I want patience and I want it NOW! If you are anything like me, there are times when things just aren’t happening quickly enough. Traffic, payment for services rendered, responses to emails and phone calls, my own accomplishments all seem like they move at a snail’s pace when my inner two year old is out and about. My mother used to advise “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” and she was on target, since when I rush through something, the quality isn’t as I would have it be and I feel all churned up inside. Yesterday brought with it, just that kind of experience. I left my house in plenty of time, under normal circumstances, to get to a wedding rehearsal for a couple I will be marrying on Friday night. The ceremony is at a caterer around the corner from the suburban South Jersey town where I had grown up. I knew how to get there by heart and yet, a middle age moment kicked in and I found myself turned around several times en route. Then torrential rains came in briefly, but enough to slow traffic and then it was paradoxically named ‘rush hour’; a misnomer, I had always thought, since no one could rush anywhere. I called the groom twice on the way, to assure him that I was almost there. In the meantime, I could feel my gut churning and frustration rising. I knew that it wasn’t the energy I wanted to carry into the rehearsal, so I let out a roar in the car and embellished it with a few words not normally in my spiritual vocabularly. Boy did that feel good. I could feel the impatience dissipate as I assured myself that my calm, someone newly restored zen mood would get me there sooner and certainly saner.
I began to listen and sing along to lovely kirtan chanting by Deva Premal and Miten which always serves to bring me to a state in which I would much prefer to dwell. I arrived about 20 minutes later than expected and everyone was fine; no one else seemed upset with my late appearance and I could forgive myself for it.
With regard to patience in other areas of my life, I have learned that accomplishments occur when they do and that when I look back at what I have done in the past year or so, I do really think that I have produced a fair amount to earn my place in the hallowed halls of ‘holy smokes that woman is busy!’ And so, in this moment, I am cutting myself some slack, offering compassion to the woman who sometimes whirls at such a pace that she whirls with tornado like speed as she instead, becomes an easy flowing stream~
Row row row your boat…
I had been familiar with a profoundly simple modality called The Work of Byron Katie for many years, having interviewed the woman with the gender neutral name, who has indeed become a household name partly by virtue of her first book called Loving What Is, her appearance on Oprah and being featured in TIME Magazine. In 1986, Katie had a revelation while in the throes of depression and addiction. When she believed her thoughts, she suffered. When she didn’t believe her thoughts, she didn’t suffer and so created a four question inquiry process and added a ‘turn-around’ which asks the practitioner to turn the troubling thought every which way to determine which feels ‘true or truer’ to that person.
1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without that thought?
I had experience back in 2005, with Christopher Fromkin who is a trained facilitator of The Work, in the midst of some life challenges and he skillfully assisted me in moving through them fairly gracefully. We remain friends to this day and I thank him for his wisdom. This past Sunday had me again taking a long standing life issue to inquiry in a workshop facilitated by my friend Annabella Wood who was introduced to Katie in 1990 and became a certified facilitator in 2002. Annabella is a multi-faceted being who was newly ordained as an interfaith minister, has a handywoman biz, is a talented singer-songwriter-performer and for several decades, was a long distance truck driver. On this day, she was surrounded by 18 eager students, while wearing a way cool shirt that was embellished with a guitar and musical notes.
The workshop began with having us complete a form that I’ve laughed about every time I have seen it over the years, because it is called Judge Your Neighbor. Since we all do that, it is an apt title. Everything we judge as being bad, wrong, not ok, can be a stumbling block to healing. I differentiate between discernment about unhealthy situations from which we might need to extricate ourselves, to out and out judging that if someone doesn’t ‘do it our way’, then they are wrong. Who hasn’t felt that way from time to time?
I watched as Annabella masterfully assisted a woman in ‘taking to inquiry’ her feelings and thoughts about a strained relationship with her sister that had impeded her for a few decades. I was amazed how Annabella really nailed some of the issues with The Work as a tool, while her intuition enhanced her perceptions. When the session with my classmate was over and Annabella inquired about who was ready to roll up their sleeves and be next, I found myself raising my hand. I had come there for that reason, not to be an observer, but to fully immerse myself in the process and come away with some gems. That I did. I also noticed some combatting thoughts…wanting to have healing and a sense of resolution and not wanting to monopolize, since I reasoned that other people likely had more pressing concerns or even trauma to process. Since that is my MO, to deflect, minimize…who me? needy? No way… it was even more urgent to step up. So I did.
