Sunday, November 10, 2013

Unconditional Health

"He was saying that if I could leap beyond my convoluted thinking process, I would find that worthy feeling. At a psychophysical level, it is the notion of complete healthiness."- Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche describing a conversation with his father Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in the book The Shambhala Principle

Isn't all of life a dance with death? If there is anything we can be certain of, it is that our existence in this human body will one day come to an end. This knowledge infuses every moment of being alive- whether through the suffering we can see all around us, or the turning and falling of leaves in autumn. Things die. Change. End. And being alive is dancing with this natural movement.

When we leap into the profound ravines of impermanence, we can cultivate great joy. Each moment can be fully felt and experienced in the certainty that it will end. Thus, our delight expands.

I feel like I've lived most of my life in true connection with this dance. Easily able to feel the profound appreciation for my world- never denying its transience.

But those ravines can deepen and deepen more. When the dance becomes a little more edgy, the music intensified, the movement spread out like fan blades, sharp against space, fire in the heels of your moving feet.

I had a stroke. I am 29, and in very good health. I do all the "right" things for my body. I exercise and move so much in so many ways. I eat a plant based diet free from processed foots, animal fats, all of those things they say not to eat. I practice meditation. I have a healthy relationship with my mind and body. I don't do drugs or smoke. I am (was) not on any medications. It took the doctors 4 days of testing to figure out what happened.

It all comes down to the small fact that I was born with a hole in my heart, and it took 29 years for it to be noticed. And why did I have a blood clot? Our bodies have clots all the time, but they break them apart quickly and easily. Except my body didn't have time because of the hole- the clot just bypassed all the mechanisms for breakdown.

It was so fascinating to watch this all happen. My mind was clear on the one hand, but I could not translate that clarity into action. I knew exactly what was happening, where I was, what I should do, but when I'd try to move or talk it wouldn't come out quite right. What an amazing thing to see that connection we take so for granted fail! I couldn't communicate via any of the conventional means we have for communicating. I couldn't rely on the body that I'd relied on without fail for 29 years. You can imagine how shaky this feels.

And though I now have almost entirely regained function and feeling in my right arm and I only have minor difficulties with language, I still feel the shakiness of not being able to rely on my own sense of my self. The right word won't come out of my mouth, sometimes. Or I won't be able to say what I'm reading out loud. I forget what things are called. And my body feels weak- my feet wobbly, my strength not something I can count on. This may or may not be temporary. Regardless I am re-establishing how I think of my own self.

We take so much for granted, assuming that because we are healthy, we always will be, or because we do x, y, or z that a or b will never happen to us. So one day I am a young girl on no medications with seemingly no concerns and the next day I am on pills every day for the rest of my life, and have to consider things like not going on long car rides, and not knowing when I can drive again, and what to do if something should happen again.

This all seems scary- and believe me I've spent a lot of time feeling scared. But on the other hand, it's incredibly liberating. It frees up all the confines of cause and effect. It invites so much more spaciousness into my experience. I am not x, y, or z. An experience of a does not presume an experience of b. I am not just the sum of my parts. Suddenly the entire world cracks open even more. I am moving about in the space of not knowing. Of having no control on whether or not my fingers will be able to grasp around the object I intend to pick up. Of not being able to guarantee that the word I'm thinking of will be the one I say. This morning I sprinkled raw quinoa on my oats instead of flax seed. I have liberated myself from even the mundane routine of breakfast. ;)

This experience is teaching me so much about curiosity. About meeting each moment with the open-ness of not knowing on so many more levels than before. How much can I stop assuming about the way of things? How beautiful is that? Then everything is fresh and new!

I have had so many thoughts of the implications of all this. Now I'm the girl who had a stroke, who messes up her words, who can't drive, etc. etc. But what I know far deeper than the chittering hopes and fears of my mind, is that none of things things are me. Nor do they mean much at all about my experience of the world or myself.

If anything, being with this is allowing me to have an even greater confidence in my own being. To feel the fullness of heartmind amidst the injections, IVs, machines, pills, diagnoses, etc- to feel the innate brilliance of life, to never once doubt the fundamental goodness of myself or of humanity- and so what if I have to stop in the middle of a step to regain composure- that itself is beautiful. That I go slower is nothing but a gift in my experience. That I have this incredible opportunity to relate to the wonders of my brain, to work with the nuances of language, to experience my body free from assumptions.

I experience my body healing. So magically. Without seeming effort. I felt my body protecting me from invasion and intrusion. I can hear and feel what my body is asking for.

All of this, and I still experience that I am not separate from my body. Or from you. That we are all pulsing here in this or that or not-this or not-that. That nothing is fixed. There is so much room. For absolutely everything. So much tenderness. So much beauty.

And knowing that a diagnosis- a hole in my heart- a condition, whatever it may be does not imply unhealthiness. We are all whole. We are all unconditionally healthy. We need only relax enough to touch it.

"Even when things seem incurably bad, we can remain incurably good."- Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche


AnnaSky said...

Your joy of life is contagious Leslie. I am grateful to know you.

pogodesign said...

So beautifully spoken!

SouthernMama said...

You are incredible dear daughter.