Exposing some flesh

I mentioned in a past post that I have been having problems with my ribcage in the last few months, and I said I’d tell more about it later.  There was more to be told because I have the feeling that that pain appeared for a very specific reason and had a specific purpose.  It took me a while to get to writing about it, though, because telling that story involves exposing some flesh and, well, it’s not exactly the easiest thing to do… (and this turned out to be a very long post; sorry about that.)

So, ok, it’s not easy, but I’m choosing to do it, if only for me to work things out in a more systematic manner than would be allowed by just letting the various parts of the story hang around in my mind in a somewhat confused manner.  Also because it seems important to me to share about where I’m at these days, and this whole thing is an important part of it.

The story goes back to late February, when I learned about the Dance of Shiva.  Reading about it, I was immediately struck by how much it would help me.  Stuck patterns?  Check.  Needing and wanting help dissolving them?  Check.  A long-standing longing for a better working brain (in no small part thanks to Chronic Fatigue Syndrom)?  Check.

I was feeling very strongly that this was the right thing for me.

I got the kit and got into Shiva Nata, loving it as much as I knew I would.  While practicing, I was consciously working on trying to understand and dissolve some of my patterns.  At first I was mostly asking: “what keeps me stuck in passive mode, and keeps me from switching to a more active mode?” – I wanted to know more about the pattern I’ve talked about in my very first post.

I didn’t get huge epiphanies or crazy breakthroughs, but some great insights came up.  Things like:

Oh, so I *must not* do the things I want to be doing, because if I do move forward with them, people around me would start expecting more from me (like, that I “live up to my potential” or some other such crap).  And I really don’t want anyone to expect anything from me.  I see.

and:

Hmm, so I go to bed very late and sleep the whole morning away because that’s a way for me to ensure I won’t have a productive day.  Interesting.

It’s a bit hard for me to get those realizations out into the world, as even admitting these things to myself isn’t easy.  I’m not particularly proud of what they say about me, but that’s where I’m at right now, and I’m working on becoming a better person, so there you go.Interestingly, those insights started coming up more clearly when I finally started journaling after my practices, something I had been resisting for the first few weeks I had been practicing Dance of Shiva.  Resistance to what gives results… so classic.

Anyways.  With those pieces of information and the self-work I was doing, I could feel that things had started to shift a little.  I was feeling better, things were going in the right direction, I knew I’d soon be moving forward on my projects.  I was really happy about it all.

And this is when my sternum started bugging me.  Pain.  Cracking.  Not fun.

Still, I kept going, hoping it would get better.  When I gently stretched my arms one night and felt a rib cracking twice, I thought it was broken (turned out it wasn’t, but still: ouch), and I knew I’d have to stop doing Dance of Shiva’s arm movements until my thorax healed for real.

Before I got there, though, I had an insight about that pain.

One day, sitting quietly after my Shiva Nata practice, I asked my body for information about that thoracic pain.  After that, I wrote in my journal:

It feels like there’s something that wants to come out, or to hatch, or to open, and there seems to be a part of me that tries to hold it back, to keep it from coming out because that part of me isn’t ready for it to happen.

Minutes later, the pain was almost gone.  Was it because I let it tell me what it was trying to tell me, and I acknowledged it?  It seemed so.  Of course, the pain came back, and things worsened, but every time I talked to it, it noticeably lessened.

Not to say that it was all in my mind, of course: the pain was real and incapacitating, and I knew what had physically weakened my thorax a few weeks earlier (too much stress put on that part of my body by carrying a heavy bag during my last trip), thus explaining why the pain happened there.  But still, the underlying emotional component felt very real too.  The connection between that pain and the part of me that was scared and felt threatened by the changes that were happening was clear to me.

Throughout this whole thing, I thought very interesting that the fear chose to physically express itself in my… ribcage.  Which, just as interestingly, happens to be the cage that protects my heart.

