I turned 40 on Monday. On my birthday eve — last Sunday — I had the most beautiful yoga class with a small group of friends. I walked in anxious and grumpy and walked out grateful and open-hearted.
This weekend, I am off on a retreat through Beloved Yoga at the lovely Kent Manor Inn. Inspired by some friends who are headed next weekend to a silent meditation retreat in Ohio with Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood author Karen Maezen Miller, I sought out something closer to home and with more movement. Luckily enough, I found this gem an hour from home with the focus on cultivating a home practice.
When one of the leaders started talking last night about the power of the brain on the body, thoughts creating and strengthening neural pathways, and things like theta brain waves, I also felt lucky to have just started the book The Last Best Cure: My Quest to Awaken the Healing Parts of My Brain and Get Back My Body, My Joy, and My Life by Donna Jackson Nakazawa.
I’m only a few chapters in, but I’m already enthralled by what now seems like an obvious connection between childhood trauma and my health issues. I’ve long thought of the emotional and intellectual legacy of my childhood on my brain, and I’ve often talked about the health legacy of a gluten-filled childhood on my body. However, I’d never fully thought that trauma — specifically my brother’s suicide a week before my 14th birthday — was having a direct impact on the very cells of my body.
I suspect that after more talk about this work tonight and tomorrow and after I finish Nakazawa’s book, my outlook on how to heal will have taken a new shape. After trying so many different modalities and finding insight and relief from many of them, I’m starting to see that the busy-ness of mind I’ve considered part of my personality is a self-fulfilling unhealthy prophecy that can be shifted.
Somehow, even if my dominoes may first hit barriers before they have enough oomph to knock down the next one and this journey may continue to be slow and winding, I do feel like it’s not random. One of those friends going on that retreat with Karen Maezen Miller is Pleasance Silicki, owner of Lil Omm yoga studio.
In January, Pleasance brought to her studio author Katrina Kenison, who has just come out with a new memoir, Magical Journey, after her amazing The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir. I attended that reading with my friend Doris, who introduced me to Kenison’s work several years ago when she was my son’s first babysitter.
A week before her talk, I had the chance to interview Katrina, and in the course of our conversation, she recommended to me Nakazawa’s book, which was not yet published. I put in in my Amazon cart and received it as soon as it came out. One of the reasons I had the courage to ask to interview Katrina was because I know she knows my friend Pamela of Walking on My Hands blog. When my digestion recently went crazy, I turned to the copy of Eat-Taste-Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living
that Pamela lent me almost two years ago. I think it was Pamela who put the bug in my ear that Lil Omm was hosting Karen Maezen Miller back in 2011.
I am so grateful to all the people who have been part of my journey, including this weekend’s teachers. They have put together an amazing retreat. I am so grateful to be here. I hope to write more about it and about my yoga eve birthday soon.
Now, though, it is time to get out and enjoy the sunshine. And draw a mandala.
What will you do with this day to be good to yourself, your today self, your past self, and your future self?
Sarah Bunn says
Happy Birthday Jessica! Thank you for sharing you journey with us!
Cathy Myers says
Jessica, I think you’ve had some amazing insights–and this post is beautifully written!
I’m participating on the ACESConnection social media site – connecting people who are working to prevent or treat Adverse Childhood Experiences. I saw there a note about the book “The Body Bears the Burden” – if you’re interested:
It’s great to read about your wonderful weekend, thank you for taking the time to share your inspiring message about taking care of oneself. I’ve been sitting at my computer too long… I will now do at least a little thing — going for a long walk!
Happy Birthday to you!
Cathy Myers says
Jessica – I’ve been thinking about your trauma, experiencing your brother’s death, then and over all the years. I’m so sorry. And so grateful for the healers in our world, and to you for exploring and writing.