Do You Know Where You’re Going To?

In March I signed up for a free 21-day online meditation experience with Oprah and Deepak Chopra entitled “Shedding the Weight, Mind, Body and Spirit.”  

Don’t laugh at me.

I signed up because:

  1. Duh. It was free.
  2. The last year and a half of my career has been very stressful but I can’t afford nor do I have time for therapy. This deal was only 20 minutes a day and I could do it in my nightie before sunrise.
  3. As a result of the stress, I have eaten the entire city of Spokane trying to sooth my bottomless pit of anxiety and do not want to move to a new city just to feed my stress baby. My PEOPLE live here.  And while I am pretty comfortable with my body, this shit has gotta end at some point.   
  4. Because I really don’t want to buy bigger pants. Clothing shopping stresses me out.

So. Since I have been doing some regular chubby yoga and learning a little about how to heal my messed up Chakras and have yet to be struck down by lightning by whomever punishes people for breaking the Catholic rules, I figured I’d be safe to listen to what Deepak had to say about why my ass has gotten so big. He IS, after all a doctor, in addition to being a new age, alternative medicine, metaphysics, spiritual healing gazillionaire.

Besides. I’m a Catholic CONVERT. We have different rules. But that is waaaay off topic and for a different blog post.

I have always loved Oprah, despite the fact that we have opposite views on a lot of things. I really think she has been good for the world and has helped so many people with her gifts of giving, sharing and opening our eyes to new ideas. She certainly changed my life when she did a show years ago on how a good bra really DOES make a difference in how you look. I had never before paid attention to the fact that one of my bras gave me “double boob syndrome” which is just “AAAAGH!!!!!!” once you are no longer blind and SEE. Now, yes, that’s maybe one of her more shallow topics. But that particular episode of “Oprah”  caused me to begin paying attention to myself.

Which is powerful.

I’m not saying being all obsessed about my physical appearance is powerful. Nor is it my jam.

For instance, I came across this funny post on Facebook called “How High Maintenance are You?” where you gave yourself points for things like:

  • Wears High Heels
  • Wears Makeup Daily
  • Nails are painted
  • Brows are waxed
  • Wears a lot of jewelry
  • Shaves Everyday
  • Gets Massages Regularly
  • ETC ETC

If you got 20 or more you were high maintenance;  50 and you’re SUPER high maintenance; 100 you’re pretty much a supermodel/queen of a small country.

I scored a “2” out of a possible 119 points. Which is quite frankly a little embarrassing. I would have gotten a ZERO if my two point opportunity had said “Colors hair more than three times a year”.  I suppose I should put out a little better effort for the people in my life who have to look at me.

But I probably won’t.

Whatever.

What I think IS powerful is when you  pay attention enough to KNOW yourself and can still be comfortable hanging out, whether you wear high heels and jewelry or are someone who doesn’t really MIND five-day old stubble on your legs.

Because everywhere you GO, there you ARE. So why not make the relationship as enjoyable as possible? 

It was with this thought in mind, plus the fact that I was starting to develop TMJ from all the chewing, that I started my 21 day morning adventure in my nightie with Oprah and Deepak. I tuned in religiously. Every single day for 21 days,  I lit my candle, put on my headphones (so as not to wake up the home front at 5 am) and sat on the comfy meditation pillow that my bestie gave me a couple of months ago.

In each session, Oprah goes on first for a couple of minutes. I have to admit that in the beginning, it was hard not think about my double boob conversion experience when I heard her voice. Or how I should change my sheets at least weekly and throw away my pillows after a year on account of the terrible yuckiness that happens to pillows from our dreadful heads. (Another life changing episode of “Oprah” and one I wish I was still blind to). But I knew she was the perfect person to have empathy for my steadily growing girth and help me to either heal it or accept it. She had her own background music, kind of upbeat and perky, while she spoke about her own experiences about meditating and shedding the weight that we let harm our spirit. She would usually end with a bible verse or line from a favorite poem leaving me almost every time thinking “Yes, that.” Then she would introduce Deepak and the background music would get more serious and mystical.

Enter Deepak with his mesmerizing Indian accent, which gave me the giggles for the first few days. (Being serious is a struggle of mine.) He would start with a centering thought. One example:  “I let negativity and darkness dissolve in my light” and we would repeat it a few times together. Then he would speak of the burdens that we let weigh us down and how we can release these burdens, which are of the ego, when we go to our true self, which is pure love and light. He didn’t focus much on my (or anyone’s) excessive back fat. Which was comforting.

THEN he would say the mantra which, according to Wikipedia is “a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, a word or phonemes, or a group of words”  which in this case were in Sanskrit, that help to “induce an altered state of consciousness”.

‘Aham Prema’ was one mantra, which means “I am love.” He would repeat it several times. speak a little more, then say the mantra a few more  times to help launch the meditation portion, which started at the sound of a soft chime and continued for about twelve minutes, the mystical music playing softly.

One morning during the meditation portion, despite me trying to focus on repeating the mantra and breathing, I couldnt stop thinking that the background music sounded like a song from my younger years “Do You Know Where You’re Going To”.  

