PossAbilities: A Journey of Healing Body, Mind and Soul
~ By Anne Belohorec ~
Hiking in the Yukon Territory, Summer 2018
Believe in possibility of ability
People frequency ask, “How do you recover? What do I do to heal?” It’s easy to give the explanation of how our bodies are dynamic and self-healing – that to heal we need to create the belief system of possibility, then clear the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual blocks that are in the way of healing. That is too abstract, however true, and needs some practical, easy to understand explanation.
I am writing this story of the recent recovery of my ability to run and the healing that came with it to illustrate how healing can happen. It is my personal experience with the abilities and knowledge that I have at this point in my life. Hopefully it can be beneficial to the healing process of another person.
Become a warrior for self-healing
My history is that multiple sclerosis left me very disabled, trapped in my body and confined to an electric wheelchair with back and neck braces. I didn’t stand or walk for twelve years and needed the wheelchair for 15 years.
But when I was introduced to complementary / alternative treatments my warrior spirit emerged and I chose healing, without actually knowing what that would look like, or what was possible. After three years of daily commitment I took my first step.
Four years later I no longer required a wheelchair, and slowly regained control over my body and life. (see the About Me section of this web site). But I never regained my ability to run, and though I was aware I couldn’t run, I stayed content with walking. I tried at times but nothing in me could find the movements.
Accept the challenge of healing
I met Giuseppe Lombardo at a yoga retreat in Costa Rica. He had intuitive and spiritual abilities that were similar to mine and I discovered that he understood the energy of what was required to heal without me giving the usual explanations.
We occasionally kept in touch and one day he spoke of running on the beach. I explained that I couldn’t run. He kept telling me that he could feel that I would be able to run and he could teach me.
We joked about this but he was so certain and convinced that I decided to accept this challenge and agreed to go visit in Mazatlan for a week. Besides, the winter had been unusually hard and long and a warm beach was a refreshing change.
For a month before my trip I did yoga almost every day, walked every morning and had bodywork treatments to improve nerve connections. I was supposed to visualize running and remember when I used to run, but though I know I used to run (chasing after my young children and playing baseball), I could not recreate a memory of it.
I watched runners on movies and animals running in wildlife documentaries. I began to long for the sense of freedom in movement that I saw in the animals.
In Mazatlan we went to the beautiful beach every morning. I felt strength and energy from nature and especially the ocean waves and early morning sun, the light winds and my feet in the warm sand -truly an ideal place.
We began with grounding exercises and connecting to earth and sky. Then Giuseppe showed me balancing exercises and energetic exercises similar to Tai Chi. I struggled with balance, with jerky and awkward movements, nothing that looked like it could ever translate to running. My hopes quickly turned to fear of falling and panic that I could not do this.
Shift the perspective, acknowledge the fear
I believe this is an important place for people with long term, chronic conditions and their families. So many people have tried so many things to help their back pain, headaches or injuries.
Each time they dare to hope with a new medicine, herb, or treatment, only to have that hope turn to disappointment. They are frequently accused of not trying hard enough, but who can blame them. It isn’t that they don’t want to be better, they can’t bear yet another loss.
What if no matter how hard I tried, I could not make running happen. I did not want to face failure or disappoint my coach. It was tempting to stop right there. Luckily for me, this was not my first rodeo. I had an advantage that many others don’t – I had been through this before and against much greater odds, and slowly achieved recovery. But I didn’t have years, just a few days.
I needed to shift my perspective. As I worked at these exercises on my own during the day (and I faithfully did them all), journaling and meditating, I recalled things that worked in the past, and added more recent learnings from different classes and books. And I chose to allow and hold on to Giuseppe’s intuitive senses, belief and faith until I found enough of my own.
Create a possibility and focus on ability
First, I created a healed outcome, not a picture of running, but a sense of how I wanted to feel with the experience. The feeling I wanted and created was a sense of freedom inside, what I imagined “free” could be like and “planted” that feeling in my solar plexus- stating it out loud three times. Practicing the yoga warrior poses helped run energy through my body, connecting earth and sky, brain, spine, legs and feet.
Then I let go of the end result and focused on each step of the exercise. What could each small improvement in the balance, coordination and integrating exercises translate to in my daily life. There could be success in some way.
I became aware that each time I did a set of the exercises, I walked differently, though I didn’t have a good description of what exactly was different. I noticed improved adaptation to uneven ground and a better sense of where I was in space. Each time as my balance improved, or a small hop got longer, I would think, “I have this, now maybe there’s more…”
The third day on the beach, the magic happened! I started to combine the hops in a sequence of jumps and was able to turn them into a first short run. This seemed to become possible when I was instructed to focus on my back foot and toes and spring that foot forward with strength. The stability of going in to the back body shifted my fear of falling forward and created new capacity for movement.
Move forward in life without fear
The explanation and language that added insight to this came two weeks later as I attended a Continuum Movement retreat class in Oregon – so interesting how the universe works! This was a somatic or body centered experiencing class and one segment was about moving forward in the world.
