Friday, May 03, 2013

Trip North Part Three

In a previous post, my mother and I had enjoyed dinner and heading to the first of the workshops and in a different post I shared how very skeptical my mother was going into this whole thing.  She later admitted she signed up for the workshop because she thought I would enjoy it and she was only “along for the ride.”  Frankly, she thinks it’s all woo woo.

Image found here.
Nevertheless, we headed off to Donna Eden's Energy Medicine Workshop where she was presenting with her husband and she had several people with her who were trained in the work, women who could walk around and ensure that participants were placing there hands where they ought to be and not an inch too far.  Donna was so warm, her presence, her energy, filled the room.  Nonetheless, I was there unsure, unconvinced, waiting to see what the weekend held.


We weren’t the only skeptics in the audience.  Even when I watched the dvd, I was looking for “the trick” of what she was doing.  After all, a clever person can use physics and will know how to place a hand to push down an arm that previously could not be pushed down. All it takes is placing the hand an inch higher or angling the fingers a different way, right?

On the second day of the workshop, my skepticism completely flew out the window, as did my mother’s.


It began with a handout that explains some of the ideas that are more fully fleshed out in the book and even had copies of images from the cards included in the Energy Medicine Kit.  I had a question about one of the charts and how to best use one of the exercises. 

Donna Eden started to answer my question and then called me onto the stage.  Ironically, she did not answer my question.  Instead, she asked me a few questions, did a few energy tests on me, then had one of her helpers pull a chair up, told me to sit down and think of something that was upsetting me.

It wasn’t even a week since Romanov’s death.  I was not ready for this but I sat there.  She told me to ignore the audience and spoke as I thought about Romanov, about his dying, about the sound of his yelps of pain after he came home from the surgery, the way it felt to use the towel to heft him up so he could try to walk, where he was when he died, what his eyes looked like when his life was gone but he was still there.

She placed her hands on my head, her palms at my temples, fingertips across my forehead.  I sat there, eyes closed, and the tears slowly came and rolled down my cheeks, collecting in the corner of my mouth before overflowing beyond down my chin and over the cliff of my jaw.  She spoke and I breathed into the emotions.

Eventually my pulse had returned but was still weak.  She gave me a homework assignment, to hold myself at certain points which would help soothe the extreme emotions I was feeling.  She then gave me a hug.  A real hug.  Not a polite one but a holding embrace. 

I returned to my seat and you know what?  I still wasn’t convinced.  It wasn’t that her holding these particular points didn’t calm me.  I felt the energy moving into and through me.  I would.  I’ve always been sensitive to energy.

The afternoon session that Saturday included our pairing up.  Naturally my mother and I paired up.  She lay on the floor, on her stomach, while I did some energy work on her.  One of the things Donna had us do was move our hands in a particular motion.  I couldn’t help but feel the Reiki flowing and I adjusted the height and speed of my hands to see if I could feel something more deeply, something other than the Reiki (albeit, energy is energy and Reiki = Prana = Chi = et al).  Just when I reached a point and rhythm that felt right, my mother let out a sigh and said “My legs are beginning to tingle.”

I was not the least bit surprised.

Then she had the person on the floor turn over and we did a simple energy test. 

This is when my skepticism fell away altogether.  You see, my mother put her arm up and I tried to push down.  Then I was told, along with all of the others who were doing the energy work, to do something that seemed so inconsequential.  Then push the arm again and see what happens.  Now, if I suspected that there was a trick in hand placement, how could I explain what happened?  My mother’s arm went from strong to weak and then, after I did a few vague things, moving my hands as directed, her arm would not budge again. 

Ummm . . .  yeah.  Hard to think it’s a trick when you do it yourself and it works. 


That afternoon she was signing books and my mother and I were on line with practically everyone else to have our books signed.  Unfortunately, there were so many people there to have their books signed and she likes to spend time with each person and not merely slash her name across the page.  As a result, one of her helpers asked if those of us toward the end of the line, including myself and my mother, would mind coming back tomorrow morning.  My mother and I were both amenable and we spent the rest of the day, reading, enjoying another delicious meal (which included dessert!) and we then went our separate ways.  She went to bed, to read, while I went to an energy yoga practice class.

