Since last May, I have had Trigeminal Neuralgia. Also called the Suicide Disease, it is a rare and debilitating nerve condition that produces excruciating stabs of one-sided facial pain. Anti-seizure drugs that help the pain had serious side effects and Gamma Knife surgery — targeted radiation to stop the pain— was not successful.
For months, I was unable to drive or otherwise function and got down to 95 pounds. There was an outpouring of support from friends, family and from neighbors who brought us food for months. Late January, I had successful Balloon Compression surgery at Mayo Clinic that damaged the trigeminal nerve and stopped the pain. I am slowly climbing back into life while adapting to the surgery’s side effects.
I did a lot of inner work while bed-ridden with pain and debilitating drug side effects. My state of mind ranged from hope to deep despair and these 7- minute exercises recorded by Kristi Rietz were a lifeline. Based on compassion practices of John Makranski, I hope that they can help uplift you as well. Heartfelt thanks, Kristi.
Receiving Love Extending love
Most of us are suffering right now, both from personal pain and losses, and from despair about our country and our planet. Reality seems unreal and many of us feel that we have lost our bearings. Collectively, we are deeply divided, angry and full of blame. Although ancient wisdom and scientific evidence remind us that nothing is really separate, we continue to be driven by the same fears and the “us/them” mentality that has fueled endless suffering throughout human history.
As we travel our paths and do whatever we do, may we include essential elements of tai chi practice in our attitudes, conversations and actions. Tai chi is not just an exercise, it is a way of life. Tai chi teaches us how to center, ground and align, mentally, physically and spiritually. This state is ideal for dealing with pain and fear, stress and conflict, confusion and frustration. Stay focused on this practice in any situation, as often as you can remember. Move from a centered place, from the eye of the hurricane where there is stillness, rather than being swept away in the surrounding chaos.
Remember:the same elements lie within you as in the people and actions you oppose. Nothing and nobody is truly separate.
As you Travel Your Path:
If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.
HH Dalai Lama
In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.
HH Dalai Lama
“You must be the change you wish to see”
She who is centered in the Tao can go where she wishes without danger.
She perceives the universal harmony, even amid great pain,
because she has found peace in her heart.
Tao Te Ch’ing
You must watch my life, how I live, eat, sit, talk, behave in general. The sum total of all those in me is my religion.
Kindness is my religion.
HH Dalai Lama
Center to get in touch with your body and your surroundings. Focus on slow, natural breathing to help calm your mind, relax your body and bring your attention into the present moment…
Take a few moments to practice Centering at any time…while sitting, standing or lying down. Bring your best intention to the exercise (love, joy, wonder, compassion) then practice it as you go about your day.
- Bring your attention into the present moment.
- Feel the movement in your body as you breathe.
- Sense your feet and the earth that supports all physical life.
- Sense your head and whatever inspires and uplifts your spirit.
- Sense your hands and fingers, feel life force within and around them.
- Contemplate: we are all in this together.
- Now, listen, look, smell; sense your surroundings.
Remember, you can choose to operate from your center now and in every moment
Love to you, Tricia
It turns out that sense of awe and wonder is actually good for your health. The latest research buzz is that a sense of awe has an anti-inflammatory effect on our bodies along with host of other benefits.
These are not those “awesome” explosions and special effects from your favorite movie franchise. Rather we experience awe when we pause to take in nature’s beauty, or listen to inspiring music. Which reminds me, according to Chinese medicine, being in touch with nature also enhances our qi or vital energy.
You have plenty of time each day for awe and wonder, and you need not go somewhere spectacular. Simply turn off your cell phone, TV and computer, extract yourself from the mind-numbing blather and try this:
To Your Health: A Daily Dose of Awe
Drink your morning coffee or tea quietly, without news, Facebook or other distractions. If it is quiet outdoors, go outside. Or, sit by a window and look outdoors at the sky and earth.Take a moment to connect with your favorite indoor plant, or listen to inspiring music. Stay quiet, slowly savoring the entire cup.
Watch sunrises and sunsets as often as you can. . No two are ever the same. Take in these miraculous moments of ever-changing color. I will stop almost anything in order to watch a sunset.
Find a park or open space. Take off your shoes, feel the earth, expand awareness into the sky and all that inspires you. Take in sights, smells, sounds and the feeling of the natural world.
Look up at the moon and stars. Get some perspective. Consider yourself on this earth, spinning through the vastness of space. Sense your connection to the universe.
Your daily dose of awe brings you home to this moment and to the joy of being alive. Drink Up!
There definitely is a sense of unreality in the air, combined with pervasive fear and loathing. More of us than usual are contributing a lot of energy to the fear and loathing thing right now and it adds to a pervasive heaviness in our planetary atmosphere.
When we feel afraid and angry, we energetically contract and close our hearts. We fixate on what disturbs us and forget about the billions of things—from the functioning of our bodies to the integrity of the infrastructures that support our lives—that are working harmoniously.
We become the problem.
Simply by living, caring and paying attention we impact not only our own perspective, but the feelings and thoughts of countless lives we touch, directly and indirectly. Why not do your part to lighten things up? Take a breather. Plan a picnic; celebrate something. (This is recommended by the Dalai Lama for getting people to relax and thereby ease tension between warring countries.)
Get outside, relax in the sun. Get some perspective. See your concerns in light of the evolution of our home planet, of the history of human kind. Consider what truly intelligent life on other planets might look like in galaxies far, far away where they have moved beyond fear and loathing as part of the collective worldview.
In other words, pull yourself out of the muck. Look up. It’s big out there. The universe is our playground and nothing ever, ever stops changing.
Keep in mind that most people on the planet would exchange your concerns for theirs in a heartbeat….
