Tag Archives: Health

To Walk in Beauty

September is national recovery month. What comes to your mind when I say recovery? Recently at a Yoga and recovery retreat at Yogaville, VA I heard this: “What do they mean by recovery? I just had oral surgery, and I am recovering from the treatment. Is that recovery?” In her experience she was in recovery. I have been in recovery from cancer, and in recovery from addictions. Both have their unique challenges.

For most of us who are in recovery from a physical, mental and emotional addiction, our only solution is a spiritual one. Reaching for a spiritual solution is opening to a power greater than the everyday minutiae of life. That power is beautiful and all about love. Finding that beauty in me, and the universe around me is a huge part of my recovery. My spirituality is always creative; it is at the center of all that is good, noble, and inspiring.

For most of my life I have had an awareness of the beauty of this world and an appreciation of what people can produce. Sobriety has made my writing as an art form more accessible. Sobriety helps me to broaden my horizons and see all the beauty around me. Today I see beauty everywhere in paintings, sculpture, music, literature, and the art of nature. Personally I cannot paint or draw more than stick figures, however, I appreciate and have a feeling of belonging to the beauty of this world. In a sense, it all happens and takes shape through me. The deepening of my spirituality has brought the beauty of the universe into my life to a greater level than I thought possible.

Today I know I walk in beauty. My meditation is: thank you for the desire and ability to re-create Your splendor through my experiences.

Because the Night Belongs to Lovers **

night

It seems I have always contemplated the stars. As early as I can remember I named the constellations, or made up my own. After midnight I feel more complete. I wrap the silence and the the velvety touch of darkness around me, a cape full of magic. I am safe inside this cape as I soak up the space that is empty of other people’s thoughts, and activity. Whole poems come to me in the quiet. Magic happens in through hearing an owl’s call. The night has always been my lover. Like Galileo I am wildly “in love” with the stars. However, sleeping has always been a challenge. And that is part of my story I want to change.

I am a walking contradiction. I am in love with the night, the stars and the darkness. But I am often sleep deprived. I have lucid dreams. But all too often I can’t remember them because I have not been able to get to a deep sleep. I have been told that acceptance is the key to change. I am learning that I need to accept my contradictions as they are all a part of me. I am a work in progress and I am changing my story.

I have an obsession about my sleep space. I have 100% cotton sheets, a pillow top mattress, and a special neck pillow. I have cleared out the space around my bed so my mind can drift and hopefully fall back asleep. I am willing to do all I can to create a space conducive to slumber.

When I was a senior in high school I just could not get to sleep. So instead, I read most of the night with my flashlight under the covers. Since then I have often joked that I do the 3:00 am, and 5:00 am shifts when I cannot sleep. Lack of sleep has often been my middle name – Mari, lack of sleep, Selby. Sometimes I am able to accept the sleep interruptions as part of who I am, part of whatever healing I am undergoing, and part of my passion for the night. Other times I get mad at myself for not having enough sleep to make it through my day. Then there are those frequent times that I take a nap and then I am not able to sleep until after midnight. And that begins a cycle of late nights, early mornings and then napping. How do I come to peace with this challenge is my question?

Sleep is important to everyone’s brain function and health. As someone who deals with Fibromyalgia sleep is the key to my not being in pain all the time. I have tried so many sleep aids. From melatonin to Calms, to Ambien and other sleep drugs. Sometimes the natural remedies would work for a little while then stop working. Or in the case of the drugs leave me feeling groggy and unable to function. I have even gone to a sleep lab and was prescribed a CPAP machine for sleep apnea.

Since losing a great deal of weight sleep apnea is no longer an issue. I meditate and my mind slows down. I practice yoga and my body is more relaxed. I give myself an Ayurvedic oil treatment before I go to bed and that relaxes my muscles and gives me a wonderful hit of loving myself.

Maybe in addition to calling myself a cancer warrior, I can also refer to myself as a sleep warrior. I have fought and the battleground is inside me. Maybe one day there will no longer be a fight, no longer be a battleground. Maybe one day I will feel more integrated with my passion for the night and sleep. Meanwhile I am willing to do all I can, follow any suggestion, and most of all be open to changing this story. I am tired of this chapter. It is time to turn the page.

** Patti Smith sang “Because the Night” in the 70’s

We Are All Stars – What About the Body?

women bodies as geometry[1]

“The Body is the inescapable factor…you can keep in good shape for what you are…but radical change is impossible. Health isn’t making everybody into a Greek ideal; it’s living out the destiny of the body…You have to know yourself physiologically and people don’t want to believe the truth about themselves. They get some mental picture of themselves and then they devil the poor body, trying to make it like the picture. When it won’t obey – can’t obey, of course – they are mad at it, and live in it as if it were an unsatisfactory house they were hoping to move out of. A lot of illness comes from this.” Robertson Davies –Rebel Angels

What do you think is this true for you? Do you have an embodiment issue?

I can see how it was true for me. I existed in my body as if it was some flawed cloak I could throw off at any time for a better more perfect one. My preferred body was a celestial one. Happily flying to the stars, giving readings as an astrologer, or hanging out with non-corporeal friends were the best of times. Demanding my body obey me – I envisioned a thinner body, straighter hair, and an ability to float from one experience to the next. Instead of receiving obeisance I was stuck in a peasant body. Curly hair, stocky frame, primitive dancer, and a big mouth. Continue reading

Cancer Tribe 101: Awakening the Hero Within

courage

Cancer Tribe 101: Awakening the Hero Within is the new title for the anthology I am compiling. The change is based on feedback from colleagues I respect in the publishing world. Their thought is that a title must state what the book is about. Readers have to know what they are picking up based on what they see on the cover. The title must be visual as well as thought provoking. What do you think of the new title?

