Exactly What We Need To Be Fully Human

“It’s also helpful to realize that this very body that we have, that’s sitting right here now…with its aches and pleasures…is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive.” –Pema Chodron

Last month, my back went out.

In the early part of the month, it was responding to too much time hunched over on the couch, sitting and reading texts for my classes in Community, Liberation and Ecopsychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. My body was also sending me messages–messages about how distasteful the reading was on Freud, about how unhealthy it was to try to read so much in such a short time…and more since where it was bugging me was directly related to too much time with the mouse, the computer mouse. It was uncomfortable and distracting and it got better after about 10 days and by doing some exercises my yoga teacher Bryan Legere showed me to do.

Then, when reading Freud again and preparing for the next round of classes, it really went out.  I couldn’t lift anything. I couldn’t bend down. Normal typical movements were shockingly painful. I started questioning my body and what I could and couldn’t do with it anymore as I near the landmark age of 50. I didn’t understand or didn’t want to understand the lessons my body was trying to teach me–except the lesson to take care, slow down. Which the injury required me to do since it hurt too much to do anything else but take care and slow down!

I was afraid about the next round of graduate classes–about getting the reading done, about sitting all day for three days. But somehow my body came through it.

One big difference is I started paying more attention to my dreams, writing some of them down, asking them what they were trying to tell me. In one dream, Jung came to me–along with the 12 corpses from a key dream of his. They were tree trunks –and they scared me so much I shrieked myself and my family awake. Later I dreamt my son and I escaped a prison like enclosure, dashed across a road, and dove over a wire fence into the bushes in the mud. Later in the dream, we found some of his and my children’s books, then children joined us to look at them. The children led us to a large assembly room where I discovered I had a voice and the people there wanted to hear what I had to say.

In another dream, I was teaching a class in a beautiful wood paneled seminar room. I was trying to feed my students–students from my graduate classes as well as from the community college classes I teach. I offered them hamburgers and asked them to show with their hands in their air how many they wanted. That day at school we had hamburgers! And I joined a meeting of the EcoDreamers Club who were sitting around a seminar table in a wood paneled room…

We are surrounded by the lessons we need to learn…we just have to pay attention to them. I am trying to figure out my dharma, to travel on the path. Too often it is too noisy to hear. Sometimes our bodies and our dreams must lead the way.

Featured Art “Saraswati” by Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo, one of the only westerners trained in the rare Buddhist art of silk applique thangkas. His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave his blessings to Leslie’s work and encouraged her to make images that speak to the spiritual aspirations of people across religions and cultures.

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