On one Saturday morning in the Summer of 2016 in Helsinki, I woke up with an excruciating pain on my left chest and a partial lost of movement on my left arm. The crippling pain was soon followed by a high fever which was a sign of infection. Long story short, I was diagnosed with a septic infection on my left pectoral muscle, which can only be treated through surgery involving a partial removal of the necrotic muscle tissues.
3 weeks and 4 surgeries later, I was released from the hospital feeling like a completely new person. A little lost and slightly confused with so much antibiotics, pain killers and other medication, weaker than I have ever been with limited movement on my left arm and no ability to practice both asana and pranayama. There was time when I could not recognized my life anymore and somehow was lost of what to do with myself. The routine which I have built for many years, the familiar morning practices and the security of knowing what to do every single day has somehow vanished into the thin air, being replaced by constant struggle to wake up every morning with a clear head while trying to gain some sense of belongin inside a somewhat foreign body.
My Teacher, Tiwariji told me to stop all pranayama practice while I was in the hospital and during recovery. After 2 weeks of being released from the hospital I started to beg him to give me something. A practice that will give me back my sense of normality and a connection to my old self. After a long and impatient wait, he gave me something in October. Basic baby steps, but I was very happy. I remembered smiling from ear to ear while reading his email which has my new practice prescription (complete with a note “you should be more patient!”). I felt that at the very least there is a little bit of my life that is making a come back. It really was not easy to adjust to the new practice, no matter how simple it is. It took time to regain the lung capacity, to inhale nicely and to do all the breath retention properly. But slowly everything comes together. With constant practice and perseverance, I could feel my chest and lungs opening, my muscle softening and the mind letting go of its struggles. Tiwariji said that the greatest lesson I need to learn is to be patient. To surrender and let life take its course, even when it is not the course that you want it to be. To use this opportunity to reflect and to learn more about the meaning of surrender and patience. To have trust that everything will be ok.
There are many things that went through one’s mind when she had so much time alone, especially during the first 2 months after being released from the hospital. The feeling of loneliness, frustration, anger, sadness, inability to fully accept the situation and the mourning of the “old” life that suddenly seemed so far away. It is a battlefield of its own. But I have learned to deal with it. Maybe not really over it yet, but I think those negativity has slowly melted away as things are slowly returning back to normal. Like rays of light that slowly comes back to the long dark tunnel.
After a few months and countless sessions of physiotherapy, I felt ready to go back to Asana, and to at least do something simple to awaken those dormant muscle which are so longing to be stretched and moved. It was another struggle to go back to the yoga mat with the new body. Many times it felt like my mind was going faster than my body, and the body was struggling to catch up to where the mind wants it to be. My once flexible body felt like a piece of log, while the left arm was so weak that holding a simple plank pose for too long will make it shake uncontrollably. For many weeks during those early days, I become so familiar with a simple child pose. There is nothing that felt better than being in the child pose while feeling the pulsation of the muscles which are trying so hard to wake up and be fully alive.
It has now been 6 months since the day I was released from the hospital and things are somewhat back to normal, at least as normal as it can be. I am still working on improving my asana practice while making some adjustment to my own expectation ( even though I am not supposed to expect anything ^_^ ), and to continue working on my baby steps with my Pranayama practice. Somehow I am happy with what I have now. It maybe a far cry from what I used to have and was able to do, but to me it has been an achievement. I felt lucky that regardless of what I have been through, I still have my Teacher, my practice, a loving partner and a supportive family. They have been the stars in the darkest of my night and the shining jewels of my broken heart.
I will be flying to India to see my Teacher this weekend, and back to Jakarta next month. I waited for a long time to travel because somehow, for a strange reason I could not explain, I was not ready. This dark and cold Nordic Country, and Juha ( my partner ), were the only eyewitness to my pain and recovery, and somehow it gives me comfort and security to be here, knowing that they know the reality of my struggles and the new me, embracing the whole thing with so much love, warmth and acceptance. They helped me to rediscover myself, to rebuild my life and to get to know myself again. They hug me during those tearful sleepless nights when I felt that my world was collapsing around me. It took awhile for me to feel that I am ready to go back to Jakarta after having built a new life here in Helsinki during my recovery. To face the old life I had and to make peace with whatever I left behind. To have the courage to be myself again.
I look forward to the day when I can truly feel like I used to be before the surgeries. But for now, I think that I am doing well. I even feel that maybe this whole episode of my life is exactly what I need to grow up, to truly learn the meaning of struggles and survival, and to embrace the whole experience with acceptance, love and surrender. I trust that everything will come back as they need to and if they choose to stay away, it means that I will have a space for something new. Something that will be just right for the new ( and improved! ) me. That I would be given all the love and support I need to make peace with the past and to go forward with an open mindset and blossoming heart.
I believe that with acceptance, you will find love. And with love, you will rediscover yourself.
In loving gratitude,
Helsinki, 27 February 2017