This morning, I went out for a walk. I walked down my street, past the rows of apartment buildings until I came to a secret place where I passed through the fence into an old cemetery. The grass and trees were damp with yesterday’s rain. Tree branches hung down and joined together, creating a forest green canopy that colored the air.
Air. Moist air. I know now—and I knew before—that this is the essence of life. I had a dream when I was seventeen that wasn’t a dream. I passed over into a forest place where colors over-spilled their boundaries, overlapped and blended, like watercolors. They were water colors. The air was liquid. I breathed the air and the air breathed me. The air was light and joy and consciousness. It guided my footfalls on the forest path toward a sanctuary hidden deep in the woods. I came upon the sanctuary by first immersing myself in a lake and passing through the depths of the water.
I lived on a river when I was twenty-five. Sitting on the banks of the Stillwater, the knowledge grew in me that a river is a metaphor for spirit. Water gives life, and the life of the spirit requires movement. Spirit life compels that something always be in movement—anger, pain, sorrow. Even joy and love. These have to be in movement. Otherwise they stagnate, like leaves caught on river rocks.
Breathing is like the movement of a river and the movement of spirit. By the Stillwater, I often thought of how breathing is the way that we live in communion with Spirit.
Thirty years after the river house, I was given another lesson in life’s essence. This time the Teacher was Loss and Pain. The inner organ of my nose—called the turbinates—was partially removed by an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat doctor), for no medical reason. I had gone to see him about tinnitus, or ear ringing. The surgery resulted in a condition called Empty Nose Syndrome or ENS. The un-board-certified ENT performed an obsolete surgery called A Caldwell-Luc that also damaged my mucous membranes. The result of this unfortunate surgery was a miserably dry nose and difficulty breathing.
The lights dimmed down on life. This is an effect noted by many people damaged by turbinate surgery: http://guest.6.forumer.com/viewtopic.php?t=3118.
A closer look at turbinates provides insight into their physical dynamics:
“The Turbinates heat and humidify the inhaled air close to body temperature and up to 99% of humidity (respectively), and provide 50% of the respiratory system’s resistance, crucial for the correct amount of expansion of lungs (the lung-nose reflex), by narrowing the nasal airway cavities to the right amount of air needed by the lungs – according to different physiologic needs, and changes surrounding climatic conditions. The Turbinates also ensure that the air current through the nose will flow in a smooth and regular pattern, gently curving itself round the contours of the erectable mucosal tissues. This is known as Laminar Airflow pattern.” http://www.emptynosesyndrome.org/respir.html
Thus, the inner organ of the nose is a form which follows the function of breathing Life into the body. Moisturizing is a part of this function, as is providing the sensation of breathing through resistance and proper lung expansion.
What is missing from modern—or Western—medicine is Wisdom. Wisdom comes from learning from, and paying respect to that which is a higher Wisdom than our own. A higher Wisdom than our own created this world, this body, these turbinates. In my case–these turbinates which no longer facilitate communion between body and spirit in the way they were designed to do. Which no longer support the health of my body in the way they were intended. Because of the foolishness—and greed–of modern medicine. Medicine that laughs in the face of Wisdom is the greatest arrogance imaginable.
There are good doctors who have been trained in the schools of Western medicine. I believe they are good doctors because wisdom and respect are part of their characters. In terms of surgery, good doctors may refer to themselves as “conservative doctors.” They don’t do surgery unless it’s necessary. They do minimally invasive surgeries. They respect the integrity of the human body.
True healers understand the hidden nature of creation. They rely on the Wisdom of ancient cultures. ” In many ancient cultures breathing and the link of breath to spirit was well known and utilized, but in our modern times, such notions are laughed at as being outdated, arcane and foolish. Sure, they know that we need breath to stay alive via the constant exchange of gases oxygen and carbon-dioxide, but what modern science and medicine in particular does not acknowledge is there is far more to breathing then just a lot of hot air.” http://www.naturalhealthontheweb.com/breathing/therapy.html
As I walked back from the cemetery this morning, I practiced breathing with my mouth closed, breathing deeply and working to expand my lungs. These formerly natural activities are difficult exercises now. Thankfully, I have the knowledge of yogic breathing, which I have been practicing for thirty years, to help me. Just ten or so minutes a day of deep breathing helps to counteract the breathlessness.
As I walked, I imagined a world where crimes against nature are no longer committed in the name of modern medicine.