Am I a shape shifter now?

I never expected to be able to reshape my body the way my characters Zane and Nell do. I’m not planning on sneaking into executive offices after morphing myself into an indistinguishable cleaning lady and I’m even more unlikely to stop a killer his in tracks by taking on the appearance of his latest victim.

shutterstock_33520513However, I’m discovering a mental sort of shape shifting and it has its uses. As I see my extended limbs become glowing rivers of light that stretch for miles out into space, the kinks in my back evaporate with the image. I have an excellent yoga studio to thank for this. I relax my muscles, my brain and even my soul as I become a happy baby or a resting child. I can be a tree, a cobra or a pigeon as I improve my balance and my flexibility.

I might not take to all this so easily if I hadn’t been lucky enough to find an excellent qigong instructor a couple of years ago. He has a knack for taking a secretive and sometimes indistinct discipline and making it come alive to twenty-first century Americans. My whole sense of balance changed when he shared the concept of “bottom heavy, top light”. My brain now sees my rooted foot or feet as made of iron, or as being a strong plant with roots that twine deeply into the earth. My reaching arms become gossamer wings, lighter than air as they stretch into the heavens.

Psychedelic 15You might think this is just a mental game, until you watch me change a light bulb. I mean a real light bulb, in my real living room. Or watch me paint the top of the wall next to the molding. “Wow,” my husband remarked. “Has your sense of balance improved. How did you reach that?”

Do you have any idea how much easier it is to do yard work when you can lower into an easy squat and stay there till the task is done? I’m not doing yard work, of course. I’m a Hungarian archer riding a wild horse, thanks to the qigong exercise called “riding a wild horse”.  I admit that the shape-shifting is entirely in my mind. The resulting physical prowess is entirely real.

Have I turned into a shape-shifter? Or should I keep trying?

(For more about my recent adventures, metaphysical and otherwise, see my posts Wise and Quiet, If You’re Going to be an Old Car and Greener Grass.)

How things change: the eye of the beholder

Visit psychsearch.net

Visit psychsearch.net

When I graduated from high school, apparently  homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used by psychiatrists to diagnose mental conditions. I didn’t know it at the time, of course, because to the best of my knowledge there weren’t any homosexuals in my home town and there possibly weren’t even any in the whole state of Kansas.  It was a rare condition, my mother assured me.

Unbeknownst to me, there were also gay activists in 1974, and they pushed the American Psychiatric Association to remove it from the DSM. It was removed, and since then a lot a of new illnesses have been added. As edition five came out this spring, psychiatrists took a lot of grief for classing so many types of behavior as “illnesses.” For example, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder threatens to turn children with too many temper tantrums into those with a mental disorder and binge eating (defined as excessive eating 12 times in 3 months and I wonder if my ice cream habit puts me over the top here) is now an official mental illness.

On the one hand, classification as an illness does allow those who want help to get their insurance to pay for it, if they have insurance 🙂 . On the other hand, having your idiosyncrasies or your own areas for personal growth classed as a mental disorder could be life altering in negative ways as well.

So what of homosexuality as a form of mental illness? Well, a few months ago Saul Levin, an openly gay man, was named the  new American Psychiatric Association chief executive officer and medical director.

Things do change with time. In the case of Dr. Levin, I’m glad that they have and I wish him the best. In the case of the new mental illness referred to as “hoarding disorder” …… well, I prefer to still consider it one my more charming little eccentricities.

For more on how things change with time, visit my z2 blog here for thoughts on human trafficking and Broadway musicals. Also visit my x0 blog here for thoughts on veggie burgers, humor and empathy.