Opening the Perpetual Fetal

This essay is kind of a follow up to my mid summer clash with the limits of time and space. Consider this my second foray into the muck of Living In Time


Not too long ago, I had a dream where I was driving very fast down this narrow road. I was driving so fast, it was difficult to steer, difficult to control the car. I was struggling to just keep the car between the lines and pointed in the right direction. Till finally I just gave up and purposely crashed into the trees along the side of the road thinking ‚ "Good, then maybe now I will just die". As the darkness descended, I heard my self saying. "Sorry, Sister," over and over again to my traveling companion. Suddenly a light flashed briefly in the darkness and I began to sense movement. And slowly I realized I did not die after all.

I woke up thinking, whoa. My only way out of this madness is crashing and hoping to die?

Part of my current personal spiritual work is in my accepting that I am a very driven person, that I am the stereotypical type A personality. Acceptance is only a portion of my journey however, because I also am working on finding ways to balance this energy within me and within my life.

I have had dreams of driving for almost two decades, but this was the first one that had my dream-self welcoming death as a way out. It was literally a wake up call for me.

This dream occurred almost two weeks after I fell off my front porch further aggravating my infirmed and restricted left hip, knee and shoulder. It came after four days of extreme frustration and anger. It occurred four days before I fell ill with a pretty nasty case of stomach flu.

In the four days before the flu knocked me off my feet (again), this dream forced me to endure some of the most searing soul searching of my life. I was forced to admit how I set myself up for so much of my frustrations; and how many of the illnesses, falls, and mishaps bore the energetic signature of that dream crash.

They were two sides of the same coin. The frustrations came from my driven nature. And the crashes were my only way out.

I needed to learn how to slow down.

Slowing Down

I knew that something had to fundamentally change. That somehow, I had to find a way to slow down enough to pay attention to the details of life. It was these details, those mundane markers of life, which I was missing when I was speeding. I managed to draw some during my recovery from the fall and the resulting image was of a bird like woman cradling something while entering a cave. The image calmed me. As I worked with my dream however, I felt called to collect images of traffic signs. I worked for hours to collect just the right images and lovingly create a visual temporal collage of my journey. The resulting animated gif felt reassuring, even comforting.

The day before I fell ill, I spent the morning in various restorative yoga poses all the while considering my medical-intuitive’s admonition to open my Yin channels.

Meridians are classified yin or yang on the basis of the direction in which they flow on the surface of the body. Yang energy flows from the sun. Yin energy [flows] from the earth.

Yang meridians flow along the outside or back of the body, while Yin meridians flow on the inner or front side of the body. She said that the Yin channels become blocked and congested whenever a person disassociates from their body, whenever we disassociate from the realities of our lives. As I considered how tight my back and back body was, I realized that it was as if I had been in a perpetual fetal position. Always folding inward to protect my tender underbelly. This protective gesture however can also overextend the muscles of the back body while simultaneously congesting the Yin meridians that run along the front. As I massaged the painful meridian nodes along my inner thighs, belly, midriff and chest, I suddenly realized the cost of my body constantly pulling inward to avoid the crash toward which I am always headed. Painfully I began releasing the nodes using pressure and breath like I had been taught. I allowed myself to vocalize the searing pain and used my breath to keep me present and fully embodied.

After a bit, I suddenly realized why we were always being guided to open our chests and hips in yoga, again the Yin meridians. I wondered out loud if most westerners have blocked Yin meridians. Then I considered how much of the world’s population lived with hunger, fear, violence, disease, oppression, grief, drought and hunger. I began considering that maybe we all struggle to keep our Yin meridians open.

Opening from the fetal position.

Embodied & Soaring

The next morning, I fell ill. As I lay there racked with pain and torment, I could hear my medical-intuitive's voice calling me to be present. Calling me to not disassociate from the pain. And so the tears swelled and I cried out for my mother; I cried out for the gods. I even accepted human assistance and allowed this gentle, nurturing woman to actually tend me and offer me comfort. I was both humbled and honored by her loving kindness and mercy.

Even now, I am staying as long as I can in the here and now and in my body, while also recognizing that there is nothing wrong with my true nature either. I am not seeking to change what I am; I am a driven, strong willed, intellectually curious woman. But I can slow this human vehicle down some. I can abide by speed limits; even install some traffic lights as necessary. And one-way to slow down is to open my heart, open my Yin and open my perpetual fetal.

And so I am crafting a new pattern for myself; one where slowing down happens first. Slow down before I begin my day. Instead of crafting a strict regimen unrelated to how my body feels or the level of my energy, I began each day opening the perpetual fetal in whichever manner makes sense to my body. One day I may do yoga restoratives, while another day I may massage my painful Yin nodes. Some mornings I will do both. And then I follow the wisdom of my body moving into asanas as I feel called till I retreat into the calm of simply breathing. At some point I will sit for a while in whatever position calls to me, half lotus, in a chair or reclining on the sofa. And then begins the next phase, deep meditation and self-reflection. I will allow my mind to at times wander a bit before calling her gently back. Ending with journaling and quiet stillness. Beginning each day with an uncoiling of the serpent, a releasing of any pent-up anxiety or rage. I leave others to train their will, me, I need to learn the art of release.

I am hoping to develop a touchstone of stillness that I can use whenever I feel like I am speeding again. I had actually begun this work the day I fell ill. Today I begin again.

And today, just as I ended my practice, I opened the mail to discover I had received an automatic speeding ticket. The irony was not lost on me as I quietly chuckled. The Yin meridians flow from earth to sky. This letter was a message from the deep rich soil of my flesh to the bright airy realms of my mind. "Slow down or else."

Message received. I am willing to listen. I am opening. Please teach me.

2006©Katrina Messenger