Stoking the Smokehouse (May 1997)

Grandad Kost stoking the fire in the smokehouse is this month's cover photo. I remember that special wood was used so that the smoke dried out the fish instead of the heat of the fire. Grandad learned a special technique living in the Arctic with the Inuits and had lots of practice. His smoked fish was the yummiest I have ever tasted. The fish had to be cut fairly thin, soaked in a salt brine, then hung on racks to dry ... slowly. If there was too much heat, they crumbled and if there was too much moisture, they got mouldy. Even with guidance, I'm sure it took trial and error to figure out how to get just the right flavour. This energy is the same for all that we do, which reflects back to us how much our life is in or out of balance. I recently read that to find balance one must know his or her extremes, so I am contemplating this idea.

On the back of some of my family photographs are comments extolling the virtues of country living. Both Mom and Dad enjoyed working hard and I know that there is a deeply-ingrained belief in me ... that to be of any value, I must work hard. Holidays were used for hunting or fishing, especially if guests arrived, and once in a while I got a day off from dishes or laundry. Most of the time I enjoyed the work, but once in awhile I remember being forced to do something that I didn't want to. My parents thought I was rebelling and punished me, thinking that I would learn at an even deeper level to do what I was told... for my own good. Adults are supposed to know more than their children... that is what our society teaches and encourages. My parents taught me well, how to survive, how to make do and enjoy work, but very little time was spent helping me to understand my feelings. Mom and Dad didn't have the time or the information to help me to understand that feelings come from the inside in response to a situation. I didn't conjure them up to create havoc in the family or make Mom or Dad feel uncomfortable. As a child I had lots of energy, so stuffing a feeling in the moment wasn't a big deal. But since I was a very perceptive child and could read body language easily, I soon learned not to trust my feelings. With time, I got quicker at stuffing them as they came to the surface. Eventually, it happened so fast I didn't even realize I was doing it, unless it was a very strong emotion. I started living more in my head than in my body, and now realize it is part of the reason for my cold feet and indigestion.

Recently I had a Rolfing Session and Integrated Body Therapy with Ken Martin from Nelson. When he asked me what I wanted to have worked on, I told him my right hip was glinching and, of course my cold feet and weak digestion could use some help. He repeated to me what I had said as I lay down on the table. He then asked me, "Would you like a blanket?" I said, "That would be wonderful!" I have recently completed thirty sessions with Gary and he refused to cover me for he said that when he Rolfed, he needed to watch my muscles to make sure they were aligning properly. I was usually frozen by the time the session was over, but I so wanted good posture that I accepted it as part of the process. As Ken covered me, he said, "This session is just for you and I want you to feel cared for, so just ask for whatever you want." He then added, "I noticed a change in your breathing pattern when you said, "Wonderful. " What was happening in your body?" I said, "I was feeling grateful." He then asked me, "What does grateful feel like? I said, "It feels like a weakness in my upper arms and chest with a feeling of tears wanting to come." He said, "Are tears considered a weakness?" I said, "Yes. Living with six brothers, you didn't cry too often, especially if Dad was around: he enjoyed giving us something to cry about." By now I was choking back tears as I went on to tell him that I have changed that program and no longer believe that crying is a weakness. He said "Good. These beliefs are what I call lenses. Children put them in place to help them to survive within a family unit. Understanding that is good. Actually reliving and feeling the feelings is even better, so that they can be released from the emotional body."

It was easy for me to become a seven-year-old once again, remembering the different incidents where I wanted to cry but didn't because I knew it would make the situation worse. Sometimes I didn't speak my truth because I didn't understand what I was feeling. Since I had no one to explain it to me, I stuffed the confusion inside of me. As each memory surfaced, I could feel my throat hurt, as if I had a two-inch marble pushing against my larynx. I could feel my jaw tighten and I made note of the various shifts my body was feeling or releasing. Sometimes all I could do was laugh as I felt the confusion leave my emotional body. It felt so good to be able to feel thoughts in my body. Putting words to those unexpressed feelings helped me to release many layers of old pain in a very short time. Plus, I learned a few more excellent techniques for helping myself.

Half way through the session, I needed to go to the bathroom. Stepping onto my feet felt like I was walking on bits of rock, very sharp rocks. I tried cleaning off my soles several times but there was nothing there. The sensation stayed with me for some time and then began to fade. I figure it was energy of the feelings that I had stuffed over the many years being released from my legs. Even as I type, I can feel various surges of energy going into my arms, my belly and my legs.

I am so glad to have finally reached a level where healing myself does not have to be quite so intense. Feeling my feelings is wonderful, for my heart is much more open and I see that ease being reflected in my posture: it is so much easier to stand and sit up straight. I am grateful for all the good work that Gary and Joel did for me, but now I think I am ready to start working more from the inside. I do believe that healing happens on many levels and from either direction ... for the physical body is but a reflection of the emotional and spiritual bodies. As Ken said, "From my ten years as a Rolfer, I have discovered that if people don't deal with their emotional issues, their bodies eventually revert to their old holding patterns. Once the core belief is felt and understood, then our adult intelligence can easily help us to let it go." Giving love and support to my Inner Child will help me to stay connected to my eating patterns till I can resolve some of the emotional patterning around them. I do believe our bodies are always trying to maintain balance so that we can feel alive each morning and get excited as the sun rises. Learning to be aware of my breath is getting easier, as is saying my "thank you's." Balancing the aspects of myself that I am not as in touch with will come if I stay present in the moment. I know my mind and my heart can dance together. It's just a matter of practice.