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Posts Tagged ‘body’

Every time you go into the fire,
you come out with a new life and it’s better than the last one.
~Martha Beck 

Twelve days ago I ate gluten for what I hope will be the last time.  To say that I felt absolutely awful is an understatement.  Every fiber of my being hurt to the extent that nine days after the accidental consumption I ended up in the ER.

Within 20 minutes of eating the gluten-filled panini, I knew I was in for a challenging evening. Within an hour, I felt so sick that for a dramatic moment, I was praying that life would cease.  The good news was that even when I felt the extraordinary discomfort, I knew I would find a way to cope quickly; I also knew that I was in for up to three months of core exhaustion and intense joint pain. Saturday night, October 1st ended up being a total bummer that ruptured a period of spiritual calm. It is hard to remain calm when you are in the midst of being over the top dramatic and crippled with pain.

And then there was this past Sunday, when the pain had escalated to about 8.5 or higher on the 10 point pain scale and I started feeling nauseous, was fighting a fever, and struggled to walk. Going to the ER seemed prudent at the time and like the only option too. With the sense of vulnerability overflowing, I caved into going to a place that lacked the ability to treat me with dignity and made me feel small and insignificant.  Sigh.

Fire vs Shredder

Photo Courtesy of Aryeh Grossman

AND I am now emerging!

My visit to the ER was a reminder that I had recently surrounded myself with a fabulous team of healers. Some of them know me and are directly helping me navigate my health and others are people that are inspiring me spiritually via books, podcasts, and social media. I am so excited to actively engage in my new healing journey!!!

For someone with celiac disease, the gluten fire petrified me, but it is now helping ground me in my health journey. With a team consisting of my sons, my friends, amazing health practitioners, and some very wise souls, I am surrounded by support. The fire of October 1st ignited the importance of what Glennon Doyle Melton refers to as the “trinities – body, mind, spirit. The warrior lives out all three lives: a physical life, an intellectual life, and a spiritual life.”

I consider myself to be a spiritual warrior. My journey to self care has been intense over the years. I have struggled to loosen and/or release some tightly wound ropes that kept me bound to pain and darkness.

Through chanting, drumming, writing, movement, and other creative endeavors, I have found new norms. Six years ago, I openly did a health journey that focused on staying away from eating foods that caused me health challenges.  I lost a ton of weight and I stopped getting UTI infections just be giving up soda, caffeine, and sugar.

While I kept off most of the weight, I am now doing low levels of the above mentioned foods, although effective tonight, I am making a conscious decision to go back to refraining from those foods, plus making some lifestyle decisions.

Perhaps it isn’t ironic, that the decision to create a list of non-negotiables and to openly share my health journey happened on Yom Kippur.  As I sat in services, I was overwhelmed with both a sense of loss and a sense of joy. The loss was that I wasn’t the healthiest that I could be, but the joy came from the realization that I am in the midst of doing good work and I can do even  better work. All three of the ‘trinities’ will get my attention each and every day of this journey.

There are 124 days until my 51st birthday which is:

  • 10,713,600 seconds
  • 178,560 minutes
  • 2976 hours
  • 17 weeks and 5 days

Over the course of this time, via my blog I will share how I am moving forward, who is inspiring me, my practitioners, and the impact that this journey has on my life. Via Facebook, I will share the daily countdown to my birthday and the daily highlights/challenges with each step.

I am so blessed to have my daily writing practice, a new Ayurvedic Practice, a new Acupuncture Practice, and hopefully what will be regular massages with an AWEsome healer. And then there are the daily gifts that I continue to find each and every day. And finally, I feel humbled to have an amazingly supportive work environment to keep me grounded as I find new ways to care for my body, my mind, and my soul.

As Yom Kippur came to a close, I became aware that my physical pain was slipping away and the gates were opening to some very profound and enlightening possibilities.

