- HEALING INTO POSSIBILITY
At the advice of a friend at S'pore, I borrowed a book titled 'HEALING INTO POSSIBILITY' from the National Library, S'pore. My friend said the author of the book Mrs Alison Bonds Shapiro survived two strokes. The illlustrstion is not a story of recovery, but a 'lesson of transformation'. So I borrowed the book (Published by HJ Kramer and New World Library). and read it in a month's time. If possible, you can buy or borrow this book from Library. Anyway, iam sharing some of the salient points for your information.I feel the book has to be read not only by 'stroke patients' but also by those who want to transform and live upto their potential.
SHALL BE GLAD IF YOU COULD SPARE SOMETIME TO READ THE FOLLOWING PAGES AND SHARE YOUR COMMENTS.
Thanks and Good wishes from Paramasivan.
CHAPTER 1: Strokes happen
The author was fifty five years old when she had the stroke. She was reasonably fit, exercised regularly. She didnt smoke/drink. Of course she had low blood pressure. She was free from diabetes and ate a good diet.
Due to stroke, her left arm n left leg got paralized, swallowing reflex was gone, so many oroblems were created from a little bit of blood in the wrong place.
SHE WAS BEGINNING TO LEARN THAT IT IS NOT WHAT HAPPENS TO US THAT MATTERS. WHAT MATTERS IS HOW WE DEAL WITH WHAT HAPPENS TO US. How we work with what is - whatever that might be - makes 'ALL THE DIFFERENCE'
CHAPTER 2: A Lifelong Dream
Until shortly before the stroke, her life had been a series of episodes threaded by work pressure, marriage and children, a divorce. After the divorce, she needed a job, had no training for a career. She worked as a legal secretary in a small law firm in Atlanta. She did not like being a Secretary. She took a course in law and went to work for a big law firm. At the west coast, she managed large multiuse properties in four states, got another divorce. She went to graduate school to earn MBA. She left real estate business and began a consulting business. She married Bob, who was one of the greatest blessings of GOD.
CHAPTER 3: - Taking Responsibility
She narrates about the hospital and rehabilitation activities. A good rehab hospital does many things. The first is to jump-start recovery of the patient and the second is to bring you face-to-face, no holds barred, with just how profoundly disabled you are.
When a leg becomes paralyzed, the foot becomes unresponsive, ankle joint lack and the toes dont lift.
I was not as ready to begin transforming like a few patients, whom i met in the hospital. My skills were not as focussed as theirs. I needed more steps in the process. I realized the importance of problem solving skills to work in transformation. And starting at the beginning turned out to be the next lesson I learned.
CHAPTER 4: Affecting your Own Life
As i lay in my bed too tired to make any more effort, I would think "Why me". I had no risk factors for a stroke. I was fit. I was healthy. Why I got a stroke? Was the stroke morally justified? DID I DESERVE IT? I WAS NOT A BAD PERSON.I had integrity. I was doing good work for the world. I was illustrating a children's book, for heaven's sake not planning evil deed to others or hurting other people. WHY ME?
There's fundamental problems with the "Why me?" question, even though all of us except a few ask it. The question simply doesn't go anywhere. It has no answer. It isn't designed to have an answer. We hold on the view that if we just do everything "right" nothing bad will happen to us. Somewhow we're going to be the exception to the rule. Everbody will suffer and die but we are cleverer than all the rest and somehow we will be spared.
I COULD KEEP ON TREADING THAT ENDLESS CIRCLE OF THE "WHY ME" QUESTION or I could find another question to ask -
"NOW THAT THIS HAPPENED TO ME, WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT"
As long as I was trying to blame myself or someone or something else, I was preventing myself taking charge of my own recovery. I was standing in my own way. And so I stopped asking "Why me?"
CHAPTER 5: Facing Forward
I read in one of the Rabbi David Wolpe's books, MAKING LOSS MATTER, "The answer lies not in return but in transformation" I had learned this lesson by living it. We can't go back to what we have been. We can only go forward to what we can be. I realized that I needed all my energy to find out. CHAPTER 6: Finding a Reason to Live
My preoccupation with myself had closed my vision to what was possible. By making a move to get out of my own way, I was beginning to learn how to face what had happened to me. Now I had a reason to live, but I was still negative and there was more I needed to understand. CHAPTER 7: Cultivating Gratitude
I would say to anyone that it is important to LOOK for the GOOD THINGS in every situation. The minute i began to look for the blessings, I discovered I was surrounded by them. In fact I'd never experienced so many BLESSINGS in my entire life.
