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Nothing can unsettle us like a bad fall. Whether we fall because of carelessness, weather conditions, or the sudden giving out of a body part, falling grabs our attention and suggests we develop a relationship with the circumstances sooner rather than later. As with fear, ignoring the emotions surrounding a sudden fall ensures they will persist. Tapping for the pain, shock, and beliefs that follow a fall helps us to tune into our body’s wisdom as it teaches us how to relate to ourselves in more loving and positive ways.
The Suddenness of Injury
At the end of August, as I was moving up the flagstone path to my door, my right foot caught under a stone that had heaved in the big rain the night before. I went down hard, bending my right wrist under my body, smashing my left shoulder into the last raised stone of the path, and banging my chin so hard that my bottom front teeth cut my lower lip. A few moments before this fall, I had been seeing my husband off to work and anticipating stacking some of the three cords of wood that had been delivered the day before. Far from feeling tense or harried, I’d been skipping as I traveled up the path, skipping and singing. I’d started a new exercise program and was eager to get inside and to do my stretches before stacking wood.
I had given myself the Health and Wellness Classical Stretch program created by Miranda Esmonde-White (see http://www.essentrics.com/classicalstretch.html ) the week before, as an early present for my seventieth birthday. That number on the calendar can be daunting, and in anticipating the ageist thoughts our culture plants regarding this particular birthday I’d done some surfing on the web and found this marvelous site and its incredible resources. A little earlier in the year, I’d watched Jessica Ortner interview Dr. Christiane Northrup and was disheartened when I heard the wellness guru say she never told people her age because of the ageism in our culture. To my mind, not telling our age reinforces ageism and is, horrifyingly, a throwback to that time of coyness when fictionalized ladies, Scarlett O’Hara comes to mind, fluttered their fans and whispered, in appropriately alluring voices, “Why Rhett, you know better than to ask a lady THAT!”
Why Owning Our Age Matters
I’ve been telling anyone who asks my age the truth ever since I entered the inspired aging realm of growing older in a toxic ageist, sexist culture. How else do we change advertising stereotypes regarding what it means to be in our fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties or even nineties unless we demonstrate empowered versions of whatever age we happen to be. For example, I just heard an interview with Dick Van Dyke who is ninety and brilliantly active and joyful, and who was asked by his publisher to write an advice book about aging because of his happy, healthy longevity. Mr. Van Dyke, like so many of us, knows the number of years we’ve lived isn’t the main aging factor; our beliefs about life are at the core of our wellness or illness as we grow older in our youth-oriented culture. (You can hear his infectiously joyful interview on NPR at http://www.npr.org/2015/10/11/447591736/dance-sing-just-keep-moving-dick-van-dyke-tells-senior).
I consider myself very fortunate to have had elders in my life who owned their age and wore all their years like splendid badges of honour. Their examples taught me that aging is, like the rest of life, exactly what you make it. As I surfed the net for my soon to be seventieth birthday present, I was thrilled to find Miranda Esmonde-White, a contemporary, leading classes that were challenging and yet doable and that actually made me feel terrific the very first time I followed a program. If I’d had any unconscious fears about turning seventy, her program assured me that simply by following a rigorous stretching program I could strengthen my muscles rather than lose them, and into the bargain improve my posture and feelings of well being. Before my fall I was, as we say, a very happy camper, hence the singing and skipping as I moved toward the house to do my new stretch routine.
The Wisdom of Giving the Body Time to Work its Magic
In the aftermath of my fall, as I lay on the flagstones, I gave myself time to simply be. I did not panic even though I live in the woods and my nearest neighbour is unable to see the front of our cabin through the dense grove of trees on our side of the road. My husband works eight hour days and would not return until after five. It was just eight in the morning. I was on my own and I knew it. I also knew that I would be fine, that the very optimism capital I have built through meditation, dance, Energy Medicine, and Tapping, and that had led me earlier that month to the Esmonde-White DVD series, was assuring me all would be well. I simply needed to take the time to come back to myself. I lay still, breathing deeply and calmly. Unlike the advertising messages that instill fear, my intentional wellness/wisdom practices had instilled confidence in my ability to heal on every level.
