In unknown situations, trusting our intuition may be all we have to navigate in the dark. The word "intuition" carries the Latin root: to look or contemplate. My new medicine story features how one of my early clients taught me how to see better in the dark: how to refine and develop my abilities to look carefully in a difficult situation for subtle changes and messages in the body. Check out my special offers this moth on the sidebar of this newsletter and thanks for sharing. Please read on....
MEDICINE STORY: "Vision in the Dark"
When I transitioned my massage practice to full-time Feldenkrais work, I lost every single massage client and started my new practice from zero again. This Feldenkrais Method® helped me so much in my own healing and awareness, I had faith I would have a full practice. One of my early clients tempered my faith in myself.
MM, a successful business executive, walked into my office with a back that looked as tight as a pulled bow string. Her chest pushed forward like a military general and her low back arched with a deep curve. Her breathing was shallow with a fear that any movement might set off the muscles in her back. She couldn't walk more than a few hundred yards without discomfort in her back, hips and feet. A very bright and stubborn woman, she possessed a lively sense of humor despite her condition. She told me she wanted to be active again-- walk, hike, do yoga and be out of pain.
She had tried everything to relieve her back and hip pain: chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy, massage, medications. Nothing relieved her frequent severe spasms. She was desperate for relief and was hopeful my work would help. I recommended she commit to three lessons to see if we can get somewhere beyond her pattern and plan for at least six to ten lessons to make a noticeable change.
MM liked me and my work. However, after each lesson, I couldn't detect any visible changes in her progress or alignment other than her reporting a sense of minor relief at the end of the hour. Her back looked and felt just as tight and bowed to me at the end of our sessions. She couldn't lie on the table for more than a few minutes without triggering pain and frequently got up during the sessions to walk around the room to relieve the spasms. I kept experimenting with different positions and movements to help her find her skeletal support to relieve her tension. I felt ineffective and honestly, like a failure.
Even though I couldn't see my impact, MM felt my approach would eventually help her and commented that she felt a change after the session. She kept making weekly appointments. She enjoyed the lessons. After I had seen her ten times, I felt completely inadequate to make any significant change and told her she might be better working with someone with more experience such as my Feldenkrais mentor or a renowned osteopathic doctor. She reluctantly agreed to see them. After a few weeks she called, "They're OK, but I didn't feel any better. I would much rather work with you. I think you can help me. Can I come back?"
Reluctantly, I agreed. After another three months, I felt frustrated to see only minuscule changes in her symptoms and alignment. I sent her to another recommended healer in town to see if he could make more progress with her. Two weeks later, MM was back. This time she said, "Look, I know you think I might be better with someone else, but I just want to keep working with you."
MM arrived every week with bright expectations to learn and improve. I rallied my confidence and kept trying new approaches, observing the minutia of tiny details that were barely perceptible in her breathing and body orientation. I experimented with every possible movement and position to help her back settle and find support in her bones again. At the end of each lesson, I was sweating from the constant mental effort, trying to find some glimmer of change or improvement from when she walked in. The progress felt like we removed a small bit of lint on her sweater, but she was pleased.
Like careful caring for a bonsai tree, MM did change and heal. She learned to sense and palpate her own skeleton for changes in her posture and alignment. We slowly unraveled and reorganized her body from various injuries and events from her childhood throughout her 60 years. Her posture and movements improved. Together we developed an appreciation for the changing nuances of vibrations, sensations and shapes we found in her body. She found solid support in herself, with her bones, without having to hold herself up by her bootstraps. Her back and whole body relaxed and she was finally able to walk and hike long distances with ease.
In our last year together, MM was nervous about moving out of state without my assistance.
"What if my back flares up?" she asked.
I assured her she would have the skills and resources to help herself. A few weeks before our last session, MM walked into my office, pale faced and shaken.
"Annie, you won't believe what happened this morning. I was walking with two friends near the water where I often walk. We were about to cross the railroad tracks and for some reason I felt something in my body stop me and I grabbed my two friends, pulling them backward. Seconds later, a train whizzed by in front of us, right in front of our faces, going so fast we hadn't heard it come up. We would have been killed for sure if I hadn't stopped! I know our work together made this clear for me. I've felt really grounded and my body is guiding me now. Thank you!" she exclaimed.
Tears ran down her cheeks. She radiated a confidence and strength I hadn't seen before. She trusted herself and also trusted me.
I'm humbled by MM's story and how much she guided me to develop and trust my own skills of intuition. Over our five years together, I had been so impatient and insecure with our progress. I felt I wasn't going fast enough. MM showed how far she healed: from the woman who couldn't lie on my table to being able return to all her activities and hike long distances again.
I doubt I would have learned to navigate in this difficult, unknown territory for five years without MM's unwavering belief in me. She forced me to learn to see the most subtle changes of improvement and develop confidence in my intuition as well as trust the innate ability for people to heal themselves.
My session with MM continue to remind me to:
- Slow down and Look for small signs of change
- Other people often mirror our gifts and developments
- The power to heal and learn is within you
- Navigating the unknown requires trust
- Trust your gut
Thanks to MM's stubborn insistence to work with me over those years, I would not have the skills and intuition I rely on today with my clients and my life. In these current times of unknown, it's important to find the still, quiet voice within. Changes might be slow and small but can lead to rich rewards. What in our life has developed your intuitive abilities? How do you see in the dark? I'd love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading.
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