The practice of tantra is a way of life, approaching life based on principles. One such principle is the understanding that consciousness does not belong to the brain alone, but rather to the entire body as well as the entire universe.
I have attended many workshops working through practices of tantra, toaism, and breathing that focused on various aspects of this principle. During these workshops and also through my personal practice, I've experience the consciousness of the living body, but the experiences had been fleeting ... until I received a personal lesson that was one of the most intense of my life. That lesson was related to a traumatic injury that I incurred in 5th grade.
After school, I was playing basketball with a group of school mates in the school's gym. I made a jump shot and someone behind me pulled my legs out from underneath me. I went face first into the gym floor; hard. I felt an instant wave of pain cascade through my body. Things went black for a few seconds. My hands instinctively covered my mouth.
All the boys yelled for the teacher who came over to me and asked what happened. I was still trying to resist the feeling of wanting to throw up from the gut wrenching pain I was feeling. The teacher asked to see my mouth and I refused, shaking my head. He pulled my hands away and blood came gushing through my lips. I looked at my hands that were red, but it didn't surprise me. I could taste the blood, my mouth was filling fast.
The teacher looked horrified and muttered an expletive as he quickly led me to a bathroom while a dozen other boys followed. In the bathroom, there was a large, half round wash basin that could accommodate several people washing their hands at the same time.
I steadied myself on the edge of the basin with both hands as I leaned over it, opening my mouth to allow the contents to empty. The entire bottom of the basin instantly turned red. There was not only blood, but flesh and bits of teeth. The teacher exclaimed, "Oh my God", as he grabbed me with one hand and the edge of basin with his other hand to steady himself. Some of the boys gasped and yet others stated holy expletives of their own. God bless Christian schools!
The teacher swayed and looked like he was going to pass out. He gathered himself and paused with a stunned look looking as if he didn't know what to do next. He finally pressed his foot on the basin's pedal turning on multiple streams of water seemingly trying to get rid of the horrific scene. He demanded that someone immediately run to the school's office to get help as I watched the swirl of red begin to go down the drain and more drops of blood spill from my mouth to replace them.
That was quite the day.
One of my upper front teeth was literally propelled up and into my upper gum. The other front tooth was chipped and very loose. Both of my incisors were also very loose, one not far from falling out. Multiple other teeth were loose throughout my mouth. The inside of my mouth looked like a war zone; chunks of flesh were gone from the inside of my cheeks.
I drank my meals for a couple of weeks. I was out of school for even longer. Upon return, I felt like a freak show on display for everyone who wanted me to open my mouth and show them the damage. Basic physical healing took months.
Over time, the teeth that were loose finally firmed back up. Doctors waited to see if the tooth that was propelled into my upper gum would naturally descend back into place as they hoped it would. I lived tormented without a front tooth for nearly a year while they waited to see if nature would do the job for them. The tooth never descended.
An oral surgeon finally extracted the tooth by surgically cutting it out of my gum. He drilled my remaining front tooth down to a stub and placed a cap over it. Because they could not place a permanent tooth in a mouth that was still growing, they glued a fake tooth between my incisor and my remaining front tooth.
Over the next 6 years, the tooth constantly fell out, sometimes at inopportune and embarrassing times. I went to the dentist dozens of times to have it glued back in place.
When I was 16 years old, the dentist drilled both my
incisors down to stubs, removed the cap on my remaining front tooth, and
placed a bridge across the front of my mouth.
I not only experienced physical and emotional trauma from the original injury and major dental procedures, but also from the emotional consequences of going without a tooth and then with a glued tooth through much of my formative years. Kids can be very mean, indeed.
From a metaphysical perspective, perhaps one can imagine the imprint that my body and mind recorded out of all that trauma.
Over the next couple decades, I experienced an abundance of other dental work, including other surgeries. Dental work, even serious dental work, had become old hat to me. In fact, at one point, I chose to refuse general anesthesia and select a local as I meditated through an apicoectomy surgery. Afterward, the surgeon told me that he never had a patient be so still and have their blood pressure actually fall during surgery. The nurse in the room added, "Yeah, quite amazing". Frankly, to me it was a breeze; no kind of dental work seemed to faze me.
Over the years, dentists kept a watchful eye on my bridge, but no work ever needed to be done on it. However, after a general checkup, my dentist finally informed me that my remaining front tooth was now failing. My body was rejecting it and literally absorbing it into my body. I needed to have it extracted, which meant that my bridge required to be replaced. Upon that news, I felt my body tense up. But, I didn't give it much mind.
