Some unexpected news arrived this week that has been hard for me to grapple with. The news signals big changes in my life regarding work, identity and security, but it also brings opportunity. Change is rarely easy but I happen to be at a conference surrounded by loving people ready to offer support, humor, encouragement and ways to deal with stress. Like paying attention to my feet.
I was offered a bottle of raw sesame oil mixed with rose and lavender oils and told to place 5 or 6 drops on one of my feet. After I massaged the oil into the skin, I was instructed to “twizzle the first and second toes”– twisting them alternately, one in front of the other and back in the opposite direction, repeating several times before moving on to the next pair and on down the row of five. I was then told to “clear out the gutters” which involved running my thumbs down my arch and the long spaces between the bones in my feet until I wound up between each toe. And finally, I was taught a kind of weight training for my toes by pressing a finger against each one and doing toe lifts to strengthen them. I repeated the whole series on the other foot. When I was finished, I stood up. My feet felt awake, and I felt more comfortably rooted into the ground.
Later, I went to a meeting with psychologist Nancy L. Bieber who read from her book Decision Making & Spiritual Discernment, The Sacred Art of Finding Your Way. Here is an excerpt:
“Take time to be still. In our urgency to find a way forward, ideas, questions, answers and unknowns often swirl around us so quickly that we have little time for stillness, little time to pause. I believe there are truths you already know about what you can have and do in this season of your life. You need time to be still enough to recognize them.
One of the gifts of a time of intense decision-making is heightened awareness. We often journey along barely noticing where we are because the road is so familiar. Suddenly something happens and we wake up. We don’t know where we are anymore! We begin to pay attention.”
And then, the third gift of this day: I was reminded that relaxation and renewal are available to me with each breath. With mindfulness, release comes at the end of every full exhale.