The sun was rising over the mountains as I hiked up to the Muir Beach Overlook to center myself and ground into Mother Earth before a full day one-on-one session with one of my Visionary Mentoring Program clients. The ocean was serene, still and waveless, after many stormy days of high winds. The air was silent, pregnant with promise. A few weeks had passed since my mother had been diagnosed with an “incurable” kind of stage 4 cancer, so life had been heavy for some time. Yet something about this morning felt light. A calm quietude fell over the sea.
Two young men stood at the Overlook, enjoying the view. When I approached, both of them were beaming. They had never been here, they told me. They were struck with awe, aglow in the sunrise light, basking in beauty and gratitude. The sweetness of their hearts oozed off of them like nectar. I could feel it. We were smiling at each and enjoying the scenery while I spoke to one man who was there with his friend, visiting from Napa. They were asking me questions about the area. I was making recommendations for where they should hike. His friend was holding his pet pit bull on a leash, and as he responded to something his friend said, I turned towards him, facing him with my body and leaning in to respond.
Just in that second, the pit bull struck me like a snake. None of us saw it coming. The leash had been slack, with no reason to expect what happened next. The 3-year-old pit bull had been docile and obedient, quietly sitting by his owner’s side- until he struck. The pit bull lashed out at me so violently and unexpectedly that everyone was paralyzed at first. As the animal locked onto my right inner thigh, clenching my thigh in his powerful grasp like a vice, time stood still as we all were stunned as if tasered. Then the reality of what was happening struck as, just as I felt the fangs sink into my leg and rip into my flesh. The two young men screamed, trying in vain to pull the dog off me. I don’t remember exactly how they extricated the dog from my leg, but they did. Once the dog was pulled off me, I looked down at my black yoga pants, which miraculously hadn’t been ripped. They were starting to soak through. That’s when I realized I had been mauled.
I was in shock, but lucid enough to respond calmly when the dog’s horrified and terror-stricken owner Brandon cried, “What do I do? Do I call 911? Do I take you to the ER? What’s going to happen? Are you going to call the cops? Are you going to sue me? Will you make them kill my dog? Are you going to die?”
In that moment, Something Larger Than Me took over and said, “Don’t call 911.” It was not a cognitive choice. In fact, my mind argued with that Something. “Are you crazy? I’ve just been mauled by a pit bull!” But it had the ring of truth I’ve come to know from the Something Larger that guides me.
“What should I do? What should I do?” Brandon was panicking.
With blood running down my soaked pant leg, I heard myself speak calmly, as if out of my own body. “Pick me up and carry me to your car. Drive me to my house down the street. Carry me upstairs to my bathroom so I can wash the wound.” I heard my voice, steady, calm, and authoritative.
Brandon did as I asked, hyperventilating, crying and moaning as he carried me to his car. When we arrived at my house, I asked him to go, but he was afraid to leave me alone. He said I looked very injured. He was afraid I was going to die. I assured him everything was going to be OK. I leaned in to hug him, and he held me tight.
He said, “Did he hurt you?” I pulled down my pants, and for the first time, we both saw the 4 inch by 3 inch bloody gore where my inner thigh used to be. He screamed and looked away.
I was equally horrified. I prayed, “God help me.” I asked him to pray for me too. He said he would, and I told him I would also pray for him and his dog.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry,” he kept repeating.“Am I going to get in trouble?” he pleaded, terror in his panicked eyes.
“It was an accident. None of us saw this coming. Just make me one promise. Promise me that you’ll do whatever it takes to make sure this never happens to another being.”
“I promise. I promise. I swear.”
A wave of dizziness swept over me, and I leaned on him. As he helped me upstairs, he said, “You’re the nicest person I’ve ever met.” There were tears in his eyes. I asked him to leave his number. I told him I’d call him and let him know how I was doing when I knew more. He didn’t want to leave me, but my inner guidance was clear. I needed to do this my own way. I would be shown what to do, every step of the way, as long as I could get quiet enough to hear the instructions. I just needed to be alone for a minute.
The Holy Hour
The next hour was very wondrous, beautiful and mysterious. After stripping and climbing in my bathtub, I filled the tub with warm water while I texted the people I knew could help me—my roommates, my boyfriend, my mother. It took the first person about an hour to arrive, and during this time, I prayed and meditated, chanting the mantra my Sacred Medicine healer friend, Swami, and colleague Trevor Hart taught me to chant during acute trauma or pain. “Thank you for this gift of love. Thank you for this gift of love. Thank you for this gift of love.” As challenging as it is to find gratitude in the midst of acute pain and trauma, I’ve used this mantra before, and I’ve been in awe of the power of sincere, humble gratitude, how it can transmute pain into a deep heart opening that can actually reverse the experience of physical or emotional pain.
As if by magic, the unbearable pain lifted as the mantra dropped into my heart. Even in the midst of the intense fear and pain, I could see the Fierce Grace in this trauma, trusting that somehow this was a gift of awakening, an opportunity to love deeper, to grow my compassion, to practice what I preach, to surrender even more deeply to Divine Will and resist nothing—not even this. As I chanted, the pain disappeared completely. Was it the epinephrine and endorphins, or was it some sort of miracle? I couldn’t tell. I only knew that I was struck with a curious clarity that led me to make many rapid-fire decisions based on my medical assessment of the wound over the next couple of hours.
As I waited for help, I cleaned the wound in the bathtub and assessed that I had been blessed. The dog had narrowly missed my femoral artery. The only bleeding was capillary bleeding from the torn skin edges and the subcutaneous tissue, and some venous bleeding from a visible vein that stopped bleeding after I held a washcloth to it. My quadriceps muscle had also been blessedly spared. The dog had stripped off a huge chunk of skin, revealing all of my subcutaneous fat and tissue, but thank goodness, he avoided injuring much else. I could tell that my nervous system was in acute “fight or flight,” but the threat was over. I knew I must engage my decade long spiritual practice, activating meditation and prayer to quiet my mind and calm my nervous system, which I knew was essential to what must come next. As long as my nervous system was in stress response, I would find it difficult to hear my intuition clearly, and as long as my stress hormones were coursing through my vessels, my body’s natural self-healing mechanisms would be switched off. (The physiology of how this happens is detailed in my book Mind Over Medicine.) In order to optimize the outcome, my nervous system would have to relax so my body’s self-healing mechanisms could get to work—STAT.
The 6 Steps to Healing Yourself: Step 1 BELIEVE
After an hour of meditation and sincere prayer during my Holy Hour, my nervous system restored itself to a homeostatic calm. I began implementing the 6 Steps To Healing Yourself that I teach in Mind Over Medicine, on my PBS special, and in the curriculum of the Whole Health Medicine Institute, the training program I run for physicians and other healers. Step 1 is about believing that healing is possible. As I lay in that bathtub, I examined my beliefs about this dog bite. I could hear the voice of fear barking away. “Dog bite wounds all get infected. This will never close, and you’ll have an open wound forever. If you’re lucky enough not to get a life-threatening wound infection, you’ll have to wait weeks before you can even think about closing this wound. If you’re lucky, you’re looking at months of skin grafts and graft rejections and wound infections and scar tissue. This is going to hurt like hell, and you’re not going to be able to hike for months, if ever.”
Wow! With mind chatter like that, I knew my outcome would be grim.
I practiced the inner work I’ve spent ten years learning to implement, shifting the energy in my mind and my heart and surrendering the whole situation to Divine Will, trusting that we live in a purposeful Universe and that the whole thing is already handled. I could feel a new, more resonant belief emerging. “God is in charge, and it will be handled in accordance with Divine Will. I let go of all attachment to outcome and trust that whatever is most right will come into being with ease and grace. I trust that miracles are possible and that if it is aligned with Divine Will, I will surprise everyone with the miraculous speed, ease, and pain-free nature of my healing. Should God will it, I will heal without surgery. I will return to full function without lasting injury. My healing process will be a beacon of hope and light for those who suffer from illness and injury themselves. And so it shall be . . . ”
My nervous system calmed down even more. I could feel the truth in the new, more awakened belief.
