Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Yoga


So, I can't believe I haven't written about this yet, but I guess that's just the way things are.  

I've been practicing yoga for several months now.  It is one of the best experiences of my life, the fitness aspect as well as the life, body, mind centering that it brings.  I practice at a studio just a few blocks from where I live called Grow Yoga.  I just finished the first 8 week beginner Hatha series.  Of course I did not participate in all 8 weeks, because of my condition I missed out on 3 of them, but hope to continue going on Tuesday mornings.

I've become stronger after the sedentary life I had been living because of my condition.  I am also more flexible than I have ever been.  Which just blows my mind.  The benefits yoga has brought to my life are innumerable.

I will say this about the practice of yoga:

  • No matter what your religious or spiritual beliefs are, for at least a few moments during your practice you can become centered on that one thing that holds your life together.  
  • You become more aware of yourself, both in how your body moves and how your mind works. 
  •  You can come to each practice moving only in the way your body will allow you.  This is most important for me, because of all the chronic pain and fatigue I experience.  
  • From day to day you may not know what your abilities are going to be, but you can always participate in the practice of yoga as your body allows you to move in only comfortable non-harmful ways.

Because I am a new yogi on this journey I am not going to recommend any specific practice or style that may be better than another.  I am not going to tell you to go out and spend money on any one particular book or DVD.  But I do want to encourage you, if you feel that your body could use some movement and you can't find the one thing that works for you, seek out a yoga class.  Hatha yoga is perfect for beginners.  Be careful of classes that claim to be power yoga or hot yoga, while these are valid practices, if you have any kind of chronic condition that causes pain, weakness or fatigue, they would not be helpful classes for you. 

Don't be afraid to ask questions before you take a class, meet the instructor, make sure they know your specific needs.  If a particular instructor is not willing to listen about your limitations, then move on and find someone new.  This is not advice just for those of us in chronic pain, but everyone.  You need to find what works for you and not just what happens to be the biggest or most popular class.  

You will not master all poses immediately, but you may find that some things come more easy than others.  Work on those, but also challenge yourself into poses that give you problems.  I have benefited from working my body in as many directions as possible.  I have better posture, and I feel healthier from it.  

Because of the benefits I have received from yoga as a person in chronic pain, I've launched on a quest to learn all I can about the practice of yoga, and I would like to train to become a teacher specializing in helping those in chronic pain.  This isn't going to take place immediately as the amount of knowledge to be acquired by a yoga instructor is vast, and I do not want to rush my study because I want to enjoy the journey, and hopefully bring my experiences to help others like me.

As for what other paths I will be taking in the future, they are still unknown, but I trust they will be revealed in time.  In yoga we end with the word Namaste, meaning "the light in me honors the light in you."  This warrants it's own post in itself relating to my experiences in India.  But for now I will just finish this post with Namaste.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Productivity

Productivity is something that I have constantly struggled with throughout this illness...  I want to be out there, doing SOMETHING.  Fryer Drew gave me a book in December called Being Well When We're Ill : Wholeness and Hope in Spite of Infirmity by Marva J. Dawn.  I've been enjoying the book and have gotten a lot out of it.

This morning I finished the chapter about Unproductivity -- The Mysterious Workings of God.  It spoke to what I've been feeling all along about wanting to be able to do all the things I was doing before.  There were a few parts that I found particularly helpful in processing my feelings about this. 

It seems therefore that the tendency aroused in us by our society to demand productivity from ourselves is coupled with our own deep desire to do what we have loved in the past.  Thus, we feel both guilt and an absence of pleaser and think (mistakenly) that we should somehow make ourselves capable of accomplishing things again. (pg. 133)
Yes!  This is exactly how I am feeling. 

She goes on further to discuss about knowing that we are accepted and loved by God.  She recalls the story of Martha and Mary and encourages us to replace Martha's name with our own in Luke 10: 41-42.  Which would read "Chrissy, Chrissy you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need for only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her."

