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Healing Camp Day 1: Introduction to the Concept

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The concept of agriturismo is fantastic and is about young people coming to exotic places (Tuscany, for example) and working on organic farms in exchange for room and board.   I wish I had done this when I was young.   I wish my son would do it.  


So here we are.   I have explained the concept.   Now what happens?


We begin with a talking circle in which each participant gets to speak for as long as he or she wants to speak.   We pass a stick around the circle.   Whoever controls the stick controls the conversation.   When you have the stick, you may speak for as long as you wish.   When you are done, you pass the stick to your left and that person speaks for as long as he or she wishes.   The stick continues around the circle until everyone is done speaking.   In this way, everyone can be heard.


I have learned some things about Tuscany!   There are lots of flies!   There are "noseeums", who bite you and you can't see "em.   I have yet to see a mosquito, but I have bites up and down my legs and arms that won't quit.   Apparently, Tuscany, like many other places, is bug infested.   Bugs can make you miserable, but suffering is part of life.   Oh, well.  


We did a talking circle and everyone present spoke about what they wanted to accomplish, both in the way of learning about healing and in the way of being healing.   I will begin with one of our male members, a man whose symptoms started 5 years previously, after the woman whom he believed was the love of his life, left him. He suffered from chronic low back and neck pain.   He told us how he likes to be really busy and is crushed if he has time on his hands.   He talked about how he used to love to go hiking and hiked the Grand Canyon before he got really sick.   This was a very interesting trip.   He did the trip with his dad who, paradoxically, was about to be diagnosed with end-stage emphysema, but who also knew how to push past obstacles and go the distance, no matter what.  


We will call this man Adam.   Adam had been ill for some years before this eventful hike, but everyone ignored him.   Even he ignored himself.   His father ignored Adam and himself.   The theme of the family appeared to be to ignore illness until the last possible moment.   His father had been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and was ignoring that.   He was supposed to be receiving intensive treatment, but instead, he chose to hike down the Grand Canyon.   Admirable, I suppose.   Or is it?  


By the end of the hike, dad would be on a ventilator in an intensive care unit.   The drama would meet its maximum.   Two years ago, Adam had taken another vacation with his dad who had coughed the entire trip.   He had gone to the local ER and had been diagnosed with pneumonia and had been out of work for one month.   Still Adam, had not responded.   He continued his life of staying busy and, when he wasn't busy, watching television.   He watched action films, science fiction, and anything related to the Brothers Graimm.   Some of his favorite movies and shows included "Behind Enemy Lines", "In Plain Sight", and "Fringe".   Adam liked "behind Enemy Lines" because he identified with the character who had to endure physical and emotional adversity but was quite strong anyway.   He identified with Mary, the Marshall, on "In Plain Sight", with blonde Agent Dunham on Fringe, who was cynical, tough, and disbelieving.   Adam's motto was "ignore the obvious and soldier on."   "It's there, ignore it, and move on."   Above all, everything should be hidden from his dad, whom he perceived to be judgmental and controlling.   Adam suffered from chronic low back and neck pain.   Would this change during Healing Camp?   Was there room for transformation?   We would see by the end of the week.


More tomorrow on Day 2 of Healing Camp!

Also, we'll be doing Cherokee Bodywork (CE credits available for massage therapists!) in Hartford, CT, the weekend of 17 August.  For details, see http://sukhasala.com/workshops-events/#madrona. ; Event is by suggested donation and no one will be turned away.

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Lewis Mehl-Madrona graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine and completed residencies in family medicine and in psychiatry at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, Coyote Wisdom, and (more...)

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