Just finished watching a movie that my son has been encouraging me to view for the past few months. “It’s your kind of movie, Mom,” insisted my 25 year old cynic, who pretends not to be spiritual, but secretly, I think he is. So, we sprawled in the living room, and traveled The Camino with Martin Sheen and a motley crew of pilgrims who were on the path for various reasons. A brilliant directing job by Emilio Estevez, The Way was inspired by the family’s Spanish heritage. It tells the story of widowed California opthomologist Tom Avery whose 39 year old son Daniel (played by Estevez) dies in the Pyrenees Mountains while making the trek himself; embarking on the pilgrimage as a way of being in the world. A conversation between the father and son takes place in the car prior to his departure. Looking like mirror images of each other, the elder says “This is the life I’ve chosen.” (indicating that somehow his son thought his life was boring), to which Daniel sagely replies “You don’t choose your life, you live it.” This becomes a theme that weaves its way through the film. Inititally, the character of Tom hurries through the 800 km trail, intending to place his son’s ashes at the foot of the statue of St. James in the Cathedral de Santiago and return to his ‘normal life’. Along the way, he encounters others. Some are just occasional passersby, others he sees from time to time. Three remain with him; each with their own quirks that push his buttons mightily. He keeps his feelings repressed; chances are, his M.O. in his life back home, until one day in an uncharacteristic drunken state, he tells them what he thinks of them…the pot smoking, drug dealing Dutch bon vivant, who says he there to lose weight, but indulges in an eating fest at every stop, the verbose Irish travel writer who wants to be an author who collects stories of other pilgrims, and the chain smoking Canadian woman whose anger sticks out all over her, like a prickly pear cactus until we find out what’s behind it. Once the ice is broken, they form a bond that carries them through their weeks together. One thought I had was that these characters were like Dorothy’s companions in The Wizard of Oz and that Cathedral de Santiago was indeed The Emerald City. It also became apparent that although each carried his or her own literal backpack with ‘necessary’ items for safety and comfort, having others with them, in a sense, ‘lightened the load’ so it didn’t feel quite so heavy and burdensome. It was a certainty that the longer they were on the trail, the stronger they became, and yet, had less emotional baggage to tote around.
Not your typical road trip film, to be sure. The character of Tom begins to peel off the layers of pain and shares it with his fellow travelers, allowing them behind the protective walls. Throughout the journey, Daniel shows up in various places, as if accompanying Tom in ways beyond the cremains he carries in a silver box (scattering them at various stops along the way) bound to his son’s backback that he claimed after identifying the body in the morgue. Tom learns to slow down, laugh and truly live his life. It is a land-voyage of discovering who he is as a man, a father, and a spiritual being. The Way is one on which we all must walk, whether or not we carry a backpack and trek from France to Spain. It is an experience of this lifetime, with no shortcuts, but one complete with twists and turns, testing of our faith and endurance. Ultimately it takes us Home. “Buon Camino.”
http://youtu.be/HtAovpHDZqc Walking The Camino De Santiago, Spain With Original Song “Pilgrim Road” by Bobby Roche
This weekend, I trekked down to Maryland and spent time with a group of stretchers and seekers; those who were willing to dive in deep, go wide, dance with their demons and the Divine. The workshop called Come As You Are invited us to peel off the layers that we thought had protected us and kept us safe but (in my case at least), held me back from being authentic and truly allowing people in.
A little background on the facilitators will put it into perspective.
Eugene Hedlund is a certified 5 Rhythms teacher and the founder of the SheddingSkins path of personal transformation. He is based in San Diego, California and teaches both 5 Rhythms and SheddingSkins workshops throughout the US and in Europe. The SheddingSkins path is a seamless blend of Movement Meditation, Sound Alchemy, Shamanic Ritual and Tantric Ceremony into one cohesive practice where each of these medicines are used to create a comprehensive system of personal transformation.
Monique Darling has studied with phenomenal teachers since the 1990s and offers private sessions, workshops & cuddle parties around the country spreading her love and healing.She has been featured on TLC, The Dr’s, and interviewed in magazine’s for the work she is doing. She is the founder of Divine Interludes where she specializes in transmuting fear and repression into courage, love & freedom. Helping people reclaim their voices and expressing themselves at full volume.
