Monthly Archives: March 2012

Prana-The life force energy

I grew up believing in nothing. I didn’t grow up in a church. My parents weren’t church folk. My parents weren’t hippies. They didn’t wear tye dye and chant, they didn’t dance naked under the full moon. They did swim fully clothed in Lake Michigan once, but I think that was more alcohol induced than rapturous.

Once I was in church with family friends-the second, and last time in my adolescent life. The priest said all the gay people and children hunting Easter eggs instead of praising God were going to hell. I was 13. I had a purple Easter dress with a cream straw hat. And I thought, Well that’s that. I never need to come back here again. And it would be a long time before I walked into a church again. Even for a wedding, it would be a long time.

So how did I become a tye dye wearing college student who went on to teach a spiritaul practice? How is that I chant, meditate, attend a regular church service and pray daily? Sometimes more than once a day?


When I started practicing yoga I learned that the life force energy that runs through all of us is called prana. Okay. I wasn’t into anything called life force so I just accepted that my yoga teacher believed it and moved on. I was more interested in the poses. I didn’t want to think about life force energy.

Two years later I’d gone through a lot. I’d had a child, suffered through post-partum depression and was medicated. I stood on the mat in my new town hundreds of miles from my hometown and on a Wednesday morning stretched, open and spiraled into trikonasana. Into triangle. And as I straightened out of it, I felt a tingle in my fingers. And I smiled. And back then smiling was hard. And then I wanted to cry. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know what I felt, but it was new and it was different. It was love and it was peaceful and it felt great.

And then it happened again. Another Wednesday morning with the sun streaming through my new yoga studio I felt a tingle in my fingers as I straightened out of trikonasana. And it felt more like someone brushed my fingers, just grasped them for a moment, a split second. Just gave me a squeeze of reassurance. And I smiled. And I thought, this is God.

And then everytime I did trikonasana I looked for God. And I felt God moving through my body, I felt protected and loved and open and okay.

Now, I didn’t know anything about God. I didn’t grow up reading the bible or learning anything in any Sunday school. I didn’t know anything, but I knew what I felt.

A year or so later I started studying how to teach. I learned about Prana. Prana is the life force energy that runs through everything. It is the same as Qi, Ki or Chi. It is what makes a chair a chair, a bird a bird and me feel more like Melissa in trikonasana than I ever did any other time in my life.

I didn’t learn that Prana was God. No one has ever said that to me.

Prana runs through all of us. Connects all of us. It is what is in my heart and that which is in your heart. It’s the same in my heart as in my foot. It is what gets blocked, It’s what flows in little trickles and in great rushes. It is what connects me to you and you to me.

A few weeks ago I was asked to meditate on life force energy for a year long study that I’m doing. I like to meditate laying down. I always have. As I lay on my mat I took deep relaxing breaths. I felt my body sink down and open up. The long slow breaths helped my mind to clear and closing my eyes I began to see colors swirl behind my eyelids. Mostly through the three weeks the colors were blues and greens. Sometimes an occasional wild blue indigo and a violet. Once or twice  I would get a bright orange swirl. I don’t know what that’s about.

But when I listen to my body I know exactly what’s happening. When I focus on prana and wait for that feeling, that feeling of being centered and aware I sink down into a place of ultimate comfort and peace. My mouth gets slack, my shoulders sink back into the firm floor and I feel myself just surrender into a thick, comfy nest of peace and love. It literally feels like I’m was lying on something warm and fluffy, light and thick. It’s the place where I feel like me and like everyone I’ve met and know and I feel vulnerable and powerful and relaxed and heightened all at the same time.

In this place, focusing on the energy of the universe I feel small and humungous. I feel safe. I feel that my tiny problems were so tiny. So teeny and so managable and so inconsequential. I feel like I can overcome anything and everything.

As I lay in a state that can most be compared to an aware dozing I feel alive. I feel like I’m not really here, but I’m solidly right here. I am removed from the sounds of the fans in the Breathe practice room, I sink away from the street sounds of Mass Street. I am comforted, but unafflicted by the living noises of our upstairs neighbors. And at the same time I am almost the one making all those noises, they are a part of me and my awareness.

It is  a feeling that I strive to repeat over and over in my life. It is why I practice yoga, meditate, go to a touchy-feel-good-non-traditional-church. It’s why I got to the chiropractor and energy healer and acupuncturist. Being in the flow of prana is so important to me I would do almost anything to stay open and connected to that flow. And it so easy to get out of the flow. It’s so easy for me to focus on the long list of things that I need to accomplish and the workshops I want to teach and so I forget and I get sick and I get irritable and I get into fights with my honey and I believe all the crap that’s been said to me in my life and I forget. I forget that I am pure life force energy and so are you and so are they.

Being in the flow feels good. So I do a lot to be there. I do a lot with this human body to keep it in a place where I feel the energy every day. Or as many days as I can, if even for just a little bit. It’s why I don’t eat gluten and I don’t eat a lot of sugar.  It’s why I love giggling with my six year old and having coffee with my 15 year old. It’s why I write. It’s why I pray.

Now, let me explain about praying. For me praying isn’t about asking a man in the sky to grant me my wishes. For me praying is about remembering who I am and trying to get back into the flow of the universe. It’s a quiet reminder that when I am in the flow, my life works and I feel good and I love being me.

So, I pray. And because it’s easier I often pray in a traditional form. I ask Goddess to help me be productive and feel better and not scream at my 15 year old. I ask Goddess for what I need.

And because I have felt that life force energy, because it is so tangible I know that what I need will be provided. Now, if that’s not God I don’t know what is.


