Thursday, June 16, 2011

Everything is Waiting for You ...

The Path to Infinity by Ben Heine
The Path to Infinity, a photo by Ben Heine on Flickr.
A dear friend and healer gave me a set of David Whyte conversations on CD for a birthday present. I listen intently to one at a time, needing to have a week's space or more in between, so that I can properly digest his offerings and let his words work me.

In the most recent one I listened to, he reads one of his poems, "Everything is Waiting for You" and it halted me, my breath being sucked out of my body. I felt like he was writing about the smallest, most fearful place in me and that there was now a small spotlight on the blemishes of my core wounding to be seen in all its puss and oozing. The poem is equally healing in its gentle reminder to me that the contracted place where the story and belief of abandonment has been created is just a construct and not a Truth. He is writing, in my opinion, about how when we feel and know the presence of a Power greater than ourselves - our ONENESS with all -- there is no solitary me struggling in the world to survive but instead, as the title says,  everything is waiting for me.

The compelling words of David Whyte:

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation. The kettle is singing even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots have left their arrogant aloofness and seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Flowers in the Garbage ...

There is a well-known quote by Buddhist monk,  Thich Nhat Hanh,  that goes like this:
"Out of the garbage,  flowers grow."

This gem depicted above is one such by-product of an urban street curb.   She took my breath away.

Ironically,  I discovered this treasure while I was out on my newly-established Tuesday morning routine of picking up trash around my neighborhood.    I would find today there were many "flowers in the garbage".  

One profound discovery came in the form of a fortune from a fortune cookie that would be my mantra for the morning's garbage collection:   "You can do everything you ought to do."     What this revealed to me in the midst of my routine was that a defect of mine is to find shortcuts.  To not carry something out to the very last detail.   To skip over,  rush and plow through to get to the end.  To find an easier,  softer way.      I was doing this wih my trash pick up;  the obvious pieces that were easy to get to and which caught my eye were the ones that got scooped up.    I kept hearing the words over and over:  "You can do everything you ought to do"  and this propelled me to look under bushes,  under cars,  just below the curb.   I had been missing a world of garbage that begged to be properly discarded !  

I began to make the connection to my healing teacher's piece that I just wrote about earlier this morning and our relationship to linguistic space --- which includes the environment.  What was the "quality" of garbage and which pieces stood out and caught my line of vision more than others?   I am aware that there was something in this inquiry which would help me to understand why I skirt over details.   The garbage that I was most drawn to were the larger, more glaring disruptions in the space as well as those pieces which shimmered -- like foil or newly strewn plastic wrappers or colorful straws.   You could say that these pieces of trash had "attractive" qualities.  To find the other pieces of garbage that didn't have these qualities meant that I had to presence myself more into the space,  changing and adjusting my view to take in more than the shiny objects but now the dull, flat,  even squashed ones.   I needed to bend more,  to slow down,  to soften my focus.   Ahhhhh...  this is part of the last segment learned in our Impersonal Movement practice:  having the eyes gently touch the space and not having a hypervigilant reaching out to the space with the eyes.   Hypervigilance is a long standing strategy of mine;  it has helped me to survive by quickly scanning my surroundings and spotting the things to watch out for.   In doing so,  I miss the "juicy" stuff beneath the surface  -- the details.   When I can let down the guard of my hypervigilance that moves me quickly through a space,  then I get to relax into the space and into myself and everything gets to be seen and revealed.

Oh my God this is so fucking cool !

There were not just flowers in the garbage but a whole underground trash arboretum !

And when I was finished my task for the day,  it was really complete -- in every sense of the word.  No stone unturned,  no wrapper or flattened can or piece of plastic left untouched.   A true feeling of gratification was here for me that felt more authentic because I knew that I was not rushing to meet an outcome but rather I was present and moving with each act of picking something up,  each piece that was located and dropped into the bag.  

