Week Two: Body Tensing, Body Sensing

I meant to write this yesterday, but this week I’m a little behind on everything. I usually don’t give myself much slack, but with hubby away for three weeks the permission to slack off has been turned on.

Example number one: an hour before he departed for the airport I flew to the store and bought the following items:

2 boxes of organic mini toaster waffles

2 boxes of chicken tikki massala frozen dinners

4 boxes of Amy’s organic pizza snacks

1 box of Pamela’s organic gluten free chocolate chip cookies (’cause mamma’s gotta have a treat too!)

Normally, I don’t buy frozen goods. I know it’s mom’s-best-friend when you’re in hurry (and aren’t we always?), but I’m a purist when it comes to food: I like to cook fresh foods and whole grains every day. I know, my friends remind me often, today we’re no longer living the Little House on the Prairie lifestyle. Mom often isn’t home, dad is working off the farm, and the kids are over-scheduled and – now we’re told – obese. This scenario could make even a macrobiotic mom run to the frozen food section. Still, normally, I cook fresh 4-5 times per week (and have leftovers the other nights). But this week felt different. I don’t know if it’s the effects of the yoga nidra yet, but after one week of napping I began receiving one message loud and clear:

Give yourself a break, Karen.

My boys are not complaining, that’s for sure. Organic frozen waffles for them are on the level of a snickers bar. When it happens, enjoy the moment.

I’ve been enjoying alot of moments since starting my daily nap routine. I had a hunch I was tired, but every time I laid down for the past eleven days the first thing my body says is “thank you.”

Actually, I lie. I have only napped ten out of the past eleven days. On Saturday I completely forgot. Sure there was Aden’s soccer game, Jacob’s hip hop audition prep class, Jacob’s flag football,  Aden’s birthday party (that ended at 10pm!),  and I was recovering from another heavy period that sidelined me on Friday, but I could have taken a nap. I just spaced it.

I could just blame it on nerves. While I’ve was trying to not look at the newspaper or Google “Bangkok riots,” which is where Tim went for work, it was hard before Tim left to not pay attention to the bloody photos on the front page of the newspaper showing unfolding civil violence in the capital. He told me it was okay to travel there and then on Saturday ten minutes before he departed he informed me he was still going but he was now told he was not allowed to leave his hotel at the conference.

Is there a Rumi poem to balance me out here? There must be.

Boy was I glad I got some frozen food in the house. The conflict in Thailand, no hubby, and a rising mound of clean laundry Sunday night that needed folding and putting away. Time to cook? Ha!

As I slipped the chicken tikka massala frozen dinners in the oven I kept repeating, “at least it’s not Salisbury Steak with mashed potatoes,” which was the occasional “treat” my single mother would give us as kids. Chicken tikka massala has to rate higher than Salisbury steak.

Sunday began week two of yoga nidra napping. I practically put a post it on every part of my body to make sure I didn’t forget. I had said this week would be Robin’s 48 minute yoga nidra track on CD #2 which did feel like a huge jump…from 22 minutes to 48…but it was Sunday and I had no excuses.

Well, maybe I had one excuse. Just before I was about to nap Jacob presented me with his birthday list totally $730 of Star Wars Lego. Yes, you heard it right.

“Jacob, this is alot of money. Too much for a kids birthday,” I said.

“Okay,” he said.”But if we were really rich like Justin Beiber you’d get me it, right?”

My gut feeling was no, but I decided making judgements on other parents wasn’t very zen of me so I replied, “Well, I’m not Justin Beiber’s mom.”

“Of course not!” he laughed. “But if we had that much money you’d get me all those Star Wars Lego.”

“I don’t think so,” I said. “Maybe you’d get a few from Beyonce and Jay-Z and that would give you the amount you’re wanting.”

Beyonce and Jay-Z? Where did that come from?

“Jacob, the bottom line is that ’stuff’ doesn’t give us happiness,” I said. “Craving only causes more craving.”

“I know,” he said. “But I really want it all!!”

At this point I desperately needed a nap.

“Can I watch a Star Wars Lego video on YouTube while you nap?” Jacob asks.

“Sure,” I cave in until, 5 minutes into my 48-minute nap when Robin asks us to be open to sound and I can’t stop hearing light sabers and other weapons firing from the computer.

“Can you please turn it off?” I ask.

He does and off I go into my yoga nidra nap.

What I love about this long yoga nidra version is that Robin takes us through our chakras and has us chant a sound with each chakra. I really needed that on Sunday because with all this stress my body was tense and my chakras must have been blocked.

What’s chakras? The body has 7 energy centers and chakras are the energy centers in our body which energy flows through. By energy I mean everything from emotions to beliefs to body parts. In fact, to me, yoga nidra is all about touching your chakras and releasing stuck energy. You may think you know what area is stuck, but it’s not until you ask your body that you really know. In iRest/yoga nidra, this is Stage One: Awareness of Sensation. The body always knows; we just have to ask.

