Friday evening, finished with work, I walked down Market Street with my bag and laptop slung over a shoulder. I was headed towards the Embarcadero BART Station. My theme song music of late is Alanis Morissette singing the James Michael Mix of “Crazy” by Seal. It’s on the soundtrack from “The Devil Wears Prada”, and it was blaring in my ears from an iPod. I walked briskly as the usual scenery of people flew on by, a colorful dichotomy that reeks suspiciously of the growing class divide in America. The homeless woman begging for change in front of the escalator, the one I’ve watched deteriorate over the last ten years is a testament to that; however, the child who’s been selling candy for two weeks is new. It’s easier to see this in the city, if you haven’t desensitized yourself to it.
It was a long week.
I pulled off an Earth Day Mini-Expo on Wednesday, fed 50 people pizza, chased around ridiculously busy principals asking for Admin Day donations for three days in a row, and had more than my usual share of intense one-on-one conversations with staff. Work is getting stressful, and people act differently under stress. Leslie and I also struggled with the offer we made on a townhouse, and the real estate agent we were working with who got greasier by the minute.
I was very tired.
As I walked, the strangest thing happened.
One moment I felt bogged down by the weight of the week, and then suddenly, I felt buoyant, as if a ray of sunlight straight from heaven shined down on me. I am so happy to be back in San Francisco, and I appreciate every moment of it. My job is great, and I am successful with it. My family is happy, and we are looking for a new home. It felt like anything was possible. It felt like absolute liberation from the weight of the world.
And then, I felt tired.
And again, I felt buoyant.
It went back and forth like this a number of times as I walked to my background music.
It started the night of Amma’s public program.
I was so happy to see Her, and consequently very focused on She and the personal issues I brought with me to think upon; my health, my creativity, and my spirituality. Leslie and Elizabeth were there, as well, getting their dose of divine love.
Amma opened her night time public program with a very intense Ganesha mantra. We hailed Ganesha as the remover of obstacles, and appealed to him asking for the removal of barriers to our efforts. Talk about personally appropriate. Amma hit it hard with Sanskrit acid rock that I felt from the top of my head to the bottom of my toes. As Amma chanted, accompanied by Brett on his tom tom, the beat resonated heavily through my chest like a battering ram. I happened to be sitting right underneath an enormous speaker, as well.
Eyes closed in meditation, I began to unwind.
My mind wandered back to the two years we spent in Connecticut. They were emotionally demanding, quite difficult really, and something I’ve only just come to terms with emotionally. Intellectually I was all over it, but emotionally? I’m very good in a crisis, but slow to absorb the fall out.
I felt a slow acceptance of the recent past made more expedient.
The lessons and the loss caused a crust of emotional protection, sister to grieving, which begin to soften and then dissipate, as well. This layer was followed by spiritual defenses requiring demolition. Those subtle barriers went up without my conscious knowledge and are consequently much harder to identify, never mind disassemble. Over time and with considerable work, I’ve gotten a handle on my emotional defenses, but the spiritual barricading surprises me.
My emotional and spiritual bodies are intrinsically linked as they are in everyone.
The evening went on, and I listened to Amma’s discourse. With it, she addressed the concerns lurking in my conscious and subconscious mind. The words meant for me hit the arrow right on the mark. There was no mistaking it.
I thought about my spirituality building up to this visit. How could I avoid it after spending time with other devotees whose commitment was enduring and unquestionable? Am I where I should be, I wondered. I grapple with the demands of my home life and spiritual progress I thought I should be making. I know my family is my priority, but I worry that I don’t meditate enough, and when will I ever give up meat? What does this commitment to my family mean to the rest of me?
Amma’s answer, given to the entire crowd, was succinct.
“Amma is here to inspire you,” she said. “You are already very spiritual. When it’s time, it will fully blossom.”
I took a deep breath as She stated by the time we are fifty we should be better focused on our spirituality, as well.
Amma does this in a most mysterious way. She doesn’t answer general questions in a formalized forum. As her visit approached, I spent time worrying about a certain topic, and in her public program, She addressed my concern practically to a “T”. I bet if you asked others in the audience, they would be astounded by the same thing. How does she do it? One might say She is the goddess, revered as Saraswati. At the very least, She is a holy person fully realized in Her divinity. If the goddess is within all of us, the only difference would be one’s ability to realize it through and through. I imagine there are universal laws at play, too, right? I feel that somewhere, there are dots waiting to be connected, and I’m convinced the true magic lies in the connection.
I find myself seeking a bridge between the esoteric and mundane, between my faith and what I know in my heart to be true. I realize these are answers I am most apt to discover when I am ready to focus more readily on my spirituality, but still the answer seems just outside my grasp.
And I’ve come full circle.
There are times when I can’t help but wonder.
Amma focused considerably on the energy transference that occurs through food, as well. She encouraged us to eat fresh food only and offered stories that support her view. More than once she asked the group to lift their arms up high and laugh out loud. She called it laughing yoga, and commented that we were all too serious. Being in a group of people that laughed about absolutely nothing worked it’s magic on me, breaking me out of my serious reverie, bringing me that much closer to true childlike surrender.
And it made Her laugh, as well, which was wonderful, so wonderful.
As always, I am inspired to truly understand the changes brought upon me by my spiritual mother. I feel a quiet and subtle internal realignment which spirals outward slowly from the vortex that was our time together, and I am inspired to view my entire self, including the shadow. I feel a gradual acceptance of the recent past, the lessons, the loss; as well as an emotional softening of resultant protection, sister to grieving, that is no longer necessary.
More than anything, I am reassured that I am right where I should be in my journey.
I am right here, right now.
And for now, that is enough.
Notes: The photograph above is copy written by the SMVA Trust and is a photo of Amma recently in Houston. View Part I of this installment here. The next installment, Part 3, is coming soon.