Friday, September 24, 2010

Returning to Earth

I admit it: I'm nervous. Our first master class with visiting teacher Doug Keller begins tonight and I have been scurrying from one thing to another for the past week or so, full of nervous energy. Or maybe it's fear. Or excitement. Or some combination of all these emotions.

One of the reasons I've been running to and fro is that the very day I made my last post turned out to be my 99-year-old grandmother's last day on earth. She died peacefully that evening, just before midnight, in her sleep. It was not an unexpected death, as she'd been declining for several months, and one of the first things I did was write a post about her on my other blog. The next thing I did was reserve a flight to Idaho to attend her funeral, and I have been in constant motion ever since.
We buried her in the Chilly cemetery where most of my ancestors on my father's side have been laid to rest for the past one hundred years or so. 

Located next to a butte in the Lost River Valley, this cemetery is not one of those manicured golfcourse-like places but is covered with the natural flora of this part of Idaho. The sagebrush has been kept at bay beyond the fence by repeated extractions, but the brown shrubs visible around the headstones are tumbleweeds, impossible to eradicate in those parts. That red spot on the hillside is a quartz mine that I've spent many hours in, looking for gold that may or may not be there.

I returned home from the funeral just in time to clean out my desk at work and turn in my badge. The next day I woke up at 3:15 am feeling a sore throat coming on, distressed that I was getting sick just as yoga teacher training was about to start. The day after that I slept until 9:00 am, feeling disconnected from the time zone I was in and the Virginia earth I was now walking on. This discombobulation I felt came to a painful peak yesterday afternoon when I decided I needed to harvest the last of the hot habanero peppers from my garden since fall was now upon us. I thought about using rubber gloves, but unable to locate the pair I thought I once had, and impatient to finish the job, forged ahead. I picked the peppers, sliced them into a jar and poured a mixture of equal parts vinegar and sugar over the slices to pickle them.

Within minutes, my left ring finger felt like I'd stuck it into a campfire. The capsacin in those habaneros had worked its way into a tiny cut in that finger and I was in agony. I held my hand under running water, which helped, but not as much as plunging it into an ice bath. I continued this until it was time to go to yoga class. Still in pain, nearly five hours after slicing the peppers, I didn't know what to do. Should I skip the class and stay home with my hand under the faucet? Or should I pack some ice in a plastic container and go?

I went, but felt rather ridiculous sitting on my yoga mat with my hand plunged into ice. I could barely pay attention, but as we turned inward, focusing on the breath and concentrating on very subtle adjustments of position at each of the seven chakra centers, I began to calm down. I put the ice aside and somewhere in the middle of the meditation on the seventh chakra I realized the pain was gone.

It could have been a coincidence. It could be that capsaicin wears off after six hours, for all I know. It could be that sometimes pain is required to focus my attention when I get totally caught up with my own life and all the stresses it brings.
Namaste from the Lost River Valley

Or it could be that by remembering to breathe, I finally returned to earth. There may be more lessons in this event, but for now I will let the memories of the last two weeks settle into place within me. And I will remember to breathe.

1 comment:

  1. Gee, Raima, can you do anything in something approximating moderation?!? Who pickles habenero peppers...without gloves? Don't think it's any coinkydink that the pain shifted as you were working up the chakras. And the last comment that should be first: I absolutely love this picture of you. It's!