Together they wove a safe chrysalis in which we budding butterflies could grow until we were ready to break free. They coached but did not crack us open. We were to do that ourselves should we choose, and on one level or another, we did. I did something uncharacteristic as I immersed fully as a participant with only a slight departure as I viewed the exercises and dynamics from the perspective of a therapist/facilitator myself. I cut myself some slack there, acknowledging that it is an occupational hazard. In other words, I took off my professional hat and just allowed for whatever arose for me.
As the day progressed, I found myself increasingly willing to shed my own figurative skin that I had grown over the years that I thought defined me. One exercise that was blow me out of the water amazing, elegant and thorough is called Circle of Mirrors created by Eugene. The group sat on the floor in a circle and one by one (and totally by choice) we were invited to step into the center and walk around the space sharing about an issue we had brought with us to the workshop. What followed me there was a persistant drive to DO all the time, scrambling to accomplish, Type A, what I jokingly call being ‘functionally manic’ with an inability it seemed, to put the brakes on for very long. As I started the process, I brought to mind two images that had arisen in a previous exercises. The first was one that has been with me since childhood that I referred to as ‘Little Shirley Temple: Everybody’s Sweetheart’ who would tap dance to please, entertain and ‘be loved best of all’. As she was dancing, she also was diagnosed with asthma and foot issues that required treatment for the first and clunky red orthopedic shoes (hard to tap dance in them and not very graceful). On top of that, she was a really smart and inquisitive child who would read incessantly and ask copious questions. She felt different from most of her peers as a result. With that in mind, she became hyper competitive with herself and filled her life (even back then) with tons of activities….swim team, Hebrew School, Girl Scouts, volunteering, friends… sounds like prep for the life I live now. Add to that another persona that I call “Zen Goddess” who is here to heal the world, beam love and light and be totally calm in the face of chaos, serene at all times. This exercise resembles psychodrama as people were invited to step in as these various roles. One of the men became Shirley….dancing and singing On The Good Ship Lollipop. A woman took on the role of the one who felt bogged down with the physical challenges, someone else was my busy-buzzy on the go role and still another sat in the center, in half lotus, hands in mudra position, eyes closed, chanting oo0o0o0o0o0ommmm. Watching all of this going on at once, my various components doing their thang; singing, dancing, slogging, holding her brainiac head, zooming around, being all spiritual and whatnot, my tears turned into laughter as I recognized what I had done to myself all in supposed service to the entrenched belief that it was necessary to hold on to the love that I experienced as a child. At the end of the experience I thanked the first person/persona for teaching me how to be center stage with confidence, the second for helping to ground me and challenge me, the third to invite me to learn alot and drink in the world, never bored, the zoomer to help me juggle an active schedule, multi task and achieve and the final for assisting me in my spiritual journey. I referred to this merging of the various aspects of myself as “Divine Guidance”. At the moment, I am in re-entry and integrative mode, allowing for new revelations to arise. Although I have shed skin, I don’t feel raw as I had inticipated as if I was sunburned. Instead, I am glowing pleasantly. Grateful beyond words to Monique and Eugene, as well as my fellow travelers; my beautiful mirrors who held me in love and respect that came un-earned, like grace itself.
Did you ever feel as if a book was written just for you and the author had done a Vulcan Mind Meld and effectively tapped into your deepest desires and most heart rending fears? This writer and her book did exactly that for this reviewer. Harvard educated attorney, Tama Kieves left a ‘secure’ job as a successful (by the world’s standards) attorney to cavort with her dreams. She wrote about that journey in her first book called This Time I Dance! Since then, she has worked with countless people to assist them in living their own visions. In her second book, Inspired and Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work!, (yes, the word Succeeding is in bold on the cover:) Tama invites the reader into her own messy and marvelous mind. Did I ever feel at home there as she expresses many of the same doubts and fears, joys and challenges that I face as an author who has recently left a long time job to embrace my own path? You betcha!
