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A dry spell | KERRI EIKER

A dry spell

For the past few weeks the glare from my blank word document page has seemed blinding. Each day as I sit and stare at the page, the cursor blinks and seems angry, impatient.  Each time that little blinking horizontal line flashes I hear impatient words; ‘come on, think, we don’t have all day, what’s the matter with you?’ It’s an angry little voice that becomes maddening with its unremitting complaints. I was suddenly intimidated by the angry blank page and cursor that seemed to be cursing me!  I tried to quiet what I knew were internal criticisms but the cursor kept appearing at the end of each pause on the keyboard and blinked a criticism ‘is that all you’ve got?, You want to put everyone to sleep?’
Sometimes when I write or design a yoga class there seems to be a wellspring of words and sequences that flow with love into form and knit themselves together. Sometimes the flow comes only in intermittent spurts and sputters and there’s a kink somewhere in the ensuing thread.  Once in a while, the well is completely dry and the thread is in such a tight mass of knots it’s a challenge to locate the beginning or end.
Lately, when I’ve reached in to find a creative source I touch an arid dusty landscape and the tangled thread disintegrates in my hand. I found myself wishing that there was an elixir I could swallow to avoid the painful feelings that arise when trying to compose a story or class as if blindfolded with one hand tied behind my back while someone had rearranged all the letters on the keyboard.
For inspiration, I googled up “food stories” and landed on a page called “food of the gods”.  The story was written by a journalist who was also experiencing a creative rut.  He decided to spice his stories up by interviewing “a man who ate only the finest foods, prepared in the finest ways. A man who wouldn’t lower himself to eat the kind of things other people eat.” This man was well known although lived in the shadows avoiding publicity, an enigma.  I was intrigued to “borrow” someone else’s thoughts to design a story about exotic delicacies. The story though, I quickly realized was fiction.  The mysterious man was a cannibal.
While the story was well written and eerily entertaining I couldn’t feel any inspiration for my quaint little column.  I switched gears and looked up yoga stories.  I landed on an article called the yoga of darkness. Blinded by staring at a bright white blank computer screen for days I felt a bit in the dark myself and decided to read the story. The fictional cannibal story and the yoga article were in fact linked. When the cannibal refused to acknowledge or feel dark emotion the lighter emotions were buried as well, eventually all his emotions died. With a wild and uncontrollable hunger for the human emotions he could no longer feel he found cannibalism was the only means to satisfy that appetite.
In a similar way students often give up yoga when honest, and often dark emotions arise. We roll up our mats before savasana (the resting pose) where stark truths about ourselves, both dark and light often become clear. While I don’t know anyone personally who has succumbed to practices as nefarious as cannibalism I am aware of less than healthy behaviors many of us develop to avoid certain emotions.  Then often we engage in unhealthy behaviors in an attempt to fill an emotional or physical void we ourselves have created.
To kill time while waiting for inspiration to “kick in” I searched the internet to learn why I had recently been craving cabbage and onions.
“What are you eating?  Is that a plate of onions?” My daughter asked as I sat down alone to the table one afternoon with a heaping Mexican inspired salad topped with a whole diced onion.
“Well, sort of, I mean there’s some romaine, pico de gallo and a corn tortilla under there.” I said diving in.  The crunch of the onion’s sweet yet somewhat hot bite felt warm and cleansing even before I swallowed.
It turns out that eating onions lowers cholesterol, protects against osteoporosis, expels toxins and reduces the risk of heart disease to name a few benefits.
At dinner one evening, my son examined his fork full of shredded cabbage dripping with a creamy sauce. “Coleslaw again?” He complained.
“And aren’t these roasted Brussel sprouts with the coleslaw sort of redundant?” My husband chimed in.
I explained that eating cabbage has many health benefits. But I decided my craving was directly linked to cabbage’s liver cleansing effects as I frequently indulge in a few too many glasses of red wine.  A potent elixir indeed, very effective for dousing the occasional searing flames of negative emotions.
I learned that my body instinctively craved cabbage for its sulfur content which assists the liver to detoxify.  Apparently my family wasn’t lacking sulfur in their diets. But the article went on to describe my body’s instinctive craving for cabbage and onions as rare, at least in our modern society.
According to this article most people whose liver’s cry out for cabbage (sulfur) would instead misinterpret that cry as a demand for sweets.  An onion craving could be the body’s cry for phosphorus but what most of us will feel is a thirst for a triple shot of espresso. While giving into the misinterpreted cravings offers a quick fix, in short-order we again feel hollow and repeat the unhealthy cycle.
My disintegrating thread magically restored itself as this article tied in with the cannibal and yoga story in that we are often so detached from what we feel and what our bodies need many of us have become unable to discern even our food cravings.
Through yoga practice, I have learned that everything is connected.  The way we breathe affects digestion.  What we think affects our appetites and how we assimilate food. If we eat cookies when our body really wants Brussel sprouts, our entire system becomes imbalanced. If we swallow negative emotions what do we ingest into our holistic system and what affect will it have?  In my case, those swallowed emotions manifested into self-criticism projected onto an irritating little cursor.
Uncomfortable emotions are part of our human experience and blocking them out clearly creates dis-ease and disorientation in the body.  So for now rather than disorienting myself in search of an artificial oasis to ease my current dry spell I will sit, uncomfortably in this desert, with my critical cursor and wait for the rain.

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