Chapter Nineteen: Oh To Ride Again
(2000 ~~ 29 years)
Francis of Assisi said
‘You need not leave your room, remain sitting at your table and listen.
You need not listen simply wait.
You need not even wait, just learn to become quiet and still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked.
It has no choice it will roll with ecstasy at your feet.’
As mentioned earlier, I had begun smoking marijuana again since the Shastri visit…which was so crazy considering the primary purpose for seeing Shastri was for guidance with my health. On discovering the many wonderful things that were to occur for me far beyond my health, I figured a few smokes weren’t going to alter my direction. Marijuana was proven to be medicinally beneficial for people with MS and I affirmed to ‘have one last taste of it’ declaring this was a ‘celebration period’, feeling I deserved it, having refrained from that sensational merry-go-round for well over a year since vipassana.
The soothing benefits of pot helped Mum and me with Harry, for he had become a worsening issue for us. Because of this, it had to end. Mum was suffering from his unsettling energies around us, so it was time to let go. This wasn’t easy. I didn’t want to end it right then, just when the light of sensitive understanding seemed to flicker in his ways. Yet, it was only a flicker and Mum was aflame. Even the weekly star columns supported this with writes such as, ’Give up that cosmic, unrealistic notion’, so I took a step back, and saw my unrealistic efforts, having embarked on a journey I should have left some time ago. Yep, the time had arrived, especially when I reacted to Harry’s insolence one day as we were driving, raising my voice to make him listen. This obvious agitation warned of the beginnings of me mirroring him…!
When I made the decision to let go, it was my turn to receive Harry’s wrong doings. He didn’t pay back money he borrowed, and although it wasn’t much, he let down my trust. It was on the day Mum and I went to see Monty Roberts, author of The Man who Listens to Horses, so the wonder and magic of Monty quickly replaced my disappointment… meeting him was a dream come true!
IT WAS A HOT JANUARY DAY: my entry into the Newcastle Entertainment Centre was going to be extremely difficult if I attempted it on foot… clutching Mum’s arm, resting every few steps etc. I had inquired about the access for people with disabilities before arriving, and on reaching the parking area, we told the elderly man directing us that a wheelchair was reserved for me. He bent down to look at me through the window, and pointed to the 200 metre distance to the venue, ‘you only have to go that far and you’re in…I could carry you,’ he said light-heartedly. Maybe, but what about when we reached inside the doors…there’s usually a lot more walking to do from there. It’s never that easy! Why struggle, why not use a device to make the event enjoyable, relaxing, and effort-free, I affirmed to myself.
We parked and the man came along with a chair. This was my third time using one, and the first with Mum alone (second time was in November last year at the Melbourne Cup day at Ettalong Bowling Club with Harry, family and friends). Mum whizzed me off to the toilet block in the chair on wheels, instead of me laboriously lifting each foot and pulling on Mum’s arm to regain my balance. It was great knowing the pressure was off me to get from A to B. Next, we whizzed along to the food stand to have a bite to eat before the show. Here I moved out of the wheelchair onto a log plank, keeping an elbow on the chair. I reflected on the prayers I normally said before arriving to functions: ‘Dear God, please help me, please help with every step, please make the way smooth’, yet over time, paths only became rockier and more difficult. I then realised that assistance had always been offered to me in the form of a wheelchair … but my ego needed diminishing before such assistance could be gratefully accepted.
The bells soon rang for commencement, so Mum whizzed me off to the entrance. Once inside, we went through the normal procedures of discovering which door, and moved to it—tasks tricky for a person like me on foot. I truly welcomed the luxury of being carried along while seated, and as people bustled back and forth, I sensed their thoughtfulness. All eyes I met smiled brightly in return, and I felt no inferiority being short, looking so far up. The chair was a gift, bringing me even more love because of it, and not the pitying kind, but love that reflected the happiness I was feeling despite my physical condition.
We sat in our prescribed seats and after a time noticed commotion at the other end of the pavilion. Realising it was Monty signing books, Mum hastened our well-thumbed copy over to have signed,—in case we missed out, together with a letter I had written him. It was too late to wheel me over. She wasn’t gone long before she came back bearing a beautiful expression. She’d met him and said he was as sensitively human as he appeared in his book. She described stepping forward, handing him the book, and letter saying, ‘This is from my daughter who would have given it to you, but she has MS’. He looked around and with much compassion said, ‘Bless her! Where is she?’ Mum said he was about to get up, but as I was at the other end of the building, seeing me was impossible. We hoped interval would have Monty signing books again for my chance to meet him.
Tears flooded our faces for the first quarter of the show. To hear his voice and affirmation of ‘Making the world a better place for horse and man’, and to witness this dream coming true, was powerfully moving. To see him interact with horses he’d never met before, and gently instigate a relationship with each through body language was an amazing experience. In less than 30 minutes, Monty had encouraged the horses to accept a saddle, bridle, and then a rider. As a boy, Monty had learned to observe and perceive the language of the horse, from the wild mustangs in North America. He grew to emulate and teach the matriarch’s discipline and reward behaviour; communicating on the level of the horse, to ensure the flight creature felt safe and calm—a state intrinsic to learning!
When half time arrived, Monty was signing books again, so off we went to meet him! The line was shorter for the physically-challenged, so it was my turn almost immediately. He was about to come down to me, but I wouldn’t have it, and with my hands I placed one foot on a bail of straw in front of his desk, and with a firm grip on the desk, hoisted myself up. There we were facing each other… initially he held a slightly bemused comical expression by my manner of reaching him. Love shone through my eyes, escalating as I said, ‘I’m writing a book on my life and you’re in it.’ ‘Very good’ he said.
After placing a kiss on his noble, horsy hand, I moved off the straw bail into the wheelchair, only to climb back up 20 minutes later when Mum purchased his second book Shy Boy, also needing his signature. We left the Monty Roberts event deeply satisfied and grateful to my dear friend Stephen for buying the tickets for us to see him as a birthday present.
* * *
The next day I received another blessing: my first session of acupuncture, arranged by a compassionate friend named Tarsha. The acupuncturist’s name was Mary and the treatment was from the goodness of her heart as she was in her last year of studying the practice. We struck up an instant friendship, bringing with it the blessings of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatments, once a week. Acupuncture is an age-old treatment that pinpoints the pressure points, meridians, and dietary mysticism behind individuals and their ailments.
After doing a case history and taking my pulses to detect information about me, she said, ‘Your internal organs haven’t been affected by this (MS) at all!’ Continuing to look amazed and intrigued, she said several times, ‘You’re so lucky, you’re SO lucky’, emphasising that my diet is SO important to increase Qi (energy) for healing.
From my pulses, Mary detected sluggish energy emanating from the spleen and stomach organs. She described the surmounted energy required of the lower burner (spleen) to heat the middle burner (stomach) for digesting foods and liquids that are cold or dampening in nature i.e. fruits, salads, raw vegetables etc. This was explained while I enjoyed what was to be my last orange juice icy-pole for many months—as ice-blocks are both cold and dampening in nature. The energy required of the spleen and stomach to process such foods, leaves people in my condition particularly fatigued, depleted of the energy necessary for general functions such as walking. She then went on to detail how, according to TCM, the spleen rules the four limbs and if a problem exists in any of those areas, malnutrition was generally the cause.
I realised that it was never about the quantity of food I ate but the quality, and for the ‘problem’ to have advanced to such a level as mine, it commenced long ago.
My lower abdomen was where I had held any extra weight all my life; however, for the quantity of food I ate it was bewildering why fat was stored there while the rest of my body remained little! Now I understood that foods of an unsuitable nature had been left undigested, as my spleen was literally zonked. According to this theory, foods had just sat in my belly and vital nutrients were held at bay from my brain and lower extremities. Oh, this was making sense; the digestion jigsaw was finally coming together.
* * *
During the first two months of this year, which included my birthday period, I indulged in a little drinking, and a bit more smoking, having decided to return to basics in order to re-bond with others. However, it couldn’t go on, so it was vipassana to the rescue! I’d had a number of stops and starts since re-embarking on the smoking habit and knew full avoidance was the only way for me to let go again. The environment offered at vipassana was the perfect place to subsist for that purpose, and more importantly to re-establish myself back on the pure path: body, mind, and soul! I anticipated this with relief and joy!
Brooke made this possible—party friend Brooke, who I went off balance waltzing with at The Fridge in London, so long ago. She had booked on a course, and suggested we do it at the same time, having dreamed of sitting vipassana together. Finally, I excitedly accepted her idea, for the retreat was to be my opportunity to separate me from, and enhance my understanding of, the illusory world of cravings and desires!
Diary entries: ‘20th Feb—this is Sunday the day before vipassana! My refuge of realignment and de-craving…. Not that I am unhappy fulfilling the craving as I have been, it’s just that I’m not giving as I should in every way! And that is because I am ‘impurifying’ my body with each puff! I am not honouring the beautiful breath, or my body, my Qi and God! Yes, it is time again to re-begin intoxicating mySelf with the joys of pure life, love, breath, and energy! Yes, it is time, and I thank you Divine Consciousness for giving me the Grace again to be in total silence with You! In honour of my Essential Self I go forth in each moment until I write in depth to you again dear computer! Ben is coming over soon to share my last evening smoke! What a wonderful way to spend it, with my first boyfriend—the person I started it all up with when I was a teenager, and Mum is going to her new friend Tom’s, so when Dave comes home it will be just like old days again! Oh I love life! Almost too much, another example of God imagining it better than I could!’
‘21st Feb—this is it! I go today and I can’t believe I am so excited and not even a titch of dread is inside of me, I am so looking forward to this! Purification of the mind is more attractive than people realise…. Thank you Dear God for giving me your grace to know and appreciate that! Beautiful Brooke is coming to pick me up! God Bless Her!’
We went and happily so. Brooke was the best person I could have gone with, for not only is she full of dynamic life, she piggybacks. Last summer, she piggybacked me over a beach and large rocks at Sydney’s Gordon’s Bay, then up 180 stairs and onwards to the car. To carry me over the grounds of vipassana seemed like a cakewalk in comparison.
It was past nine pm when we arrived, so meditators had already taken rest. We signed in and Brooke piggybacked me to my room. Due to the distance of the toilets from my room, a potty was required for the nights. During the other two courses of staying on the balcony level, this was also was the case, though, on those occasions I managed to slide the potty over the balcony from my room to empty it into the bushes. I did this in the dark mornings, while no one was near. This time was different. Almost two years had lapsed, and the MS progression made it impossible to dispense of the urine myself.
A noble Dharma worker volunteered this task, and I couldn’t wait for the last day to thank her verbally with all my heart. Up until that final day, I could only send her abundant vibrations of gratitude; gratitude particularly accentuated due a urinary tract infection I had suddenly contracted. This was very evident to the olfactory sense-door and I was embarrassed, because of the odorous sensations for her. Alas, what could I do? My ego, quickly humbled, was re-submitted in the lesson of egolessness! The Dharma server gained extra skill in observing the truth of impermanence: ‘It will change…it will change’ she may have silently chanted as she hurried to the toilet in the mornings to flush! I only imagined her thoughts, for her mind seemed equanimous, and I hoped she observed the stinky sensations with wisdom.
On saying goodbye to Brooke, we were to make no contact again. We broke this rule on Day Two, when I took a fast spill following the afternoon’s one-hour meditation. Even after a day and a half of meditation, my confidence grew as my balance increased. I was confident enough to exit the hall first, as my position was at the back wall, closest to the door. Normally, I’d take my turn after all the meditators had filed out. However, I’d already gained enough confidence to leave first, and I moved to the toilets, busting to go. Success seemed to be with me and I was almost at the toilet block, when I lost my balance, causing my body and stick to go crashing onto the wooden flooring, making a tremendous noise.
There I lay on my back, waving my arms in effort to flip over, and once over, I’d ideally rise onto my knees to gain leverage to shift upright. As much as my difficulties were apparent, I couldn’t obtain assistance from fellow meditators who moved to help, as contact was not encouraged so to maintain the meditative state of mind. A couple of minutes lapsed before help arrived.
As I wore a floppy brimmed hat to act as blinkers and increase meditative practice, the person who approached me from behind wasn’t visible. So I asked, ‘Are you a server?’ and looked up to see Brooke nodding a silent gracious, ‘Yes’. In reaction to not wanting to disturb her, I whispered, ‘Go away Brooke’, but appreciated her hoisting me onto my feet and safely securing me aside the railing. Then she waited to see me pass safely by into the toilets. Sitting on the loo, I observed steadfastness within my body, regardless of the incident, feeling no sensations of upset or ego-deflation at all. Brooke on the other hand later told me she had walked away with a tear or two thinking she’s so brave, you all don’t know, saying she wanted to scream it to everyone. The image of me looking like a beetle needing to be flipped right side up had her smiling again!
My next falling incident was on Day Eight, following the first meditation hour. It was almost a repeat performance, except this time an incredible feeling of peaceful ease permeated my entire being before falling. My walking had improved so much I took a couple of strides without resting my hand on the railing, hazardously forgetting that I needed too. This time, the moment I was down, a meditator named Patsy came to my rescue. She attempted to lift me one-way and said aloud yet to herself, ‘No, wrong way’ having observed Brooke’s method the previous occasion. Then she hoisted me up with a turn, facing me towards the railing where Brooke—my original angel, was waiting to support me further upright. Because of our positions we hugged and I kissed her heart sighing, ‘Oh Brookie’, feeling love’s benevolence all around me. This time I wept while sitting on the toilet, my heart overwhelmed by the goodness of people. The beauty of friends and complete strangers overcame me, and it felt good.
Throughout the next 22 pages of this chapter:
Vipassana concludes … meet another lifetime friend in inspirational Yolanda.
Miscommunications with loved ones and ‘craving’ for my soul mate: understand why book is called ‘Agony’.
Walking miracles and declining weight due to incorrect diet.
Cory flies over for Julie and Glenn’s wedding: shocked by my walking difficulty.
Julie and Glenn buy me a walker on their honeymoon. Short-term good/long-term bad.
Cuddles and blessings from Amma: the Cuddle Mother/Hugging Saint.
‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ begins to come to life.
Revisit bland diet and Mum strains inspire: ‘If I’m Feeling Blue’ poem.
Mum meets writer John Archer ~ great mentor.
Initiated into Babaji Kriya Yoga—known as ‘Initiations into Kriya Kundalini Pranayama and Dhyanam’… ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ takes flight.
Leon disappoints me when he doesn’t visit me on a business trip as promised. Visits next March.