Moving towards living.

My last fieldnote was about loving the body you have, because it changes a bit every day.  Sometimes, it changes a lot all at once.

I just finished reading Waking:  A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence.  It is the story of Matthew Sanford.  He is a yoga teacher, a husband and father.  He is also paralyzed from the chest down.  When he was 13, he was in car accident that killed his dad and sister. He was asleep in the back seat of the car and woke up days later in the hospital.  His body suffered massive trauma, including damage to his spinal cord.

There are two quotes from the book that glow for me, and I share them here.

The first comes after a surgery he had in his 20s, to remove metal rods from his spine.  He is in the hospital:

. . . I am having flashbacks. . . my body is making me relive my past. . . This goes on for nearly three days.  Barfing body memories is what I am doing. . .  These memories are not visual.  They are not thoughts.  They are experienced, something like the inward feeling of falling in a dream, only to wake up just before rolling off the bed. . .

The second is about beginning his yoga practice:

A new level of me is coming alive.  I am overwhelmed with the feeling that my body has been waiting for me to stop neglecting it, waiting for me to quiet down and listen.  My heart is breaking.  I feel grateful.

We are so whole.  The body has memories and its own way of knowing.  The body experiences trust, fear, desire, pain, in a dimension separate from (though connected to) the mind, and emotion.  There is power and beauty and richness and tenderness that comes from listening to your body, from honoring its wholeness.  From allowing yourself to feel the feelings.

There is a wonderful interview with him, and at one point he says:

“Your body, for as long as it possibly can, will be faithful to live in.  That’s what it does. . .  My body didn’t ask to get hammered, and to have its spine shredded, and many bones broken.  And it went, ‘Ok, let’s regroup, let’s go.’  And only a little part of my body didn’t heal.  Only an inch or two of my spinal cord was not able to regenerate.  It went to work.  And that’s what it’ll do.  That’s what it does. It might get confused.  It might not know how to grow the right cells.  But I’m telling you, it’s moving towards living.  For as long as it possibly can.”

Yes.  Believe it.  And you have that same spark.  That same Life.  That same beloved wholeness.

Be curious.  Savor all of it.

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