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The surreal versus the real

One can deal with life’s greatest tragedies and challenges and maintain peace of mind.

It’s been almost six months now since my injury, a strange feeling has come over me lately. Perhaps it is the nostalgia of long summer days spent swimming, walking, riding my horse and enjoying the hot sunshine. Perhaps it is the ability to move freely with the summer breeze and feel wet sand beneath my toes. I was reading a brief excerpt from Christopher Reeves book recently about the devastating reality of Spinal Cord injuries, or perhaps anything tragic that may happen to alter one’s life so completely . It becomes more evident to me that we’re not prepared for situations that would call upon us to completely surrender a life that we once knew. This is certainly the case in spinal cord injuries, and perhaps in many other situations of which I’m not aware. I would like to stay that this situation in which one adjusts, and that life goes on as for normal. However it is evidenced me that is particular injury is not all like that in many respects. Spinal cord injury involves a multitude of challenges which are ongoing and present untold stress and duress on the aflicted person as well as all of their significant others. The battle with various bladder infections, catheterization, heatstroke, bowel incontinence, choosing attendents, finding appropriate housing for accessibility, learning how to use my hands in ways that encourage independence, looking for and fitting equipment; I realize that everybody affected by this injury deals with untold personal issues which effects them in a multitude of ways. Since my stay here at GF Strong I have watched people resort to drug abuse, overuse of medication, depression, and in some very severe cases suicide. Needless to say the amount of adaptation that one must elicit in order to deal with all the various challenges and obstacles is huge. I feel from my perspective that having not been gifted with family friends and experience in personal development this road would be unbearable. In my weaker moments when I am faced with just the physical challenges I often catch myself looking at the situation as being incredibly unfair. That not only do I have to deal with the loss of my limbs but also the emotional and psychological difficulties when faced with incontinence bladder infections or the like. I’m not writing this to have you feel sorry for me, but rather too paint a picture that includes the reality and from the reality offer the broader picture of which I’m beginning to piece together.

I believe that in his life we are gifted with the opportunity to meet all of our challenges and discover that in reality, there is no victim. This however is a very touchy issue when we look at a situation such as mine,starving children in Africa, bombed families in Iraq, loss of a loved one and countless others. I recall about a year ago in one of our teacher trainings mentioning that I do not believe that there is a state that is actually victimhood, however I do believe that there is a belief in this particular paradigm which we live that most certainly supports feeling like a victim. This particular belief, if you think about it, holds no place in philosophy which encourages personal responsibility, power of mind, or a larger yogic perspective that we are all one consciousness creating this particular reality in which we inhabit in order to evolve to a state of freedom. This becomes a very difficult perspective when faced something in which one feels completely and utterly unfairly treated and out-of-control. In the day-to-day reality that feeling of powerlessness is right on our left shoulder continually nagging at our attempts to feel strong and in some sense of control. Of course we always know the fact is we have no control except that of our own thoughts and attitudes.

In circumstances where I encounter individuals in the hospital here who have been afflicted with the tragic and stark reality of paralysis I feel compelled to offer some of the coping mechanisms of which I know of. Indeed I find my own time with which to engage in these coping mechanisms limited and much more complex. I noticed that my tendency to want to see immediate results, to want to feel like I’m making progress, and to portray the illusion that I am normal, that I am capable, and that I have my capacity to life to the fullest in the way I used to, is rather in vain. The reality is I am not physically the same as I used to be. That affects most levels of my being, physical, emotional, mental, however not my spiritual self. The deepest essential Self known as the purusa remains the same and it is only the illusion of the ego self and its attachment to what ego knows that creates the discrepancy and the difficulty regarding the feeling of victim.

If one is able to maintain the purusa and stay connected to the deepest essential Self one can deal with life’s greatest tragedies and challenges and maintain peace of mind. This is not to say that there will not be moments of frustration, confusion, anger, grief, and disappointment, however these are fleeting emotional states and need be recognized as such.This is where the support of friends , family, and a spiritual practice are anchors and mitigate the impact of the clash of reality and ego, with love. For instance today the arrival of Amanda’s shininng face and beautiful grace and wisdom, regarding my most recent bladder infection and subsiquent follley, was all I needed to rise above the physical. These dark moments happen for all of us despite our circumstances, they are simply aspects of life in which we are called upon to meet, to feel, to allow, and then too release in the best possible way we know how. It is the inability of this debriefing and the propensity of our culture to numb and deny these aspects which creates complications and subsequent undesirable circumstances and in all actuality karma.

In closing I share with you my reality, my frustrations, my hopes, my inspiration and my persuit to accepting all of our paths as divinely guided and necessary. Albeit sometimes beyond our comprehension or understanding. A great quote which I believe came from Mary Rainer “Do not seek to find the answers to questions of your life, but walk competently into the questions themselves and in due time the questions will become your answers. I look forward to seeing some of you next week in Nelson as I embark on another journey with my beautiful daughter Amanda to share a week with students in a Level Two Trinity yoga teacher training, exciting for me as a next step on my path.

Blessings and Love Mary-Jo

Published by Mary-Jo

I am passionate about diversity, inclusion, sustainability and community. Having raised my children in a small B.C. town as a single parent, I relied on the community, my resourcefulness and the land to sustain us. We developed a market farm,built a cafe and catering business that utilized the produce, local farmers and families to thrive. As a Waldorf school parent I became experienced in biodiversity, edible landscapes and community engagement. I gained substantial skills in leadership, facilitation, project management, communication through teaching yoga and running various business's. My role as a facilitator and trainer to individuals seeking to become a yoga teacher- whom never thought that they could stand in front of a room and speak in public, gave me insight into human nature and coaching. In addition to designing and building businesses - cafés, yoga studios and national training programs, I am a student of Social Development & Social Psychology and understand the complexity and importance of social engagement. I can handle with grace most any situation, having encountered a disability later in life. Consequent to becoming disabled and through advocacy and providing peer support I have trained and acquired extensive exposure and understanding of UN principles on disability, The Human Rights objectives, theories and principles of Universal Design and the various challenges and obstacles for those affected and the relationship to various stakeholders. After 30 years of teaching yoga, my spinal cord injury and subsequent sabbatical has allowed for the integration of my yoga and more in-depth study of the Healing Arts. I have had the fortune of working with some of the best in the field of rehabilitation, Somatic Experiencing and manual therapy including Emilie Conrad, Mark Finch, Judy Russel, Rod Stryker, Carolyn Myss, Ana Forest, & Tim Miller, Susan Harper, Mariah Moser, Herta Buller and Nature.