Friday, September 6, 2013

Other side of grace

Three days ago I felt tested, much like my Quaker friend Patia described about her own life Sunday. "God tests those closest to him," she'd said.

So it was with surprise and gratitude I responded to my 13-year-old's request to walk the local labyrinth. It seemed just what I needed: quiet, connection, contemplation, prayer and peace. I couldn't help noticing how much each quadrant of the sacred pathway looked like a section of the brain. Perhaps this is why a walking meditation works so well for me – it quiets my mind, I surmised. 

Two days ago, I attended a webinar on tapping, a meditative and tactile way of calming oneself. Atypical for me, but I signed up because its subject was money, one of my hot buttons. 

As I listened to more about the process of tapping, I felt divinely led to this place because I had just posted about feeling frozen. "... when you go from fight or flight into a freeze state ... your body is effectively storing the stress of that moment," the webinar presenter said. "The freeze response encapsulates stress in our bodies, preventing us from moving on after a stressful event until we've found a way to release the stress that's literally lodged in our bodies, in our muscles, even our cells."

Milford Spiritual Center
Apparently, tapping expert Nick Ortner says, the amygdala part of the brain signals the release of adrenaline and cortisol, which curtail creative problem solving, slow digestion and constrict blood vessels, manifesting the physical stress. He says that physical response is vital when faced with imminent danger, not with today's modern demands. When stuck in this mode, imagine, Nick instructs, trying to brainstorm growing your business while escaping a menacing tiger. Then think about a few days later, under a warm shower when an inspiration hits, the ONE thing you've been searching for. No coincidence it happened when you're relaxed and your frontal lobe was operating at full capacity.

DUH was my response. I had known all of that on some, unarticulated level. Of course, the portion devoted to unraveling your own personal money story was riveting. He encourages exploring the symptoms you experience around money, the emotions, events and beliefs you hold, then tap on each issue until you hold no emotion around it.

That was all Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday, I sailed into the gym after dropping the kids at the bus at 6:30 am, prepped for a warm-water swim. It felt great to stretch those aching muscles, stiffened from sleep. It's one of my favorite ways to wake up. I was cheered to spot one of my beloved water companions, Ceese, working out in the lane to my left. I could feel her calm energy in the pool as I gained momentum during my mile workout.

She's a healing-touch practitioner who has shared so much wisdom with me over the years. We each know the other's wounds and struggles as well as joys and relationship to the Divine. In the water, she placed her hands on my sides and I felt a surge of energy. She was helping my brain tell my hormonal glands who was in charge. I XX a powerful burst dissipated all over, warm and wonderful. Ceese said it was good for teens and menopausal women – exactly what the females in my family need. Afterward, I shared with her a stunning summer experience when Spirit told me to open my heart to an individual the way I do in prayer to God and how there was a powerful surge that brought the entire small group into an embrace and we all felt the energy. "You have the gift," she said. "Yes," I replied, "when I can get myself out of the way." She admitted that was the challenge.

As we were drying off in the locker room and talking some more, she asked me to center and place my hands on her ribs, which she had injured. I felt the surge again and so did she. We just stood there touching each other tenderly. 
"This is what real connection means, doesn't it?" I finally asked, breaking the silence.
 "Yeah it really is. I felt things settle, what did you feel?"
"The energy, but I also saw green."
"Love," she said with a smile.
"The heart chakra," I chimed in.
Wounded healers, we agreed.

Today I had lunch with a dear friend from college and newspaper days. She's been practicing healing touch for four years, so when she called yesterday, I knew I had to have lunch with her. We talked about all sorts of alternative means of connection. The kind of conversation you can only have with a trusted friend, though we were both careful to lower our voices at Panera. We dared broach the idea of darkness and its relationship to the healing arts. She taught me some powerful prayers of protection. We're both discerning where God desires us. It's heartening to have fellow companions.

During lunch I received a voice mail regarding what had put me on edge Tuesday. Instead of feeling frozen with fear, I was lifted by the interactions that had transpired in the past three days, understanding God's hand in granting me peace and grace.

• What's my reaction when feeling tested?
• How do I freeze, letting my thinking shut down?
• What contemplative practices help remove me from that state?
• How does human touch ground, even heal, me?
• When have I felt wrapped in Spirit's grace?

The path was strewn with debris.
Littered from last week's storm.
Roots, twigs, bark and leaves scattered
haphazardly in lovely, little arrangements
of texture, color and natural simplicity.

The decor called my attention to the
resemblance to my scattered brain.
The labyrinth shape mimics its fungi-
like makeup and is– after all –
divided into similar quadrants.

I walked off the news. And
remembered almost a year ago
hearing the same sort of thing
in a much more devastating manner, 

wondering where the time
had evaporated. How we had
all settled back into normal.

How present have I been?

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