Monday, February 13, 2012

"We are, each of us, a multitude."

I had my Women's Cognitive Therapy Group tonight.  We listened to a pretty standard type of guided meditation used in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy that had us check in with all the different parts of our body to see where we were holding any anxiety or stress.  If you have not tried one of these, they can be very relaxing... they can also be difficult to do because it requires you to slow down and methodically check in on each area of your body.  I find it difficult and often inconvenient to do this I'm upset about something or feeling anxious.  Sometimes as I try to do it, I feel like a car with it's wheels spinning, trying to go 80mph, with the brakes on.  It's hard to slow your mind when it wants to race around.  But with practice, this becomes a skill that you can eventually use to invoke calmness almost instantly, at any time.

I didn't have trouble easing into this one tonight though, because I had one of those "lost" days today,
the kind of day that goes by in a haze when you are very ill, where the next day you are all out of sync with the world because you feel like you completely missed the day before.  Well, Sunday night my son announced in The Charcoal Pit (one of our favorite DE restaurants from our youth) that he did not feel well.  Five seconds later, he was like a cherub on a fountain, spewing chocolate milk, and thankfully little else, in an arcing stream from his mouth onto the floor.  There was a time when I would have been horrified and embarrassed in this situation.  Last night I mainly just felt terrible for my son and really bummed-out that this meant I was not going to get to have ice cream in one of the few restaurants that actually serves butterscotch (not caramel) as a sundae topping.

After I got him to go to the bathroom before we left, where we discovered he also had some diarrhea (yay!), he passed out.  We drove the hour and a half home with only two episodes of dry heaves, and I got him to bed.  I spent the night on the floor next to his bed and all of today resting with him in bed, on the couch, in my comfy recliner.  My husband came home to get my daughter from school and my son fell asleep on the recliner with me.  I needed to stay put or I'd wake him, so I did.  I ended up having about three hours in and out of consciousness in the same position on that chair, cocooning myself around his little body.  Consequently, I arrived at group in somewhat of a haze, which is quite conducive to guided meditation.

All of this is to lead up to a point that I rediscovered and refined for myself tonight.  We were talking about being present and aware of our bodies.  We recognized that having a body is not safe!  People get sudden diagnoses of fatal illnesses, and not infrequently.  You never know when you're going to get your wake-up call that yes, you too are mortal.  Even if you are meticulous about your health you could get that call.  There is no guarantee you're not going to get side-swiped by some meth-head avoiding police pursuit and crossing into your lane.  Maybe tomorrow I will slip and fall down the stairs and become a paraplegic.  Who knows?  This is frightening and there can be the feeling of your body betraying you.

There is a website that has auto-tuned some of the great voices in science and connected quotes of theirs together to make songs.  It's really quite clever, though I feel songs one, two, and four (listed last on the site: A Glorious Dawn, We Are All Connected, The Unbroken Thread) to be the best.  Because of these songs, I have these quotes in my head and when we spoke of our bodies, I heard the auto-tuned voice of Carl Sagan, which is a bit like Kermit the Frog, singing:
Every cell is a triumph of natural selection...and we are made of trilions of cells...Within us is a little universe....Those are some of the things that molecules do, given four billion years of evolution....We are, each of us, a multitude.  
Hearing this reminded me of how I have been thinking of my body lately.

Have you seen the movie Despicable Me?  If not, consider seeing it as soon as possible a mandatory assignment.  In the movie, there is a scene where the main character, Gru, who is very much like Steve Jobs, holds a staff meeting of sorts, with his "minions," which are little yellow, pill-shaped guys about two and a half feet high, wearing overalls and having either one or two eyes encased in metal goggles.  Oh, and also they are bright yellow.  So as the camera pans down from the street level of Gru's house down into the underground depths of his laboratory and munitions plant.  As it does, you see minions all doing their different jobs, some on their breaks, some attending an aerobics class (Gru is into work-life balance?), many carrying things here and there, as they being told to assemble for the meeting.  I really see this as being very like my body.  My cells are the minions.  I am Gru.  I am in charge.

Gru has a paternal-like relationship with his minions.  They do whatever he says and he provides them with what they need for life.  He knows every one of them by name, even though to us they all look pretty much the same.  He cares about each one, as you can see when he enters the meeting, greeting them individually and inquiring into their lives.  The whole film leads to a build-up on whether or not he is ever going to give his adopted three girls a good-night kiss.  After he finally does, he closes their door to find a long line of minions, each wanting their own bedtime kiss.  So it occured to me that I could do this visualization in such a way that my cells of my body are all my minions, and I am their Gru.  When I think of them this way, I feel a love well up in me for each of my my little guys, doing their best to do their job.  I love them all.  They are mine.  It is my job to make sure they have everything they need, from jobs, to break time, and work-life balance.  It perhaps my most important job to give them each a kiss goodnight!  So I think from now on I am going to try to do these visualizations of my body more often and to see the camera panning up from my toe minions through my laboratory and munitions plant to my scalp minions and I am going to love them and be proud of them and give them each a kiss good night.  We are me.  I am not alone.  I am a city, a whole world, and my consciousness is the mayor, leader, the Gru.   "We are, each of us, a multitude."

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