Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bobby, Fisher.


I had a very different idea for what I would write this week. But fishing is a funny activity, and I'm surprised by what I've encountered. I'm here with my childhood friend Dave, with whom I've experienced so much of the formative things one remembers. I'll write about him another time. But it's because of him that I am here, and I am immensely grateful.

Standing at the beach, line in the water, surf hitting the shore, now lively, now gently, becomes an opportunity.

The first day, I practiced my QiGong postures while standing almost motionless. Stretching imperceptibly, knees bent, trying to make the Qi flow.

The second day, I began to be tired of the effort. I focused on clearing my mind. I tried to be mindful and stop the internal chatter. By the end of the day, I was exhausted of that, too.

On the third day, I tried to "rest" from the effort of trying to improve myself. Trying to rest my mind. Trying to get the dumb repetitive classic rock song that I'd heard most recently on the radio out of my head.

Always trying.

And, while I was doing all this trying, I was thinking about my late cousin Bobby. He loved to fish. He went on fishing trips to Costa Rica, Mexico, Southeast Asia, and who knows where else.

Bobby died of leukemia last year. A vigorous, vital, irrepressible man who brought everything he had to everything he did. He was in his early sixties. His brother Joel related to me that as he lay dying, mostly unconscious, he would rise to the surface occasionally and say, "Joe -the fish! They're everywhere. It's beautiful…!"

I also received news that a dear member of my shamanic circle is dying of ovarian cancer. She is not asking for healing work from her shamanic family - just prayers for a gentle and joyful passing. A gentle and joyful passing.

As I'm cutting up the bait - small mullet fish - I wonder at their guts. Such an amazing collection of intricate, elegant complexity inside this little tube, surrounded by muscle and bone. Their shiny eyes still bright, their gills and such so foreign. And yet they serve me in a deep and profound way. I am increasingly aware of my own "guts" - my internal organs, so neatly and compactly tucked away inside myself. My heart. My stomach. My liver. My lungs, to which I offer an apology for the silly indulgence of smoking a cigarette or two each day while I'm here. I feel them, I sense them all the more clearly and…poignantly…as I stand at the edge of the surf with a bit of fish on the end of my line.

And as I sense them, I breathe into them. And I think of my cousin, and his joy of fishing. And I think of the fish, somewhere out there.

I breathe in and out. I feel the wind blowing against my chest, facing the surf. And I remember that I am not "me", not this physical body. I remember that I am permeable, the space between my subatomic particles gargantuan compared to the tiny dots that are protons and electrons. I remember that the Qi can flow through me, and does so with every puff of the wind.

I remember that my inner universe, too, can flow through me, with every puff of my breath. And the two universes, the inner and the outer, flow and mix together like currents that meet at The Point here in Buxton, North Carolina, on the Outer Banks.

The two commingle and mix and for just a moment, I am not here, in this body. I am somewhere ineffable, indefinable, some way of being that is behind and around and in communion with my body and the sand and the Ocean and the wind and the water.

And as I breathe, as I am in communion with the Creation, Mother Earth, and all that she is, I smile a gentle smile and say "Hello" to the fish that has taken my line.

Bobby and I have a lot in common. Effort being the most prominent, I think.

I think, perhaps, he still has other things to teach me.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Desperate for a Drink

I’m Not Dehydrated, Am I?

I know, I think you drink enough water. You’re not thirsty, right? A few years ago, I thought the same. Even though two Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners told me to drink more water. Even though my opthalmologist despaired over my dry eyes. Even though I had allergies, frequent headaches, dark circles under my eyes and kept gaining weight that I just could not lose. I was certain I didn’t need to drink more water.

Then, based on some research I’d done and for entirely different health reasons, I made a decision to stop taking over-the-counter allergy medication and drinking carbonated beverages. That pushed me to start drinking much more water than usual and I found out what it’s like to really be hydrated. The headaches and allergies disappeared and the opthalmologist didn’t nag me about dry eyes for the first time ever. I dropped 15 pounds without even trying. I began to have more energy and sleep better. Wow, this hydration thing was pretty cool!

As a result of my own experience, I became more aware of dehydration as a health concern. When I became a holistic practitioner, I was introduced to a book by the late Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, M.D. (Dr. B for brevity’s sake), entitled Your Body’s Many Cries For Water. Dr B’s books explain his theory that the body has a drought management system and when it doesn’t have enough water it begins shutting down normal operations, beginning with the lungs and digestive system (high asthma rates and increasing obesity levels) and on a longer-term basis other systems including the brain (increasing dementia and Alzheimer’s rates). His book documented some remarkable results in helping asthma sufferers with appropriate water and sodium intake.

I believe Dr B was on to something about dehydration becoming chronic in our population. Most of us find it easy to stop for a coffee or soda, and never bother to drink just simple water. There isn’t a lot of research or advertising when it comes to just plain water and so we don’t have an awareness about it. Many of us don’t understand that caffeinated beverages act to dehydrate us further or how much of our body is water: muscles 75%; blood 82%; lungs 90%; brain 76%; bones 25%. Trying to run your body without adding water routinely is like trying to run your car without oil in the engine.

As I work with my clients, I find it’s a simple task to identify those who drink enough water. Their skin feels healthy and more elastic when touched. They seldom have complaints about allergies, headaches, constipation, joint pain and other common ailments. They seem to need detox therapy less than clients who don’t drink much water.

What scares me, however, is that over 70% of my clients fall into the don’t-drink-water-consistently category. When asked how much water they drink, they’ll sheepishly admit they don’t drink enough or tell me they think they do, but then talk about an intake of just one or two cups a day. Those clients who educate themselves more about drinking water and commit to it are often astonished by the benefits and surprised that I can tell almost immediately.

Most of us don’t know how much water we should drink. Dr B provided a simple guideline in his book. Divide your weight (in pounds) in half, then drink that many ounces of water per day. For example, if you weigh 170 pounds, you need to drink at least 85 ounces. There are 8 ounces in a cup, so that works out to a little more than 10 cups per day. If you drink something with caffeine in it, drink an extra cup of water to offset it.

Dr B reiterated that we are misinterpreting many cues from our body as illnesses rather than requests for water. For example, two glasses of water will usually alleviate a headache. Try a glass of water rather than a snack the next time you think you’re hungry. You just might be surprised and delighted by what regular water intake can do for you! (We should have copies of Dr. B’s book in stock soon and we highly recommend it!)

©2009 Susan Mix
(This article was written by Firefly Willow's own Susan Mix, a Certified Reflexologist. If you haven't stopped in to experience her work, you're missing something special.)