I found this story on Gary Craig's website. I have few heroes in my life but Gary Craig is one of them. I don't say this easily.
Cerebral Palsy and a Flower Inside a Coconut Shell
By Gary Craig
I made an error recently.
I was asked if EFT would be useful with Cerebral Palsy and I said that it was certainly worth a try. I thought persistent use of it would probably help with some of the symptoms. I still think that is so, but that wasn’t my error.
My error was in forgetting to mention a great lesson I learned from Sally, a Cerebral Palsy sufferer. It is a lesson in healing for all of us in the people helping professions. It came about solely because of love and intention. It was not aided by EFT, EMDR, TIR or any of the other power therapies that are so useful today. That is why I am sharing this story with you.
I met Sally eleven years ago at a two-week personal improvement seminar in Hawaii. When I say I "met" her that is not quite accurate. I never did become her friend. I don’t even know her last name.
Sally was different. Her body was so twisted with Cerebral Palsy that her upper torso tilted at a constant 30-degree angle. The tilt was so extreme that no one could sit on her right side because she took up the space of two chairs. Her hands were gnarled and clamped shut. Her facial muscles wouldn’t allow much of an expression and her mouth was fixed in an open position and saliva involuntarily drooled out of it. She could speak but it took a great deal of patience to understand her poorly formed words.
I admired Sally. Here she was, attending a personal improvement seminar amongst 1,000 "normal" people. She couldn’t communicate and couldn’t participate in most activities. She was an "outsider" who wanted desperately to be accepted. But she was largely ignored. A few people befriended her and lent a helping hand when needed. I wasn’t one of them. This was not, I thought, what I came here for. I missed the opportunity.
Sally was a flower encased in a coconut shell. Her spirit, her desires, her love were flowers just like yours and mine. But I couldn’t see the flower because I was blinded by what my eyes were reporting. All I saw was a useless coconut shell.
But that was soon to change.
One night all seminar attendees were being taught how to break a one-inch thick board with our bare hand. It was the kind of thing karate masters do. One person held the board up while another was to jam his/her hand through it. Strength didn’t matter, we were told. What really counted was mental intention. Sure, technique had something to do with it but we were assured that it was resolute intention that really did the job. I found this fascinating but didn’t really believe it. When my turn came, I focused on the technique (but added intention just in case they were right) and, to my astonishment, I broke that board with ease. My hand went flying through it in a manner that I thought impossible. This was real wood. Solid, no tricks. My hand even hurt after doing it. I watched others do it. Men and women of all sizes and strengths. Some needed several tries but almost everyone did it.
Sally was one of the first to try it and, as you might expect, got nowhere. Her body was so weak and uncoordinated that her hand landed on the board with little or no force. It reminded me of trying to topple the Empire State Building with a piece of last night’s spaghetti. I felt sorry for Sally. Intention just wasn’t enough in her case. She was over her head and I was relieved when the trainer in charge asked her to go over in a corner and practice with Dan, another participant. She was rejected yet again.
As the other participants were taking their turn breaking these boards, Dan was shouting encouragement to Sally over in the corner. He kept yelling, "You can do it, Sally, you can do it!!" Sally kept trying to break that board but the effort was so pathetic that I silently wished Dan would "give it a rest" and quit encouraging the impossible. Nonetheless, he persisted. And so did Sally.
When everyone else was done, we all gathered around Sally and Dan who were still at it. Maybe it was because our own beliefs about the "impossible" had just shifted. I don't know. But somehow excitement began to fill the room as we began to cheer Sally on.
Her facial expression didn’t change. It couldn’t. But fire (intention) came into her eyes. She knew she was finally accepted. Love was everywhere. Her posture shifted a bit. I started to cry inside. I’m crying now as I write this. The tears were not because I thought she could break that board. Instead, they were because I felt this deep connection (love) in the room that we all crave so badly. It was clearly there. Genuine indeed with Sally on the receiving end and the audience doing the giving. With love inside her, she took yet another aim at that board and hit it with all the apparent force of a marshmallow and---BROKE IT!!! It shattered in two pieces under her intention. The audience was ecstatic and so was Sally. I was astonished. It was no trick. Engineers are too hard to fool under these circumstances.* I inspected the board afterwards and I can tell you straight out that she broke it with nothing but her intention. There was no other explanation.
More love and support occurred for Sally throughout other events over the next few days. She had become an overnight star. On the last day of the seminar, she went up on stage and straightened the fingers on one of her hands for all to see. She then spoke (slowly but clearly) and said, "You guys think there’s no one in here. But there is. You helped me open my hand. We did it together. God bless you. I love you."
With that I became a puddle of tears. The flower inside the coconut shell was now plain to see.
As I said, I tell you this story to share some perspective on what we are doing as people helpers in this world. This event took place eleven years ago before EFT, TFTtm, EMDR, TIR or any other power therapy was readily available. Sally’s progress came from support, from love, from caring and from our own built in powers to heal. Our new tools are certainly a major aid in healing but, ultimately, it all comes from love.
*P.S. Gary is a Harvard-trained engineer.