I'll never forget my sister's green dress,
soft as moss, and softer still
her embrace, made delicate by
tear after tear of letting go - finally
and my long lost cousin, tall as a mountain,
his quiet strength and eyes,
oh the eyes, and when they met mine
we knew, we just knew
and my brother-in-law's speech
full of confidence and bravado, as is
his way, whose voice broke humbly
when he mentioned his daughter, who died
and the brightly lit luncheon, where
everyone noticed the patchwork quilts
decorating the walls, intricately, carefully
stitched, popping with color and texture
here and there, like the pop of energy, the pop
of Life, like flowers bursting, or popcorn
popping, all along the long white table
a quivering chin, a contorted face, a smile
or a laugh, and eyes meeting eyes
with a touch or a glance, and gazes drifting
to unknown places.
Life being Life
made brighter by
my Father's death.
Thank you Dad - for everything.
July 17, 2023
Freedom is here!
No, it's not, says the constriction in my chest, the slight thumping of my heart, and the story about its cause, and the subtle worry that comes with it. And in addition to the health problems, come thoughts of what else about this Shelly-life is problematic: no specifics come to mind, just a vague sense of bracing and contraction that feels like . . . limitation. That's the word! Limitation.
And then a door opens, not a big one mind you, but something opens nonetheless, with the simple recognition, acknowledgement of the truth, by putting a word to the feeling so that it fits like a key in a lock and when it turns, Click!, there's an opening and a shift.
What price freedom? My ego says I want it, but it clearly holds back, hangs on, prefers the constriction that remains over letting go. Because letting go means death, death of my separate sense of me-ness: Shelly hanging on to her Shelly-ness, her story about her life, what's wrong about it, what part's not good enough yet, what might happen in the future if she doesn't fix it now; all these things that Shelly likes to chew on, like a dog with a bone. It gives her a sense of, I'm doing something. It says, Hang on, hang on, hang on. Just hang on.
But the me-ness is sad and it's tired. And the pain in her chest breaks open like a cloud, releasing its rain as tears fall down, bringing relief and unclenching and opening into space, into nothingness, into freedom: no Shelly.
And Freedom says, See? It's not so bad. All you did was let go. All you did was die.
Celebrating the freedom that is, that's always here, that's who you are, with love,
We never know what's going to happen. We never know when some out-of-the-blue, stressful, terrible thing will shock us out of our perceived version of reality.
Reality is not what we think it is anyway - as I've come to find out. And this was made even more obvious in the wake of a bizarre accident involving one of my horses.
Sonny, my ancient, arthritic mare didn't show up for her dinner last Wednesday night. This wasn't terribly shocking since she sometimes lags behind the other horse. And frankly, at her age, I half expect to find her down, perhaps on death's door, perhaps already gone from heart failure or something. But nothing prepared me for the scene I came upon when I went to look for her.
She had fallen into a deep gully at one of the side creeks. She was mostly on her back, and had wedged herself in the hole between a tree and a concrete culvert pipe designed to route the water under a land bridge in the pasture.
In quiet shock I heard myself say, "Sonny, what have you done?" and I reached down to try to calm her, my other hand shaking as I started calling anybody and everybody I could think of.
One of my neighbors arrived with his Navy Seal son, with a sling and a big-ass truck, and immersed himself in the mud and poison ivy to try to get the harness straps underneath and around her body to pull her out safely with the truck.
It was like a dream - the three of us and Sonny - in the dark by this time. Thoughts were thunk. Feelings were being felt, and sometimes words were spoken. But mostly it seemed like Life was just happening - crazy, unpredictable life - moving through us all with ideas and courage, frustration and calm, gentleness and fear, determination and surrender.
I don't remember how many hours passed of repositioning and pulling and readjusting again before Life happened with an idea to reposition the sling and re-angle the truck and with a "Go! Go! Go!," Life pulled her out and she lay there - quiet, motionless - and us waiting - relieved, but still in uncertain suspense. Was she exhausted? Was she dying?
