Friday, February 28, 2014

I'm not ready. Not yet.

I'm learning (and getting pretty decent at) trying to listen to myself.  Truly listen.  Without expectation, with as little judgement or criticism as possible.  And it feels good.  It's not always easy.  As I teach my kids when I teach the play on Socrates, following your conscious is not always sunshine and water lillies.  Sometimes you have to face and make decisions that aren't easy, aren't leaving you feeling happy.  But, with that said, when I make a decision that is truly good, virtuous, for me, even if it is hard, I feel a sense of wholeness and health that makes me happy. :)

I've been wanting to DO something about all the pain, all the hurt in the community I was born and raised.  My home is sacred to me.  Truly sacred.  Where I come from is like no other place, and everyone says that when they come, when they visit and while they live there.  It is unique, it is foreign to, almost anywhere else.  There is a sense of deeply rooted history, a sense of genuine community and deep love for one another. 

But it is hard.  There has been a significant amount of historical trauma that has bled into and become present-day trauma.  Many of our young people die from suicide, overdoses and gun violence.  Many of our women and girls especially, but also men and boys, are horribly abused - physically, sexually, verbally.  Alcoholism and drug addiction are commonplace.  So much so, that my best friend's father, the only judge in town, has estimated before that over 97% of his cases are alcohol related.  This may seem contradictory, how can a community have a deep sense of love for one another yet have such high rates of abuse?  I don't have the answer to that question, but have learned that we hold many things in the same hand, sometimes, contradictory things. 

I have had an idea, an idea that germinated during my last few years as an undergrad at Dartmouth.  It started out as an idea to use theater as a healing medium to provide a space for those affected by the abuse (i.e. just about everyone, directly or indirectly) to begin to learn to heal.  There are some in my home town that are on the path to healing and some well on the path to healing.  But there are many, many young people particularly, who seem lost.  I am not an expert, yet, but I started to feel like I knew enough, just enough, to help guide people toward their own path to healing.  I seem to have always had a way of cultivating the light and the love in others.  I wanted to use that ability to help my home. 

This year, I was all geared and prepped to go home and DO.  I'd been working on a blueprint of a plan so to speak, had it as well thought out as I could have at this stage.  I wanted it to be a summer residency, a three week residency.  I had planned to use the art of storytelling, both in writing and on stage, as a catalyst toward healing; as a means for the participants of the program to learn more about their spiritual wounds and begin to work through them.  Spiritual pain is delicate, it's finicky and requires a lot of listening to heal from, I think.  I thought that by working to create a safe space for shared expression and used both verbal and writing tools and exercises to cultivate and ground this space, perhaps it might grow space to heal.  My ultimate goal of the whole thing.  To start people, through my own experiences and with my voice, presence and ability, on their own paths toward healing.  I felt that this first year was going to be....challenging.  Not in a bad way.  In a...Aaluk, let's be honest and gentle with yourself here - it may be a bit rocky...kind of way.  Yes I was scared.  But I have been scared a lot, quite a lot, in my life and that has never stopped me. 

But as the summer started closing in on me, back in November, when I was really gearing up, applying for grants and working on writing prompts, exercises, scripts....I started to hear a voice.  At first I thought this was a "cold feet" kind of voice.  An, "I'm scared - let's run away!" kind of voice.  As I've been training myself to do over the last few years, I sat the voice down.  I said, "Ok, you have my attention.  Feel free to speak.  I am listening."

At first, my "superficial" fears as I call them surfaced.  Not superficial meaning not meaningful, just surface fears.  Things like, "the logistics are too tough with your work schedule in Boston."  "You aren't going to find the money."  "You don't have the time." And lastly, the quietest one of all, "You aren't ready."  I almost didn't hear the last one.  Actually, for the first few weeks or even month, I don't think the voice even said the last message. 

I responded, as compassionately as I could, as I knew that this voice was a part of me, bringing up real concerns.  I said, I'll work around my schedule and try to do it so it works for me, for my job and for home.  I'm pretty good at balancing things after the difficult balancing acts I've found myself performing over the years (extreme mental health issues, divorce, custody, ivy league education, etc).  That message quieted.  I thought about the money issue.  I responded saying, all I need is a plane ticket.  I can handle that.  That message subsided as well.  the "not having enough time" message took it's turn in the forefront of my mind and I assured myself that I would listen to time constraints, that I would listen to the messages that might come up that were related to over-working myself, doing too much, etc.  I treat myself with a lot of love, a lot of understanding and a lot of compassion, so that message subsided as well.  It knew that I would be on the look out for over working myself and it trusted that I would take care of myself.  I have a enough of a track record taking care of myself that it trusted me.  

