Excerpt: Trager for Self-Healing

Excerpt: Trager for Self-Healing

Prologue: Taking Flight

We all have feelings of fear and doubt, even authors of self-help books, but by showing up and being present these supposedly “negative” feelings can lead to small decisions that, in turn, manifest a new lightness of being. To illustrate, let me tell you the story of how this book first took flight. This story will reveal how it is possible to change overwhelming, painful situations into blissful moments of wonder that show us we can choose differently!

Like many stories, this one starts with the protagonist, me, feeling overwhelmed, lost, alone, and in pain. Like the inside of a golf ball, I was twisted and jumbled and tight, behaving like the victim I thought I was. My twenty-year marriage had just failed, my dearest friend had unceremoniously dumped me, I had a constant lower backache, my old symptoms of shingles had flared up, my stomach was in knots, and I seemed to have lost the knowledge and ability to make empowered decisions. I was brokenhearted and at a crossroads: I could give in to victimhood, or I could invite in the healing light.

This choice was clearly presented to me during a phone call from a dear friend and colleague in Easton, Pennsylvania.

“Come visit,” she said. “Why not?”

“Because I can’t afford it,” I replied. “I just returned from visiting my family on the other side of the country, and I can’t spend more money jetting off again for no other reason than to visit a friend.”

“Aren’t you worth it?” she asked.

“Yes, but I’m feeling so pressured and afraid,” I confessed. “How can I justify spending more money when I don’t know if I can support myself?”

“But I’ll buy your ticket.”

This statement left me with a jumble of emotions: gratitude for being “rescued,” humility and embarrassment at the possibility of accepting her help and exposing my vulnerability, plus a distinct residue of fear.

“Well, . . . I’ll think about it,” I replied.

“Don’t forget to breathe,” my friend said. “Stay present and you’ll find your way.”

My chest rose and fell with her suggestion. “Thank you for the reminder,” I affirmed. “I will think about it.”

After I hung up, it was decision time. I paused. I wanted to heal. But I had a problem. I didn’t know how. I had no answers. I didn’t even have questions! It was clear I wasn’t going to figure my way out of this one. So what could I do? I decided I would listen to my friend and combine mindful awareness with physical sensations. I would become aware of the Life Force. To the best of my ability, I would not muddy it with expectations of the future or judgments about the past. I would use some of the underlying principles of the Trager Approach to body/mind integration.

I decided to release the weight of my troubles – if only for a moment – and focus on my body. Standing in my living room in Ottawa, I noticed the bottoms of my feet on the plush carpet. I felt my rib cage open and close with each breath. I shifted my weight gently back and forth and then from side to side, finding my center of gravity. I imagined a string attached to the top of my head, tenderly lifting my bones skyward. Then I fancied myself with a long dinosaur tail that gave me tripodlike stability.

I asked myself, “What could be lighter?”

Miraculously, within seconds a sensation of lightness flooded through me. With it were no answers, no revelations, only a feeling of peace – the power of the Life Force.

A few days later my friend’s persuasive voice came across the wires again. “I’ve talked to my travel agent and there’s a seat sale,” she said.

Just the sound of her voice caused me to recall the pleasurable, peaceful sensation I had experienced after our last conversation. I took a deep breath that went right to my toes and with my out-breath felt as if I were rising like a balloon. I experienced the peace and clarity of the Life Force and in a heartbeat knew that this was a wonderful opportunity.

I won’t give in to my fears, I announced to myself. “Yes, I’ll do it!” I announced to my friend.

Without thinking, I simply chose what felt right. Although I had no idea of it at the time, this decision would affect the direction of my life.

Three weeks later the day of my flight arrived, and I embarked upon the short journey to Pennsylvania, excited that soon I would see someone I loved and felt safe with. While flying I gave myself permission to not know what was going to happen. I was a beginner, starting over with a clean slate.

Stepping off the plane onto the tarmac, I turned my face to the sun, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. The area behind my eyelids felt warm. The soft air in my nostrils still smelled like summer, gently erasing the hint of fall I had left behind in Ottawa. After my friend welcomed me affectionately, we traveled to the picturesque town of Easton and her fabulous Frank Lloyd Wright home, where I settled into the upstairs guest room.

As I finished unpacking, I realized I was building an agenda about what I needed to do and say. I reminded myself to let go of my expectations about this visit. I only need to be a beginner, I told myself as I made my way downstairs. I can start fresh; I don’t have to hold on to the past, I repeated as I went out the front door. I don’t have to have all the answers, I reassured myself as I meandered through my friend’s heavily wooded suburban neighborhood. I just need to be here now.

Instead of pressuring myself, I simply noticed my feet pacing the earth. I felt the weight of my arms swinging at my sides and the rhythmic movement of my gait. Soon I felt a profound bond with the charming and uniquely styled homes surrounded by manicured lawns and lush gardens. One house in particular caught my attention, and I stopped to look at it more closely. It was a sprawling, two-story home perched upon a small hill. On both its front corners stone turrets stood sentinel, while throughout the rest of the structure an eclectic mixture of arched, round, and rectangular mullioned windows added a sense of magic. The wooden siding was a mellow shade of yellow, while a darker tone of the same color trimmed the doors, windows, and wrap-around porch.

A large calico cat, sensing my presence, lazily raised her head from her sleeping position on the porch to peer at me. Deciding that I was probably harmless, she decided to get a closer look. She gracefully rose, stretched, and padded down the front steps, rambled over the curving walkway, and stood under the pale, peach-tipped roses that covered the arbor at the entrance to this incredible house. Satisfied that I was indeed no threat, she pivoted in an act of dismissal and strolled into the garden. I watched her as she passed clusters of fiery red, burnt orange, and buttery yellow late-blooming flowers and settled in the shade under the sprawling ferns. Just then the scent of soothing lavender rode on the breath of the sudden breeze.

