Robert Augustus Masters

Welcome to the personal blog of Robert Augustus Masters.

Blood Pressure Plus

  • May 25, 2015
  • Blog
  • No Comments

Three days ago I woke up with a kind of vertigo I’d not had before. My temples felt bulgy, like they’d been punched out from the inside. The underside of my skull was fuzzily dizzily buzzing.

As I began stumbling through my morning, readying myself as best I could for the first session of the day, I had a gnawing sense that more was off than my off-balance symptoms indicated.

That afternoon I went for some craniosacral work with my osteopath and found out right before the beginning of the treatment that my blood pressure was alarmingly high (178/110). A half hour later, feeling very relaxed and deepened at the end of my treatment, I had my blood pressure taken again, confident that it would be much lower. It wasn’t.

I knew I could again start taking a tincture of Rauwolfia (a powerful herb), as it had helped lower my blood pressure before, but I knew I needed more. That evening, as I sat talking with Diane, the alarm bells were blasting within me. A loving, deep-diving sadness arose between us; our mortality was nonconceptually front and center, along with our acceptance of it.

We both have health concerns. Heart disease runs in my family. I have a strong heart, built in large part through a long history of exercise, including plenty of aerobic work — but my low pulse rate numbers paled beside my blood pressure numbers. So as I gazed at Diane, I knew what I had to do.

Fast. And not just for a day or two.

With some reluctance, I said this. Reluctant because I love sharing meals with Diane, love the taste and feel and color of what we eat, love the flowing ritual of preparing our meals (we have made our dinners together throughout our relationship). Damn! But only partially damn, as I also enjoy fasting, except for the first day, when I get throbbing headaches. So I began having only water, tea, and freshly made juices, with the exception of an apple in the evening.

By the second day I’d lost my appetite for solid food; even chocolate (an enduring weakness of mine) didn’t pull at me. And my blood pressure dropped significantly (136/88 this morning). Not enough, but I have momentum. More energy, more clarity, more ease, gifted with the grace of not having to work for a few more days.

I could say more about fasting and our wonderfully effective masticating hydraulic press juicer, but this is much more about taking care of my body when I’m losing the will to do so, or to do so sufficiently. Over the last year or two, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to put the care into my body that I once did.

The good part is that I don’t push my body anymore, and the not-so-good part is that I’m tending to let things slide more and more — like keeping my weight from ramping up. Pressuring myself to keep as fit as possible doesn’t work, but nor does letting myself off too easily. It’s easy to let my belly fatten and my spine lose its lift, easy to finish a work day with some chocolate in front of an engrossing DVD. Not that I’m against such pleasurable activity (or lack of activity!), but it’s not so hard for me to lean too much in that direction.

I can feel my body’s gradual demise, however youthful I may seem, however dynamically I may do my work. I no longer work out so strongly in the gym; I do yoga more gently; I move more slowly; I hike rather than run; I take more naps. No guilt here. I love being still love melting into Mystery. I witness with fascination the decline of my body; I’ve never been so aware of it, so intimate with it, from the inside out.

And it’s not really an “it” but rather an expression of what I truly am. So I honor my body — not slipping into calling it “the” body — infusing its failing parts with as much care and skillful attention as I can, recognizing its every wrinkle and dent and malfunction as something to love rather than bemoan. The pressure to turn it into a younger model is simply not there.

There is a dying, but not a deadening. Settling into this, my blood pressure drops. Feeling this without obstruction, I am grateful to simply be here, grateful for the capacity to go to the heart of the matter.