Tag Archives: health

What Does It Mean To Spiritually Eliminate And Do You Need To Do It?

15 Sep

It’s a well known fact that elimination is vital to life. Without these biological processes, we would die. Our bodies discharge waste through complex physiological processes but do our bodies do this on a spiritual level too?

This question floated through my head during one of the most surreal yoga classes I’ve ever taken. Because focus was being placed on the first chakra, most of the exercises were geared toward the parts of our bodies dealing with physical elimination. “Think of this as spiritual potty training,” the teacher said. Yes, this is LA living. I’m lying on a mat reflecting on my anal sphincter…

The first chakra has to do with being grounded in physical life. It correlates to our physical health, basic survival needs, and personal safety as we navigate through day-to-day life. This particular teacher has been practicing yoga for years and also studied in India. I take her very seriously even though her comments sometimes make me laugh out loud.

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A toddler experiences potty training to learn how to effectively eliminate and to gain increased autonomy from her care-takers. How do we learn to effectively eliminate the “crap” from our lives that stores up as we digest “stuff” throughout the day, week, month and year(s)?

The spiritual correlation isn’t too different from the physical dimensions of our bodies. If we don’t have control over our elimination system, things will get impacted causing constipation and blockage and/or things will move through with no control. What is this crap and how do we discharge it efficiently?

All day we take things in – some of it is nourishing; some is the equivalent of junk food. We take in conversations and information, relationships and experiences. We take in work demands, personal crises, and personal joys. Our systems perceive all kinds of stimuli – positive and negative that needs to be processed, metabolized and released. In today’s modern world, we have the equivalent of spiritual pollution: exhaust from social media, our devices, traffic, arguments, reality t.v., US politics, etc., etc.

Increasingly, I need to gauge how well I’m digesting and eliminating what is not necessary; what is waste; what isn’t vital to my spiritual and nutritional health. It’s part of my health regime. At a certain point, I can’t take in anymore without completing maxing out my nervous system or soul.

Today I went for a hike. I’d had enough of the computer screen and to do list.

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Tonight, I will do a little more work and then power down. Enough.

If we’re wound too tight, we can’t let go.

What helps you unwind? Clear out? And get back to health?

 

My Happy Place

23 Sep

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From the time I was a child, this was my happy place. It’s still my happy place. Anywhere that I can make art collaborating with others is where I find my life force. It’s where I find God. Art is where we transcend, celebrate, unite, and become.

Can You Say No To Good?

19 Nov

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When I was a little girl, I was so into sweets, I’d climb to the upper kitchen cabinets where my mom kept the sugar bowl hidden and help myself to “spoonfuls of sugar.” I suppose all kids like candy. I was no exception. What was exceptional was that no one monitored my sugar intake. My mom gave me a Twinkie or Ding Dong for breakfast, and my dad was known to have put Coca-Cola in my baby bottle. It’s a wonder I’m not obese and that I still have teeth.

What’s ironic is that as an adult, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. I like a little dark chocolate, and I enjoy pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving time, but when it comes to dessert, I can take it or leave it. It doesn’t interest me all that much. People think I’m practicing uber discipline, or that I’m trying to watch my weight. The fact of the matter is, I od’d on sugar and junk food when I was young and can’t do it anymore. I actually get sick from too much sugar.

It’s hard to say no to good things. When I was a kid, I wanted all that candy.

Where I struggle as an adult is turning down offers and opportunities that I see as wonderful. Given my druthers, I’d say, “Yes!” to every neat thing that came my way in the form of work, social engagements, and creativity. I don’t have a hard time saying, “No,” to things that I know are problematic. Yet when it comes to things that would be good for myself and others, it’s very hard to say, “No.” It feels counter-intuitive, and I second guess myself all the time.

That said, too much candy can make one sick. And too much of anything, becomes too much. As an adult, I look out on the smorgasbord of life, and realize I can’t have it all, all at the same time. I have to pace myself, and I have to finish what’s on my plate before I go back for seconds.

A Room of One’s Own

11 Nov

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When I was a toddler, I was told on a family hike not to play too close to a stream in case I fell in. Of course I did, although it wasn’t certain whether this was an accident or my own orchestration. I also drove my tricycle straight into the swimming pool. I was a small child, not fully aware of danger or the concept of defying my elders. I was however beginning to make choices, one of which entailed playing in water at all costs.

