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My Friend has Cancer Part 2

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 09:25

As you may have heard our friend, colleague, teacher and one of the co-founders of Yoga on High, Martha Marcom, was diagnosed with cancer over the last two weeks. She has a site at Caringbridge.com in case you want to stay in touch with how she is doing and see the opportunities for help. Please at this time do not call them or send emails (in order to keep their inbox manageable with planning and medical info). If you would like to send a card please send it to Yoga on High at 1081 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201 and we will be sure she gets it. And of course send prayers, reiki, blessings and any dedications you like. She is already feeling the river of support and is floating along in it.

As I indicated in the first part of this blog, my main priorities are to support my friend, her family and our community and to stay authentic to myself in the process. This means if I am sad I will feel the sadness and know that the impetus for that sadness arises from my deep love for her. I have been angry and I think I have sworn more this past week than any other week since college when I had a real potty mouth. Confusion has been rampant. Feel that--check. Most of these feelings don’t feel good in the traditional sense of when we say we feel good. But what does feel good is to not push anything away. It feels good to have real authentic feelings even when I have little voices inside saying that if I was really spiritual I would somehow see beyond these feelings to something transcendent. These voices are not just in my head but are embedded in our spiritual culture and I have never found them to be even the slightest bit useful.

So years ago when I found some sutras from the Vijnana Bhairava (thank you Joan Ravinsky) I was amazed that I could practice right where I was in a new way. I saw that what I had perceived as my weaknesses could be portals to something bigger. That nothing had to be gotten rid of--I could be myself in each moment as someone who lives as fully in this world as possible with lots of meaningful work, family, friends, love and sorrow, and yes even sex. And good food. I didn’t have to move away from my life to be spiritual; I could dive deeper into it.

If you have been around me you know that the version of the Vijnana Bhairava that I love is The Radiance Sutras, translated by Lorin Roche, PhD. His poetic renderings and commentaries have been speaking directly to my heart for many years.

So finally the other day I sat down with the sutras and looked for the one that I knew would be meaningful to me that day.

Sutra 89

You are stunned, powerless.
You thought you knew
What was going on.
Now you realize you don’t have a clue.

You are stopped in your tracks.
Everything in your skin is shaking.
Enter the trembling.

Right here, in the midst of commotion--
Get curious, look around inside with wonder.
Unmind your mind.
All the walls have fallen down--
Go ahead and dissolve.

The One Who Has Always Been,
Who has seem much worse than this,
Is still here.

Ahhhh. Such relief.

In his commentary on this sutra Lorin highlights the word ashakti. You may be familiar with the word shakti--Divine Energy manifested as the feminine power of life and creativity. Ashakti is the opposite--it means powerlessness, not something we normally think of as an important spiritual quality. And yet, Lorin and this sutra very clearly say that ashakti can be a portal to Truth. What a relief to know that when I am totally discombobulated I can dive right into the middle of it with curiosity. And when I do unmind my mind right in the midst of it all--something else becomes clear. That there is vastness and freedom here too. I don’t need to change anything. Chaos and vastness are both here. I don’t need to be strong. And yet….there is something that feels powerful about being with all this as it is….I guess that is part of the total mystery of this whole wild life.

My Friend Has Cancer

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 09:37

As you may have heard our friend, colleague, teacher and one of the co-founders of Yoga on High, Martha Marcom, was diagnosed with cancer over the last two weeks. She has a site at Caringbridge.com in case you want to stay in touch with how she is doing and see the opportunities for help. Please at this time do not call them or send emails (in order to keep their inbox manageable with planning and medical info). If you would like to send a card please send it to Yoga on High at 1081 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201 and we will be sure she gets it. And of course send prayers, reiki, blessings and any dedications you like. She is already feeling the river of support and is floating along in it.

One of my best friends in the world has cancer and I am totally attached to having her live a long life and for us to grow old together. In the yoga world “attachment” is considered by certain texts and people to be a big obstacle to enlightenment but I don’t care right now. I AM attached and to pretend otherwise would not be truthful (another biggie for us yogis.) My emotions are all over the place these days. I’m sad, worried and really confused. Cancer? Really? Even as she is heading into surgery she looks radiant and healthy. She has eaten healthy food her whole life and has a life-long yoga practice. Cancer? Really? I’m also so grateful to have shared so much of my life with her (so far) and know that I will be by her side no matter what happens. And of course this deep attachment comes from love—a love for her that transcends any thoughts of whether or not she lives or dies.

