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Friday, May 21, 2010

Tao Teaches Pi

Photo by Dakota

Being a craniosacral therapist has opened a window into full circle moments.  In many sessions a person will experience a re-creation of an event that caused dysfunction or pain to be introduced into the body.  As wacky as it sounds, a person's body may need to visit a past event to release a trauma.  Witnessing this phenomena has caused me to be hyper-aware when the same situation is occurring in my daily life.

My husband was kissing me good bye through the open access door to the garage a mite too long and our terrier Pi took the momentary diversion and ran to the driveway.  Under normal circumstances I would call him or tempt him with the word "treat" and he would come back into the house under his own steam.  However on this particular morning our extra large four legged neighbor "Tao" decided to bark a greeting.

Tao is a few months new to the block and we were previously acquainted due to his stay at a local animal shelter that our family volunteers at once a week.  We recognized each other during one of my yard excursions and had a brief reunion a week or so ago.  His name at the shelter was Bear and I remembered him as a friendly energetic dog, though not fond of his kennel mates. 

The smaller pair of terriers we reside with, are obsessed with the newcomer's daily activities.  The older more aggressive of our two is Maggie and she doesn't like sharing or strangers and is all of 9 pounds, though my husband has said that if she was carrying the weight of a large dog she'd scare the crap out of him.  Pi is younger, more curious and to Maggie a huge pain in the ass.  Having to share her household with him has made her cranky most of the time, but interestingly she doesn't like sharing him with other dogs, which means that Pi rarely has the occasion to have any four legged visitors. 

The names of our dogs are also relevant to the story, Maggie and Pi, shortened and grouped together becoming "MagPi".  These two maniacs are loud, piercing and without an off button.  When they get excited anyone in range of hearing gets equally excited trying to shut them up, which only makes the noise louder and for an interminable duration.

Being that the neighbor dog was barking and that Pi has no friends outside of his bad ass older sibling, the cake batter was set.  Pi took off across the street and Bill and I had a bad case of flashback, transported to an altercation between our beloved Bonni and another large white dog who coincidentally had lived with the same people in the house across the street.

There are ten other houses on our street each containing humans and at this period of time a few dogs. Bonni never showed any interest in visiting neighbors of either species, unless it involved trotting by a fenced dog and showing off her freedom. If that could be construed as mean, that’s the only mean thing I ever saw her do to anyone. Rude and inconsiderate may be more accurate than mean, and her prancing as she paraded by was a show worth volumes. The smugness would radiate from her body and she’d grin at me as if to say, “I love this so much”. Bonni’s perfectly proportioned face had the finishing touch of bottom center teeth that overlapped. It seemed like nature was trying to show the perfection in the imperfection. My teeth had the same cross over and each time she smiled it proved to me that we were bonded genetically as well as spiritually.

One dog was particularly avoided. Her name was Grandee and she didn’t know how to stay in her own yard and appeared to dislike Bonni with a passion. She was also crazy. That’s just my opinion, but I’d wager money that she was psycho. The two dogs had never met, so I’m assuming that this was hate on sight and had nothing to do with anything. Kind of like when someone is stopped in a car at a red light alongside of you and he or she will give you a glare, just because. In the case of the stranger you both drive off confused at the venom, usually never to see or think of each other again. For Grandee, she bided her time, until the perfect opportunity arrived to take her hatred into a physical confrontation.

Some friends were sledding on our hill with the twins and Bonni was keeping me company, as I made sure no one ended up in traction or with an injury so severe we lost our home in a lawsuit. As the kids whizzed by I noticed a large white object moving stealthily through our yard. In unison Bonni began putting herself into a position of protection in front of the playing children. The two dogs were doing a dance of chess. Grandee moved towards the humans and Bonni cut off her route. Neither dog made a sound until Grandee declared checkmate and made a quick cut straight at Bonni.

