I am an empath. Rather like the Star Trek: The Next Generation character Deanna Troi, I can pick up on the emotions and sometimes physical sensations of others, whether or not I know them personally. It is both a joy and a challenge. I love being able to identify what someone what might be experiencing in order to help them see their way clear. I would prefer not to take on their pain. There are moments when I need to remind myself: “If it’s not mine, I release it.” It has come in handy in my work as therapist and Reiki master and yet, I am sometimes feel myself overwhelmed with the onslaught that sometimes ensues.
One such occurrence happened over the weekend. I was attending a workshop that culminated in a death meditation. Lively rhythmic music was playing and one of the facilitators invited us to dance with the cautionary statement that at any moment it would stop and we were to drop down to the floor wherever we happened to be. Kind of like musical chairs.
The music stopped.
I brought my body to the yogic posture know as savasana or corpse pose (literally this time). I covered myself with my favorite purple silk scarf and proceeded to deepen my breathing as we were led on a journey. I couldn’t tell you the specifics, but all I know is that when we were called back to consciousness, I didn’t want to return. It wasn’t a sense of desiring death or giving up on life, but rather, such a sense of peace that I wasn’t ready to relinquish.
That was when I became aware of the reason. Too much pain. Sadness. Grief. Wounds. Anger. Violence. Destruction. Hatred.
I thought that it was my job to clean up the mess and heal all of the wounds. My own all too human pain was screaming for attention while I ignored it in the service of the world. As I sobbed, others in the workshop reminded me that it was not my place to carry it all. They beamed support and the facilitators reminded all of us that when we relinquish the pain to the power of love, then we need not bear the burden alone.
The Tibetan Buddhist practice of tonglen comes in handy at such times, as we are instructed to breathe in pain and breathe out love and compassion. Such is one way to heal the wounds of the world.
“Don’t die with your music still in you.”-Wayne Dyer
Another powerful dream this morning, the remnants of which linger as I am typing these words. I was in a rural setting with a group of adults and children. A mischievous little girl runs up to me and makes a comment about music and tells me that she is God who puts the words and sounds in our minds. Then, laughing, she scampers off. I call over to her, “God, tell me more about this music.” She shares with me that it is always in us and we have a choice of how to express it. Next I hear one of my favorite classical pieces Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini that was featured in the film Somewhere in Time starring a very young Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. A romantic classic if ever there was one. Waking up smiling for so many reasons.
I have long known that the Divine uses us as hollow reeds for expressing itself. Sometimes the sounds are sweet and serene and other times, noisy and cacophonous. We decide how to arrange the notes and whether we sing them out or keep them to ourselves. In a healing session earlier this week, my friend Darin Mazepa shared that although he knows words are important to me as a writer and speaker, they can also be an addiction. He pointed out that there needs to be silence between the words as well. True dat. If a musician played note on top of note on top of note, we might want to cover our ears against the din. When there are spaces in between, we can enjoy the sound and find it soul nourishing. Since then, I have been sitting in the silence, absorbing it. Saying less. Feeling more. Not a familiar place to be. Not a comfortable experience since I have often run away from feelings as if they were maniacal murderers. Strange for a therapist, huh?
At the moment, taking in the sound of the wind, the tip tap of my fingers on the keyboard. I am feeling my heart beat. I am allowing for emotions to arise. Wonder and wondering. Questioning what awaits today. Have plans. Don’t we always and then sometimes they change on a whim….ours or that of Spirit. Are they one and the same? Am I willing to be in the ‘just don’t know?’
All I can do is be in this everpresent now moment and sound out whatever tones come through. A spectacular symphony. A cosmic kirtan. A poignant prayer. o0o0o0o0o0o0o0mmmm~
“May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.”
Tonight at dinner with my friend Chris, we were speaking about that nebulous place between here and there, one state of being and the next, one relationship and another. At the end of every profound thread, we shrugged our shoulders and said, ” I don’t know.” Scary words. AND sometimes a necessary description of the human condition. Like me, he is a curious soul, delving deep, avoiding surface conversations. I’ve read some of his beautiful poetry and can vouch for that. This kind of dialog is one of my favorite ways of getting to know people…..as we talk about ‘life, the Universe and everything.’
One of my challenges is being patient and waiting for the coming to fruition of seeds I have planted. Not one of my talents, although I am learning to sit with the discomfort of the ‘isness’ of things. Not only what I want them to be. Not how I think they ought to be in a just world. As Byron Katie refers to it, “Loving What Is”. Sometimes I fight that reality symbolically kicking and screaming; quite a two year old toddler tantrum.
One of the questions I asked over beet salad (me) and fried pickles (him), at a place in Philly called Llama Tooth, was if he could know the day of his death, would he want to. He said he wouldn’t. I might want to. Although I don’t court it, I don’t think I would fear it, if I was asked to cross over, since I am sure that love awaits. I do my best to live each day as if it could be my swan song. There is a commercial for a life insurance company whose tag line is, “admitting we’re going to die is not going to kill us.” I laughed when I first heard it and then considered how we are taught that the unknown is something to run from. Sometimes I shrug my shoulders and realize that for all of my attempts to micromanage my life, it can be invigorating to go for a ride and allow Spirit to drive the vehicle.
Consider your life as it is right now. Is it filled to overflowing with all that you desire, or does it feel dry and lacking in pizazz and juice? Take a moment to do an inventory of what you have going for you. Do you have a place to live and a job that nourishes you on physical, emotional and financial levels? Are there people you love and who love you? Do you have fun adventures? Do you have hobbies and interests that fascinate you? Do you have more body parts that work than those that don’t?
What if we could focus on all that we have in our lives instead of what is missing? How about if we embraced the gifts that come our way even if they are wrapped in strange packaging? What would it be like be in the moment, without micromanaging the details? Such an unaccustomed state for me. I am willing to leave space for what I want to enter, rather than filling every available moment. I am open to being in the flow of life, rather than swimming upstream.
In a state of mind that surprises the heck out of me. For so many years, I measured my worth by my accomplishments. Was I giving something my all? Did I get good grades? Did I meet deadlines? Did I earn a gold star or a blue ribbon? Did I surpass my own expectations? Was my work recognized by those I wanted to see it and praise it?
A few nights ago at dinner with friends, someone mentioned that I had interviewed His Holiness the Dalai Lama and asked me to tell the story about what led up to it and how it turned out. I shared it, and even though it was what I call my dream into reality interview, it still it felt like just what I do. My job. My chosen path. Or perhaps, a path that chose me. I pushed and efforted for so many years to get my work out there in the world. I was desperate to make a living doing what I love and being center stage. Felt like I was scrambling to be noticed.
At this point in my life, I am still doing what I love with writing and speaking and being well compensated. I have dreams and visions, but am more at peace with that aspect of my life than I have ever been. I am writing my next book, but am not pushing the river. What a relief. I am learning to live life on life’s terms, even if it gets challenging at times. I am learning to trust in Divine timing in all things.
I am also questioning the trajectory of my life. I have no clue where I will end up in the next day, let alone the next year or so. I’ll let you know when I arrive.