Once again I have been on a writing hiatus. It has led me to realize that I am unable to multi-task on many levels. I have always understood “multi-tasking” to mean the ability to do more than one specific task at a time. I am sure I have already mentioned in previous postings that this is very difficult for me to do. My brain and my body just don’t function well in multi-tasking mode.
I am always so amazed when I walk by my husband when he is working at his computer. I really should say “computers” – plural, because, although he has one computer (on his main desk – I’ll explain in a minute!), he has two screens and sometimes he is multi-tasking between the two and sometimes he is also multi-tasking on each screen. My brain just cannot hold that! It’s way too mind-boggling for me.
Apart from his main desk, he also has a secondary desk which holds another computer and recording equipment which he uses to create his “podcasts”. When he is all set up to record in that space, it looks rather like an old-fashioned radio show. He wears headphones and has a microphone in front of him and I almost expect him to break out into acapella singing. Since he has been indulging in this activity, which is all linked to his web page work, (www.windowsobserver.com), I sometimes think of the computer room/office as a recording studio too.
The lessons I have learned about myself in the last couple of months are myriad. I have lost three friends in that time frame. Two were “expected”. Is death ever expected? The two people, although unconnected in any other way, had actually been struggling with the same lung disease over several years. The third friend’s death came out of left field and left me, and many other common friends as well as his wife, completely mind- and heart-slammed. The first friend, died on 26th October 2011, the second friend died about mid-November, and the third friend died 16 December.
In other words, just as I was absorbing the news of one death the second occurred, and so it was for the third. In the meantime, as death was occurring, life was going on. Normal everyday events, commitments, and activities continued on despite what was going on in heart and mind. Meetings were attended, friends were attended to, school and its accompanying homework had to be dealt with, volunteer commitments were kept, I participated in a retreat, Thanksgiving came and went as did Christmas, and on and off, in the back of my mind, was the little nagging voice that said “I need to write”.
As I look back, I realize that I was actually multi-tasking in general across the board of all these events. Just to be able to deal with everyday life as well as grieve, and support others who were grieving, was a huge multi-tasking effort of its own, and I am so grateful for my relationship with God and my strong support network of spiritual friends who help me to get through tough times such as these and still stay sane.
But to hold all this together and allow the Muse of creativity to come forward is, for me, an impossible task. I have to put great energy into honoring and dealing with difficult situations and emotions such as death and grief, and there is little energy left for anything else. And I need to honor myself and where I’m at in all of that and allow the various processes to sweep through me. It is all important to my personal and spiritual growth.
So now, as I sit here and look out my window (no working on the lanai today, we had a near-freeze last night!), I feel some of the tension surrounding these recent events slipping away. Even though it is too cold to sit outside right now, the sun is shining brilliantly, the sky is that crisp, clean, light cerulean blue that only winter can bring forth, and I am breathing deeply and easily as I notice the hawks circling above the pine trees, the other birds swooping across and into the garden, and the squirrels frolicking on the backyard fence. Muse is creeping slowly back into my heart, honoring and respecting where I have been and gently inviting my fingers to once again play across the keyboard and put the words on the screen.
I carry my reflection books in a small plastic tub. It keeps them all tidily in one place, and makes for easy transportation when I go away. As I reached down to pick one out this morning, my fingers encountered a loose piece of paper. There, at the bottom of the tub, lay a small 3” x 5” piece of printing. I pulled it out and recognized it immediately as something that a dear friend had given me about a year ago. It was the copy of page 242 from a daily book of goddess reflections that she reads.
At the time, I was going through an immensely sad moment in my life. In hindsight, I realize I was probably verging on the edge of depression. I am very fortunate that I have many tools that I use on a daily basis that help me to never sink into the desperate depths of that particular disease. And then too, I have wonderful friends who walk a similar path to mine who care about me and give me exactly what I need when I need it.
And thus I received page 242 at just the right moment. The goddess who was addressed on that page was O-Ryu. She is referred to as Grandmother O-Ryu and is the Japanese goddess of the Willow tree. This is what was written about her.
She waits for you in her sacred tree temple beside the quiet night river. A golden Moon whispers above her long and hanging
branches, casting a twinkling outline around her wavy edges. “Come to me”, O-Ryu calls out as she reaches her long and
leafy branches toward you for a loving hug. An owl flaps a low, deep hoot from somewhere inside her soft green tendrils,
and you notice a spider’s web gleaming silver on the tips of her twiggy fingers.
”I am the Witch’s Tree, sacred to the Wise Ones”, she reminds you. “My branches are for making magic wands. My bark
supplies aspirin, the remedy for pain. Come. Sit beneath my weeping branches. Let me hold you close. It’s okay to feel
sad. Let yourself mourn and cry and weep. The relief you are seeking is in letting yourself feel. Do not hold back.
