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Nancy Goodman
A maverick Jew living in the Wild West

It’s time for some self-care, my people

Meditation walking spiral (courtesy)

I don’t know about y’all, but I don’t live anywhere near Israel and I’m feeling this terrible collective experience heavily in my soul and body. It breaks my imagination thinking of those in Israel, enduring this strain for survival and sanity.

But enough terrible for one minute. We have to breathe. And we have to breathe again.

Recently I’ve been seeing a physical therapist for a stabby pain that won’t quit in the muscles under my shoulder blade. This is one of the “Bermuda Triangle” spots between my neck and shoulders where my stress generally likes to live. I can usually take care of that stiletto heal digging into my back with all the stretching I’ve learned, but it’s not working well this time. So I’m pulling rubber bands and getting zapped with electricity while my daily life goes on.

Last week, I sat in the passenger seat of my car and realized my other shoulder touched the back of the seat, but my hurt shoulder did not.

I’m a fan of many mind-body theories and have long contemplated the relationship between my state of mind, and what I experience in my body. I have learned a lot from the eastern-oriented massage therapists, chiropractors, and naturopaths who have tracked my body over the years.

So in that moment in the car, In my own imagination, I interpreted that slight tilt forward of my shoulder as being in a subconscious defensive, protective stance. That shoulder is flung forward to protect; as if my arm is wearing a heavy, metal shield. And it’s true; I have been wearing a heavy shield to protect myself and my people, every single day, since October 7.

Sure enough, as I now start to gently tease that shoulder back to where it belongs, my upper back is a party of weird pain and sensations from my spine to my fingertips. I need to put that psychological shield down for a second and take a break. Lay flat on the very hard ground and look up to the sky, as my body demands.

Jews, Judaism and Israel will persevere. We are here.

In the center of even the worst, most dangerous hurricane, there is a place of calm. It’s been hard for me the last four months to find that place of calm inside me. The calm where there isn’t fighting, arguing, defending, anger, or worry. Where there is just me and my small bag of simple truths about my cultural history and experience, mixed in with all the other treasures in my life.

It’s important for me to spend some time in this calm, restful place so I can reboot and recharge, and it’s important for you as well. I wish I could make everyone listen to me and return the hostages, end this war, and end antisemitism with my thoughts, but I can’t. It’s beyond my individual control. But I can at least hydrate, unplug for a minute, look at the sky, and catch up on my deep breathing until I feel more balanced.

Our physical and psychological shields and swords weigh heavy in the daily fight to justify our tiny existence right now. Whatever it is that soothes your individual soul from wherever you are, please take the time now, if you haven’t yet, to claim some time with it.

About the Author
A Chicagoland native, Nancy is a licensed counselor and writer living in her own private Idaho. There is something about the arid summers and making latkes in the potato state that connects Nancy to her Jewish roots. She believes Jehovah forgives Jews who don't attend services or keep kosher, if they stand for Israel.
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