Healing the Parts that Make Us Whole

To heal, you must be willing to disrupt your equilibrium. To go deep into the unseen, unknown places, to allow the energy there to be stirred and released.

As part of my process of becoming a mentor in the spiritual tradition I follow, I am required to undergo six therapeutic sessions–typically these are psychological, sessions of “talk therapy.” Talk therapy has long since stopped being a mode that works for me, that gets into the depths of my shadow places, the parts that are in need of exploration and exposition. Years of yoga and various body-centered energetic healing modalities have unearthed and revealed into the light of recognition long festering patterns of behavior. So to meet my six session requirements, I requested and was given permission to work with a pair of Shamanic healers who teach in our lineage.

The question I’m pursuing is not important. Although it has a story or elements of story: a who, what, where and when, and likely has a why, I’m not really pursuing those. I’m no longer interested in the story per se. It’s more like a flavor, a residue. It’s like the splinters that remain after a large sliver is removed from the flesh.

I’ve worked with these two healers previously around this particular issue, and in both cases, they brought about huge shifts for me. Each time, we met in person in small groups that were working together for a longer period, once for a week and then for a weekend. The sessions I’m doing now are happening via Skype. They begin with prayer, with calling in the elements, the unseen guides that surround us at all times. There’s a short conversation about the issue being pursued, and then there’s a long period of energetic work in which I am more or less passive, sitting, eyes closed, breathing the circular breath used in rebirthing, and feeling into what is happening in my body.

A lot happened in my body. Painful contraction around my solar plexus. Heat. Cramping. More heat. Deep vibration. My teacher held me between two crystals, one at my crown and one beneath my feet, and my body was filled with expansion. I had to loosen my shoulders from their joints and let my arms hang out at an angle. I saw the Christ and Magdalen. I saw my father and waves of light that was more than light, a sort of deeply embodied incandescence. I was the hills and the snow and the ether that holds everything.

She told me that I would continue to integrate the healing. It might show up in my dreams. Might interrupt my sleep. Might make me vulnerable, raw, irritable. To ground myself, drink plenty of water, take hot baths. Walk consciously in the outdoors, breathing the cold air, feeling the earth beneath my feet. To ask for forgiveness. To know that I was healing.

In the last thirty six hours, I’ve manifested most of the side effects she noted. I feel a deep discomfort in my body, in my Being. And yet, as she pointed out, this is how I know that healing is happening.

We are always a process. Never a product. There is no end point, no completion, no perfection. As long as we inhabit these human bodies, we will continue to unfold. When we awaken into embodied consciousness, it is a second birth, a continual maturation that along with our being alive brings a deepening into what we are. All that has come before us going back to the primordial ooze is within us to be integrated. We are not separate from all that is or has ever been. The further I go, the deeper I go. It’s a folding as much as an unfolding. I fold more deeply into my parts as they unfold within me. I’m merging with every thread and fiber of my Being.

This is an essential process for anyone who sets out to guide others on their journey. It’s a shamanic process, this journeying. We must be familiar with the terrain and be willing to face its fearful aspects as well as its shining peaks. We must be willing to upset our own equilibrium, to lean into our own discomfort, to take everything we have been given and honor its gifts. Being is a powerful master. Are you willing to learn what it has to teach? In life, the poison is often also the antidote. Learning is homeopathic. A small dose will go a long way.

The Unfathomable Mystery of Being

I would be a liar if I said my life were without layers. One moment seamless well-being and ease, and another moment deep discomfort and existential pain.

Today, at the school where I work, two girls, close friends for most of their short seven and eight year old lives, had an altercation. None of the adults witnessed it. Suddenly there were tears and recriminations. Neither girl denied her actions, the sharp elbows into another’s ribs and the subsequent slap in the face. One of the teachers, as is our way, took the girls away from the rest of the group and asked them to talk to each other about what happened. No one lectured them about the inappropriateness of aggressive physical contact. They know about that. They each spoke from the feeling of the moment. There was anger. There were hurt feelings. There was an apology and an opportunity to speak further about the issue. Then they went off together back to class.

In itself, this is a somewhat unique story. And I offer it as an example of how unfathomable we are to ourselves and to each other.

