WHAT we do at Eden Therapy in the Comox Valley are RMT Massage Therapy, Acupuncture and Movement Therapy. The WHY, which is bigger, is our tagline, “come home to ourselves.” So the massage, the acupuncture, and all the business is just a vehicle. It just happens to be the boat I got on. But in my life, and in my work, this is my mission. Come Home. And by this, I mean, return to Love. Come home to our true nature. Live from Love. Be love; reflect wholeness back to those who cross my path. I know, it sounds both too big and also corny. I’m not talking about a Hallmark cards kind of love. It is, rather, a sense that buoys our cells; a universal ease with the way things are; a powerful unshakeable-ness; acceptance of others, even when they irritate or threaten us.
So frequently, though, my mind gets in the way. I feel pushed upon, left out, overwhelmed, dissatisfied, scarce, lonely… you name it. These uncomfortable emotions rise up from stories in my head, like steam from a boiling pot, clouding my ability to see and act clearly.
When a patient gets on my table, my practice is to first, offer gratitude. Thank you, I say in my heart, for giving me the opportunity to serve. It is a blend of BIG SCIENCE with all the nervous system, musculoskeletal anatomy, biomechanics, osteokinematics, as well as HEART. I want my patients to know that they are enough. I hope that residing in this knowing clears the fog that prevents us from seeing the sweetness inside. Our birthright. Our wholeness. The physical wholeness is metaphor for the metaphysical. So I iron out the adhesions, mercilessly scrape away at that joint capsule so, ahhhh…. you experience freedom. Come home to yourself.
Tara Brach has a podcast I often listen to. Today’s was called Radical Love. I want to share it with you. You don’t have to be a yogi, a meditator, whatever, to benefit, although the concepts are quite buddhist. I find this practice helpful when thoughts and emotions run amuck. Our big brains are amazing. We create, innovate, realize with this mass of cottage cheese in our skull. But the following obstacles block us from being as effective as we can. If our brains can respond instead of react, thoughts rising up from Home Base, we suffer less, as do those who come into our lives.
A little background about me… If you’ve gotten this far, thank you. I feel like if I am to be self indulgent enough to talk about myself, and you are gracious enough to read this, the least I can do is be completely candid. So here goes. Vulnerability hangover is sure to come.
A Kermit the Frog green hospital in the castle town of Kanazawa, Japan is where I took my first breath. I was born there because my father was a missionary, a church planter, in the area. He met my mother, my beautiful, quirky, inspiring mother, when he first went to Japan by freighter in the early 50’s. My dad is also an amazing man. He dedicated his life to the Christian God. He was a missionary for over 50 years. He started so many churches! Many lives were changed for the better because of the work my dad did. But us kids, particularly sensitive me, suffered. I was sent to boarding school from 4th grade onward. I was always the youngest in my class with an early June birthday. So when I was 8 years old, I was sent away to live with peers. Some of it was fun. In high school, since our dorm parent couldn’t really keep track of all 20 of us, my friends and I would sneak out at night, and go to the discos in Roppongi. I also felt deeply alone and lost much of the time. For a very long time, I held onto resentment towards my dad. I wanted him to tell me I was more important than the Church, that he is sorry he sent me away.
Short story long, I had (have) some issues around abandonment. You know, our wounds are ALWAYS the window back to our True Nature. So I’ve had lots of practice. This is good news. My unique upbringing has also gifted me with resilience, optimism, and the ability to do what others might not. As for resentment towards my father, through the following steps, I am able to heal much of my wound. I love my dad. He did his best with what he knew at the time. I know that he loved and loves me. Interestingly, and obviously, this healing has allowed me to make relationship choices that are much healthier with both men and women. Well, sometimes my snake brain chooses for me, but I get back on track much more quickly now. Gosh. That’s another story. Yipes.
Anyway. So Tara in her talk today, spoke of how we have habitual armouring against love. Here are the 4 she talked about. The 4 blocks keep us from coming home to ourselves, prevent us from interacting with the world with maximal effectiveness and ease. (At Eden Therapy, our goal is to guide you home to yourself. Move with maximal effectiveness and ease. So you see, it all comes around).
They are all related, and tend to layer themselves on top of each other, these ways of habitual armouring. I hope you find them helpful as I did. I’ll share the link here in case you want to listen to the real deal, because this is just a taste. You’ve got to listen to Tara to really get the fullness of these gems.