Perhaps you have postponed your mourning too long,” O-Ryu urges. “Mourn means ‘to remember’. Who wants to be
remembered today? Can you whisper their name out loud? Call their spirit to come and sit beside you here by the River.
Let us cry together and gather the wisdom they want to share with you. The spirit of someone deceased wants to talk
with you. Something you need to know will be revealed in a powerful feeling.”
At the top of this page was a statement: “Tears, too, are sacred and can wash away your grief. Honor your memories.” At the bottom of the page was another statement: “Mourning my losses and grieving are necessary processes on my spiritual path.”
When I was in High School there was a small section of the playground that was a grassed area where we could sit in those rare warm English summer days! In the corner of this place was a large weeping willow tree that I loved to sit under and feel protected and safe, cocooned if you will. As I read page 242 I was reminded of those days and, because I firmly believe that nothing happens “by chance”, I chose to work with the imagery of O-Ryu for the next few days, weeks, however long it should prove necessary.
In those days, I discovered that I was mourning the loss of my daughter. No, she had not died in the physical sense, but I had “lost” her all the same. The details of this loss are not important to this writing. What is important is that I discovered what had been destroying me inside during that moment in my life, and I was able to release it with O-Ryu’s help. I also discovered that I needed to mourn the loss of my mother at a deeper level, I came to understand some of her pain that I had helped to create.
Tears are cleansing. They are an important part of our journey to wholeness. They wash away the grief and allow for new seeds of happiness to bloom in once broken hearts. Welcome your tears as the refreshing waters for new growth. As the tears evaporate and dry on your cheeks, so an inner peace will enter your soul and bless you on your way.
In my opening blog post back in April this year (Taking Care of Spirit, Body, and Mind), I talked about the importance of taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Something that I do with as much frequency as my wallet allows is to receive a massage. Although massage is a very physical mode of therapy, if you find the right massage therapist and if you approach massage with an open heart and mind, then you will also be taking care of yourself on the mental, emotional and spiritual levels.
So let’s take a look at the different benefits of massage. Apart from the most obvious physical relief from having aching muscles and joints massaged and gently moved, there are several other physical benefits to be received. Massage stimulates the circulatory system, helping to bring blood out to the extremities of even the tiniest of the veins in our bodies. This helps us to deal better with any form of pain as well as improving the circulation of the blood in general.
Another bodily system that is stimulated by massage is the lymphatic system. Without getting too scientific or technical the best way I can describe this is as a series of vessels that runs parallel to the veins. They carry a liquid called lymph and the whole system is extremely important to the good functioning of the spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and digestive system. The lymphatic system helps the veins do their job better.
Having mentioned the digestive system I will also point out that massage stimulates this system too. It is not abnormal (and should not therefore be cause for embarrassment!) for the stomach to start grumbling once the massage starts. All toxins in the body are helped to exit the body more readily by the action of a massage.
So to recap, it’s not just a question of “feel good” or a good way to relax, massage is also a vital way to help maintain our bodies healthy. Improved blood circulation, lymphatic drainage, and digestive systems help us to live longer and with a better quality of life. But let’s not downplay the “feel good”; that’s important too!!
However, the physical body is not the only part of us to benefit from massage. The simple act of laying down on the massage table should induce a certain level of relaxation. Today’s frenetic pace of life brings heavy doses of stress and tension into our bodies, our hearts, and our minds. The more we choose to reduce stress the better our health will be in all those areas.
Most massage therapists today, with perhaps the exception of those working in the sports arena, provide calm and peaceful environments in their studios. Music, soft lighting, and the use of aroma therapy via oils or candles all help to set an environment where the client can let go of worries and anxieties at least for the hour or so of their appointment.
The massage table is also a good place to let go of any toxic emotions that we may be clinging on to. Most therapists and psychologists who are helping people deal with hurtful and damaging issues will also recommend that their clients try massage to help them release trapped emotions. This is important because negative emotions that are not dealt with properly will take up physical residence in our bodies, eventually causing illness and disease.
In my opinion, there is no better place to pray than on the massage table. Whatever belief system you may have can only get better by indulging in some form of spiritual connection while receiving a massage. Allow your soul to be massaged by your Creator as the therapist massages your body.
The actual origins of therapeutic massage are in the instinctual response to hold and rub a hurt or pain. Therapeutic massage is found in all cultures and in all historical ages as an integral part of health care and maintenance. Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, considered massage of prime importance in any health regime.
So next time your body, your mind, your heart, or your soul seem to be in need of attention and pampering, book a massage and come home to yourself. If you don’t know of any massage therapists and you are concerned about finding a good one, ask around among your friends. I bet at least one person that you know receives massage on a regular basis and can give you a good referral.