Then Life called the vet, who had been en route, who guided us with suggestions based on Sonny's breathing and gum color. While the men stayed with her, I ran to the house to fetch what the vet had suggested and then Life called and said "She's up!" and me, "What? Are you serious?"
And there she was, standing in the dark with her savior, and the sling (the kind he used to make for a living) gently looped around her neck to keep her from leaving before the vet arrived. "Sixteen minutes," she said.
It was after eleven o'clock and Life as the savior said," Sorry Shelly. I have to go. I have to get up to catch a plane in four hours. You OK 'til the vet gets here?" "Please go," I said, and hugged them both, speechless.
The vet who arrived couldn't believe what she saw: Sonny, on her feet, calmly eating grass - lungs clear, heart rate a little high, but to be expected, gut sounds good, gum color good, minor cuts, nothing broken. A shot of steroids and, "I really didn't think this would be the outcome tonight," said Life as the vet. "I didn't either," I said. And we both knew what we meant.
And in the quiet shock and awe of a moonless night, the two of us made her comfortable in a corral with her buddy so I could monitor her overnight.
Life made love to me that night and in the days that followed. Normally shy and standoff-ish Sonny welcomed my strokes and words of reassurance. Texts from my friend, wife of the savior, "He's texting from the airport. 'How is Sonny?'" The other vet, the one who couldn't come, (tending a crisis with a much different outcome) responding to the picture I”d sent per her trouble-shooting request, "How is she?" "She's stable," I said. "On her feet." "What? OMG! Are you kidding me? A miracle!" And a partner who listened, all the next day and the day after that, as the adrenaline triggered an energy that was so old and seemingly unrelated, but wasn't.
Because it's all energy isn't it? It's all Life - life moving, life happening, as energy. We're inclined to call it good or horrible or bad or lucky. And yet Life doesn't see it that way. Life doesn't see it at all. Life is just doing what Life does.
And in the wake of the trauma, amidst the what if's and what almost happened and how to prevent it in the future, came the breakthrough.
Life broke through this human-resistant heart - its resistance to what is, what was, what might be. Resistance to feelings of shock and helplessness and a tendency to partly leave this dimension when it all gets too hard.
Life broke through any semblance of anything Shelly could do to try to harness or control the explosive, chaotic, ever-changing, unpredictable energy we call Life, blowing Shelly to bits, leaving only Life, seeing Itself as Life, inseparable from all Life - the eternal space, the eternal Is-ness, the only reality, home.
Thank you Life.
Thank you Sonny.
P.S. As of this writing, Sonny is doing well: back to trudging up and down the big hill, carefully picking her way through the deep mud at creek crossings, and making nasty, mare-ish faces at her buddy - just because.
There is a Light, an ever-present, all-eternal force, pulsating, seeking to express Itself through you and me, and everything and everybody.
I know this because I can feel It. I feel It pushing against an unspecific, unnameable constriction, somewhere around, within, or near my heart, and a slight squeezing pressure on both sides of my head.
But this morning, I am more this Light than the constriction and I know this because of the smile and the joy that's appearing behind the pressure. And as I notice this and write about it, it softens, and I am here. Just here.
And there is peace. And my heart opens and settles into everything and nothing at the same time.
Soft gentle music, twinkling lights, crisp bright sunshine, and the view outside my window, all assume the character of Itself - pure, pulsating, unspeakable aliveness. And I am It. And you are It.
Christmas doesn't come just once a year. Christmas is here everyday and always. The Light wasn't born because the Light never died. It was never not here.
Wishing you the love and peace that's already here, that you already are, this Christmas.
Death is strange. It really is. Even when you know it's coming. Even when you've known for almost a decade that it's coming. It's still strange.
I've known my Mom my entire life. Prior to my birth she'd had a life filled with experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings of all kinds. Most would say she had a good life. And she did.
But whether we say a life was good or bad, it eventually comes to an end. And so what was it all for? What was the purpose of that particular life, only to have it end in death?
My Mom had dementia for the last ten years of her life. And for the last year or two, I was hard-pressed to find anything I knew of "Mom" in that crumpling body that no longer recognized me or much else.