Particularly engaging about Inspired…is that Tama writes with an authentic voice, without sugar coating her feelings. She dares to be REAL, even if her heart is pounding in rhythm with her doubts. She incorporates musings from her journals as well as quotes from notables such as Wayne Dyer, Pema Chodron, Abraham Hicks, Henry David Thoreau and from A Course In Miracles. At the onset of each chapter are said quotes and at the end are reinforcing concepts that she has already woven into the text which she calls Inspired Successisms. You may find yourself wanting to copy them down, like fortune cookie slips and keep them in your wallet. “Just because you don’t have a plan nailed down doesn’t mean you’re a loose screw.” ” I came to see that self- acceptance does not lead to self- indulgence, but to strength and self -reliance.” and “Love sells. Joy sells. Connection sells. Great energy draws abundant opportunities to you. It’s just natural and inevitable.”
Chapter titles include Lovers Sell More Than Critics, It Takes A Break To Have A Breakthrough, You’ll Have Bigger Fish To Fry When You’re Not Fried, and Take It In Or You Can’t Win. Each one incorporates wisdom gleaned from her own life experiences and those of family, friends and clients over the years. At the back of the book are what she refers to as The Practices: Portals Back To Inspired Living that include exercises such as The Win List (things she has done to keep her dream boat afloat), Mojo Mantras (a phrase that pays to repeat over and over until you absorb it) and Inspired Self-Dialogues ( a conversation between the you who doubts and dramatizes and your wise mind, Higher Self or whatever your perception of the Divine might be). I use these practices and find them helpful.
This book is the ideal guide for anyone who desires to lovingly lead a life (both personally and professionally) that is worthy of the magnficence that they are.
As evening descends on Yom Kippur, I am pleasantly full following a day of fasting. I broke the fast at the home of my friends Barb and Glenn Cohen. I have known Barb since we were 14 and we became ‘blood sisters’ way back when. As seasoned women, we have seen each other through many joys and challenges including children growing up and parents dying. Tonight brought with it a heaping portion of joy, as overflowing as the tables of pot luck food that 20 some family members and friends brought to share. I sat back and watched as multiple generations laughed, chatted, hugged and ate. When it was time to clean up and I carried empty plates out of the the dining room, I noticed a framed poem I had written (one of many I had given them over the years) that honored Yom Kippur. I wrote it 12 years ago and share it with you now.
Yom Kippur-Day of At-One-Ment
On this day, we reconnect with the power and might of God.
Opening our hearts and pouring forth our deepest fears and most fervent prayers.
Allowing the Ruach Hakodesh, the Holy Spirit to descend upon us.
We confess our ‘sins’; those times when we have missed the mark, trusting that
God will allow us to take aim attempt once again to be the people we were meant to be.
We set forth to make amends to those we have harmed, either by thought, word
Or deed, by intention or mischance.
We accept forgiveness of those whose thoughts , actions, words or deeds have injured us in any way.
We recognize the one-ness that exists between ourselves and all creation.
May we know that the opportunity for ‘teshuvah’- turning exists not merely on this day, but everyday.
Edie Weinstein © Copyright 2012
If you read the Bliss Blog for Wednesday, you will have seen that my intention was to go to the waterside and meditate and write. As circumstances would have it, that didn’t occur since other things came up that needed to be handled. I did do the ritual at home with the mala beads, bringing to mind and heart those whose lives have touched mine in profound ways as I sent them love and blessings. I was also called on to face my own judgments toward myself and others. One of the grrrr moments came when I held a thought that ‘people who intentionally harm others shouldn’t get what they want in life’ as if I was in charge of meting out cosmic justice. I believe in karma and life lessons that arrive as a result of our actions. Most who know me, see me as fairly even keeled and calm. Inside is a different story, as I sometimes have a seething cauldron about to boil over when I witness acts of violation toward people or, frankly, any life on the planet. I also know that holding anger and resentment toward folks for their behavior, doesn’t change what they do and feeds the common toxic pot. So, how does a self proclaimed spiritual person who teaches this stuff, face her own judge and jury? She breathes, asks for Divine support and inspiration, reframing the actions as those of people who are clearly hurting in some way. Understanding and being compassionate doesn’t excuse or justify someone’s behavior. Expressing discomfort is a human reaction in and of itself. I attempt to re-direct someone as tactfully as I can, suggesting another way of looking at or interacting. Sometimes it work wonders and other times, it falls flat.
On this day, I am chosing to turn my own judge in, as I too, turn my life around.
http://www.onelovechant.com/music-21.html Return Again performed by One Love Chant (lyrics and music by Shlomo Carlebach)