"Why didn't you write about the course on your blog?" Y asked me.....
"I guess I could...." I answered.
But, the truth is that the course was a little "crunchy", so I was a little embarrassed..... But... well... here goes....
About a month ago, I saw a flyer for a week-long course (The Art of Living), to help reduce stress and anxiety. The course was for women who had breast cancer within the last five years. And it was free. The only condition: participants have to commit to attending the course for the entire week, plus once a week for the next five weeks. (OK)
Well, you all know that I could definitely benefit from reduced stress. And the price was right. So I registered. I was told that the course would teach us breathing techniques that were derived from yoga. (OK) And, if we were lucky, an instructor would be coming in from India to teach us. (A little "out there", but still cool).
So, we arrived, 14 of us, all survivors, and a little wary of our surroundings.....
Then we discovered that there were more "suggestions". Since we would be undergoing a cleansing process, we were encouraged to abstain from a number of things for the duration of the course (including the Shabbat in middle). NO: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, coffee, tea, alcohol, or cigarettes. You might think that, for someone who was a strict vegetarian for a long time, this would not pose a challenge. But I had planned chicken for dinner!
Not to worry. As my mom always says: "in for a penny; in for a pound" (I think I got that right...) -- meaning: if you are going to do something, do it all the way. (100%)
So, I came home and announced my dietary plans for the week (reassuring my carnivorous husband that I was not imposing my restrictions on our family).
The week was filled with group activities designed to heighten our awareness about how we are living our lives and, of course, exercises to teach us breathing techniques developed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
As the course progressed, some women experienced an emotional cartharsis. I didn't.
I did feel extremely tired. And I took a nap every afternoon during the first three days of the course. (which was a little frustrating, because I had things I needed to do, and I just couldn't do any of them).
Then, on day four, before I lay down for my nap, I needed to "close" the venue for our Barnard reunion (more on that later). I intended to make a quick call, finalize a few details, and go to sleep. But, when I called the restaurant, I discovered that there had been a misunderstanding, and the place was no longer available.
I called my friend, who was helping me organize the event, to inform her about this distressing development. She wasn't feeling well, so I told her not to worry -- I would make some calls to find a new location.
"How can you be so calm" She asked me.
I hadn't realized it, but I really was feeling calm.
"Maybe it's the course," I said, only half joking.
I spent the next hour calling different venues. Each place I called was either not available or out of our budget. I wasn't sure what to do. But, somehow, I managed to stay calm and focused.
And then, just as I was wondering how long it would take to find another venue, the events planner from the restaurant called me back. "You can have your event here," she informed me.
All of a sudden, harmony was restored to the universe.
It was a catharsis of a different sort, but a catharsis nonetheless. Because I experienced a stressful situation in a different way.
Of course, now that the course is over, it is hard to set aside the time to practice the breathing techniques. I don't feel particularly calmer. (and I am certainly not any more disciplined)
But I'm going to practice for the next few weeks and see what happens.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,
"Italian Salad" at Jerusalem's Iconic "Cafe Rimon"
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