By this point, my roommate April had arrived at home. As I heard her call up the stairs, I announced that the upstairs of my house—now the Healing Haven—was a “Fear Free Zone.” I intuited that protecting my fragile inner peace was essential to my healing journey. Nobody with any fearful energy would be allowed in my healing space. April composed herself until she could hold this vibration of trust and deep calm with me. As someone who once suffered from an “incurable” hematologic condition that required weekly infusions, as someone who then experienced a spontaneous remission after she began working with me and applying the 6 Steps to her own journey, April understands the importance of impeccable alignment with the guidance of your Inner Pilot Light. April was awesome on the day of my injury. I could not have gotten through what I did had she not been my deep ally and trusted tribe member.
The 6 Steps to Healing Yourself: Step 2 SUPPORT
April was the first part of implementing Step 2, which is all about gathering your “Healing Round Table” and enlisting the support of those who you can trust to walk the path of your healing journey with you. Once April entered the bathroom and saw me in the bathtub, she tried to talk me out of staying home, insisting that I needed to go to the Emergency Room.
“No,” I insisted. “We’ll call Dr. Ed in Santa Cruz instead.” April was the first person at my Healing Round Table. Dr. Ed was the second.
April was understandably concerned. “You look gray, and I’m worried,” she said. “Are you sure we shouldn’t call 911?”
I was adamant, standing my ground with a ferocity April doesn’t usually see, the kind I used to call upon when I was barking orders during a life-threatening emergency as the commanding physician in the hospital. April quickly deferred to my intuition. I handed her the phone and instructed her to phone my emergency physician/energy healer friend Ed. Thank God Ed, who was in the midst of an ER shift, picked up the phone. April texted Ed a photo of what had just happened and handed me the phone while I was still lying in the bathtub. Ed called out instructions:
1) Get someone to aggressively lavage the wound with a shower head.
2) Go to the pharmacy and he would call in Augmentin, to prevent infection, which was the biggest risk with a dirty dog bite.
3) Get myself to a Walgreens without 48 hours and get a tetanus shot.
4) Call the dog’s owner and find out if it was up to date on its rabies shot.
5) Report the event to animal control.
6) Start wet to dry dressing changes, moistening the wound with Neosporin twice a day.
7) Take Vicodin if I needed it. He could call it in if I needed pain relief.
“Do I need to go to the ER?” I asked. “I really don’t want to.”
I knew it was a lot to ask of him, to make that judgment call for someone he cared about. I was getting my own guidance, but it helps to seek confirmation of your guidance when you’re sick, vulnerable, and weak.
Ed said, “Stay home. We’re doing all we can do right now.” I would have cried with relief, had I not been so in shock.
The 6 Steps to Healing Yourself: Step 3 INTUITION
Step 3 is all about learning to hear, discern and trust this voice of the inner doctor. My inner guidance, that voice I call my Inner Pilot Light, was saying, “Stay home. There are too many resistant bacteria in a hospital. Keep this wound clean at home, and keep your nervous system calm at home. The hospital will stress you out. You need deep peace, and you won’t find it there.” My intuition felt clear. But I also knew that I am human, and I was in shock. My guidance could have been faulty. I trusted Ed. If he had told me to go to the ER, I would have done so.
But his instincts agreed with mine. “Don’t go to the ER. It’s a dirty mouth wound. Even if there’s enough skin, nobody will close it right away. Try to get an emergency appointment to see a reconstructive surgeon as an outpatient within 24 hours instead. I already did what an ER doc would have done for you. If you came into my ER, I’d be trying to find a good plastic/reconstructive surgeon, and they’re hard to find in most ER’s. The last thing you want is some inexperienced Physicians Assistant in Urgent Care trying to sew up this wound and making things worse. [DISCLAIMER: Please do not try this at home! Because I am a doctor and I am friends with many doctors, and because I was lucid enough to medically assess my own stable vital signs and lack of blood loss, I trusted my discernment, and I trusted Ed’s. I knew what to look for, as did he. If you have a medical emergency, unless you yourself are a doctor or you have access to a doctor at home, please get the help that you need.]