Onward with love & light,
Chava

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and i said to my body. softly. ‘i want to be your friend.
‘ it took a long breath. and replied
‘i have been waiting my whole life for this.’

~nayyirah waheed

 

 

Shadow at a labyrinth

My body aches. My spirit is a little bruised. And I really am OK.

Last Saturday, I became contaminated with gluten which left me completely debilitated and unable to fully focus. With my joints swollen and an inability to fully think, I became temporarily despondent. Of course, I also worried that this was not simply a reaction to someone with celiac disease being contaminated with gluten. Instead I thought that perhaps I had a serious illness and the timing of me being contaminated with gluten was simply a coincidence. I think many of us get dramatic when we are physically and emotionally depleted.

After a few days of feeling absolutely horrible, I became desperate, took a deep breath, and asked my Facebook Village for help. And of course they did. Even more amazing, I listened. I decided to make some different food choices, take supplements, drink a lot more water, and allow myself to go through some of my deep frustration and sadness.

In response, it is so awesome how eating the right foods, etc. gave my body a chance to begin healing and made me feel a little better with each passing day. This morning, I felt a better than I did yesterday and this evening not as well. Being on a seesaw is never fun for me, but it is a normal trajectory in any healing journey. While I have a ways to go, I know what I have to do. AND I know that all will be ok.

There are some bummers in this journey. I have decided that it is time to refrain from eating out again unless I eat simple salads or perhaps a few really sensitive vegetarian restaurants. I also realize that it is time for me to find some new doctors because my reaction to gluten contamination is growing more significant. And I am also dealing with how vulnerable I feel around this challenge.

Opening up and sharing my inner thoughts is so very hard when anxiety seems to reign inside my body. Yet over the last couple of years, I have learned time and again that I am blessed with good friends who really are present when I need them. While remaining in the shadows is somewhat easier when I am having a challenging time, the key is to take a deep breath (when ready) and reach out as appropriate.

Would love to know your thoughts and how you move forward when you feel paralyzed in any way.

With love, light, and blessings,

Chava

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L I V I N G is holy work.
 
Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

 
Life is so profoundly full
My body craves less
My mind would love some emptiness
My heart desires just a little more.
 
Dance is the hidden language of the soul. (Martha Graham)
Stretching my entire being
Reaching for the stars
Allowing my body to sway to my own rhythm
 
Losing what I don’t need
Addictions, loved ones, and inner turmoil
Body weight, too much stuff, and lots of old stories
Wanting to celebrate what was
while letting go of what is no longer needed
 
Craving what I need:
Writing time
Creative experiences
and spiritual moments
 
Chanting
Drumming
Journaling
Moving
 
My body
My mind
My soul
Needs so much less and so much more
 
Each time I reach inward, I find more that I want
He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how. (Nietzsche)
My soul yearns to make a difference
My body and mind yearn to see the world through a different lens.
 
Let go of the old, make room for the possibilities
 
In front of me is a bridge
Only once I shed what I don’t need
Release what no longer serves me
Take one step and then another
Only then, will I be able to cross the bridge
 
L I V I N G is holy work
So I will do ALL that I have to do.
Hineini
Here I Am
Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

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Sometimes my body tells me when it is time to stop and to breathe a little more deeply.  If I am wise enough and make the time to listen, the subtle hints will guide me in the ‘right’ direction; if not, a cyclone will take over my body until I do what I should have done in the first place.

Lavender photo

“Field of Lavender” – Courtesy of Carolyn Riker

How do I know this?

My body is recovering from revolting to life’s journeys.  Over the past many months, I have had to navigate upheaval at every turn. Today I am lucky, I am in the midst of landing in Houston where I will begin a new position in a just over three weeks.  In the meantime, I have nesting to do as well as my consulting work with Lev Shalem Institute.

To say that I feel spiritually great feels inadequate.  My entire world is flowing with fortunate blessings, my cup is overflowing. And yet, I am human.  I have been handling too much, I am still struggling financially and trying to be an incredible mother to my growing sons. I am also making some very holy choices for how to live more consciously and nurture my writer’s soul.

