As a writer (as in: "I'm working on a novel") I have a passion for short stories. I have just had the fortune to read Grace Paley's "My Father Addresses me on the Facts of old Age" (actually I heard it on the New Yorker Fiction podcast - wonderful for insomniacs).
It's a wonderful story of an aging father passing on advice to his daughter whilst he still can. He's a retired doctor and he's egocentric. He's full of himself and he's lovable despite this.
He recounts how one morning his wife came up to show him a spot over her left breast. He knows what it is. It's cancer.
"…but I know in a minute, in one minute everything is finished - finished, happiness, pleasure…finished."
The advice to his daughter that follows is thus:
"..you should take care of yourself, I don't mean eat vegetables, I mean go to the doctor on time, now days a woman as sick as your mamma could have lived many years…"
And it struck me, hearing this. How often we fret and give excess importance to eating our greens, doing yoga, eating organic, drinking water, herbal tea, breathing properly, meditation, getting fresh air, sleep, fruit, friends. We become convinced that a "banana a day" (alla Grace Paley) or vegetarianism or Asprin will save us from no manner of physical tragedies. It won't. All this may help. May even be a big help. But if you really want to invest in your physical future? For God's sake go and see your doctor. Go and get check-ups. Prevention is better than cure, doctors better than mudras.
In the meantime: Mudras
"MU"- means "light" and "DRA" means "drawing out". The indication being that by practicing mudras (which are gestures - like small yogic asana for the hands) we draw out our light, our joy and remain within it. The hippy in me wants to say "basking in it".
In yoga therapy mudras are used for all matter of ills. Do they work? I don't know, but I'm optimistic. And I'm trying them. They are free, they are easy and this helps. They have to do with touch and contact and that has to be a good thing right? Think of a hug or making love (sorry - it's the hippy in me again) - two "full body" mudras full of potency and even yes, medicinal properties. Think of falling on your face and grazing your knee. What do we do? We rub the sore spot. It's automatic, is it not? Touch. It seems to give us respite from the pain, it seems to make things better.
When you hold a mudra (bringing certain fingers together) it forms (according to Indu Arora, author of the book "Mudra: The sacred secret" - which I can't get a copy of as I don't live in America - lament over and done with) an electrical circuit. This you can actually feel - it's like a little pulse in the place where your finger tips join - try it. It takes 30 seconds to kick start and causes a ripple effect in the body. This lasts from 4 to 6 hours so most mudras are best done three times a day in order to keep that ripple strong and constant (so morning, afternoon and evening) . As Arora goes on to say, yoga causes a ripple too and the effect lasts all day - hence with yoga a once-a-day practice is advised and is enough.
The mudra I will be writing about in my next post is called VAYU MUDRA. It aids in the digestion process - often feel bloated, heavy and sluggish? I invite you to read next week's post.
In the mean time...yogic homework for the lasses this week:
How about booking that smear test and/or mammogram?