No maps for the realm I live in now. I no longer know if I am living or dying, there is literally no way to tell. I feel better in the past few days, and even went swimming a day or so ago with a new friend who is fearless, and also has a Stage IV cancer. We celebrated our day of feeling well! Two old gals having a great time!
But I remember all too well my recent “episode” as my primary doctor called my collapse a month ago. And the sense of my death there, waiting. One new possibility to explain it: maybe I had a TIA, or small stroke. No way to know, but it does kind of fit. Bizarrely, this actually sounds like good news. Maybe it’s not the cancer, coming back with a vengeance. But I really don’t know.
This evening I walked over to the Rose Villa prayer group and while there, not my intention in going, I asked for help in discerning how to proceed in my life. Showered with prayers! I’ve never been a good praying out loud type person. We didn’t pray in my childhood, no one I knew did that. As an adult, I have all sorts of practices that I use in a skillful and reverent way, but praying out loud isn’t one of them. It’s a great comfort to hear, and my heart is full of gratitude. An easing up of the feeling that I’m in this all by myself.
Here’s the thing: how do I proceed in a sustainable way? Without too much efforting, but with enough that I do get stronger over time. Without being so careful that I no longer know my actual boundaries, but without stepping into another episode, either.
There are no maps here, no one to look to for advice, no tried and true resource. No one knows. What’s interesting is the shimmering, the shimmering grace I named this blog for. That shimmering is saying “you need to turn inwards and seek your own deepest wisdom.” That keeps coming up over and over again, in a wide variety of ways.
In Buddhism, guru yoga is a practice I’ve tried off and on for decades. In it, you imagine the Buddha, or Green Tara, or Jesus or Mary, or whatever form of the Holy that inspires you – in front of you. From their head a white light flows into your head, filling it with white light. A ruby red light flows from their throat to your throat, filling your words with their wisdom. Lapis Lazuli blue flows from their heart to fill your heart with their compassion and loving kindness. And then you rest in this direct connection. Not as easy as it sounds, but powerful.
Now I have been introduced to a variation of this practice by Christiana, my Tibetan healer here in Portland. For this variation, I visualize Green Tara (for me, because I have a devotion to her) inside my heart, inside my own body. Her white light fills my head, her ruby red throat energy fills my throat, and so on. It’s a little more complex than this, but you get the idea. Filled with her green light in my heart, I rest with that and at some point, I will ask for guidance and direction, from within my own soul. It’s promising. And not easy to do.
One easy answer is to simply live in the Now, without any map into the future at all. Yes, but that really doesn’t answer my dilemma of how to get stronger in a sustainable way. One of the loudest voices from my family is to override all pain and all obstacles with a force of will. Just do it. That mantra. I did that, and went from a IV to a III. It worked, I was successful against all odds. However, I also discovered that in so doing, I was draining the energy pool underneath my whole being, the Jing energy, faster than I was replenishing it, if that is even possible at this point. Some practitioners of Chinese medicine say that Kidney chi cannot be replaced. When you run out, you die. Others say that it can be replenished slowly and with great care. That is what I want to do, or try to do, now. But who the fuck really knows if it’s possible. No one really knows.
So, more alternative docs on the horizon as I check out a few, slowly. I shall see Dr. Nida who is a master Tibetan doctor coming to Portland in a few weeks. Restorative yoga seems right to me now. Laying outside on the grass in the sun, check. Practicing a little chi gung, check. Eating with mindfulness, a nourishing diet, check. Walking around the Rose Villa campus when I can, yes. Meditation, check. Adrenal support capsules, okay.
A fragment of a new map is forming, one little piece at a time. I can do this!
Thank you and blessings to all of you who offer me support in such a tapestry of ways, weaving a blanket of love to catch me when I fall. May you know a deep and abiding wellness, the joy that lies beyond all suffering, throughout your days.