Here’s a breakdown of the 7 chakras that you might find useful:

1. Root Chakra – Represents our foundation and feeling of being grounded.

Location: Base of spine in tailbone area.
Emotional issues: Survival issues such as financial independence, money, and food.

2. Sacral Chakra – Our connection and ability to accept others and new experiences.

Location: Lower abdomen, about 2 inches below the navel and 2 inches in.
Emotional issues: Sense of abundance, well-being, pleasure, sexuality.

3. Solar Plexus Chakra – Our ability to be confident and in-control of our lives.

Location: Upper abdomen in the stomach area.
Emotional issues: Self-worth, self-confidence, self-esteem.

4. Heart Chakra – Our ability to love.

Location: Center of chest just above heart.
Emotional issues: Love, joy, inner peace.
5. Throat Chakra – Our ability to communicate.
Location: Throat.
Emotional issues: Communication, self-expression of feelings, the truth.
6. Third Eye Chakra – Our ability to focus on and see the big picture.
Location: Forehead between the eyes. (Also called the Brow Chakra)
Emotional issues: Intuition, imagination, wisdom, ability to think and make decisions.
7. Crown Chakra – The highest Chakra represents our ability to be fully connected spiritually.
Location: The very top of the head.
Emotional issues: Inner and outer beauty, our connection to spirituality, pure bliss.

It is probably not a coincidence that this week the yoga nidra practice I choose was helping me clean out my chakras. On Monday I had scheduled a long-distance energy session on the phone with a good friend of mine and sacred healer extraordinaire Kate Loye. I met Kate five years ago during a healing crisis which if you’ve ever had one you’ll know that it’s at times like these that even though you swore you’d only go to a round of medical specialists if you were seriously sick you find yourself on a plane to Brazil to lay on a bed of cyrstals next to John of God.

Yes, I was that desperate when I met Kate so the fact that she used feathers like a ground crew member of American Airlines directing flights into their gate and talked about chakras didn’t phase me at all. Just after I started napping last week I decided I needed to give Kate a call again.

It took her about one minute to tune into my body. I’m pulling energy from my adrenals instead of my hara (second chakra), she told me. She also stressed my brain is very full, like it’s “Spinning out.” So she decides to start wading through the heaviness of my brain. Yes, she sifted through my brain over the phone. I know it’s wacky, but all I can say is don’t stop reading… as hard as it is to believe a healer from New Paltz, New York can sift through your brain over the phone I’ve always found deep healing takes us out of our safety box; it force us into new dirt.

So there I was on Monday, sitting on my couch, eyes closed, Kate sorting out my brain clog when she says:

“Fall in love with Jacob.”

Jacob, my almost 11-year-old son? I said nothing at first to Kate, but I sure did  feel something. Lately I’ve been feeling very drained from Jacob – he’s having social problems at school and trying to figure out whether to believe his story, the school’s story, or the rumored stories is exhausting. Sure, all kids have their moments, but Jacob’s moment started the day he was born and did not poop for 10 days and then didn’t stop screaming for two years. Eventually we discovered in elementary school that he’s severely dyslexic: he cannot read or write fluently and, perhaps even more intense, he has poor recall, often says the wrong word for basic items, and has audiory processing issues so in a group of boys shouting instructions for a game you can be pretty sure he didn’t catch 25% of it. Last year, when I discovered 80% of children with Jacob’s profile end up friendless my heart sank.

To live with Jacob is a nonstop lesson in unconditional parental love. The things we normally push our kids to do I have to always check in with myself, and Jacob, as to whether I should push. Many days I feel like I’m his personal cop, bound to protect him from cruelty or just from filling out forms on his own that normally most rising fifth graders can do on their own.

“It’s like you need deep pockets of resources to parent him,” Kate says.

This is when my heart stops. As he enters the middle school-Justin Beiber phase I feel as though I don’t know how to love him anymore. That my pockets for parenting a severely dyslexic tween are too small. I had just gotten used to meeting his needs as an elementary school kid. Should I talk to him more now? Less? Are any of our conversations going to make sense? Will he feel my love?

“Don’t talk love, eminate it from your heart.”

Don’t talk love.

For the next fifteen minutes Kate works on my heart, helping it be more flexible, and slowly I feel a still point which frightens me.

Don’t talk love.

To end the session Kate takes me to a deep state of what she calls “nothingness.”

“No trying, no Being,” she says.

I realize this is yoga nidra at work: sensing your body and allowing emotions amd beliefs to come up for ‘tea and conversation.’

We end our session. Then  I walk to my yoga nidra bed and nap.

Breathing into my chakras, with Robin’s voice guiding me, I spend extra time chanting into my heart chakra.

Don’t talk love.

That night I chant the heart chakra sound just before Jacob snuggled into bed for our nighttime reading. Before opening the book I suggest we take our left hand and put it on each other’s hearts.

“Now let’s breathe love into each other’s heart,” I say to Jacob.

He smiles and we close our eyes, breathing into the ocean of love between us, my parental exhaustion from his dyslexia fading, silenced by the sensing of my heart.

“Can I have a mini-waffle for breakfast tomorrow?,” he asks.


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