In Solidarity

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Photo from NBC News

 

“We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”

-Women’s March on Washington Mission & Vision

 

I was in NYC during the march. Our hotel just a couple blocks from Trump Towers. The bus  to the city on Friday simmered with energy and bright eyes. Strangers striking up conversation. We were moving in synch, with a common purpose.

Going to the March.

Except that I wasn’t going to be marching. I wanted to. I believe strongly in the mission of the March. I believe in the power of the voice of the masses, standing together, standing strong, uniting in peace.

I was going to New York with my daughter for college interviews. While I wouldn’t be present for the interviews, I needed to be near her. Available. She had to be my first priority.

While I longed to share my voice with the masses, while I longed to stand among my fellow women (and men, and children) and chant for our rights, our safety, our health, our families, I needed to be on the other side of the Park, separate from the crowd.

But I knew I could be a part of the March, from a distance.

So while my daughter was interviewing, I stole away from the college and found a dry bench in Central Park, among the Saturday runners and dog walkers. I sat with the sun on my face, my bag between my knees. I lowered my gaze, breathed deeply, and began to meditate. I sent my energy to the masses and to the cause.

My participation was quiet. I wasn’t bouncing off a multitude of emboldened bodies. I wasn’t raising my voice together with them. But I was participating.

In solidarity.

Pre-Dawn Meditation

 

 

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Scenario 1.

I’m lying in bed. My room is chilly but it’s warm under the covers. Cozy. It’s 4am. Two more hours before I need to get up.

But I can’t sleep.

I turn over and reach for my iPad. I’m going to read. I’ll read and fall back asleep.

But sleep doesn’t reclaim me, so I check my email. And the weather. A little FaceBook too. I peruse the NYTimes, click on a few other links, answer another email or two.

Then, before I know it, my alarm goes off. Two hours have passed. I haven’t been up and about, but I haven’t really been resting either.

I get up feeling tired and somewhat dull.

 

Scenario 2.

I’m lying in bed. My room is chilly but it’s warm under the covers. Cozy. It’s 4am. Two more hours before I need to get up.

But I can’t sleep.

I reach for my hooded sweatshirt and a pair of socks, and I crawl over to my zafu (my meditation pillow) in the corner of my bed room. I might strike a match to light a candle,  or I might simply sit in the darkness, legs  gently crossed in front of me, hands resting on my knees.

I close my eyes. I breathe deeply into my belly, and exhale every ounce of air, and then a little more.

On the next inhalation I softly lengthen my neck as my belly expands. As I exhale I sway my torso, my serpentine spine flexing and gently twisting, elongating and expanding as my breath pours out of my body.

As my spine elongates and expands, I gently rotate my shoulders. My jaw and brow soften. My breath flows deeply in, and smoothly out, out, out.

The house is quiet and dark. The glow of headlights swoop through my room as a car swooshes past.

I breathe deeply into my belly. I breathe out long and slowly, slowly, slowly.

In this dark pre-dawn hour, there are few thoughts bouncing around my head and a liquid quiet pours through my body like a dark and gentle river. I am lost and comforted, both surrounded and filled with that rich quiet.

My spine sways and lengthens again, cobra-like, with my next breath.

I am only my body and my breath. I feel only the air around me, entering my body, exiting my body, the zafu beneath me, the backs of my hands on my thighs.

I hear my orange cat pad over. He sniffs at me then curls into my lap. My mouth curves into a smile and I rest a hand on his silky, purring belly.

I don’t know how long I sit in that gentle nether space between night and dawn.

Eventually my legs and feet are tingling thickly. I slowly extend my knees and the cat leaves. I blow out the candle. I crawl back up into bed and under the covers and slide into a deep sleep.

My alarm sounds some time later and I wake, refreshed.

 

 

 

 

 

When Life Fills Up

themetapicture.com via pinterest

themetapicture.com
via pinterest  US Space Station in front of the moon

 

Yesterday, I posted a photo from my morning hike.  Deb posted the response, “Thankfully it energized you so that you could return circulation to the right side of my body!  THANK YOU!”   Thank YOU, Deb.  That comment totally made my day.  It reminded me how the little things we do for ourselves really do make a difference.