I finally had a good night’s sleep that night.  

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Trip North 2013: An Interlude

Before I can continue with the details of my trip, I have to back up a bit to my last visit because my mother surprised me with a few things on the last trip that rippled over into this one. My mother and Larry have a yoga teacher they adore and she introduced my mother to a Reiki Master who relieved her of the neuropathic pain with which she has been living for a decade. My mother started using EFT to help her deal with the pain and even scheduled some Reiki treatments for Larry, a bigger skeptic even than she.

On the same visit she gave me The Energy Medicine Kit which I took home. She had one of her own and I knew it had been recommended to her which was reason enough to share with me but, because of my experience with Reiki, she was especially interested in passing along something that might be of use and interest to me.

I eventually got around to watching the dvd in the kit, after reading the booklet. It took me a few days to get through the dvd, however, because I wasn’t experiencing anything. It was too easy for me to turn the dvd off, study some more, do some housework, etc. I followed along with the dvd. I thumped, tapped, massaged, and nothing remarkable occurred. Then I touched a point as instructed and I felt as if I had stuck a needle into myself deep enough to plunge into the muscle beneath. I had clearly found a place that needed attention, an acupressure point on my body I should massage.

There were others and I was so surprised, I invited all of the precious women in my life to come over one Saturday to do the dvd together. I invited Shira, Erin, Mary Emily, Kanika, Elenore. Erin and Elenore could not make it but the rest did and we all did it together but I don’t think anyone else found a place that was as tender as that one I pressed when I was doing it by myself.

Disappointing? A little. When I told my mother about the experience, she confessed she still hadn’t made time to watch the dvd. She’s busy, and I certainly understand how hard it is to make time to do things.

During my visit I found out why. The Reiki woman had done something that my mother felt was a betrayal of her yoga friend. The kit, for better or worse, was associated with that problematic dynamic. (Actually, it reminds me of a dynamic in which I favored one friend over another because the one friend called me crying and hurt by something the third friend had done. I let go of the friendship with the one friend and remained loyal to the one which, ironically, bit me in the ass when all was said and done. But I digress and I have too long a history of misplaced trust to digress further.)

That was last year.  The kit giving and sharing.

Earlier this year, my mother started talking about where we would go this year during my visit. We used to always go to the New Age Health Spa (a wonderful, magical place that has, unfortunately, gone out of business and is seeking a new buyer). Last year we went to Omega but our trip last year did not go as we had planned and I stayed at Omega while she flew to Arizona. There was a death in the family and she insisted I stay and enjoy myself while she went to be by the side of her brother who sadly died before she arrived. She was there, however, to console his widow, his daughters, to share stories of her brother with others who loved him dearly.

We definitely considered going to Omega again but she had heard good things from her yoga teacher about Kripalu. My mother suggested we consider both places.

I still haven’t received a catalog from Omega, months after my repeated requests for one but I finally received one from Kripalu and looked through the different choices, trying to find something I thought my mother and I would both enjoy, preferably something focused on Buddhism or compassion. There were some programs I thought would be interesting but they were more my cup of tea than hers. Other programs that were a perfect fit unfortunately fell on dates that conflicted with other things—like my anniversary or Larry’s birthday.

So imagine my surprise when my mother said we were going to see Donna Eden and her husband at Kripalu. She registered us, got us rooms, and even scheduled my flights. The choice was out of my hands. I was confused, although not averse, mostly because my mother seemed so disinterested in the kit. She even bought me a copy of Energy Medicine so we could read the book before the workshop. Naturally, I started reading, between studying and all the other things we had going on these past few weeks.

When I boarded the plane for New Jersey, I had not finished the book. Not too surprisingly, neither had my mother. We headed off to Kripalu with a bit of skepticism but a willingness to be open to learning something new.

I wanted to share this bit of background for context about the rest of our Kripalu experience. I’ll post more about that tomorrow morning.

