Spirituality: Amazing Grace V

“Have you considered the role of pure channel?” Elizabeth is looking at me directly.  This is my first visit to my second healer.  Elizabeth is intense, other-worldly—even as we go through the initial interview process.

“I don’t know.  What would that involve?  It sounds like a lot of responsibility.  I feel I have already been responsible and am still responsible.  The idea of taking on the role of pure channel makes me feel almost angry, as if a rebellion might be incited inside of me.  And, in physical, logistical terms, I cannot imagine myself walking up to strangers and giving them their personal, medical information.”

“Life is a process of co-creation,” Her statement hangs in the air.  Everything feels weightier in this space.  Words matter. Thought forms have density.  Actions are like heavy water.

Contracts are being reworked.

“So, who do you think you are?” Elizabeth presses.

“I do not know.  I really liked making art.  Beauty is important to me—creating beautiful things.  I miss that a lot.”

Spirituality

I make the shift from the chair to the healing table.  Elizabeth uses a very different approach to working than the first healer.  From my perspective, this session feels more organic, less structured around specific protocols—as though some ancient blocks are being brought out into the Light.  During the session, I watch as the sculptural tools I have been carrying leave my body in favor of a beautiful, new pen and pencil desk set—quite exquisite.  I leave feeling significantly lighter and almost buoyant.

Spirituality: Amazing Grace IV

Sitting in a firm chair, I face an entire bank of exquisitely crafted, wooden-framed windows. The sun is bright and beautiful as it streams into this new healer’s semi-circular space. Even though there are only two of us in the room, the space feels full—as though the angels are nigh. There is a peace and stillness pervading everything. I now understand why this healer seemed so far and away when we spoke on the phone.

She is carrying on not one, but two conversations at a time. As we speak about who I am, where I am going and why I am present, the council of angels seems to be weighing in, participating in her series of questions, as well as her responses. I open our conversation thus:

Spirituality

“A lot of my life seems to be tied up in understanding how to deal with my intuition. Before I worked with the healer whom Doctor Helen first recommended, I only had infrequent ‘prophetic’ dreams and occasional occurrences of ‘just knowing’ certain things about some people. In the past, I realized that often outed people socially—inadvertently, not realizing that I was intuitive. Now, with my third-eye open, it feels like I am getting way too much information. Let me give you an example.

“I ride the university-hospital bus downtown. The other day, a family was riding the bus from the far parking lot. Their brother is in the hospital for surgery to remove a brain tumor. I could not help but overhear. And, all of a sudden, I am being told, ‘He needs to stop using his cellphone. He should not be eating meat for at least six to eight months. He is not getting enough fresh vegetables. Also, his schedule is too busy. If he wants to heal, he needs to make some significant lifestyle changes to maintain his physical frame.’

“Why am I getting this information? I should not be getting other people’s stuff. And, what good is this level of information, if I do not pass it along? I feel there is a certain degree of moral responsibility that comes with receiving all of this private, medical information belonging to other people.”

“Did you talk to the family on the bus? Did you give them this information?” Elizabeth asks pointedly.

“No. What would I have said? ‘Hi, I’m an intuitive, and I could not help but overhear your conversation. This information about your brother just came through, and I thought you should have it.’ I am barely among the living myself. I really don’t need any bad vibes from strangers because ‘the crazy lady on the bus’ is interrupting their already stressful lives.”

“Some people are grateful for information from a pure channel,” Elizabeth notes in a calm, even tone.

“I am not sure that I am up to it—not at this point anyway,” I respond.

Spirituality: Amazing Grace III

“I want you to go see a different healer,” Doctor Helen was breaking into my consciousness with another recommendation. I had reached a plateau in the process of my physical repair.

“Someone else? Who?” I asked her. I felt some uncertainty about shifting gears. I had come a long way. Life seemed almost normal. I did not want to stop the healing process, the progress.

“I want you to go see a woman who used to work in the medical field. She works out of the healing arts building. When you call, tell her that I sent you.   Let me write down her phone number.”

