When is enough, enough?

1/20/14 So I sit on the couch watching Rachel Maddow after dinner, eating pistachios … and as I eat, I notice that I’m eating so quickly I’m hardly tasting them. And then after a certain point, the salt on the nuts gets noticed … however, eating continues, just a little more slowly. Ten minutes later, a small voice inside queries: “How many pistachios are you going to eat?” Twenty minutes later, more voices join in: “Are you still hungry? Do you notice what you’re eating? When is enough, enough?” Yes – that’s the question: When is enough, enough?

This morning as Mike, my physical therapist, is working on the scar tissue around my spinal fusion, he asks if I want my ankle taped because the tendons are still swollen, and I’m having difficulty walking. I tell him the truth: “I want you to keep stretching my back forever …” Just a few minutes
later, the tight muscles in my back finally release – and I experience relief … and so I tell him, “Ahhh, that’s enough.”

There’s a dis-regulation of sensation in my body … the neurological chaos is, at times, overwhelming. Fifteen years ago, sensations came back in my left foot … I was at a Qigong week-end workshop at Stanford. Late Saturday afternoon, I experienced incredibly painful sharp needles and cramps in the bottom of my left foot … Disoriented, I tried to figure out how to alleviate the pain … and then it registered … I could feel my foot … How incredible! It was the first time since I’d been paralyzed in 1973! For days and weeks after those sensations came back (and all last year and again earlier this afternoon when I experienced electrical hailstorms in the backs of my thighs), I comforted myself with the line from Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved, when Sethe’s feet are bloody and throbbing … (she has walked for days without shoes, escaping from slavery) … Denver, who finds Sethe curled up in pain by the river, rubs her feet and offers her these words of wisdom, “Anything dead coming back to life hurts.”

Isn’t that the truth! A trauma specialist writes about “disturbed physical sensations and action patterns” … “the residue of imprints left behind in sensory and hormonal systems…,” explaining that for people who have experienced trauma, “memory is stored at a sensory level in the body.” His theory: “When you are traumatized your motion is paralyzed. A victim of violence almost invariably has been trapped, pinned down or unable to move. Later, if there is a perceived threat, the body reacts as if it has to move but it once again feels helpless and paralyzed, prevented from being able to act effectively. All the chemicals are released to engage in action but the body doesn’t know how to move.” http://www.traumacenter.org/clients/MagInside.Su09.p12-13.pdf

I want sensation back, yet there’s the challenge of tolerating feelings and sensations, the challenge to stay present without resistance, the challenge to regain a sense of safety. I want movement back, yet there’s the challenge to learn to re-engage in action. . . there’s still too often a disconnect … feelings of being trapped, helpless, unable to move … paralyzed. I want to experience ‘enough’ as ‘enough’ – to experience satiation … I want to be free from the imprints of the past. I yearn for connection, intimacy, depth … I go to profoundly skillful compassionate bodyhealers. I practice body-centered meditations … rewiring the neurological systems of my body; feeling more grounded, vibrant, and transparently present; experiencing life in a more spontaneous and vivid way.

Be fearless. Be open and receptive, free of any goal or anticipation. Be sincere. Be prayerful, not willful or struggling. Root your attention in the lower abdomen – or your breath – or your feet. Balance is the key. Effortless effort is the way – to not stay lost in the mind or fall into a foggy or dull state. Surrender.

Drop all resistance to the present moment. Receive what is given – with gratitude, without holding on. Allow the light of being to set suffering free. (Adyashanti quotes)

1/22/14 This morning I dance to “Empty Shore” from Deuter’s albom Sea & Silence, savor the sweet taste of fresh organic blueberries and creamy whole milk yogurt, delighting in beauty of the riotously pink camellias outside my kitchen window. Realizing, abiding, and embodying the luminous stillness of unconditioned fundamental consciousness – is more than a relief … it’s a great joy!

You are not your body: Janine Shepherd at TEDxKC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bX32U_hfri4