Self Care

How The Body Keeps Score

In Self Care by Richard Klein

March 29, 2018

I woke up Monday morning, unable to hold a cup of coffee in my left hand or pull a zipper. My wrist was swollen and immobilized and I had no idea what had happened.

My mind thought, “Perhaps at 58 you just wake up in the morning not knowing what part or appendage is  going to be falling apart?”

I was back in Montreal attending the funeral of a close family friend, someone who had touched the life of my parents, my kids and myself. In a way I could not fully understand I knew it was important for me to be there to honour the difficult endings and not turn away.

It was not until I got home two days later, wrist still sore, that my wife Yogita’s searching questions helped me piece together what had transpired.

At the cemetery I had grabbed a spare shovel to help shovel dirt into the grave site. The dirt was a mixture of wet clay and small stones and the two men hired for the job were struggling. In five minutes of rigorous shovelling we had buried the casket, which meant in the Jewish tradition of the funeral, that the mourners could return back to the warmth of their cars and get out of the falling snow.

There was no moment when I felt any twinge of pain in my wrist that grey and somber afternoon and yet what I had come to see is that I had unknowingly hurt myself nonetheless by being out of touch with my own body. I realized talking to Yogita how easy it was to treat my body, especially as a man, in a machine-like way. As a vehicle for getting things done. Putting dirt into a hole. Getting it done.

I realized how far back this way of being traveled into my past. How many thousands of times that wrist had pushed forcefully on a shovel in my years of tree planting, grabbed tools and lifted timbers on construction projects, always focused upon speed and efficiency, the very things we expect from our machines. 

But not learning to listen to the more subtle signals coming from my body about “how” to best “do” all this with more care for myself. That involves slowing down and paying more attention to the feeling sense within the body, noticing the signs of fatigue, the feedback loops of sensation that call us to adjust and notice what is happening inside ourselves.

It has been four days now since the funeral, and while still sore, my wrist is slowly getting better.  

Our bodies are like the winter snow pack with all of its many layers, a snowfall, a suncrust, a long cold snap, a blizzard, each event etched into the hidden layers affecting the strength of the whole and carrying the history of what has been experienced.

We too carry the history of all we have experienced. My left wrist, given all that I have asked it to do, in often robot-like ways, is now like a fragile layer in the snow pack. A place in my body that asks me to pay a different kind of attention. 


Striving for Perfektion

In Self Care by julia gillmor

August 29, 2017

Our April newsletter went out this spring with two big fat typo’s in the subject bar.

I had a full body cringe before even finishing the first sentence. Even my body had internalized the striving to “get it right”.

I became immediately aware of my ambition to compare favorably with others now that my imperfections were in full public view.

Then something softened. It was more than the acceptance of “shit happens”. It was a moment where I got to see how widespread and systemic striving is, and more importantly, what it tries to cover over:

A feeling of Lack.

Lack comes from a place in our past where something was missing, and what was missing got internalized as deficiency. (I wrote about this in my last blog post which you can read here).

Lack makes a different shaped hole in each of us. Here is the “I’m not good enough” hole. There’s the “I’m not attractive enough” hole, and the “I will never be successful enough” hole. The permutations are endless.

In our culture this lack is made invisible, glazed over by distraction, consumption and all the things we do to keep busy and avoid what we feel.

I decided to explore this striving for Perfektion because the secret to loving others despite their imperfections, is loving ourselves despite ours.

I wish I could offer a quick solution or a simple practice that would create significant change if you find yourself in a difficult place. But that’s not how this kind of process works. To be willing to heal we need to go into those places where the pain exists and hold it in a new way. We need to bring kindness to the places where it was lacking.

This is the focus The Hero’s Journey, a 6 day retreat, September 24 -30th. This retreat is about shifting our perception to find the means to welcome all of our experience, even the difficulties. Learning to embrace with kindness all of our reality initiates the process of change that happens from the inside out.

When you live in this way you get to feel more fully alive.

You come to know more about the places where you limit yourself, so different choices become available.

You notice your ability to show up with a greater capacity to hold the joy and the pain without the need to push any of it away.

Find out more about The Hero’s Journey here.