How Yoga Saved My Life
In the next year I went through two more surgeries: one to take the screws out near my knee, which then allowed the bone to shift down toward the break, an excruciating event that happened in one sudden movement when I stood up, and another surgery to replace the titanium rod with a larger one that would stimulate growth. My doctor warned that the first rod was nearing failure, and if it broke my healing would again be in jeopardy.
But even after the surgeries, there was little evidence of growth, despite the fact that I was doing all I thought I could for my healing. Bone-graft surgery was scheduled; they would take marrow from my hip and put it on the break. Even my usually stoic surgeon said it was a painful process.
The prospect was depressing. I continued with my yoga, which led me to the healing meditation practice of Sat Nam Rasayan, which is where another practitioner meditates on your problem with you. During one session Hargo Pal Kaur Khalsa, one of America's few expert practitioners of Sat Nam Rasayan, told me to release an intention into the universe. As I lay in Corpse Pose, what looped through my mind was the image of Michelangelo's creation painting, where God and Adam stretch to touch fingertip to fingertip.
Some weeks later Hargo Pal and Gurmukh took me to see Guru Dev Singh, renowned in the Sikh community for his mastery of Sat Nam Rasayan. I don't remember much of the day, since I was stretched out in a kind of twilight that is not quite sleep and not quite meditation. If a room can be dense with mental energy, this one was, with 50 people sitting or lying down, quiet as stones.
At a break I was introduced to Guru Dev, whom I expected to ask me about my leg. He didn't. He just wanted to know about my horse. I told him Harley had been a racehorse bound for slaughter when he was rescued by a woman who gave him to me. I made a flip comment about me saving him because broken-down racehorses don't have much value.
Guru Dev stopped me. "No," he said, "you did not save him. He saved you. He is your guru. You know what is 'guru?' Guru means that which brings you from darkness into the light."
My pre-op appointment came a few days before the bone-graft surgery. It was just a routine check; I'd had x-rays less than a month before, but my surgeon, who is a careful record keeper, ordered some anyway. When the film came back, he stood for several minutes looking at the pictures against a lighted screen.
"Well?" I finally said. "Anything you want to share with the class?"
"Huh," he said, still looking at the film. "Huh."
I got up and stood beside him. He pointed to my bone. There, in the gap that had remained vacant all this time, was the fuzzy image of something. From each end of the bone came a cloudy white form that peaked stretching out to points that touched at the tip. Michelangelo. I let out a hoot, and would have jumped up and down if I could have.
"Pretty good," agreed my surgeon with his usual reserve. The surgery was canceled, and I went home with very precise instructions from my doctor: "Whatever you're doing, keep doing it."