But the last message.  Which was timid.  Almost childlike spoke again. "You aren't ready."

To me, this was a pretty serious message.  Instead of pushing it aside saying, oh yes I am!  Silly me!  I'm strong!  I am powerful!  I am READY!

I said, wait.  How so?  Why?  What about me isn't ready?

These questions weren't all at once.  I investigated this not ready message over time, over a few months.  I learned that although I am on my own healing path and I am learning, with greater depth, greater understanding and greater love, how to take care of myself and how to attend to my spiritual wounds....that a part of me, just wasn't ready.  I needed time.  And a part of me, however small, knew that.  The healing from my own spiritual wounds of suffering and abuse needed time, it said.  I said.  A part of me, said.  I wanted protection.  I wanted just time, with me. 

I've made the decision to hold off.  It hurts in places.  I will be home this summer and I will see what I grew up seeing.  The hallow-ness of numbed pain projected through the eyes of young children, the steely depth of pain endured through the eyes of older children and the loss sense of identity and purpose in the eyes of many adults.  Is this all there is in my hometown?  Goodness no.  Not by a long shot.  There is also, as I mentioned above, deep love.  But when I see this kind of pain in young and old children alike and adults, it tends to permeate my understanding of the health of my home.  One person enduring this spiritual pain, as I see it, is too many.  It hurts me.  And unfortunately, it's much more than one person.

I am learning to feel compassion without letting the pain of suffering permeate my emotional landscape, but I'm not there yet, entirely.  One of the reasons I'm not ready to start this project.  I am being gentle with myself and growing myself.  So that when I am ready, I can be as available and compassionate as I need to be and want to be.  I'm not there yet.  And that's ok.  That's more than ok.  That's what it is and I am at peace with that.  

Everything is a learning opportunity and an opportunity for growth.  I used to get frustrated and speak out to my creator asking, WHY?! do I have to learn SO MUCH!?  Can ya just give me a break?  :-)

Now I understand things differently.  I am blessed to be given the opportunity to grow.  The break isn't in the spaces between learning, the break - or the sense of peace as I like to see it now - is in the moments of true blossoming.  The moments where something new comes out of what was to create what is.  And it happens all the time.  The greater awareness I have of when I am growing and how I am growing, the more grateful I am for the opportunity to grow, to expand.  I like space and growing to me means expansion of understanding, love and peace.  And now, I don't ask my creator why, I thank my creator because learning and growth is a gift. 

You are forever in my heart, home, and I will always be connected to you.  I will always love you.  Know that you are never forgotten, I'm just not ready.  Not yet. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Brighter


My day is brighter when I meditate.  Literally brighter.  I was sitting out on the porch of my ex-husband’s grandmother’s house (where I am staying while I visit my son) and with my eyes closed and I felt as if I could feel the sun shining on my face.  I was out there for, oh I don’t know, twenty minutes and when I opened my eyes I was certain I was going to find that the clouds had cleared.   It had been overcast all morning.

It took me a minute to settle into myself when I started my practice this morning.  That’s what it feels like when I meditate.  I settle into my body, my space, my life.  Calm my mind from its fast paced thoughts, its anxieties.  I say, ok darling (I call myself darling, it’s a very endearing term for me and it’s one of the ways I show myself love).  Let’s rise above all of these thoughts.  These anxieties.  These fears.  They will be right where I leave them.  They won’t go anywhere.  Let’s just fly away for a bit. 

So I did.  I gently shot upward.  I can’t explain it any better.  I release upward, spiritually.  No effort required, just a letting go.  I float up, above all of this human worry.  And when I was there this morning, I realized that I’d gotten to the point in my meditation practice where I’d really just rather spend all my time meditating.  It’s such a beautiful place.  Full of light.  Love.  That’s what it is – all of it.  Light and love.  And that is so full and so bright that it fills the space forever.  Time stops up there.  Actually, it never existed in the first place.  My body eases into a kind of lull.  It is gingerly suspended.  Again, no effort to exist. 