One of our mutual friends called me the other day worried that she was being selfish for crying about our friend when there was so much to do to help her. I said, “Join the club. Were you thinking that yogis don’t cry when their best friends get a scary diagnosis?” Since I am a yogi and I have been crying, I can say for certain that they do. Last weekend I asked another friend when she thought my nearly 40 years of yoga practice would kick in as a support for all this. I was really wanting not to feel as crazy and desperate as I was, even though I also know that feeling what I am feeling is a powerful practice in itself. She was a little steadier than I was that day but we ended up crying a bit together and she reminded me that we know nothing. Knowing nothing was a respite for my mind since my mind was sure my friend was dying soon. And while that is still a possibility, we don’t know. She doesn’t know, her doctor doesn’t know, I don’t know, none of us knows. Truth is Truth and that in itself is the tiniest bit of comfort.

Mostly I can’t remember what I have learned about yoga. Sometimes my body remembers the asanas that will help me feel present, other times the practice seems foreign to me. I was teaching a class to veterans with PTSD and addictions the other day and I heard myself say that one of the reasons we practice this stuff over and over is that if we don’t, it won’t be there for us when we are in crisis. Only little bits of what I have learned are coming through, but these bits are saving my life each day. The other day I remembered to feel my feet on the pavement when I was walking. This is a walking meditation technique that I have learned and taught. That was way more helpful than being in my mind. I …felt….my….feet…and in feeling them I was in the present moment for a few moments until I was kicked back up into crazy mind. The day after that I found a powerful chant that I have been singing aloud and is with me much of the time these days. It is loud enough in the background that my mind doesn’t always have space for all the dire thoughts that seem to have taken up residence.

Now this next piece is cool and is definitely a result of years of training. In the past I would have tried to change the station of the mental radio as much as possible with a kind of disgust. Mind=bad. Shut up so I can rest in the experience of Peace, Love and Oneness. I would have felt unyogic to be harboring desperate thoughts of dire circumstances and death. What I realized though is what a great friend my mind is in all this. It is putting before me all the possibilities of what can happen here so I can get used to it all. Because it is so hard for my mind to consider a world without this friend, it is doing exactly that. Practicing. Hey Marcia let’s imagine a world without your friend. How would you survive? Who would you call for help? Who else would be sad? What would you say to her husband, her children? Who would be sad if you were the one? Because my mind knows how hard this would be it’s helping get ready for any possibilities. It’s so painful but also useful. When it doesn’t feel useful anymore I eventually I remember my chant and feel my feet. I’m also inviting my mind to consider all the ways she could live a long and beautiful life. That feels very useful too.

Back to attachment for a moment. I have lived long enough and lost enough loves that I have learned something else about attachment which is not often expressed the way I would like in all the scriptures. Life itself, teaches us non-attachment. There is so much coming and going of things and people we love that life is constantly showing us how to let go. If it comes time that I have to say goodbye to my friend I believe I will be able to do that and eventually be at peace. I have experienced and survived the death of family and friends before and suspect I can do it again. In this case I am not ready at all and it is more authentic for me to live the love and attachment that I am experiencing. Whatever happens next will prepare me for what comes after that. And after that……

The other thing that keeps me going is our community. My friend is not alone and I am not alone. We have people all around us and we are all in this together. This is not only HER cancer. Though she bears the brunt of it, it is OUR cancer. We are with her as much as she can stand and we are helping with plans, food, reiki and whatever else is needed. This feels so good and True. Some people are stepping forward to do my work for me, others are happy to let me pause in what I owe them. In a life that felt already much too busy, I am finding I have space for her, for this writing and for the part of my work that seems necessary, even now. But I am feeling the clarity of people first. We need to talk and share. We need to express our love and we are. This feels so right. And this trumps whatever cancer brings—or maybe this is part of what the cancer is bringing. Either way we can LOVE.

Yogi of the Month: Karen

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 11:53

Meet our newest Yogi of the Month, Karen! She has been making her way to Yoga on High in her wheel chair via a city bus for 12 years to attend her weekly Multiple Sclerosis yoga class. She often encourages others in the class and is welcoming to new students, helping them to feel at ease. Karen is active in the MS community and shares important information with the other students regarding Multiple Sclerosis. She practices on a daily basis despite fatigue, pain and mobility issues. Karen is a dedicated Yogi and we are happy to partner with Manduka to feature Karen this Month.

