Wading in SlowlySep 02, 2022 01:06PM ● By Nicole Zornitzer
As a yoga therapist, it has always been my ambition to assist in the healing of my clients. The method of healing can vary from physical yoga asana to meditation to sound healing to reiki or Ayurvedic medicine. The tools I share have come through formal education, self-study and my commitment to the practice of Therapeutic Yoga.
Many years ago, I was introduced to the works of Stephen Levine, an acclaimed author, poet and teacher best known for his work on death and dying. He introduced the teachings of Theravada Buddhism to the West and made these learnings more tangible to his followers. His book, “A Year to Live” focused on finding the moments in each day to be appreciative and grateful for the one life we are given. I first read this at a time in my life that seemed hopeless, when I was grasping to find meaning to all the tragedy I had endured over the course of my life. I have since recommended it countless times to those seeking inspiration and guidance on living in the now. I read my second Levine book “Healing Into Life and Death” during my own RYT 300 Hour Teacher Training 13 years ago, and again about one month ago while preparing for my next incoming group of students to train with me for their Advanced Therapeutic Yoga Degree. It felt as if it had been waiting all these years for me to find it for the second time.
When I opened my dusty book from 13 years ago, I felt as if I was opening a treasure box. I felt connected to the smell, the texture, the weight of the book. I brought this book on a backpacking trip and read it under a full moon in a tent with a headlamp attached to my body. I felt a connection that I don’t often feel with a tangible item, let alone a human being. I sensed that there was a spiritual evolution happening during these moments and my yogic mind instructed me to just go along for the ride.
That first night, in the moonlight, I got as far as page 13. And this is what I read:
“There are many ways this work can be used. It can be read like a book, not unlike passively sitting on a riverbank listening to the rippling waters, or one can go swimming in it, actively participating in it as a healing process. Indeed, there is a story about an intellectual youth who felt he could learn everything from books. He read about the stars and became an astronomer, he read about history and became a historian, he read about swimming and drowned. Some things we can only learn by wading in slowly, from the direct experience of the ocean of being lapping against our body. To enter this process directly is to participate in the healing we took birth for, is to become fully alive.
The secret of healing is there’s no secret at all. Healing is an open book. You are not on page 13.”
This introduction affected me on a visceral level. I could feel my veins pulsating, I could sense the energy shifting in my body, I could smell the scent of hope in my future. I realized in that very moment, that I have wasted many years of my life living for tomorrow instead of today, creating story lines that never came to fruition, placing expectations on others that were unrealistic and most importantly avoiding my own internal healing process and tending to my own heart. Along this journey of helping others, I forgot about the most important person of all, me.
To heal is a journey and to find the courage to heal has been the most challenging aspect of healing for me. Healing into death, bequests us all to heal into life. At the moment of death, we should all be able to reflect upon this life, and all it has brought us with sincere gratitude. As I heal my own heart, I realize that my vulnerability will help others do the same. We are all humans, just being and I suspect we all are trying our best.
As I learn to wade slowly in this ocean of life, I am equally naïve, yet incredibly optimistic that given the right intentions, I will experience a moment during this lifetime that I will sit in a comfortable chair, gazing at an ocean surrounded by mountains. I will feel a love that overtakes my being, I will be held by those that I have given my life’s efforts to, I will take a deep breath in followed by a glorious exhale, knowing all is well.
Nicole Zornitzer, ERYT 1000, yoga therapist, founder of Niyama Yoga & Wellness Shala, located in Randolph, New Jersey; Upper Lake Mohawk in Sparta, New Jersey; Roseland, New Jersey; and Delray Beach in Florida. NiyamaYogaShala.com.