This Year

I’ve been quiet for awhile. It’s been a hell of a year. I’ve been quiet because there was too much to say. I was quiet because there was too much to process. I’ve been quiet.

I’ve been accused of talking too much. It was a common theme on my school comments from teachers. “She’s a great student, but she talks so much.”

Well, this year I’ve been quiet.

Hee Hee…when I look back at the blog I see that I actually posted in January, but before that it was September and before that it was August. So, see I still talk more than I know. But I was quieter.

This was a doozy of a year. In the past 12 months my relationship fell apart, I was asked to move out and I did. I moved back in about three months later, but it translates to three moves last summer and a lot of upheaval for-my kids. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy and is now cancer-free, but I’m now one of those women. My mother isn’t the best at communicating and I found out that my great-grandmother died of breast cancer after having a double masectomy. So, my daughter and I are those women. Then my 15 year old daughter found a lump in her breast. It was a tough few days. I had a car accident that revealed some arthritis and resulted in a pinched nerve. Somewhere in here I had major vehicle issues. My truck broke. Completely broke.  Then I was diagnosed with diabetes. I’ve written about it here so I guess it wasn’t a complete surprise that when I gained the weight back and stopped taking care of myself, I was diagnosed with diabetes. And back to that family dysfunction thing-I found out that my father has diabetes and my mother and sister are pre-diabetic . My father ignored his diabetes for years and drank on it to boot and now he’s having kidney issues. So, he’s been hospitalized. He gets dehydrated and gets hospitalized and he’s 75 and I still have a lot of issues to work through. And because I was dizzy and nauseous all the time they did some more checking and I was diagnosed with anemia. Then my girlfriend had surgery and vomited blood for days and we ended up in the emergency room. My daughter and I had a fight and didn’t talk for a month, during which she stayed at her father’s and I felt ignored and indignant. And then she had surgery. And many, many times during this year I thought I was going to loose my business.

So I’d say it’s been a doozy of a year. I have had major meltdowns where I felt like I couldn’t handle one more thing. I’ve had screaming matches with my ex. I’ve had screaming matches with my love. I’ve made emergency phone calls to my therapist. My girlfriend has stayed home from work to take care of my trauma-laden ass.

But you know what? I’m here. I’m on the other side of this crazy/drama/trauma year. I didn’t always do it with grace and dignity, but I did it. And I did it without numbing out. I did it with a semblance of clarity and honesty. I was authentic.

And here’s what I learned this year. I learned that I didn’t get the mother that I wanted or maybe even deserved, but I got this woman who is flawed and imperfect and she loves me and how I deal with that is up to me. I got a daughter who loves me fiercely and hates me fiercely and she’s probably more like me than anyone on the planet. I learned that I can walk through anything in anyway that choose. I knew I was a survivor, but this year I learned that I can survive and make choices and do things the way I want. Life doesn’t just happen to me. I learned that I am having the relationship that I’ve always wanted, one that allows me to grow and change and I have a girlfriend who accepts me no matter what-and I’ve tested that quite a bit. I learned that I am lovable and strong and smart and enough.

I write these things, don’t I? This isn’t the first time I’ve claimed this power and I wish I could explain how it’s different, but I can’t. I think this year it shifted from the logic of knowing that we are all enough into my heart of feeling that I am enough. It’s a powerful, important shift.

This year I stepped into my power. My business is doing better than ever and I don’t have to slave to make it so. I get to enjoy my baby. I can stop working impossible hours and choose my favorite projects to work on. I can write. I teach a writing class! I have wanted to do this my whole life and now I co-teach a writing class to women in recovery. I signed up for a year of Reiki training and I embrace the title healer that I blushed at last year. I am a powerful healer and every week I have people report back on how I’ve healed them or brought new awareness or just helped.

I have an incredible team of healing professionals that help me. I found a wonderful holistic health center, I have a talented and sweet acupuncturist and a new wonderful and gentle chirproactor. Oh! And a wise, wise, understanding and encouraging therapist and a mentor who takes my hand, never lets me go and says I Don’t Know a lot.  My patient primary care nurse who never seems rushed even though I know she is,  banned me from googling, but then reluctanctly later gave me a medical website addresss to look up things more accurately.

Because this year I took my health in my own hands I have reversed the diabetes and am off the meds. My anemia is on it’s way too. I went from a scary low hemoglobin count of 8 to a much better 11 in a few months and am on my way to a normal 14. I lost 25 pounds just by eating regular meals and being aware of what’s not good for my body-like gluten. I am gluten-free and it has made all the difference in my body. I ache less, heal faster, sleep better and never feel bloated, gassy or have stomach upset and I’ve been able to drop weight with an ease I’ve neer experienced. I don’t think the gluten was making me fat, but I think by eliminating the gluten and getting the glucose under control my body is moving towards balanced health and everything else is following.  And most importantly, without the gluten I feel far less depressed.

Depression was an old friend. I was really at my end. I wasn’t feeling so sad that I couldn’t continue. I was feeling so discouraged that I didn’t want to continue. I wanted to die this year. Many times this year. Mostly because no matter what I did, no matter how much sun and exercise I got, no matter how in touch I was with my therapist and my mentor, no matter how much yoga I did, that bottom of despair always came. One morning I would be fine and by afternoon I couldn’t get off the couch, hating myself for the NCIS marathon and not blogging or cooking dinner or not wanting to do anything with my kids. And most confusing on some of those days I had practiced yoga and my sweet friend wasn’t helping me, couldn’t save me and I felt betrayed. Gluten-free changed all of that. Without the gluten I have even days. I have energy and I smile and when tough stuff comes up I deal with it and move on. Not eating gluten has saved my life. Literally.

So, it’s been a doozy of a year and I’m still standing.