Reading this chapter was exactly what I needed today as I have been flaring over the last three or four days and have accomplished nothing.  Thanks Fryer Drew.

Being Well When We're Ill was published by Augsburg Books and can be found online.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Neti Pot

Here is a video I made about the Neti Pot.  The process shown in the video is done once through each nostril.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Disability

I'm in the process of appealing my denial of Social Security Disability.  I struggle every day with the fact that I even have to utter the word.  I feel some how inferior to everyone else.  I ask the questions: What if I really can do more than I am doing?  What if I'm just lazy?
I also fear judgment from other people, people who might see me as lazy or a slacker.

There are days when I consider calling my lawyer and canceling the whole thing.  And then there are days like today that remind me why I started the process in the first place.  This week was a pretty good week, I've been content with my level of activity, I've had some enjoyment in my life, but I've also struggled a little.  A good level of activity means I left the house three times this week, yeah not all that much to write home about, but I felt good.  My main struggle is fatigue, and I'm constantly trying new things to combat this.  Yesterday, I was absolutely exhausted.  I just couldn't shake it.  I got a fever in the early evening and just felt like I was starting to get sick.  I should have known what was coming then.  About 12:30 my entire body started to ache.  And then it started to send searing pain down my legs and arms when I moved.  My back has been sore for weeks and it's about 10 times as bad now.

This morning, when I woke up, I could barely stand.  It's hard for me to walk to the bathroom.  My apartment measures about 600 square feet in its entirety, so the bathroom is not that far away.  I fluffed my pillows, had Ryan scramble me some eggs for extra protein and settled in for a pain filled day.  Then, I was glad that I had filled out the medical releases for the lawyer last night.  Because right now, working, school, general responsibility in life is not an option.

There are days I hate myself for this.  I know I didn't do anything wrong.  But it just SUCKS, that's all I can really say.  I'm an active woman inside, and I just wish my outside could represent that.  Now I'm crying... well, I think I just needed to get that out.  To let you know of my struggles, both physically and mentally when it comes to living life.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rain

It's raining like Niagara Falls here and my body can tell.  My joints are sore, and my fingers are not working like they are suppose to.  Hopefully today will be a good resting day, but I really don't want to spend the whole time in bed.  
We will see what it holds, hopefully some good, moving, soulful, healing, reading.  I like reading, going to places from my recliner.  I never did it much as I was younger.  I need to catch up on the classics, as well as some theology I might be missing while out of school.

Yoga is making me stronger which hopefully means less pain in the long run.  I hope to write more soon about all that.  But not this morning.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Community

Part of the series "A Manifesto--of Sorts"

Scripture, the Bible, is a building block to my faith and my beliefs on how I should act in the world.  Being brought up in a caring and loving United Methodist Church I consider a few other aspects to inform my faith and beliefs, these aspects are experience, reason, and tradition.  This is not just the way I do theology, but how I assess and live my life.  But, I suppose when it comes down to the bottom line, the way I choose to live my life is theological.

I believe humans were created for community.  I’ve come to this conclusion, first by my experiences in the world.  Simply, I do not like to be alone.  There are times that I enjoy silence and quiet reflection by myself.  But when it boils down to living my day-to-day life, I prefer to share it with someone.  This someone is my husband the majority of the time, however, I enjoy and feel the need to include as many people as possible in the ordinary things.

Everyone loves to get together and celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions.  But most people do not get together to share the mundane; preparation of a weekday meal, the grocery shopping, laundry, and other chores of life.  People travel in the same direction to work everyday, and many chose to do that in a car by themselves.  Why do we not reach out to one another, and ask for each other’s presence in our lives?

A simple answer to this could be that a particular person is introverted, and does not feel the necessity to share their lives.  Or it could be that no one knows how to do this in a manner that is fluid and not awkward.  Sharing the ordinary is not an easy task.  Everyone has different ways of cooking, cleaning, shopping, driving, and simply living their lives.  They’ve never had to give reasons for why they do something a certain way, and may have never entertained the thought that there may be an easier, more efficient, or different way of doing things. 