Getting Sexy Back for Me

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 14:38

One of the words I used in my 40 Day Transformation mantra was “sexy”! When I feel sexy in my own skin my entire body feels the pulse of life at a cellular level; healthy, vibrant, confident and happy. On the flip side of this is feeling unsexy; stressed out, a lack of energy, complacency, and possible feelings of depression an hopelessness. In the ebb and flow of life I have meandered through both and I am here to say at my 2 week point of the 40 Day Transformation I am starting to get my sexy back and it feels good! I am sure spending a week with my husband in sunny California has helped but I truly believe the important ingredients to bringing sexy back are as follows:

  1. Move your booty and sweat daily; yoga, run, lift weights, martial arts -- whatever your passion is. (Also, do some of this with your significant other so you can have the high together)
  2. Eat clean for your body and mind; see food as fuel for vibrancy, energy and lightness.
  3. Multi task less and be present in your conversations and relationships; where your awareness flows energy goes so be mindful of where and how you place your attention.
  4. Less phone and computer time and more time outdoors in nature and the sunshine; need I say more?
  5. Take time for self-care and beauty maintenance; get a massage, pedicure, wax, floss. Better still, invest in some quality massage oils and ask your significant other to join you in a partner massage exchange.
  6. Stay positive thru meditation and affirmation; contemplating the oneness of all beings and practicing self acceptance.
  7. Fall in love with yourself; treat yourself in word, thought and action like you would a lover.
  8. Know your values and don’t settle for anything less; if it does not serve you let it go.
  9. Find time to play and have fun; a good belly laugh is great for the libido.
  10. Find balance in striving to achieve your goals, listening to your mind, body and soul and acceptance of where you are today. Understand that change takes place with frequency and consistency.

Many of these things here are listed in my intentions of this awesome 40 Day challenge. Let’s face it, feeling sexy is an important part of being human, feeling pleasure and being alive. That’s motivation enough for me to continue to stay on this path #40dayrest!

40 Day Reset Michele’s Week 1 Review

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 10:00

Week One is in the books. Overall, I would classify it as a success. My food was chosen in the spirit of self-care, freshness and vitality – very colorful and bright. I missed one weight lifting workout. The excuse, 12 hours of travel from Washington to Ohio. Really, I could have woken up earlier to fit it in. This week there’ll be none of that excuse stuff. Gratitude lists and love and appreciates kept me, for the most part, even keeled and attentive to the fact that I am so very fortunate.

I notice that when I live intentionally, I am much more sensitive. My body is almost humming – not quite singing, but it is letting me know it is there. This is a far cry from the many years I spent disconnected from my physical self. I ran and moved and pushed my body, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t care what it had to say.

I am finding myself more sensitive emotionally too, these past 7 days. Trying to give time to the faint whispers that sometimes arise as well as the loud, pounding waves of emotions that come up too. Typically, I find it mostly interesting and ride the waves with a sense of adventure and curiosity. Yesterday though, was a day where I was pretty much unimpressed by it all. As a yogi, I strive to view my thoughts, actions, emotions from the vantage point of a tolerant observer. Yesterday, I was all critic. Annoyed by my frustrations, my insensitivity, my imperfections. Quickly, in this headspace, with a swirl and a downward pull, I felt the years recede and an old familiar ache. Underwater, hollow and alone, you are not good enough.

I struggled to welcome it all yesterday. I struggled to be kind, generous and gentle. Intolerant of the fact that I have reactions, that I am not always fine, that I cannot control it all. So disappointed, that still, things which I think should be easy take me by surprise with their challenge. Disappointed that I work so hard to be open hearted and at the least little sign of vulnerability, my body rebels and literally curls up in a ball of resistance, as if to say “What were you thinking? This, this here, safe and closed off, this is home.”

I woke up this morning tired, tired but determined. In this life, I get to choose who shows up, I get to choose who I want to be. So with yesterday in mind, I undertake the adventure of Week Two. My intention and desire is to be kind, without exception. To be tender with all my pieces and parts, regardless of how undeserving I think they may be. For Week Two, I choose to consciously make a shift from my judging, critical, intellectual mind to a softer, safer, more tolerant place. A place where I get to breathe into the ache and the disappointment, to acknowledge the frustrations and imperfections and to welcome them all. This week, I’m choosing to experiment with this in my practice through backbends – my least favorite pose group. I figure no better place for me to practice compassion and kindness than right at my edge. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Classes I have taken, or plan to take this week:
Monday night – Jill’s Kundalini
Thursday afternoon – Julie’s Hot Flow
Friday afternoon – Michael’s Hot Flow
Let’s see if they’ll take requests for backbends

Announcing Sekoia by Yoga on High

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 08:15

A new retail concept is launching this fall in our Columbus boutique and also online; Sekoia by Yoga on High. As many of you know, Sekoia is already a popular class on the Yoga on High schedule, offering a multi-sensory experience that blends yoga, reiki, aromatherapy, pranayama and meditation. The high-quality Sekoia products will help students take the Sekoia experience home with them.