I recognized that if I can give this much attention to my gardening,  to my work,  to my relationships to anything I come into contact with,   then I will not be focused on an end product,  attached to a certain outcome,  or desirous of a certain result because of an expectation.  Digging dirt gets to be digging dirt and so on ...

In invaluable lesson that rose up from the litter;  the flowers in the garbage ...

Freeze Frame

Ben #3 by konaboy
Ben #3, a photo by konaboy on Flickr.
My healing teacher has written a piece in which he asks us to examine ourselves in relationship to another -- a friend or enemy -- using the perceptions of what he calls "analog consciousness". I understand this to be a moment at a time or the title of my subject line: "freeze frame".

I did not purposefully bring this analog consciousness to a particular relationship with a student last evening, and yet, perhaps via transmission of the material, I experienced a shift in the way I interacted with this student who has been difficult in class and quite immature.

If this were a reel-to-reel film, these are the frames of the interaction:

1) I am exiting classroom in between small groups to use the bathroom.
2) Student who is sitting in hallway rises up quickly and says: "I need to speak to you right away". I hear and see urgency in her tone and in her expression.
3) I am back with myself and I know I need to use bathroom. I stay with my mission and tell her that I will speak to her after I return.
4) I am not thinking about what she has to tell me in bathroom; I am there to pee and to feel the relief of the void, having held it for last half hour.
5) I walk back in a brisk yet relaxed manner.
6) The student is sitting at a desk directly across from my chair; I sit and ask what she has to tell me.
7) She has her head down and she looks up briefly and is smirking awkwardly. She says: "I don't have a field placement any more."
8) I look directly at her: "Oh. This could pose a problem since you need one to participate in this ... "
9) She rushes in to cut me off. I feel her urgency right here. I don't engage in the power struggle but prepare for receiving the next sentence.
10) She says: "I already found another placement that I think I can do and I know someone who works there."
11) She is playing with papers on her desk nervously. Her leg is shaking wildly.
12) I feel there is something not being said and I pause.
13) I ask: "Can you tell me what happened to cause you to lose this field placement?"
14) She looks down. I feel shame emanating from her.
15) She looks back up and there is a defensive posture wrestling with a frightened little one. I see them both clearly.
16) She says: "I failed a random urine test. It was positive for marijuana."
17) All of the air leaves the room as if the bottom was going to drop out. This is not mine.
18) I feel my feet. I pause. I believe it is only seconds and yet it feels like many minutes.
19) I can feel my student's eyes on me as I am not making eye contact yet but instead contacting my interior.
20) I look up. She is leaning forward and then retreats. She looks nervously around the room. I feel her wanting to be relieved of this confession she's just made.
21) I feel the tender rawness of the space and I feel my responsibility simultaneously.
22) I tell her that I appreciate her honesty with me. She smiles and makes eye contact.
23) I tell her that an internship is as serious a matter as employment. Her smile dissipates and she looks down.
24) I say her name to bring her back into contact. She raises her head slowly.
25) I tell her that she needs to report this to our field liaison.
26) She nods and and replies "I will, I promise."
27) I look at her as if to say: "I really see you now. I didn't before. Thank you for this unexpected invitation."

More students file in and it's time to begin. There is a remant of this interaction that lingers on the ground. My topic tonight is, interestingly enough: "Maturity and Honesty in the Work Place". As I share the title and begin the discussion, I am aware of the threads of the conversation held with the student in front of me. She begins to blend into the scenery and the threads lay around the room like fallen confetti.

For the first time in a month, I do not see the "young black girl covered in tatts and an attitude"; I see a girl on her way to becoming a woman who sees that the world is no longer a playground but has streets to cross and signs to obey. The disobedient one is not "out there" but resides in me and each person seated in the room. The interaction is a blip on the radar and a blur as the night goes on. We are a semi circle of beings relating and connecting. We are already transformed and we are each healing because of the turn in the curves of the space.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Life from an Aerial View ...