* My father was too old and ill to travel, but he sent flowers. My step mother called me every couple of days.
* On New Year Eve, I walked into the emergency room at the hospital and looked to Doctor in the eye and thanked him and said "you saved my life".
* I had the privilege of being admitted into a very good and caring hospital.The rehab hospital was one of the top hospitals.
* Im not suggesting that counting my blesssings switched me from a state of despair to a stable state of elation. I know Major illnesses are not simple.
CHAPTER 8: Laughter and Loving Kindness
My lovely husband Bob used to repeat the saying "Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly". I laughed and said, iam trying to walk, not to fly. When I remembered to laugh, everything got easier. Whatever we find funny can relieve the stress of the situations we find ourselves in. Stress freezes us in place, like a deer, or makes us draw away.
Hospitals can provide great sources of humour. So many things happened to me in the rehab that were funny, when I thought about it.
Finding humour in the midst of my misery, I was lightening up from time to time, but I was going to help myself, my attitude still required a great deal of adjustment.
I was born into a family of nonpracticing Episcopalians, but I was and am a seeker. Just before I got together with Bob, I came to love Judaism, which nourishes my life, and everything I do is informed by what I've learned and continue to learn from Buddhism. I dont claim to have a deep, committed practice. I dont meditate every single day, but I incorporate the teachings of all these paths and make living my daily life my practice.
There's something remarkable about loving kindness. It changes the SENDER more than it changes the
RECEIVER, although it changes BOTH. Practicing loving kindness opened my heart and it made me more receptive to being taught when I was in rehab to LEARN.
Chapter 11 - Paying Attention
Meditation teachers hv a lot to say about paying attention. In meditn, i hv learned about something called 'mindfulness'. It is the skill of simply looking at what's happening, without grasping it or pushing it away, but paying attention to what's happening.
Breathe, notice, notice, breathe over and over again. It is harder than it looks.I needed to to focus, to really allow myself to be absorbed in what i was experiencing, not what I inter-preted about.
One night, hours after Erwin (Physio therapist) had been working with me, moving my left leg again and again in so many directions and working with my foot. Something happened, I was lying on my bed, just waking up. My left ankle, which was inactive after the stroke, just jumped - a simple reflex jump. Instantly I fully woke up and and paid close attention. I could hear my brain joyously exclaim "Ankle" ankle!! I remember you!!!
NOW PHYSIATRISTS AND NEUROLOGISTS HAVE LEARNED THAT EVEN JUST THINKING ABOUT MOVING A LIMB BEGINS TO CREATE NEW NEURAL PATHWAYS. SITTING AND IMAGINING WALKING, WITH FOCUSSED ATTENTION, MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN OUR ABILITY TO WALK
My fingers of the left hand and thumb started moving, i paid attention similarly. The more I paid attention, the more i called my brain into action.equir And it still is. Today I can walk. To walk easily requires that a part of my mind constantly pay attention to the position
Chapter 12 - The Art of the Small Goal
Recovery from the stroke entails mastering the art of small goal. But I wanted to do everything right away. No waiting. No interim steps. Recovery requires doing what you can now and not knowing what you can do later. I had a lot to learn about how to stay present as I moved through the process of recovery.
Focusing on small goals, one at a time, not on some predetermined outcome, opens the process up to discovery. I was learning to balance my weight on my left leg. I was learning through the 'bridge exercise', to hold my trunk strong. Once I'd gained some skill with these goals, other goals arose. I began to regain control on bending my knee, move my left calf. All small goals.
One at a time, very well. That's the key--focussing on each goal each day I lifted a very small can to a shelf in the kitchen cabinet, over and over again, day in and day out. Then I tried to do the same with a big can.
Like my friend Rita, I was discovering living with possibilities, but the stream of possibilities still had some rocks in it. I had other emotions to deal with beside the 'fear'. Other feelings would get in the way of what I was doing.
Chapter 14 - Believing in Change
All the stroke survivors I know who have worked on their recoveries and who make an effort to discover how to live with whatever limitations they have shared the belief that 'change is possible'.
A host of friends in the hospitals, demonstrate the willingness to be open to possibility coupled with a wonderful, stubborn persistence. Thar's what it takes.
Chapter 15 - Skilllfulness and Persistence
I have never worked as hard in my life as I did in the Rehab Centre. The day came to go home. I was packed up, placed in the wheel chair. Now I would organize my days in earnest. Being homw, didn't mean i could stop working as hard as I was able. Now i had to determine the schedule, and couldn't slack off. I had seen the results of hard work. Edward Taub, who popularized constraint-induced therapy, taught that intense, focussed practice in what makes the difference. This is NOT so DIFFERENT from a musician or a professional athlete. Musicians play scales for hours, limbering up and training their responses to the instrument.
