Day Twenty

Day Twenty: Savannah Bukant (Kenmore, WA)

Tolle totem

I am a second year student of Naturopathic Medicine, studying at Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. Life is medical school; my life is naturopathic philosophy and biochemistry and the human body; life is learning physical exams and clinical diagnoses and nervously drawing blood, while simultaneously learning of the power of herbal medicine and concocting teas and tinctures. This journey to becoming a physician is exhilarating, taxing and demanding. Most days my mind is completely overwhelmed by the volume of information professors expect us to retain, never mind even venturing into ever-frequent feelings of inadequacy or loneliness that arise because I’m a single human being and I’m embarking on a challenging journey. And yet, despite the stress, each day I wake up free to pursue my dream. What an incredible gift. Sometimes I find myself standing outside on campus, watching the sun rise in the middle of this magical little forest in which I live and learn, speechless. Unable to comprehend the beautiful reality that I’m actively living my dream; one day very soon I will be a doctor, possess adequate skills and tools with which to care for people through their own journeys on this earth. I cannot imagine my life looking any other way. I can’t imagine journeying into any profession other than naturopathic medicine. God has called me and I’ve responded with inspiration and passion.

The practice of Naturopathic Medicine is founded, among other theories and models, on six philosophical principles. My favorite of these principles is Tolle totem: treat the whole. Treat the whole person. Treat the entire system. Don’t treat the symptom in isolation; understand the imbalance in the context of the human being. And understand the human being in the context of the larger community. Treat the broken bone and the wounded heart. Address the congested liver and  the stuck anger. Find the root of the depression biochemically and spiritually and socially. Treat the entirety of the person. Humans are not only bodies and humans are not only souls. Your body is your soul, and your soul your body.  When mind, body and spirit are in union, the human can thrive and grow and love to full, divinely-designed potential. Enter imbalance and disconnection, enter dis-ease. I see in humans today a gaping, heartbreaking disconnect between body and spirit. Our physical body is the most tangible, most present-moment expression of our souls. What a miraculous gift of form, the human body. The home to our sensations, our thoughts and feelings, our emotional responses, our creativity. I look into the vast valley of tired, dry bones, and I see potential. I envision fullness, power. I long to inspire a Breath that brings new union to body and soul. I believe I am called to breathe life into dry bones – into my own and others – powered by Breath itself.

And I realize that too many women around the world live disembodied, disempowered and dis-eased because their own rights to embodiment have been stolen. Tolle totem – treat the whole: Without rights to her own physical body, or without space to use her mind with creativity and emotion, or without opportunity to pursue whatever lights up her spirit, a woman is restrained from living wholly. I am free to nourish each of these pieces of myself, daily, when I choose to do so.  An enslaved woman may not experience any of these three fundamental pieces of a full life. Treat the whole: our human community cannot thrive to full potential when members of the community are enslaved and oppressed. For the whole of humanity to shine, all parts must be well.  I’m very, very insulated from the reality of modern day slavery and sex trafficking.  So to participate in Dressember brings conscious awareness to the fact that no, not every woman lives a safe and autonomous life, and yes, many, many women and children are living in slavery, right now. Today. Wow. It doesn’t seem real until you consciously picture a single woman living in fear and captivity. I wake up each morning to a day full of potential, vision-making and learning, free from the terrifying thought that my body may not be my own today. I take this freedom for granted.

So, what’s in a dress? A daily reminder that freedom is to be cherished, that not every woman lives an abundant life, and not every woman has the chance to freely pursue her dreams. And on the few days I’ve not worn a dress this month, for whatever the reason may have been, I am drawn into humble gratitude for the freedom to simply choose my clothing. I am free to choose a dress every day, and choose a dress in honor of the women who cannot. I am reminded to send prayer and energy to the precious women for whom it is terrifyingly painful to bring unity to body + soul.  I am reminded to encourage friends and family to shop ethically and think before buying. I am reminded that each singular drop creates everlasting outward ripples. I am still far from understanding the reality of slavery, but I am connected to these women in spirit, and pray they are receiving renewed Breath in their bones.

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