Several months ago a woman wrote a note that read, “getting lyme disease = becoming a doctor without going to medical school.” My response to her and the hundreds of other women who agreed was, ”Yes, we are becoming healers finely crafted in the arts of subtle multi-systemic body awareness. The Shaolin Temple of Self is in full effect!”
“Shaolin is a quiet, solitary art. Beyond acquiring inner peace and harmony, it requires absolute inner stillness and the ability to contemplate void without flinching in a total absorption of what-is in the moment. Without that, you cannot find center. Without center, you cannot find self. And without self, you cannot become selfless, entering the necessary state where egoism cannot meddle with intent.”
It’s been more than a year now mostly bed-bound experiencing the intensity of this broad-based, multi-systemic party of pathogens grouped under the simple four letter word Lyme. Living with intense pain the year prior, it was a fourth or fifth bugged-bite last March (2015) that bankrupted my brain, handcuffed my arms and hands, hijacked any turn or look of my neck, ambushed my eyes and ears, and molecularly shifted the patterns of precedence in life, mind, sanity, and serenity. But of course that’s what it is here to do. I have always known that and was shown from the first moons of this voyage, but had no idea that the experience would require me to stand still while on razor sharp edges, being cut and gutted, skinned and flailed, all with conscious breath. Pain was always honored as a teacher in life (if not from others’ eyes), and my studies as a doula gifted me the mantra that pain cannot kill you: a temporary guest towards the contractions that always hold meaning and gift life anew, no matter what form. I’m a tough cookie very adept at hiding and tolerating pain, a devout and spiritual being lucky to have been born with natural optimism and good cheer, but now know well the physical forces that can bring insanity while so severely siphoning the vitality of every organ, cell and fiber of our being.
The strain and stress has been tremendous, but Baba Yaga’s glasses gift the vision that this long journey is to change every molecule of every pattern of thought and action in Life. Last year this time, I had opened up a lovely little studio space with a friend in great excitement towards the many bundles of cloth, fibers, pigments, metals, and creativity that was bursting from my being. I have not been there since founding the studio (hand-made-studio.org) and my one year sabbatical is now two. This whirl-winded current has shifted every word-reading, weed-picking, food-producing, medicine-making, fiber-dying, leather-pounding, copper-crafting, hide-fleshing, textile-teaching, horse-hugging, tree-visiting, song-singing, story-telling, land-adventuring, chit-chatting, feast-making, body-moving adventure ever thought possible. Good thing I’ve led such an adventurous life and used my body well these years! And now, I lay still in horizontal healing lands and am tended to full-time in a city (thanks mamma!) as Health still seems to be traveling further and further from my shores.
This physical and psychological pressure-cooker of an experience is an intense practice of presence, patience, perseverance, surrender, study, stillness in illness, action in non-action, and much more. This illness is my kung fu master and teacher: unrelentingly, ceaselessly sifting the soul of my soil towards new landscapes. No need to travel, The Shaolin Temple of Self is in full effect!
“Shaolin practitioners are healers, educators, a source of knowledge for the community respected for their wisdom and services performed, whether it be healing or protecting.”
“To the Shaolin, philosophy and arts are ideals and the thin line always walked is between self-defense and non-violence.”
Yes, after the biology degree, the years exploring western and non-western herbalism, and my experiences as an energetic and holistic healing practitioner regarding the miracle of flesh and bones infused by spirit named body, I am now steeped in the intense training towards the community of cells and systems that make up the body with protection and healing being the only services performed all day every day without interruption. Healing, educating, protecting, defending and attacking sums up this Lyme experience pretty well. Surprisingly, this training now includes integrating modernity and technology (a skill set I avoided.) The capital O-optimism is turning into a capital R-reality check as the severity of my neurological issues continues to wax although I wait for the wane. The beasts on my back and in-between my migraine-inflame-brain include words slurs, sound slips, synapses surrendered, and memory found in the fog of a long ago land. Comp-re-hen-sion is now a long four syllable word and s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g is no longer simple or rote. Sentences stringed too long to be understood as a soft song sizzle like bacon, and all sound is literally LOUD - it is they who place on my crown a seizing frown. And so, whenever words no longer wiggle and my brain no longer jiggles, when I remember and my me can come through - in these gifted moments of clarity I would like to be with you all for a spell, sharing the capacity of voice and words as my body and hands are now far from the force that has gifted me the greatest pleasures of my life. Time to learn anew and focus on ability while accepting the lay of these new lands.
So here I am letting you all know what has so far silently called me away from many wanting letters, phone calls, emails, visits, gatherings, celebrations, and what has now opened the gates of gigabytes previously uncharted - The Shaolin Temple of Self!
Iranians, Afghans,Tajiks, Georgians, Azerbaijanis, Uygurs, Turks, Kurds of Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, as well as certain tribal peoples of Yemen, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakistan, India, and Pakistan all celebrate this New Day/New Year/Spring Equinox with traditions and festivities passed down from the eldest of our elders. Every inch of the house and it's belongings are renewed and revitalized, colorful New Year clothes have been sewn or purchased, the ceremonial cloth/Sofreh has been spread and on it the Haft Sin alter set for this 13 day celebration of Life. Families gather around the ceremonial setting for prayers and blessings as we count down the movements of the Sun into Pisces traditionally called "the first point in Aries" (March 19 9:29 pm PST). Gifts are given and the traditional meal of herbed rice with fish is shared. Mouths are sweetened for the year ahead with almond, walnut, rosewater, and rice created delicacies: Oh the Sweetness of Life! Then ...
the visiting begins as these 13 days are filled with tea and the sweetening of our mouths from the Haft Sin cloths of all our relatives and friends. Schools, businesses, and government offices close during these celebrations as what could be more important than celebrating life and renewing relations as we are gifted another year. On the 13th day all happily picnic and party as we release the heart of the alter, Grass, back to the wilds in the flowing waters of rivers and streams, asking the Waters to return to us this gift of Life in the year to come.
