Rehab and Restoration: A Story of Wholeness

A practice called Integrative Restoration (also known as iRest) saved and transformed my life. I recorded this off-the-cuff almost a year ago for a group of friends, leaders, businessmen, athletes, and family who were interested in the practice. It is my deeply personal and highly practical account of rehabilitating from brain damage, a process that continues to this day.

If you are in rehab, struggling in life, dealing with anxiety, sleep deficient, unable to focus/concentrate, or just want to live a more full, whole, joyful, loving, and happy life, I think you will greatly benefit from this podcast and the practice.

If you’re an athlete, the practices of iRest are highly relative and they will improve your productivity, perseverance, endurance, pain management, mental game, and overall experience.

As with anything, discipline is key. iRest is no exception.

During the podcast, you will hear me reference a prototype of the practice in which my initial audience participated. While that prototype is now over, my next goal is to host classes in the Boise area as soon as I am able to be more consistent with my health. The target date is this fall. Feel free to DM me if you’re interested.

In terms of my background, I have completed both the Level 1 and Level 2 iRest intensive trainings with Richard Miller (pictured) and am currently going through the Certification process, which feels a little like getting another Masters. I’m also a licensed therapist, but that’s a story for another day :).

Cheers!!

 

Be Real

Be real.

Lots of temptation for us all to pose. Social media ups the stakes even more. We can create an image that has little to do with reality. We become posers.

Nobody sets out to be a poser, but it’s easy to lose ourselves. To cease “being” and to find ourselves “acting”.

The Be Real Series is my attempt to counter this impulse in my own life and to encourage you to do the same.

So here I am. My daughter Sophia took this pic after turning on the lights during one of my Dark Room days. They’re not pretty. I told you. And, yes, those are children’s toys against the wall. And that is an unfinished ceiling. And I look like a hot mess. And that is my left eye all squirreled up because it doesn’t want to work part of the time.

And it is all real.

When we live in the here and now, we always have what it takes. We always know what to do. Fulness, wholeness, joy, peace, and love – they are always present. But when we’re posing, we miss them.

Take this invitation to be real and enjoy the feast of the moment.

 

Dark Room Days

Yesterday was a dark room day.

One of those days when the medicine, meditation, and mindfulness can’t seem to make a dent in the sound sensitivity, loud ringing, disorientation, and migraine that are too often part of this post-concussion syndrome (PCS) era of life.

I started out with high hopes, endured as much as I could, and finally listened to the wisdom of the body, mind, emotions, and spirit. That meant making my way to a dark, quiet room in our house where my brain could rest and continue its healing.

The best way I can describe the sensation in my brain is that it is boiling or close to boiling during these troughs in the waves of PCS. Whenever there are competing noises, too much light, stressful events, etc., my brain moves into a full and rapid boil. My body temp rises, my eyes squint, my head throbs, my palms sweat, and I become extremely agitated.

I am by nature a push-through-it guy. I have an extremely high pain tolerance and it was a source of pride on our farm to endure pain and continue working no matter what. There have been seasons where I have actually enjoyed pain and my ability to take more of it than others. But I don’t want people to see me in pain, so I became great at acting like things didn’t hurt until I was alone.

I have always been able to push through. That has sometimes meant doing even more damage to my body, but I’ve been able to do it. I’ve been proud of that.

But we all know what happens when you turn up the temperature on a boiling pot and walk away. The liquid becomes a gas and eventually we even destroy the pot.

Pushing through with this brain injury ironically means extending the timeline for recovery, both short- and long-term. Boiling over is destructive. Pushing through, in this case, is destructive.

I have tried to push through. I have used anger and even rage to try to beat it into submission. I have gone into our back yard and destroyed things in these fits. I have destroyed a door frame in our basement. When I decide to push through, I turn up the temperature to an already boiling pot and the effects are devastating to all involved.

I simply cannot make this go away by trying harder or pushing through.

The way through is in.

It’s the hardest lesson I have ever had to learn. And I don’t really want to be learning it.

A key to health and healing is to learn how to “be”. If there is a pushing through, it is pushing through the ego’s tight grip of control to get to a place of peace and wholeness. Pushing through the messages the ego broadcasts to get to a place of stillness. Putting the ego in its helpful place.

Pushing through to being.

This is life for our family right now.

Not very sexy. Not a parade of success. Not the life I thought I’d be living almost two years after the most recent brain injury.

But I am living the life I can.

Not the life I want. Not the life I imagined. Not even the life I imagine others imagine for me.

But the life I can.