Spirituality

Going  home with the number crammed in my pocket on a small slip of paper, I waited until late afternoon to make the call. The voice on the answering machine seemed ephemeral, other-worldly. Breathe. Relax. I left my information, indicating that Doctor Helen had recommended I call.

The call back came a day or so later. Again, I had that same sense that the person to whom I was speaking was somehow far away. We scheduled an appointment. When I made an inquiry as to her rates, I was amazed to learn that her services were more affordable than the first healer, with whom I had been working.

Given our tight, graduate-student budget, I wondered, “Why had Doctor Helen not sent me to this healer first?” Everything became clear during our first meeting.

Spirituality: Amazing Grace II

Stepping into the home of my first official healer, I also step across the invisible threshold set up in my childhood, designed to protect me from illusion, traveling medicine wagons and promises of false cures.

“What an odd place to be,” I think.

The woman I am seeing trained with Barbara Brennan, which means she has done a substantial amount of self-work, as well as completing a full battery of academic science credits in anatomy, physiology and psychology.  She also possesses the gift of second sight—the means by which she does her healing work; thus, she can “see” energetically.  (Think Superman’s x-ray vision plus a clear view of all of the new-age aura phenomena.)

At some point during our interview,  I realize that I have actually met her once at Doctor Helen’s, where she turned away from me as though I were a street-walker with a heroin problem who had just crawled out of the gutter intent on crashing  Doctor Helen’s place for a plate of free food.  I wondered what she was seeing.  Her face readily confessed that, whatever she was seeing, it was not pretty.  The reaction seemed peculiar to me as I lead a pretty laced-up existence.

And, with my ego in full form at that moment, I thought, “Healer or not, she certainly is no candidate for poker in Vegas.”

So, here we were, seated across from one another in her remodeled and meticulously kept office, having a brief interview about why I am interested in a session.  Doctor Helen sent me.  What do I hope to get out of the session?  Better.

“Pragmatic.  I must keep an open mind.  I must remain pragmatic,” I am almost humming the mantra of the hour as I make myself comfortable on the healing table.

We begin and my third-eye flies open.  This is amazing.

Watching as she works her way through my energetic centers, she starts with the base chakra.  No serious stuff here.  Second chakra is a little wobbly.  Third chakra needs attention.  The filter is completely missing.  She realigns this energetic center, replacing the filter and giving me some tips about ensuring the filter’s proper placement and continued presence in my life.  Moving up, my heart seems to be suffering from some road burn.  I witness bits of gravel leaving.  Throat is cranky, looking something like the tin-man’s throat chakra needing some oil.

Spirituality

My third-eye is amazing, the crown-jewel of my system.  This would be my gift.  I feel profound gratitude for my new ability to actually see what is going on spiritually.  I will no longer have to rely upon merely sensing things, nor will I have to deal with people telling me I am excessively sensitive or, worse, that I possess an over-active imagination.  Second sight provides something of a visual confirmation for that which is unseen.  This is Reality.  My healthy skepticism will provide a balancing counterpoint to my gift.

At the top of my head, my crown seems to be over-stuffed, metaphorically, with antiquated space junk, which is logical in light of the mantra on pragmatism I have been using to integrate all of the new modalities and information coming in.  Where is the NASA clean-up crew?

We are finished.  The session is over.  I am left on the table with a timer ticking so that I do not rise too quickly.  It happened all too fast.  While I gel on the healing table, I hear water running in the sink upstairs.

And, although I am glimmering with Light, there is a fresh sorrow in my heart at not being able to stay in this state of Grace just a little bit longer.

Spirituality: Amazing Grace I

Over twenty of us are seated around a large oval dining table, replete with all manner of edibles atop an antique-white tablecloth.  It was a group effort to bring everything and everyone together in celebration for our hostess’ surprise eighty-somethingeth birthday.

Words of thanksgiving, honor and gratitude rise to the dining room’s tall ceiling, as we take turns telling stories about how Doctor Helen managed to grant us additional time and space to live in and with a variety of medical diagnoses “too advanced, incurable, untreatable, permanent condition or—sometimes—inoperable.”