You see, I’ve been really busy lately.  As a friend put it, I’ve “had my hands full.”  Which is terrific if you’re a massage therapist. It means you’re helping a lot of people, which is why you do what you do.  A full schedule also means you’re  paying your bills and your taxes and that you can join that CSA and that you’re actually going to be able to send your daughter to Costa Rica in the spring.  But a full schedule also means long days.  And that frequently means making sacrifices elsewhere.  Like not making it to your daughters’ soccer games.  And eating ramen noodles or cereal for dinner.   Like not discovering the vacuum had died until the dog hair and dust bunnies were thick in the corners.  Like being a little tired and preoccupied when your daughters are talking about an incident in biology and not really hearing them.

Thank goodness for small pleasures and blessings.  Morning walks in the woods.  Cooking potato latkes for breakfast with Delaney on her day off.  Watching the Space Station cross the night sky with friends.  Breakfast sandwiches at the river with a neighbor.  The smile on a client’s face when the pain is gone. Game night.  Pinterest.  Consumer Reports arriving in the mail with “Vacuums” as their headline.  Amazon.com.  Clear blue skies.  $.10 off on a gallon of gas.  FaceTime.  A cup of hot tea.  My meditation cushion.  Not needing to light the wood furnace even though it’s mid-October. These are the things that re-charge me, that fill me up, that nourish me.  Some I seek out.  Some are gifts.  This is the good stuff that keeps me going so that I can do the good stuff I need to do.  What fills you up in hectic times?  What keeps you going?

Bear Returns (yet again)

NJDEP Division of Fish & Wildlife - Know the Bear Facts-Black ... www.state.nj.us -

NJDEP Division of Fish & Wildlife – Know the Bear Facts-Black …
http://www.state.nj.us

 

So I’ve picked-up the contents of 3 contractor bags of trash two days in a row now.  That means Bear and I have used 9 huge contractor garbage bags instead of three.  So this morning when I visited the fall-out of Bear’s most recent rampage, I decided to just let it lie.  I know that sounds gross.  And I’m not proud to admit that I’m leaving garbage all over my barn.  But seriously?  Come on!  So I’m using the “wasteful” card.  Can’t “waste” any more plastic.  That , and the “I just don’t want to pick garbage any more!” card.   I’ll pick it all up one last time tomorrow morning, when the dump/recycling center FINALLY re-opens and I can get rid of all the trash.  A friend suggested I set-up a motion sensor camera so I can see what Bear looks like.  Great idea!  Several of my friends use these cameras in the woods to capture images of wild life, so I hope to get my hands on one by day’s end.  Maybe I’ll get a good shot or two of Bear enjoying the smorgasbord I’ve left out for her/him.

I invited Bear to join me in my dreams last night, but my exhausted sleep was so deep that I don’t recall a single dream. However, meditating yesterday was another story.  I experienced two visions, of sorts.  In the first meditating vision/dream I was standing and Bear was walking towards me.  S/he circled me on all fours, the stood behind me and placed her/his front paws gently on my shoulders, claws and all.  There we stood for some time.  After that “experience” drifted away, I was again sitting in Meditation Circle, yet a bear cub walked over to me and laid in my lap, on it’s back.  We cuddled, as you would with a toddler human.  Both of these “visions” felt like an initiation of sorts.  An initiation and welcoming into the medicine of Bear.  The journey has begun.

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll have a photograph of my night time visitor.

Mandy Meyer-Hill

NYS Licensed Massage Therapist

Stairway Healing Arts Center

1 Washington Street
Cambridge, NY  12816
518-265-7889
StairwayHealingArts@gmail.com

 

Night Time Visitor

Bear Medicine by Cathy McClelland www.dragonflytahoe.com - 648 × 680 - More sizes

Bear Medicine by Cathy McClelland
http://www.dragonflytahoe.com – 648 × 680 – More sizes