To the hilt.

To the fullest.

It’s not very Hollywood. It’s not attractive. It’s not very becoming. It might not look like a full life from the outside. This part of the script loses readers and viewers. It is mundane and slow and difficult. I’m looking for the fast-forward button.

However, one of my goals during this period of my life is to share the process of living a whole life in the midst of these difficult circumstances.

If Hollywood won’t show us, then I will.

For my sake. And for your sake and others’.

We as humans love success stories. We love stories about overcoming obstacles. About grit. About perseverance. And we especially like to read books/articles and watch movies about people’s struggles AFTER they have been victorious over those struggles. After the end of the story has already been written.

In real life, though, we’d rather that the “strugglers” go away during the messiness. And then show back up to our show when they get their act together. At the very least, we like them to keep relatively quiet.

“Don’t ruin a perfectly great time for the rest of us. Surely you’re over that by now!”

Chronic illnesses are inconvenient for everyone.

They are like having an unwanted new member of the family. One that gets in the way. One that we all wish would just pack its bags and leave or at least be agreeable and stop messing with our plans.

There are many times that I have wanted to act like these dark days don’t exist. Most people outside of our immediate family don’t really have to feel their effects.

A select few friends have had the wherewithal and grace and patience to enter into the muck. To be by my side when it’s unpleasant. When I’m unpleasant. When I’m hard to be friends with. When I don’t know how to help them be helpful. They’re persistent in their pursuit of me, they are not easily offended, they hold no strings, they simply love me as I am. I cannot express how important they are.

I am the luckiest man in the world to even have one such friend. But I have numerous.

There are many who don’t know what to do or how to help. They stand on the edges. They want to help and they genuinely love and care for me and my family. I so appreciate this group. Their thoughts, prayers, and good wishes.

Other folks are waiting on the outside for this part of the story to be over. Waiting for a celebration. I greatly appreciate them, too. They’re holding a light up at the end of the tunnel.

I need them all. I need you all. And you need me.

You need me to show up when I can’t show off, especially when I’m bringing my mess to the table. When it’s difficult for me. And perhaps for you. To show up even when I’m in a dark room like today. Writing and sharing life in these moments – like this – is one way I can do so.

Grit. Perseverance. Courage. These are present-centered qualities. They are not lofty ideals that we can absorb during an ESPN 30for30 and a bowl of popcorn. They won’t grow in us, regardless of how many times we watch Rudy.

They develop as we live the life we can. Right here. Right now. Fully present. Fully alive. Awakened. Engaged.

You don’t have to be pretty to show up to life. You just have to be willing.

Willing to be. Willing to stop acting in the pretending sense of that word. Willing to stop trying to live the ideal life or someone else’s version of your life or what you think their ideal version of your life is.

Willing to be a human being who does. Being is never devoid of action. But it is action centered in wholeness, not action to achieve wholeness.

I think we sometimes have this idea that we’ll show back up when we overcome. That can be an inner voice, or it may be the real voices of folks who would like you to stop talking about your life until you’re better.

But overcoming isn’t a final product.

Overcoming is a moment to moment process.

I understand there is a fine line between complaining and showing up.

The former involves an external locus of control and the wishing for things to be different. It leads to misery and isolation.

The latter involves welcoming life, engaging with it, and living out the life you can as best you can. It leads to peace and wholeness and joy and love and gratitude, no matter what.

Yesterday, I overcame my fear of what others might think when I listened to my body and walked out of a setting where my leaving was obvious.

I really didn’t like doing that. I didn’t want to create a scene or offend anyone. I wanted to turn the boiling back into at least a simmer. But as I listened to my symptoms, as I meditated, as I breathed, as I used the practices of mindfulness, the message was, “It’s okay to leave. It’s time to leave.”

For me, taking care of myself before the symptoms were completely out of hand (and thus last for many more days) – that was a moment of overcoming.

On the outside, perhaps to others or out of context, leaving may have looked like a step backward, a failure. In reality, it was a moment of living the life I can, a moment of grit, courage, and withitness. A moment of listening and responding with right action.

So, today, don’t let others’ expectations or even your own keep you in a land of living some idealized fantasy life, which is not really living at all. It’s a show. It’s pretend.

Show up today even when you can’t show off.

Show up on social media when you don’t have it all together. Meet that fantasy head-on and let it fade out as reality comes into focus.

Let your actions rise up from being all here, all now.

Live the life you can, awakened and engaged.

It may not be pretty on the outside, but it will be real and authentic.