So her passing was, for the most part, freeing. Most of what I felt in the days prior to and immediately after her death, was peace and relief.
And yet, as I get ready to throw out the last remnants of her funeral flowers, I grieve. But not for the loss of my Mom.
I grieve for the inexplicable, transitory, and seemingly meaningless, purposeless nature of life.
I thought I knew what life was. I thought I had a pretty good grasp of why we are born, what we are here to do, and what happens to us when we die. Over the years, my beliefs have evolved and I have continued to feel pretty comfortable with my story - my beliefs and theories about it all. I've had it all tied up pretty neatly in a box that has helped me feel solid and kind of secure.
But then, death happened. And death, and the experience of death, I've discovered, is not solid. A portal opens when you sit with the dying and drive to her funeral, and suddenly things don't feel so solid anymore.
"It just feels weird," I hear myself saying alot in the days since Mom's passing. And I can't be much clearer than "weird" except to say that things - life - feel unfamiliar, not solid, and almost dreamlike.
And maybe that's why I'm crying. The dreamlike, transitory, fleeting, and often unremarkable quality of this life is not what I thought life was, not what I expected.
I thought it was solid. I thought I was a unique, separate person, forging ahead with what was important to me, pumping meaning into my life, and making sure I was doing it right and taking ownership of my Shelly-ness.
But beyond the beliefs, thoughts, feelings, preferences, and events that make up this Shelly-experience, there is just Life - a pulsating, vibrating Is-ness that is unimpressed with my successes and non-judging of my failures.
It is this Is-ness that is Life, and we are mere expressions of It. We are born, we do stuff, and then we die: all within the soup of Is-ness, of Being-ness.
If Being-ness is the ocean, we are but ripples - temporary expressions of the one eternal Ocean.
So it's sad to reduce the life of someone you love, someone as important to your life as Mom, and sad to reduce your own life, to just a ripple, on the surface of the ocean.
Yes it's sad. And kind of a shock really. And yet in the midst of the sadness, or maybe because of it, I find myself in the strange, vast, unknowable freedom of the Ocean.
And to feel oneself as That, well maybe that's the only meaning or purpose of anything.
Much love to you all,
Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.
Lester Levenson, who inspired The Sedona Method and The Release Technique, achieved what some would call enlightenment. (Although I'm sure that Lester would have never used that word - not from a sense of false humility, but because Lester would have never identified himself as anything).
In 1952, Lester was a very successful physicist and entrepeneur, but was a very sick man. His doctors told him that his heart was shot and there was nothing they could do. They sent him home with a bottle of morphine and warned him that any kind of overexertion might kill him. Terrified, he sat at home in his Manhatten apartment, afraid to move. He looked at his bottle of morphine and thought, "Well, I'm either going to figure this thing out or take that bottle of pills." Highly motivated and with suicide as his backup plan, he began a self-inquiry which lasted several months.
This facing-death-head-on inquiry eventually led to an awareness that he himself was awareness and that the nature of this awareness was love. And that this Is-ness, this love, could and would transform any energy (thought, emotion, or belief) not vibrationally like itself.
In the decades that followed, Lester shared his insights and discoveries with others who further developed them into practical tools that we use today.
Basic Sedona Method questions like: Could you allow that feeling to be here, just for now? And, Could you allow yourself to simply acknowledge that feeling? Do you notice any push or brace against that feeling? are purposefully phrased as gentle invitations versus direct-line, fix-it-now-stupid commands.
It is this space-making allowing that is the nature of awareness. Fixing is a symptom of the intellect, the egoic will. The egoic will can't transform negative energy. Only pure awareness can do that. So when you ask yourself these questions in this way, you are activating open awareness. You are activating your essential nature.
Lester knew, like all great teachers, that it's our resistance to what is, that keeps us stuck. It's our resistance to our negative feelings, that keeps them from doing what they are meant to do - release.