- The trance of thinking . We are, for the most part, lost in thought for much of our waking hours. We think our thoughts are true!
‘There he goes, leaving the oatmeal stuck to the pot left to “soak”… so annoying!
I can’t believe she said that, she is so careless.
What?! My credit card bill is so high!’
Getting lost in thought keeps us from the present moment. We cannot be intimate with Inner Presence, in Love, when we are in thought. Thoughts are real, but not Truth. And anyway, thought reality is so different from person to person. You might think chocolate ice cream is the bomb. Someone else may think it’s gross. The crazy person says, “You are bananas if you don’t like chocolate ice cream!” Our thoughts are just that. Our thoughts. They are not truth.
We need to listen with our bodies, our intuition, our hearts. When I feel myself about to blow my lid, I’ve taken up Tara’s practice of gently asking my heart, “Please. Don’t believe your thoughts”. Instead, dive into felt perception so you can be present. It feels pretty gross, going inward. We’ve trained ourselves to do the complete opposite, so at first, it seems crazy. We would much rather pick up our phone and scroll through social media, have a snack, nag our honey. But it is worth while. It leads us back to Love.
- Judging others . This is a subset of thinking, for sure. Have you recently felt superior to someone? Chances are, you have. It’s habitual for us, because we get a hit of ‘feel good’, of elevation, when we feel smarter, better, superior to other people. But it armours us agains really being present and from loving ourselves! It takes practice to notice when we’re doing it, as it is so very habitual and frequent. We don’t have to jar ourselves out of the thought when it is happening. Simply notice, and with deep kindness and compassion for ourselves, guide yourself back to step one.
- When we have an agenda… when we want approval, time, attention, whatever, the degree to which the other person is an object of wanting, we can’t relate to their wholeness or our wholeness. We no longer see them, we only see what we want from them, or what we are getting from them. There is a saying, “When a pick pocket sees a saint, they see the saint’s pocket.”This one really hits home for me. My relationships of the past were textbook. I had a father who, in my story, chose the church over caring for me. I chose to be with people who tended to be absent, hoping that this person would heal the wound of abandonment from my childhood. I had a definite agenda, which precluded my ability to see their wholeness. Ok, I’m sure you can tell – by “people” I mean men. Funny side story: When my daughter was in Australia, she said, “Some Italian “people” are teaching me how to make pasta.” Right. People. Handsome, dark eyed, dreadlock adorned people.But on the journey towards the wholeness that has always dwelled within, and the agenda falls away, a couple of things happen. One, the magnetism toward those who trigger this wound eases. Two, my ability to see them as they are without needing to clamour after my agenda increases. In short, there is less suffering for all involved. Thank goodness.If you really think about it, many of our relationships are transactional. We like the way someone makes us feel, so we keep trying to get more of the good feeling from them. We really like someone, so we clamour after their approval. We text a friend, and when we don’t hear back, we get antsy. All these instances are opportunities, windows back home to ourselves.
- Fear of being judged. We judge, and we are afraid of being judged. The more we judge, the more afraid we are of being judged. If we are judged, we will probably die alone. If you don’t get that presentation just right, you’ll probably never get invited to another potluck, ever again. Oh boy. Of course, I’m joking, but seriously… We are pack animals. Our survival depends on making sure we remain part of the pack. At the bottom of the fear, the pursuit of perfectionism, is just that: Fear of being all alone in the scary, beady eyed, howling in the dark, world. So this one feeds into number 3. We are afraid of being judged, so we want approval. Our hearts, then, are effectively clouded from being able to Love Radically, to be completely present for ourselves, for others, to act with wisdom and practicality, effectiveness.
This all sounds like a lot of work, but if all you do is on occasion, recognize that you are looping in thought, falling into habitual judgement of others or yourself, well, that’s a wonderful start. It’s not unlike when your habitual posture causes pain. The constant slumping of the back leads to shoulder pain. You’ve been practicing that posture for much of your life. Then your massage therapist suggest some cues to help you become aware throughout the day. At first, you remember to notice only once in a while. Then a year down the road, you realize that shoulder pain is gone. Cool.Just one moment of recognition at a time, one intake of breath to allow your heart to open, drop into felt perception and out of the thinking mind… That’s all it takes to arouse curiosity in our hearts, to lead us home to ourselves.
Here’s the link to Tara’s talk.