You will be filled with a sense of groundedness and well-being that have their roots in the integrity that awaits our attention and corresponding action.

And you will revel in the peace and wholeness that you will find right here, right now. No matter the circumstances.

May you have a wonder-filled day, fully present and fully alive.

 

 

 

Falling into Foundness

Life is only unbearable when we demand it change. In case you missed it, I blew out my knee last Thursday. A bad blowout. The kind where you tear ligaments and cartilage.

And now a harsh reality is setting in as it is becoming hard even to walk or stand without a lot of pain. Waves of disappointment and discouragement wash over me as I come to grips with the recovery road that is ahead and all the “life” I’m missing and am going to miss. Again. I’ve been down this road.

I start to get really angry and I push too hard and I ignore the pain and I make it worse.

I wonder how I’m going to ride 🚴🏾100 miles in #rebeccasprivateidaho in less than two weeks?? I begin to replay the accident and I agonize over what I could have done to prevent it. I imagine a different life.

I look forward. I look backward.

I tell myself a story that doesn’t really exist. I concentrate on the physical pain. I let it consume me for a bit by wishing it would just go away.

In short, I create a lot of suffering by resisting life.

And I miss out on the wholeness, fulness, peace, joy, love, and power of the moment.

Ever been there? Ever wish life were a little different? Ever get caught up in the stories (past and future) that keep you from the present?

There are a lot of things I wouldn’t have chosen over the past two years. Multiple concussions. This post-concussion syndrome ongoing nightmare. Broken arm. And now this knee.

I imagine you have (or will someday) your own list.

Can I be with life, though?

Can I engage fully in life even though it’s not going as planned?

Can I welcome the messengers of pain and respond out of wholeness?

Can I be thankful and grateful without disowning the reality of the struggle?

Can I be compassionate to myself?

Can I extend grace to myself?

Can I be here, now?

Can I welcome the peace, wholeness, fulness, joy, and love that are always present, no matter the circumstances?

With each breath, the answer to each question can be, “Yes.”

We can learn to be with life. There are practices that help us do so. And, not unexpectedly, these practices require focus and discipline.

As we learn to be with our breath, with our bodies, with our emotions, with our cognitions, we begin to be informed by them and not controlled by them.

We learn how to listen.

We learn to stop trying to control life or dictate the way that it goes.

We learn how to be.

We learn how to respond to life with right action.

We learn how to be human beings who do.

Life doesn’t have to change one iota in order for us to find what we are looking for.

We are already found.

Falling into our “foundness” is one of the profound lessons that pain, disappointment, and the hard knocks of life are ready to teach.

In our brokenness, we find ourselves resting on solid ground. We find wholeness and fulness.

We experience the unchanging awareness in which the ever-changing flow of our lives arises.

We enter love and become love to ourselves and others.

A great paradox? Yes.

A wonderful truth? Also, yes.

As Hafiz says,

This

Sky

Where we live

Is no place to lose your wings

So love, love,

Love.

With each breath today, may you awaken to life and engage with love.

Fully present. Fully alive.

 

 

 

So Good: To Build a Swing

So good. What’s so good? Some of you watched my laughter and response in a previous post. Here are a few reflections.

In the shade of a Ponderosa Pine, worry stopped and peace and laughter set in. Above the branches where the sun shone through, I saw a face of sorts. It was full of warmth, kindness, gentleness, delight, and absolute giddiness. It saw me and said, “You are good. So good.”

It said so not in words, but in absolute being. A sense of oneness as I have never felt it. One with the ground. With the Ponderosa. With the sun. With the wildflowers. With the meadow and the rolling hills. With the breeze and the birds calling out to one another. Distinct? Yes. But not separate. Connected. Inseparable. One.

It was that face – its radiance, its Being – that brought the laugher. And I am so thankful that I recorded a bit of my response because in my face I can see the reflection of that Being’s delight. Unending delight. Unending love. Limitless compassion. Infinite freedom. Bottomless joy. Gratuitous grace. Inexhaustible kindness. Unshakeable peace. Immovable courage. Unconditional acceptance.

All is well.

So good.

Who did I see? What did I see?

I do not know the name you would give it, but I know it as Love.

But even “Love” is not quite right.

It had no name. It laughed at my categories.

It delighted in my presence.

In Being.

Perhaps I should spend less of my time naming these experiences and categorizing them and putting them into my small box of understanding. And I’ll ask you not to try to name or categorize either unless you find it helpful for you and your journey, and then, by all means, do it.

