Note: I do not own the rights to the picture above (and I hope I won’t get in trouble for putting it on this blog!) The picture is part of artist Eric Fischer’s See something or say something project on Flickr. It was difficult to think of an image to accompany this article, and upon doing some research I learned of Eric’s work. I think this image, which shows locations of flickr and twitter posts, perhaps also shows a network of where the Health in our country could be. Eric, thank you for your beautiful work.
This piece was originally published on my personal Facebook page on Tuesday August 15, 2017.
I fear that sharing this is going to make me seem like I have answers. I don’t. I am so sad, I am angry, and I am both shocked and unsurprised about what has transpired in the US this week. What I did have yesterday was a lot of thoughts and ideas, and I wanted to write them down. In the spirit of what I will say later on, it feels important to share. So here it is:
When I heard about the events in Charlottesville this past weekend, I initially responded with the same numb shock to which I’ve responded to headlines for the last six months. What’s the latest surreal update from the 45 administration? What insane thing is happening now? I will admit that I’ve been unable to absorb and process everything for awhile… which I suppose is a human thing, but I’m not proud of it.
However this latest news wakes me back up. I realize my attention, my voice, and my presence is needed. I know this because it is apparent that the attention, voice, and presence of every single one of us is necessary right now. There is darkness coming to the surface in the US and around the world, and it needs to be met with light.
I am currently in Montreal where I have the immense privilege and gift to be studying a technique called Body-Mind Centering. To summarize BMC briefly (which is a really challenging thing to do), it is a method of visualizing, experiencing, and embodying all the systems and cells of our body. Basically, BMC offers tools to reorganize our way of being in the world. It’s magical and powerful work, and I am in a room full of practitioners so wise, embodied, and present that it astonishes me.
This module, we are studying the skeleton. Yesterday we were doing an exercise about the flow of energy through the bones. Neelam, one of my course mates who is an osteopath, offered something for us all to consider: She said that when we injure a bone, it interrupts the flow of energy through that bone. However, our cells remember the fluid pathway along which the bone originally grew while we were in the womb, and this memory is unaffected by stress and injuries. So we can tap back into that pathway to find healing. Neelam said that in the osteopathy world they call this “the Health.” And when osteopaths look at an area of dysfunction or injury, they ask: “Where is the Health?”
In our western culture, when we hurt our bodies we often “heal” them with surgery or drugs. While these interventions absolutely have a place, I totally agree with Neelam that our true healing occurs by accessing “the Health.” So then how do we activate that deep memory of health in our cells to heal? From my own personal experience and my studies of BMC, yoga, ayurveda, etc, I would suggest that the process involves: paying loving attention to the area on a regular basis, creating space, allowing the movement that wants to happen, being present with our experience, and keeping our consciousness in the healing process.
Our bones and other tissues don’t heal when we ignore them.
So today I had the thought that all this applies to healing our country. And I want to ask Neelam’s question about the United States of America right now…
Where is “the Health” in our country?
I’d really like to hear your answer to that question (please comment). In the meantime, here are mine:
I think the Health of our country is in our diversity. I think it’s in our history of inclusion. I think it’s in our love. I think it’s in our pursuit of knowledge. Of course it’s in our freedom.
These values are literally what our country was built on. They have not always been fully embodied in our history, but the lifeblood and energy flow of this country has always been people coming to America to breathe free and offer their spirit and hard work.
If this is all true, then how do we heal our country? The same way we heal our body… by giving daily, loving attention to the Health. By acknowledging the beauty of all of our fellow citizens and residents, no matter color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or ability.
We can reinforce the Health where it is, and in order to heal the areas that have been dissociated and injured for a long time, we can bring the Health to the areas where it’s not flowing. Just like sending nutrient-rich blood to an injured bone, we can send a flush of love through the injured parts of our country. It won’t flow easily there at first. But we must keep sending the flow, because on a deep level those cells know that they are part of the whole. They know that we are all made of the same stuff.
Here are some ideas I’ve had for what we can do to send a flush of nutrient-rich love through our country. I offer these humbly, because before I made this list for anyone else I created it for myself:
1) Let’s engage each other in conversation more often. I’m talking about the people we wouldn’t normally have a real conversation with. Let’s talk to our taxi driver, the person selling us toothpaste, the homeless person who asks us for money, our UPS delivery person. This morning I played part of a Deepak Chopra audiobook for my Uber driver, he shared about the experience of being a Haitian immigrant in Florida versus Quebec, and we talked about the events going on in the US. I spent the whole morning totally on a high from the beautiful conversation we had.
2) Let’s find more people to talk to. This means we have to get out of our bubbles. It perhaps means walking a different way home, shopping in stores we never go into, volunteering at a shelter, taking a trip to a place we never imagined we would go, or picking up the phone and calling a relative that believes different things than us. We don’t need to talk about politics. We can just be present and make a connection, right at that moment with whatever is going on. Listening in a state of openness and love is a powerful act in an of itself. And then if in doing so we feel moved to take further action, of course we can do that too.
3) Let’s share our stories. Stories are SUCH powerful things. Theatre has been capitalizing on this fact for hundreds of years, and in the last century film has too. The entertainment industry exists because stories have the ability to transform our minds and hearts. But the sharing doesn’t need to happen on a screen or stage, it can unfold anywhere. So let’s share our genuine experiences with each other. And of course I don’t mean repeating disembodied words that we’ve heard and adopted from others. I mean expression that comes from our soul. The type of “speaking our truth” where the words ring and the air around us vibrates with truthfulness. It doesn’t much matter whether what we say is monumental or simple. The country/world/universe just wants these honest vibrations from us, because the very act of authentic expression is purifying to ourselves and everyone around us. And every single voice matters. Every single one of us was put on this earth for a reason.
4) Let’s practice radical self love. This one is so important. If we’re gonna go outside our comfort zones, take action, read these headlines every day… we have to take the utmost care with ourselves. I absolutely believe that self care is a political act. Sing, dance, move in a way that is exactly how you want to move, open your heart (like literally – I’m saying that to you as my yoga teacher self), and surround yourself with things and people that bring you joy.
In short let’s show up. Let’s listen. When it’s the right time, let’s speak. And let’s take care of ourselves and each other. Presence, consciousness, and love can heal our bodies, and I believe they can also heal our country. So let’s start anew in this moment to strengthen the bones, ligaments, collagenous structure, tendons, muscles, organs of this body that is the United States. Let’s Unite them. All of the disparate, beautiful, functional, necessary parts. They all matter.
And to my black friends and my LGBT friends and my Muslim friends and my fellow Jews and all those that have been targeted by this administration and these acts:
This is racism. This is bigotry. This is hatred. It is darkness.
I hear you, I see you, I am here for you, and I love you. Let’s bring light.