I tripped a breaker, the one that powers my refrigerator, last Thursday. I couldn’t get it reset. My internet connection has been out, or at the very best intermittent, all weekend. I’m not even sure this blog will go out!
I know I will be “off the grid” for much of the week, and definitely over the coming weekend. I know I won’t post a blog next Monday. It seems like I’m getting “messages” to unplug.
Historically, events like today’s eclipse were seen as signs and portents. Even in cultures (and there were more of them than you might think) that could predict these events they carried weight and meaning. Our country is braced for today’s eclipse. Fed Ex has a note on their site anticipating delivery delays due to this astronomical event.
When the calendar shifted into the new century, we were braced for a huge computer crash. There were “signs” everywhere. Nothing seemed to happen. Still, the world changed even as it went on. People stopped believing in the “dramatic predictions” of the science community.
Again we sit in anticipation. It may seem as though nothing happens. The world will go on, and the world will change in ways even the best prophets could not predict. There is some division if this “portent” is of collapse or renewal. I suspect that ultimately that’s up to us.
I’ve been struggling for some time with the concept of forgiveness. It sounds like such a simple thing. But as is so often the case, simple doesn’t mean easy.
Part of my resistance to the notion of forgiveness is that I find it patronizing. I’ve heard all too often the phrase, “I forgive you.” used much the same way a Southern woman might say, “Bless your heart.” It sounds nice, but it really isn’t.
It seems there are a lot of moving parts to forgiveness. There is the part about letting go. Forgive and forget. But isn’t that a good way to leave yourself open to continued abuse. A one time thing is great to let go of, but if you let go, really forget, isn’t every time a one time thing? If you don’t forget have you really forgiven? Waiting for the other shoe to drop hardly seems like the appropriate state of mind to associate with forgiveness.
Forgiveness makes sense when someone does something to me, without any intent or understanding of the impact of their actions. A bad photograph that cuts me out of the picture, or a comment on someone’s own life that I read as a judgement on mine are not necessarily meant to hurt. If I examine my own reaction and recognize that what I’m reacting to was never there in the first place forgiveness comes easily. But who am I actually forgiving? The offender, who never really offended, or myself for over reacting?
There is a piece of forgiveness that is about acceptance. Many of the things we found “offensive” in childhood become different when our perspective changes. Sometimes we develop an understanding that whoever needs forgiving was really doing the best they could do at the time. We forgive them for not being perfect and we accept responsibility for our own feelings. That was then, this is now, accept and move forward. This kind of process often requires distance, time and a shift in our own perspective. The question arises again, who am I actually forgiving?
There’s another kind of acceptance that goes with forgiveness. The kind that acknowledges nothing I do is going to change the way things are. This often goes with families, where the option for abandoning the relationship is not acceptable. The great-aunt who’s always going to pinch your cheek, the cousin that can’t ever remember your name are always going to be who they are. Of course so is the molester, always going to be who they are. Sometimes the better option is to let go of the relationship. Is forgiveness here simply a forgiveness of ourselves for not being able to “fix” someone else?
That goes back to the arrogance, the patronizing that I often associate with forgiveness. Is forgiveness really something we do for ourselves? Is it a way to sooth our own tendencies towards judgement and arrogance? Is it a means to move past those things and try to experience the world in the moment?
I don’t have a handle on forgiveness. I admire people who seem to embody it, who can use forgiveness to move past a bad situation and let go of blame. I recognize that there can be healing that goes with forgiveness, sometimes on both sides. I guess I have to keep practicing.
The longest night of the year will be upon us on Wednesday. I’m celebrating the night itself alone this year. I’ll go outside in the dark and cold and light a candle to bring back the light. I’ll spend some time in quiet contemplation and meditation under the stars. I’ll enjoy the pause in the midst of a hectic holiday season.
I’ve already been to two Solstice celebrations. Both of them were focused on remembering the community of support that surrounds each and every one of us. I was also reminded that often times when I don’t feel like I belong or like I’m getting the support I need, it’s because of something I am or am not doing.
