Here is another drawing I made in the ‘70’s, trying to work through the trauma I experienced from my surgery in infancy. This picture depicts the aftermath of the explosion of my skin. I am scattered into pieces. Below, a red (wounded) fetus remains “unborn”– a lump, inert and undelivered, left to languish. Another little yellow (with fear?) fetus lies to the left; above are the insides of a stomach; and to the upper left, the banished spiral of my brain. I chose this picture because recently, I’ve been focusing on re-integrating parts of myself in more conscious ways.
Each morning as I sit quietly, breathing deeply into meditation, I face great fear (as I’ve mentioned in previous posts). My body feels frozen into blocks of ice and I must unfreeze each part. First I allow myself to feel the generalized fear that I might explode, a terror that is always there just below the surface of my skin. Reassuring myself that I am safe, I am then able to feel the tightness of my chest, my shoulders, my belly, my thighs and my knees. I barely sense my feet on the floor.
Through somatic bodywork, a practice that I learned through the Middendorf Institute of Breathexperience in Berkeley, I begin to allow breath into the at-risk areas. As I focus on each blocked part, I note the absence of breath, which acts as an invitation for breath involvement. I do not will the breath, nor do I simply breathe autonomically, i.e. unconsciously, as we all do. I allow my body to be moved by the breath and ultimately, my breath breathes me. Rather than an enemy held at bay at all costs, breath becomes a trusted friend, helping me thaw. In this process, as I feel my belly gently rise and then fall, I feel great relief. Allowing breath into my knees and then my feet brings me into powerful contact with the earth. I am ready for the next level of inner awareness. For me, breathwork is the first step in meditation.
Here is the image that my meditation brought me yesterday: a dangerous train, engine always on, straining to break free from the station. An indicator light inside the car glares red. This train is all but leaping from the tracks, seconds away from running anybody and everybody down. In the meditation, someone urges, “Turn it off!” I hear myself respond: “I can’t. If I do, then I won’t be ready…………….to escape.”
These days, I am turning off the train’s engine every morning, letting it know that not only is it life-saving to rest but pleasurable. Rest precedes rejuvenation. Re-integration work is about making peace with my body—integrating the fragments and becoming whole. Joy is one of the welcome returns of this practice.