My whole nervous system relaxed. I had just been given permission by a doctor I trusted to follow my intuition.
As my loved ones arrived home one by one, I heard panicked cries of “I’m here! Where is she?”
April stood guard over the staircase to my bedroom like a bouncer. “This is a No Fear Zone. Lissa is OK, but this is a Zen space up here. You may not enter until you’ve calmed yourself down. Only healing energy is allowed in her room.” Only my boyfriend Richard made it through her filter up that morning, becoming the third person at my Healing Round Table. Richard was the loving warrior brave enough to blast my wound with water from a shower head, lavaging all the bacteria out of the wound without any pain medication or anesthesia, while I listened to a guided meditation on my iPod and tried not to scream. He was also the person who has done my dressing changes twice a day for the past eight days. Bless his heart for enduring my wincing and then holding me in his arms to comfort and calm me when the discomfort passes. (Thank you, Richard!)
Enter Sacred Medicine
When the lavage was done, I texted Healing Round Table member #4, my healer, white magician friend Trevor Hart, who I’ll be teaching a ten-month immersion with starting in May. (Learn more about our program Reorienting Your Inner Compass here.) I told Trevor I had an emergency and showed him the photo of the wound. Trevor called me right away and told me a magic story. The night before my injury, his first client of the day had canceled. He has a six-month waiting list, so it’s usually easy to fill cancellations. He simply pulls out his waiting list and asks the Organizing Intelligence (OI) who is meant to fill the slot. However, the night before, when he asked the OI who would fill the slot, the OI told him, “The spot has already been filled.” He was instructed not to schedule anyone during that time. My text came right at the time when his first appointment would have been. I turned out to be Trevor’s first client of the day.
I was still in the bathtub when we spoke for almost an hour. I’ll write another blog post soon about what Trevor and I discussed during that hour. For now, suffice it to say that we talked all about Fierce Grace, a term coined by spiritual leader Ram Dass after he suffered from a debilitating stroke. “The stroke caused me to lose faith, and it was a cold, cold place, and I suddenly realized it was Fierce Grace . . . that turned my life around.”
Fierce Grace is something Trevor and I have been talking about for years. I am a devoted believer in what Rob Brezsny calls “pronoia”—the unshakable belief that everything in the Universe is conspiring to shower you with blessings. So Fierce Grace fits right into this pronoic world view. If it’s a purposeful Universe and everything—even the things we judge as tragic or painful—are blessings in disguise, gifts from the Universe intended to wake us up; then everything is cause for gratitude, even a dog bite. Of course, this doesn’t mean we skip the painful feelings we experience or bypass the human experience of trauma. But it does mean that, even in the grips of pain, loss, and trauma, we can shift the lens of how we experience it, holding a radical paradox: It hurts and it f*cking sucks, but it’s also a gift, and I’m grateful. Such is the framework of Fierce Grace.
I could see the Fierce Grace right away. I was not a victim of a dangerous dog or a reckless dog owner. This trauma was a gift with many blessings it would bestow upon me, my loved ones, and those who I serve with my work. This dog bite was Fierce Grace, as were the six deaths I grieved last year and the recent diagnosis of my mother’s “incurable” cancer. The gifts from the trauma were already revealing themselves within two hours of the injury. Right from the beginning, I saw the first gift. It became so obvious to me how blessed I am with such an incredible community of devoted healers who love and support me. Usually, I’m the strong one, but when I was weak and needy, my community rallied. I have never felt so fiercely loved, supported, and protected by the people I have a tendency to hide my neediness from. Such a blessing the gifted me with- this gift of showing up with all of their love like a sword of protection. I felt flooded with love, even as I also felt overwhelmed with fear and pain.
Over the next hour, I enlisted more support. I called my spiritual mentor Rachel Naomi Remen, MD to ask her to rally our network of doctors so I could find a reconstructive surgeon that would see me within 24 hours. I called my genius integrative medicine physician friend Rachel Carlton Abrams, MD, and asked for guidance around immune-boosting supplements, nutrition, and natural wound healing recommendations. I reached out to Dawson Church, who I enlisted to help me use EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) for treatment and prevention of the PTSD I knew could strike me and the dog’s owner if left untreated. (Listen to me and Jessica Ortner talk about EFT here.)
The 6 Steps to Healing Yourself: Step 4 DIAGNOSE
Because I have such unbelievable support, and because it is my deep practice to enter into spiritual inquiry when something unusual happens, I moved more quickly into Step 4 than I might otherwise have done. Step 4, in my opinion, is the hardest of the six steps. It’s is all about inquiring about the root cause of an illness or an injury, examining the metaphysical diagnosis, if you will.
For example, from one perspective, you could say I was a helpless victim of a chance canine attack. But I don’t believe in pure chance. Sure, bad things happen to good people, and I’m never one to “blame the victim” for a tragic outcome. That said, I do believe we co-create reality. I don’t believe we’re not in control of our reality, as some of the rigid “law of attraction” teachers might suggest. But I do believe we do participate in what happens in our lives. Hand in hand with the Godself, we weave the web of our lives, and our thoughts, beliefs, and intentions affect the tapestry we weave. Step 4 is about examining how we might have made ourselves vulnerable to illness or injury, not just via poor health habits or weak self-care, but by making choices that weaken the body’s self-healing mechanisms by thrusting the nervous system into stress response and perhaps by broadcasting vibrations of energy that attract trauma, drama, and illness, rather than peace, health, serenity, love, and wholeness.
Step 4 required me to ask the uncomfortable but compelling question—“So if I participated in co-creating a canine attack, how might I have done so?” When unusual events unfold, part of my practice is to ask, “Why this? Why now?” If the Universe is alive and communicating with us all the time, if everything has messages embedded in it, intended to help us wake up, what was the message from this dog bite?
When I “asked up” about the message, I heard a clear and rapid answer. I flashed back to my state of mind before I happened upon the two men with their pit bull. I was walking up to the Muir Beach Overlook, kicking myself for something I’d said to Richard the night before, punishing myself for my insensitivity. I’ve written in The Anatomy of a Calling about my powerful ability to telepathically communicate with animals. So what if I was attacking myself and unconsciously putting off an “Attack me” vibe? If the pit bull was attuned to me in Oneness consciousness, as I’ve described in that book regarding the whales and the coyotes, maybe the dog simply said, “Well, if you insist on attacking yourself, let me help you—with love.”
Maybe he thought he was doing me a favor? Or maybe he was simply hungry and I was a tasty little Scooby snack, making myself vulnerable to a predator with my own self-punishing vibe. If it’s OK for me to beat myself up, why wouldn’t it be OK for an animal to attack me?
The diagnosis and the resultant inner work became clear. I needed to interrupt that pattern of self-attack. I called Whole Body Intelligence somatic therapist Steve Sisgold and energy healer Brandy Gillmore to ask them to help me remove the self-punishment pattern from my cellular memory and my energy field.
The 6 Steps to Healing Yourself: Step 5 PRESCRIBE
Once you’ve worked through the first four steps, Step 5—Write the Prescription for yourself—is quite simple. Creating an intuitively guided action plan, I made a written list of all the treatments I felt called to implement as part of my healing journey. Here’s what I wrote on my list on the day of the attack.
1. Augmentin for infection prevention.
2. Make an appointment with a reconstructive surgeon within 24 hours.
3. Get a tetanus shot at Walgreens.
4. Follow up with the healers at my Healing Round Table and go deeper into Fierce Grace.
5. Make an appointment with a Peter Levine-trained Somatic Experiencing therapist. I understand about how “attractor patterns” can make us vulnerable to trauma. As Peter says, “Trauma grafts onto trauma.” I sensed I needed help sorting out why I was experiencing one trauma on top of another over the past two years.
