Tag: catharsis

mandala

When out of flow, there is something left unacknowledged… neglected… something to give away. At times it is a phone call, or promise not yet followed through with (to myself or others). Maybe I’ve not gotten quiet enough for the still small voice of intuition to float up to conscious experience. I begin to ask, “Did I follow the last instruction? What WAS the last instruction?”

Elizabeth Gilbert described a similar sensation recently:

“I am writer. If I have a story in me that I’m not able to tell, things will start going wrong all over my life. If I have a story in my head and I tell it, “I’ll get to you in 2015,” that story will start to rebel, start to act out, start to claw at the walls. That’s when the shit gets dark in my world.

Because having a creative mind is something like a owning Border Terrier; It needs a job. And if you don’t give it a job, it will INVENT a job (which will involve tearing something up.) Which why I have learned over the years that if I am not actively creating something, chances are I am about to start actively destroying something.”    Elizabeth Gilbert

So, here, is my shot in the dark, for what is waiting to be seen…

Mandala

Three years later, I understood the dream mandala. It had been a gathering of distinct scenes, some illuminated. A circle of singing angels was among the bright spots, as were various work places, passageway kitchens. A grand and wide-spreading tree dug into the heart, under which refugees gathered. Yet that area was dark, awaiting resources. I leaned my face nose to nose with a small, unknown child, and felt responsible for her.

On the outskirts of the mandala was a fence, separating the scenes from a parking lot where visitors arrived – people who in some cases were intimate friends, yet couldn’t or wouldn’t, intermingle with the rest. I remember feeling that those inside of the fence would be benefited by their incorporation, but that it wasn’t the only way. A usually tired friend arrived, with long healthy hair, seeming much younger (A few months later she received a large inheritance which unburdened her deepest concerns).

I was looking for my son (a recurring happening from the time he was very young) and could get through some areas very easily but, like a labyrinth, other areas were less welcoming. I tried to climb up a set of small stone stairs and when hindered, another passage appeared, sloping down. There he was. I sat on a bench and simply watched him playing for a while.

….
I have wondered whether this is a story not to tell but to paint, but I don’t paint anymore. I gave up painting because I was mediocre and not as compelled as I have been to write. This afternoon, a cousin from a part of my family I love but am not entwined with, said that she and her parents cherish the painting I gave them… that it remains in their main living room. I couldn’t remember, although it must be a copy of the first painting, the one I lost myself in entirely as though under anesthetic, emerging with it finished and projecting a certain portal energy. The experience of that painting, more than the finished product, felt to be a taste of an entire lifetime… each stroke a particular journey, arising from previous strokes yet also from nowhere, coming together in a restful Flow.

 “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
-Vincent Van Gogh

Birth and Death

I had intended to write about matters of health today… have begun to consult a homeopath and to do my best not to resort to medicines when discomforts arise, but rather to look to energy practices like Qi Gong. Although I can tell almost immediately what has an adverse effect on focus and energy levels (sugar, for instance, but also things like mindless TV), and what cultivates greater liveliness and awareness (sitting practice, walking, singing, mantras), I still distribute energy unwisely… so I aspire to do better.

But – Instead of going further into that, out of a conversation I had this morning, I want to write about birth and death.

A dear friend is letting go of a treasured loved one. She is on the boundaries, floating in and out of lucidity, sharp then quickly sleepy. He too, is on this boundary with her, back and forth. They are in transition.

(as I write this, the first dove since I’ve lived in this apartment, has landed on a branch outside, singing)

The word “transition” is particular to another context as well, that of childbirth. I’m reminded of the stark choices presented upon news that my first child was on her way, that I would either: go the medical route of hospital with medications, or the natural route: home and without. Thanks to a lucky conversation and decent insurance, I was able to find a pretty good middle scenario in which midwives helped through natural birth in a hospital that didn’t treat the whole situation like a “procedure.” Though near ideal, it was nonetheless frightening…

Giving birth is not as daunting as facing death. One thinks that they know more about what is on the other side. But nearly all parents will tell you that they couldn’t have imagined the transformation that took place in themselves and their lives, upon having a child. I can attest: it is more different than night and day, blows away categories like better or worse, and obliterates previous concepts of love. There is a false sense of preparing for such a thing as becoming a parent: you buy things, read books, talk to people and go to classes. All around, you think you see other people doing what you are about to do.

During the “transition”phase of labor, when birth pangs are not as distinguishable as the waves that preceded them, none of the seeming preparation really matters; you find yourself at the complete mercy of a mystery. At some point in the throes of labor I even changed my mind and decided not to have a baby: I tried to stand up, leave the room. It was then that the midwives were most helpful: their guidance, reaching me as through a long tunnel outside of my perception, held my attention.

I imagine death, when not abrupt, to be somewhat like this too… a moving back and forth between inwardness and outwardness, situating for the act of giving up into, giving in to, a great mystery. It likely really matters that others are around, and that they are supportive, but ultimately one probably looks for a kind teacher in the distance.

I respect the desire that we have in our modern age, to help humans in different kinds of transitions achieve maximum comfort through medications, and I can’t say I would be enthusiastic to have a natural death without pain medication if disease was ravishing my body… but I do wonder whether consciousness at the end of life is something we should still be attentive toward preserving when able … treating death as a beautiful, sorrowful, but still mysterious and confusing process. The end result as helping someone lets go with as much ease, and as fully, as possible.

Permission.

 “I had seen birth and death but had thought they were different.”
~ T. S. Eliot