Trip North 2013 Part Two


Friday morning my mother and I were on our way. I was up for hours beforehand, having not slept well. My salvation that morning came in the form of my mother’s Keurig. Easy for me to make myself a cup of much-needed coffee. My mother carries a lot of guilt for owning this coffee maker but it is the only way she can make a decent cup of coffee so she lives with the environmentally-unfriendly use of this machine. Given her decades of recycling and organic eating, I think the planet will forgive.

The handyman doing the work in the kitchen actually arrived before my mother and/or Larry were up. I heard him come in and assumed my mother was moving about. They woke up shortly afterwards, in a frenzy because Larry had to drive to the city. So while my mother made his breakfast, I went back to the guest room and waited. I tend to withdraw in the morning because I know none of us are morning people and my being awake for hours means I’m more than a little awake and ready for the day while others are still tumbling around. Better for one and all if I just stay out of the way a bit longer.

Shortly after Larry left, my mother and I followed suit, heading to Kripalu. My mother had a cd she wanted to listen to on the drive and I was responsible for figuring out how to get the cd player to work in her BMW. Easier said than done, frankly. The thing has so many buttons and bells. As if that weren’t bad enough, it can hold several cds so you have to pick a slot.  I managed to get the cd into the player and we were good to go.
For those of you not familiar with Harry Nilsson, he had a 3.5 octave range and was admired by the Beatles. You may have never “heard of him” but you’ve heard him, believe me. His music is ubiquitous. So there we were, driving along, and on comes The Puppy Song. I fought not to sniffle or cry but it was not easy. My mother reached to fast-forward the cd past this one song but there was no point. The next song Without You is about the end of a relationship which was then followed by the song Me and My Arrow, a song about a boy and his dog, Arrow.  Really?  Could they have designed a more emotionally overwrought string of songs for me?  Possibly but I’m glad they didn’t have a fourth song to tug at my heartstrings.  I was really glad my mother had a box of tissues in her car.

We arrived at Kripalu before our rooms were ready but they have an arrangement where you can put your luggage in a common, albeit unlocked, room.  My mother and I left a couple of our bags in there but she kept her laptop bag in the car. We did not think through how to do this, however. We drove the car to the parking area and then lugged our bags back up to the building, a process that included carrying things up a flight of outdoor stairs. Some young women offered to help my mother but she politely refused the help.

Image found here.
Then she took a scary tumble. You know how you sometimes take one too many steps going up a flight of stairs and you sort of lose your balance?  Well, she had this suitcase on wheels (small enough to be carry-on for a flight) and the suitcase caused her to topple over, slamming hard into the ground.  Thankfully she didn’t hurt her knee or her hip but she landed on her hand and her left hand ring finger was purple and swollen for the rest of the trip.

Thankfully the young women who had offered to help were present, helped my mother to stand and insisted on helping her with her luggage, refusing to let her refuse.

We could have carried the bulkier ones in with us when we checked in.  Now we know better. While we waited for our rooms to be ready, we went to the gift shop, one of our usual first stops. We like to window shop a bit before we make any decisions. Then we went to the café for a cup of real coffee. Omega does the same thing, offering the real stuff at their café, which is a smart move. Don’t want your guests getting cranky and jittery from withdrawal. Black tea aside, if you're a coffee addict, nothing else will do.

I actually drank more coffee while at Kripalu than anywhere else.

Image found here.
Our rooms were eventually ready and they were nice, simple. Mine even had a small table and a nice sized bathroom. These were the most luxurious accommodations as many rooms do not have a separate bathroom.

We then went to dinner. The food was very gratifying and you can find some recipes on the Kripalu website. They try to allow for a variety of dietary needs. One long buffet offers meat and another the same length offers vegetarian. A smaller side-bar offers sandwiches, in case you don’t find the evening’s fair to your taste, that includes a Panini grill. As if that were enough, there’s even a “Buddha Bar” with vegan choices.  So really, there was enough variety. 

Image found here.
After a few days, I noticed a trend in the meals. The menu would be somewhat thematic so, aside from the vegan bar where the food was simple (brown rice, miso soup, dhal, curried vegetables, etc.), the main meals could be Mexican inspired or Italian or Mediterranean.  Breakfast, however, was less international.  Sure there was poached eggs rancheros but mostly it was pancakes and really delicious scones.  I can’t believe I only had one ginger scone. Lesson learned yet again—when they serve ginger scones, I’m not having any oatmeal.  I tried cream of quinoa. I was not impressed.