I shared with a fellow healer this morning,  whose insights about linguistic space were the catalyst for many uncoverings afterwards,  that I recently experienced a look at my personal interactive life from the view that might be taken if I was perched in a helicopter, hovering just overhead. I have had "glimpses" into my own process in this way, but not while in the middle of an exchange with another person in real time.

The content of the interaction itself is not important;  what is of value to me is that I was able to take this aeriel view -- a window seat to the dynamics of my interior and my exterior -- while being fully present and conscious to all of it as it was transpiring on the ground !

Being in conversation with my friend today helped me to understand that I have the bandwidth to hold any intimate interaction and all of its various and sundried components: transference; contraction;   my strategies and those of the other; objectivity & subjectivity; the big picture; compassionate understanding; kindness for each of us.

And, that in order to have this view, it was necessary that I "vacated the space" -- withdrew my personal Self to take in the longer view -- to allow for the known and unknown to touch, to not taint the unspoken aspects of the interaction with historical and personal agendas, to allow for a "birth" or creation of something else to come forward.

It was also in this space that I could clearly hear the wisdom of my interior and the guidance of my Higher Power. This enabled me to not react, to fully take in what was being conveyed, to not make it about me, to wait for right timing to ask a question or speak a Truth. This felt like a 10th Step process in the space of Briatic consciousness ... the Universe we reside in when we are not operating from the personal-only but rather when we are seated in the space of God-consciousness and Impersonal awareness. This allowed for seeing my part, the other's part and having restraint of tongue. To wait and trust God's timing.

It was hours later that a return to a more enclosed, intimate space allowed for a question to arise organically and it brought me into relationship with the other person. It allowed for an honest exchange and brought me into connection that was free of any personal crap; in fact, I would discover that I had nothing to do with it. It enabled me to see the other's situation with utmost compassion and to experience empathy for all involved.

Life from an aeriel view is looking through God's eyes and, when I am wearing those lenses, I get to see just the Truth and to see it with grace and with love.

Friday, June 10, 2011

To See the Beauty that is You ...

It is a profound moment, as a healer -- a beginner at that -- to witness my healing client remark about how they are able, for the very 1st time in their life, see how beautiful they are. And, even more so, to have watched the buds and petals of this flowering person open over the course of months, just waiting and wondering if they will notice what I believe is so visible.

I basked in my client's shining light as she shared this revelation with me yesterday. She is indeed beautiful -- this time, as she so insightfully noted, from way inside-out. She spoke about how casual aquaintences would ask her what she'd done new with hair, make-up, etc... and she was tickled to know that what she was experiencing was not made up or her imagined sense of enlightenment, but is actually seen and felt by others.

I remember this shift and transition in my own healing process; when the person I would only take a quick glimpse at in the mirror was now catching my eye ... and that I could see the beauty that was me.

This healing work is deeply transformative. Sometimes it does not manifest in an outer way but is a re-wiring or a change in bandwidth or a breaking of historical chains or a re-writing of an old story. And, as my client has experienced, it is a shimmering that radiates from the inside-out and can't help but beam in one's eyes, face, smile, entire being.

To see the beauty that is you, that is me ... it is an exquisite moment of healing.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Resurrecting the Church Basement

Yesterday, my siblings and I put on an 80th Birthday Bash for our mother. This was not a surprise, but rather a "you better be doing this for me" event that was orchestrated by Mom's guilt-induced tactics at every family occasion for the past year.

Given our collective meager budget, we opted for the church basement -- a place growing up where you were subject to every occasion that was to be commemorated: baptisms; confirmations; birthdays; anniversaries; graduations; holidays.

This basement conjured up a lot of memories for me, most of which were of the sacreligious variety: making out with Billy Campbell (eww, bad acne and goofy glasses) in the choir room closet, behind the gowns; drinking Boone's farm wine and smoking pot with my sister and other assorted youth group hoodlums in the room where old hymnals were put to weather and die. The place still had that musty smell mixed with old women's cheap perfume and moth balls.

