for life without faith in something is too narrow a space to live.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been taking a spiritual development course. I’d mentioned it before, only I’d left out a vital aspect of it. It’s not just a spiritual development course: it’s a psychic and spiritual development course, hosted by a well-known and respected medium in the field.
My omission was purposeful. I’m still not sure how entirely comfortable I am with the term, and I understand why it’s not so well-received. People still believe it’s all about tarot cards and predictions for the future and crystal balls. They hear the word psychic and they automatically think scam and 1-800 hotlines. I know I do. At least, I still have my suspicions and hold fast to my skepticism until proven otherwise.
So what’s changed?
Maybe I have.
I’m not asking for anyone to believe what I believe, and truthfully, I’m a bit terrified to post this because I have no idea how it will be received. But this is my life –this blog has always been about my life and trying to understand it. I feel like this is a new phase of an old journey, and I can only hope that you’ll stick around for this one, too…
I know, beyond a doubt, that people have a gift — though I don’t like to call it a gift because that seems so presumptuous, as if to assume you’re better or more special when, in fact, it’s just a part of who you are. And how can you change who you are?
In Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert chooses a word — just one word that describes who you are, not what you are. The sentiment seems entirely apropos here:
My word is empathy.
I’ve only said this aloud to a handful of people who are close to me, and on Monday I’ll be posting terrifying-blog-entry-number-two; I don’t know why it scares me so much to say the words or, rather, to have it in print. Maybe it’s because I feel like it’s my secret and my joy and easily my burden, or maybe it’s because I feel like I’ll lose all credibility and respect. Or maybe it’s because it’s a label that is so clearly defined, and so I feel like I’m defining myself when, in all actuality, it’s just a part of who I am as a person — a part of me, but not all of me.
And maybe it’s because I don’t think it will be understood.
How can it be, when I can barely understand it myself?
That’s why I’m taking this course.
There are a thousand and one articles on spiritual metaphysics on the internet, so I’m not going to explain what it is or what it’s supposed to mean. All I know is that I never related well to the religion I was born into, never felt completely comfortable with what seemed to me like a suffocating belief system. But this feels personal, and this makes me feel closer to any God, any human being — anything — than I have ever experienced.
Through this course, I’m discovering who I am and cultivating what I believe in; through this course, I’m learning to understand something that has always been such a huge part of who I am, of my life, though I never had a name for it until last year. Through this course, I’m validating what I’ve always personally believed — do good, love strong, live well.
This course is personal to each and every person attending, and what they’ll get out of it will be personal, as well. And yet, it seems, its tenants remain the same:
It’s not just about wondering where you’re going, but about understanding where and why you’ve been.
It’s about believing — in yourself and, yes, maybe even in something greater.
It’s about listening to yourself. It’s about trusting yourself.
It’s about discovery.
It’s about intuition.
It’s about whatever you want it to be about…
I’m writing this on a Saturday night — finally feeling brave enough to share it, though it’s hidden among the weekend links, though I’m feeling utterly vulnerable doing so, as if this will somehow change everything — because I just returned from a class on past life regression. For those of you who are long-time readers, you know my fascination with history, both personal and otherwise. Reflection is such a huge part of this blog because it’s such a huge part of who I am — to understand the past means you can make for a better future; to understand your past means you can understand yourself.
My experience was overwhelming and powerful and I was completely unprepared for it. In fact, I was nervous — nervous that I wouldn’t find out anything and maybe nervous that I would. Who was I in a past life? And why the hell am I back again, what am I supposed to be learning?
I thought, I had to have lived in France before, right? And during the Romantic or Victorian eras? Clearly, that’s why I feel so connected to this place, to these times…And then I wondered, I had to have been a peasant at some point. Why else would I beg my grandmother to wash her floors instead of wanting to be Princess-Cinderella like every other little girl?
And then, as I sat in my car in the parking lot, talking to my best friend because I was way too early, she said, “Maybe you were a Parisian wench.”
And I realized why I loved her so much. And I cracked up laughing, and all expectation fell away.
Dim lights, we closed our eyes and began meditation. Trust your first instinct, she reminded us, and the thought crossed my mind — not for the first time and not for the last: I’m a writer. How do I know it’s not my imagination? How do I know it’s not just my mind fighting for control instead of peace? But that’s the part of trusting yourself, of trusting your intuition.
Her soothing voice guided us until we were seated on a bench on a silent stage in an abandoned theater. I was adorned in a white Grecian robe, sitting, waiting, wondering who would join me. The heavy velvet curtains behind me parted, and a tall, dark-haired young man came out in a tan suit, a hard safari hat resting on his head.
I knew him immediately; I don’t know him at all.
He had a charming smile and he did a little jig that I knew was to make me laugh and put me at ease, and I did. And I was. He sat down beside me. I asked his name. And then, I rested my head on his shoulder, and while our instructor was guiding us to ask questions, to talk, we remained silent, as if nothing needed to be said.
It couldn’t have lasted more than ten minutes. But when we went around the room and talked about who we met or what we were wearing — to get a clue of who we were — I couldn’t hold back the tears, embarrassingly enough, as hard as I tried to fight them.
There was love there.
Such an overwhelming, powerful feeling that I can’t begin to describe, that I’m trying so desperately to hold onto now.
Waiting. That was what I understood.
That was all I felt.
Maybe it’s because it’s so visibly missing from my life right now or maybe it’s because I know, without a doubt, that that’s what I’m waiting for, but the feeling was so strong, so overwhelming…
And so unexpected.
I drove home in the dark trying to hold onto those images, feeling them slip away slowly as memory often does. It’s OK, though, I realized. Those images can fade, but the feeling is what remains, always.
This is why I’m taking this course, after all.
This is me, discovering who and how and why