What I’m Reading Now: Fierce Medicine

When my daughter Rose was a toddler, she would go to live with her dad on alternate weekends and all summer long. She’d wave good-bye to me all the way down the street, and I’d stand on the sidewalk waving back, not taking my eyes off her until her dad’s car rounded the corner and went out of sight. My neighbor across the street would come over to ask how I was doing. She was well attuned to mother-daughter bonds, as she had a grown daughter who visited often with her husband.

“Does it get any easier?” I asked. I knew she suffered when her daughter left at the end of a weekend.

“No,” my neighbor answered. “I always hate to see her go. It feels like this tearing–just as strong now as when she was a little girl going off to kindergarten or when she left for college.”

Yesterday when Rose, now in her twenties, departed for a job in Colorado, that old tearing feeling returned. The grief her leaving stirred was mixed with the joy of seeing her finding her wings. As she was going out the door, she asked me to return a book to the library, as she’d run out of time. I left the book near our front door to take downtown next time I go.

Tonight, the book Fierce Medicine by Ana T. Forrest is still here, and I picked it up to page through after dinner. Now I’m so engrossed in it, I’ll be keeping it by my bed to read until I’m done (after renewing it from the library, of course). It seems synchronous that Rose should leave a book about “breakthrough practices to heal the body and ignite the spirit.” It offers a way out of pain.

When Rose used to go as a young girl, I’d go to my desk and write. I was writing stories about the river–I should say The River–which was the muse I followed beginning at age 17. The River gave me a hand out of adolescent pain into a world that connected my restless heart to the earth. It sounds funny to say water grounded me, but it did. Until finding The River and The River Community, I had no lifeline to make the sort of great contribution my teachers and parents always said I could.

The writing eased the pain of the loss I felt when Rose’s departures left me standing in the middle of a room wondering what to do instead of devote every waking minute to being a mother.

Now the writing has left me in pain, too, with aching arms, and poured out intellect and heart. I ended 2012 getting a long-time project ready for publication, and I feel emptied out by that as well as my girl going again.

Therefore, Fierce Medicine seems written just for me, with words I need to read now. I want an integrated, ferociously committed approach to easing the pain of loss–the departures of loved ones, the deadening of my live and lively body to sit at a desk and write for years, the fading of strength with age. I’m ready to sign on to an ignited spirit and healed body. My sense is that not turning away from this difficult moment, no longer ignoring the pain, is what is called for.

Here’s what Forrest’s website says about her book and life’s work:

Ana Forrest has been changing people’s lives for nearly 40 years.  Now this innovative yoga master draws on her own amazing life story to reveal powerful physical, emotional and spiritual practices for healing and growth.   In her new book, Ana offers a guide to living fully in our lives and bodies, allowing us to discover the healing power of our body’s wisdom.  From “stalking fear” to “walking free of pain” and “learning the art of truth speaking,” Ana distills and shares wisdom from her own life experiences, making complex ideas practical and easily applied, offering a new blueprint for life.

Find out more about it at http://www.forrestyoga.com/about/book.php.

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