We dressed it up as best as we could, having to resort to the same old rickety folding chairs as I remember 4 decades ago and putting disposable tablecloths and pink rose centerpieces over the very worn, rectangular tables that were literally on their last aluminum legs.

I can remember my sister and I being servers for the quarterly Ham dinners for the Men's group of the church and when we were in that very kitchen yesterday, the same dishes, platter trays and archaic coffee urns were still in use.

In fact, not a blessed thing (pun intended) had changed.

What was, however, resurrected for me was the joy and merriment of being with loved ones in this institution that I am well aware saved my Mother, giving her the strength she needed in order to keep our alcoholic home in some assemblance of order. I looked around the room at the many church members who literally watched me grow up right in front of their eyes. I wondered if they really knew the inside scoop of what was happening in our home, esp the suited man that would dutifully sit next to his wife on the end of the church pew, reeking of stale beer from the night before. These folks were my mother's anchors.

A number of people came up to me yesterday to tell me about how special my mother is, how she was a 2nd mom to them or how generous she has been with her time. I really took this in and did not experience the kind of contraction I may have in the past from that little one's perspective of feeling like she did not get this or did not see this. These are my mother's people, her true family -- just as I have found in my own spiritual community and in my AA fellowship.

I recognize that this Church was indeed (and perhaps still is) my mother's salvation. This is her Home.

Happy Birthday Mom. May you continue to age gracefully and healthily in God's loving arms.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lost and Found ...

Pencil Vs Camera - 32
Originally uploaded by Ben Heine

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

I am reading a book by Geneen Roth, the title of which is "Lost and Found" and she speaks about "unexpected revelations about food and money". For me, substitute the word food for alcohol and she is most definitely writing with me in mind. The jumping off point in this book is her losing 30 yrs of her life savings, a million dollars, in the grubby hands of Bernie Maddoff's investment scam. She is now catapulted into discovering what can be found from all that was lost and the similarties in behavior and the isms behind her eating disorder connected to her relationship with money.

This puts much into perspective for me. I have not lost a million dollars and I don't have any life savings ! What I believe I lost in these recent dire times is not actually anything of monetary value, but rather the illusory belief that a flow of checks coming in could provide me with all the security I would ever need, that I would indeed be taken care of in a way that I have longed for all of my life. What has been found for me is captured in the lyrics above: amazing Grace. I might add, humility. A return home, to God, to the relationship that is exactly what saves a wretch like me. I don't know how many times I need to try to take my will back before I realize that my way doesn't do diddly-squat !

Every time I can get on my knees or call out while naked in the shower or sing as I rise in the morning to make my connection with God, I have found my security. It is all I ever need.

And, here's the cool part, there are so many things I now can see that don't cost me a dime but which I have found to bring me immense joy. Digging in the earth is one; picking up trash is another. Yes you heard me right: the filthy, nasty, crumpled up stuff that people toss about the streets of my neighborhood. I covered a 4 block radius in the scorching early summer heat the other day to finally walk-the-walk and stop complaining about my littered sidewalks. I donned old gardening gloves and a large trash bag and headed out to pick up unthinkable things like used condoms, even a tampon (ick!), and every type of beer can or bottle you can think of. The most popular item to be tossed onto the street: empty chewing gum cardboard containers. So at least I know that my inconsiderate neighbors have fresh breath ! Many people stopped to say thanks and car drivers honked and gave thumbs up -- these were the unexpected gifts that were found. And, a handful of others glared and stared at me, with looks that almost spoke aloud: "Oh, look at the pitiful thing, having to pick up trash." I found such humility in the physical labor of this, the ugliness of this, the beauty after doing this ...

I want to sing again !
Amazing Grace,
how sweeeeeeeet the sound.
That saved a wretch like ME !
I once was LOST
but now, am FOUND.
Was blind, but now
I see.