It was as if the bars of the cage had been hardening to keep the things that were shifting and moving inside from coming out, and as if these things were trying to crack open these bars so that the new patterns that were in gestation could hatch.

So, as part of the healing process, I’ve included reassurance to my inner self that I’d take good care of myself throughout all of the changes that I want to see happening in my life.  I’m learning to talk and interact with my fears, though for now I’m mostly talking to them, as I can’t hear their answers very well.  But still, I know they’re listening, and my talking to them helps.  And I’m working on the listening part too, so that they won’t have to yell as loudly as they did with that pain.  I’m getting back into trying to shift my patterns, but I’m doing so very carefully.  I’m paying attention.

As for the physical healing, it’s going well.  As you know, I’ve been back into Shiva Nata’s arms for a little while, so yes, my thorax is much better.  The pain only happens occasionnally, and even then, it’s much lighter than it was.  I simply hope that the sternum-cracking-every-time-I-sneeze thing won’t turn out to be a permanent after-effect…

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12 Responses to Exposing some flesh

  1. Shellyfish says:

    What an honest and powerful post! I don’t think you should be hesitant about sharing the revelations you had about yourself – I think that’s huge and the fact that you even had them is wonderful. It does say a great deal about who you are, but in a very positive way. We are all fighting some fight, but not many will ever really understand why.
    I also think it’s really common for the emotional to manifest itself in the physical realm. Not in a psychsomatic way, but in a very real “hey, your not listening to me so I’m going to manifest myself in a way that will get your attention!” way. I don’t know if everyone sees how their pain is indicitave of their “issues”, but I know I can see it in myself and in the people I love.
    You’ve got me thinking – thanks for sharing.

  2. Heidi says:

    Awesome insights… I am always amazed by what moves, what happens when I can be with what’s inside me without an agenda of making it any different. It doesn’t mean a part of me doesn’t want it to change, like NOW. But still, the listening? When I can do it from a big spacious loving place, ahhhhhh. So good. Because, deep down, who in the world (inside parts of us included) doesn’t want to be fully and completely heard and understood?

    Thank you, Josiane. xo

  3. caren seto says:

    Very nice blog Jos. I find your entries very inspiring and honest. Last year when I started blogging, I was re-typing out my journal from the year previous to that, trying to figure out more about myself, trying to learn from the past. 3 years ago, I started Shaolin kung fu and learned about self awareness and how important it is to realize that life is not directionless is nothing is without reason, unless you want it to be. And reading your entries reminds me of myself and what I do everyday of my life. I find that in life, we are constantly practicing to live, practicing in being human. The focus is in persistance for the thing you set out to do, you know.. keep your head in the water for as long as you can kind of deal lol. At least that’s what I’m doing right now. But I constantly question whether or not this is what I am really set out to do. I don’t know.
    This is what your entry made me think of.
    Thanks Jos.

  4. Josiane says:

    Wow! Am I ever so lucky to receive such thoughtful comments! And I find really touching that the three of you thanked me for that post. I was afraid it would feel long and boring to anyone but me… just goes to show that sharing our stuff is really worth it.

    @Shellyfish: Thank you, most sincerely, for your kind words. Je suis vraiment touchée. I’m happy my words got you thinking.

    @Heidi: Oh, you bet a part of me wants things to change like NOW! But you’re absolutely right, fully hearing and understanding every parts of me is so important, and feels really good.

    @Caren: I totally agree when you say that nothing happens without reason. Several times in my life, circumstances led me to believe it. I find very interesting that you added “unless you want it to be”… thanks for that bit of food for thought.

  5. Jessica says:

    I am soooo glad you decided to share this with your readers (I can empathize with the scary exposed flesh thing). As you know, I swear you and I are sisters from another life and this just reaffirms that – I TOTALLY stay up too late so that I can’t function fully the next day so OF COURSE I can’t get anything productive done. I also have that fear of success thing going, along with a fear of failure which makes me feel like I’m constantly on the fence in some way. If I do well, people will expect more of me. If I do poorly, people won’t like me. But if I’m right in the middle – not living up to my potential but doing just enough to keep people from being totally disappointed, that’s my comfort zone. And I don’t want to be there anymore.