Life has layers. I’ve been in an ongoing conversation that I mentioned in an earlier post with an east coast friend about the nature of suffering. And in my experience, we all suffer in some way from time to time. Simply being incarnated, being in this physical realm, can be quite painful, and that pain can cause suffering, even for those of us who have realized the Self. What changes is our relationship to the suffering. It takes on a sort of simplicity, free from story and ideation. Often it comes up right alongside our realization of its source in the still undigested bits of our conditioned existence. To deny that we suffer in this way is to deny our humanity.

In my experience, as in the story I recounted above, all relationships open the door to the unfathomable mystery of the self and the other. Now some may say “there is no Other!” And there’s a way in which that is true. And at the same time, paradoxically, there are 7 billion incarnated beings on this Earth, and each one of them appears to the body mind on some level as “other.” When we encounter this other, it is an encounter with the Self. Whatever we experience with them is being experienced within the self. It’s a mirror showing us something about our own particular path in this life. In the account above, the girls experienced a paradox of relationship. In loving there is also irritation. There is shadow. In relationship, there is separation and merging, irritation and bliss. We can’t have one without the other.

One of the most beautiful things about the altercation between these two schoolgirls was the fierce anger of the one and the heartbreak of the other. Children are transparent. They have not learned how to dissemble, not completely. And what I loved in watching their exchange was that they were willing to be fully present with what arose. “You made me mad.” “You hurt my feelings.” It was clean and simple. No one pretended that they felt other than they did.

The further I go on this path of embodied awakening, the more I realize how little I know. Nothing is static. Everything is changing. I don’t know my Self, my partner, my family, my friends. I experience them. In the moment. Being is continually unfolding, painting itself, as my beloved teacher Allan Morelock has said, on us in each moment. We must awaken to this truth. We must awaken to its its iridescent beauty of emergence. Its unfathomable mystery.

The Drunken Poet of Being

It all starts with movement. Every day, we move, but how do we move? Do we move to the inner workings of our arising Being nature, or do we move to the thoughts of our minds?

There’s a grace in leaning into what arises. What is in the field? That is what is. Once the mind draws back from its agenda of expectations–what should be–to what is, movement becomes fluid.

I dreamed recently that I was walking somewhere with a very drunk celebrity of some sort, let’s call him a poet. I could feel in every layer of my Being how delicious he felt, the way our bodies resonated with each other was like home. I felt my fingers touching his arm, his body along mine. It was a sort of rapture. Walking behind us was a tall, thin woman with her hair in a severe knot who kept leaning toward me saying “what are you doing? What are you doing?” And I said “It’s okay; I’m just playing with him.” And I meant that in the literal sense; we were at play. After that I woke up.

Recounting the dream later, I saw how the parts illustrated this concept of movement and expectation. Of Being and the desire to control Being. Being is the drunk poet with whom we can play in a delicious connection, and the mind is the severe voice of fear: what are you doing?

Of course, Being does not always arise in a way that is delicious. Just as often it arises in a way that is tortuous, or nauseating, or painful. Still, what I am realizing is that even this is a sort of gift. Once I lean into what is uncomfortable, there’s a kind of relaxation. I guess what I’m saying is that relaxation is relaxation. We can relax in a bed of feathers and we can relax on a bed of nails. Everything that we encounter is an experience. My teacher Allan Morelock recently said something along the lines that experience is Being’s way of showing it what it feels like to be alive.

This is an old teaching. It runs through most of the world’s great spiritualities: turn the other cheek, don’t create unnecessary suffering, understand that the world is illusion. And these teachings can be used either for good or for ill.

Awakening to our true Being nature gives us the continual opportunity to practice relaxation. What changes is not our experience of life but our relationship to those experiences. Relaxation is like surrender. You can’t “make” yourself–or anyone else more to the point–relax. It comes from within. It comes from a courageous heart.

There’s an important Vedic concept represented by the Sanskrit word: Hridayam. It’s a kind of onomatopoeia. Heart I am. Hridayam. That which nourishes the heart. We can best nourish the heart by feeding it what it needs.

There’s another old teaching. A sage told a boy that he had both a tiger and a lamb in his heart. Which is stronger, the boy asked? Whichever one I feed, he answered. So if you feed relaxation, relaxation will be stronger than resistance.

