Monday, July 27, 2015

Interesting Encounters

I think I've mentioned I pay attention to signs from the Universe, or what I perceive to be signs.

I recently had two encounters that have left me kind of bewildered, confused, amazed and somewhat humbled.

I recently traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to spend time with my mother. The first leg of my flight home to Burbank, California was delayed over three hours in Atlanta due to weather. We eventually landed in Phoenix, Arizona just as the last flight of the day to Burbank was taking off. With moments to spare, I was re-routed to Los Angeles International Airport, a large and bustling airport, some distance from my house, unlike the quiet, local airport in Burbank.

Once on the plane, I sat next to a friendly woman who asked a favor of me as we began to push back from the gate. It seems she gets a bit anxious at times, and that if she did show signs of anxiety, she asked me to simply have her put her hands above her head, and to remind her to breathe while telling her, "You will be fine." She also asked me to lay my hand across her upper back, while calming her down. She asked if I minded doing a dry run, before the plane actually left the ground to familiarize myself with the procedure.

And so we did.

She thanked me and assured me she would be fine during the rest of the flight.

She then asked me, "Are you a healer?"

"You mean as a doctor?"

"Not necessarily, your hands, as soon as your hand was on my back, I felt a strong calming energy coming from them. Do you practice Reiki?"

I told her I did not practice Reiki, but was on a Shamanic path, (which admittedly, I haven't done much with, lately).

The rest of the trip passed uneventfully; after all, it's barely a one hour flight, which gives little time for events to unfold. We talked of our spiritual journeys, she's into Reiki and yoga. And I explained a bit more about Shamanism. We talked of our families, our jobs and prepared our seat backs and tray tables for our final approach into Los Angeles.

"That explains it," she commented. She also saw teachers as healers as we help heal our students since we nurture them while in our classes.

We deplaned and wished each other well as we went on our separate journeys.

And I thought nothing more of it. Except to recall that two of my totems are representative of healing. The Bear with its ability to hibernate to look inside for its own answers to questions, for self-healing. The Snake, a symbol of caduceus-the medical staff, sheds its skin to reveal a new entity underneath, a transformation. And then filed the encounter away as an interesting anecdote on this trip.

This summer, I finally decided to do something to get out of the house and get healthier; at least, physically, which in turn, might help emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I started taking yoga classes. I tried evening classes which might fit into my schedule once I start back to school in August. However, one particular day I had to take a morning class as I had scheduled something in the evening.

I must say, I do not do morning classes, if I can help it. When school is not in session, I love my long, luxurious mornings at home, I have my rituals after all, and this class was at 9:15 in the morning, with at least 30 minutes to drive, park, check in, change, gather the props and begin to center myself for the class. I kept debating on going or not. I mean, I could always do some Sun Salutations here at home. Yet, getting out of the house was also a nice idea. But, to leave at 8:45 having showered and eaten at least two hours before class... Oy! As I naturally wake by 5:30, it wasn't impossible, but I still wanted to lounge around the house until I decided to get started on my day.

But, I pushed myself...and went anyway.

I arrived at the studio, checked in, staked out my spot, unrolled my mat, and placed my water bottle and towel to the side.

"Have you taken this class before?" asked a tall, slender woman, approximately my age, who was setting up her spot near me. "I don't know what props to get."

"No, I haven't, but I just get everything. Like the Boy Scouts say, 'Be Prepared.' Or the Girl Scouts, 'It's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it'," I said as I walked to the prop area.

"Ah, good advice. Were you a boy scout? What about a girl scout?" She laughed jovially as she followed me. "How did you learn that?"

"No, just a Cub Scout. And I picked it up somewhere, I forget." Some more conversation went on as we gently stretched, and brought ourselves into the moment and into the room.

A few moments later, the instructor entered and began introducing herself to the new members in her class, and privately inquiring about any injuries or health considerations she should be aware of so she could modify the poses as we went.

When she came to me, I mentioned I suffered occasionally from vertigo and always from arthritis. After some discussion (No, I don't get dizzy in Downward Facing Dog) she offered me some suggestions on the vertigo- keep a focal point when you are steady, and move your head slowly possibly keeping your eyes closed as you move into different poses.
Downward Facing Dog

As the instructor went on to the few other class members, my neighbor offered her insight on my vertigo. She suggested finding a chiropractor who specialized in a certain treatment for vertigo, as one particular nerve in my neck could be pinched and causing the vertigo, especially if I've been in a car accident which I have, twice.

She also said something which threw me for a loop "You're also a Highly Sensitive Person. That can have a lot to do with it. You see, I'm also an HSP and have dealt with vertigo for years."

How'd she know? It's not tattooed on my forehead...

Coincidentally, I've been reading many articles on Highly Sensitive Persons and identifying with the definitions...

Highly Sensitive Persons tend to
  • avoid strong stimuli- bright lights, strong sounds, strong smells, coarse fabrics.
  • get rattled when we have a lot to do in a short amount of time.
  • make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows.
  • withdraw for a period of time on very busy days.
  • enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds or art.
  • feel emotions more deeply.
  • have been labeled as shy or sensitive by parents or teachers during our childhood.
This list is incomplete, and not necessarily all of the attributes of an HSP. And like most personality definitions, there is a spectrum corresponding to the different attributes.

As far as the list and I go, I don't necessarily avoid bright lights or strong sounds, okay, maybe that's why I don't go to bars and clubs, much. I will admit to not being fond of burlap, but don't avoid it. It depends on the strong smell- if it's more odoriferous than fragrant, I might avoid it, but I burn scented candles daily which addresses the fifth point. Teaching has taken care of the second point, and I will avoid violent movies and programs. I could go on, but the one thing I do avoid is crowds. Not because of a fear, but too much energy around it. Being around that many people can be exhausting.

And yes, I feel my emotions more deeply, both the positive and negative ones leaving me overwhelmed at times.

And, yes, my teachers did label me as sensitive and shy as a child. I was actually in a "Special" class one year, which was designed for "sensitive and quiet" children. I was never actually assessed, it was simply a question on the application for the school. My mother checked the 'sensitive/shy' box and I was placed in this class.

What does this all mean? Well, evidently I'm a highly sensitive healer. Maybe my life is getting ready for a new direction. After all, retirement is only a few years away...

Hmmm, a yoga instructor?

Yet, there is a quiet unease about this; after all, shamans are healers in their respective cultures. And as I met my different totems, and realized their different meanings, I grew uneasy. Bear and Snake are quite powerful totems in the Shamanic world; as are a few of my others; Swan- a symbol of spiritual awakening, Lion- courage and strength. Ferret is quite rare as a totem, and symbolizes keen attention to details, also a trait of an HSP.

Spiritual paths are difficult to walk, especially if one is new at it and if the path is very different from one's current, or previous, understandings. (I grew up in a conservative Christian home.) Receiving signs, suggestions and teachings from Animal Spirits doesn't fit into the traditional Western mindset very easily.

Besides, change is never easy.

One of my therapists and I are working on one simple goal:

To trust in the process...

So, it's not so simple for someone who has to have answers. And have them NOW!

But, I need to work on it...

Baby steps...