The Cook Awakening

When the Rubber Hits the Road

September 15, 2017
Posted in: Health and Nutrition, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation, Spiritual Practice

Having babies in my early 40s was exciting. I had given up on the idea of having a family of my own— a committed partner, raising kids together. After years of mostly single life, interspersed with intense but short-term relationships, and long-term spiritual practice, I was honestly to the point of considering taking monastic vows. I was already basically living the life of a mendicant— cooking for and managing meditation retreats for half the year, and the other half of the year living in India, studying with spiritual teachers and burning in the transformational fires that only India knows how to create.

Aging lotus plants

I was happy. Not always in a pleasant way, but in a deeply congruent way that was the gift of that long-term spiritual practice. I knew that life was a journey, and I was less attached to goals. More presence, less future and past.

That fateful meeting with my now husband is a story in itself, and not what I want to focus on here.

Having babies in my early 40s was exciting… and exhausting. The relentless requirement to satisfy other beings’ needs (particularly the first, who was born 10 weeks prematurely), the constant daze of interrupted sleep, never having time alone, always being touched (particularly challenging for this introvert), was utterly depleting.

When I continued to have trouble getting out of bed after the first months of motherhood, I didn’t worry about it too much. “Old mom, young kids,” I thought. I was too tired to worry, honestly. Worry takes energy.

I remember the three ticks that bit me between 2001 and 2005. I remember the first one under my breast. I had to go to the doctor to have it removed because it was too awkward for me to reach. That was about 24 hours after it had attached. I remember the nymph that attached to my calf when I took my older son camping at a women’s herbal gathering— the bull’s eye rash that covered the back of my leg afterward. I remember crying, trying to remove one on my inner thigh while simultaneously managing a toddler and an infant— and I just couldn’t get it out. I took antibiotics after those last two bites for two weeks each.

It wasn’t until a few years later I learned that the recommendation to prevent Lyme disease is to take antibiotics for 4 weeks after a deer tick bite.

The prevailing opinion at the time was that Lyme disease was an east coast issue, and I was in rural northern California. We didn’t have Lyme disease.

I remember, later, telling my doctor about my continued level of fatigue and brain fog. I laughed, and quipped something about the downside of being a middle-aged mother of young children.

And, I remember now with great gratitude, him looking at me sternly and saying, “Durga, this is NOT normal. I’m ordering some tests.”

I think it was a by-product of my spiritual practice combined with a part of my personality that thinks I can do everything, that allowed me to function as well as I did for so many years with chronic Lyme. The experience of having significant health challenges has deepened my spiritual connection in immeasurable ways.

There’s something called Spiritual Bypass that’s very common in transcendent leaning practitioners (meaning those of us who want to avoid discomfort— which I believe is most of us for at least some of the time!). Spiritual Bypass can be thought of as a kind of conscious denial. It may have its uses, but it probably won’t get you to take your health symptoms seriously. Receiving that chronic Lyme diagnosis, as well as a few other sticky health issues that my doctor’s testing uncovered, brought my spiritual practice out of my head and into my body in ways that working with childhood trauma in earlier years hadn’t quite completed.

I’m still happy, in a deeply congruent way. I take my supplements and medications. I have some days when the fatigue is greater than others. This body has changed.

About half the pills and potions I take on a daily basis, without which I’d probably be back in bed most of every day.

Life has been and continues to be a dance. How to stay in this body fully, and not believe that its illnesses are who I am? How to take care of this body to the best of my ability, and not allow my sense of self to be defined by its illnesses?

This is deeply experiential work, enlisting ancient tools and present awareness. A committed and courageous heart. This is not about avoidance. This is about a gentle, open-hearted embrace of the truth of living with the body’s changes, as they are. Sensing when action is needed, and when to rest. And, above all, learning to love the body and mind exactly as it is, including struggle when it arises. Which it will.

Living life on life’s terms.

This entry was posted on Friday, September 15th, 2017 at 11:48 pm and is filed under Health and Nutrition, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation, Spiritual Practice. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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