Have you heard the song, Castle on the Hill, by Ed Sheeran? It is a song about going home that really touches my heart. I have actually been using that song to engage myself in a new form of therapy called Mindful Movement. Well, maybe it is not new, but it is new to me.
I recently attended a national conference for psychologists and counsellors. It was a fabulous event, with 550 attendees from all over the world. One of my favorite sessions was called Mindful Movement, and I went, assuming that we would be doing yoga. But instead, we danced. Had I known I would be dancing in a roomful of my colleagues without a drop of wine in me to loosen me up, I never would have signed up for the session. But this session was not about strutting your stuff, it was about releasing trauma, and not only did it work for me, but several of the people there reported an emotional release from just one session, which is pretty amazing to a psychologist like myself. So, I set out to investigate how the process works.
In a nutshell, the two sides of our brain work in very different ways. The left side is logical and linguistic. It is the side we use for communication and where we store our verbal information. The right side of the brain is our creative side. It is our center for creativity, arts, music and imagination. Think of a time that you experienced a trauma. For me, being told that I had cancer was one of the most traumatic things I have ever experienced. I can recall perfectly what the room looked like, what the doctor was wearing, and the look on my sister, Juana’s face when he said the word “cancer”. But after that, I don’t recall another word. It was like I was listening to the teacher on Charlie Brown, “Whannn, whann, whannn…” That is because I went into panic mode (also called fight or flight mode) and the left side of my brain shut down, making it impossible for me to store the words he was saying to me. Where did the trauma get stored? In the right side of my brain. So just talking about my experience is not enough to release the trauma, I have to do something creative to tap into the cell memory of that trauma. For me, dance works!
Give it a try! Turn on a song that you like, close your eyes and just move in a way that you feel guided. Dance like there is nobody watching. Let your emotions surface and just allow yourself to feel those healing feelings. If you cry, that is ok. It means it is working. It is not important that you understand why you are feeling the way you feel. It is just important that you allow yourself to experience the emotions. Your spirit will take care of the rest.
This weekend, I literally had the experience of going home. I spent the weekend in my beautiful home town of Lawn, just me and my parents. Although I am fifty, it is impossible to feel grown up when you have your parents taking care of you. Dad: “That suitcase is too heavy for you, let me carry it,” he said as he laid down his cane. Mom: “Now dear, if you are too tired to get up and turn off the light, just knock on the wall and I will come out and turn it off for you so you don’t have to get out of bed.” Yes, I felt just a little bit spoiled. It made me feel so grateful to still have my parents with me, and still wanting to take care of me in that way.
I guess as you get older, you appreciate things that you once took for granted. The first time I took Steve to visit my parents, he was blown away that I grew up right next to a river with a beautiful water falls. To me, it was just a brook, nothing impressive. But now, I stand in awe of the power of those roaring water falls after a heavy rain. Walking along Sandy Point, and seeing boats in the harbour was another sight that I took for granted. Now I resemble a tourist, snapping selfies of myself using this beautiful scenery as a backdrop.
It is always nice to go home, however, there were two highlights to my weekend which I would like to mention. One was praying the Rosary with my parents. On Friday night, the three of us prayed together, but on Saturday, it was just me and my dad in the house. I think he assumed that since mom was not there, we would not pray. I said, “Well Dad, I guess it is just me and you for the Rosary tonight.” He jumped up off the couch and grabbed the Rosary beads with the same enthusiasm that I would have used to grab a wine glass. My parents pray together every evening, which is a beautiful thing. I felt blessed and honored to be a part of their ritual.
On Saturday evening, I had a visit with my 96 year old grandmother, who is still as smart as a top and lives in her own home. Pretty much every evening, my mother and her four sisters visit with Nan, and I felt honored to be a part of their daily tradition. It was a simple evening of drinking tea, talking and laughing until my stomach hurt. (Aunt Alice could make the cats laugh!) It made me kind of tear up as I watched each of these women, all in their sixties and seventies, tenderly kiss their mother good night. Can you imagine being surrounded by that much love every evening? My grandmother is truly blessed, as am I to be a part of the Kearney clan.
As I write this, it is a beautiful Sunday morning. The sun is shining and the birds are singing as I sip my coffee and look out at the boats in the harbour. Dad is getting ready for mass, and my mom is next door at Nan’s house, where she spent the night. The peace here is almost tangible. Tomorrow I will head back to my busy city life, but I will carry with me these sweet memories of going home.