Thursday, July 10, 2014

Kripalu and My Sutherland Memorial Lecture (not necessarily connected…and then again, maybe they are)

My Sutherland Memorial Lecture (which I just gave in Indianapolis last month) is now posted on my website. Click on the link or go to my website if you'd like to read it.

I am also delighted to be offering one 4-day workshop this year. Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in the gorgeous Berkshire mountains of western Massachusetts has invited me to teach, "Transformative Osteopathic Self-Care: Integrating Movement and Meditation Into Life."

As some of you know, I have devoted the past 5 years of my life to radically re-imagining the way I care for myself as I engage in a complicated dance with my health, well-being and metastatic breast cancer. I have devoted the past 33 years of my life to caring for others, and now that I have lived to tell the story, I'd like to share my insights with you and help you find your own path of deeply caring for yourself.

I welcome all people who yearn to care for themselves deeply. Whether you are a physician or other healthcare professional looking to care for yourself as well as you care for your patients and clients, or you're looking for ways to pass on what you learn to the people you care for, this workshop has something to offer you. You don't need a background in healthcare to attend; all you need is a body and a desire to explore listening to the necessity of the moment. 

Begins Sunday, Nov 9 at 7 pm  
Ends Thursday, Nov 13 at noon    

Explore the radical possibilities in health and well-being available when you combine the principles of Osteopathic treatment, the practices of Continuum Movement, and mindfulness meditation. I invite you to cultivate awareness of internal experience through breath, sound, meditation, and movement, integrating these practices into daily life.

Restore trust in the wisdom of your body as you allow yourself to fully express fluid movement and rest. Step outside your preconceived notions about your body and discover your inner resources for resilience, adaptability, and change. This workshop offers the tools you need to access this inner healing realm on your own.

This is the only course I will offer this year, so don't pass up this opportunity. I look forward to diving deep, exploring radical self-care, and engaging the movement and stillness of life and health with you. 

Contact Kripalu for more information or to register.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Lecturing, Writing, And Listening

I am off to Indianapolis for the annual Osteopathic Cranial Academy conference where Steve is giving the keynote lecture, and I’m giving the Sutherland Memorial Lecture, as well as leading 2 Tours Of The Minnow (for you non-Osteopaths, that’s a guided experiential anatomy meditation) I’ll be posting a copy of the lecture on my blog within the month for those of you who can’t make it to Indianapolis.

I am looking forward to when I return and have some spaciousness in my life to write again. Shortly before Emilie Conrad died last April we were talking about living with cancer and she said, "Being confronted with the impossible makes us ask unexpected questions." In response to that, I started writing an essay for an anthology of articles by Continuum Teachers. It's entitled “A Continuum Of Uncertainty.” Here’s an excerpt:
 “We all live along a continuum of uncertainty, but usually only realize this in retrospect. We have plans and ideas about what our life is about and where we think we are headed. And it can all change in a moment; a drunk driver can head right at us with nowhere to escape his impact, soldiers can go on a rampage in our village without warning, a flash flood can wash away our home, but for me, it was metastatic breast cancer that suddenly announced the change of trajectory of my life and brought the awareness of uncertainty that had always been there. Unexpected questions arise when faced with the reality of uncertainty.”
I'm learning to listen with grace as I face the unexpected questions, and I look forward to sharing my insights with you when I return from the yearly meeting of my Osteopathic "tribe."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Chasing Meaning Rather Than Avoiding Discomfort

I recently listened to a TED talk by Kelly McGonigal; no, not the Hogwart's teacher, the Stanford-based Psychologist/Neuroscientist. I attended a workshop led by her for people dealing with cancer, shortly after I was diagnosed, back when I lived in California. She's a great story-teller, as well as an inspiring scientist and all-around blend of quirky, intelligent, nerd, compassionate explorer of body awareness and consciousness. In her TED talk, actually after the end of her talk, when the moderator asked her a question she said,
"Chasing meaning is better for your health than avoiding discomfort."

I'm not sure I could have come up with a better one-line summary of my life right now. I've spent the past 4+ years listening to my body and learning to care for myself more deeply and I've learned a lot about living with pain and discomfort. I've spent a lot of time avoiding discomfort and I'm entering a new phase in which (some of) the avoidance is over. I'm moving head-on into using my body in new ways (more on this theme in a future blog entry when I tell you about Tango). It feels deeply meaningful and it hurts.

Avoidance of discomfort has many subtle gradations. How do we learn to listen to pain and interpret its message? Sometimes rest and immobility are crucial for healing. When you break a bone, it needs to be immobilized in a cast. When my ribs and sternum were about to burst with growing tumors, I needed to lie still and not move on a gross physical level. I learned to "fly under the radar" and move in subtle ways that didn't evoke pain. I learned to breathe with as little movement as possible, and focus on my movement at a cellular level, or on the change of the shape of the microscopic spaces between cells. I trusted that my combined knowledge and imagination would provide a map that would lead me to the territory where I could find what my body needed.

There came a point, when I realized that I had rested enough, perhaps too much. I was weakened from resting. I had to start exploring my gross physical limits and push those limits. I don't mean to imply the push was a brute force action or an abuse of my strong will. Sometimes it's valuable to push and feel the feedback that speaks through the body's response to the pressure of pushing. I had to find a way to call forth a level of exertion from within that was necessary for my recovery. There's a fine line between resting and fading away, and another fine line between doing and over-doing, and pain is an unreliable guide. 

Coming back from such profound disease and de-conditioning involves pain: pain from the weakness of unused muscles, pain from tumors that still might be active, pain from compensatory patterns gone awry, pain from movement of joints and connective tissue distorted by cancer and inflammation, and the emotional pain, which is frequently indistinguishable from what is happening physically. I'm learning to more precisely distinguish when the pain I experience is due to a good thing. It's sometimes painful to use our bodies in new ways. Tissue needs to breakdown and remodel to accommodate a new movement. Building strength involves microscopic trauma to muscle and connective tissue. The remodeling that occurs in response to this stimulation is ultimately good for us in the long-run, but it can be painful in the short-run.

This time in my life is about meeting discomfort and finding stories to help make it tolerable. It is these "explanations" that grant meaning to my suffering today. Tomorrow my story might change; in fact it will definitely change. Nothing in life is stagnant. We can't explain everything, and fooling ourselves into thinking we can only makes it harder when we are faced with how little control we have over some aspects of life. As long as I'm not attached to any one fixed meaning, I derive great satisfaction from creating new narratives to make whatever sense I can of my life. I enjoy chasing the next meaningful story that will help me to creatively cope with whatever unfolds next. 

Here's the link to her TED talk and her website:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My book is now available in Italian!


For all you Italian-speaking Osteopaths and Continuum buffs, I have great news, my book, Engaging The Movement Of Life has been published in Italian.

My Osteopathic colleague Giuseppe Caranti has undertaken translating many Osteopathic books into Italian, and I am honored that he chose mine to translate. He came to California to do a 4-day workshop with me in 2010 and we have been in conversation over the fine points of word choice since then. I wish I spoke Italian so that I could fully appreciate his hard work. I urge all of you who speak Italian to support his endeavor to spread the word.

Here's a link to his website, if you'd like to order it: