Thursday, September 15, 2016

Separation and Deep Space 9

Chapter 1, pages 1.11-1.12 outline the role of Separation and Stress in Illness and Healing. Reflect on a time when you or someone you know well has been ill. How did separation and stress play a role in that illness?

"It is imperative to understand exactly what it is that we are healing as yoga therapists. Yoga therapy is not the treatment of specific conditions, but the healing of the separation, disconnection, and imbalance that result in physical imbalances."  Joseph la Page

I remember visiting my uncle Lucius in the hospital.  He had a triple by-pass but refused to give up smoking. He said that "all I have is cigarettes and Deep Space 9."  I will never forget him telling me that. It is one of the saddest things I have ever heard in my life.

The western medical system gave him his by pass but they could not heal his heart because his heart was suffering from a complete heart disease not just a physical one caused by smoking. And there was no bypassing this pain.  The pain needed healing not only bypassing.

"We must be aware of this in order to avoid falling into the allopathic medical model, which says “that for condition X, give treatment Y;” a model that is so ingrained at conscious and unconscious levels." Joseph la Page

I remember my uncle as a nervous angry man with a speech impediment, a stutter. He pronounced my sister's name Lois the same way he pronounced my mom's name.  My mom's name is Dolores and he called her Laures and I didn't understand that. Why couldn't I understand that. And when he used to come to our door asking for Laures I would tell him my sister was at college which made him more frustrated and angry. He, my mom and aunt had a family business they ran together which frustrated everyone involved. It was my grandmother's boarding house in the depths of the North Philadelphia ghetto.

He had 3 biological children and 3 adopted kids from his wife's first marriage.  His wife name was Betty and she big strong woman.  Very much like a black woman you would see in an 80s sitcom. She was kind of like Esther Rolle.

What was it about cigarettes and the TV show Deep Space 9 that made them the only thing that gave my uncle comfort?  A man with 6 kids and a loving wife?

Deep Space 9 was a revolutionary Star Trek for the African-American community because the captain was black. He was smart, well-spoken, powerful and respected.  Maybe those were things my uncle yearned for,

Lucius definitely felt separation from his family because he didn't not mention them as worth living for,

What was Lucius true nature.  Where was his bliss? his Ananda.  I can't believe that it could only be in smoking and watching TV.  There most have been more.  Dreams deferred... dreams forgotten.  I remember the Langston Hughes poem:

What happens to a dream deferred? 

      Does it dry up 
      like a raisin in the sun? 
      Or fester like a sore— 
      And then run? 
      Does it stink like rotten meat? 
      Or crust and sugar over— 
      like a syrupy sweet? 

      Maybe it just sags 
      like a heavy load. 

      Or does it explode?

A great source of Avidya for Lucius (as I am told) is the loss of his son Junior.  Junior died of sickle cell when he was 7 years old.  I don't think Lucius ever recovered from the loss.  His daughter Davida also had sickle cell.  Her whole life was spent going in and out of the hospital.  She was one year younger than me.

I don't remember what Lucius' relationship to God was.  My mother's family were devout Baptists and I assume Lucius was a Baptist too.  But he didn't mention God that day in the hospital room.  He didn't curse him or praise him. He didn't say soon he would join him.  God didn't make that list with cigarettes and Deep Space 9.

I remember his prana being so low in that room.  His spirit was broken his will to live was gone. He had seen too much,  My aunt Frances sometimes would tell stories of how his mother used to beat him and call him a dummy.  But Lucius was a success in my eyes. He was a garbage collector with a pension, healthcare and a good salary. He was a property owner with a few rental properties.  He raised children.  He married a lovely woman.  He raised her children.  Why was it not enough?  Why did none of that seem to count - at least that day in the hospital? Or did the weight of the loss of Junior mean much more than the five children who were alive.

“We do not have control 
over many things
in life and death
but we do have control
over the meaning we give it.” 
― Nathalie Himmelrich, Grieving Parents: Surviving Loss as a Couple

I don't know if yoga therapy could have helped Lucius.  Would he have been able to see himself as not separate as not a lone.  Could he have come to terms with all his devastating losses but still embrace life? Is it already too much just being a black man in America and then lose your only biological son and watch your daughter go in and out of the hospital waiting to lose her too?

I am reminded by the poem by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I ri
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

I wish the story ended with that hope. Lucius did not rise. In fact he was lowered into the family cemetery, He died soon after I saw him.  Betty died too and so did Davida.  The other children stopped talking to each other because they began to feud over who had the rights to over Lucius's properties.  I am sad as write about and rehash the story of my uncle Lucius.  And yet I do believe Yoga Therapy could have helped.

"When we are connected to the true Self, the channels of prana are clear and open. When Self-knowledge is absent, prana becomes blocked or insufficient and illness results. As these energy blocks are released, the natural healing qualities, which are one aspect of the body’s intelligence, begin to function optimally and balance is restored." Joseph la Page

When I see my uncle Lucius in my mind's eye I almost see my mother's face. My uncle who with the love of Deep Space 9, a  world where a benevolent intelligent black man was in charge. This love tells me Lucius was still desiring transformation even in the end. But somehow nobody could help him see it for himself.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment. It is much appreciated.