Wishing you all much Health, Happiness, Love, Laughter, and Peace - Nowruz eh Shomah Mobarak!
A refugee is one who is forced to seek shelter in order to protect; to leave home and often homeland due to violence, imprisonment, genocide, revolution, war, kidnapping, persecution and all other acts that make one flee in order to retain life. Those of us gifted shelter outside of our homelands have learned new languages, adapted new customs, and become vital, productive, educated, hard-working, tax-paying citizens of our adopted countries with great gratitude. We naturally become dual citizens, and if gifted with financial abundance after many years of hard work and saving, we try to visit relatives that were scattered elsewhere or remained on the soils of our birth. It is our innate human right to try to keep ties when distances are often so great, to show our children and grandchildren where the leaves of their culture and roots reside, to have our relations come and visit us when abundance is in their lives. Sound familiar? This reality of migration is almost as old as time.
These travels are the only way I have seen, met, and kept many familial relations and known my homeland since the age of four. The amazingly discriminatory Visa Waiver Bill will change the reality of living in a "free country" with the ability to restrict traveling rights for all American citizens whose countries of origin include Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, Columbia, and Venezuela. I would like to continue to see my relatives, whether here or abroad, and travel to my homeland if and when I choose. Second class citizenship status with travel restrictions due to political agendas and the power of fear is spiraling upon on us once again, in a land largely inhabited by immigrants, refugees and the generations that follow.
Colonizers found forcibly restricting migration and movement to be an extremely effective means of subjugating the native peoples of this land, and I'm sure you don't need to be reminded of slavery and the subjugation mentality that still affects the lives of all those with brown or black skin. Subjugation through restricted traveling rights has been and continues to be a popular policy used many a time by many a ruling force. Even in my homeland, this policy was successfully used to subjugate independent tribal and nomadic peoples of the land towards settled citizens of a nation. The fencing of humanity needs to be disassembled, not reinforced.
I don't often say much, but these are flinching times, after many flinching years in the United flinching States, and this flinch fell out my mouth this morning. December 15, 2015
I used to think that pain could not kill you. A student of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology when beginning booked explorations, I learned much about synapses, the chemical transmissions of information, their processes, and such in fleshed form. These studies continued while training as a doula (a birth attendent) and one of my mantras & true beliefs was that pain cannot kill you. Literally, pain cannot kill you. It can alter your personality and perceptions, it can induce states of consciousness and unconsciousness never meet before, it can wrench and contract your muscles, trigger fear, make you shiver and shake, bring on tears, or screams, it can deplete the fuck out of you, it can make you clench your breath, long for home, and wish someone was holding you.
Pain can make you mad at yourself, mad at life, lose the mountain of patience you were born with that you thought would last the rest of your life. It can make you sick, and make you sicker, weaker, and unable to tread the waters of life. It can make you rely on others to feed and cloth yourself, to lift a small glass of water to your lips, or allow you to release the waters that flow out of the body. It can stop any and all healing from taking place, keep away the dimensional dream worlds where the gods often visit, and bring a dark veil of unrelenting clouds to our eyes and ears and mouths and tongues. It can isolate, push us away from having others seeing us so twisted in spirit and form, as well as allowing others to move themselves away from seeing the horrors of what pain can actually do to a person. It can suck all your life-force, lick by lick till the raw center is reached. It can kill you. It can take away your mind, your body, your self– forever. And does.
Pain can also heal you, teach you about the depths of the soul and the body and of all things sacred. Pain can melt your ego, your mind, your form into the watery abyss of nothingness. Pain can make you crouch before the gods like nothing else, asking for nothing, nothing at all. Pain can gift the explosion of self into all the molecules of the universe, with no form floating among the all that has been and will be. Pain can allow you to see beyond sight and sing without sound. Pain can create a womb, a place where you are feed by the beyond, by the invisible mothers, by the infinity of Existence, by the placenta of the Holy. Pain is pain. Pain is a teacher. Pain a holy being. Pain can change us like no other force in Existence. Pain is medicine. Pain is the hardest friend to make and love and honor and sit and have a cup of tea with.
This word “pain” comes from the Latin root meaning punishment; to atone for sins. Fuckin’ A - what if pain is a humongous exacting kiss from the Universe that’s hugging us so hard so that we may be able to hug back – not in the human worldly functioning way, but in the way that the Gods need, that the Ribbons of Time need, that we can gift if we learn to understand, if we allow its’ castings into our new molted forms. What if all the clenched twist and turns are what allow us to shape-shift into the new beings the world needs. What if I allowed it, stop fighting back, stopped hoping for it to go away, stopped clawing at my former life and expressions in this world, stopped fearing who I am turning into, stopped being afraid to die, and surrendered to this excruciating gift of a new self without expectation or judgment. What if this is one of the biggest gifts of my life that I will forever be grateful for and laugh a million laughs at myself for later.
Not what if, but great gratitude that I suffered and was kept in the dark for only months not years, that Life grants me this knowledge and knowing and deep faith, so that I may do the work, change acceptingly, flow with the pain towards the pool of what will be, who I will be, and the how. Not easy. Necessary. The only way to stay alive. To die well towards rebirth. To honor all the way in all ways. June 5, 2015
On the Shelf