In the Genesis 2 creation story we read, “Then the Lord God said ‘It is not right that man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner (Gen. 2:18).’”  In this very first instance we read in Scripture that God created humans to not be alone, for us to have helpers and partners in our daily lives.  From this first verse all the way through the Hebrew Bible and New Testament we encounter instances, when God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit works in ways to bring humans together; God’s Covenant with the Israelites, Jesus gathering his disciples, and the structure of the early church.

Monasteries from very early church history are an example of people coming together to be in community.  Humans have come together throughout the history of the church.  I will admit that all of these communities did not turn out as planned or are not examples of what I wish to follow in my life.  The Shaker communities in 18th century desired to live a Utopian lifestyle and had a law for every aspect of life thrived into the early 19th century with as many as 6000 members and eventually declined during the American Civil War.  There can be many critiques made about the Shaker communities, but they are seen as one of the more successful Utopian societies in the 19th century.

In the 1960s-1970s many communities formed around ideals of the counter culture and these were often referred to as communes.  These communes lived on the outskirts of society, and daily life was shared.  In most instances these communes were known for their drug use and promiscuity, and were not formed on Christian beliefs.  Usually because of disagreements or disillusions about communal life, these communes eventually dissolved and their members returned back to society; however a few still remain.

Today there are thriving communities formed around an array of beliefs and ideals, and are now more commonly known as Intentional Communities.  Some are Christian, some practice other religions, and some claim no religious affiliation.  It is these Christian communities that I am most interested in.  I want to learn about their successes, their failures, and their motivating factors of living in community.  Many of these communities are more traditional, but contemporary models of monasticism.  There is also a movement that has been called New Monasticism. This movement, like many, is hard to define or put edges around.

I am driven to community, to look for places in the ordinary to share with others.  I am not speaking of a Utopian society, but one where those who live within a community then go out into the world using their resources that they have formed to be the hands and feet of Christ.  It makes me nervous to say something like this in a public forum, although I’ve had plenty of conversations with people about this idea.  The truth is, I do not have much experience “out there” in the world.  I do not know how to minister to the poor and needy.  Most of all I fear failure in an attempt to form a community who lives and breathrs the life of Christ together.  Perhaps we all fear to fail and that is why we keep to ourselves.  Living our separate lives, while we struggle with being Christians in the 21st century.  But if we truly want to live in the kingdom, I believe, we as Christians have to come together to work in the world.  I hope that you as my readers will explore this concept with me as we journey together.

You can read the introduction to this series here.

Monday, February 02, 2009

For Life: you interpret

I'm Still Learning

While I plot my next entry in my manifesto, I wanted to talk about how I am still learning how to deal with my chronic condition, fibromyalgia.

Last night is a classic example of "overdoing it."  I didn't drink, partly because I am not drinking beer (gluten), and partly because it didn't really cross my mind.  My new lifestyle has lead me to make much healthier choices than before.  However, I did not make those choices when it came to eating chicken wings, candy, and staying up late.  Today I am paying for it.  I've had less than 4 hours of sleep at this point because I am sick to my stomach and my body hurts horribly.  I hope to go back to bed, but do not know if this will be allowed to happen.  

I believe I've entered a new stage in my life.  The part I learn to deal with my body, what I've had to change due to Fibromyalgia, and being thankful for what I do have.  I am still learning.  I also know that I will not get through this next stage in my life by myself.  I've been spending a lot of time isolated, mostly because it is hard for me to get out and about.  But for me to adjust to this life, I need to be with the people who care about me and want me to live the best life that I can.  I am not sure how this is going to take place, but I know it is something that I have to do.  I have so much to write about, but that will wait for another day.  I need to head back to the bed and get some pillows under my legs or something.

My wonderful darling and caring husband broke the recliner this weekend... he we leaning over to give me a kiss, so I'm not terribly mad.  While it is functional, it is not that same.  So, I am taking full advantage of the wool mattress pad on my bed today and resting in comfort.