Eileen Fleming - Author, Reporter, Baby Boomer Activist - Health, Wellness, Spirituality
This spiritually driven political activist and Wabi-Sabi Yogi in training experienced a deep healing from the practice of YIN YOGA, which brought me LIBERTY [freedom] but also led me back to the veterans of the USS LIBERTY.
Twenty years ago, my medical doctor began prescribing anti-inflammatory medication for my complaints of knee, neck and shoulder pain. Some of the medicine that had been prescribed for me has been taken off the market due to fatal complications.
Three months ago, I quit using Voltaren Gel [a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug] and have not needed even a Tylenol!
YES I still have some aches and pain; but nothing close to the severity I felt a year ago; and at 60 I do not expect to ever be pain free.
Last September instead of undergoing total bilateral knee replacements, I began a daily practice of Yoga –with the focus on YIN Yoga and silent meditation.
I offer this YouTube as an intro to Yoga; but I do NOT do ALL the asanas/poses as demonstrated due to my physical limitations and challenges:
A few weeks later it happened again and I vowed if it ever happened a third time, I would TRUST I would understand why the tears came without feelings of sorrow or pain.
About two weeks later, I was on the Yin mat in my upper room practicing shoulder asanas/poses and this time my tears began flowing like wine at an Italian wedding.
I tried to focus on my breath and not think about the tears but I could not shut out the enormous sense of LOVE I felt for myself; best understood as COMPASSION-mercy, tenderness and an overflowing gratitude for my last nine years of political activism.
I quit focusing on my breath and just went with my FEELINGS which brought on an enormous sense of relief and the knowing that although my last nine years of hard work might never change a thing for those I have been advocating for- it was no longer my problem or burden.
Nine years ago, before my first of eight trips to both sides of The Wall in the Holy Land, I ‘thought’ I could remain neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
I was very wrong because what I saw, felt and heard on that trip inflamed me with such anger at my Government for its policies and misuse of my tax dollars which was only exceeded by my anger at USA Corporate Media for NOT pursing and reporting the truth and towards those I judged to be “comfortable Christians” and Americans I deemed suffering from “rampant apathy” and “willful ignorance.”
Within weeks after my first trip to the Holy land, I responded to my anger by establishing WeAreWideAwake.org which I archived after over 10 million American and Israeli cyber drones had visited/monitored on 4 April 2014.
After my YIN tears had subsided I realized that no matter how diligently I worked; the only power I possessed to change anything was the power to change myself!
That acceptance fueled me with an inner freedom/liberty and even deeper acceptance of The Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Kent M. Keith:
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway. - Dr. Kent M. Keith
Which brings me back to LIBERTY and one of my missions:
In 2012, I ran for US HOUSE of Representatives to try to change USA foreign policy.
At the top of my platform was my desire to establish every June 8 as USS LIBERTY Remembrance Day and challenge every politician who claims they “support the troops” to actually LISTEN to the troops and act accordingly.
That struggle for justice for the USS LIBERTY continues and YOU can be a part of it by signing onto this statement:
I support the Liberty crew’s right to a thorough, honest, official investigation of the attack on their ship. This investigation must include their public testimony. HERE
In support of all of America’s veterans who are suffering from the trauma brought on by USA policies, I return to Yin Yoga with “A Psychiatrist’s Experience Working With Veterans And Other Individuals Healing The Effects of Trauma” by Dr. Michael Mithoefer
After many years in which my wife Annie and I have worked with trauma survivors, it is abundantly clear to us that daily medications and talk therapy are not adequate tools for many of the people who seek help with their healing from the effects of trauma (often referred to as post-traumatic stress, or post-traumatic stress disorder).
Much of what *Biff [Mithoefer] says about yin yoga resonates strongly with our clinical experience regarding what is needed for healing: regaining a balance between striving and letting go, an invitation to listen to the body, allowing for reconnection.
When people who have not responded to conventional western treatments are offered experiential methods that allow them to go beyond cognitive processing and to access deeper levels–where the burdens of trauma are carried in the psyche and the body–remarkable healing and heart-opening can occur.
Methods for working directly with the body, such as yin yoga, are valuable and often indispensable tools for accessing these deeper levels. They also work as an ongoing practice, so that healing can continue to unfold that has been started by experiential psychotherapy.
All healing–both physical and psychological (which are not separate, but two aspects of a whole)–is accomplished as a result of our innate healing capacity.
When I practiced emergency medicine it was important for me to take action to create favorable conditions for healing by removing obstacles to it, but the body knew how to heal, and did the healing.
If someone had a big cut on their arm I would remove the dirt and bring the edges close together, maybe take other measures to treat infection or other problems that might be obstacles to healing, but I did not know how to heal the wound.
That happened as a result of an amazingly complex and elegant process within the body, and it always moved in the direction of healing. I never saw a seven-cm laceration that turned into an eight-cm laceration when I checked it a few days later.
Complications could impede the healing process, but the body always spontaneously moved toward healing.
The same is true of psychological healing from trauma, or anything else.
The role of the therapist, facilitator, or teacher is to help create favorable conditions for healing. This person supports access to the inner healing wisdom and amazing healing ability of the body/psyche, and helps people directly experience that they can pause in their striving, and trust their own healing intelligence.
Yin yoga practice is a wonderful way to practice and develop this direct experience of letting go, receiving and allowing their own healing to unfold. -Dr. Michael Mithoefer
Being a spiritually driven political activist and struggling Christian anarchist, I conclude with this quote from Mother Teresa:
“In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."
*Biff Mithoefer, is an international teacher of Yin Yoga, author of The Yin Yoga Kit and co-author of The Therapeutic Yoga Kit. He is the founder and director of the Jamtse Sponsorship Project, for the support of Tibetan refugee children and an advisory board member ofGive Back Yoga