Resistance is so subtle. Some researchers say that by the time we were six years old, we had learned how to resist (suppress, push down on, compartmentalize) our feelings. This reaction to our feelings is so automatic and so practiced that it's mostly unconscious. It feels normal. It's why we say that we are fine or OK and accept the background tension in our neck and shoulders as just the way I am.
But it's resistance - resistance to something about yourself or your life situation, resistance to the behaviors of others, resistance to the state of the world. We resist the state of our bodies or our bank accounts. We even resist the weather. But mostly, we resist the feelings that are just below the surface of our awareness, which manifests as what we call stress.
Take a moment to settle and check inside. When you feel inside yourself, paying close attention to your chest, stomach, throat, jaw, and your shoulders or the back of your neck, would you say that you feel completely open, peaceful, grounded, and free, or something less than that?
The less-than-that that you're feeling is resistance. The good news is this: resistance is an energy. It's a feeling like any other. And when you can bring pure, non-judging awareness to the resistance, it will release. And when you learn how to release resistance to what is, you are free.
By the way, Lester Levenson lived another 42 years after he was sent home to die. His radical self-inquiry and his release of all negative feelings that were not love, healed his heart and other health problems. When he died in 1994 from cancer, it is said that he died free of pain. Free of resistance.
I had spent all day feeling frustrated, but I knew there was more to it than that. I could sense it. But I couldn't quite get a grasp of the feelings, which seemed to range from fear, to anger, then to sadness, but mostly what felt like resistance to "the way it is" and a discomfort with the unknown.
My beloved Appaloosa gelding Domino had had a colic episode the night before and despite my attempts to "stay positive" and to remind myself that the feelings that it triggered probably had more to do with a previous loss than his illness being an imminent one, I couldn't seem to "get my head right" and was getting down on myself.
Earlier that day, in my moving mindfulness practice, I felt a heaviness in my heart that I didn't really want to be with, breathe with, but I did. And when I did the memories came of the day and a series of events leading up to another death due to colic.
Tiffie's death meant the loss of my equine-assisted therapy dream team, an orphaned foal, and a broken heart - mine. All deaths are hard, but her's was traumatic. And I could feel that morning the subtle remnants, the unresolved nuance of feelings that I still had not released. I let myself feel and grieve for awhile, reached out for support, but went through the day, still on edge - looking out the window to check on my fella, watching for subtle signs of discomfort, administering his herbal colic formula, and taking five gallon buckets of water sweetened with molasses to encourage him to drink and keep his system flushed.
Towards the end of the day, after his second bucket of water, I watched him walk over to a cinder block turned upright like a stool and just stand there, waiting. So I went over to him and because my back was tired I sat down on the cinder block and that's when it happened: I decided to do what I do with my clients. I softened my gaze, sometimes closing my eyes completely, noticed my breathing, felt my feet on the ground, and scanned my body.
I noticed a tightening in my upper chest and I just be'd with it - and breathed and felt my feet. Soon my teeth started chattering, and I allowed what felt like fear to move through my body: which it did with yawn after yawn between periods of teeth chattering.
Sometime during this process, Secret, Tiffie's orphan, came over and stood so close that the side of her face, her cheek and sometimes her muzzle, were touching mine. A few times she intentionally positioned her eye less than an inch from, pretty much touching, mine. Sometimes she would shift her weight slightly and then Domino's muzzle would be on my cheek. At some point the teeth chattering turned into sobs as I crumbled under their relentless compassion and presence.
I don't know how much time passed. We were immersed in some sort of timeless reality. All the while I cried, chest-shaking cries as I remembered Tiffie, telling her how sorry I was that I couldn't stop it - couldn't stop what was happening to her and the disease process in her body. And I wondered if the horses and I were grieving together. But the horses' grief seemed more like sadness for me - a recognition of how I'd been holding on, punishing myself, not consciously of course, but on some level. And when the sobs broke with my own awareness of this, everything stopped. All was quiet.
Secret casually walked away. Domino followed. Their job was done. And I watched in awe as they gently ate grass, looking so peaceful. And I looked at the gelding. And I noticed that the weight in my chest was gone. The edgy "What's going to happen next?," "Is he ok?," "Does he need more water?," was also gone.