The sounds of the growls coming from Bonni were ferocious and more dog-like than anything I’d ever heard her make in the past. The white dog was larger by half and her head was enormous. Not thinking just reacting, I put myself between the dogs and pulled Bonni’s neck out from between Grandee’s clamping jaws. I raised 40 pounds of dog by her collar, as I kicked and punched Grandee all the while screaming for help. Finally the neighbors arrived to take their lunatic pet home and my mom came from the house to help me get Bonni to safety.

Much later, after I found puncture wounds on Bonni’s throat, after we visited the vet and I stopped shaking, Bonni and I curled up together on our bed. Her instinctive protection of the children and my matching protection of her had brought us further into each other souls. We lie there spooned thanking the heavens, each in our own way, for the magic of our synchronicity. 

Both Grandee and Bonni have moved on from this lifetime, but I felt their spirits alongside us as Bill and I raced across the street after Pi. 
"Pi! Come! Treat!" With each shout, Pi never slowed his step, I don't even think the words made it past the ear drum to the brain. He was running on adrenalin and probably figured he may never get a chance like this again. The one shot wonder was going to make the most of this amazing moment. He leaped and pranced his piercing greetings circling the bigger dog with excitement and perhaps joy.  The small and very stupid Pi stood in front of the large and apparently gracious Tao yapping like mad.  Obviously Pi had not been taught the lesson about crossing onto a strangers turf and picking a fight.  Thankfully Tao looked rather amused at the rat terrier's incessant barking and pogo stick jumping in front of his more graceful form. 

Pi however is not a dog to take no for an answer and began making little pushes closer and closer until Tao began to make moves so the runt would move away.  Each time Tao would move towards Pi he would make a mad dash back towards me with his tail between his legs and his ears pinned back, coming within inches of being caught and then dashing back to confront the large white dog.  The comedy routine became a farce when Bill tried lunging at the sprightly Pi and lost his footing on rain soaked grass, splaying out behind the quickly retreating heels of our maniac dog.

Tao took off towards the back of the property trying to outrun Pi and then suddenly turning on him, startling him back to where we stood.  It began to appear that the neighbor dog was in fact trying to get his guest to head our way so that he may be caught.
This was not Grandee and Bonni fighting to the death, this was Tao helping my stupid dog to the edge of his property, much like a drunk being assisted to a cab after staying over long at a party. 

The benevolent Tao reached his gracious max and made a more aggressive push at Pi, synchronized with my finally finding the right word,
"Stay!"  and he did.  Grumbling, giggling, squishing in soaked shoes across the street, the three of us went home, all the while being serenaded with bark good byes from our helpful neighbor.

Maggie was none too happy to have missed the action and made her feelings known upon our return, nipping at Pi, jump-pushing me and yapping back at the interloper who continued to say "Thanks for coming!"

As I was running out the door, being now overly late for an appointment, Bill was dropping out of muddy clothes and the dogs were making sure that everyone had all of their parts; the sense of Bonni and Grandee was all around me.  The misperception between the dogs of that long ago event had come full circle.  Bill and I had two uninjured dogs at home, Tao was a wise new neighbor and in some way Bonni and Grandee had come to bring us all a moment of peace and laughter, offering healing to an old wound.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Stuck On Neutral

Photo by Dakota

Neutral sounds like such a boring thing.  A car in neutral doesn't go anywhere, when a dog is neutered there are no puppies and the color neutral has none, (color that is).  So when the instructor said the objective of a good Craniosacral therapist is to remain neutral I thought he was insane or boring.

     "What the hell is he saying?!"  

This was asked of my good friend and fellow snickerer Betty.

     "He's saying we care too much I think."  

At this point I believe we considered a full body tackle, but instead continued whispering and writing notes.

     "How can we do the work if we don't care about them getting better?"  

I shot back.

     "Look, the guy is a cold fish, who cares what he thinks Deb.  Maybe it works for him, we just work differently."  