    I’m so glad you’re listening to yourself and getting such great insights. I think I avoid sitting still and being quiet because I’m afraid to hear what my insides have to say. This post is so inspiring. And it’s not at all long and boring! I actually think it’s fairly short and to the point :). I hope you feel better soon.

  6. Josiane says:

    Ok, you’re all going to make me cry! (good tears, of course!) I’m blown away by – and thankful for – the wonderful comments I’m getting here. It’s extremely encouraging. Thank you.

    @Jessica: I’m loving that we are sisters! :)I totally relate to what you are saying. Fear of failure, sure, but even bigger fear of success… When you feel ready, I hope you’ll try doing some listening: you may be surprised by what you’ll hear. It is scary, I know, but it also can be so beautiful! Paying attention to what we have inside is worth it, and *you* are worth it.

    @Liz: Knowing that you read my post last night *and* took some time out of your day to come back and let me know leaves me speechless. I truly appreciate your gesture, and I cherish your beautiful words. Thank you.

  7. Liz says:

    I was sitting in a restaurant last nite, waiting for a friend and reading your post on my blackberry. I thought, WOW, how lucky am I to be sitting here with this amazing writer! It was like you were sitting across from me sharing your story. How cool that you are so openly and thoughtfully letting me glimpse your experience, and that you are finding ways to reach deep inside and make things better. Thank you, a million times for your reflection and sharing your gifts. Loved it.

  8. A.S.M. Pires says:

    I think this is actually one of the worst types of pain: the one that has an emotional trigger. One might take a pill and make it go away for a moment, but it most certainly will come back to bite one until one sorts out the emotions behind it. Yesterday, it happened to me. I had finally managed to take a few days off, when I had one of those “oh, my god, everything is going to hell while i’m sitting here in the middle of nowhere doing nothing” moments and, bang, my back “snapped” – I could hardly move – and I had to come back home. So, reading your post made me feel a lot better – it’s always good to be reminded that I’m not alone in learning to talk and interact with my own fears. Thank you so much for sharing this! I know how hard it must have been.

  9. celine says:

    how could I miss this? Josiane, you are one of a kind, and I am so lucky to call you my friend. this post is truly inspiring, and will have me start reflecting on stuff I conveniently left on the back burner for too long. thank you, and keep on writing, I beg of you. picture me giving you a big bear hug right now.

  10. Josiane says:

    @A.S.M. Pires: I’m so sorry to read what just happened to you! I’m glad that my post made you feel better, and I hope your back gets better very soon. Good luck dealing with the emotional trigger behind it.

    @Celine: Oh, a big bear hug! Sweet! And reading how lucky you say you are to call me your friend = warm fuzzies! I’m very lucky too.
    Yeah, that back burner is a very convenient spot to leave stuff, isn’t it? But the stuff ends up sticking at the bottom of the pan, makes a mess, and is then much harder to deal with… Yay for inspiration and reflection!
    Thank you for your encouragement, dear friend; it means a lot! {hug}

  11. Gina says:

    Wow. I think we share that ‘stuck in passive mode’ thing AND I, too, realized one of my reasons was the fear of raising everyone’s expectations of me. (I mean, if I’m taking care of everybody’s stuff, who’s gonna take care of me?)

    And of course, as a shiatsu person, I definitely see that heart pain connection. I hope your conversation continues to unfold….

  12. Josiane says:

    @Gina: Thanks for taking the time to let me know how you relate to what I wrote. It’s interesting to know that the connection between my stuff and the pain is obvious to you as a shiatsu practicioner. I’m glad that you’re part of this conversation; it will continue to unfold, as soon as I’m back home and can put some ideas together…

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