And a golden setting sun broke through the clouds to make an unearthly light against the trees on the mountain and the green, green pasture where they ate. And a strange breeze lifted what had been heavy humid air and I knew at once that things were different: we had somehow altered the course of something.
Of course I don't know what. Intellectually I know he could die from colic next week or next year, but somehow, someway, things were different. Our shift in emotional energy had created a shift in the wave of possibilities. Again, I don't know how, but could feel it. And I bathed in the peace of that knowing and for the first time in days, I felt glad.
The bodymind it seems, can tolerate a mystery. In fact, it loves, it marvels, it excels in the unknown. It is at one with the mystery of life because its ebb and flow and moving current, and the space within and moving through it, is Life: It is the same wave, the same space, as Everything.
And as I felt my body, I felt the everything. And I was home.
And the rain came down and washed us clean.
It was hot outside, my air conditioner wasn't working, and I was lying on my kitchen floor because my internet is slow and my laptop has to be tethered to the router. Also because my left hip and lower back had been hurting since I'd spent a week sitting way too long at my computer.
But I'd registered for an online continuing education course through the Tamalpa Institute and wasn't about to miss this day's Body Mapping course featuring the spine and more specifically the ligaments supporting it.
Our facilitator led us through the usual visual information about anatomy and cell structure and then guided us in checking in with these ligaments and the surrounding structures. And then the music started and we were invited to let these ligaments and anything else in our bodies speak through the movement.
I typically love this facilitator's choice of music, but didn't resonate with any of this session's music - at all. He'd invited us to just ignore it if it didn't resonate with us and so I continued my body exploration while lying on my back, thinking I was doing just that when an amazing thing happened.
My body took on a life of its own and began to move in ways that surprised me. "Shelly" might not have liked the music, but my body clearly knew what to do with it. (I have been dancing and moving on and off for over twenty years as part of my personal healing process and knew firsthand the power of allowing the body to move and heal itself, but this was different).
As I lay on my back, putting my attention on my spine and its supporting ligaments, my hands and arms slowly and gently extended over my head, doing feathery sort of rhythmic, repetitive, serpentine movements. Then my sacrum started to move, rocking my pelvis more deeply into the floor, and at some point my left foot led my left leg out to the side, extending it way beyond what I thought was possible, stretching something attached at my pubic bone. And all the while I marveled in awe as other seemingly unrelated parts of my body responded to the attention I was placing on my spine, which seemed to be conspiring with the music, the energy of the other group members doing the same, and that unspeakable, unnameable force - the bigger Dance - that contains, informs, and is the very essence of it all.
My back and hip loosened and felt much better after that. But more impressive than that was how deeply I felt my body and its cells and structures as one with this greater Dance. I, ego-personality-Shelly, had very little to do with the process. it was clear that she was merely a mind-made concept and that my true self was the Dance Itself.
I hope to be offering conscious dance and movement experiences like this soon: workshops intended for body exploration, dance and movement as meditation and healing practice, dances for women - whether just for fun, emotional healing, or for awakening libido/sexual energy. If this is something that you're interested in, please let me know.
In the meantime I wanted to tell you about my best, most healing dance ever - lying flat on my back, in the heat, on my kitchen floor, to music I didn't like.
There is only Light. We might think that darkness exists. We see it as Light's opposite, which might suggest that it has equal weight; just the other side of the same coin. But darkness isn't the opposite of Light. Darkness merely reveals that there is an obstruction to the ever-present Light.
The darkness of nightfall happens when our part of the earth turns away from the sun, blocking its light. But does the sun go away? We enter a room with dark curtains covering the windows, but when the curtains open, there is light. Did the light ever leave, or was it simply blocked by the dark curtains?
It's the same with us: we are Light. Yet, just like nightfall and the darkened room, the light is obscured: it's obscured by the denser energy of thoughts, emotions, opinions, and beliefs. We make the mistake of thinking that these energies are who we are. We tend to think that we are the sum of our thoughts, beliefs, preferences, emotional proclivities, and the physical vehicle that contains it all.
