David J. Loomis (1935-2010)
A lifetime ago (so it seems), a great guy named Dave Loomis introduced me to yoga and meditation. Those were hard times for me: intractable headaches plagued me daily, depression became chronic; an existential crisis loomed. In his typically intuitive and compassionate way, Dave saw that I was in pain and reached out to help.
He taught me my first mantra—Om Namah Shivaya—and some simple yoga poses. He taught me how to release the muscular, emotional, and spiritual tension that so beset me at the time. In retrospect, I realize that much of what was troubling me was simple grief—sorrow at the sudden loss of a parent at an early age. But the other part of my inner knot was a not-uncommon 20-something crisis of identity and direction. Both manifested in the form of debilitating physical and emotional symptoms.
The first poses Dave showed me were ones he thought would be particularly helpful for persistent head and neck tension. He was dead on! Child Pose, Tree Pose, Mountain Pose, Downward-Facing Dog, and Lord of the Dance were among the postures that helped to relieve a great deal of the great tension that had built in my body, mind and spirit. He was the one who suggested I allow my body to do whatever it chose during meditation; I discovered the great joy of starting meditation in Full Lotus, then gradually collapsing as deep relaxation pervaded my body/mind. I would often spend the last five minutes of my twenty-minute meditation flat on my back in Corpse Pose. It was tremendously liberating, and eventually led to the end of my intractable headaches.
Dave went on to earn a PhD in Human Development and moved to Arizona, where he became affectionately known to the locals as “Doc” Loomis. He worked with severely developmentally disabled individuals; he marveled at their joy in living compared to their able-bodied counterparts, many of whom seemed to be perpetually troubled. He spent a year writing a book on this phenomenon, which he titled Happiness: Use It or Lose It! This account of his experiences among some of the most drastically mentally and physically disabled people in the population is an inspiring story of the triumph of the human spirit.
Dave was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. A year later, in his words, he had “finished wrestling with the demon of cancer.” In July of that year, the wrestling match came to an end. Dave left this world on July 12, 2010. I’ll always remember him as a thoroughly unique individual—giving in every way—and the man who introduced me to the joy of yoga and meditation.
Copyright © 2012 by William K. Ferro, All rights reserved