Portland, Oregon's Cancer Survivorship and Bodywork Zine by Compassion Arts PDX, LLC
It’s never been about learning a certain bodywork technique. It’s never even been about making a glut of money. Though a good, honest, sustainable living is part of the business plan. I decided to go towards the massage and bodywork field because it seemed a life best suited for self-care. In fact, self-care and personal growth are at the very heart of the profession.
Pappy always said I should have been a dentist. Well, as a bodyworker, I get to play with the pterygoids, lengthen zygomaticus major and uplift the palatines. The biomechanics of the craniomandibular junction and the plate techtonics of the cranial bones is a complicated Rubik’s Cube, to be sure.
The myriad of tensional patterns of the superficial muscles of the temporomandibular joint. Image from 3D4 Medical’s NOVA Series: Muscle System Pro III on the iPad.
It’s such a beautiful day in Stumptown. The sun is warm and lawn mowers are buzzing throughout the suburbs.
Ever since my fisticuffs with cancer back in 1991, I have had to manage my energy levels. Fatigue is one of those major, often long-term, side-effects of treatment. Irritable bowel, another one of those weird gifts from chemotherapy, used to make giving a 90 minute massage a matter of question. Visceral massage and a little interoceptive awareness does a tummy good. Now, giving a long session is a source of personal happiness.
Over the past few years, I have found a level of health that surpasses my constitution in high school. I have more energy, movement, vigor and joy in my body than since I was a child. It’s really quite marvelous. I was once limited sharing my kinesthetic gifts. Now, even though I might work long hours, I still feel good in my body at the end of the bodywork day.
Now then, my long days are not packed days. Part of my self-care has been to remove myself from much of the hustle and harried rush of the work force. I’m just not allowed to indulge in stress and worry. Yes, I still have stress in my life. However, I choose to spend my time and resources managing it. This means filling my days with meaningful experience.
So, what do I do for self-care?
Upon waking, I enjoy the morning light. I lay in the quiet, breathe and stretch, snuggle with the pups and take some time to be grateful for this life. Throughout the day, I sprinkle in moments to savor. To fully enjoy a sensory experience. To slow myself down, setting the pace for the autonomic nervous system; simple moments of mindful awareness. I eat good food, get lots of rest, move my body, get my creative on, enjoy the company of amazing people and smile often. A lovely self-care program.
I figure, most folks are in a rush of stress and they come to me to find a rhythm in their breath a bit slower than the usual. A step away from their chronic stress pattern. I can’t do my job, if I too am in a rush. Presence in the moment is just part of the career description.
I find moments of meditation while in line at the grocery store. Or walking down the road and watching a bird take flight, soar in the heavens and land on a distant telephone wire. I find moments of awareness, to breathe, to listen, to enjoy.
Outside of the din, there is a quiet here. Explore and find, my friend… Explore and find…
We can take time every day to slow ourselves down and indulge in a moment, where there is nothing else to do but watch and breathe.
I shot this video with the Panasonic GF1 and cobbled it together in iMovie on the 24″ iMac. The music is Slow Tick, recorded years ago in 2002 on a Yamaha MT8XII, cassette 8-track recorder. I had spent one immersed, creative week recording the album Beyond Time’s Breath: A Rather Peculiar Auditory Hallucination.
The liner notes read:
Sometimes an album just happens. Ya really don’t mean it… Ya just start messing around with microphones and plunking a few notes and hit record and a week and a half later you’re left with an interesting collection of sonic scapes that maybe the universe would enjoy hearing…
A series of accidents piled upon accidents creating something beautiful…
This is A Watched Pot: A Meditation on Water. Enjoy the day!
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