When we confuse these human traits with who we are, I am Light, seems blasphemous. And indeed it is. I Shelly, am not Light. Shelly is merely the vehicle, an outward manifestation, a potential expression of the Light.
The vehicle of Shelly was created by the merger of two other human, flawed vehicles. And as a result of this merger, she inherited their mental patterns, emotional programming and survival strategies, and those that they inherited from their parents.
Perhaps this is the "fall" that scripture speaks of. Being born into this human dimension means that we necessarily merge with the often misguided, limited, fear-based thoughts and strategies that we humans have developed in response to living in a potentially frightening world. To be born into a human body means that we have to come through these dense energies, and like our ancestors, we confuse them with who we are.
But we are much more than the culmination of our thoughts, feelings, and physical forms. Take a moment to notice: if you stop thinking, do you cease to exist? If you momentarily feel nothing, do you cease to exist? If you imagine being somehow physically altered in some extreme way, do you cease to exist? Of course not. So who or what remains?
Awareness remains; the awareness that you're not thinking, not feeling, or that you're different physically.
So what is this awareness? At first glance it might seem that Awareness is part of your mind. But if you can observe your thoughts, then the you that's observing your thoughts cannot be the same you as the you that's thinking them. And besides, as we experience Awareness more deeply, we notice that while it's highly alert, it's also silent. It's also difficult to locate, much less describe, because as soon as we engage our minds to do so, we've entered the realm of thinking and left Awareness.
Scientists have looked into every nook and cranny of our bodies to try to locate the observer, the one who watches, Awareness, to no avail. And yet we can say irrefutably that it is.
We also have powerful evidence of what Awareness can do. When it is accessed, when you be it, your alert awareness has the capacity to quiet your mind, transform any negative emotion, even long-standing emotional states, relax long-standing, limiting beliefs, open your mind to new possibilities, relieve physical pain, and change the molecular activity in you body. It does all of this with such elegant simplicity and is so unfailingly reliable, that one who experiences this process firsthand will sometimes describe it as miraculous, even holy.
And it is. Our limited human egos can't do this - not with lasting consistency in any case.
Some of my clients who've experienced this transformational process have said that they felt the Holy Spirit come through them. And while this might be true, it suggests that the Holy Spirit comes, implying that it, at some point, left. Yet it's my experience that it never leaves. As Light, it's always present. We just needed to open the curtains.
And how do we open the curtains? By accessing the light of Awareness, by being it, and allowing it to do what Awareness does - shine it's light of truth on any energy that is not Light, not of Itself, allowing that energy to transform.
So friends, as the earth makes its tilt, bringing us the darkest day of the year, and as we see more darkness in our world, in others, and consequently feel it more strongly within ourselves, let us not forget that the Light hasn't left: it's merely been obscured. It's been obscured by our amped-up, personal and collective, dense energetic responses to living in a somewhat frightening and changing world.
These challenging times are likely to drive some of us into deeper darkness. In response to worldly events, we will grab onto familiar, fear-based strategies, becoming more deeply entrenched in our limiting beliefs and opinions, moving further away from who we really are. Others of us will turn inward for answers, using this potent time as incentive to look more deeply, accessing Awareness, and transforming denser energies by bringing them to Light.
We get to choose. But it's comforting to know that no matter what we choose, no matter what happens, no matter how long it takes for us to remember who we really are, collectively and individually, the Light is always available, always present, always is, always will be . . . forever.
Merry Light-That-Is-Who-You-Really-Are Christmas!
You are the light of the world. Matthew 5:14
The Light Of Awareness ". . . Twenty years ago, I lost a friend, mentor, and role model to cancer. I haven't had many role models in my life, but Reverend Jack Crandall was one of a kind . . ."
Your Light ". . . There is nothing so dark in you that I have not acknowledged within myself . . ."
. . . once we're no longer holding someone else responsible for how we feel.
