Friday, November 2, 2007

november: body/mind awareness month

that is my declaration! my body is crying out for regular, consistent attention. what i have given her in the last two and half months has been sporadic. the ice cream bar phase was a low point! however, now someone has mowed down the sunflower fields (a dreadful sight) and the gate is shut and locked, so i've temporarily lost access to the nature sanctuary in the middle of the city that i had come to spend a great deal of time in.....but i can still hike all over the campus.yesterday, i received my first korean acupuncture treatment. "oriental medicine" is covered with my korean health insurance policy, so for 5000 won (about $5.50) i met with the doctor...he checked my pulse and asked me a few questions (my friend sandy's husband, yatren, was kind enough to translate for us)....then i received heat treatment (laying on a heated table) while at the same time getting needles in my feet and hands for about 45 minutes....then the doctor drew a little bit of blood from each of my fingers to release the pressure in my hands (it is believed that the hands hold the most pressure in all of the body)....then for 15 or 20 minutes i laid on a water-bed sort of thing that massaged the backside of my entire body with jets of water pressure (AMAZING!!! i could have stayed there forever...if it weren't for the florescent ceiling lights shining in my eyes)...after that, i was taken to a table where i laid down on my back and placed my ankles in a contraption that securely clamped down on them. it was clearly evident that i wasn't going anywhere! at that point i was a little anxious about what was going to happen to me next. i had a feeling it might be some sort of traction treatment....so i waited in slightly fearful but mostly curious suspense. the nurse pressed a button and the table began to violently shake to the point that my teeth were chattering! then the upper part of the table (underneath my torso) started to twist from side to side. immediately i shouted, "ANIEYO!!!" which means "NO!!!" it felt way too uncontrolled and actually hurt my low back a little, so that part of the treatment stopped and then the table slowly began to tilt so that my feet were in the air and my head near the ground (luckily i hung there sercurely due to the ankle clamps!). i hung in traction for god only knows how long. maybe 15 minutes.....i am not sure. i left my body for part of it!! it was my first experience with traction, so i was a little nervous. as i was hanging there, i remembered one of my high school teachers who had back problems telling me about his visits to the chiropractor for traction and that it felt amazing during the treatment but afterward he'd be flattened out on the floor for at least two days. great. that's just great. so needless to say, i was a little worried, but also sincerely hoping that this form of treatment would have a positive effect on my back, as i know it can for some. well, after i was brought back to a horizontal position, i slowly got up.....i realized i could still stand up and walk....and i felt like i have not felt in years....i felt light as a feather....my spine felt spacious and long....and there was no pain. (this photograph is a mild, peaceful version of what i experienced hanging upside down, shaking in midair!)after my session, sandy, her baby (ananda) and i took a bus to the yoga center that she and her husband own. we arrived just in time for the 5:30pm yoga class, so i joined in. i rolled out a yoga mat and took a seat upon it....i felt myself drop into a very familiar and beautiful state....i breathed a deep sigh and knew amidst the soft lighting and serene, equanimous surroundings that november was to be the month that i establish a healthy routine that fosters body/mind wellbeing and balance. the survival part of my journey of settling into living here in korea has passed, i now have everything i NEED and know the ropes so i can begin to seek out routine wellness activities and sangha. i'm signing up for a membership at the yoga center. i find it very, very, very difficult to cultivate a daily yoga practice on my own....but if there are classes i can attend, i will show up every single day. i think it's the part about community (the sangha) that i love and that i miss when i'm on my own day after day.....i love to do yoga and meditate in the company of others. the buddha (awakened state), the dharma (teachings) and the sangha (community)....the three jewels or refuges within buddhism.tonight after a full and boisterous day with the children in goryeong (my 6th grade class gave me a breakdancing performance and horsetail instrument recital! the action never stops!), i went straight to another doctor's office. there's a physical therapy clinic two minutes walk from my apartment. after i checked in and paid 3700 won ($4), i laid on hot packs for about half an hour which was utter bliss as i felt the tension of the day drain out of my body.....after the heat therapy i received electrical nerve stimulation for about 15 minutes, which is a type of therapy where electrodes are applied to a particular area of the body and a mild electrical current is sent to specific nerves...it also helps the muscles relax. after that i felt like a limp noodle! the doctor then worked on me for about 45 minutes. he is trained in many modalities, but my favorite is myofascial release, which is sustained, gentle pressure that allows the soft tissue to release and return to a normal, relaxed state. the time he spends on a patient is anywhere from 10 - 45 minutes, depending on how busy it is, or what he feels like i suppose! after my first visit several weeks ago, he went out and bought english study books so that he could more effectively communicate with us wayguks (foreigners). since then, i have spread the word about his office to many of the foreign professors and a few of them have already become regulars. he is thrilled and will be getting lots of english practice! on my walk home tonight after the appointment, i felt elated....and so blessed to have such a wealth of healing resources so close to my new home....

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