Sitting opposite Annabella, I found myself sharing that while I enjoy being center stage, I often hurry through what I have to say, especially as a workshop participant, since I hadn’t wanted to ‘take up too much time.’ It harkens back to childhood in which I relished the experience being the center of attention and ‘loved best of all’, and I didn’t want to steal anyone’s thunder. I sometimes felt I did that with my younger sister. So, I presented my issue which is about reciprocity of support and what became startlingly apparent was another set of conflicting beliefs that part of the reason I seek support is a lack of confidence in my own abilities that somehow require validation from an outside and on the surface ‘more successful’ source and a sense of resentment that I don’t always receive in kind, the support I offer. Feeling disengenuous and manipulative at times, I offer support ‘because I can’ and had expected that anyone else who could….welll……’should’ and if they didn’t, I made them wrong in my mind. As I was exploring this dynamic using The Work, I found myself with the physical manifestation of my thoughts, which included a choking up, shortness of breath, hurried speech. Annabella kindly instructed me to slow down my pace and asked the others in the room if they minded that I take my time and really get into it. Not only did they not mind, they welcomed the opportunity to see someone who has this well armored facade, let it down. It can get really heavy after awhile.
As tears flowed and layers of guardedness fell away, I felt a sense of relief that at least for this period of time, I didn’t have to hide beyond my spiritual PC image, really getting to the nitty gritty. I know that I have more to do with this issue, but by the time the workshop was complete, I had a much clearer understanding of myself and the ways in which things just are, rather than how I think they should oughta be.
To learn more about The Work
My friend Lyn Stankavage Hicks offered this wisdom that jumped off the page at me first thing this morning, that beckoned to be shared and expounded upon.
You know that when a CD is dedicated to the child of the artists, then it is a double blessing, a true ‘labor of love’. Stars is an offering to the world as well as to the angelic Tulsi Magdalena, daughter of sacred chant artists David and Mira Newman. David (Durga Das) has himself been a star in the celestial kirtan community for many years, originating in my home town of Philadelphia which is how I became acquainted with his music.
Stars is a compilation of songs that are a blending of familiar Samskrit mantras with David’s invocations/invitation to dance with the magic and mystery of life. The opening song, Dreaming is a swaying back and forth melody with lovely lyrics that acknowledge “seeing is believing that dreams do come true….come back to the arms of your Beloveds in dreams.” It creates a seamless flow into Durga Maharani (an ode to the Hindu Goddess) with the sweet voiced Mira entering into call and response which is in keeping with the musical form of kirtan. The bluesy Love Belongs To Everyone/Gayatri is a reminder of what is so and begins with the lyrics to one of most ancient chants: The Gayatri Mantra.
Om Bhur Bhuvah Swah Tat Savirthur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat
We meditate on the glory of the Creator; Who has created the Universe
Who is worthy of Worship; Who is the embodiment of Knowledge and Light
Who is the remover of all Sin and Ignorance; May He enlighten our Intellect
As Ancient Spirals was playing, I could imagine closing my eyes and spinning in ever growing circles…”Om Namah Shivaya” which honors the Divinity within is woven throughout. Thinking of You/Krishna offers “Open your heart, let the light of the world shine through you. Be bold, be free, be beautiful….remember there’s someone who’s thinking of you.”, are the skippity, bopping along lyrics. We Are What We Are/Sri Ram…. includes the “I am you are we are what we are beyond compare…boundless, limitless, fearless, free..” gently rap-voiced by David. A lullabye for their darling daughter with whom I’ve had the joy to dance and play at a kirtan they offered a few months ago, called Tulsi’s Bliss (Maha Mantra), tickles the heart as it opens with her delightful giggles. The title song Stars gives gratitude for the love that these beautiful bhaktis share. “I felt your eyes upon me and a stirring in my soul..the river finds its ocean, the light brings darkness to its knees. ….We are like stars, stars in the sky. The darker this night, the brighter we will shine.”One of my most cherished Hindu deities is honored in the final cut: Ganesh Under Moonlight with the tradional chant Jai Ganesha, Sri Ganesha, Ganapataye” being supported by gently jangling bells and the lilting chirps of crickets calling out to the night sky.
Other Philly local friends Ron Kravitz, Randy Sutin, Corey J. Sokoloff, Sam Rossitto, Rhoni Groff , Steven G. Chants (Steven Groff) and Jade Groff offer their talents as well. What a love fest that recording session must have been!
Stars would be the perfect accompaniment for a yoga practice, improv dance class, long drive or simply as a pleasant companion while you sip a cup of your favorite soothing beverage and sigh in surrender..ahhhh~
www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJQXFBcSO5M Thinking of You
A portion of the proceeds from the CD will be donated to Witness which is a human rights organization. www.witness.org