We engaged in our version of judgemental tennis for the majority of class though did concede several times the guy had a great set of hands for therapeutical purposes.
     Four years later I continued to wrestle with neutral.  In my work it became a daily struggle to find a place not involving an end game.  When someone came to see me because of a long term physical issue I didn't see how it possible to be in a place of not caring how the session turned out.  What I soon learned is that it's not about caring, it's about leaving open any outcome.
     In my home life I would describe myself as someone who likes things a particular way, other members of my family would call me controlling and judgmental.  I prefer my version for obvious reasons.  On any given day I'd find myself needing someone to be something other than what they were at the moment.  Inevitably this meant I wasn't able to enjoy the person the exact second they were in front of me.  Then I read a book by Eckhart Tolle called, The New Earth. My expectations were minimal and was surprised when upon finishing the tome felt the need to repeat once again, 

     I am human. I don’t know everything. 


     When is the human fallible thing going to stick?

While relearning to live in the moment, I say relearning since we are definitely born with this skill, (ever see a kid fixated on a snail?), I also tried out Mr. Tolle’s other ideas as well, one being attachments to things, people and outcomes. Pondering the concept of attachments I looked through my emotional junk drawer. There were people, namely my husband and children I would describe myself as desperately attached, obsessed even about their existence. In my experience, once attachment to an individual occurs there comes the opportunity to create deep and penetrating tendrils of emotional history with the potential to become the sixty pound back pack of pain carried throughout life. 

     Is it possible for a person to have an emotional connection to another soul and not become attached?

The Dalai Lama voiced the same message in a documentary.  I could see the dangerous path of being overly attached to things or emotions.  In the cases of helicopter moms injecting themselves so completely into their children’s lives there is no division between them or when a partner consumes a spouse in what is mistakenly construed as love; but carrying a child for nine months does carry the attachment of an umbilical cord doesn't it?  If the Dalai Lama was answering my question he would undoubtedly say, “But the child must be born and the cord cut for both mother and child to live.”
Though connected through genetic structure and spiritually, we must each live our piece of the journey separately. On the day of my death I will investigate the next stage quite utterly alone. If to truly guide my children towards their own wisdom, then I must free them to discover their path without tendrils of emotional enslavement from me. It is a representation of acting as a juror of my own experience.  Sitting in the courtroom of life without a lean one way or other, witnessing the evidence.  

     How is this possible if bad things happen?

That is exactly when neutral is most profound.  Events are merely aspects of life, neither good nor bad, humans in motion interacting with human foibles.  

     Doesn't that mean people who do terrible things get a pass?

When someone steals from another, a life, a pen, a goat, they are stealing from all.  As such, in my part of the world, there is a flawed judicial system which can only work if jurors are seated with an open mind.  Once the evidence is heard, judgement must be rendered as the law states, innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  Pretty tough objectives in that statement, with long reaching consequences if not followed.  
     As a spirit having a physical existence there is pain, laughter, snot, agony, beauty, terror, hell and rainbows.  The object is to find the calm spot in the middle, neutral.  It means holding life with an open thought.  In my work that would look like being a facilitator in a body's process towards healing; whatever way that body chooses.  If I choose in foolishness a person should "get over it" and be done with pain, the soul on the table may not be ready or in fact may have a better plan.  There is no way of knowing my own long term plan, let alone another human's.  When truly in the moment there is no plan, there just IS.  It is egocentric of me to decide for friends, clients, family what may be best for their journey in this lifetime.  This does not mean disengaging as a facilitator, but to remain open to the process and just BE. 
     But isn't that wanting bad things to happen?

Being neutral means being open to ALL forms of living.  During a long period of horrifying anguish, I have been able to have equal periods of joy.  Showing that "in the moment" living is a form of art.  There is an interesting thing about being present for hardship as well as cupcakes. By opening the doors of experience to all realms of a moment I am not missing a single beat and to me that means really living for the first time.