Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dying To Be Free

Cancer!  A  big word that loomed over me for many months.  It first came in the form of an elevated white blood cell count, which can be an indication of disease in the body.  Disease was another big word that attached itself to my fit, vegetarian, never had a major disease self.  The lack of ease had unveiled itself, crept out from the inner closet I tried to stuff it in and became a part of me that I could no longer ignore.  I had my blood tested every month and was eventually sent to an oncologist.  While the doctors were unable to identify the cause of my strange blood cell count, I knew in my heart why I lacked ease. 

The ease one feels when they are authentically themselves, the ease that comes when we peel away the mask, shed the armor and become our most vulnerable, flawed, and beautiful selves was a state of being that I could not step into.  I did not feel worthy unless I was doing something for someone or achieving something valuable.  I possessed the classic "hero" persona that Dr. Robert J. Ackerman wrote about in his book Let Go and Grow. 

As an adult child of an alcoholic, I continued to hold on to that hero role throughout my marriage.  If only I could do more for my husband's career and for my children's growth and development, I would be free.  But my lack of ease literally caused my body to begin to shut down.   The cancer closed in when I was diagnosed with a lump in my left breast.  A biopsy was ordered.  When the female oncologist, a woman I could see myself befriending in a different setting, sat me down 24 hours before I was to have the procedure, I knew I had to make a change.  I decided to end a marriage that was filled with hurt and pain, and quell the urge to "do" and just "be." I believe that quietly made decision saved my life.  The lump was benign. 

What I now know is that sitting on my meditation pillow is even more valuable than running 10 miles a day and eating a clean diet.  Sitting quietly on that tattered pillow gives me something I lacked my entire adult life, the freedom to live with ease.

Learn more about Dr. Robert J. Ackerman

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Five Minutes of Practice Healed My Broken Heart

Five Minutes ...

It only took five minutes the first time I sat quietly, back straight, legs crossed on a black, velvet pillow that I placed on the floor.  I started with three deep, cleansing breaths.  I continued to focus on my breath as I was told.  I counted in and out, in and out until I got to twenty and then began again.  My life as I knew it had ended.  A nineteen year marriage had diminished into lawyers, insults, and fear.  I feared beginning life again after 40.  I feared not being able to take care of myself and my children.  I feared the anger, hurt, and betrayal that I felt would never fully heal.   

After five minutes on that first day, I was a little calmer.  After working my way up to ten, fifteen and then twenty minutes in the coming months, I felt a deeper sense of calm and was centered and grounded for the entire day.  A daily prayer was added along with yoga stretches, journaling and visioning.  After a year on my velvet pillow twice a day now, my fears dissolved and I was now dreaming again, joyous and filled with compassion for both myself and my former spouse.  My heart had healed. 

My daily practice has morphed into a lifestyle.  My twenty to forty minutes twice a day on a now tattered pillow is the soul food that sustains me.  I can't imagine beginning or ending my day in any other way.

New to meditation?:  Take the 21-Day Meditation Challenge sponsored by Oprah's Life Class and The Chopra Center Deepak Chopra 21-Day Meditation Challenge

What is your daily, spiritual  practice?  How has it affected your life?  Share your comments below.