Heart Dagger

 

Sternum

Consistently walking is the best thing for my healing. (10,000 steps a day most days this past week!) Another important practice for me right now is living on our screened-in porch from breakfast to past dinner — eating, reading, art-making, and doing sudoku puzzles. The weather this past week has been another amazing gift.

Planting myself in the green has allowed my energy to flow up and around my heart center. I feel joy and gratitude which flows out in my “hellos” and “good mornings” to people I encounter on my walk. Surprisingly, a few have frowned and turned their gaze down after my interaction. And I think, how crusty does a heart have to be impenetrable to this day, this velvet green? Then I remember something my teacher Todd said as I was just beginning my yoga practice. As he cued a heart opener he made an observation that these particular asanas place us in a vulnerable place — where  we aren’t protecting our heart. I try to remember to open, to give, to practice gratitude and compassion, regardless of what I encounter along the way.

Happy girl and her sternumThis is a picture of me when I was in the recovery room. I don’t remember a thing about this part of my surgery, but Tom has told me about it. First, that I insisted that he take this picture (!) Also that I told him that I could feel my sternum so many times it made him and some of the nurses chuckle. Each time the nurses would explain something to me about this feeling I was having. But after hearing this story, I think it was a habit of my mind.

Anyone who has been in my class, knows that I like to cue heart-openers with  an awareness to the sternum. Lots of us with a bit more give in our backs will focus on the curling (and usually dumping) in the spine. But if in preparation, we instead bring our awareness to the strength of the abdominals and the lift of the sternum, we lengthen the back body and our heart lifts up and out rather than down or in.

The sternum protects the heart and the lungs. It is shaped like a dagger. Its three parts– the manubrium, gladiolus and xiphoid process — are Latin words for handle, sword and “sword shaped.”  When we are young, the low tip, the xiphoid process, is soft cartilage.  By the time we are 40, this part of the sternum has ossified into bone.  Perhaps this process is a reason why someone would frown when a stranger smiles and says “morning!”  It is hard to unsheathe the dagger to expose and offer the soft heart underneath.

As I heal from bilateral mastectomy and get ready for the final phase of my reconstruction, I can’t place my body in shapes that open the heart for a while. But no matter. I can place my attention and awareness on my heart and how it shows up in the world. I can choose to remove the dagger. And so on my walks I look at someone, smile, say good morning and mean it.

6 comments

  1. Hi Meg,
    Glad you are doing OK. Have been thinking of you. Sending you lots of healing vibes from Vienna. Can’t wait for you to visit!
    Loads of love
    Jill xxx

    1. Jill, you are always with me in these strange transitions in life — like teacher training! 😂 Your sharing and hospitality as you were in the midst of moving added to my sense of “all is well.” I hope that you are settling in. Can’t wait to visit!

  2. I’ve read this over and over again. Thanks for sharing your experience, Meg. You’re shining a light on a dark place that I don’t like to think about. I’m gonna do some heart openers today, and think about the sternum. Love you, Meg. Xoxoxo

    1. Oh, dear Jenny! Thank you so much for your practice. Yes! Think on the sternum! Solid (and weird) piece of our anatomy. Our practice also prepares us for those dark places. So good on you for stepping on the mat today. I’m living vicariously and I love you too!

  3. I LOVE this!!

    On Sun, Sep 1, 2019 at 11:08 AM lostandfoundyoga wrote:

    > Meg Artley posted: ” Consistently walking is the best thing for my > healing. (10,000 steps a day most days this past week!) Another important > practice for me right now is living on our screened-in porch from breakfast > to past dinner — eating, reading, art-making, an” >

  4. I loved this! Right after I read it on Sunday morning, I took the dogs for a walk. A kid on his bike was whizzing by us when he yelled a great big, “Good morning!” Made me smile 😊

    Sending lots of love ❤️ xoxo Erin

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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