In this chapter of my own life, I find there are no answers to the problems and promise of the human condition, but to approach the complex experience of being with love, compassion and softness. I read that kittens knead while they are suckling to stimulate lactation in the mammary glands.
They may continue to knead into adulthood as a way to kindle good feelings, similarly to the way humans stretch. I have entitled this essay as such because the origin of kneading is instinctual, comforting and feels rewarding. I knead to feel human, not as one who seeks to cure or even heal, but as one who kneads to care for the pain present in the soul’s body.
I hope that I might intentionally transmit the energetic signature of healing to others who consider massage and touch to be great modalities that facilitate substantive transformation and deep profundity.
I am not so different from many others when I say that I have nearly been destroyed by my longing to find the “thing” missing from me. There was always something keeping me awake at night that called to me loud enough to make its presence known, but was too soft to comprehend fully.
I have been searching since I was a small child, often plagued by anxiety stemming from awareness of the world’s pain and suffering. I know that I am unique, just like everyone else, and that for us all, life is a matter of cultivating our gifts and then giving them away. If I must assign a purpose to life, it is to be held responsible for our experiencing the process of becoming. In striving to understand any bit of existence, I must genuinely and consciously place myself in the fields to which I am called. I know that healing is in my nature.
I first thought to pursue massage therapy as a career while I was in high school. My mother advised me not to, as there was “no money” in that dream. I had done no soul-searching at that point, but could sense that I was totally disconnected from some stream of higher consciousness. I had no concept of being my own person, of articulating my values or knowing where to look. Blindly, I enrolled in a private four-year university in my home-town and conferred a Bachelor’s degree in foreign language; my minor was sociology.
Having always been intrigued by language, the supreme moving force of humanity, I sought to expand and extend myself by learning Spanish. Doing so gave me an opportunity to express thoughts and emotions with a richness I had not been perceptive of previously. Our capacity for articulation in the forms of poetry, song, or just plain noise—we try our damnedest to communicate our knowing, our questions, our ecstasy and our suffering.
I was shy to speak, but knowledge of this textured language made me feel empowered. However, the revelatory theories regarding the progress, organization and functioning of human society had an adverse effect. I suspected that there were roots on the tree of man’s suffering, but was ignorant of how penetratingly corrosive are the constructed societal pressures upon the fruitful potential of each individual.
I felt hopelessly enslaved by the confining ideologies and institutions. I believed I had lost my power before I could realize I ever had any at all. There was no obvious solution or escape from the unjust treatment of human beings, animals and the Earth. I stopped searching for hope and grew depressed, cynical and reclusive.
A few months in this hellish void led me to what was most fertile within my own spirit. I had fallen closer than I had ever been to a space composed by the intrinsic raw materials of soul. What I perceived to be a realm of essences moved me to a peaceful paradise of vibrancy and phenomenal beauty. Light was born of darkness in me when I was transformed by soulful and heartfelt love.
I discovered this constant and permeating energy one night while I was lying in bed, overcome by catharsis and weeping at the realization that life is both against and for every soul ever born into this world. I was spirited away by universaIity and intuited then that my power was not gone, nor had it ever been- perhaps misplaced, but never gone. I began to trust that I am pure in depth and reflect a spirit molecule which knows me with the same intensity that I could never know it. Of course, this trust in source energy behooved me to explore the dimensionality of the mind-body-soul connection.
Fearlessly, I resolved to see more beauty in the world. My first trip alone, I ventured to Vieques, Puerto Rico for three weeks where I offered my labor in exchange for a tent and meals. My hosts, Maureen and Michael, were from New York and resigned to live a quiet life on a homestead, enlisting the help of WWOOFers during the dry season. I read Osho and Thich Naht Hahn, drank rooibos tea with honey and almond milk each morning.
I rose with the sun and never tired of the fragrant sweetness of the ylang ylang tree in full bloom near my tent. I pick-axed trees that stemmed from weeds; my fingers swelled from the tropical heat. I only left that heavenly place because it never occurred to me that I could stay. I returned home knowing that the time had come for me to find employment that was in alignment with the healthful lifestyle I had chosen.
Two weeks later, the restaurant where I worked as a server closed unexpectedly. For nearly two months afterward, I spent time dancing with life at my own pace, learning to live gracefully, compassionately and whole-heartedly.
When the time was befitting, I was drawn to apply at a small, family-owned organic grocery store. I met people with far-reaching vision, joyful presence and enthusiasm for well-being. My peers stoked my passion for aliveness and supported my growth as a human being. The patrons were from all walks of life; many had been undone by dis-ease and were fighting to restore their health.