I love Hafiz’s poem “Tiny Gods”

Tiny Gods

Some gods say, the tiny ones,
“I am not here in your vibrant, moist lips
That need to beach themselves upon
The golden shore of a
Naked body.”

Some gods say, “I am not
The scarred yearning in the unrequited soul;
I am not the blushing cheek
Of every star and
Planet —

I am not the applauding Chef
Of those precious secretions that can distill
The whole mind into a perfect wincing jewel, if only
For a moment;
Nor do I reside in every pile of sweet warm dung
Born of the earth’s
Gratuity.”

Some gods say, the ones we need to hang,
“Your mouth is not designed to know His,
Love was not born to consume
The luminous
Realms.”

Dear ones,
Beware of the tiny gods frightened men
Create

To bring an anesthetic relief
To their sad
Days.

Beware of tiny gods frightened men create.

Children create no such gods.

Faith like a child is a marvelous, mysterious, wonder-filled delight, isn’t it?

We admire it when we see it. We have sweet memories of those days when such faith filled our existence and fueled our adventures. Many of us miss it when we see it.

And we often cannot get there as adults until we are at the end of ourselves.

The God Who Only Knows Four Words

Every

Child

Has known God,

Not the God of names,

Not the God of don’ts

Not the God who ever does

Anything weird,

But the God who only knows four words

And keeps repeating them, saying:

“Come dance with Me.”

Come

Dance.

Breath of air for me, right there.

Time to laugh and dance with life.

I’ve begun asking myself:

What would it look like and feel like and be like for me to live with the faith of a child today? To see the world as it is and not make it fit into a neatly constructed box? To be fully present. To stop trying to be right and prove my rightness to others? To stop trying to make life do what I want it to do? To be with reality on its own terms? To engage with this moment? To really look the next person I’m with in the eyes and be with them in a way that they feel known?

To learn how to quiet my mind so that my present moments aren’t spent fretting, worrying, ruminating, or scheming? To really notice what is right in front of me? To be more aware of what I’m thinking about? To be aware of the breath of wholeness within me with each breath. To notice and hear my body?

To welcome my emotions and be informed by them? To let go of that grudge? To give others a chance to respond to that grudge? To laugh deeply with my loved ones? To let go of thinking I have the right (or ability) to judge others or control them? To stop giving even one moment to attributing motives to another’s actions?

To cry when it is time to cry? To play on the ground with children? To sit next to the elderly and hold their hand in peaceful silence? To bask in the sun on my face with my eyes closed? To feel the gentle breeze on my skin? To taste and give thanks for each bite of food, each drink of water? To give thank for the people in my life, for this breath, for this heartbeat, for life? To notice the sounds around me? To let go of my sense of control? To let myself enjoy this moment?

What would that look like and feel like and be like?

One of the lessons of these last two years in my traumatic brain injuries saga is that life is only unbearable when I demand it be different.

To be fully present and fully alive is not some cute cliche.

It is my rightful dwelling place.

It is the joy-filled life that does not require right circumstances for abundant living.

It is always waiting for us.

The birds of the air and the flowers of the field in that meadow where I sat above St. Gertrude’s know that they are taken care of. They are my teachers.

Can you recall all of the things you worried about a week ago today, a month ago, or a year ago? Any of them? Maybe a big one or two? What about the rest?

Perhaps it is time for us to learn to let go.

It is a lifetime process and practice.

Worry steals the joy of this moment and leaves us depleted and unprepared for the next.

Living fully in the moment leaves me grounded, prepared, and ready for what will come.

Embrace the wholeness that is your birthright.

Warmth, kindness, gentleness, and delight are looking at you right now and saying, “You are good. So good.”

Unending delight. Unending love. Limitless compassion. Infinite freedom. Bottomless joy. Gratuitous grace. Inexhaustive kindness. Unshakeable peace. Immovable courage. Unconditional acceptance.

All is well.

So good.

To Build a Swing

You carry
All the ingredients
To turn your life into a nightmare —
Don’t mix them!

You have all the genius
To build a swing in your backyard
For God.

That sounds
Like a hell of a lot more fun.
Let’s start laughing, drawing blueprints,
Gathering our talented friends.

I will help you
With my divine lyre and drum.

Hafiz
Will sing a thousand words
You can take into your hands,
Like golden saws,
Silver hammers,

Polished teakwood,
Strong silk rope.

You carry all the ingredients
To turn your existence into joy,

Mix them, mix
Them!

Build that swing, my friends! Live. Laugh. Love.

May you have a wonder-filled day. Fully present. Fully alive.