Sunday, October 23, 2011

Practice Blog for Weeks Oct 3-22

First I know what you are thinking. You are thinking “really….really Ashley really” yes I am really going to do this because I notice a trend and how said trend made me feel. So my practice for that week October 3-8 was awesome. I found a rhythm that didn’t take much time out of the day and made me feel wonderful afterwards. Since I my inversions were getting better I did them often for a longer amount of time. My routine for this week went as follows Tadasana, standing forward bend, downward facing dog, plank, upward facing dog, hand stand, head stand, shoulder stand downward facing dog, and restorative poses. It was a mighty good routine not to many poses but works up a nice sweat, which makes me feel like I have accomplished something. So I followed this routine for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Then Saturday I did a full blown practice: standing poses, sitting poses, backward bends, forward bends, and of course inversions. However, I noticed that I stopped actively planting seeds. I am not sure if I stop because I wasn’t reading or what but I noticed my practice didn’t feel complete.  Though I noticed this I didn’t do anything to correct it. I just went on with my days.

The next week my practice slowed down significantly (Oct. 10-15….you can tell by how I didn’t write a blog because I didn’t check my syllabus). The routine that I started the week before slowly reduced itself to just headstand by Wednesday because of all the work I had to do and kept putting off. I remember telling you the Thursday in class that I was going to make my mom do some yoga. Yeah that did not happen. Not only did I not introduce my family to Iyengar yoga, I also didn’t practice it. This happened for a couple of reasons. First,  I have two dogs that are not trained so when I showed my mom a headstand (not that I was going to make her try just showing her) one of my dogs started licking me in the face; and  If I weren’t against the wall that would have ended badly. Second, my mom was less than enthusiast and found that I didn’t have the energy to make her try something new. Third, I fell back into the routine of being lazy at home. The environment at my house and at school is drastically different and it was so easy for me to not do what I knew I needed to. So that being said I know I am going to have to work extra hard when I graduate to keep up my home practice and even harder to try to get my family into a healthier routine.  

So by the time I get to the week of Oct. 17-22 by I am back to my old way of thinking because not only was I not knocking on the pipes hard enough from the outside; I also was cleaning them out on the inside. You know the being harassed by negative thought concept well my negative thoughts that were slowly starting to change attack me with a vengeance I haven’t seen in a long time. Which shows me two things: first it shows me how far I came and second how easy it is to get back to the negative place inside my head.  Then I started my cycle sometime this week and I thought “Yes! This is the reason I am acting moody”. Which is halfway true but I know if I were diligent in my practice both physically and mentally, my thinking process would not have been that bad. So this past week not only have I been cranky and negative; my body has been yelling at me because I have neglected it. So I have to make up for that this week. Writing this blog is a good start and so is reading The Bhagavad Gita. So yeah the moral of this story I am not strong enough to go a week without serious practice and reading because if I do I will spiral downward. Oh and I realized that I need to make my blog page happier but not yet(Halloween and all).

Friday, October 21, 2011

Waking: Yoga, Bodies, and Baby Boys

Before I start his blog I want to say, I want to read the book again. Actually I want to read the book at least two more times. The next time I read it I want to pay closer attention to the silence he refers to throughout the book and the third time I read it I want to just enjoy it as a piece of literature.

This blog will be significantly shorter than the other ones because well I don’t have much to say about it. I think it is funny and cute that his beginning experiences with yoga reminded me of How Yoga Works. The one on one practice with the teacher…the practicing at home…..the learning about the flow of energy and how that flow works in different poses….but mostly the breaking of the femur because for some reason he and the Captain thought they could achieve the benefits of yoga quicker if they held their poses longer. I also want to point out that he stills refers to what the doctor told him as a child (the feeling in his legs wasn’t real) but this time struggling and succeeded to overcome that mindset.  This is going to sound horrible but after part one and two this section of the book seems anti-climactic. Even the labor scene seemed lacking, happy, and not as traumatic as the first 2/3 of the book.  Over all it was a wonderful book and reinforces my idea that yoga helps everything if you practice it whole heartedly. I just realized, this is the first section neither his mom nor his brother is mention. Maybe that is why it feels different. I know I should probably talk about the inspirations in this part of the book but I can’t. It is strange; this book basically has a happy ending. After everything he has been force to deal with Matt has found his purpose in life and he has a loving wife and beautiful son to share his life with and I want more. I need something else to make this story finished.  Which makes me realized I wouldn’t be able to hear the man yelling on the back of the elephant. Obviously he is happy and at peace and still working through things but I want another break down on the side of the road. I don’t know maybe I am being a pessimist… …maybe my lack of yoga practice is showing through but a happy ending is some much easier for me to except when I know the story is fictional. This bodes horrible for my future if I don’t change because all I want to be when I grow up is happy.  This is another reason I want to read the book again.....I am hoping if I read it in a continuous flow then I will be more appreciative of the end(you know if the beginning is fresh on my mind).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Waking: Initiation

First I want to start this response off by commenting on how cool I think he ended this section of the book. “I make another vet appointment; I will help him sleep. As my hand rests gently on his side, we wait for the injection. He is quiet, his breathing shallow. Maybe I just met this cat; maybe we are old friends; maybe it doesn’t matter. I wonder as the flicker leaves his eyes. I am stricken with unrealized grief. It is time for yoga” It seems like when the life or light left out of the cat it transferred to him. Though he was stricken by grief it was what he needed to start trying to live again.

This blog will a little different than the last because I want to address a concern I have about the hospital staff. This issue I have with the hospital staff was present in the part one but so many other things were present in that part as well. It bothered me how uncaring some of the physicians seemed. I understand the need to not foster false hope in your patients but goodness sakes he was a child still; there are better ways of dealing with a child sensibility than to tell them “nope what you feel isn’t real…it is all in your head…..get over it”.  This is a prime example of planting a negative seed. The crucial moment between beginning to live and struggling to survived and the doctor pushed him firmly to the struggling to survive with the simple statement “what you are feeling isn’t real….it is better if you forget you felt it”. People in general do not understand how detrimental saying something like can be to a fragile person or even a strong person. That one statement…that one negative healing story followed him for twenty-two years. Twenty-two years of him saying to himself “what I am feeling is not real…..I should just forget about”. It is no surprised that he felt disconnected with his body and with his action because in his mind…in that negative silence it didn’t matter what he could have, would have, should have felt because it wasn’t real anyway. The worst thing that can happen to a negative seed is for it to get fertilized with more negativity. I could have kicked the males PT butt for one he needed to understand everybody heals different. He should have also known that the worst thing you can do is compare one patient to another in a negative light. This type of discouragement only intensifies the feeling of disconnect. However, telling a child (which I know it, was a different PT but still) “you tricked us with fake foot didn’t really move your foot…….so forget it happened focus on your arms” was unnecessary. First of all he didn’t do it on purpose so say “you trick us” implies that he did(Matt points this out in the book). Secondly, the PT not only re-established what you feel isn’t real but they also planted the seed of what you do isn’t real either. The doctor and PT effectively said to Matt and made him believe that “what you think you feel and what you think you have accomplished is not…therefore it is not important so you should just forget about it and focus on what everyone else knows is best for you”. So moral of this rant is mind your words because someone may live there life by them one day.

Speaking of a small action affecting someone’s life; “This second issue came down to an ill-advised decision by a sand-truck driver not to sand on the morning of November 26, 1978. He hit the snooze button and rolled over-beginning the innocent unfolding of an accident. The result was not one, but three cars slid down that embankment within a span of twenty minutes. Our family sustained the only serious injuries”, no one would have thought that one hit of the snooze button caused three wrecks, two deaths, one paraplegics and a family course change forever. The moral of this story you are given responsibility for a reason…..the reason being someone is counting on you to do them.

There are so many things I want to talk about with this session the presence of dreams again this time as a helpful source of information instead of a way to comfort. I could also talk about Matt return to school and his “relatively normal life”.  I could talk about how the quote “It takes more than three years, but I am ready to acknowledge just how damage I am, how difficult my life is. My will is tired, my body is tired, and my mind finally admits to living in a protracted survival mode. It is not a relatively normal life.” I could say so much about that statement but I will only say this……is at the moment you finally admit you are not okay and you are not fine that you can start moving towards being okay and fine. What I want to spend my last couple of sentences talking about is James. James the only person who walked away with nothing but a lot of emotional trauma and no one to see it or help him through it.  I want to dedicate some part of this blog to him because before Matt brought it up……James was just the person in the background nothing happened to. I can’t even begin to express how sad I feel for James now the person who suffered because he was healthy. The son that came out healthy…… so he should help his mom and younger brother. The son who came out healthy…… he shouldn’t get any type of financial settlement.  The son whose trauma is only on the inside so nobody notices he needs as much help and acknowledgement as Matt. He needs to live a “relatively normal” life as well.   My heart goes out to James. I hope he found the positive healing story he needed as well.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Waking: Trauma and Separation

Trauma and Separation.......reading the title of this sections of the book now helps me understand chapters that follow it; I can’t help but think to myself “Man I should have read the title before I started reading the words”.  When I began reading this section of the book, I couldn’t help but wonder “How am I going to right about this……what am I going to say… can I make sense of something that doesn’t make sense to me”? However, the further I got into the story the more I connected with the story. With each turn of the page I felt more connect with the thirteen year Matt, the mom and the big brother. The more I read the more I felt and the more I feel I have to say. So in order to organize my thoughts as well as guide you through the labyrinth that is my thinking process I will outline the things I will talk about. First will be my over impression of the story thus far: how I felt at the beginning of my readings, the middle, and the end. Next, I will write down some quotes I felt were powerful in that story and explain why I feel them powerful and how I tried to connect them in my life in some way. Finally, I will just talk and say anything I may have missed in the earlier topics.

So I am not going to lie the first couple of chapters (maybe not even the first couple) were difficult for me to follow. I think this was more to not reading them in one sitting but instead reading a page here and a page there. Also, I feel like I expected something different. I couldn’t tell you what or how I saw this book play out in my mind but I want instantaneous enlightening. I wanted a hero. I wanted a design plot. I wanted to see where the story was going but instead I got detail; vivid, graphic, and frightening detail. Thinking about it now I am grateful for the details but in the beginning I was just waiting for it to get to the good part. Since I am on the topic of details I must say I felt his words. I felt his hopelessness at times, fear, laughter, need to help others, need for silence and it sucked. Every time he describes a procedure I cringe. The screws in his head made me touch my temple. The IV description made me rub my arms. I laugh at the hairy ape he saw and cussed right along with him when they broke one wrist and not the one he was expecting. Most of all I felt how there was no since of time. There are dates and specific moments when he says this many months later but for the most part time one together. It hid in the silence. I am still not sure how long he stayed in the comma or how long before he left the first hospital but I do know it all happened before he turned fourteen. Before I move on to the quotes I want to address the idea of dreams forewarning us or déjà vu. It is eerie to me how Matt and his family received all those signs that something bad was going to happen and no of it was relevant until something happen because if the tragic accident didn’t happen then all those dreams, visions, and poems would have just been freaky dreams, visions, or poems. I like how he says that connecting what dreams or bad feelings helps people feel like they have more control in something they had no control of at all. I like this way of thinking because I can relate. I can relate because I have use it. I used this train of that is answering why I handle my dad suicide so well. See I used imagine what would happen if my family died and left me here all alone…….I still imagine that. I used to think about what would I do if my dad killed himself and I cried…I cried for hours and in my mind I picked up the pieces(mind you I am like a teenager in high school thinking this way). As crazy and unrealistic as it sound when my dad shot himself in the living room while one the phone with my mom April 2, 2008(it was a Wednesday)…….I was able to handle it better because in my mind this has happened so many times before. My brother ,nickname Peanut, and my mom told me later that they “knew’ it was coming to many signs pointed to it(they didn’t take any action though because this wasn’t the first time he was going to kill himself just the first time no one was there to take the gun out of his hand).

Now that you know about my traumatic event (well at least one of them) now is the perfect time to bring in the quotes I felt were powerful.
“After saying good-bye to her husband and only daughter, my mom wandered around aimlessly, gathering up the clothing and personal belongings spewed by the violence. Already she was starting to pick up the pieces. There was no rhyme nor reason to what she was doing. My brother, on the other hand, sat next to me, praying”.  In my opinion these are the two way people deal with trauma. You have to pick up the pieces after a death……the world demands it. You get what a week or two to morn and then it is back to work……in that week or two you have to plan the funeral……you have to settle to debts… have collect insurance… have to confront….you have to____________. You have to say goodbye and start to move on but usually you don’t know how hence the aimlessly wandering…..there is usually no rhyme or reason because your mind can’t comprehend such thing(you just know that no one is going to pick up these clothes so you should do it). Then there is the holding on to the last thing that keep you sane and praying that it survives. In the books case it was Matt brother praying for him. In my case it was coming back to Baylor…..still wanting to be biology pre-med and in,  my mom’s case it was keeping my dad’s clothes hanging in the closet for two years after his death. So yeah the two was of dealing with trauma…..picking up the pieces while praying that something of your old life survives.
“For the first time in more than five days, I was my own rhythm-maker, my own connection to time. Although the fresh air pouring through my body was shockingly cold, it was there with my consent”. For me there is no deep philosophical meaning behind this……it is just the moment after a trauma that you can breathe again.
‘’ But Dr. McMeken performs an essential healing task. He relights my imagination.’’ All I can say is that this is true.
This is the silence rushing forward, and the price of befriending it. While it has protected me, the silence has also put a distance between my actions and finding joy in things”.  I wanted to point out two things here. First I wanted to connect the silence to a virtti and the sutra saying a virtti can either be bad or good. Silence in this case brought him peace and a way out of physical pain but it also opened door way to emotional pain(I could have wrote a whole 2,000 words on that….just saying). The other thing I wanted to point out is I know how it feels to not feel joy in something. However, for me, that was my safe guard I honestly didn’t care about much and when I did it was either anger or despair (I forgot where I was going with this other than I know what it is like to not feel joy in something that should bring it to you). This thought ties in with the next passage in the book: “This is a familiar moment to most of us, a time when life suddenly becomes different, like the day when getting kissed by a parent is no longer comfortable or skipping no longer feels cool”. Basically it is that point in your life when you out grow something…..for whatever reason it just doesn’t hold the appeal that it used to.
“‘Mom, I want a gin and tonic,’ I announced”. While I know his reasoning for this statement was marking that he grew up……I can’t help but thinking to myself “yep sometimes you just want a drink”.

That is the last of my quotes analysis and now time for my finals thoughts. One of them being writing this took a lot out of me but I am hoping that the second and third responses will be shorter and hopefully happier. That way I can connect it to me finding art and later yoga. Another thing I noticed while reading is I thanked God constantly for not letting me go through anything as physically traumatic as what Matt went through. The reason I feel like silence didn’t become an option for me because I had so many other things: walking around listening to music, driving, exercising, and running….just moving in general so I didn’t have to sit with my own thoughts. I can’t imagine and don’t want to imagine what it would be like dealing with all the emotional scares and physical ones as well. So thank you God that I haven’t had to.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Anti-Yama

Just yesterday I was thinking to myself, “You know I am stressed because I can’t stand the thoughts going on inside my own head……there are too many and hard to make out but I know all of them are bad thoughts”.  Ever since I started this class I have been trying to change my thought process especially when I got to the seeds (trading good seeds for bad seeds). Then I get to this sutra that reads “Upon being harassed by negative thoughts, one should cultivate counteracting thoughts” and I immediately highlight it because I am attempting and been attempting that for the past two weeks (who would have thunk it……I was doing yoga philosophy style).

I want to take the time to point out word choices: harassed and cultivate. The sutra could have easily read “Upon being bothered/annoyed/bogged down in negative thought, one should think knew ones”. I feel like the word harassed is better than bothered, annoyed, or bogged down because when someone(something in the case) harassing you they are intending to hurt you…..make you feel uncomfortable…..needling you get a reaction(usually a negative one). When something/someone bothers, annoys, or bogs you down it is usually not intentional and sometimes it only happens because you haven’t communicated to the person or fully prepared for the thing. So I feel like using the word harassed shows that the negative thoughts you are experience are not welcome…..mean you harm…..and not just a minor discomfort but a major problem that you need to address immediately because it only gets worse. Using the word cultivate instead of think is easy to figure out because well it is not as easy as thinking you have to work on it. What I mean is if changing negative thought to positive were as easy as thinking them then there wouldn’t be depression, anxiety, rage, anger, sadness or any other negative thought because all you have to do is think them away. No it doesn’t work like that. Webster defines cultivate many ways but my favorites are: “to prepare or prepare and use for the raising of crops; also: to loosen or break up the soil about (growing plants)” and “to improve by labor, care, or study”. All three definition say the same things in different text but basically you have to work at it… won’t come over night. If you are going to change your negative thinking you are going to have to put in time, effort, sweat, a lot of tears, failed attempts, and disappointments. In other words, changing your thought process is not for the light hearted and yoga is not easy.

How does this concept play out in my life…..easy I am harassed by negative thoughts every day from petty things like man I wish my stomach where flat or muscles toned to big things like what if I fail a class and don’t graduate……what if I graduate and can’t afford the stuff……what if this is it for me……what if I don’t get into graduate school……what if all my dreams in life are just that dreams…….what if I never get married…….what if I don’t have kids……what if another member of my family dies young……..what if this person is talking bad about me to other……what if….what if…..what if(I swear I am being raped by negative thoughts). However I finally realized all I am doing is trying to think them away instead of cultivating ways to counteract them. If I am worried about my appearance I should spend less time in my bed on the computer and more time outside walking around. If I am worried about graduating I should spend less time saying after this I will do my work and actually do it. If I am worried about money I should start babysitting or something (I need suck it up and go home to work on the weekends). If I am worried about my future I need to start making my present better and stop just thinking and start doing. So the moral of this story thinking only gets you so far action gets you the rest of the way and then some.