Sunday, January 22, 2012

Refuge / The capacity to love arising from savasana (the corpse pose)

(Source for the above quote)

This morning I woke up at 2 a.m. feeling some grief and PTSD-related emotional distress and then chose to enter into what turned out to be a three-hour meditation, mostly positioned in variations of the yoga pose named savasana, with some drifting back into sleep as well as trying to stay with body sensations and mental imagery, not the thoughts that had disturbed my sleep and stirred up my emotions. There were shifts in and out of distress, some tears, some moments of joy. Whenever I would become aware that I was thinking, I would focus my attention on body sensations and the imagery that arises from them. I found refuge in the capacity to love that arose from the savasana practice.

At 5 a.m. as I got up from the savasana meditation I noticed my copy of Gentle Wilderness: Sierra Nevada where it leans with its book cover facing my bed, on the bookshelf next to my bed.

I remembered sitting side-by-side on a couch with Richard, looking through his brother's copy of the book, page by page, reading John Muir's words and looking at the splendid photos. It was not long after he had returned from Vietnam. Richard had brought me to his brother and sister-in-law's apartment to look at that book. Richard had said, "I know you will love this book, too. You are a poet and an artist."

I remembered driving from Modesto to Yosemite with Richard on my 52nd birthday, after not having seen him since 1986, the year before my recovery from bulimia and anorexia began. It was the day before his 52nd birthday. He was not feeling well but wanted to drive up to Yosemite in the Sierra Nevada. As we approached the gates of Yosemite on Highway 120, Richard quietly said, "Amanda, I have suffered enough today. Let's go back to Modesto."

I remembered driving alone from Manteca to Yosemite on my birthday in 2008, a little more than five months after I had spent four days with Richard in the ICU at the Palo Alto VA Hospital during the week before he died. As I passed through the gates of Yosemite on Highway 120, I knew that this delayed and long-awaited experience would be an ongoing gift from Richard, and it has been just that. As I took in the landscape that John Muir and so many before and after him have loved, I experienced the capacity to love that I had first felt at the ocean, even before I met Richard. It was no coincidence that I met Richard while walking next to the ocean when we were both 17 years old. It was no coincidence that I felt love as I entered Yosemite that clear sunny day in October 2008.

It is always my hope that sharing my experience by telling these stories can benefit others.

I've been in the studio for about three hours today working on this post, grateful for the renewal of creative energy that comes with blogging and the recent desire to do other art work as well.

"You will always, for the rest of your life, feel some grief over this death. It will no longer dominate your life, but it will always be there, in the background, reminding you of the love you had for the person who died."
(Alan D. Wolfelt, from Understanding Your Grief)


The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, this grief will always be there — as part of your life, but perhaps not over-dominating it.

Thank you for this helping and healing personal narrative, Amanda — personal, yet universal in its themes and touchstones.

Taradharma said...

when memories and emotions tied to those memories come, it is as if no time at all has passed. the power of it can be overwhelming.

thank you for sharing your memories and experiences. I agree with Solitary Walker, very personal and yet universal. So exceptionally human.