We expect that you will be able to experience the retail line of lifestyle and wellness products this fall. And of course you can continue to join our wonderful teachers for the beautiful and experiential Sekoia yoga classes on the Yoga on High open class schedule.

In bringing you Sekoia by Yoga on High, we are also excited to announce that we have partnered with Karine Wascher as a co-founder and lead teacher in the concept. (Yoga on High ownership will remain unchanged.)

When you get a chance, please join us in welcoming Karine Wascher to the Yoga on High family in this new capacity. And check out the Sekoia website for updates and related Sekoia launch events!

40 Day Reset ~ Aspirations

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 22:47
Jasmine. ENERGETIC, STRONG, LEAN, SEXY!

Sadhana -daily practice
Yoga Asana 6xweek (3 in studio classes)
Meditation/iRest Yoga Nidra Daily

Fitness -- kick start the 35+ metabolism
Run/cardio 4x week for at least 30 minutes
Weights 3x week
Plyometric/Core work 3x week

Nutrition – eat intelligent food for maximum energy and nutrition
Kapha Balancing Diet; no sugar, no dairy. Biggest meal is lunch with breakfast and dinner being easily digestable.
1 Gallon of water a day – includes lemon water and detox tea – sip all day
Triphala tea in the evenings before bed

Self Care – feeling good inside and out
Floss daily
Tongue Scrapping daily
Oil Pulling daily
Dry Brush daily
Ayurveda Oil Baths 2x week

Connectivity
Journal Daily – 1 page
List one thing I am grateful for each day
Have one friendship date a week
Chant daily – 10 minutes
Get outside for 30+ minutes each day

Michele. Strong, Lucky, Beautiful, Deserving.

Clarity
I practice yoga 6x per week. 3 in-studio classes.
I make time to meditate daily. Minimum 20 minutes.
I get, at least, one 3-hour stretch of totally alone time weekly.
I spend a minimum of 1 hour outside a day. (20 mins for rain days.)

Physical Wellness
I eat whole, healthy meals as a form of self-care.  Five meals per day. Vegetarian, no sugar (fruit’s cool though). 1 “whatever” meal per week.
I drink 100oz of water per day to include herbal tea.

Fitness
I run. For fun.
I weight train 3 times a week -- Mondays: chest, shoulders, triceps, Wednesdays: back and biceps, Friday: legs with plyos and abs worked into each (check my facebook page for some of the detailed workouts.)

Reality Check
I write love and appreciates daily.
I write gratitude items daily.
I list motivations and inspirations daily.
I take time to bask in the wonder of it all (daily!)

Connections
I am a patient and creative mother -- 1 art/science project a week with kids and minimum one legit outdoor adventure too.
I have 1 friend date a week outside of work.
I let my partner know that I appreciate him.
I volunteer my time 1-2 hours per week.

Here are my love & appreciates for today:
I love & appreciate my body, I love and appreciate myself.
I love and appreciate my body, I love and appreciate myself.
I love and appreciate my body, I love and appreciate myself.
I love and appreciate my fingers that allow me to type and communicate with friends.
I love and appreciate my throat, the tunnel my coffee takes to my belly getting much loved caffeine to my whole body!
I love and appreciate my feet. Especially bare. Especially bare in dirt. Especially bare in dirt in the summer. (And fireflies, I love and appreciate them too.)

40-Day to Reset, Renew, Revitalize!

Sun, 07/27/2014 - 23:16

Is there something to this 40-Day Transformation thing? Jasmine and I are determined to find out! Join us for the next 40-Days as we detox, meditate, stretch, strengthen and grow on our personal 40-Day Vibrant Wellness Journey.

Step 1: Contemplation and Journaling
Jasmine and I each take time to contemplate the question, “What might there be for me to learn/recieve from the 40-day Reset, Renew, Revitalize Journey?”
After we sit with this question, each of us spent about 20 minutes writing about the feelings, thoughts and messages that came up during the contemplation.

Step 2: Defining our Aspirations and Intentions
Setting our aspirations for our 40-Days will help to keep us focused on our broad desires and also give us a framework from which to set our daily intentions. (Check out my blog on intentions).