The work can feel overwhelming and last week’s move from Virginia to Texas took my last reserve. The trek was physically hard, the food on the road did not agree with me, and the cyclone hit with a vengeance within 18 hours of arriving in Houston.

To say that my digestive system is trashed and I feel like I have been hit by a Mack Truck is only the tip of the iceberg. Or maybe it is the iceberg. . . And I was too weak to call for help and perhaps a little embarrassed that I needed help. I pride myself on being self-reliant and emotionally strong, but I am very much an average person. In fact I wouldn’t have made it this far over the last 18 months without the love and care from my village of beloveds.

Being slammed with this intense pain and dysfunction upon landing may have been just the gift I needed. Of course, that doesn’t mean this is an easy time, it just means that I acknowledging that life is full of gifts even within the challenges. Last  night my symptoms were joined with a fever and a little respiratory frustration, today I am a little better.

With all of this in mind, I know that I don’t have a choice, I have a body to take care of and a mind that needs loving-kindness. So, I am taking time to rest and move gently, write and hydrate.  This is my life.  I am thinking it may be time to listen carefully to all that my body is saying.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS – I am wondering if it makes sense to make a create a lavender pillow to help my body and mind rest.  After seeing my friend Carolyn’s Riker’s photo above, I became aware that I need to surround myself with healing thoughts, healthy life choices, and a pillow to lay my head (metaphoric or real).

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more than anything
i want to trust a journey
that i don’t understand~
© Terri St. Cloud

I am a wandering Jew, a seeker, a dreamer. . .

While I was not born with wings, I was born with the urge to soar and the spirit to thrive.

Each and every exploration I take begins with a first step.  The terrain is always the wilderness, a terrain that I will only understand after I trust my steps and begin the dance of emergence.

 A lifetime of journeys never calms my spirit when it is time to start again. As someone who is ready to land and wants to do not just good things wherever I stand, but great things wherever I stand and beyond. I long to be impactful with how I walk in the world. I want to make a difference.

An inherent pressure emanates from those of us that actively strive to weave beauty and light into a world that is often full of challenges. There is so much holy work to be done and so many opportunities to make our voices count.

There is another side to my journey, perhaps a more important one. I am birthing the most authentic living soul I can be. I am ready to nurture that person as she becomes more grounded in what she truly believes. It is time to have my values and my dreams intersect in the healthiest of ways. I strive to walk consciously by caring for my body, my mind, and my soul. And as I do, my hope is that I will remember the larger world around me.

I have traveled some really rocky paths. I have stumbled, I have fallen, I have cried torrential downpours, but I have always continued to move forward. As a work in progress, my innermost prayer is that all previous journeys create someone worthy of making my next steps count.

May this trek weave together my desire to take care of the deepest part of me while intensely nurturing the world I live in, our world.

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
But if I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?”
Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Father) 1:14

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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom. For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way. For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness. The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

Learning To Listen
My Body & My Spirit

My body and heart is so very complicated.

This weekend became a time for opening my eyes and purging that which I don’t need. Know that I am reeling from it. I am also stretching and growing.

Courtesy of Elizabeth Loebman Window Open to the Blue Mountains

Here is a window into what is going on for me and how I am choosing to navigate:

  1. Initially, I realized that how I was eating and what I was putting into my body was making my daily living cycle difficult. So on Saturday morning, I decided to stop playing with my awake/sleep cycle in any way. With that in mind, caffeine and alcohol went out the window until I figure out what my body needs to thrive.
  2. Saturday evening or maybe this morning, another light bulb went off when I realized that every morning after breakfast, I need a nap. Before breakfast, I am feeling alive and vibrant. And then after I eat, I need caffeine to function. Sigh. So today, I had no grains and I didn’t crash once!!!
  3. This afternoon, I went through my closet and put a bunch of stuff into the “Share Pile”.
  4. I am navigating some challenges and choosing to be as authentic with myself and kind with others as I can be.
  5. This weekend, I also prepared a D’var Torah (Torah Discussion), went to services, took a bunch of walks, and chanted.
  6. My family and I walked, talked, played, prepared food, and ate a lot together!