In listening to their stories, I felt my heart opening wider as I shared their pain and their hope for recovery. After a year and a half, I had felt the urge to travel again. I journeyed to Thailand and worked as an English teacher for six months.
On a humid and sunny Friday morning, en route to school, I rode past jasmines blossoming on a side street. I inhaled deeply and stole a glimpse of the rising sun before refocusing my vision. Just off the highway and into town, I drove around a curve, onto a one-way and t-boned a truck. As I catapulted through the air, I became keenly aware that my life was changing drastically in that moment.
I slid several feet across gravelly pavement and was overwhelmed by trauma and fright. I laid there, horrified, and raised my head to look at my hands, shredded and bloody with rocks embedded into my burning flesh. The driver of the vehicle darted over to me, lifted my helpless body from the lane and placed me on the curb. I was sobbing inconsolably, and a gentle woman came to me with tissues and sat beside me, gesturing that I use them for the deep gashes on my feet, knees, fore-arms and hands.
My clothes were tattered, my bike obliterated and I had no functioning of my right leg. An ambulance and police officer arrived in a matter of seconds, it seemed. The officer explained that my bike would be taken to the police station and that I would be delivered to the hospital. My shock was so great that I initially refused all of this and insisted that I go to school to see my kids! This accident was absurd and in no way part of my lesson plan for the day! When I realized I certainly needed medical attention, I consented and was whisked away on a stretcher. As the shock and adrenaline faded, the pain deepened.
Upon arrival, a nurse was assigned to clean and bandage my wounds. While laying on the gurney, I tried to move my leg and grew terrified that my efforts were futile. I was taken for X-Rays and there was no indication that anything was broken, so the doctor gave me pain killers, ibuprofen and a letter excusing me from work for a week. My Thai landlords, Aea and Pud, were with me through the entire experience, so kind as to take me to follow-up doctor appointments and prepare meals for me.
Aea even let me borrow her mother’s walker so that I could at least get around my room on my own. I rested for a week and the swelling decreased significantly. I realized then that the pain I felt was not from my leg, but in my lumbar and sacral spine, in the sacroiliac joint and psoas muscle.
I began researching what I could do to heal, which was useful, but ultimately, I had to “work it out” between my mind and body. With tender loving care, I stretched, practiced self-massage and yoga. Most effectually, I let my body move in ways it wanted so that I could approach the centers of intense aching through postures that allowed the pain to be expressed, held and soothed.
Devotion to healing my injuries pushed me into sessions of flow states, which brought me closer to the truth of my purpose. Using what I had learned to help myself, I showed to my friends in Thailand who had been in accidents and were open to using my technique. Of course, my technique revealed to them that their bodies were speaking and imploring them to care for the pain that was present.
Through studying massage therapy, I hope to gain and apply the knowledge that will allow me to see how healing can take place with more clarity. I seek to understand the pain in the human body, as it is prevalent in all human beings at some point. Kneading to feel human is essential to soothing the soul.
It appeals to our sense of touch and moves us higher into the dimensions of feeling and emotion. With my soul, mind and body, I made use of the pain that came my way. There are still times when I gaze at my hands and marvel at all they are capable of. I intend to use them carefully, to plant seeds of healing and break up tension that exists in the world, one bodily spirit at a time.
I believe that each human being is a fiber in the greater fabric composing the web of life. When we do that which renders us into flow states, we are fully immersed and engaged in that process. In the zone, we become men and women of no ego and sense the raw materials of soul experiencing complete absorption in the creative now.
The blessing of my scooter accident demanded that I raise the quality of my thoughts to overcome the pain and suffering in my physical body. Difficult times in life ask us what we are made of, and as human beings, we are proof that mind takes precedence over matter. We are co-creators of our reality and destiny when we choose to be aware of our response to life’s inherent wholeness.
It is painful to believe that we are victims of circumstance and that our fate is predetermined and that life has no meaning. We internalize this as truth when we take more than give, consume more than we generate, and hate more than we love. In caring for the soul, we take responsibility for our mental and physical health and try to do more of what breathes life energy into our spirit.
There is no end to striving and aspiring to virtuosity. There is no arrival at perfection. There is only love and equanimous reverence for the mysterious process. All of time will continue to pass and space will eternally be transformed. Let us be grateful now for the circumstances that bring us through the joys and sorrows of life.