In conjunction with my graduate school studies I provided a bedside yoga therapy session as a clinical intern at Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) in Maryland yesterday. My first in a hospital. Untethered. Left alone to help another human who was in the midst of some next level suffering. Big stuff.
Thrust into an acute inpatient clinic I was planning to sit in as an observer of a yoga therapy session for my virgin experience. As you can imagine I was hesitant to jump right in as it was something new for me, and it was a hospital, and those aren't typically fun places, and these are real people with real not so good shit happening in their lives, and I have not so fond memories of my three week stay in Tripler Army Hospital in Hawaii after being seriously burned 20 years ago. In HCGH nobody (except for my ride or die MUIH yoga therapy crew) had a smile on their face.
Setting the scene I was on campus in the morning and had a session with a client that went super well. Not having a scheduled session in the afternoon I decided it was time to head over to the hospital where roughly eight of my fellow students were since 10am. So when I arrived at the hospital at 2:30 p.m. I found a seat at the break room table next to my yoga therapy crew and said not much. I wanted to observe what was going on, what the general vibe of the place was and to get my bearings. I learned many of the patients didn’t want yoga therapy and my first instinct was “What?! Who doesn’t want to feel better? I mean, you’re in a hospital, you need this shit. I need to go talk with them and make this right.” And guess what folks, you reading this who are outside of the hospital probably need this shit. Let me go out there on a limb and say you definitely need this shit. Feeling me yet?
So one of my fellow students and dear friends says. “Jeff, there is this guy who I think you’d be a great fit for. None of us have gone in there yet, but we thought you’d be great with him.” It was then I started to feel pressure from the clinic supervisor that I needed to get in there with this guy. After a few minutes of deliberation about wanting to first be an observer of a session before being a primary I was like “Screw it, let’s do this. I’m here, I’m good at this, let’s see what happens.” So I grabbed my clipboard and headed down to his room… knocked on the door and introduced myself with a smile. “Hi, I’m Jeff, a yoga therapist and would love a few minutes with you.” He nodded and granted me entry to the room. He was sitting on a little sofa by the window, the sun was shining and there were beautiful green trees outside. It was a gorgeous day in Maryland.
I walked over, humbled by the whole experience. Poor guy sitting there in his hospital gown holding a crappy styrofoam bowl of “some kind of yellow” soup with a plastic spoon. Dude had been in there a couple of days and was experiencing an extremely painful condition. He was on a Deluded IV, but still in a lot of pain. He’d slept 3 hours in the last two days and was feeling quite a bit of anxiety about his health and life in general. So we chatted for a few minutes and I asked him if he would like some yoga. He said he’d love it. Bam, I was in.
I helped him into his bed and put a pillow (makeshift bolster) under his lower spine for support. He hated that bed, and I can’t blame him. The damn thing inflated and deflated on its’ own every couple of minutes.
Over the next 20 or so minutes I led him through a practice with breath, visualization, mudra, and intention that - according this him - blew his mind. When it was over he opened his eyes and said “Wow, that was awesome, you are really good! For a while there I felt no pain. Why don’t I do this more often?” I smiled and started to choke up a little bit with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude of being thankful to be able to help another human in this way. I shed a bit of a tear now just writing about it. Every time I jump in there I’m reminded this work I’m doing is so needed. Who wants some? Who want’s to help me keep expanding? Who wants to expand themselves? #onelove