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Monday, July 21, 2008

Karmic crap

One of the hardest things for me about yoga teacher training is when we do things that remind me of my upbringing. I was raised in a spiritual community (some might call it a cult)and my dad was/is the leader. About a week ago I got an email from my dad regarding some "tests" he had been doing regarding my MS. In his email he asked me several questions. One of them was along the lines of "what do you think I actually do?" This gave me some pause because throughout my childhood I was surrounded by the members of his community and I had at least a partial lens into what I thought he did. Color me crazy, but maybe I am completely wrong about the work he does.

Anyway, I do certainly remember snippets of my childhood that involved my dad's work. One of the things I remember was the body work he did and that he trained other sto do. The person being worked with would strip down and then both stand and walk around in the nude so that my father or whoever was working with that person could see the subject's posture. I am not sure what they did with the data that was gleaned or how the subject was then worked with but I do have a distinct image of the work in my mind.

Yesterday morning at yoga teacher training was reminiscent of this childhood memory. A woman came in and worked with our posture. First we worked with partners and noticed things about their bodies and posture. It was a "non-judgemental" environment. The teacher then selected a few of us to come up front and she asked the group what they noticed about us. I was selected to come up front. The woman had several things to say about my posture. One of the things she noted was that they way I held my hips was usually associated with bad menstrual cramps. I laughed and told her we should talk but on the inside I was already sobbing.

One of the hardest things about me getting MS has been trying to answer for myself and sometimes others why I got this disease. I look at other people who have always had unhealthy lifestyles, spewed negativity into the universe and never excercised a day in their life and they are not sick. I read all this yogic literature and books about energy work and am informed that we hold all the crap that happens to us in our bodies. This crap often manifests as an illness. I see those who have abused their bodies be fine, I read about how we create our illnesses and then I feel like shit. If I choose to believe that we create our own illnesses then I am filled with horror, sadness and guilt. What did I do so wrong that I should find myself not only karmicly punished with MS but with cramps and the possibility of rheumatoid arthritis and allergies to boot?

On the one hand, I want a spiritual life. On the other, I don't want to believe these things I am being told. It seems fraught with judgement and the judgement seems to be that I am somehow bad.

I told this to one of the other girls in my teacher training and she said, "Maybe you are just imagining the judgement." Perhaps she is right. I thought that I was now beyond fear but I guess that it must still haunt me. I have always noticed many things about others just from their body language but I think I sometimes overimagine their opinions of me. I speak and I see myself through the imagined eyes of another and I am an ugly thing. I am all my faults. I talk too much, I'm conceited, I'm not centered and I speak too much and too quickly. Am I even grounded in reality anymore? Is this really the way that I am perceived? Does it matter how I am perceived?

For a short time I quit caring about pleasing others. I stopped caring how people saw me. I really believed that I am my own best teacher. Now I waver, a fragile stalk in the wind. Some moments I am certain I can find my own route back to Samadhi (the recognition that I am one with the universe and everything in it, outside time, place and space). At other times I find myself weakening and believe that I am indeed being punished or that if I don't listen to my father and/or the other teachers in my life and follow their advice, my health will surely get worse.

I want my personal power back. I want to believe that I can handle this and learn what I need to learn all by myself. Sometimes I think that there is no one I can even talk to about this whir of thought. I am torn between my old beliefs and my new ones. I am conflicted by new ideas that reflect how I perceive my past and my father's work. There is an enormous primal scream hidden behind my lips, my soul is an abyss. I howl into the darkness of my questions and only my own voice comes back to mock me...


Serina said...

I wish I had answers, but the truth is I'm struggling with similar thoughts and frustrations. Its frustrating when there doesn't appear to be any clear cut answers. I also understand about the perception of how others see you. I do it all the time as well ><.
Even though I know it shouldn't matter what other's think, it still bothers me, and actually only adds to my uncomfortably in my own skin, making me more self conscious - its really a vicious cycle...

Perception is such a flaky companion, and yet it is everything that shapes our version of reality. I find that in general, I have much higher standards of what is acceptable placed on myself, than even what I veiw as being acceptable for others. While this double standard is opposite of what most people think of as a double standard, it is still a double standard that is detrimental.

I'm reading a book by Ann Boroch called "Healing Multiple Sclerosis" I'm still at the beginining really, but she has touched a bit on our own identifing internal beliefs, and getting ourselves to adjust them.

I will pray for all of us to gently find the peace and clarity we are looking for.

Chin up :) just remember you aren't alone. ^^

Diane J Standiford said...

