“The summer of our discontent,” I muttered to myself. Then I apologized to William Shakespeare and John Steinbeck for bastardizing their words. But it had been that kind of summer.
Ten days into June, I realized that my right shoulder was compromised and hurting. It was probably the result of increasing the weights on too many upper body exercises in too short a time period, coupled with an incident at the gym and the strain of my daily life, which includes a lot of yard work. Having strained my shoulder before, I thought that a couple of deep tissue massages would make everything right again, so I kept working that shoulder hard at the gym.
Massage couldn’t set it right on its own because I had injured too much and kept right on injuring it at the gym. It wasn’t just the rotator cuff (infraspinatus, subscapularis, supraspinatus), it was everything from the bicep to the upper back: bicep; anterior, lateral, and posterior deltoids; latissimus dorsi; teres major and minor; rhomboids. Even my pecs were involved. While I iced the area and backed off at the gym just a little, what I did to help the situation was like asking a rattlesnake to back off with a polite request while poking at it with a stick.
That it was my right shoulder and not my left was not lost on me. In the metaphysical and energy work realms, the right side of the body is often considered the doing/giving/masculine side and the left side the being/receiving/feminine side. In my model of the way things work, the universe (God, the divine, guidance) had been trying to send me a message, and I had ignored it to the point that the sledgehammer had been employed to get my attention. But it wasn’t until I torqued my right knee doing yard work that I finally began to question what was going on in any serious way.
I intuitively picked up that my internal masculine and feminine were not in balance. During a massage session, I asked my massage therapist, David Kochevar, to tap into his intuition and ask what was going on. He went inside for a moment and then said that I was pushing too hard at life, particularly where dating was concerned.
That made some sense to me. It was true that after the breakup with Derek, I had not only gotten right back out there with online dating, I had done so with a vengeance. I had been pushing too hard at it. I meditated on the issue and heard from my council (a dozen archangels, ascended masters, and others who guide me) that I had been correct in my assessment that my masculine and feminine were out of balance and that David was correct about my pushing too hard with the dating. I also received a bit of guidance on what to do about it.
A full two months after the injury first made itself known to me through pain, I finally backed off at the gym. What can I say? Anyone who lifts will understand. We are loathe to step back once we have achieved a certain level of weight in our lifting because it is hard-earned. My hubris had been breathtaking, but I finally understood. I ceased all upper body work for a few days. When I returned to it, I lowered the weight substantially, and I avoided the worst offenders completely, particularly the plate loaded chest press and an over-the-head shoulder routine I was fond of. I would not return to the most problematic things until the healing allowed it, and I would keep the weight down until my body told me I could increase it slowly. I knew it was going to take time to undo the problem I had created for myself.
I also scheduled some acupuncture treatments with a longtime friend who just happened to be a crackerjack acupuncturist and practitioner of Asian medicine. Deborah Skelton is also a nurse, but she shifted her practice to Asian medicine after going back to school for a degree in it. She had been practicing for a number of years, and I trusted her implicitly. After explaining the chain of events, I asked her to check in with her intuition to see if she had more to add to what David and I had already picked up. Her intuition was consistent with what had already been revealed: my internal masculine and feminine were out of balance.
But Deborah could demonstrate the imbalance by checking my pulses, something she would do anyway before needling me. Sure enough, my right pulse was racing and my left was weak. She treated the problems in my right shoulder and back, as well as the strain in my knee. Then, after removing those needles, she applied what in traditional Chinese medicine was referred to as the husband and wife treatment, meant to resolve imbalance between the yin and yang. She retested my pulses once the treatments were complete. Both sides were in balance.
Immediately after the treatments, I felt a softening and increased receptivity within me. My strength and innate “doing” nature were still there, but they were modulated by my innate “being nature.” For years, I had experienced good harmony between my internal masculine and feminine. Being out of harmony had not been comfortable, but it took a couple of injuries to really call my attention to it. Now I was back in harmony.
I knew it would take time for my shoulder to fully heal, and I was at peace with that.
My pulses remained in balance when tested the next two visits, but something else snagged my attention. During my first visit, I had noticed Deborah’s beautiful statue of Green Tara. On the second visit, I was not only riveted by Green Tara, but also had a bit of divine inspiration to put some prayer flags on my upper deck. I hadn’t had prayer flags on my deck since my late husband’s return from Iraq, several years earlier, and the prompting to place some there again came out of the blue.
I talked with Deborah about the Buddhist goddess Green Tara then went home to do a little research on my own. Green Tara could be considered a post-feminist goddess and bodhisattva. It is said that in one of her human lifetimes, she was a very compassionate princess who made offerings to the monks. Because of her good deeds, the monks told her they would pray that she return as a man in her next lifetime, to which she replied that there is no man and there is no woman. She vowed to always return as a woman until everyone achieves enlightenment.
Statues of Green Tara show her with her left leg tucked in meditation posture and her right leg outstretched. It is said that the right leg is outstretched so she can leap into action when needed. Green Tara is not simply a goddess of compassion, she is the goddess of universal compassion and enlightened activity. Her compassion is not passive, it is active.
No wonder I was so drawn to her. Here is a goddess with her masculine and feminine beautifully balanced.
While I’d had a tiny Green Tara on my altar for many years, I felt the need for a larger one that I could keep within sight as a reminder and mentor. I ordered one and kept her near. I wanted to make prayer flags dedicated to love, but I didn’t have time at that moment to make them, so I ordered prayer flags online with the image of Green Tara and the Green Tara mantra (om tara tuttare ture soha) on them and hung the flags on my upper deck.
Surrendered to the need to relax into my dating experience instead of pushing so hard and with Green Tara’s help, the knee was back to normal quickly and my right shoulder began to heal. A month after my surrender, I felt I turned a corner in the shoulder healing. I realized it would take additional weeks or even months to be completely back to normal, but I could feel the substantial improvement.
Perhaps the summer of my discontent would give way to the autumn of my fulfillment. I didn’t push for that, though. I just surrendered to whatever was to come.
Note: The name Derek is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved. The name David Kochevar is real. David, who is the best massage therapist I know, owns Kochevar Medical Massage in Broomfield, Colorado. Likewise, the name Deborah Skelton is real. Deborah, a gifted acupuncturist, owns Twin Cranes, an acupuncture and Asian medicine practice, in Boulder, Colorado.
Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall
Tags: acupuncture, bodhisattva, Buddhist goddess of compassion, dating, dating past fifty, David Kochevar, Deborah Skelton, deep tissue massage, Green Tara, Green Tara mantra, husband and wife treatment, imbalance, internal feminine, internal masculine, intuition, John Steinbeck, knee injury, massage, online dating, post-feminist, prayer flags, shoulder injury, shoulder pain, shoulder strain, weight lifting, William Shakespeare