Between tears of joy and gratitude, Doctor Helen gestures with her arthritic hands, uttering “Sh, sh. That’s enough.”

Despite her protests, the stories rumble on.  And, we all celebrate living.

Spirituality

Over a year earlier, on the day I was scheduled to meet Doctor Helen for the first time, my husband stops the car outside of her home. I am not particularly hopeful or enthusiastic about seeing yet another MD.  But, a trusted neighbor recommended her work. Technically, Helen is retired and practicing everything but traditional allopathic medicine.  Coming from my recent experiences with allopathic medicine and from a skeptical, academic/medical home culture—where even spinal adjustments were considered akin to voodoo—I am not looking forward to visiting with any aspect of what Helen represents, whether it is traditional or alternative.

Before entering her home, my husband makes a point of turning off the vehicle and stopping me to establish eye contact.

“I want you to set aside all of your preconceived notions about medicine.  I don’t know what she practices, but I do know she put the color back into our child’s face.  I hope she can help you.”  This is coming from the mouth of an old-school doctor’s son.  I leave the car with this thought rolling around in my head.

Doctor Helen offers many new options to absorb, consider, experience, reject or embrace.  Fortunately I possess a broad pragmatic streak and high level of innate curiosity.  These two personality traits have allowed me to explore a broader range of alternative-care modalities than most individuals might normally consider.  Yet, just as I  found my new comfort zone in the realm of alternative therapies, Doctor Helen surprises me one day with another idea.

“I want you to go see a healer,” she announces.

“Why?” I ask in all earnestness.

“I think there are some old things that need to be addressed that the other treatments are not taking care of.  I can feel it here,” she says rubbing her sternum with the heel of her hand.

And, because Doctor Helen is the doctor, I capitulate.  “Okay, if you think that it is best, I will give it a try,” I respond dutifully.

After all, what do I have to lose?

Christ Like

“How Christ like can we become?”  This was the question posed to a group of us attending a program being lead by an Orthodox Christian Priest.

Before even being able to seriously entertain the question, I ran—SMACK—right into issues within my own theological baggage compartment.  Who knew my luggage car had become so overfull?  My train of thought ran along the lines of, “How dare he even entertain the idea that any of us could ever attempt to become perfected—as Jesus was.”

Spirituality

I had been taught to revere Jesus and his work from a formal distance, walking a full three spare feet behind him in deference to his status.  Jesus was someone of mythic proportions, an extraordinary god-human-being who walked an earth in and of the past.  In my mind, I always maintained a respectful distance, as one would grant royalty, from the person of Jesus, his life and his ministry.  Jesus had become Other.  I had to open the door on my mind’s rolling train to boot some ancient luggage from the car, so that I could even think about the proposed question.

What would it mean to become Christ like?  In truth, it would mean embracing some of the East’s most cherished spiritual principles.  Non-attachment:  Drop your nets, follow me.  Take my cloak, for I have two, and you have none.  Non-harming:  What you do to the least of these, you do to me.  Or, appropriate placement of one’s vital energy:  Leave the kitchen, listen to me.  Do not speak, until the words are given to you.  Selfless service:  Heal the sick.  Feed the hungry.  And, ultimately, surrender to a higher power (dedicating the merit—of one’s life):  If required, release the cup of poison, and take the cross.  This is living of a different order.

 

Breathe with Me

“Can you breathe with me?”

Kneeling next to a large recliner with her hand resting gently on the chair’s arm, “Nancy” (not the individual’s real name) invites a cardiac patient in respiratory distress to change his breathing pattern.  The house is a familiar call.  Two additional Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) are on Nancy’s heels setting up the equipment to deliver the required medical treatment.