I inhaled deeply. I was connected.

Such a beautiful place; a child could have a field day here, I thought while lingering at the edge of the property. Then I imagined myself as a young girl trapped in one of the stone turrets waiting desperately for a knight in shining armor to gallop down the path, white horse and all, to rescue me. While smiling at this childhood daydream, it occurred to me that this was exactly how I had felt back in Ottawa – a damsel in distress trapped in a tower of grief – and it was this feeling that had brought me to Pennsylvania. To think that I almost hadn’t come, hadn’t listened to my friend – my female knight in shining armor – who suggested I Hook-Up to the light (to use the Trager term for connecting to the Life Force). She knew this would help me realize how important it was to take this time for myself.

She was right, of course. I needed a breather from the trauma of my recent divorce and all the explanations to family and friends that went with it. I needed a way to bring perspective back into my life. I mentally patted myself on the back for taking these few minutes to feel the Life Force flowing through me.

With a lighter, freer step I returned from exploring my friend’s neighborhood, and brewed myself a cup of tea. Then, just as I was about to sit down in the glassed-in sunroom, my breath caught in my throat. There, by the woods at the edge of the property, standing proudly on the shady succulent grass, was a stag. His compelling presence drew me out onto the patio, where I gently placed my cup on the table and quietly sat on a wrought-iron chair. Staying as still as I could, barely breathing, I was eventually rewarded by the sight of a doe and her children coming to join “Poppa.”

Rich woodland smells saturated my nostrils and birdsong filled my ears. I closed my eyes and felt the heat of the sun dance behind my lids and along my skin. A long, cleansing sigh escaped my lips. I felt connected to my environment, at one with the trees, the grass, the birds, the deer. I was linked to the Life Force in such a profound way I couldn’t even feel the seat of the chair as being separate from my bottom. I sank deeper and deeper into myself, then freely, lightly, playfully looked inside. How still my inner world feels compared to the turmoil of my outer world back in Ottawa. This woodland setting is so perfect – tranquil yet vibrating with life. Definitely food for my grieving soul. Sure wouldn’t take much to get some creativity flowing here.

My next thought came out of nowhere: I think I’ll write a book.

My eyelids flew open and I sat up straight. A book? Why, I’ve never written anything substantial in my life – just a handful of poems done years ago and bits and pieces for my weekly writing group. Would that qualify as enough experience to write a book? My fears surfaced immediately. What on earth would I write about? What makes me think I can write something so enormous? Who wants to hear what I have to say? What do I have to say? The doubts came fast and furious, but before my fears got the better of me, I remembered to pause . . . and trust. . . .

I took a deep breath. . . .
I wiggled my toes. . . .
I felt the Life Force. . . .
I let go of my fears . . . and snuggled deeper into the chair.
I indulged my musings.

Immediately my friend popped into my mind, which brought my thoughts to our mutual love of Trager. I reflected on my Trager practice and how I chose this profession because of its holistic approach to wellness. But because this approach is hard to define to the general public, the Trager organization seemed to me to be leaning toward the medical explanation of our work, allowing the energetic mechanics to fade gently into the background.

It was then I realized: I wanted more. I wanted to dive even deeper. I wanted to explore Trager’s spiritual potential. I wanted to know what enlightenment felt like in my body.

My thoughts raced. Ideas tripped over themselves in a rush to become conscious.

I know this subject, I thought. I’ve eaten and slept Trager for over twenty years. I’ve inhaled it and exhaled it. I’ve fought it, I’ve been bored with it, I’ve taught it, and I’ve incorporated it into my everyday life. I can use myself as an example. I can take my readers on a journey. Give them Trager tools to rediscover their body/mind. Help them feel connected to the light that sustains us all. I can inspire readers to change from identifying with fear and a sense of being overwhelmed and victimized, to empowerment and magical moments of wonder. Yes, I can do this! I can write a book!

As I sat on the patio a smile formed slowly around my eyes, worked its way about my head, kissed my lips, then spiraled dizzily inside my body. I felt tingly, clear, energized, saturated with light.

My mind raved on in excitement: Using the Trager Approach requires very little of our precious time, no religious conversion, no dramatic changes in diet, no gadgets to plug in, no psychic abilities, no strenuous training program. It works as well for the young as for the aged, for the couch potato as for the athlete. But it is more than even that. It provides a safe environment to gently and painlessly “melt” areas of physical and emotional inflexibility. It uses fundamentally simple principles as tools to connect to the Life Force in a conscious way. And this paves the way for spiritual awareness.

So many paths to self-awareness ask us to ignore, detach from, or rise above the physical body. But Trager is a holistic approach because it incorporates our body into the spiritual package. To do this, we meet the Life Force where it resides, in the present moment, our point of power. Trager forges this last conscious link to our source. It is, my inner dialogue concluded, quite simply, the perfect blueprint for living gracefully in an enlightened state in the physical body.

I liked the sound of that so much I said it out loud: “The Trager Approach is the perfect blueprint for living gracefully in an enlightened state in the physical body.”

At that moment on that patio, I knew I could – no, I knew I needed to – do this. The Trager Approach has been a gift in my life, a gift that welcomed back the awareness of the Life Force into my body and therefore into my waking experience. I wanted to share this gift because the more I share the awareness of the Life Force, the more it grows within me. All doubts erased, I rushed to grab my favorite pen and notebook.