This the story of a man named Jeff and his bird, Freedom. Ten years ago, a badly maimed baby eagle came to Jeff. She could not stand or fly. Both wings were broken, and even after surgery her left wing didn’t operate or open fully. Despite her emaciation and injuries, Jeff made the choice to offer her a chance at life. She took it.
After weeks of tube-feeding she still could not stand and talk circled about euthanizing her if she couldn’t stand by the week’s end. Jeff put her in a large dog carrier and took her everywhere, talking to her, urging her to fight for life. All she could do was stare up at him with ‘those big brown eyes,’ sending silent messages.
On the Thursday before the last Friday, he went to her cage, and there she was, standing, at long last….a large and beautiful eagle. Named for what she was not ever going to experience under ordinary circumstances, he trained her to the glove, and then to jesses. Freedom became the star of education programs for schools in western Washington, ultimately finding herself in print, on radio and TV.
In 2000 it was Jeff’s turn for a bad year. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, stage 3. He did eight months of chemotherapy, loosing hair, strength, and most of that year. When he did feel strong enough He took Freedom for walks. She began to appear in his dreams and he knew she was helping him fight the cancer.
The day after Thanksgiving, Jeff went in for his last check up, on a wing and a prayer. His results were ‘freedom from the cancer.’ To celebrate, he took Freedom out for their walk. When they stopped, he looked at her and knew she knew. She wrapped both wings around him, pressing them into his back. Then she touched his nose with her beak and stared into his eyes. They remained together like that for long magic moments.
There are many wonderous aspects to this story, not the least of which are our ideas of freedom, and always, the magical heart-space connecting humans to the animal kingdom. May we think of that precious kingdom this July 4th, as our planet shrinks, and they lose their habitats. May we honor the original ancestors of America, who left no footprints on this land. We have the freedom to be as powerful as…Freedom, and heal what ails us.
Asana: Eka Pada Galavasana. This is a pose where we are tethered to the earth but lift off and ‘fly high’ through our power to hold the center. You can come at this from a standing position, or a tripod headstand/Salamba Sirsasana. From the headstand begin with the feet in a down dog position, pull R leg in and place R foot across the upper arms at the base of L thigh, resting R foot on back of upper L arm. Rest R knee on back of upper R arm. Stretch L leg straight, keeping it parallel to floor. Exhale and lift torso up. Take 5-10 breaths, and return head to floor and lift legs into head stand. Repeat on other side. You can also enter this pose from a standing position by bringing the arms down in a parallel side by side position, placing the elbows under the R knee and ankle. Continue over & down, placing hands on the floor by bending the L knee. Once in place, lift the R leg off the floor, and feel yourself tethered but ‘flying.’
Health Notes: This pose is good for abdominal muscles, as well as internal organs. It strengthens wrists, and neck, and as always, being up side down, or sideways, is an opportunity to change our POV.