As I was meditating one day last week, I found myself spontaneously moving through my torso in subtle micro motions that went on for some time & then these profound insights came to me about how I was leading my life. For some time even before I retired in June 2018, I’ve been searching for ways to make the remaining years of my life meaningful, creative & building upon the spiritual which is so important to me. For many years, after being immersed in raising my wonderful four children & deepening my sometimes tumultuous relationship with my husband, Claude Dosdall, I entered into my career with my Counselling practice & later with Continuum which has been a major part of my life for over 30 years, both for me personally & in teaching & sharing with others.
What came to me in this event, was that more & more I’ve been learning to accept the limitations created by my accelerated aging due to post polio syndrome, in the recent past it has actually been more like coping. I’ve been occupying my time muchly reading novels & almost every night watching TV & Netflix! Yes I do my ™ meditation & Continuum practice every day but increasingly with less somatic awareness, then hoping that I would die soon. I am now 84 so entering into the 85th year of my life, the age at which I was hoping to leave this earth plane!
In the past month & a half, I’ve been sick with the flu 3 times! I consider this a wake-up call that I need to change the way I am leading my life lately. As well as the post-polio fatigue & lessening of my physical abilities to the extent that I am not able to walk very far without walking aids, digestive conditions, weakening of my eyes & hearing & deterioration of my shoulders due to the excess strain on them. Yes I have what might be called challenges or as these insights came to me I could also see them as opportunities to deepen my commitment to my inner life & make use of the many resources that I have learned throughout my life. Instead of looking for other means & processes to provide me with the meaning to live out the rest of my life, it really is already here, both within me & with the wonderful resources of my family & my dear friends & colleagues in my life.
On a practical level, I need to change my habitual ways of doing things. Habits are deadening! Some years ago I worked with a Sufi like group, the teacher of which proposed many practices to break the habitual ways we do things which leave individuals on automatic. Just by consciously changing some of these habits in simple ways, one begins to wake up! Emilie Conrad, founder of Continuum, defined paralysis as doing the same things in the same way all the time. The brain is a pattern addict so if you do something 2 or 3 times, it becomes a groove in your brain which is very handy when learning to ride a bike but not helpful in expanding ones consciousness or growing spiritually & emotionally. So putting this insight into practice, the next day I found myself picking up a book, putting it down & starting to reread some of my writing from the past 2 years from writing classes I took online with my wonderful & talented writing teacher, Ingrid. Totally different experience!
There are so many ways in which I can spend my time in more meaningful ways as well as taking care of myself, resting when I need to. Yes I have the intention to improve my health situation & proof that this is possible. One of the other stimulatinations that contributed to these insights was listening to a podcast on Sounds True, Tami Simon with Dr, Shamini Jain, whose recent book Healing Ourselves, Biofield Science and the Future of Health, points to of our lack of connection to our inner healing capacity & how our medical field (which offers much as well) tends to entrain us to be totally dependent on an outer authority. She refers to much research & cases where people have healed against impossible odds but also stresses that there is definitely a place for conventional medicine. My husband Claude’s book My God I Thought You’d Died (which I am rereading) also stresses this. He spent many years healing from a debilitating brain tumour which was initially misdiagnosed 2 times & led him on a journey of discovery & founding the Hope Cancer Centre which worked with people with cancer, looking at lifestyle factors that contributed to their illness & incorporating them into their medical treatments.
When I moved to Bowen Island in 1988, my intention was to start a Centre that did this as I have always felt that the medical profession & alternative therapies should work together. I think that is beginning to happen more today but there’s still a long way to go. Unfortunately, the next year I came down with what is now known as Post Polio Syndrome & wasn’t able to follow through on purchasing the property next to me on which I had intended to start this venture. Also from my own life, I had an experience while at a teachers’ gathering on Vashon Island, of taking some gentle plant medicine tea & for hours walking all over the property in a way I hadn’t been able to do for years. It didn’t last past that day but showed me that there are possibilities for healing. I was wise enough not to put myself down for that nor go into despair but remained curious & many times through the years have wondered why natural healing methods work for some & not others. Now I believe I have some answers for that question.
As for now, I have a sense of an uplifting energy (still dealing with fatigue & other health issues but it feels so different) & a clarity about going forward that I haven’t experienced in a long time. Yes I have an intention to heal (not cure) but it’s mostly about leading my life with more fullness, creativity & passion. As Emilie said once, there is an A & a B to practicing Continuum. The B is the amount of healing & creativity that are side effects to moving in this way but the A is just loving doing the practice which to me is like a prayer. In this way, the side benefits follow.
One of my intentions when I retired was to continue my writing & share my experiences on my website in a blog. So here I am doing it. I am immensely grateful for all the incredible people, family, friends & colleagues & places I’ve visited in my life, especially my time in Greece & Bali. And not to forget my companion, my pussy cat, Serena who kept me company during COVID & especially during those bouts of illness where I had to totally isolate. I don’t know how I would have managed without her! I am also grateful for my life on the prairies, in the beautiful city of Vancouver & now on Vancouver Island. I bow with humility & love to it all.
As Parker J. Parmer expressed in his latest book (introduced to me by my friend, Robert Litman, “On the Brink of Everything, Grace, Gravity & Getting Old”:
This book is not about growing old gracefully. My life has been graced, but it certainly hasn’t been graceful—I’ve done more than my share of falling down, getting up & falling down again. The falling down is due to missteps & gravity. The getting up is due to grace, mediated by people to whom I owe great debts of gratitude.
November 8, 2021