So when the Drunken Poet of Being shows up in the dream that is your life, walk with him. Relax. He knows where he is going.

Doing and Being: Facing the Day of “No”

Today, I taught my last yoga class for the summer at Yoga on Main in Manayunk, PA, where I’ve taught a weekly class on Thursdays for a number of years.  It was a particularly sweet class, well attended (for a Thursday morning) with two of my regulars, one new person, and two women who came “to hear me talk.”  It’s a beautiful thing whenever, as the Bible says, “two or more are gathered” in the name, the search for the truth.  I always open class with a silent meditation followed by a brief open eyed meditation, “gazing” with each person for less than a minute, meeting them gaze to gaze, Being to Being.  And then I give a short talk, just whatever’s been up for me recently that in some way illustrates the nature of Being.  Today it was the intersection of a few threads that came together in a recent experience that I referred to as the day of no.

For me, this day of no manifested itself in a jarring realization that the way I perceive myself is not always the way I am perceived by others.  As it happened in the personal and professional spheres at the same time, it felt like quite a combination punch.  A regular one-two to the psyche.  It felt like hell.  It felt like the way I know myself was so out of kilter with the way I was being perceived, or the way I was being perceived somehow missed the core of who I am.  I don’t mind telling you that it knocked the stuffing out of me and laid me low.

One of the women at class this morning, Julie, had some good questions about this.  “What do you do when that happens?” The beautiful thing about this sort of experience, for me, is that I no longer resist it.  Even though I felt contracted around the experiences, I didn’t try use the contraction as a way to muscle through it.  I just let it be there.  It was a soggy day out side, and I let the sogginess infiltrate to the inside of my Being.  I stayed in my pajamas.  I sighed.  I said out loud, “I feel like shit.”  I was aware in this feeling state that there was something to be learned.  Whenever there is dissonance of this degree, Being is really trying to get my attention.

I thought back to the experience I had over the weekend at the Transitions and Transactions conference about my name.  And I got that this self perception is always just that, a perception.  I can continue to refine it, to hone it more and more close to the Truth, and yet, because I am in this embodied form, this physical entity with her various, numerous names, no matter what I call myself, I am essentially nameless: the way that can be named is not the true Way.  My teacher, Allan Morelock (read his two beautiful books, Nothing Other,  and Raindrops Falling on the Ocean) has said “personality is impersonal.”  And that, I know, is the truth.

Julie’s other question was about decisions, and this is one that can take a very long time to parse out, but still I was delighted by her asking it.  For me, there is only Being.  Being is writing itself in and as and through me as My Life.  There’s never really a time when I decide to do something.  I just do things.  It sometimes feels like there is a decision, or a choice, but really, where does that choice come from?  Whether I sit around until I move toward food, sleep, drink, reading, walking the dog, or whether I respond to an invitation with a yes or a no, or whether I decide to go out or stay home, there’s a way in which it’s all the same.  Sometimes what we appear to “choose” to do appears to work out well and feels good, and sometimes what we appear to choose to do works out badly and feels bad.  Sometimes it’s neutral. But good, bad or indifferent; intentional, unintentional or accidental, it’s still Being that’s making it happen.

The Trillium Awakening teacher Rod Taylor told me once that all the stuff we feel like we keep hitting our head against is just Being showing us the core wound.  In Trillium Awakening, the core wound is a way of speaking about the edge between our finite and infinite nature, a place we’re always rubbing up against.  We’re infinite: everything is occurring in consciousness, there’s no separation, no other, and at the same time, we’re in these finite, limited bodies with their complex layers of differentiation, their needs, wants, dislikes, stories, patterns and conditions.

You can always count on Being to show you where you still have something to learn.  Sometimes life is like a rock tumbler, just knocking off the rough edges to polish you to your true shine.  The best and truest way to live is to just let come what may.  Rumi says:

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!

You don’t have to love them.  Welcoming awareness can be anything from a simple act of reception to a deep bow of surrender. Doing and Being are but two sides of the mobius strip of experience. The more we come to trust in Being, to get out of its way, the more easefully we can ride that edge and fall, finally, our true home.