When someone is traumatized by someone else, as in the case of rape, molestation, physical or emotional abuse, when someone is betrayed by another, it is normal, natural, and appropriate to have very strong feelings in response - feelings that create all sorts of physiological chemical processes at the level of the bodymind. This pain accumulates, resulting in what we might call the individual pain-body.
When whole groups of people are persecuted, traumatized, or demoralized, it creates a collective pain in the bodyminds or psyches of people who are part of those groups. African Americans, Native Americans, Jewish people, and women, typically carry a shared pain, which we call the collective pain-body.
There is no doubt, in all of these cases (and others), that deep wrong was committed, leaving deep emotional wounds. This is when various spiritual traditions might suggest that forgiveness is in order. Forgiveness, they say, is the path to healing. I don't disagree with the spirit of the message. I take issue, however, with how most humans, clergy as well as laypeople, or other spiritual teachers, interpret forgiveness and how it is to be achieved.
When I was a mere babe, twenty-three years old to be exact, I caught my boyfriend in the act with another woman. I just about went crazy. I'll spare you the gory details of that night, but I was left with a broken heart and a broken jaw, a very remorseful boyfriend, and a lot of shame and shock to find myself in such a situation.
While common rhetoric went something like: If he hits you once he'll hit you again, I knew deep down, quite miraculously in retrospect, that I was being called to work through this thing - not just point an accusing victimized finger at him and walk away. At some point I ran across a book, also quite miraculously, about forgiveness. I wish I could remember the name of it, but I don't. And I don't know that the book itself was actually all that ground-breaking, but what I did with it was.
The takeaway was this: Yes, what happened was awful, it was wrong. He behaved badly (and in this case so did I). So now what?
Whatever I read in that book made me realize that there was only one way out - and that the one way out was through. I was going to work through every feeling, no matter how dark, and chase down every little nuance of hurt that might be hiding in the deep, dark recesses of my bodymind, until I was free - free of the rage, the hurt, the feelings of betrayal and blame, until I could look at him, or think of him, and feel nothing but peace, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. And I did.
And once the pain was out of my body, I saw him and me through eyes of compassion. I saw two young, pretty immature people, who were doing what humans often do - acting out their pain, their inner conflicts and confusion, in ways that hurt others and ultimately themselves. And that's when it happened - forgiveness.
I think I grew up that year; I mean spiritually grew up. And I wouldn't trade the experience - the actual trauma, and the suffering that it caused, for anything.
I hadn't thought about this period of my life for a very long time until a client asked me recently about forgiveness. I was trying to explain that forgiveness is, in my experience, not successful when it's attempted from the neck up - from the level of the will or personal intellect. The mere decision to forgive is rarely an effective one. It tends to just gloss over the hurt, avoiding the pain that goes along with it (a process sometimes referred to as spiritual-bypassing). But it's this very pain, this suffering that we're trying to avoid, that provides the necessary motivational fuel to undertake real inner emotional housecleaning, real healing.
I've got to think that when Jesus talks about forgiveness, he means for us to do this inner work. He doesn't mean that we should just decide, using our little personal wills, simply because forgiving is what we're supposed to do.
Because it's only when we reach below the level of the egoic mind and reach our bodily-held suffering and consciously surrender to it, are we open enough to receive the miraculous, alchemical nature of healing - an alchemical process that's beyond something our minds can think about, direct, and control. It's bigger than we are.
And I know this is so because once this emotional healing happens, forgiveness is a given. It happens naturally. It's not something I have to think about or do. It's not something I have to effort at or theorize about, or try to conjure. It simply arises; like a soft flower, opening from deep within my body, blooming outward, blessing both me the forgiver and the forgiven.
I've got to believe that this is what happened with Jesus on the cross. Surely there was a whole lotta suffering going on before he got to: forgive them for they know not what they do. And if this is true, it confirms what I've been saying here all along: it's not the forgiveness itself that is holy, but the suffering and the emotional healing that precedes it that makes it so.
Love to you and yours,
Conscious suffering is holy. Eckhart Tolle