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People who know me, know that I have an almost bizarre need to be in water. It is as if I need to return to that element from which we came. Colleagues I travel with joke that I am grumpy until I’ve had my swim and have learned that a hotel with a pool is my gold standard. And this weekend, at a retreat where I was one of the speakers, I was teased as the uber person out there at 6:00 a.m. getting a workout in. I don’t know how to explain that being in the pool had nothing to do with some compulsive need to maintain fitness. It is merely a by-product of a much deeper compulsion.

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Virginia Woolf, in her essay, “A Room of One’s Own,” makes the feminist case that female writers need “a room of one’s own” and financial means in order to write. Otherwise, without quiet, solitude and time, too many elements intrude, inhibiting women from staking out a professional claim to their work.

Even as a young person, I sought out a “room of my own.” I was an only child so I had my own room at home but even in public spaces, I would stake out a private one. Many of my high school lunches were spent in the library where I could get a few moments to myself free of the social demands of teenage life.

I am now a woman. For better or worse, I am free of the domestic challenges Woolf claimed were such an obstacle for female writers. But nonetheless, there are plenty of distractions and demands that can rob me of my creativity, including my own work that helps finance my passions. Yet I have found that no matter how busy I am or how stimuli-overloaded I feel, if I can get myself into a body of water, my life force returns. It is my “room of my own” – the one place I can get away from everything, including my own mind. Underneath the water, I hear nothing but silence. Looking up at the sky from the water, I see no one but the hand of God. The water is my baptismal font, my ctrl-alt-delete, my rebooting and renewal. And although the exercise plays a role, it is so much more.

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My favorite book, aptly named, “Crossing the Unknown Sea” addresses some of these themes. The author, David Whyte speaks of the need for rejuvenation if we’re to maintain our vocation. Quoting Joseph Campbell, he states, “You must have a place you can go to where you do not know what your work is or who you work for, where you do not know who you are married to or who your children are” (p.157). He then warns of how work can trap us in a type of “postmodern serfdom,” (p.163) if we’re not careful and don’t carve out niches of time for our deeper soul needs. Then while addressing how we so often say, “yes” to everything that can rob us of work/life balance, Whyte states: “With regard to our marriage with time, to say yes would be the equivalent of promiscuity, of faithlessness and betrayal. Stress means we have committed adultery with regard to our marriage with time” (181). Those two gorgeous sentences explain why I swim and surf. The water is my form of marriage counseling when too much is coming at me or when I’ve made other things my idols. It is how I keep myself from cheating on my own soul and God as well.

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A Bunch of Crap

5 Mar

So I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no good time for a colonoscopy. Not sandwiched in-between two out of town teaching trips, or while fighting a miserable cold, or while trying to figure out if your cat has cancer. Let’s face it. Having to have a colonoscopy is a bunch of crap piled onto one’s schedule.

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Let me put it this way. I do not fast. Not for religion purposes or dieting or cleanses. It’s not my thing. I have a ridiculously high metabolism and it simply doesn’t work for me. I get dizzy. I grow faint. Years ago I thought I’d be a good exchange student and fast with my Indonesian host family during the Islamic holiday of Ramadan and learned the hard way. Fasting makes me sick. So when the doctor told me I had to have a colonoscopy at the ripe old age of 43 and that I would have to drink liquid all day and basically poop out any remaining calories within me, I was not a happy camper.

The big preparation day began on Sunday. Blowing snot out of one orifice and heavens knows what out the other was not my idea of a good time. By mid-day, my head was pounding. I looked longingly at the food in the kitchen pantry; lounged on my bed reading a friend’s novel and dozed off to sleep every few hours. By this morning, my head felt like it was going to explode and I think I started hearing things.

I thought they were making a mountain out of a mole hill. I am as healthy as a horse. But cancer runs in my family. You know the drill. And indeed they found a polyp. So I guess it was a good thing I had this little inconvenient procedure. It wasn’t a bunch of crap after all. Perhaps it saved my life.

There is no ideal time to develop cancer or to die. To get sick or to lose a pet. To get stuck in snow or have a plane delayed. All we have is the present. And we better well embrace it.

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Tonight I lie in bed in my bathrobe happy to eat again and to have my headache abate (I am still not allowed to have alcohol or aspirin). But tomorrow, begins a new day. I can’t wait for coffee with cream and to feel good. This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad!