My heart was pounding, my breath was heavy, I could no longer continue on and so, I collapsed on the side of the mountain. I couldn’t believe I was so wrecked.
I was at a healing retreat in Woodstock, NY, on a morning hike with my teacher, Dr. Lewis Mehl- Madrona. We were a small group of 5. All was well as we started up the road to the monastery. I kept pace, thinking it would eventually slow a little but it didn’t — the pace increased and so did the incline of the road. After about 35 minutes I started to have difficulty keeping up and watched in amazement as Lewis seemed to mysteriously glide up the mountain road with such ease and grace while he was puffing on his cigar.
I lost ground quickly and was literally left behind in a puff of smoke. He and the others looked back when they could no longer hear the dragging of my exhausted feet and my Darth Vader-like breathing. I smiled and waved stoically, as I uttered “I’m just going to sit here for a while on this rock, I’ll catch you guys on the way back.” Well in my mind that’s what I said, but in reality it was probably more like “Rock, wait, here, ugh”
When they were out of sight, I rolled off the rock with a loud thud, in complete and utter defeat. I looked up at the sky that seemed about 2 seconds away from opening up and pouring down on me, I was feeling completely inadequate and disappointed in myself and if I had the strength, I would have kicked myself!
The sounds of rustling leaves and snapping twigs quickly shook me out of self pity mode. I suddenly remembered the huge bear population in Woodstock, and my friend, Stefanie telling me earlier, that if you see a bear that is “your medicine;” the bear is there to give you a message. I thought how nice, but what if the bear didn’t get the memo and he was thinking more along the lines of me being breakfast or lunch?
That thought jolted me to my feet, but my fear had me quietly tip-toeing back to the road. As I was doing my lone walk of shame up the mountain to the monastery, Tony Robbins popped into my head. I could hear him saying “don’t compare yourself to others, just compare yourself to you, yesterday.” Just then a light rain began to fall.
As I started to think about yesterday, I remembered it was not that long ago that I had Lupus symptoms so badly that I could not even get out of bed, and when I did it was hours of stretches, supplements and heating pads just to get my joints and muscles moving. Having only 3 hours of energy a day and no strength, I had to give up everything I loved: my work as a sculptor, yoga, martial arts and weightlifting, and my ribs used to hurt so much that I could no longer do my favorite breath of fire exercise. When I was getting stronger I tried to do Tai Chi and was told by my teacher that I had no chi! But still, I never gave up!
As I reflected back on this I realized this was not a walk of shame like I originally proclaimed it to be. Rather, it was a symbol of how far I have come, how much I have healed. I think I needed to celebrate that! Thinking of myself in this new light — not as a failure but as a victor — my heart lightened, my chest lifted and my energy came back. I continued on and made it to the monastery. My group was no longer there and I searched the grounds that seemed to be deserted.
I rounded the corner of the building, and about 100 feet away from me, I spotted a bear coming down the side of the mountain. I stopped and stared at him, he stopped and stared back. This time I was not afraid; I was ready for a message.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but he seemed ready too. As I was staring and asking if he had a message for me, he stood up and lifted up his right paw, and I lifted my hand up as if I was high-fiving my best buddy. I felt as if the bear was acknowledging me for how far I have come and was encouraging me to continue on.
Sounds silly and crazy I know, but I think that bear was proud of me, and more importantly, that day I discovered I was proud of myself!
Susan Finley is on a mission to help you discover your own natural healing and intuitive abilities as well as techniques to help you reduce stress and radiate happiness from within. Susan holds degrees in Art Education, Sound Therapy and is a PEMF Specialist (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy). She is an avid researcher and specializes in VibroAcoustic, PEMF and Scalar Energy Therapies for pain, anxiety, depression and sleep issues. She holds classes & workshops online and in person at her office as well as weekend retreats on sound therapy, mindset and self healing.