Too many books treat cancer as a subject of either pity, or seek to glorify the survivors, or adulate those that have passed on. Cancer Tribe 101 signifies that we are learning from our experience. Fighting or surrender are two options when faced with a life altering situation like a cancer diagnosis. There is however another option and that is to look at everything that comes through this experience as a spiritual lesson.

Spiritual progress for me came through working with the medical system and doing everything I could to add to their care. I did acupuncture, massage, emotional clearing, visualization work, asked for help whenever I could, meditated, prayed and received the gift of a hoard of wonderful prayers. This path I call the middle way. I had to find the courage to walk this path, and when I did I found my warrior self. There were daily lessons in digging deep to find the courage to deal with that medical procedure or that emotional pain. I know that I am awakening the hero within as I walk this path and claim my warrior self. My hope is that by sharing this path it will help others find their way.

Are you a member of the cancer tribe? I meet more and more of us daily. I am still accepting stories. What is your story?

Independence Day – Freedom from the Old Stories

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This Independence day I am determined to change the stories about my health. I have had cancer twice and chronic illness for more years than I can count. One old story is a fear that I would never experience freedom from being in chronic pain. What an independence day it will be when I am done with that fear.

Today I am changing the story that I have to fight my body, fight my emotions, fight my reality. To me that fight is another word for feeling like a victim. The fight seems to have been knocked out of me. I feel relief to recognize that I am not a victim of my body. Instead I can say that I am awakening to more peace in my daily life. And that peace feels like freedom. Happy Independence Day!

Recently I found Ayurveda again. For a great definition go here http://www.banyanbotanicals.com/ayurveda.html . Many years ago I studied with Dr. Vasant Lad. Obviously I wasn’t ready for the healing offered. I thought I knew better than the health practitioners with whom I sought help. Thinking I have to have the answers is definitely an old story that has to go.

After a week of working the new Ayurvedic program I am feeling better than I have been in a long time. The pain in my joints has diminished and I am sleeping better. My routine is practicing joint freeing yoga every morning, followed by an oil self-massage. During the day I take a break to meditate, and eat more cooked veggies. I think the key is my willingness to try new things, closely followed by the discipline to keep doing those new things. I pray that the willingness and the discipline will stay with me and therefore I will continue to see positive results.

Do you have a story to share? We are still accepting submissions. Awakening the Hero Within: Stories from the Cancer Tribe. I have faced and survived cancer twice. Whether we have had cancer ourselves or are the loving caregivers, we are members of the Cancer Tribe. When diagnosed I did not choose the path of victimhood. I dealt with my fears that I would be fighting the battle of my life. Instead I chose to learn from this life-altering event. I  believe when I face my fears and keep moving forward learning the lessons offered, I experience profound spiritual growth. When I focus on my spiritual growth as I face great challenge I become a hero to myself and maybe for those whose lives I touch. The stories I have included in this anthology illustrate how each author learned from the experience of cancer in themselves or in their loved ones. For guidelines and more information, contact me here in the comments section, on Facebook, or @selbyink on Twitter.

Life is Sweet

The human condition. Today I will call it the process of remembering and forgetting. Remembering that I am spirit and divine. Forgetting my true nature. How many times a day do I go through that process? On a good day frequently and always returning to remembering. On a bad day I am lost in the forgetting. Fortunately there are guides to help me stay in better spiritual condition.  Last week I attended a retreat at Yogaville.

Ayurveda and Durga Leela offered us the Six Tenets of Recovery, incredible tools to encourage, and support the process of remembering. www.yogaofrecovery.com

Life is Sweet. This tenet is a reminder that I can absorb sweetness from all aspects of my environment. All I need to do is open my senses to the bliss that appears in each moment. That can be a friends smile, the sound of a cardinal singing in the tree outside my window, or the taste of a fresh peach.

For most of us our first taste was mother’s milk the essential building nutrient for our bodies and our emotions. We hold onto the memory of that sweetness. We long for it and search for that feeling in healthy and destructive ways. When we are not dealing with people well we abuse that sweet taste with addictive people and substances. We grasp for something to fill us, anything to avoid the pain of loss of that state. Then nothing compares with the memory and we are lost in the forgetting.

The first step in coming back to remembering is a big one. I have to own that I am powerless over my thoughts and longings. As I accept that powerlessness I can surrender the grasping and searching and become a willow tree bowing and bending in a dance with the wind. Some days this requires no effort on my part. On other days I am like a salmon caught in a rill trying to bump my way out. Today is a good day.  I am remembering well.

Where are you on the wheel of the human condition? Are you remembering, or are you forgetting who you are?

A Womb with a View

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Forty thousand women stand up and claim their wombs back!

The thunder of their drumming feet as they march,

the harsh echoes of their raucous cries

abruptly wakens people everywhere, in cities,

within verdant farmlands,

and in sleepy villages’ people’s nerves jump

and twitch from the shouting

“no more, you cannot have more of me!” Continue reading