For instance, it’s very hard to feel a part of the community when the only time I leave the house is to go to the grocery store. I get postings on facebook and in my email all the time about activities and gatherings going on. There are book signings and pot lucks along with open invitations to parties and ritual celebrations. If I don’t feel included, it’s probably because I don’t show up. You need to be a part of a community to feel like a part of the community.
When I’m not feeling supported chances are I haven’t asked for help. I don’t get drop in visitors, not just because I live in an inconvenient spot, but because I don’t really encourage them. If I’m busy and don’t answer the phone and don’t return the calls people assume I’m not interested. If I ask for help with a project and get referred to a company that can help, I have to count that as lending a hand. If the one person I ask is the person I already know can’t do it who’s setting themselves up for failure?
I’ve learned that I don’t have enough respect for people taking care of themselves, including me taking care of myself. I’ve learned that there are plenty of people willing and able to lend a hand, who offer, that I don’t ever call. I’ve learned that please goes almost as far as thank you. I’ve learned that any help counts as help, even if the whole job isn’t finished. These are all problems with my perception and expectations. They don’t actually reflect the world I live in.
So in my quiet and solitary celebration on the night of the Solstice I have quite a lot to meditate upon. As the light returns to the world, I would like to find better ways to nurture my own light. To truly welcome joy and friendship into my life. To recognize and appreciate all the gifts that surround me.
I had a Watsu massage last week. I love Watsu and it’s not my first time in the pool with my therapist Derek. What strikes me about this is that my experience is so different every time.
Watsu is a massage technique that’s based in shiatsu, which is based in acupuncture. It takes place in a therapy pool, extra warm. Ideally the water should be body temperature, a technique used in sensory depravation.
Because of the water, Watsu does not put any pressure on the joints. It’s more like a position/release therapy than like the deep stimulation of classic shiatsu. As a technique it actually reminds me of Orthobionomy more than massage. It works with the body where it’s comfortable rather than pursuing the edge of tolerance.
Do I sound like I’ve been trained as a massage therapist yet? My first try at Watsu I talked with Derek about the technique. I told him which of my vertebrae were out of alignment and which meridians were weak. I knew Derek, had taken a class from him. I trusted his training and skills as a therapist.
I laid back in the water and totally checked out. I don’t know if I dozed or if I just ‘went somewhere’. The time was too short. At the end of the session I felt rested, invigorated. I was moving a lot more comfortably as well.
Maybe it’s the water. I’ve had clients, and heard many stories, about people having emotional releases in therapy sessions. It’s not usually how I respond, but it’s not uncommon. There is something about emotion and water that goes together. I asked Derek once if he found Watsu a particularly powerful technique for releasing emotions bound up in physical issues. I got a classic therapeutic, “It certainly can do that.”
It’s different every time. Any therapy session is of course. In the moment you address the body where it’s at. What are the needs today? What is possible right now? But the added meditational element I find with Watsu expands those possibilities beyond any other therapy I’ve experienced.
I’ve had a Watsu where I felt like I was revisiting my childhood, both in joy and in pain. I’ve had a session where I just cried. Not sobbing, but tears flowing down my cheeks along with the waves from the pool. Stress freely being released. I’ve had a session where I went to my spiritual center and just renewed my connections with the Divine. I don’t fight it, I just go.
This last session was different again. It has been awhile since I’ve been in and my back was particularly tight. I had expectations of drifting off and taking a little break. Instead I found myself resisting. Derek would put a hand on my shoulder and I would jerk away. He would push me through the water and I would hold my self stiff, muscles tight and ready.
Awareness doesn’t always make relaxation easier. I needed to do more than that. I needed to find a way to breathe through the process. I needed to get out of my own way. I needed to lay back and float. I needed Acceptance.
Acceptance of my body as it is right now. Free to flow through the water. Opening up my chakras. Open up my heart with light and breath. Accepting both the limitations and the support. Accept the help being offered by these gentle supportive hands.