My asthma has not been this severe since 2003, when my body went into a delayed state of inflammation 2 years after my mother died. Anyone less stubborn than me would have checked themselves into a hospital and gone on steroids. Lucky for me (or stupidly) I am too imbued with the Korean spirit of “화이팅!” to give in to big pharma. I know from experience that short term solutions often exacerbate conditions and create long term harm.
I also trust my body enough to know that eliminating current symptoms is not addressing deeper soul issues that my body is communicating to me. So almost nightly I have been breathing my way through wheezing episodes using a mix of Buteyko methods, pranayama, asana, and acupressure points. I have cut out gluten, sugar, and cow’s milk from my diet, I’ve been spending more time in Sirsasana and Sarvangasana, and everything else I can think of.
One night, unable to sleep because of spasming bronchioles, wondering if I had left any stone unturned, I did an internet search on “cure asthma.” One story caught my eye. The writer described going to a kinesiologist who told them the asthma was unprocessed grief from losing their father as an infant. The kinesiologist moved the energy around, the client went home and cried for 3 hours. After this cleansing, they experienced a total cure from asthma.
As soon as I read this post, I felt like crying. So as not to wake or disturb my sleeping roommate, I went into the bathroom, often the best place to cry, and the tears came quickly. What brought on the tears? One grief leads to another. I thought about my aging mentor on their deathbed, I thought about BKS Iyengar whose death came at a time when I did not have the space to fully grieve. Images and memories of my mother and father arose. I pictured myself as an infant separated from my family. I thought about the Korean movie I had recently seen in which families were divided by emerging superpowers, where sons were pitted against each other. I cried over the 300 children killed in the Sewol ferry catastrophe, and their grieving parents. So much to cry about.
After several minutes I realized my breathing had returned to normal, and that the act of crying had shifted the inflammation in my lungs to my eyes and nose, both profusely watering, and that my lungs had become quiet. I went to bed and slept deeply.
In previous posts, I’ve described the strong emotions that come up for me each day here in Korea. I realized I have not been giving myself enough time to really feel what I feel. Thus I have begun a conscious practice of daily “crying meditation.” I make the time once a day or more to cry for at least 5 minutes. I close the windows so my neighbors don’t worry about me. I choose a time when I am alone, because when I am engaged with others, I am usually more interested in our conversation and our sharing rather than sitting in my sadness, personal and collective.
Once I settle into the feeling of grief, the tears come, sometimes quickly, and other times with reluctance. “Laughter yoga” is popular these days, but maybe we also need a yoga of crying. Like laughing yoga, I sometimes have to “fake it” at first, going through the motions of crying in a way that feels like acting, but within a minute the actor’s tears become sincere tears. I cry for myself, I cry for my family and friends, I cry for the two nations I belong to. I cry for generations. I channel the grief of Mother Earth, the stars exploding and being created anew.
As I cry, the inflammation moves upward and outward, my heart center becomes brighter and clearer. I am “화이팅!” and I am healing.