Spirituality

During one of my CPR trainings, I learn about Nancy and her unusually calm demeanor from one of the instructors who also teaches EMT certification courses.  As an EMT certifier, the instructor is required to complete several active-duty EMT shifts annually, which is how he has come to know and work with Nancy.  If she is on duty, Nancy is the preferred first responder in situations where respiratory distress is involved.  Her “uncanny ability” assists other EMT’s by granting them valuable time for the set up of critical-care equipment.  As a professional meditation and yoga instructor, listening to what is described as Nancy’s almost “magical effect” in such circumstances, I note that Nancy is employing the use of a technique known as entrainment.

Entrainment is what happens when an individual gives up his or her own independent breathing pattern or rhythm, for a time, to accept the breathing pattern or rhythm of another individual or group.   Entrainment is a formal pedagogical tool in some spiritual traditions.  It is used primarily to ready an individual or group for receipt of a teaching, to grant an aspirant the opportunity to stand in another’s shoes, thereby, assisting in the teaching of compassion.  Or, it may be employed  to share experiences of certain emotional states (joy, freedom, calmness) or states of consciousness (forgiveness, surrender, unconditional love).

The most critical component behind the  employment of entrainment is a sincere desire on the part of the lead breather, if you will, to serve selflessly. 

Of the Spirit, Dreams & Dreaming

Spirituality

“I do not know how you feel about dreams and dreaming, but I have been having a reoccurring dream about you,” the sentence comes out of my mouth with explosive apprehension.  My discomfort is growing, yet my sense of obligation to report what I have been seeing in my dreams is greater than my personal discomfort. “Sometimes I see things—in real time or in dreams—and, I feel an obligation to pass them on, unless someone demonstrates an observable, radical shift in behavior.

Deciding not to wait for feedback, I plow ahead, “In the dream, I keep seeing you in this studio space, splayed out on the floor.  You have suffered a massive heart attack.  My sense is that you need to slow down professionally—to make some changes in the number of work duties that you are committed to.  That is all that I have to relate.”

Silence. Then, we both return to business as usual.

In a few weeks, I learn that the recipient of my news has resigned his administrative duties. My Spirit feels a great sense of relief and hope for the future.

Learning to Let Go

“Why did you leave the weekend program early?”   The question is posed to me over the phone on a Sunday evening by one of the program’s key organizers.

“This morning, I reached a point in the teachings where I had been given what I needed to continue my own work.  I left early to apply those principles,” I answer trying not to express my surprise about the late-evening call.

“The teacher was concerned about what might have happened to you.  He felt that a connection was made over dinner last night.  Your departure prior to the closing session was confusing.  It seemed abrupt.”

“Please reassure him that everything is fine.  I am fine.  The light bulb came on during the morning session, so I went home to apply what had been presented.  Thank you for checking in with me.  Give him my regards.”

I hung up the phone thinking, “How odd to actually have someone call me at home.”

Spirituality

Years prior, when I was functioning in the role of a teacher, working as a paid intern in a secondary school, there was a particularly difficult traditional piece of literature which was part of the curriculum.  With so many new and amazing voices available in modern, global literature, I felt the crunch and crush of the classics taking the wind out of my students’ sails.  To accommodate for the rigidity of the traditional reading, I decided to make the choice of projects about the reading as broad and inclusive as possible.  Think paper-machéd theatre masks, live musical presentations, silk-screened t-shirts, Greek food dishes and one-act, in-room dramas.

What had been one of the most reputedly dreaded of academic uglies, in terms of assigned readings, blossomed into an amazing, impromptu project fair.  Students were able to choose how best to express their comprehension of the material in a manner closest to their individual skill sets and expressive hearts.

Walking through the halls with my mentoring faculty member near the week’s end, I observe, “The amount of pride I feel about the projects coming out of this assignment is absurd.  I did not personally create any of these things.  These students are not my children.  This pride or ownership is embarrassing really—hubristic.”

Thoughtfully my mentor answers, “Yes, but you created the environment—the assignment parameters—allowing these kids to shine.  Some of them have never experienced this level of creative freedom before, especially in a classroom setting with a traditional reading.”

“Nonetheless,” I ruminate, “there is something discomforting about the degree of emotional involvement I am experiencing.”