Meanwhile, Here are some down-to-earth quotes from experts of the past. They remind us that, even though we may have access to a lot of information, and we may have a lot of opinions and are immersed in non-stop commentary on how things are going to turn out, we can’t actually see the future. Possibilities are boundless and we create new realities as a matter of course.
Check these out:
“Television won’t be able to hold any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” Darryl F Zanuk, head of 20th Century Fox, 1946.
“Landing and moving around the moon offers so many serious problems for human beings that it may take scientists another 200 years to lick them.” Science Digest, August,1948.
“I think that there is a world market for about two computers.” Thomas John Watson, President of IBM, 1924-1956.
Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. At that time, he could imagine only one use for it: so that people could record their last testaments and wills for their descendants.
“Who knows how good this thing’s gonna get?”
Lyrics from: Uncle George by Doug Swayne
November 7. 2015
Recently, my dear friend Anna Rose asked me what advice I would I give to my 27-year old self. Wow! What a great opportunity! At 27, our world is ripe with possibility. Let’s start by facing some hard facts, then consider a touchstone for keeping life in perspective.
THE HARD FACTS: We get to play here on Planet Earth for an unspecified amount of time. The odds are that we will live for many decades, however our bodies will not last forever, and s–t happens. Let’s face it; we have absolutely no guarantee that we will live to take another breath. We have no guarantee that we will ever see our friends and loved ones again in this life, or what our health and function will look like tomorrow. That’s part of the deal that comes with having a body here on Planet Earth. It’s a bummer; actually it is terrifying, and most of us spend a lot of energy denying this important fact of life. We distract ourselves with endless activities, mind-numbing preoccupations with lives and opinions of people we don’t even know, and worries about the ever-changing landscapes of our own yesterdays, and tomorrows.
THE PERSPECTIVE: When we face our fear of death and loss and embrace our precarious and fleeting condition, we can wake up to to the glory of this adventure called Life. The sooner that you get real about life, the more alive you become. The most amazing part of the adventure is — and this is really important— the fullness of life is present in each and every moment.
This moment is so vast that it boggles the mind. It is our breathing and the billions of interactions that are recreating our bodies each instant. This moment is the life force of the earth in all its glorious expression; it is the sky, the sun and the stars in their galactic dance. This moment is the billions of galaxies and infinite dimensions beyond our senses. This moment is our collective joys and unspeakable tragedies. It is birth, sickness, loss, death and rebirth. This moment is here, there and everywhere, now. We are one with it all, now and always. This moment is change. We cannot grasp it, we cannot hold it, but we can experience it. We can be here for it.
A TOUCHSTONE: A good starting point for being here is to notice your body right now. Your body is your short term pass to playing here on Planet Earth and is way smarter than you can imagine. Think about it. Not only does it give you a place to live, it also takes you where you want to go. It is constantly repairing and renewing itself just for YOU. It is alive and responds to your thoughts and emotions. Your body is constantly communicating important information to you, about YOU. Pay attention to its signals and you will learn lots of useful information about yourself, for example what to eat and what to do next. It is worthy of your attention and kind consideration. You can’t live without it!
So, simply stop whatever you are doing. Get quiet. Get in touch with your body, with what feels like you. What feels like you is a big part of your every moment. Here’s the conversation:
HI HONEY, I’M HOME!
Notice just three breathes— in and out—slowly.
Sense your feet — wiggle your toes, feel the soles of your feet.
Sense your head— align it and release tension in your face, neck and shoulders.
Sense your hands — feel into the palms and tips of each finger.
Sense your whole body.
THANKS FOR BEING HERE
Notice, acknowledge and appreciate the parts of your body that feel good right now.
Notice feelings, and sensations that arise. What is your body telling you right now?
I’M OFF AGAIN, BUT I’LL BE BACK!
Notice just three breathes— in and out—slowly.
Do it every day. Many times each day. Remember: Now is where the action is. Now is where the love is. Now is where the energy is. Now is our moment.
September 6, 2015
This blog is a new venture. At almost 71 years old, I have a few tales to tell and much to reflect on about tai chi and qi gong, family, keeping in touch with the earth and more. Look for a post about once a month on topics dear to my heart, and hopefully, to yours.
Drink water, remember source.
My Dad and Mom were happily married for 78 years. Kind hearted, adventurous and practical, they were great parents. I miss them, think of them every day, and they are often in my dreams.
After moving to Taos, NM, I would visit them in Colorado Springs for a few days each month. Dad and I would always whip up a quart of homemade vanilla ice cream with a supply of our homemade Famous Chocolate Sauce at the ready. Often, we baked a pie complete with Dad’s famous vodka crust.
July 2013, just weeks before his 101st birthday, Dad was still on his feet and mentally alert as ever. One evening I found him in bed, propped up with pillows, reading about his first date with Mom in his old diary. I lay down beside him as he reminisced about their young romance, their wonderful life together and his enduring love for her. Presently, Mom, 97, came shuffling in with her walker and I scooted over so that she could snuggle with Dad. Soon they both drifted off to sleep. That was their last night together. Two days later he was gone.
During the next year as my sister Barbara and I cleared out our family home of over 60 years, we unearthed some of Dad’s recent love letters to Mom. Here is a letter that he wrote to celebrate their 70th anniversary.
September 6, 2004:
In 1932, during the great depression, we pledged ourselves to each other not knowing what the future would bring but sure that, together, we would overcome the uncertainties ahead. What a happy day that was!
Seventy years later, we have shared our life and love with a wonderful family. Always being in love and being together has made possible these 70 years of marriage, and for each day that is granted to us, we are truly grateful.
Since that first date, I have been in love with you. I have always been grateful that we had that date and that I was able to recognize at that time that you were the one with whom I wanted to spend my life.
And now on our 70th anniversary to you, I say
I loved you then, love you now, and always.