Susan, our teacher demonstrated and described our human fear of falling as we try and move forward in life. The question for this is “Where am I?” We need a strong sense of where we are now before we can effectively move forward.
Susan showed us how animals test the ground with all paws, solid in their back and forelegs and move from their back body to spring forward and land with accuracy. They track from all senses.
In this class we learned to connect more to our back bodies, feeling “someone has our back.” We learned to find ourselves through our feet, softening the front body that allows more peripheral vision and open heart, and move forward in both movement and in life.
With these exercises in mind I was walking with a classmate down a steep hill path when my feet slid and slipped on the gravel and rock path. I froze in fear of tumbling down the hill, especially with the chance of rattlesnakes in the grasses.
J, my walking partner quietly stepped in front of me, allowing me to hold his shoulder and follow his feet down the embankment. On the straight stretch I again walked in front.
For the next steep place I managed on my own, locating myself in space and connecting to my body, slowly navigating each step while feeling my walking partner patiently holding space behind me. Without this workshop and the previous running training I doubt I would have had the confidence or ability to try this.
Release unhealthy beliefs
Now back to the experience of running on the Mexican beach. After five days of training I finally managed to run again for the first time since my late twenties. I was overwhelmed with joy of the much longed for sense of freedom flowing through me.
On the last day of my visit, instead of exercises I ran with Giuseppe and managed my first 90 meters, a good start in my run towards life! I am deeply grateful for this experience.
This however, was not the end of the healing that came about with running. Something else was emerging that was more difficult to comprehend at first.
I had begun to notice early in the exercise training that I was feeling a different distress in my gut. At first I thought it was just about the fear and awkward movements but the deep distress persisted even when my movement improved. I wanted to be out of my body, to not be noticed or seen by strangers on the beach and was generally uncomfortable. This didn’t fit with my common sense present day reality where this wouldn’t be a big issue.
My knowledge of bodywork and previous healing clued me in that this feeling and my reactions might be a trigger from previous experience rather than present day reality. Slowly, as I continued running practice and then returned home to everyday life I allowed this strange sense to be there and tried to be present to it, asking “What is this?”
In time when this shaky, sickening feeling showed up, there came some memory with it. I began to recall a time, early in my illness when my health and mobility were rapidly deteriorating. I was struggling in physiotherapy to regain coordination and strength, horrified at knowing that I was living inside a body that was breaking down with a sense of helplessness and despair.
At that time, I did not have the emotional skills to process this. Therefore, all of my unacknowledged emotions and fear remained trapped in the cells, walled off in my body, like a cyst of chaotic energy. This healing was a process of emotional release from the cells (described in craniosacral therapy and part of treatment). I now had the emotional capacity to deal with that past experience.
My present struggle with exercises and running movement had awakened and unblocked this stuck cellular memory and allowed it to flow through, process and leave my tissue. Part of me was no longer stuck, living in that past time in the belief that I was losing health. The end result was that clearing the unhealthy belief system freed me to more fully live my present life.
There is likely more to this, but this is my knowledge at present. I know I feel lighter and changed somehow, I move differently and have an expanded perspective in my life. Clients, colleagues and friends notice and comment that I am “different.”
Continue the healing journey
Running requires different arm movements, as well as increased breath and cardio output. The actions of running now gave me a greater awareness of limitations and neurological deficits in my arms and thoracic area. Though I was aware of the limited use of my arms, I compensated in daily living and was so used to it that I paid little attention. While running I experienced arm pain and an inability to breathe.
Continued practice has helped somewhat and at this writing I can run for three minutes. This is a work in progress as my healing journey continues. Without the original running training I may never have addressed weakened arms and compromised lungs and cardio function. This would likely jeopardize my future health.
I am now doing exercises and bodywork, (and running) to address these deficits. I know in my heart that more will happen and the way will unfold. I live happily with what I have now, but maybe there’s more…
Reclaim mind, body and soul
The running was not really about becoming a runner. It was more about reclaiming a piece of myself that was lost long ago, like a soul retrieval. To have more mind, body and soul presence, free of the emotional and spiritual limitations while recovering the lost physical.
This summer, in July 2018 while in the Yukon (my original home), I discovered I had the strength, coordination and balance to hike with friends up the mountain trails of both Monarch Mountain and Montana Mountain. In previous years I had to stay at the base, reading a book in the car while others hiked.
As I stood on the ridge overlooking the stunning views of Yukon mountains, lakes and forests below I reflected on the “Butterfly Medicine effect,” of how a conversation on a path in Costa Rica ends up with running on a Mexican beach, a precarious hike down a steep cliff in Oregon, deep healing of old wounded places, and the exhilaration of standing safely and steadily on a mountain in the Yukon.
This became much more than the possibility of running. I am mindful and grateful every day for all that I have in my life at present and for the future (which I used to never dare dream of) there exists the excitement of “maybe there’s more…”