I stayed there.  I felt joy, unattached.  I laughed when I heard myself ask, why I can’t I just stay here forever?  A quiet, gentle voice reminded me that I do need to eat.  And sleep.   I slowly started trying to reacclimate myself to my earthly existence.   I breathed in my surroundings.  I tingled my toes.  I brought my hands together.  Not sure exactly why, but slowly, conscientiously, brought my palms together and placed the flesh of the outside edges of my thumbs against my third eye, the space between my eyebrows.  I felt a kind of grounding, and enjoyed that moment, for a moment.  Still, not wanting to open my eyes and leave this place of light, I breathed in again. 

When I exhaled, I opened my eyes and it was like I was seeing the world for the first time.  My eyesight was forward and down and I found myself looking at the chipped paint on the not-so-white porch floor.  It was beautiful.  It was vibrant.  I gently looked up and saw the grass.  It was swaying, as the wind was slightly strong today.  I enjoyed its color.  I noticed the branches swaying, existing.  A car drove by.  And the sky, the sky I thought to be so bright was full of gray.  But in it’s overcast state, I still felt the bright warmth of the sun behind it. 

So full, so bright was I that everything around me seemed to be the same.  I sit here, looking at this computer screen, grateful for the opportunity to share with you yet part of me, just wants to be back there.  It is where I come from.  I do not claim I know where you come from or anyone else.  But me, I come from that light, that love, that hope.  Meditating brings me back to my spiritual home.  I hope to be able to go back again soon. ;)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

I saw myself today

Standing cleaning I, caught a glimpse of myself in a small mirror I have just high enough to reach and small enough to fit my head.  I use it to put on make up and brush my hair in the morning sometimes.  

I had the urge to look away, as if glimpsing yourself unexpectedly is somehow taboo.  I stopped myself in that moment and turned.  Face to face and looked.  First I just looked.  Let the insecurities that encouraged me to judge and criticize myself, die away.  
Because there was a part of me that knew something stronger.  There is a part of me, that is like a root.  It is connected to everything and it is deep.  When it speaks, I listen because it's my connection to wisdom.  

I do not have it in me inherently, I grow it, cultivate it.  Seek it.  Listen to it.  As much as I can.  And the more I do it, the more it nestles a space and purrs comfort into my spirit.  And that part of me knows the truth, the truth that what we live in matters.  Not for how it looks.  But how it feels, how it strengthens.  How it grows.  How it protects. 

As I stand there looking in the mirror, I let those, "you look puffy" or "why do you look so tired" comments slip away into the river of other thoughts floating by.  That river is so deep.  So fast.  So full.  But the thoughts that sustain are the ones that come from that place, that root are light and strong in a way.  Easy to connect to if you feel it trying to connect to you.

I let myself just observe how my face curved in its most relaxed and aware state.  I looked into my eyes, not with judgement or fear.  I looked at myself like I was trying to connect with myself.  I told myself, I was looking to learn. I looked at myself and thought of how grateful I was to have a healthy body.  I haven't always been grateful for my body, actually most of my life that was the case.  Because of how my body was used, sexually, I hated it.  I thought it was disgusting and never right.  Always all wrong.  Now I have learned to honor the skin I move in, the lungs I breath from, the heart I love from.  Every part of me is special.  Because I need it.  All of it.  It is new for me to appreciate the space I grow in.  I learn in.  

I relaxed. Not noticeably.  But my eyes changed.  And how I saw things changed.  I let myself sit in this new state of awareness, in awe.  I looked into myself and remember slightly, just slightly tilting my head.  And looking into the reflection, smiling suddenly, I felt like I was looking back at the part of me that I never see but everyone else does.  I connected.  She trusted me.  I trusted me.  I felt young and happy.  I felt the little bit of childhood I remember before it all turned into charcoal and grey skies.  I connected to the bit of sunlight before the storm.  And looking back on her, from me.  After weathering a lot of storm.  I smiled.  I embraced my past with my present and my smile deepened.  I felt connected to the root.  Seeing me, deep.  

The relationship you have with yourself is the ground you learn to grow love.  I am learning.  Little by little.  Moment by moment how to grow this relationship.  And the journey is full of spontaneous joy and adoration when you let go of who you think you should be or what you should be and embraced your root.  Acceptance for who you were, who you are and who you are becoming and love, real love where you show you care about yourself by taking care of yourself, for you.  That's what embracing your root looks like.  You recognize how special it is that you shield it from harm.  Exercising all of your muscles, not just the ones on your body.  Growing, in as many ways as you steer yourself toward.