6. Astragalus, sun chlorella, and 10 Mushroom Formula supplements for immune-boosting.
7. Wet to dry dressing changes twice a day with pure aloe vera.
8. Apply “osha” bear root tea packs twice a day to the wound, as per my Native American friend Del’s recommendation.
9. Homemade green juice twice a day.
10. Extra sleep to help with healing.
11. Listen to my healing music playlist on my iPod.
12. Make an altar of specific crystals and aromatherapy oils right next to my bedside. Use as intuitively guided.
13. Prayer and meditation to assist in keeping my nervous system in relaxation response, remembering to include prayers of gratitude for the Fierce Grace and insights that arose during Step 4, as well as for the incredible outpouring of love and support from my tribe of healers, friends, and family.
14. Spend time in nature.
15. Daily orgasms to boost healing hormones, such as endorphins and oxytocin (again, thank you Richard!).
16. Ask Richard hold me in his arms as much as possible so my body can relax and assist with wound healing, especially after the retraumatizing discomfort of dressing changes.
17. Increase dietary protein to assist with collagen formation and wound healing.
18. Reschedule clients, so my body has time to heal.
19. Post about my injury on Facebook to ask for prayers and healing energy from those in my community who care.
20. Walk the labyrinth in my backyard at least once per day.
My intention was clear. I would approach every single intervention on my Prescription as Sacred Medicine. All of it is sacred, every treatment equally holy. The antibiotics. The supplements. The nutrition. The surgery if it was needed. The love and support of energy healers, family, and friends. The prayer and meditation. The radical self-care. The crystals and oils. All of it is God. None of it is excluded from the wholeness of God’s glory. I would imbue every pill, every vitamin, every dressing change with the intention of the placebo. I would believe it would help heal me, and I would hold gratitude deeply in my heart for every single holy intervention. This is how Sacred Medicine works, in my assessment. It is not about choosing between Western medicine, alternative medicine, or faith healing. It is about seeing that there is no separation between these seemingly disparate modalities. All are holy when we see them as such.
The 6 Steps to Healing Yourself: Step 6 SURRENDER
When I wrote Mind Over Medicine, I listed Step 6 as Surrender attachment to outcomes. In other words, once you’ve done everything you can to adjust your beliefs, rally support, tune into and discern intuition, diagnose the root cause of illness or injury, and write the Prescription for yourself, you let go and let God, trusting the great mystery of Divine Will and humbly acknowledging that you don’t know what that is. Letting go of your attachment to cure or full recovery when you’re sick or injured is freakin’ hard! Of course, we want to live, thrive, and recover! Yet this is the PhD of spiritual surrender. Instead of praying, “God, please cure me,” may we bow down and pray, “Let what is most right come into being. Help me avoid resisting what is.”
This is no small task, and it’s completely counter-culture out there in the mainstream. Even in spiritual circles, there’s often a subtle vibe that suggests that if only you’re “spiritual” enough, you’ll get what you want—the cure, the million dollar paycheck, the romantic partner, the clear spiritual guidance—whatever it is your ego is grasping for. Step 6 is the antidote to this.
But I got it wrong when I wrote Mind Over Medicine.
Only months after releasing Mind Over Medicine, I met Outrageous Openness author Tosha Silver. After taking a workshop with Tosha, I approached her with my head hung and said, “Tosha, I think I wrote my book wrong. I think Surrender is Step 1, not Step 6.” With her signature humor and quirky eccentricity, Tosha simply said, “Yes dear. Of course.” Then she said, “I think we have karma. We should take a hike.” (Only in Berkeley . . . )
Ever since then, I’ve taught Step 6 as Step 1 in my Mind Over Medicine workshops and in the Whole Health Medicine Institute.
It’s always a challenge for me to remember to practice spiritual surrender as Step 1, but this time, I remembered. Even before Brandon carried me up the stairs to my bathroom, I surrendered the whole thing to Divine Will, putting the injury metaphorically in the “God Box” and releasing attachment to any outcome, praying for guidance and support so that I would sense intuitively what Divine Will might ask of me on my healing journey. Part of my Prescription is to repeat this practice with every step of the journey.
Twenty-four hours after the injury, when I saw the reconstructive surgeon, I surrendered the whole office visit to Divine Will and asked that I be shown that which was most right during the appointment. When the surgeon saw my wound, she told me the wound would require 4–6 weeks of preoperative healing and wound care in order to prepare the bed of the wound for skin grafts or an “advancement” flap a month or two later. The wound was at high risk of infection, she insisted. We couldn’t even begin to talk about surgery for at least a month. Something about her proclamation didn’t feel truthful to me. I respected her expertise, but I also trusted my intuition.
“Might the wound heal on its own,” I asked?
“No,” she said. “Not a chance.” There was simply too much skin missing. I would require skin grafts, either partial thickness, full thickness, or a flap. But I would have to wait at least a month with an open wound before we could prepare for surgery. Everything would depend on avoiding wound infection over the next month. Full recovery would be several months, assuming the skin grafts “took,” which they might not, she warned.
When I checked in with my Inner Pilot Light, I heard, “Nope. This wound will heal differently.”
Trust Your Inner Doctor
I didn’t feel good about this initial surgical consult, so I decided to seek out a second opinion from a wound care expert at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Gatos, a physician who was a friend of Dr. Ed’s, who is also a long-time meditator and spiritual seeker. Yesterday, eight days after my injury, I said the same prayer I do before each healing intervention. “I surrender this appointment to You. Make me a vessel of Thy peace.” As I drove two hours south and approached my appointment, I felt comforted, feeling calm and open in a hospital for the first time since I left working in the hospital ten years ago. Richard, who drove me there, felt the same way. Even the registrar who checked me in was laughing and hugging me. I could tell intuitively I was in good hands. My nervous system relaxed.
Dr. Julia entered the long corridor in the hospital, where I was lying on a gurney alongside many other patients in the Wound Care Center. As she approached, even before she examined my wound or opened her mouth to speak, I knew she would be a trusted part of my Healing Round Table. When she saw my wound, she told me there was no infection and the wound was healing beautifully. She debrided the wound and applied a clean dressing, explaining that she would fit me for a suction device that would draw new blood vessels into the wound and speed up wound healing. Then she said the words that left both Richard and me in tears. “I assure you that this wound will be healed in 4-6 weeks and you will not need surgery.”
I hadn’t dared to pray for such good news, but the minute she said it, I felt the truth of it. My wound will be healed in 4-6 weeks! Yeah! Thank you, Universe!
Hopefully, I’ll be able to take my mother on her bucket list trip on safari in Africa in 17 days—though that too has been surrendered to the God Box, and we are both willing to let go of attaching to the Africa trip if that’s what is aligned with Divine Will. We will see what the Universe has in store for us.
My recovery has been speedy so far, and for this, I feel tears of gratitude as I write this. The first day, I could not bear weight on my left leg at all, unable to get to the bathroom without two people holding me on each side. The second day, I could get up and down the stairs and go to the bathroom by myself. The third day, I slowly but steadily hiked by myself about ½ mile up the hill from my house to the Muir Beach Overlook where the pit bull attack occurred. As I stood there at the scene of the injury, experiencing flashbacks and feeling my heart race, a man drove up in his car, opened the passenger side door, and let his unleashed pit bull jump out onto the pavement. I flinched but stayed put. The dog ran around playfully. The man took some things out of the trunk of his car, then opened the driver’s side door, and the dog jumped in. I sighed a breath of relief. As I looked up into the sky, I saw clouds in the form of angel wings. I took a photo and felt a wash of relief.
