Giving thanks moment by moment...
My mom's alter...
Yesterday was November 15. It was my mom's 81st birthday and also the first full year since her physical death. I planned to honor my mom by visiting a nearby shrine, lighting candles and praying her rosary. Then I was going to redo her alter and add some beautiful stones that I had found this summer on one of my fossil hunts. As it turned out, I spent the day helping to lay down a new floor in our upstairs bathroom. Like most home improvement projects - it took twice as long as we thought it would and before I knew it, the day was done and I was tired. I imagined my mom "looking down" and feeling duped out of an appropriate ceremony to mark this first anniversary and her birthday.
As I layed out the floor, measuring and cutting, I found myself mentally reviewing the past 18 months with thoughts and feelings coming and going along with the memories. I recalled desperately trying to maintain a sense of stability in the midst of an avalanche of change and calling on all of my best strategies. I remembered the feeling of exhaustion that washed over me when I realized that none of my old strategies were working. At that moment of exhaustion I surrendered and softened and in that softening a space was created for something new. As I continued measuring and cutting I felt so much gratitude for our little stone cottage and for my mom for helping us to make this transition. It dawned on me that had my strategies worked - I might still be stuck in the past. This is how sensory motor amnesia (SMA) shows up. A stuckness ... and rather than moving into it, we often work harder and we create more hardness. We forget the full potential of the muscle, or our ability to learn and grow and integrate mentally, physically and emotionally.
I also felt a sense of dread that I imagined was related to the current state of humanity. It was quickly followed by deep sadness. Tears came and I understood that I wanted to share all of this with my mom. I wanted her to reassure me that all would be ok - but what really is "ok"? I think it's appropriate to feel a sense of dread right now - there are a lot of dreadful events vying for our attention. This ability to sense dread and to feel sadness is also the beginning of stepping into something new. This is the freedom that Thomas Hanna spoke about. If we can't sense it, we can't change it. I felt weary.
I stopped what I was doing and I laid down on the floor in the bathroom in the middle of the tools and sawdust and floor boards and I felt how tight my back was. There was a lot of space between my back and the floor. I was gripping with my butt and clenching my jaw and I felt so tired. Was I breathing? I inhaled gently and fully into my belly, my ribcage and my chest as my pelvis rolled towards my feet and my spine moved into a full arch. I paused at the top to feel the sensation and then I poured all of my attention into pandiculating (releasing) the tight muscles of my back, my butt, and my jaw. I took several breaths to do this. When I felt the movement was complete, my nervous system immediately took me into a strong contraction in the front. I consciously followed the pandiculations my nervous system was choosing for me. After several minutes of this I noticed my back was closer to the floor, my mind had quieted and my nervous system felt calm. I took a moment to integrate this, to give thanks for this practice and then I resumed measuring and cutting.