Did I not shrink you? My oh my, pull up a chair. You are going through a normal grieving process, mourning your loss of your "old self" (pre-MS); acceptance will finally arrive.(I posted about this) We all need to go through it. You are grappling with age-old humankind questions: Why me? Why not them? What did I do? How do I undo it? What SHOULD I do? Who is my judge? here do I fit in the equation of my life? And a new one that I have noticed many people 30-40 are JUST NOW asking: What did my father DO? Not to worry. In fact, you are going in the completely correct direction. Exam your life, you place in the universe, MS can only change YOU if you allow it to. Why are your eyes ___(I can't tell from pic); your lifestyle had no more impact on that then getting MS. Yes, people can make themselves sick, with stomach aches, anxiety attacks, can manifest in many ways; but cancer? NO MS? NO ALS? NO Does positive energy help one feel better? Of course, but it will not stop the tornado or heal the dying. Right now you are giving more things OUTSIDE of yourself too much power. You feel vulnerable and scared, so unconscieciously (too many letters...)you seek an out. The "out" you seek can only be found within YOU.

Denver Refashionista said...

Thanks ladies. Your comments really help. I do realize that even if I can't find the answers I have to trust that I will find a life that works for me. This is both a great time and a hard time for me as I cope with past, present and future and search for the right life for me.

~ Charlene S Noto said...

Sometimes I believe we look at karma as punishment when it should actually be challenge. For example, two people are hit on the head with a baseball. One says, what did I do wrong to make that happen? The other says, I'd better pay attention so I can catch the next one. One's karma is a punishment. The other's is a reminder of the opportunities presented.

I hate having MS. There are times I look at little kids skipping up stairs and feel like crying. But I firmly believe that the universe conspires with us and not against us. There is something positive this lousy disease can offer me. I just have to find it.

Of course, when my MS depression kicks in...I never see it.

((Hugs)) I guess what I'm saying is that You did nothing wrong.

Denver Refashionista said...

Thanks Charlene.

Lazy Julie said...

This is going to sound strange but you and your MS are a gift to me. They have given you the gift of an authentic, intelligent, thoughtful voice.
I hate my MS and, although I don't go down the "what did I do to cause it" road--I have mine own version of that phase of acceptance. I tell myself I don't really have it. It's all a big mistake and I'm making a big deal over nothing and I'm going to be really, really embarassed when the doctors discover their mistake. Mind you, I've had three MRIs and an LP all confirm the dx.
With all the feelings that I don't like having, I try to let myself feel them, express them (which you have done beautifully)and then I can get past them...or through them.
Hang in. Keep writing, keep sharing, keep feeling. It helps me.
Lazy Julie

mdmhvonpa said...

"I howl into the darkness of my questions and only my own voice comes back to mock me"

Don't let the self doubt get away with bringing you down. There are some things in this universe that we have no control over.

Jen said...

Hi Nadja---

Hang in there. You seem like such a sweet, emotional person who is trying to detangle this crappy MS mess in your blog. I envy your candor, because sometimes I try to wait until I'm in a better mood to post. But your writing comes out so beautiful and meaningful, so maybe this is what you are meant to do with your MS--- send out your true story and enlighten and touch others.


Denver Refashionista said...

Thanks to all of you who left comments. I am glad that waht I had to say was meaningful to some of you. I appreciate your understanding and support. Sometimes it is easier to spew my doubts onto a page then to speak them, especially to someone who does not have MS or another chronic illness. I am glad to feel supported and heard.

Cara said...

nadja, you pose some really good questions and things that obviously we all struggle with. recently, at a buddhist class, the teacher was saying that we create all of our conditions, etc. at the end of class, i asked her, "so do children create their own cancer?" and her answer was "yes." this is a hard one to mentally digest, that a young child could bring something upon herself of that nature.

your blog also reminded me of a buddhist story i read to my daughter tonight. basically the message was when something perceptually "bad" happens, we don't truly know if it is bad or not in the moment. i think this is an outlook on life that releases us actually from our own perceived hells (i.e. living with chronic illnesses, having our children sexually abused w/o any help from law enforcemnt, cashing out retirements to pay for attorneys, being forced to live in a state by someone who doesn't live here even though your home is in another, not being able to plan--as we are taught so vividly in this culture--for the future), at least those are the kinds of things i'm dealing with. at this point, i think i'm getting more out of the childrens' buddhist book than my daughter because at this point, the messages are loud and clear to me.

Here's an excerpt from tonight:
Life is like a potter's clay
changing shape from day to day.
As stars sparkle in the sky
light and dark go quickly by.
What's the future, no one knows.
Be at peace with how life goes.

Best to you.

Blinders Off said...


It is a process accepting you have MS. We all been through it, positive thinking and being around positive people helps.