“Shoulder Work Ahead”
I passed several such signs on the long drive to University of Earth. My left shoulder had been bothering me for some time. Perhaps this was a message from the Universe that material might come up during the Holotropic Breath workshop. Or not. My first two sessions had been markedly different, so I had no expectations about this one. On the first night I mentioned the highway sign to an amused circle of attendees. Everything had been lovingly prepared by UofE co-founders Janet & Rich. No detail had been overlooked, as we settled into our cozy cabins. As I took my mid-afternoon nap I felt I was surrounded by all my deceased family members. They stood around me in a circle as the forested mountains spread up behind them. Then I realized that the evergreen trees were actually more ancestors, millions of them, in ever widening circles. I didn’t know what it meant, merely a reminder that this was a sacred place.
The next afternoon as I lay on the mat, waving my arms in time to the lively music, my shoulder was indeed aching. Stacia, the workshop leader had repeatedly suggested that one could ask for body work, and she would direct pressure against the area. For some reason I wouldn’t, didn’t, couldn’t, ask for help. My internal conversation seemed to go on for quite a while (one loses track of time during the sessions) until I ordered myself to ask my sitter to summon Stacia. As I lifted my shoulder, she pressed gently downward. Repeatedly. It felt like there was poison in the shoulder. As she continued exerting pressure she suggested I let go. Suddenly I started yelling. At the top of my lungs. Long and loud and filling the yurt. I was bellowing, perhaps disturbing others. My yelling continued. There was no story behind either the aching shoulder or the vocalizing. Just physical responses, energetic release Stacia patiently pushed repeatedly, until I relaxed, and she momentarily massaged the area.
Then I was back in my song-filled dreamscape. Not much narrative this time. One image of a tiny jewel shining high above me. I reached up to hold it and it got bigger, and bigger. I knew to bring it close to me as it enlarged, and then popped it into my… mouth. Now my whole body was sparkling and shining, as I extended my arms and legs into a shimmering starfish.
At one point came a message “Bring My Baby Back!” What might that mean? It repeated, sometimes as if it were a do-wop song title. I had obviously given birth to no baby, perhaps I was the baby. Maybe it was a message about my grandmother, who lost her first child after six days, and then her second (my mother) was kidnapped at the age of six years. Maybe it was about Allen’s birth mom, with whom he had just reconnected after 62 years. Or maybe there was another family of origin story I didn’t know about. The message continued, but I gave up trying to figure it out.
I continued to coast on the music, sometimes seeing snippets of images, or experiencing nuggets of feelings or thoughts, but nothing cohesive. I was floating, flying, hovering over the mat. As the music became more mellow, I could hear the river rumbling nearby. Slowly the session came to an end and I was able to reenter the “real” world fairly effortlessly. I slept soundly and explored the campus along the rushing Feather River’s Middle Fork. I saw a family of eight deer prance across my path, snowflakes suspended precariously on a spider web, and water droplets on garden netting shimmer like diamonds. Someone even said they saw otters cavorting in the river.
Taking an alternate route home I noticed more signs reading: “Low Shoulder”. My shoulder girdle did seem lower, much less bothersome. Was it the Universe or was it Rich, with his attention to every detail, who had placed those signs along the highway?
Coda: A warm bath, a good night’s sleep, and in the middle of this morning’s meditation, I realized it was Mother Earth insisting, pleading, singing, shouting, “Bring back my baby.” I am that baby, we all are.
“…We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion-year-old carbon, and we got to get ourselves back to the garden…”