On Day Four, Richard and I walked back to the same spot together, and a cheerful, chipper poodle sniffed my injured leg. That same day, we hiked four miles without a problem. I move slowly, because I can’t handle impact on my right foot, so I have to place my foot very deliberately, but as long as I take my time, I can do anything, even my very clumsy yoga practice.
What About YOU?
As you read the story of my healing journey, I invite you to reflect upon your own journey. Whether you’re sick or injured, depressed or anxious, in recovery from trauma or addiction, or dealing with heartbreak, the loss of a loved one, a financial struggle, problems with your kids, trouble at work, crisis in your family, or war in your country, pain and struggle are part of the human experience. How are YOU dealing with your challenges?
The Buddhists say that pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. I don’t know if I believe that. I’ve never met a perfect human, and I don’t really believe such humans exist, so I’ve also never met a human who hasn’t suffered. Maybe suffering isn’t optional. Maybe it’s part of what we sign up for the minute we take on that Original Wound of incarnation. Maybe the minute we separate ourselves from God, from each other, from nature, from our bodies, from magic—maybe in that very moment of birth, we sign up to suffer, and maybe that’s OK. Maybe if we bypass suffering, we also bypass the depth of aliveness that comes with being fully vital, fully human, milking every last drop of the human experience for all it’s worth. Frankly, I’m in it for the whole shebang. Give me the glory and the gore, but let me live ALL THE WAY. I am here to turn my life up to full volume. If that means I have to endure a canine attack, then so be it. Let’s do this thing called life!
I may not believe that suffering is avoidable, but I do believe that healing and redemption are available to every human, if only we have the courage to dive into the deep end and milk adversity for all it’s worth. I’m not suggesting that we employ the “spiritual bypass” and use our spiritual principles to avoid feeling the pain, fear, anger, frustration, and grief that accompany such traumas. By all means, feel what you feel—and feel it all the way down in your guts. I have cried my tears and screamed out in pain during this journey, and I am seeking a therapist to help me clear the trauma. Don’t skip it. Feel it. But let the energy of those painful feeling move. Then . . . even if it’s slow and awkward . . . DANCE YOUR HEART OUT!
Here’s the invitation, Dear One. Go ahead and feel victimized if that’s what you feel. Rant and cry and punch a beanbag. Feel helpless and hopeless and pessimistic if you must. Carry on and complain and rally others to share your sob story if it helps, and don’t judge yourself for doing so. Love every ounce of that adorable victim who wants to blame and shame and lash out and feel helpless. But Darling Friend, don’t get stuck in your victim story.
Here’s the invitation, should you choose to accept it. Use every painful experience to wake up, let go, and grow closer to your own soul and God. Learn what there is to learn. Get curious and inquire deeply. Grow in self-awareness and ask yourself “What do I need in order to heal?” Lean on your loved ones and allow yourself to be needy and vulnerable. Be humble and let go of thinking you can control your life. Open to the mystery. Surrender to guidance. Come into right relationship with uncertainty. Trust the invisible forces of love that surround you all the time. Allow the Original Wound of separation from the Divine to heal as the gap closes between “you” and “All That Is.” Feel the Oneness in all things and open yourself to the healing that arises when you merge your individual consciousness with the Collective Field of Consciousness Itself. Then experience the awe of unexpected miracles. Don’t forget to say the mantra. “Thank you for this gift of love.” Fake it till you make it, but don’t just say it. Feel it in your heart. Mean it all the way. See how it transforms you . . .
Prayers for Healing
Please keep me, my family, you, and everyone who is reading this in your prayers. Consider all of those who are hurting in Syria and elsewhere, all of the people all over the world who are suffering and in need of healing. Lift them up. Pray for their inner and outer peace- in your own unique way.
Limitations of the physical body are part of the human experience, and our bodies are the gorgeous vehicles through which our souls navigate this dimension, yet we are more than our bodies. We can do hard things with great love when we trust, believe, open, surrender, pray, get curious, inquire about how we participate in our traumas, find God in our pain, find gratitude when we’re scared, and hold one another in our vulnerability through our challenges.
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