For the past couple of weeks, life has resembled the movie “Groundhog Day”. Although one day includes being greeted by a three-legged dog, another a lawn full of pink flamingo’s, and a third, a man wearing a top hat while riding a bike, collectively each follows a predictable take out menu of learning opportunities. It may be that recurring decision points are being set before me by the invisible helping hands of the divine directing some grand design. Perhaps I am acting on intuition, living my intents, or merely happenstance. Regardless of the cause, paying attention to what is happening moment to moment, has become impossible to escape or ignore.
In a blog posted from the land of temporary face-loss, I mentioned the decision to give Pilates a go. Trying something terrifying, rather than languishing amidst a yoga practice that has waxed and waned for three decades, had to do with a desire to focus directly on my core. Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows this has always been my Achilles heel. I thought it was the shame of all shames, the root of the root, at the heart of the heart. I was correct, about the root and the heart but I couldn’t have been more wrong about the shame.
Since I was a youngster, my belly has been my bodies first responder to stress or trauma, and not in a good way. I had some pretty major food sensitivities (which we didn’t know so much about back then) and to make matters worse, when their was tension at home, (which was often) I was bloated, gassy, and ridiculously constipated. As if that wasn’t bad enough, as a teen I learned to use food to camouflage the pain created by secret wounds, to the extent that I missed out on participating in a lot of activities that would have helped tremendously.
In adult life, when feelings of un-safety have resurfaced I have gained and lost hundreds of pounds. Having healed sufficiently now, to believe I am on finally on the other side, it is possible to say out loud with only the slightest trepidation about full disclosure, that at the lowest point, right before diagnosis of a rare pancreatic tumor, (insulinoma) I weighed 257 pounds. Even on a 5’10” frame that is a good 80 pounds beyond healthy.
Over the past six years I have slowly and steadily worked my body back to some level of fitness. Walking, the elliptical machine, Shake Your Soul (r) classes, body pump, yoga, hiking, weight training, biking, the big click, finding my physical passion through rowing, and the missing link; Pilates. My diet for the most part, consists of whole unprocessed good quality foods.
To my utter amazement, previously eviscerated muscles, contrary to the disparaging words of a well-meaning Body-pump instructor, are both worthy of and responsive to remediation. In fact, not only did they survive, they must have healed to some extent. As the classes have continued, my ability to utilize them has deepened. I now notice my core when walking up hill, when lifting heavy objects, and even sometimes when driving. It has become a source of surprise and delight.
The other day while erging, I experienced the distinct sensation that Rectus abdominis muscles in my lower abdomen were actually firing independently, while somehow connected to the upper ones. I bet some of you just glazed over, and the rest of you are starting to think blah, blah, blah. I have to say, this was a fall down on my knees and give praise moment of such EPIC proportions, that it will only be rivaled when my beloved asks to marry me, or my manuscript is finally published.
As these discoveries have mounted, they have led to staggering revelations. My core is strong. I can accomplish anything when I want it badly enough. Good things happen every moment of everyday when I choose to see them, independent of my worthiness. Most importantly, mindfulness, is the underlying concept, overarching principle, and essential ingredient to the application of any kind of ‘core competencies’. It has been the thread that has run consistently through the entire fabric of this colorful and messy life. I have always known this, despite extended periods of amnesia, since the initial day of witnessing, (which I had no name for) powerfully appeared on the first journal page, at age seven.
Being fully and actively alive in the moment is not as easy as it sounds. At times I must return myself kicking and screaming from the past or the future only to be rewarded for my efforts with boredom, fear, or the absolute worst – self loathing. The great thing is that usually, after I fully get the nugget, whatever truth is revealed, I am better. The other day, I was worried that my sweetie no longer loved me, (feeling particularly unlovable because mom had a few bad days in a row). He did his best as always, to reassure me that all was well, even on his way to work, until – I heard myself say “It really has nothing to do with you. I am feeling disconnected from life at large, and by extension that includes you.” No longer in need of reassurance, facing the truth, allowed the knot in my stomach to immediately release. I was at once serenely happy and rewarded with laughter.
Yesterday, after spending the better part of the morning as the joyful embodiment of present moment, only moment, I went to order my mom’s birthday cake. The baker presented me with three perfectly elegant mini cupcakes to taste. I purposefully took my time to experience each delicate morsel, tasting the frostings and cakes independently. I dissected and catalogued the flavor elements in my mouth. I felt the anticipation of my mother’s special 90th birthday dinner and reflected on what each had to offer by way of compliment. It was intimate and soulful. I was the poster child of an authentic mindful life, that is until the woman I had been speaking with handed me a container filled with the three still perfectly charming delicacies along with my receipt. A flash of self-consciousness brought the sensation of entering a room to find my glasses, and forgetting what I came for.
During the ride home I glanced at the guest, resting comfortably in the passenger’s seat. I wondered if I had made the right choice. Maybe I should have….. What if mom doesn’t…. You can guess what happened next, but at least I had the presence of mind to pull off next to a beautiful blossoming tree, and take three deep breaths before scarfing my companions like a wolf.
Limitless abundance in all directions, as far as the eye can see. In every moment, whether in-breath or out, there is always a choice to be present. Take as much, and as often as is needed, but not more than can be used. Pass along the excess. It will find it’s way back if required. With gratitude, open to life.
Happy Mother’s Day!!!!!