As I would soon find, that would be a mistake.
I should have checked in with that feeling and acknowledged the body was speaking. But I didn't. I was too egotistically confident in my ability to traverse these issues.
Over the next few months, I visited a variety of so-called "experts" to get opinions of how to approach the work. I met with oral surgeons, dentists, and orthodontists. I had CAT scans of my jaw and a variety of molds created of my upper and lower jaw structure and teeth.
Throughout the process, I felt a chill in my body. I still gave it no mind.
I finally scheduled my chosen course of action which involved two implants. The surgery seemed to go quite well, despite an intense buzzing in my head that started at the point where the oral surgeon began cutting into my gum. I tried to focus on meditating as he extracted my remaining front tooth by surgically cutting it out but the buzzing intensified. He drilled two pilot holes into the upper jaw bone and then placed a device that looked like an ice pick into the pilot holes and literally hammered it into the bone to create the space necessary for him to ratchet the implants into place with a torque wrench.
As horrifying as that sounds, this procedure should have been a walk in the park for me, considering my substantial history of dental work. Even though I really did not feel too much pain, I felt my body recoiling ... it freaked. I was attempting to sort through the issue but I felt immensely disconnected.
I left the oral surgeon and was driven to my personal dentist by my primary partner to have some temporary teeth put on the implant posts while they heal. My body went into a place that I had never felt before. I felt a complete lack of connection to my body, mind, and Spirit. I felt a lack of connection with all that was around me. I could not think straight. I felt uneasy, sluggish. I felt that my Spiritual practice collapsed in upon itself. I felt as if I was going to throw up.
Over the next week, I took myself off my schedule and attempted to find answers. I also attempted to create a positive attitude for healing to occur. People that know me have heard me say that, "I choose to be well" in response to being asked how I am. Because of the continued disconnect with that which was around me and my entire body, that choice was difficult to make.
I felt incredibly vulnerable.
My beloved Annie was checking in with me every so often from her home in Montana. We scheduled a phone call that would end up creating an amazing shift in my entire Being.
Annie is skilled in Peter Levine's teachings of ‘Somatic Experiencing ®’. Somatic Experiencing ® acknowledges that trauma that has been inflicted upon the body is not only recorded in our brain memory, but also in the memory of our nervous system. It offers a way of stepping through a process of clearing the memories.
Annie invited me speak about my original injury (when I was in 5th grade) … and stopped me every so often to have me remember not from my mind, but rather to check in with my body to feel how my body was remembering the experience.
She also invited me to remember how my body was emotionally supported from a touch standpoint directly following my original injury. As I recalled, my family was not a touchy-feely type of family, so the gentle sweet touch of a mother and father was virtually nonexistent. Even though my mother and father supported me the best they knew how, that support did not involve loving touch.
As I verbalized the experience, we paused to check in with what my body was doing in the present moment. My heart felt heavy. I cried as I remembered the experience. Then, she conveyed beautiful, intentional words of healing as if she was with me, taking the role of mother/feminine energy, and gently offering to touch the part of my body that was resonating with me in that moment while providing beautiful words of healing and presence.
After we were done, my whole body felt different, lighter, clearer, released. My mouth felt different. My mind was sharper, less cloudy.
I felt connected.
Over the next few hours, the healing of my heart and mouth sped up at an incredibly accelerated pace. That evening, I chose to have a client session that was experienced in a beautifully connected fashion. After saying goodbye to my client, I sat outside on my back deck. The air was still. Everything was quiet. The moon and stars were showing brightly as a few passing clouds meandered by. I took a deep breath and felt the Universe envelop me with peace. I smiled and expressed gratitude.
What an amazing experience.
I stand in complete awe of Annie and her abilities to hold space, heal, and be present with the subtleness of 'what is' and subsequently choose to apply the skills of her personal practice to allow healing and love to flow in and through her.
What a gift she is.
A couple days later, I reached out and connected with my friend Winona. We cuddled and chatted for a couple hours while she held space for me to experience beautiful, loving feminine touch. It was an opportunity to receive the type of touch that my body had not received as a child during those traumatic times. I knew God had provided me another opportunity for healing. It was and is a gift beyond measure.
Annie and Winona have chosen to be present enough to shed a light upon the path to healing and I know there are more steps to take upon that path. I will continue to experience that which Universal Consciousness has for me to experience.
As I traverse through the lens of my human experience, I learn that there is a reason for each of my experiences. There are gifts that I have received from this experience and I am grateful.