So things went a little cattywampus inside my head for a bit.  Only a few of you reading will understand most of this:

  • Do I like the things that life is showing me?
  • Oh I really do!
  • Who sang that song?
  • Dionne Warwick
  • No. She sang “Do You Know the Way to San Jose.”
  • Wo wo wowo wowowowo
  • I haven’t been to San Jose in years. Since I was a kid with my dad.
  • It was Diana Ross.
  • She was so pretty.
  • Did Deepak plagiarize her song? Would he DO that?
  • Interesting: all three are D names and I think they are all in their 70’s now. I wonder if this is significant.
  • I’m so sad Donna Summer died. How long ago was that? She’d be 70ish too…
  • I miss Diamond Lake and Donna Summer playing on the 8-track in the ski boat…
  • “I Feel Love.” That was one of her songs.
  • I am love.
  • Aham Prema.
  • Breathe H

Now. What I have learned from my past experiences meditating is that I have a monkey mind. And what I KNOW is that this is perfectly okay. Thoughts and emotions flow in and out of our minds at whatever pace our current state of being is in. They are not good or bad, they are simply THERE.  And then they are not there. And then they are there again. I like to pretend that my thoughts and emotions during meditation are feathers floating around me. When they get in the way of what I need to see, I just gently blow on them (Breathe H) until they float softly out of my current line of vision.

And here’s the thing: if we have the power to do this, then the things we believe to be burdens can become blessings. It really and truly is up to us to let our light dissolve whatever is blocking our ability to sit with ourselves in total loving acceptance, which in my case usually comes with giggles, monkey thoughts and at least for now, some jiggly fat.

It’s amazing how light a person can become in such a short period of time just by breathing on a few feathers. And while I might not know where I am going to, I know it will be amazing getting there. If I let it.

Twenty one days sitting mostly quiet with myself (and the Oprah/Deepak team)  helped me to know this more clearly. I’d recommend it to anyone. Even to people who scored 119 on the high maintenance test and are clearly getting regular massages. I’m not jealous of you at all.

Namaste brats.  Ha!

 

 

 

 

Airplanes, Shit and Sloppy Love: A Reflection

I haven’t written a blog post in a long time due to a fantastic but slightly traumatic job change that has used much of my creative energy these last few months. But recently I traveled via airplane for work and while I am not exactly afraid to fly, I do have a rather detailed ritual that I am convinced has kept the plane I’m on from crashing. With each takeoff I visualize the face of each person I love, saying thank you, I’m sorry, and I love you to each of them. Then I have a double Jack and Coke (or Vodka Tonic if I have an after flight meeting and don’t want boozy breath) and wait for the landing part when I ask myself “If I died right now, am I good with shit?” The internal answers vary and always seem to help me zero in on what I’m doing right and where I have gone terribly WRONG.

On my return flight from LA after a day and half visit to a carpet mill, I was crammed up against the window by a very large man who clearly didn’t want to talk. He had his coat pulled up around him and only his eyes and nose peaked out. I don’t think he felt very good. The fact that he immediately (before we had even taken off) began passing gas that smelled like dog shit helped me deduce this. I’m sure he was a nice man but I pretty much had my face smashed up against the cold airplane window trying to find some kind of non-putrid air, so I didn’t try to engage, telling myself that if I had dog shit farts, I would NOT want people talking to me. Instead, I visualized all my people and made note of who I needed to give more attention to, ordered my stiff drink and kept my nose close to the blessed bourbon.

But the landing, which was a little turbulent, made me zero in pretty abruptly on the question “If I died, am I good with shit?” And I’m not referring to the shit smell coming from the guy sitting next to me. I was NOT good with that, though he eventually worked some things out in the bathroom.

Three things stood out:

First, that while I deeply missed the travel agent from my old company who KNEW to always put me in an aisle seat, because I am extremely claustrophobic and have a weak bladder, especially when drinking booze, my dramatic job change was the absolute right thing to do.

Second, the words “I’m not writing enough” rang loud and clear. Writing is air for me and when I’m NOT writing my soul doesn’t feel comfortable in the skin it’s currently living in. Thus this post, which will hopefully get the juices flowing enough for me to revisit the book I’m trying to write.

Third, and I’m not sure if it was Double Jack and his skinny pal Diet Coke making me feel chill or if I really meant it, but I answered my own question with the words “Other than the not writing thing, I feel like my shit’s together enough for me to go, if it’s meant to be.”

And these words made me totally panic, thinking that I may have just given permission for God to take the plane down along with its innocent passengers all because I was having a rare at peace moment. Luckily I am STILL not the center of the universe and it turned out that there were enough people on the plane who DIDN’T feel the same way I did for us to land safely.

In retrospect, God might have thought “Ummm. Girl. Your shit is SO not together and regardless of the fact that the guy sitting next to you pretty much begged me to take him when he was shitting his guts out in the tiny airplane bathroom, the fact that you say you’re ready to go tells me you’re NOT. Sorry. No plane crash on THIS day.”

Which is fantastic! The ritual worked AGAIN!

But that brief and rare moment of peace made me ponder this: how DO we settle our souls so that we can be comfortable enough to deeply believe at each moment “If it’s my time to go to a new and waaaay different place right now I’m good.”? For certain there will ALWAYS be unfinished business. I look at how I kept putting off resigning from my old job in order to take on a new and more challenging one, thinking “I just need to do this one more thing before I go. My customers need me for just a little while longer.” But activity always leads to more activity. Solving a problem always leads to a whole new set of problems. There is never a good time to go if we judge our lives with an infinite checklist of to do’s. I finally had to say “It’s time to just leap and let go and accept that someone else will have to finish that business because I have some place else to be now.”

This calm acceptance I felt on the plane is something I want to somehow capture in my everyday living. Of COURSE I like it here on earth making a bunch of awful messes while at the same time putting a whole lot of sloppy love on my people and I want to keep doing this for as long as God’s gonna let me. But having peace in the fact that someday I will leave this fantastic place even though I didn’t “get it all done or do it all the right way” makes the messes seem quite magical and the sloppy, imperfect love I put on my people feel so very perfect. And complete.