For me, when creating concrete goals or aspirations, I follow this formula:

  • - Write aspirations in the present tense, as if they’re already a statement of truth. Instead of “I’m going to eat healthy food” I would write “I eat whole, healthy food as a form of self-care.” Instead of “do an unsupported handstand.” I would write “I enjoy unsupported handstands that feel strong and stable.”
  • - Make goals time bound and measurable. For instance instead of saying “I want to do more yoga”. I would write, “I practice yoga three times a week in a teacher-lead class and three times at home for 60-90 minutes”. Or, in this language I would write “I weigh xxx pounds by October 27th,” or “I am xx% body fat” or “I run a 5k in xx minutes on September 7th”.
  • - Dream Big, but not crazy! While I want to allow myself to dream big dreams, I also want to make sure that my goals and aspirations are within my reality. I love to run, but I’m not terribly fast. Setting a goal of “I run a 17 minute 5k in September” is beyond my reach and sets me up for failure. A more realistic goal might be to shave some time off my PR (personal record). By looking at a training program designed to get me to that time, I can assess how long I need to reach that goal and then state “I run a xx minute 5k on October XX”. Similarly, floating through my vinyasas is not a reality for me at the moment. I don’t have to give this up as an aspiration though. Instead, I might look at breaking “Floating” down into smaller pieces and set markers around that -- for example working on Lolasana first with big blocks, then with 1/2 blocks, then with hands on the mat, then rolling my shins parallel to floor, then step one foot back, etc.
  • - Start by seeing the big picture. In my case, I want to feel content and healthy, and ultimately I wish to live as an expression of loving kindness. In living my “today”, I move toward that ultimate desire by devoting myself to what feel like more easily digestible pieces. I know that in order for me, personally, to feel content and healthy I must address my physical, mental and emotional/spiritual being. That means addressing what I eat, how I move my body, how I speak to myself and others, how much rest I get, how much time I spend outside, how much time I have with my family and also by myself, and there is definitely a component of how much fun I have! When I set goals/intentions, I address each of these. (Check out tomorrow’s blog for both Jasmine and my 40-day aspirations.)

Step 3: Sharing our Hopes and Visions (out loud!!)
From experience, I realize that sharing my dreams and goals out loud is a powerful and important step in the “becoming” process. By sharing my dreams/goals/intentions, I hold myself accountable and also admit to myself and the world that there is a specific direction I’d like to be headed. In the past, there were times when I shared my desires for the “future me” quietly, with fear of being judged and perhaps some self-consciousness or some bit of asking for permission. What I learned is that the more I spoke the desire, the more confident and clear I became in “owning” or integrating the vision into myself. It became a statement of fact. One without shame, without fear and without need for external acceptance or permission. I have grown strong in many ways from this “out loud” practice. If you don’t have someone to tell your dreams to, or if it’s still a bit on the scary side, write them down -- seeing them on paper can have a strong impact too -- like a contract (or promise if you prefer) with oneself.

Step 4: Prep Work
If your intention, for example, has something to do with eating whole healthy foods, and your 40-day Journey starts tomorrow, set yourself up for success -- go shopping and stock the house with fresh food. Pick out recipes that you can make ahead and fill the fridge with easy options that will meet your need for this form of self-care. If your intention is to go to a 7a or 5a yoga class, set your clothes out before bed (check out Jasmine’s blog on this). If your intention is to meditate daily, create a spot where this can happen…it doesn’t have to be big or fancy, but make it inviting and easy. Also, try to anticipate obstacles you might face. For instance, I’m on vacation this week. While this presents great opportunities for me to meet my fitness and time outside goals, eating in the way that I want is more of a challenge. I definitely need to spend some time coming up with airport food strategies. This helps ensure I’ll not have excuses to “fall off the wagon” when faced with booth after booth of unhealthy food options.

Step 5: Find an accountability buddy

Jasmine and I will serve as each other’s accountability buddies. And in a way, you will be there for us too as we blog about our
experiences over the next 40-days. Get friends to meet you at the park or at yoga class, tell them that you’d love them to check in on your progress and ask how you’redoing. And choose people who will be supportive in a way that feels good and healthy to you.

Step 6: Go! And have fun too!!

xo

Michele

Yogi of the Month: Michael

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 07:24

Meet our newest Yogi of the Month, Michael Agunga! Although new to the Yohi community, Michael is a dedicated yogi, athlete and writer. Michael found yoga after suffering from a herniated disk in 2013 and hasn’t looked back since. We are happy Michael has made Yoga on High his yoga home. Yoga on High is pleased to partner with Manduka to feature a Yogi of the Month. Learn more about this month’s featured Yogi, Michael.

