Shortly after writing “Asking for Help,” a blog in which I described losing my physical strength following a series injuries, I finally took a friend’s advice—mainly to stop her from badgering me—and went to the doctor. This is something I don’t usually do, as not only have I almost always had excellent health, but also, I believe that, for the most part, the body can heal itself. The first doctor sent me to an orthopedist who told me that the persistent bursa on my knee was nearly healed and to go ahead and exercise in order to regain my strength.
A few days later, I found myself walking to the end of my cobblestone street with my little dog and continuing on to the harbor, a walk of about fifty minutes that included a good deal of up and down, as my house is situated above the sea. As I had only planned to walk a short distance, I was amazed that I found the strength to go farther. Soon I found the perfect walk. Leaving home at 4:30 in the afternoon, I follow the road past houses and open fields down to the sea and around the harbor quay out to the lighthouse. The sun sets while I am on the quay and on most days the clear winter sky lights up and the sea turns rose-gold. The return around the harbor takes me past the little church of Agios Nikolaos where I stop to light a candle and say a prayer. Then back up the hill to my house, where I arrive just before dark.
A friend told me her physiotherapist said you can lose your physical strength in two weeks and re-gain it just as quickly. I found that hard to believe, but I am happy to report that this is true. On Christmas Eve, as I began the walk home from a taverna, I took the arm of a friend who had a little too much to drink. I was surprised to realize that I did not need a hand to help or steady me. My body was strong, and my balance had returned. What a lovely Christmas present that was!
Though my overall physical strength improved, I was aware that I was not doing anything for my arms and upper body. So on January 2, I decided to reintroduce the yoga Moon Salutation into my daily rituals. Before I moved to the house where I now live, I had done it every day for years, either on my balcony looking out to sea or in the open room in front of it, from which I could see the sea.
I tried off and on to find the right place in my new house, but was never satisfied with the view from any of the windows, so I gave up. On January 2, I stood in front of my desk (now cleared of piles of stuff—see “Cleaning and Cleansing: Rituals of Embodied Life”) and found this to be the perfect place. My desk is in front of the only window in my house with a full sea view, there is just enough space for all of the movements, and as a bonus, when I look down, I see the dark red and grey blue hues of a beautiful Turkish carpet.
My New Year’s resolution is to keep walking and to do the Moon Salutation every morning as soon as I get out of bed. After only three days of doing the Moon Salutation, I know that this is a resolution I will keep. It is exhilarating to feel strength and energy returning to my body. I also know that I am at a turning point in my life: I am not ready to decline into old age.
I learned the Moon Salutation from Laura Cornell, whose “Moon Salutation Meditation” I recorded to guide me three times slowly through the series of movements created for the female body by women at the Kripala Yoga Center. Doing the Moon Salutation in conjunction with the meditation is a powerful exercise in embodied prayer:
I stand tall, heart open to the world, body full and present in all of its beauty.
(standing with arms in prayer position)
I open my arms wide to bring all of life into my being.
(opening arms and tracing the circle of the moon)
My arms form a temple above me, sheltering and protecting me.
I know that I am on holy ground.
(arms completing the circle with palms touching above the head)
Yielding now, softening, my body takes the shape of the crescent moon.
I see visions of women, young and old, helping and loving each other.
(bending to the side with arms still above the head)
Rising up and bending to the other side, I know that my softness is my strength.
I am tested, but not broken.
(bending to the other side)
. . .
*See She Who Changes (pp. 241-2) for the entire meditation and descriptions of the poses. I learned the Moon Salutation with the modification of standing and bending over to touch the earth on either side of the central full squat.
* * *
Carol’s new book written with Judith Plaskow, is Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology.
Join Carol on the life-transforming and mind-blowing Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete. It could change your life! Spring tour filled, sign up now for Fall 2018.
Carol’s photo by Michael Honegger