A few weeks ago I “pulled a muscle.” You’d think at my age that I would know better than to shovel snow; but it was such a pretty, blue-sky day, and I felt so good, that I simply didn’t think. Two days later my back ached. By the end of the week I couldn’t walk, and soon an old sciatica, reignited, was shooting pain down into my foot.
I’ve done everything imaginable to get well again, including doctors, chiropractors and PT, heat, cold, back brace, and prayers by wonderful Silent Unity, plus energy work like Reiki and Cranial Sacral. It’s just going to take time. Meanwhile I would find myself falling sometimes into such self-pity that I started scolding myself for the pity-parties I despise.
“If self-pity hastened the cure,” laughed one friend who has her own problems, “I’d have an amazing recovery!” And yet the pity is not wrong. Instead of critical self-pity, though, why don’t I call it self-compassion? When I acknowledge my sorrow, my low spirits shift, move off. Let’s talk, therefore, about loving ourselves with all our frailties and failures.
Last week as I lay on the massage table for a long and luxurious cranial-sacral treatment, drifting in and out of awareness, I found myself praying to my body. All my life my body has done whatever I asked of it, and I don’t think it had ever occurred to me before to give it thanks. Continue reading
One of the joys of writing a blog is to discover that someone reads it. These past weeks I’ve received several reports of spiritual experiences—and I want to tell them all. But I pick only two– both concerning life after death: one came from “C.” (name withheld), whose husband died, and the other is about a dog. (Don’t you love Pope Francis, by the way, affirming that dogs and other pets may well go to heaven: Well, YES! Who wants to be in a heaven without our beloved dog, cat, horse, turtle, snake?)
Story # 1: Bill lay dying in hospice, his family gathered around. Earlier his daughter had asked him for a sign. “ If there is a heaven, and if you’re there, show me a sign. You’re so clever. If anyone can do it, you can!” And then a grandson reinforced it. “You have to give Mom a sign that you’re ok. She’s going to have a hard time with this, so it can’t be vague.” Continue reading
Years ago I interviewed the Dalai Lama for my book, The Ecstatic Journey, Walking the Mystical Path in Everyday Life. The book is about what happens when you have a spiritual experience and what happens afterwards, and it was written out of my own need for such a guide after having had some dramatic spiritual experiences. (We all have them; why don’t people talk about it?) The interview took place in Dharmashala, India, and it was life-transforming. Yet now, years later, I think of questions I didn’t ask. I wish I had the chance to do it over again. And yet, it was extraordinary. First, I was bowled over by his greeting. He saw me walking down the colonnade of his office and living quarters, turned and strode forward, hands out, his face wrinkling with smiles. Holding my hand, he led me into his office, directed me to a couch. “Sit here,” he said, “What can I do to help you?” Wow! That’s how I want to be greeted. What’s with this English reserve I learned while growing up? Why didn’t I ever express such joy at seeing someone? Why didn’t I make them comfortable like that? Right there, my trip to India paid for itself! Second was the depth of the interview. “When I was young,” he told me, “I used to think I could attain enlightenment.Now I know I have only this much.” He illustrated with thumb and forefinger only ¼ inch apart.
The Stories We Tell Ourselves
Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed down-stairs a step at a time. Mark Twain
Not long ago a friend, Rachel, phoned me in tears. She’d spent all day in despair—a Sabbath, and therefore a full, free day to reflect on how useless, worthless, and defective she was, and, how depressed! It’s not unusual. I know people who would not speak to a dog the way they talk to themselves.
From earliest childhood her mentally-ill mother had instilled the message that Rachel was no good, unloved, fated for failure, even wicked, vile. It was probably the same story that had been told the mother (and therefore mentally ill?), passed down from generation to generation since the Middle Ages. Continue reading