 

Meditating with Malas

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 07:16

Disconnecting to Connect

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 07:05

By Jennifer Gebhart

“Your children need your presence more than your presents.” ~Jesse Jackson

It is etiquette to turn off your cell phone upon entering a yoga studio. This practice helps us to drop into the present moment and tune into our breath, sensations and the community in the room. I’ve taken this practice off the mat and into my life. This summer I’ve dedicated Tuesdays to spending time with both my kids. During this time, I’m not checking email or Instagram, I’m present to my kids and our experiences together. Our connections have strengthened from this practice of disconnecting from the digital world and connecting to each other. We laugh and “play” together. I get to really listen to my children and bear witness to their hopes, dreams and thoughts on life. I’ve noticed how my teenage daughter is also able to stay present to us and, not check her phone every time she hears a chime signaling a new text. I notice I feel less stressed and therefore, my family is less stressed. I know this time with my kids is so precious and fleeting. I want them to know that I’m really there for them. I also want to instill a practice/habit in them that they learn to stay connected to those in front of them instead of the virtual world. I can’t help but wonder, what message are we sending our loved ones when they are trying to talk to us and, we are so focused on our phone.

“We’re living in an era where capturing moments using our phones is more important than actually living these moments with whoever is beside us.” ~Unknown

This blog post was originally published by Jennifer Gebhart on the blog Yoga and Inspiration on June 19, 2014.

Featured image: A Heart of Love made by Gail Spirit Sky.

Yogi of the Month: Andy

Fri, 06/20/2014 - 09:35

Meet our July Yogi of the Month, Andy Clingman! Andy is a Reiki Master, Ashtangi, musician and runner. Andy presence is reverent and grounding and his thoughtful nature inspires curiosity. Each month, Yoga on High is happy to partner with Manduka to feature a Yogi of the Month.  Learn more about this month’s featured Yogi, Andy!

What’s Your Yogi Color?

Tue, 05/27/2014 - 07:03

Yogi of the Month: Jenn

Tue, 05/20/2014 - 07:05

Meet this month’s Yogi of the Month! Jenn Gebhart is a spirited member of our YOHI community. She teaches MS, Prenatal and Mommy & Baby classes at YOHI, in addition to being a dedicated yoga student herself.   She truly lives her practice and is committed to her students needs, by sharing her wisdom and always being present with a thoughtful ear.  Her bubbly personality is infectious and she truly inspires us all.  Each Month Yoga on High is happy to partner with Manduka to feature a Yogi of the Month.  Learn more about this month’s Yogi of the Month, Jenn!

Doorways of Not-Knowing

Tue, 05/13/2014 - 07:28

by Virginia Macali

Each day that I cross the threshold of a patient’s room during my clinical rotation,  I am aware that I don’t know what I will find.  I enter the not-knowing with a sense of openness and anticipation.  Each new patient is a world of his or her own, with a unique history and personality. 

Referrals for UZ may come from a doctor, nurse, or family member.  Nurses provide some basic health information, but details are often slim.  Sometimes they let us know whether the patient is having a good day or a bad day and whether they might enjoy Urban Zen session today.  Even with those details, we don’t know what we’ll encounter.

When I pass through the doorway and rub the hand sanitizer into my palms, the patient may be experiencing discomfort that is mental, physical, emotional or spiritual.  We’ve worked with people who chose not to continue with cancer treatment, people who have been in car accidents, people with recent knee replacement, people at end of life, and people with memory issues.

We encounter wondrous people on our rounds. A woman who delighted in hearing her name spoken by the UZIT, a woman who spoke proudly of the difficulties she’d been through in her life and how she got through them, a man who used his wit to tease a UZIT, a woman who cruises through the building with her walker, greeting everyone with a smile, a memory care patient who laughs at a video of I Love Lucy.

One week we worked with a patient’s grandchildren who loved smelling a number of different essential oils and hearing the stories about them, a staff member who took time for a short reiki session and shed a tear for patients she worked with, office workers who enjoyed hearing about Urban Zen and having 10 minutes to smell lemon oil, receive reiki, do a brief body scan.  Each of these encounters left people feeling more refreshed and relaxed as they continued through their day.  I feel a deep satisfaction to being of service in this way.  And I await the next doorway and what I will find when I cross the threshold.

Virginia Macali is a trainee in the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program in Columbus, Ohio.  She is enjoying the clinical rotation at Wexner Heritage Village.

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