Whatever role we are playing—the person on the seat of the two-wheeled bike learning how to ride or the person hanging on to the back of the seat assisting with the mastery of balance—there comes a time to let go.

Economic Lottery & The American Dream

It is day two of my trip home on the Greyhound bus. I am crossing the expansive landscapes of many large states, pondering the artificial boundaries separating the various people of the United States. We sway and move to the inaudible music of the road passing beneath us, together for purposes of travel, while trying hard to remain apart out of respect for each others’ sense of space.

Sometimes there is conversation—sometimes not. Many passengers have spent days on the bus, traveling to see family and friends. Frequent breaks for passenger pick-up and drop-off, the humane stretching of our legs and the respectful nod toward nature seem to serve mostly as cigarette breaks for the majority of passengers.

At one stop, watching most every man and woman file off the bus for a ten-minute cigarette break, I am virtually alone when I hear this giant of a man in the seat kitty-corner and behind me exclaim with amazement into the empty air, “You’re all a bunch of smokin’ b*tches.”

I smile at the forthrightness of the observation and turn to give him a quiet nod of affirmation. My compatriot is as big and black, younger than myself, with jet-black lashes that are so thick, long and curly they look artificial. He could be a line-backer.

Spirituality
Spirituality

At one stop, where we have enough time to purchase something to eat, I note my non-smoking, line-backer friend has picked up a salad for dinner. Turning to him, I comment on the obvious, “It is really hard to eat healthy foods on these trips.”

He nods as an over-sized, plastic-fork-full of salad travels the distance to his mouth. I wonder how he keeps his frame going on iceberg lettuce, bits of shredded carrot, a few slices of cucumber and three anemic cherry tomatoes. He and I do not appear to have anything in common, except that we both do not smoke and seem to favor healthier foods.

“Eavesdropping” on a conversation between two wiry, retired veterans—one white and one black—both hard-of-hearing and diabetic, I learn that one of the men is traveling across country, back to the east coast after a visit to Vegas. This means days on the bus. After the conversation finishes and one veteran gets off at the next stop, I plop down beside the remaining vet. He draws a curtain of privacy around himself by plugging in his ear-buds and listening to tunes. With the shift in seats, I can hear a melody seeping from around his ear-buds, so I decide to do the audacious thing and ask about his music.

“What are you listening to?” I pipe up.

Pulling one ear-bud from my side of his head, he turns to introduce himself, “My name is Martin,” while extending his hand. “‘Part-time Lover’—you know that song?”

Taking his hand in my own, we shake. “My name is Julian. Just like a guy’s name. Can you call up anything by The Gap Band?”

“The Gap Band, you like them?” Martin asks, expressing a subtle level of surprise.

“Yeah…something with a heavier beat. I am not a huge fan of late, Stevie-Wonder songs,” I confess. My truth is out.

At this point, my line-backer friend starts the call and response, “You like The Gap Band?”

Martin finishes scrolling through his options, “Okay. Here it goes.”

We listen quietly (Greyhound rules), “You dropped a bomb on me, baby. You dropped a bomb on me…”— as an extended three-some. More conversational popcorn happens. And, at some point, I am asked about what I do.

“I am a writer.”

“Hey, me too,” my line-backer friend responds. “I have two books coming out.”

It is then that I understand why the economic disparity in wages and in living conditions remains intact and largely unchallenged in the United States.   We are a bunch of madcap gamblers. The majority of Americans and United States émigrés still hold a fundamental belief and trust in the ability of an individual to better his or her personal lot, through skill, creativity, luck, originality, invention, investment, avarice, altruism, parsimony or some combination thereof.

Whether we call ourselves writers, musicians, politicians, do-gooders, investors, bankers, hard workers or adventurers, we live in a nation of risk-takers. My sense is that the majority of Americans would rather play and pay for a high-stakes, all-out win than go through the process of changing our economic system. In accepting this condition, we fail to assist those who may never possess a winning scratch card, and we lose the opportunity to devise a more equitable way of compensating people for the hours they work.  We are, as my fellow writing peer might say, a bunch of gamblin’ b*tches.