Garbage, garbage everywhere.  The trash can was turned over.  Three contractor bags ripped open, their contents strewn across the dirt floor.  What a freaking mess!  And the smell…    I hadn’t even had my tea yet.  It was 6am.  I was taking the dogs out for a quick morning vigil and planned to hop back in bed with a cup of tea and my iPad.  Instead, I was picking up debris and filling three new contractor bags.  YUCK.  Double yuck.  And I was wondering how and when the dogs had gotten into it.  My first instinct was, “Bear,” but I quickly ruled that out.  Sure, we’ve seen bears in the fields around my house.  People in town told me they’d parked on the road in front of my home  (along with several other cars) and watched a 400 pounder (how do men always know how much they weigh?) meander across my side lawn.  But that was a few years ago.  My neighbors take in their bird feeders nightly because so many have been ravaged by the local black bears.  But having one in my barn seemed out of the question.  So I packed the mess back into bags and went inside, grumbling at my naughty dogs.

But later that day I ran into Mike Bodnar, my neighbor, friend, and NYS Forest Ranger.  “Hey, Mandy!  We say a bear coming out of your barn last night.”  He held his hand waist-high, showing me the bear’s height on all fours.   Far out!  Pretty darn cool.  What’s not cool is that the dump isn’t open again until Wednesday, so I think I’ll be picking up a lot of garbage over the next few days.  This morning when I peeked into the barn, I moaned at the mess that had returned in the night.  I’m putting rubber gloves on my shopping list today.

In Native American traditions, different animals (totems) carry different “medicine” and messages.  Not medicine in the pharmaceutical sense.  But opportunities, signs, and messages for mental, emotional, and spiritual growth and healing.  Hawks and crows have been strong totems for me over the years.  Now that I’ve been twice visited by a black bear in as many days, I’m going to take this as a note to investigate the medicine that bear carries.  Time for a little research.  I’ll meditate on Bear.  I’ll draw his/her image into my mind as I meditate.  Before I go to sleep, I’ll invite Bear into my dreams.  I’ll Journey with Bear.   I’ll speak to my shaman friends, I’ll turn to my books, and I’ll  troll the internet for information.  To me, this as a sign that a new door is opening in my spiritual life.  I welcome it.  And I’ll try to remember that as I pick-up the trash.

Mandy Meyer-Hill

NYS Licensed Massage Therapist

Stairway Healing Arts Center

1 Washington Street
Cambridge, NY  12816
518-265-7889
StairwayHealingArts@gmail.com

 

Everything Will Be All Right

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As I was trolling Pinterest this morning, this quote caught my attention.  I immediately heard Bob Marley singing in my head:  “Don’t worry, about a thing.  ‘Cause every little thing, is gonna be all right!”  So I wanted to post this, because I know someone out there is worrying about something.  We all need a little encouragement and comfort when we’re worrying.  Keep the faith.  Stay the course.  Everything is going to be alright.  Worrying doesn’t help anyone or anything.  And remember to take good care of yourself right now.

Mandy Meyer-Hill

NYS Licensed Massage Therapist

Stairway Healing Arts Center

1 Washington Street
Cambridge, NY  12816
518-265-7889
StairwayHealingArts@gmail.com

Now is the Time

from Pinterest, where else?

from Pinterest, where else?

 

I have some free time this morning.  There are plenty of things I could be looking after at my house and at the studio.  Plenty.  But the sun is shining.  The sky is blue.  It’s about 55 degrees outside.  My bicycle is just outside the back door….   I’m thinking about that sunshine on my face.  The breeze on my skin.  My beating heart.  The scent of the river, the dirt road, freshly cut grass, the warm air mingling with the cool earth…  That’s it.  I’m skipping the other responsibilities.  They’ll still be there when I get home tonight (sometime after 8pm…). I’m gonna go for a bicycle ride.  Gonna seize the moment and the day.  Now is the right time to do something good for myself.  The time is now.  How about you?

Painting the Stars

Pinterest, of course

Pinterest, of course

Today, my friend Maria and I painted stars on the walls of the Meditation room. The paint is silvery. Sparkly.  Etheric.  Maria’s an artist.  I am not.  So we practiced a bit on some cardboard.  We laughed.  We practiced until it felt easy.  Fluid.  We made a swooping splash of stars around the doorway.  They trailed across the wall of sky.  Then we painted another trail across the adjacent piece of sky.  We kept switching places, because our styles were quite different.  Maria taught me to step back and just look.  This was a great lesson for me.  I tend to dive in and hold my breath until a project’s finished, not looking at the big picture until it’s over and too late to change anything.  But she reminded us both to stop, observe, see where it was headed and how we liked that.  It gave us the space to ponder things and decide where we wanted to take this project.  I’m going to practice this “stepping back” more in other aspects of my life too.  I love the results.  I also loved the process.  Thank you Maria!

 

Maria Painting the Stars. The blessings of friendship.

Maria Painting the Stars.
The blessings of friendship.

 

Meditation

Thanks Pinterest!

Thanks Pinterest!

 

Each morning at Stairway Healing Arts Center begins with a half hour of meditation.  When I arrive at Stairway in the morning I light a bit of incense to welcome the day.  Then I sit down in the meditation room, light a candle, ring a bell, and meditate for 1/2 hour. These sessions are free of charge and are open to the public.  I love days that several people participate.  There’s a special, gentle power during a group meditation.

After meditating I feel refreshed.  Centered.  Grounded.  And that feeling stays with me through the day.  It’s healthy.   I respond more calmly to problems and crises that arise.  My faith in solutions has become more absolute.   I can’t imagine a day starting any other way.

Join us for daily meditation at Stairway Healing Arts Center.  Mondays and Tuesdays at 10:30am, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 9am.  Early morning meditations (6 or 6:30am!) will begin sometime in June.  Stay tuned.

Mandy Meyer-Hill

NYS Licensed Massage Therapist

Stairway Healing Arts Center

1 Washington Street
Cambridge, NY  12816
518-265-7889
StairwayHealingArts@gmail.com

 

What a Therapeutic Massage Looks Like

photo reposted from pinterest:  kitt3yzzz.tumblr.com

photo reposted from pinterest: kitt3yzzz.tumblr.com

I totally agree with this quote.  Music, to me, is EXACTLY what feelings sound like.  Whenever I listen to music (particularly classical) feelings, emotions, and scenes play through my head and my body.  Music always describes a story or a feeling to me.  It’s how I experience what I’m hearing.

Something I struggle with is describing a therapeutic massage.  It would be so much easier to talk about massage therapy if I could just take a picture of it.  Like a work of art.  An artist blogger can snap a photo of what they’re working on so you can see what they’re describing and discussing.  Of course it isn’t the same as experiencing their work first hand, but it really helps.  You can look at what they’re describing and discussing.  But a massage is a completely sensory experience.  You can’t look at a massage.  You can’t see it.  You can’t listen to it.  So I’m asking myself today, what would a picture of a massage look like?  Would it begin with pain or discomfort?  What does that look like?  Stark colors, perhaps.  Shocking yellow against gray-brown with lots of sharp edges.  Maybe.  Then the massage would enter.  A gentle hue.  Maybe robin’s egg blue.  Swirling gently.  Increasing in intensity and color.  Washing away the sharp edges.  Softening the hues.  Changing the consistency and intensity.  Morphing the picture into soft blues, royal blues and purples, silver and gold threads woven through.  A tranquil yet powerful picture. Abstract.  Powerful.  Clear.  Clean.  Vital.

After I wrote this I googled “the color of pain”.  This is what I found:

the-color-of-pain-tony-rodriguez.jpg

the-color-of-pain-tony-rodriguez.jpg

It’s quite similar to what I had envisioned in my head.  I like this.  So, what can the internet serve-up so we can “look at” the entrance of therapeutic massage into pain and discomfort?  I’m going to google “colors of soothing, healing”.   This was the first image I liked:images

It works, but it’s not what I was picturing.  So now I’m going to google “swirling blues”, because that’s what I envisioned as the entrance of massage into pain and discomfort.  This is more like it:  images-1

and:  images-2

Now I’m going to google “the colors of tranquil power”, because those are the best words I can think of to describe the post-massage experience.  Let’s see what there is.  Voilá:

082108_mood02  found on apartmenttherapy.com

082108_mood02 found on apartmenttherapy.com

Mandy Meyer-Hill

NYS Licensed Massage Therapist

Stairway Healing Arts Center

1 Washington Street
Cambridge, NY  12816
518-265-7889
StairwayHealingArts@gmail.com