Tag Archive 'tension relief'

May 04 2015

The Big Show, 6 Years After the Big C – Issue #112

I’m back in show business!…the Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show that is (a Sunday show at Chase Palm Park along the oceanfront). It’s where I made my living selling my crafts for 27 years, until I was diagnosed with cancer 6 years ago. I left the show to focus on saving my life and regaining my health. Now, gratefully, my health seems stable; however, my finances aren’t, and it’s time to generate some income.

This is my second Sunday back, and every day since last weeks show I’ve felt tense and depleted. I know the show didn’t make me tense – I made me tense, I tensed my body. My Trouper Soul (AKA my Big Soul Self) says: “Today, let’s tune into our body and notice when and where tension begins. That will be a great challenge to stay present, tuned in, and make micro shifts when we notice tension.” As I’m driving to the show and start getting closer I feel anxious and notice tightness in my throat and shoulders. I breathe deep and slow and remind myself, “I’m all right right now,” and I relax.

Okay, now find a parking space – there’s one! Wish it was closer. It’s several blocks away from the show. I have the ingenious plan to fit my entire seashore store together like a puzzle on my little 2’x3’ pushcart and make one trip. Great idea, except it’s heavy! like pushing a baby elephant! I’m huffing and puffing after a few steps. Trouper Soul says, “Okay sweetie, let’s just stop every thirty seconds and take a rest, and then push again.” Like giving birth: push, pause, breathe, push again, get this baby rolling.

I notice passersby looking at me askance, and I realize I must look like one of the homeless people in the area with their little carts loaded with all their worldly goods. I smile at the passersby, trying to let them know I’m one of them. I notice I’m slumped over as I slog along, and Trouper Soul says, “How would a queen walk? Remember your queen self.” I pause, summon my queen, straighten my spine, and proceed pushing the royal pachyderm. And on it goes, push, slump, pause, breathe, remember my queen, straighten, push with dignity.

I’m getting closer to the show, and since I’m new and don’t have an assigned space, my Worrywart begins nervously rushing to find a spot. I take a slow breath and remind her, “There’s plenty of space, plenty of time,” and sure enough I find a space. I plop down on my chair, panting. It’s only been a half hour and I’m exhausted already! I realize now that my exhaustion isn’t just from being here all day, it’s from the physical labor of getting here!

It’s a breezy day and the day before had been gusty. This oceanfront park is lined with long tall skinny palm trees, and I notice something shocking, something I’ve never seen in all my years in California: about 40 feet away one of those tall skinny palm trees is lying prone, stretched out flat on the ground! That gentle giant had swayed in these Santa Barbara winds for years, but in yesterday’s super gusts it snapped and bit the dust!

As the persistent breeze batters me, I realize, I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be winded all day and wind up feeling like that flattened palm tree. I’m leaving! I’d promised myself in coming back to the show I’d only do nice weather days. Keeping my promise, I push my pachyderm slowly, alternately slumping and queenly, on the long trek back to my car. I heave and heft my weighty load back into the car and drive my weary self to the beautiful, peaceful, less windy Botanic Garden to soulfully contemplate WTF I’m doing!

When I was diagnosed with cancer six years ago and it recurred a year later with a poor prognosis, it was a dramatic wake up call. If I only had a limited time left, what would I do with that time? I’d been in the Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show for 27 years and had become bored and stagnant, and I’ve wondered if that might have contributed to my cancer. I realized back then that it was time to do the writing my soul had longed to do, and I’ve been happily writing for the last six years.

So then why am I back at the Show? Am I making a mistake? Eliminating stress as much as possible was one of my healing strategies (you can read about more of them at my website EnlightenInk.com).  One of my fears is that the stress of the show will awaken the sleeping cancer (since stress suppresses the immune system). At the Botanic Garden I walk past the field of bright orange poppies and purple lupines, down the winding path into the redwood forest to my favorite wooden bench where I lie flat on my back and look up at the branch laced sky, and surrender to the silence and stillness, awaiting insights.

