The right side of my body behaves differently than the left. If something hurts, gets injured or aches, it’s on that side. If I get cold, the shivers start there. When I initiate a movement, it’s the right side that goes first. For a long time, I have been pretty frustrated with the right side. I have a slew of daily exercises and frequent aches that come up as I attempt to do things to balance out. I felt the need to explain to myself why this side is extra-hyper-mobile and accident-prone. Maybe I have a cranio-sacral imbalance. Maybe it’s that one time I did astavakrasana in yoga class and felt my shoulder strain. For the last few years I’ve told myself it must be due to the 10 years I spent working with huge lumps of clay at a pottery wheel, pushing with my right arm, shoulder, and hip to center clay. I wasn’t convinced but it was a story that worked. Bottom line: I wasn’t loving the right side of things.
Last week, I met with my teacher, Chase Bossart, to talk about my practice and I mentioned this thing I just described… how different I feel on one side and all the little pains and how imbalanced I feel all the time. I wrapped up my complaint-fest with, …and I wish the right side of my body could just feel like the left. As soon as I said it, I felt so guilty — Like I had just admitted to loving one of my children more than the other. Like I was advocating for homogeneity in a system where diversity is celebrated. And the icing on the top? I caught myself wishing things to be different than they are. I’m convinced that failing to accept what is is the source of 75% of human angst, but apparently this doesn’t make me immune. My guilt lingered.
A few days after the confession, our yoga therapist trainee group came together for a group practice. We did some movement and breathing and then during meditation, Chase, that day’s teacher, invited us to think of a time we felt completely loved. I was surprised that this was actually possible. Not so long ago, love was such a complicated topic to contemplate and the flip-side of the coin surfaced more often than the love side of things. But on this day, it was possible. I thought about my wedding day and how much I loved Dave and how much I felt love from him. I thought of all those wonderful people, friends and family, who were there, full of love for me and for us and it was love that I could feel. mmmmm.. such a special day.
In the second part of the meditation, we visualized a seed and planted that seed in the center of the chest. We nourished the seed with each breath and watched it grow. Now… if you are reading this, but haven’t experienced this kind of meditation, then you might not get it. When I’m adequately prepared, and have the ability to be attentive and still, the visualization isn’t directed or run by ‘me’. I’m not doing it or deciding what should happen at a conscious level. Something else takes over and I’m along for the ride. I just sit back and watch what is unfolding, or unfurling, as the case may be. It’s kind of trippy.
I watched. Instantly, there were 20+ love-vines shooting out of the tiny seed at the center of my chest and they grew in fast-motion toward my left ear. The spiraling vines came out of the opening of my left ear and wrapped around the outside of my left body, as if they were adding stability and structure there. This happened for a while, then there was all this movement toward my right side. Instead of wrapping and clinging, the vines continued to grow like they were reaching out and growing toward the light. The vines acted like a moving current, opening, lifting and supporting my whole right side- ribcage, neck, achey shoulder, arm. As they grew, my side and arm were lifted up, in a gesture of assured purpose and joy- in victory or as if there is work to be done.
I came out of the practice with such a different feeling about my right side and the role that this very sensitive part of my body might have to play. For the first time, I felt like I could accept that this side might be extra-special, allowing me to feel things that my other side just can’t feel. (For a while, I’ve thought of my right leg as a useful barometer of my inner-emotional state, but that’s another story.) Happily, I’ve also got this stable, ‘regular’ side that stays grounded and feels good 99% of the time. I’ve been thinking that maybe balance isn’t perfect symmetry, but instead it’s a give and take from side to side. And maybe there’s some way of not disliking the differences I see. Can I be curious about what these two sides do differently and how the subtle tuning of righty can help inform my experiences in this world of ours?
Since the meditation, I’ve ditched my pottery-as-source-of-all-problems theory and now I’m attempting to listen so that I can better understand the side of my body that has been misunderstood for so long. When I’m not so busy resisting what it isn’t, and instead start to look with new eyes at what it is, I may uncover a deeper understanding about and greater love for myself.
CHECK IT OUT! upcoming workshop:
Begin or Renew a Personal Meditation Practice
With Amanda Green and Rebecca Berryman
Saturday, July 12th 1:00-4:00pm
private studio in Barton Creek neighborhood, Austin, TX USA
*address upon registration
Two wonderful teachers join forces to help you cultivate a rewarding and meaningful meditation practice of your own. Rebecca Berryman and Amanda Green, yoga teachers with meditation practice of their own, offer a workshop to support you as you begin or revitalize a personal practice.
preregister for $40, after 7/5 $50
Email amandagreenyoga at gmail dot com OR rberryman at austin.rr dot com for more info or to register