The bottom-line is that this was a weekend for figuring out how to honor my body and my spirit. I took great care of me and allowed myself time and space to do some powerful healing work by actively letting go of that which doesn’t serve me any longer.

I will always be a work in progress, but it felt so good to let go of some food, some words, some heartache, and some stuff. While I may be facing a little overload, I am feeling so much lighter and ready for precious sleep.

Life is good!

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom. For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way. For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness. The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

Namaste – Part 1

I love life – all of life!

2002
In 2002, my heart, my mind, and my soul opened in very profound and unexpected ways. That was the year I moved from Atlanta, Georgia to the Washington, DC area so that I could work at one of the most beautifully conscious synagogues in the country, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda.

Through my work environment, I found people that treasured the earth and all of her inhabitants. Looking back, I am amazed at what a gift that was for me. Nearly every person I met at Adat Shalom valued life and was intrinsically aware of the impact human beings had on the larger universe. Before that time, I thought I was cognizant of my part in the world; working with such thoughtful human beings proved that I had a long way to go.

And then shortly after beginning my work, I took my first yoga class at Willow Street Yoga, a wonderful little studio in Takoma Park, Maryland.  During my years at that studio, I grew comfortable with my body and in the world I lived. Through yoga, I grew to understand that my body was a temple and with that the world around me grew more sacred.

The more I grew as a person, the more connected to everything I became. And to this day, I remain a person that constantly grapples with how to make the healthiest choices within the world I live.

Change didn’t happen overnight; it took time for me to learn my role in caring for myself and tikkun olam (repairing the world). I was quite fortunate to find myself in the most spiritual settings of my life to date. Still today, I am constantly re-visioning how to move forward in the world and to positively guide every environment I live (family, friends, work, etc.).

Namaste

At my first yoga class, I heard the word Namaste, it reminded me that I had a role in the bigger world. Namaste, the spirit in me honors the spirit in you.  While this Sanskrit word is often interpreted in many different ways, I am most comfortable with the interpretation my first yoga teacher gave me. And over time, the word became more and more precious to me as those in my work environment reinforced the teachings.

I always loved life. . . always. Through my time at Adat Shalom and then Willow Street Yoga, I grew to value life even more.

So why am I choosing to share this basic tenet in my life at this time?

I will always see myself as a Work In Progress. So, as I am in the midst of sharing My Journey Towards Wholeness, I wanted to share a few of the ways I use the word in my daily life.

  1. When I see a road kill or an animal die on the road, I say, “Namaste” as my car passes. The spirit in me honors the spirit in you. While you have died, know that I care; your presence in the world mattered.
  2. When a fire engine, ambulance, or police car pass, I say “Namaste.” The spirit in me honors the spirit in you. May you and whoever you are helping feel the positive energy and ultimately be ok!
  3. When I meet friends (new and old), the word Namaste enters my mind.
  4. When I do each and every mitzvah, commandment,t that is part of the Jewish practices I live by, I say “Namaste” in my head. Whether I am caring for a sick person, the family of someone who has died, the land, or one of the many social action interests, I find myself remembering that the spirit in me honors the spirit in all.

Since the world I live in is full of many life forces, my job is to remember and to honor each one. Every day, I have the opportunity to blend the world of my Judaism and the world of my yoga practice together. The work is the holiest work I have ever done with the exception of raising my sons.  I will be forever grateful to the two communities that helped me grow my own spirit so that I can be the person I am.

May I learn to grow in the practice of remembering to honor the spirit of each and every individual and the land I live.

I love life – all of life!

Namaste,
Chava

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