This comes to me: I don’t want my life to be stressful, but I DO want it to be stretchful. My soul loves to be challenged, to learn and grow and stretch and strengthen. To stay strong, muscles need something to push against. My body and soul muscles have gotten a bit flabby, in need of a good workout. The muscle I’m most passionate about strengthening is a belief in a friendly and enjoyable universe. I think that’s one of the important things I’ve come here to do and I’ve come a long way since a childhood of feeling the universe was anything but friendly. And I’ve a ways to go. Being back in the show is a great probe for those beliefs, which is exciting for my soul (though my ego can be like that elephant I’m pushing along).

Also, I’m enjoying revising and revitalizing my crafts and my display and seeing the smiles on people’s faces. I love being creative! It’s fun, it generates income, and gets me out into the world, facing my fears and transforming them. “We can do this sweetie. It’s okay for it to be easy and fun and stretchful,” says my Trouper Soul, my One who’s come here to learn and grow and heal and transform.

Okay. Let’s do it. I will find ways to make it easier, more body friendly, and more enjoyable. I can do this! I will do this! Yes! It’s on with the show!

How about you? Are you being challenged right now? What muscles of yours are being strengthened?

In Love,

Janet Jacobsen

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Oct 08 2013

Cosmic Re-Parenting – Issue #104

Several years ago I went to the late great Marty Weiner, Feldenkrais practitioner and healer extraordinaire, to help me deal with my chronic tension. After mindfully observing me, he said slowly in his distinct Boston accent, “Feel your ass on the chair.” He could see that I was scrunched up, trying to rise above my body. I’ve always remembered those words and say them to myself often, reminding myself to come back down to earth, back into my body.

I’ve become aware that my lifelong tension, with its physical tightness and shallow breath, distances me from my body, my spirit, and this earth experience. It makes reality seem less real, and that’s the whole purpose – I think at an early age I figured out if I breathe shallowly and tense my body it would somehow protect me. The tension helped me hold myself together and helped separate me from a scary and uncertain world.

My husband Tom shared with me a powerful visualization exercise he learned from his mentor, Dick Olney, which helps dislodge the ‘hold myself together’ life strategy. It goes like this:

Imagine that a giant hand comes down from the sky and grabs you by the waist, picks you up, and starts vigorously shaking you up and down and all around. This is done with such force that your arm flies off, then the other arm, then a leg, and the other leg. As the shaking continues, your head flies off. The giant hand finally tosses you to the ground where your body parts are strewn around you. There lies your torso with your heart still beating. Now, imagine that your heart is like a powerful magnet drawing all your body parts toward you and one by one they rejoin you. You have come back together, centered around your heart.

When I did this visualization it felt good to be shaken free, to let go, to let it all go. And it felt even better to come back together reorganized around my heart. This has been my experience with cancer – cancer was that giant hand grabbing me and shaking me loose from chronic resistance and fears, and refocusing me on what speaks to my heart.

One of the things I do daily to help maintain that heart focus and tension release is what I call Cosmic Re-parenting walks. As I walk I give my weight to the earth, feeling my feet connecting with the ground, letting myself feel held, nourished, and nurtured by Mother Earth, and imagining the top of my head open to receive guidance and inspiration from Father Sky. Trusting. United. Safe. One breath at a time. One step at a time.

There’s a saying, “She’s so heavenly minded, she’s no earthly good.” Or conversely, “She’s so earthly minded she’s no heavenly good.” This walk is a melding of earth and spirit. It’s recommitting to being here, deeply connected with my body, heart, and soul.

Thich Nhat Khan wrote: “The miracle isn’t walking on water, it’s walking on earth, fully present, our feet kissing the ground with every step.”

I’m happy to be here, fully present, feeling my ass on the chair, my feet on the ground, and my heart full of gratitude for this life.

How about you? Are you fully in your body? Do you feel your ass on the chair, and your feet on the ground? If not, be on the lookout for that giant hand in the sky.

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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