Archive for July, 2012

Hanging at the beach

Last Saturday, Dave came home from his meditation group and announced that we were going to Boston to see and be hugged by Amma, the hugging saint. http://amma.org/ My first reaction was to say, no, your crazy, the crowds will be terrible, we will have to wait in line forever, it will be hard to keep Ella comfortable and many of my other excuses that I have for doing things out of my comfort zone. However, I resisted my tendency and said, Sounds great let’s go and afterwards we can go surfing in Hampton Beach, NH. 

We started out mid-morning on Tuesday to get us into Boston by 3:00, get Ella fed and in line by 4:00. All went well and we were in line for about an hour when one of Amma’s devotees, dressed in white, approached us and asked if we would like to move to a special section for people with special needs. We happily moved to a quiet area with chairs and lots of space for Ella’s push chair. While we were seated several more of Amma’s devotees, all dressed in white, checked on us to see if we needed anything, kiss Ella on the head or let us know how the evening would work out for us. We would be seated in a special area for the Devi Bhava Program, a ceremony to promote peace and well-being for the world, then we would be moved up close to the stage for the Darshan (the hugging). The whole process was very peaceful, efficient and Ella was so good and patient. It was a very long day, driving for 3 hours to get to Boston, getting in line at 4:00, the peace ceremony started at 8:00 and the hugging started at 9:00. The ceremony was nice, the devotees handed out water that was blessed by Amma, Amma spoke through a translator about love and compassion for yourself and others as paths toward self-realization and ended with a short meditation. Then we moved close to the stage which was draped and enclosed with curtains. The energy of the whole scene shifted it was like an electrical charge was plugged in. The devotees started moving faster, franticly with a feverish pace, many moved to the front of the stage playing drums, singing and chanting. The energy seemed to build and build until finally the curtains opened with the sound of a loud bell that rang over and over. Amma was seated, surrounded by flowers and about 20 devotees. The singing and the chanting got louder and louder. A line began to form and the hugging began. We were told that after 50 retreat participants were hugged we would go up on stage and be embraced as a family. Now, as I’ve mentioned it was a long day,  Ella was so patient, but by the time we went up on stage Ella had had enough. When Ella is over stimulated and tired she goes into what Dave and I call left-eye. She turns her head and looks off to the left and is stuck there. I think it’s a type of seizure usually happening at night. When we are at home we put her in her dark, quiet bedroom, she falls asleep and comes out of left-eye. About 10 minutes before we were to go up to receive our hugs Ella went into left-eye, she was done. We got into line, walked up on stage and were pushed  up to Amma. We knelt in front of her, Dave and I side by side and Ella in Dave’s arms. Amma took Ella from Dave and Ella freaked, pushing and yelling. Amma was chanting in Ella’s ear and asked Dave through translators if she had seizures. She kissed Ella, held her tight then handed her back to Dave. She embraced Dave for a few moments, then she moved on to me. As she reached out to hug me I was distracted by Ella’s condition, she pulled me close to her and began chanting in my ear. I was trying to check on Ella in Dave’s arms by turning my head, Amma repeatedly moved my head back to her chest to continue her embrace. I began to cry, not a huge sobbing cry, just a few stray tears. We left the stage and returned to our seats, I asked Dave if he was ok, he answered me with a blank yes. I wiped my tears, we packed up Ella got her into our van, feed her some food and headed off towards Hampton Beach to find a hotel for the night.

A profound experience? I think so. It was an experience– for sure. After a good nights sleep, Ella woke happy and ready for an awesome day at the beach. Both Dave and I feel it was a positive, healing experience for all of us. I have a feeling that Amma was guiding me to deal with some issues that surfaced at Bikram Teacher Training. Her embrace and pulling me back to her chest was a sign to me that Ella is ok, in fact, she great (which she is, sassy as ever). It was my turn for some healing, some loving-kindness and compassion. I needed to open and receive, which I did.


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“Trust the Process” was a phrase I heard many, many times at Bikram Teacher Training. I get it. There is a method to Bikram’s process of training teachers to learn his dialogue for the classes. The dialogue is the teacher’s foundation for a safe and successful class. The process worked for me. I know the dialogue and the first few classes I’ve taught have gone very well and I’ve had a lot of fun teaching. However, there is another process going on during training. A seldom talked about process. The internal process discussed only in passing during the 9 weeks. During training, I found the lack of information and discussion about my internal process/struggle very frustrating. I wanted answers to why I was very angry, sad, experiencing hip pain and so on. Now three weeks out of the training, I am starting to understand and appreciate this process as well. It’s all part of my path to self realization. It’s my process. No one can experience it for me, but me.

It’s mentioned as we practice yoga we are uncovering layers of our being, old traumas, memories and injuries. During training, I found myself very fearful that I would fall back into a place where I was a few years ago–a dark, depressing place. A place that I worked very hard and successfully, to pull myself out of. With each passing day during training, I was fighting with the memory of my depression. I felt I had already dealt with these feeling years ago. It was hard and painful. I didn’t want to deal with it again. It wasn’t a part of my life anymore. I was emotionally raw and I was angry that this extremely painful emotion was rearing its ugly head. This is why when I’m asked if I enjoyed training I can’t really give a whole hearted yes. I stayed to myself, didn’t make tons of friends and socialize like some of my fellow trainees. I was dealing and fighting with heavy, intense, yucky stuff on top of studying hard to memorize Bikram’s dialogue.  Am I happy that I went to training? Yes, most definitely yes, whole heartedly yes. I truly love that I am teaching and sharing the yoga that has made such a positive impact on my life physically and emotionally. I am grateful that I have one large boulder moved out of my way, sweated out and left there, and I am thankful that I have uncovered another layer of my being on my path to self realization.

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A few days ago Dave and I were talking about our nephew who is going to be a senior in high school this September. He was just a baby when Dave and I started dating, I was struck with how much time has passed since Dave and I got married and Ella came into our lives. Even though so much has happened in our lives (a major lawsuit, selling our house in Baltimore, buying another house and moving to Vermont, my long recovery from postpartum depression, stopping my dance career and then starting it up again, Dave getting a masters degree, and me graduating from Bikram Teacher Training), one thing has not changed, our devotion and constant care for Ella. Having a child like Ella with intense special needs is kind of like living in a time warp. Just like an infant, Ella needs 24 hour care. Time has just slipped by, as not much has changed in how we care for Ella since she was a baby. She needs to be fed, diapered, bathed, dressed, constant  positional changes and she still wakes several times a night. Coming home from 9 weeks away at Bikram Training and stepping back into my life, I’ve become highly aware of the intense work it is to care for Ella. As difficult as Training was at times, I was the only one I needed to care for.  Caring for Ella is just second nature for Dave and me.  Even though I wouldn’t change my life for anything, it can be difficult to see friend’s children and Ella’s cousins growing and thriving while I am still spoon feeding Ella at 9 years old. However, whenever I have negative thoughts I quickly become very grateful for the karma yoga (my life’s work) that has been placed in my lap. There is no need to search for my life’s purpose, I wake up to her beautiful soul every morning.

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