Chapter 16 - Being Creative
In his Book "Everyday Creativity and New Views of Human Nature" Dr Ruth Richards says 'Creativity can pull blinders from our eyes, and bring us alive, making us more conscious participants...It can offer us joy, energy and challenge.
Once i was home, I tried all sorts of things I could not do in the hospital ---
* Acupuncture - the flow of energy it produces in me feels good.
* Guided Imagery - calls on the deep wisdom we each have within ourselves. I loved the image. It was both funny and useful.
* I tried 'Massage' and a wonderful practice called "Rubenfeld Synergy Method'
Other people recovering from strokes find their own uniquely creative paths to recovery. Rita worked with 'constraint induced therapy' popularised by Edward Taub. THE POINT IS THAT EVERYTHING HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE A CREATIVE CHALLENGE, IF WE APPROACH IT IN THAT WAY. Don't assume in advance that a given activity will be useless. You never know what will work.
Chapter 18 - You are the Tool
There is a big difference between self-indulgence and self-care. We live in a veritable din of words and images suggesting if only we ate this food, our lives would be worry free.
SELF-CARE starts with a different understanding, one that is not selfish. Self care starts with a realization that we are part of a larger whole - that none of us exists independently of one another and everything else. Self care requires us to take the responsibility for ourselves and our relationship to the world around us.
Self-care is grounded in forgiveness. When we judge ourselvves harshly for our mistakes without forgiving, we tend to treat ourselves badly. So forgiving should start with 'self'.
Srokes tend to make people serious. How do children learn coordination. They play. Fun and coordination are inter-dependent. It is vital for people, especially those who had strokes. They focus on their losses and they swim in seriousness. Having fun will bring LIFE back into the body.
Chapter 19 - Minimize stressors
So many emotions arise during recovery. We need to find a way to work with them without adding unnecessary stress. ANGER is an ongoing part of recovery. WORRY - focussing on fears of the future, holding on upsetting emotions leads us to emotional unease.
Chapter 20 - Being kind to Yourself
Appreciating my efforts, thinking kind thoughts about myself, led me to think about ways to reward myself for all the good work that I was doing.
Doing nice things for myself lightened my spirits and brought me moments of respite and ease.
Chapter 21 - Reestablishing the Social Body
Our social body is the web of relationships and roles we've established for ourselves over the years of our lives. We are sustined by this structure.
VALUE YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR FAMILY - WITNE
There is a Buddhist vow that goes -- "May I not harm any living being" . I modified it - "May I not harm myself and any other living being"
Chapter 23 - Putting the Lessons into Practice
I was profoundly disabled by the strokes. I'm still partially disabled. But being disabled doesn't mean that I am unable. It means that my body is permanently different from those who hv not had a similar experience. I'm reclassed, in a sense, but this reclassification brings with it a blessing.
DREAMS BECAME A REALITY!
^ I began teaching at the Rehabilitation Centre before my husband Bob died.
^ The Book (Children's art book) was published 3 years after my stroke. Fulfilling the dream was the end of the story. No it was the beginning of the story.
^ Talking to the stroke survivors felt so nourishing and inspiring. I asked them questions to put them at ease. They could overcome any camera shyness and express them naturally & openly as they were talking to a former patient.
^ Director-Operations of the Rehabilitation Centre Mr Paul looked at me and said "We should make a film about stroke recovery?" What a preposterous Idea!
Gaining confidence, I helped a old client. It was a construction company run by a couple. The company was underfinanced and growing rapidly. We worked together for so many months, stabilized, and managed by creating solutions. Out of this work, an opportunity came to sell this company at a handsome profit. Then I was approached by another set of clients.
Now I healed from my strokes from the inside out. I was discovering that whatever I had learned about transformation and help others by bridging them into possibility.
I CARRY WITHIN ME A SEED -- AN EXAMPLE OF HOW I CAN WITNESS MY OWN LIFE WITH LOVE AND COMPASSION. THIS SEED IS A BEGINNING OF A POSSIBILITY ....
Dr. Roger Walsh, M.D., Professor-University of California says --
There have been people called 'wounded healers' who use their own experience with illness, to heal others. ALISON BONDS SHAPIRO (author of this book) IS ONE OF THE OUSTANDING WOUNDED HEALERS OF OUR TIME.
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