After about a minute of simply breathing and listening to my inner wisdom, I began to move various parts of my body. Miraculously, my feet, legs, and hips were fine. My right foot had been protected by the thick slippers I wore that morning, clog-style, fleeced-lined shoes that slipped on easily and protected my toes and soles. My knees and hips had been spared injury by my instinct to protect my head by putting out my arms to break my fall. Hence it was that my right wrist, bent forward under my entire weight, and my left shoulder, likewise pinned, saved the rest of me. Now, it was they who called out for attention.
Over the years, tapping has taught me great respect for my physical self. On more occasions than i can count I have focused my tapping practice on appreciation for my ability to move through the world in a joyous and competent way. I began my energy work while still in my fifties and felt immediately its ability to reconnect seemingly disconnected parts of myself, physical, emotional, and mental. whose healthy, conscious interrelationships were essential to my well being. Tapping helped me to get to know the origins of my negative beliefs about my body and to befriend these force fields as allies that were doing their best to keep me safe. More than a decade later, as I lay on the flagstones waiting for the insight I knew would come, my conviction that all was well was unshakable.
The Work of Conscious Healing Begins
It took about five minutes for me to feel ready to move, to test my arms and shoulder for breakage. Everything articulated – shoulders, forearms, wrists, fingers – and while I was sore everywhere because my forward momentum made my fall so violent against the hard flagstones, I felt nothing like the excruciatingly sharp pain that is the voice of a broken bone. Once inside, I moved slowly and deliberately, filling the tea kettle and retrieving my journal and pens from my desk. As I moved to the sofa, the RICE formula floated through my mind and I clearly remembered the advice, “When injured, Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate.” I got out our well used tube of Arniflora Ointment, the Arnica Homeopathic tablets that calm inflammation, and my trusty hot-cold compress that we always keep in the freezer. I also got a glass of water, in my home a trusted first-aid formula effective for physical as well as emotional healing. We are, after all, watery creatures whose energetic bodies need the conductive properties of H2O to weave and mend after a shock.
Before I began the actual work of addressing the shock and surprise of the fall, I lit a candle to remind myself that I was not alone in this healing process. The house was filled with the dappled shadow work of a glorious August sun and because I took the time to notice, I felt everything around me gathering to support my intention to return to my earlier good spirits. One of my most important strategies when working with others is to speak the words: “Remember, it isn’t all on you.” Now, I spoke these words to myself.
Will Ferrell to the Rescue
I first heard this phrase during a Terry Gross interview with Will Ferrell on her NPR program, Fresh Air. She asked how he’d moved so successfully from working in a bank to doing stand up and his answer set my heart on fire. The comedian described calling his dad before making the move to confess his nervousness about making this radical change. His father, wise and loving, answered, “Just remember. Your success isn’t all on you.” I took this to mean that all Will could do was show up and do his best. If he were doing his part, he could surrender the rest. It was a lovely way to get at what we all know. Driving and pushing and losing sleep never helps us to accomplish our goals and in fact often impedes our progress. Doing our very best and surrendering the rest is the tried and true way to move forward in life with joy.
Next week, I’ll delve into a description of the stages of my healing, the first of which, attending to all the negative beliefs my fall unearthed, the most exciting. Teasing these out helped me to ground even more fully in the wisdom of my body. I’ll explain how this worked in next week’s post: Discovering Wisdom After a Fall: Part Two.
Until next week
Jane Buchan, MA, AAMET Advanced Practitioner, email@example.com, 802-533-9277
Jane is a Learning Coach specializing in neutralizing cultural age, gender, and race constructs to support learners of every age. To engage her coaching services, please contact Jane by phone (802) 533-9277 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to put Coaching Query in the subject line.