I was impressed, however, by the fact that breakfast is eaten in silence allowing for a mindful eating experience. One can actually do this at any time during the visit because a small room is made available across from the main eating area for those who are enjoying a silent retreat. I hate to say, however, that one morning for breakfast we were sitting not far from a table where some of the volunteers were sitting at their table, whispering and giggling. I don't think my mother noticed or heard although I noticed that thereafter we decided to eat in a different part of the large dining space.

After our first fully satisfying meal at Kripalu, we headed to the first session of the workshop but I’ll save that for the next, very likely longer, post.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Trip North 2013 Part One


Image found here.

On 18 April, I flew up to New Jersey.  This trip had been planned for a while and events preceding my departure made me want to stay home.  Rob insisted I go. I wanted to stay here. I wanted to go.  I listened to those I love, packed my things, and I left.

The flight was delayed and I always promise myself a dessert if I a flight is delayed.  But I didn’t indulge.  Instead, I treated another woman to a cup of tea.  I met her when I generously gave my seat to a woman so she and her husband could sit side-by-side.  Because of this, I was standing by the gate for a few minutes that stretched and stretched.

Speculations would fly faster than the plane and I was oblivious to much of what had happened.  No.  Not oblivious.  I was already overwhelmed. How could I face what was happening in Boston?  I couldn’t.  It was too much.  And there were several people who believed the reason the flight was delayed was because of the bombing.

The truth is, I still haven’t been able to process current events.


Cafe Intermezzo
While hovering, I chatted with a woman who was traveling to see her son and his wife.  So, when the flight delay was announced, I suggested we both go get something to eat, someplace we could sit down.  I had a cup of coffee.  She had a cup of tea.  We shared a lovely conversation. 

We even hugged when they started boarding the plane. 

I don’t know why but every time I fly up north, it is always a better experience than when I fly home again.  The flight attendants are more attentive, friendlier, and, even when the flight gets bumpy (and it did), the overall experience is more positive. 

We landed and soon enough I was in the car and on my way to my mother’s home.  I never lived in this house, myself, but there are things scattered around this house, thing with which I myself grew up, that leave me feeling like I’ve come home again.  In the guest room, there’s a lamp that I think we’ve had for 40 or so years and there it is, still pretty and adding a soft pink glow to a room.

Neither my mother’s shih-tzu Lizzie (named after Elizabeth Bennett) nor her parrot Beauty were there.  It was just me, my step-father, and my mother.  Perhaps it was just as well. Being greeted by a fluffy dog so soon . . .

I unpacked a little, mostly rearranging the things I’d packed into separate purposes.  Some were moved into my packed bag.  I always pack an extra bag because my mother is so generous that I inevitably end up carrying more home with me than I bring.  So generous, in fact, she gave me this bag I pack one year when I needed to carry too many things home with me.  I still think of it as her bag and carry it back to New Jersey every time I go for a visit. 

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Image found here.
If nothing else, it keeps me from bringing home yet another new bag.  Besides, I would need that extra bag the next day and not just when it was timed to fly home again. 

That night we went out for dinner.  It was necessary because there is work being done in the kitchen—cracks in the joins and paint that needs to be refreshed.  We went to the usual spot they take me: Café Panache.  My mother and I ordered the same thing and she insisted I have dessert, which I did.  So duck confit in a cherry coulis followed by a white chocolate mousse. 

Decadent.  Delicious. 

Larry was in pain.  He is having problems with his neck for which he is seeing a doctor and a chiropractor (at his doctor’s insistence).  The pain is sometimes shooting, making it difficult for him to use his right arm, in particular.  I remember breaking my collar bone and how difficult it was to remember not to use my dominant hand.

I slept very poorly that night.  I woke up several times because of a sharp pain in my back, on the left side, where one would get a kidney punch.

I hate having a long exhausting day and not being able to sleep but it was so good to be someplace I felt loved, away from the sadness that surrounded me at home.