Saturday, June 7, 2014

Peace and the Practice of RAIN

"I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace." ~Helen Keller

In True Refuge, Tara Brach talks about RAIN:
About twelve years ago, a number of Buddhist teachers began to share a new mindfulness tool that offers in-the-trenches support for working with intense and difficult emotions. Called RAIN (an acronym for the four steps of the process), it can be accessed in almost any place or situation. It directs our attention in a clear, systematic way that cuts through confusion and stress. The steps give us somewhere to turn in a painful moment, and as we call on them more regularly, they strengthen our capacity to come home to our deepest truth. Like the clear sky and clean air after a cooling rain, this mindfulness practice brings a new openness and calm to our daily lives.
Here are the four steps of RAIN presented in the way I’ve found most helpful:

R Recognize what is happening
A Allow life to be just as it is
I Investigate inner experience with kindness
N Non-Identification.

I know why it's called a practice. I heard Tara speak at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center in 2013 and began to practice RAIN. I struggled and stumbled and wrestled and fought with all that happened to me.

And then, through massage therapy sessions at Sollievo which incorporates Zero Balancing into the sessions, I allowed healing tears and RAIN to fall to bless and heal the wounds of paralytic polio and trauma.

I experience with clarity all that happened to me. I am no longer afraid of feeling the terror although after allowing the terror to surface during a recent session, as shared in my post A Conversation with My 5 Year Old Self, I can experience distance from the terror and cycle through periods of calm and contentment.

I can feel the wounds of violence, of neglect, of abandonment and I can accept all of what happened to me. The more I accept, the more they seem to change and heal.

There is a beauty, a strength and a power that what happened to me did not destroy me. I no longer identify with what happened to me. The events no longer define me. I no longer feel wretched and unworthy. I can allow skilled touch to help me heal. I deserve to heal and not only am I healing myself but I am healing others through my journey.

I realized that I no longer have to fight for my life and more than that I get to enjoy my life surrounded by wonderful friends and family.

During a meditation, I was able to discern how I was breathing with my central nervous system rather than my diaphragm. I'm sure the wiring got crossed when I contracted paralytic polio and the weakened breathing muscles were not given a chance to heal and recover because of the violence that followed 3 years after contracting polio.

With this recognition, I can explore ways to breathe using my diaphragm. I build cardiovascular strength through my running and Aquatics Therapy.

When I was first diagnosed with post polio syndrome, I used visualization to imagine that God was my Master Electrician. I imagined making new connections and repairing the faulty wiring of paralytic polio. In my massage sessions, I can feel my therapist's skilled hands nourishing, encouraging and healing those connections. It no longer matters that I was deprived of touch or experienced violence or inappropriate touch at the hands of family members.

What matters is the gift of now!

All that matters is now I have the opportunity to heal. There are moments of profound sadness and grief but far greater moments of joy, gratitude and feeling fully alive.

My running is stronger because my body is more balanced. I feel more grounded and I have new neuromuscular conditions in being able to articulate the use of different muscles I could not access before. Part of it was due to the process of dissociation as a result of the violence and part of it was a result of injury to my spinal cord. I have more energy but I am also mindful of when I need to rest. I'm much kinder with myself when I need to take a nap or ask my family to do chores.

I wanted to run the Finish at the 50 5K this year on July 3rd. I want to run another race with a medal. But I looked at our schedule and realized that another evening race with the risk of high heat and humidity is not a good idea for me right now. I am delighted to be back on the roads running races when it feels right for me.

I find peace in the tremors no longer feeling ashamed of them or feeling they are something that need to be changed. They are simply a part of my physicality for now.

After all of the violence, the abandonment, the neglect; seeing and experiencing the darkest side of humanity, I have found my way to people and places filled with light, love and a passion to live life as fully as we can. After all I have lived through, I am blessed with the gift of understanding that bringeth peace.

My memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility" is now available on Amazon.

"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.

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