I kept gazing at the glossy magazine picture of a Sacramento orthopedic surgeon. His son, who is taking over his practice, stood at his side. Me and this man go way back clinically. His son and mine were in Little League together. On a whim, I rang him up and we reminisced. At 71, he is retiring…but only from the rigors of surgery. He will continue to see office patients. We laughed about back when we were both thirty and wondering how dottering elderly docs could still be practicing. We talked about the experiential lifetime it takes to hone a medicine craft. How both of us feel we are at the top of our game. What a shame it would be to withdraw from service in this moment. We shared a precious moment of perspective, wished each other well, said good-bye.
After nearly five decades, this lifelong passion had such an incredible interrupt. I took a pandemic year off from treating patients in the flesh. I saw a few on Zoom, but my precious green treatment table gathered dust and it was so quiet and lonely in my studio. But something was brewing during that year as I poured all my creative juice into on-line teaching and treating. And now that I’m seeing patients in the flesh again I sense that brew. While I worked in new ways, fresh levels of integration were happening on their very own. A more deeply honed clarity. A more easeful listening. A flushed out presence to the fullness of another. There is never a plan and always complete clarity at each choice point. Not too much, not too little. How best to partner with, how best to be in service.
Fifteen years ago I saw 12 patients a day. A different kind of integration was happening back then. Last week unfolded like this. Monday: new patient, long time yoga student, wanting clarity on how to come to her own mat, less reliant on outside input, more confident in her own attunement. Tuesday: second Zoom appointment with East Coast yoga student, ironing out pieces of self-care for knee and neck. In the afternoon, new patient who had fractured her hip three months ago, was frozen in place, unsure how to get in motion now that the fracture was healed. Wednesday: a yogini in need of a coach, a hands-on partner untangling a chronic hip issue. Thursday: a dancer with a new shoulder injury. Friday: second visit with a deeply in touch patient with a long term bladder control issue, a session weaving experiential anatomy and chakra exploration. One patient a day instead of twelve…so incredible.
We always sit and talk awhile first. I observe habitual postures and watch each person move in specific ways. Then we head to the dusted off treatment table: my hands glide over body trouble spots, neighboring regions. Open and curious, Braille-reading subtle and not so subtle changes, side to side differences, resistance points, tangled fascia, stiff facets…so often affirming what I initially heard and witnessed. I manually treat any specific tightness. We re-check motion. Together we translate all that to self-release practice. Tightness addressed, we assess tone, especially in the core, and general length, especially in spine and legs. We end by creating a video for ease of home follow through. It’s so fruitful to be disciplined for a couple weeks, get down on the mat most days for twenty minutes, feel if what we fashioned feels like a natural embodied connect.
I always check in the day after first treatment; every once in a while we bite off more than a body can chew. And so we rest a bit, integrate new skills at a slow pace. Really, within two weeks most patients can tell two things. First, this is or is not a self-care practice that feels like a good fit. How do we know that? Ideally I want patients to feel drawn to the mat. To have it be an experience of pleasure, intrigue, relief. There are so many ways to heal. The question is, is this one for you? Second? Really, if the intervention is accurate, there will be a positive change in symptoms within two weeks
I so often write about the experience of dance and yoga. For me, this third side of my work triangle is integral support for the other two. It has been utter pleasure offering thirty minutes of rolling release prior to our dance in Wednesday Waves. Tonight is our final session of 2021. Likely we’ll continue that roll, dance, art combo in 2022 (yikes!) for awhile. And of course Essentials is the obvious support for anyone who has been a one-on-one patient. This week we complete the pelvic bowl by feeling into the organ contents as we practice. On to the spine in 2022. After 9 months of re-exploring and merging bandhas into our core toning I’ve internally learned SO much. This is the third go round of a basic instructional version of mahabandha. See how it feels.
So there you have it. It’s the time of year for all those last classes: last Wednesday Waves tonight, last Essentials Friday morning, last Sweat Your Prayers this Sunday…the traditional celebration of solstice…wear all white please! Classes resume in January. Which is also the traditional time of year many of us feel a fresh start brewing about healing in motion. I offer 10 minute phone consults if you have questions about what that might look like for you: (916) 267-5478. Leave me a good time to reach you if we don’t connect.
Sending love through the cyber waves…Bella