer of all time. Maybe the man was not quite ready to see. Maybe he still had fears. After all, if he had been blind for most or all of his life, learning to see, although a great gift, would completely change his identity.

This principle is also true of the first week, or the first year, or the first decade of the healing process. Healing is a soul journey as much as a physical one. I want to participate fully in this journey. I believe that I will come out the other side with my vision restored, and even better than it was before.

I bless you on the healing journey, friends, and I would appreciate if you could send a little Reiki and healing energy my way as well.

Can Pain Be My Medicine?

pain as medicine
Photo by kaniths, used freely on stock.xchng

Is pain something to be avoided at all costs? Or can pain be my friend, my teacher, my companion on the spiritual journey?

Where does pain come from? This is a deep question that neither doctors nor philosophers can adequately answer. If I cut my finger or place my hand on a hot iron, my nerves fire lightning-speed, and my brain tells my muscles to withdraw. This is a natural protective response in our physical bodies to protect us from physical harm. Scientists call it the sympathetic nervous system.

But what about spiritual pain? How can we protect our spirit-bodies from injury? Intuition is key here. If you have a “gut feeling” about something, you should always follow that instinct. As a matter of fact, scientists say that the third nervous system of our physical bodies, called the enteric nervous system, is housed in our digestive system. Our guts can literally “think” for themselves, even if completely cut off from the brain. Our enteric nervous system holds most of our serotonin and dopamine receptors, our emotional center, and the enteric nervous system partners with the brain to process these emotions. We call this our “heart” feelings or “butterflies in our stomach.” And, again, butterflies are very spiritual. There are many connections here. Shamans and tribal people have often referred to the stomach as the origin of pain and the origin of healing, the seat of understanding.

Each person’s pain is unique, and I believe that all pain is a mixture of the physical, emotional, and spiritual. We cannot separate these parts of our being. If you fall down and break your ankle,your body has a marvelous power to mend the bones back together, but your spirit tends to hold the memory of that traumatic event in that joint. I struggle a lot with ankle pain, but I am learning to let go. I used to be a long-distance runner, something that I really enjoyed doing. When I developed severe tendonitis in my ankle, and could no longer run, I also suffered the emotional injury of losing an activity that I loved. In addition, I had wrapped part of my identity around being thin and “fit,” and my spirit body had experienced the pain of me rejecting my true self for a cultural ideal. There are many layers of pain, and unraveling all of this has taken me years of work, and is still a journey.

The pain is my teacher and guide to help me understand where I have strayed from my deepest self. For another example, when I was studying at the conservatory as a classical clarinetist, I developed severe, intractable pain in my arms and back. Some days I could hardly walk or lift anything or even get out of bed. It got so bad that I was forced to put down my instrument completely for a period of time.

But where did all this pain come from? Did I simply practice too much? Not really. The pain started out as an emotion. I beat myself up in the practice room over every little mistake, punishing myself for every imperfection in my last lesson or recital. My spirit shriveled under my self-abuse, and under the harsh words of my teachers, who themselves struggled with ego and emotional pain. The result eventually became physical pain in my body.

The pain was my wake-up call. The pain was my medicine. The pain forced me to look at my emotions and my beat-up spirit body. In the forced break from my instrument, I slowly learned the importance of refuge, rest, and nurturing of my spiritual self.

I am still a healer on a healing journey for myself. Sometimes when I do a Reiki session with another person, I feel their pain in my own body. My spirit connects with their spirit so deeply that I join them, if only briefly, on their spiritual journey. The pain is the guide to the healing. We are called to help bear one another’s burdens, and this pain is medicine, too.

If you are struggling with pain anywhere in your body or psyche today, listen to the pain. Welcome the pain as a guide and companion for your journey. Don’t just flush it away with another pill and ignore it (although there is certainly a time and a place for medicine). What is your spirit trying to communicate to your physical body? What memory do you need to process and release? What is causing tension and friction in your life, and how can you release that?

Breathe deeply, drink in the new day, and embrace your pain so that you can live in true healing.

Namaste, my friends.

The Soul of the Tree

The Soul of the Tree

Spring is my favorite season. I enjoy feeling the wind tickling my leaves and the sun warming my branches. I enjoy watching the flowers popping up around my roots, adding their blues, yellows, purples to the newly-green grass, like a bunch of crayons in a child’s world. Spring is innocent and new. Spring is a child.

Summer is nice, too. I especially like the summer evenings, a cool blanket of darkness chasing away the thick heat. I dream of the starry constellations carrying me away to the realm of mystery and spirit, timelessness, peace. I especially like when the owls light on my branches, their deep voices echoing the wisdom of time past and future. I have never experienced the ocean, but I have known whispers from the coastal trees, and I imagine the owls and the whales singing the same haunting songs calling for the harmony and healing on earth.

Fall is the season of color and change before the rest. As a young tree, I feared fall. I was afraid to lose my beautiful leaves and stand naked before the world. As I grew older, I learned that my leaves are only the outward part of me, providing me energy and helping me to grow, but my outside is not me.

Winter is a time of rest and rebirth. I have experienced over 100 winters on earth, as the humans measure it, but the trees measure time in cycles of growth and rest, birth, and death, and rebirth. Winter brings snow and dark and the contemplation of silence. Once in a while, I wake out of my winter revelry as a squirrel brushes my trunk with its bushy tail, or scampers up my bark in search of a place to hide his treasure. Mostly I sleep and dream.

I often dream of my young days, only a seedling. I was born in the spring. I grew up through the seasons in a forest, surrounded by my elders. I most loved listening to the stories of the pines, who never lost their leaves, and welcomed the quiet of winter. They were the prophets and listeners and told us young ones about the coming days in which the forest would be no more. They told us not to worry, though, that the ancient cycles always bring balance, and that if we someday found ourselves as a sacrifice for modernity, our souls would make the journey back to the Creator and source.

I grew up feeling the struggles of all the trees. We are connected in the life circle of earth. I feel their fear and cries as the loggers come, extinguishing our life-spark in their appetite. Sometimes they use our wood for their constructions and communications, sometimes they clear us out of the way for their farms or their cities.

Today, on a sultry summer morning, I felt the spray on my trunk, a garish red x. The building and parking lot had replaced my friends and elders long ago. Now the building needed new paint, and my branches stood in the way. I knew this would be my last starry summer night, my last time enjoying the wind in my branches. During the afternoon, a storm blew through, driving rain like teardrops from the heavens. I am sad.

There are still trees around me, older than me. I feel their whispers, “Do not be afraid on the journey. Your soul is free.”

Photo used freely, courtesy of humusak2 on stock.xchng

The Life Cycle of the Dandelion

dandelion
Photo used royalty free, courtesy of anitab0000 on stock.xchng

As I slog through a cold, wet Minnesota spring, I am encouraged to see the signs of life all around me. Neither the depths of the dark, frigid winter nor the downpours of the damp, tempestuous spring can prevent the excitement and life of summer from arriving.

I walked to work this morning with my umbrella plastered around my body, guarding against the beaded wetness of the May sky. I turned my eyes toward the ground, and suddenly I noticed a spark of yellow. A dandelion braved its way through the storm to reach for the hidden sun.

This hopeful little flower reminded me of another, brighter day in which my young son picked dandelions. The sun dappled his small hands as he delightedly scooped up the flowers, their yellow heads transformed into cotton balls of white. The white of wisdom. The white of weathered seasons. The knowing of life and death, and the gift of those seeds to the next generation.

Such is the humble dandelion. So many people call it a weed, but it is a miracle. Its flower has a short life, only a few precious weeks. Yet beneath the yellow youth and the white seniority hides a rebirth. You see, the dandelion plant lives a long life, or many lives. It throws its roots deep and it flowers many times.

Our life is like that of the dandelion. We live a short time on this earth. Like the grass of the field, the Bible says. Here today, gone tomorrow.

We start out our journey here with joy, little babies basking in the yellow sunshine of life. We grow and we see sorrow and joy, pain and healing. We end our journey with our hair cotton white, our minds full of wisdom, and our seeds to offer the next generation.

Too often, we anxiously pack our days full, a brimming suitcase ready for another opportunity that we think will bring us joy. Or, perhaps, we keep a full suitcase just in the hope of impressing others. Busy for the sake of busy.

Rarely do we pause to consider the end.

But is it the end? Like the lowly dandelion, our roots are deep. We are spiritual beings, throwing forth a flower and seeds into this sun, while our tap root firmly anchors us to the other side. We pack our suitcases for this journey, but we neglect to prepare for the splendors of eternity. In vain hope, we throw our seeds into the winds of earthly fame and glory, but we forget to save some of these seeds for the inner world, the world of understanding and wisdom.

No matter how much we call it a weed, the dandelion knows itself. It knows the wisdom of inner beauty and a life reborn. Do we know the same?

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