Friday, April 1, 2011

A healing touch

Over the last few days I’ve gone into a fairly regular kind of energy slump where even listening or thinking becomes painfully exhausting. It’s as though my body is so tired that even moving my mental muscles to form a thought makes me ache.

Yesterday, as I was lying in bed I caught myself trying to do a metta (compassion) practice when I was too tired to think straight. I was trying to form kind and caring thoughts about being in pain, but this mental ‘trying’ just increased my pain.  Hmph!  I was stuck. 

Then a section of Toni Bernhard’s book ‘How to be Sick’ (oh, how I love that title!) came to mind. Toni writes about cultivating compassion towards herself in the face of chronic illness by using phrases of care and understanding such as 'My poor body, working so hard to feel better'.  She then writes:  'Whatever words I choose, I often stroke one arm with the hand of the other. This has brought me to tears many times, but tears of compassion are healing tears.'

Following Toni’s suggestion, I stopped trying to think compassionate thoughts and just started stroking the top of my hand with my other hand.  This kind, compassionate touch went beyond all thought, straight into the heart of the matter; ‘Oh, I’m sick.  How sad.’ 

I was transported back in time to when I was very young – 5 and 6 years old – and spent months in hospital with asthma. I was not only isolated from the world, but also cut-off from my immediate surroundings by a thick plastic tent covering my bed.  Asthma medication was pumped into the tent, so I could breathe it in and out. The intention was to heal, and it probably saved my life many times over, but the experience was confusing and so very lonely. 

The simple act of touching my own hand brought me back to this sad time; a time where all I really wanted was kindness and a sense of connection – to hope, life, and the outside world.  It felt as though offering myself this care, even 30 years on, was a kind of healing. This beautiful and simple practice gave me a sense of mothering and caring for myself. 

Thankyou Toni! 

Beautiful Gili Air - Lombok - Indonesia

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad to hear that stroking your hand really worked! I do it all the time, especially when I've overdone it and can feel a negative self-judgment start to arise. (Well, sometimes it does arise!) I try to remember to stroke my arm and talk nicely to myself. That human touch is amazing, isn't it?


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