This morning I went to Ecstatic Dance. It had been awhile, and so I was determined to go today no matter what. No other plans. No excuses. Just go.
But when I woke up and got out of bed, I limped. My ankle very occasionally has this mysterious, out-of-the-blue pain. And this morning it showed up. But since I was determined to go to dance, I knew I'd still go.
I knew that even if all I did was sit on the edge of the dance floor, watching others dance, I'd still be happy I went. Plus, there was also a chance the pain would resolve before it was time for dance.
And it did. My ankle felt better. The pain was gone! But then it came back. So I danced a little. I sat a little. And when I danced, I took it easy. I resisted jumping.
Yes, I'm a jumper. I love bouncing around the dance floor. But not this morning. This morning, I just had to work with what I got.
And it reminded me of the kind of thing I say to my qigong and meditation students when we're doing the movements, or even just during a little warm up:
"Work with what you've got. If you're in pain or feeling restricted, find a way to do this that feels good to you. Forget about what you can't do; enjoy what you can do."
And as I type that, I smile as I think of how it applies to more than just physical movement.
How often have you felt brought down by limitations and restrictions? Sometimes limitations and restrictions are meant to be challenged. And feeling sad or angry about it can be like fuel for making changes.
But sometimes we need to accept restrictions and limitations and learn to focus on the bright side and be solution-oriented rather than fixated on the problem. Sometimes we gotta get creative to work with what we got. And sometimes it takes a little bit of effort to shift the negative perspective to a positive one.
Sure, I have a right to feel pissed off or bummed out when my ankle hurts and prevents me from dancing how I really want to dance. And you have a right to feel bummed out or angry about whatever seems to be holding you back.
But I love being able to acknowledge that and then let it go. Acknowledge it and then move on to finding the better feeling thoughts.
Try it for yourself. Next time you're feeling stifled, limited, restricted, and getting upset over it, see what happens when you take a step back. Take a deep breath. And let it go.
This isn't about denial or spiritual bypassing. It's important to acknowledge that part of you that feels bothered. You can even say to yourself, "I know, I know. I hear you. This sucks. So, what would feel good right now? What would help? What can we do?" And see if that helps you shift, feel a bit lighter or more hopeful. See if you can find the gratitude and joy in working with what you got.
And on a side note, when I was thinking of the title for this blog post, I stumbled upon this song on YouTube! Enjoy: :)
In my blog post the other day, I shared a concern that if we say "everyone has something to heal" or "everyone is always healing," then it's like implying there's "something wrong with them." Something broken. Something needing to be fixed.
I asked you to share some thoughts on this before I share more of mine.
And now, here are mine:
I feel that it's important to remember the Truth of who we are: We are are Perfect. We are all Whole. Nothing to fix.
And yet it's also true that we have things to heal.
Sometimes we have things going on physically, emotionally, mentally, or energetically that appear as problems--or as something that needs healing. Perhaps the important thing here is to recognize that just because we are healing, that does not mean we are broken or that there's something "wrong" with us.
What's so wrong about feeling like there's something wrong? I can hear some people thinking that! Even a part of me is wondering that!
And my answer is: It depends.
Does the thought--do those words--empower or disempower you? Does the thought of needing to heal imply that something is wrong with you? And does the thought having something to heal or feeling like something is "wrong" make you feel smaller or help you feel more expansive and motivated towards taking some action? Does acknowledging that something is/feels "wrong" make you feel bad, or is it just useful information to guide you towards making a change for the better?
Some of this is about semantics--whether it's the word "healing" or the word "wrong." Some is about perception and belief systems.
I don't think there's a right or wrong answer here. I feel very curious to hear from others about this. All I know is that as a teacher, or in any leadership role, it feels important to me to be mindful and considerate regarding word choice and the power of words.
So, personally, I don't feel comfortable saying that we are all in the process of healing, and yet I recognize that maybe--depending on how you look at it--maybe we are.
Even as I write that though, part of me sighs, ugh, but that just feels like so much work. I just want to be free and not always feeling like there's something to heal!
So when I share a concern about how others will take "we are all healing something," maybe I'm projecting. Because sometimes that implies to me a need for ongoing work. A constant need for improvement or something. And not in a fun, expansive, and evolutionary way.
Then again, sometimes I do see healing as an adventure, as constant growth and expansion! And that feels good.
So, again, the bottom line is that it depends. It depends on who you are. It depends on the day. It depends on the context.
Today the thought of everyone always being in need of healing doesn't feel good to me. Maybe it would ring true another day. I don't know.
Again, I find myself wondering, what do you think?
What does healing mean to you?
Comment or send me a message. I'd love to hear from you.
A couple weeks ago, one of my Sheng Zhen students asked me, "Why is this form called Healing? Is there an assumption that we're all healing from something?"
What a question! I felt both excited to answer, and a bit surprised to be asked this. We had just finished Sheng Zhen Healing, Stage 1. We may have done Stage 2 that day as well. I don't remember now. But I remember the conversation as if it were yesterday.
I remember asking if anyone had any comments or questions, as I often do. And this one student asks about the form we just practiced and why the title is "Sheng Zhen Healing."
"Why is this form called Healing? Is their an assumption that we're all healing from something?" she asked.
At first I felt unsure of how to answer. I absolutely love questions like this, but in over 10 years of teaching, nobody had every asked me this.
So, I thought about it for a moment and responded, "I don't think that's what was meant to be implied. But perhaps we are all healing from separation and disconnection, at the very least? I don't know... However, I don't think Master Li meant to imply anything like that. My understanding is that the "Sheng Zhen Healing" forms (stages 1, 2, and 3) were a result of being asked for a form to help those with Cancer and AIDS. That being said, the Sheng Zhen Healing forms are often practiced by people who are physically well and aren't necessarily trying to heal physically, emotionally, or spiritually."
And then another student said something like, "but aren't we all healing from something?"
I may have laughed--I just chuckled now thinking back to it. But I also remember feeling sensitive to the idea of saying that everyone is healing whether they would see it that way or not.
And so, I responded something like, "Well, yeah, I suppose you could say that, and I hear what you're saying. But for some people, that could imply there's something 'wrong with them' or that there's something they always need to be working on. Some people wouldn't like to think that, even if it's true! So I wouldn't impose that wording or concept onto anyone even though I hear what you're saying."
And then I posed the question: Do we all have things to heal, whether we're aware of it or not?
What do you think??
Really, I want to know. I'd love to see a discussion about this in the comments to this blog. Or email me. Do you think everyone has something to heal?
I have more to say, and I even already wrote it. But I want to stop here for today. I'll share the rest tomorrow or Saturday. In the meantime, please share your thoughts... :-)
My eyes are heavy and starting to close. Perhaps I'll let them, as I continue to type. Perhaps that's the best way to get this written. This is my third attempt today....
This is my third attempt to share more about yesterday's quadruple dose of meditation. This is my attempt to tell you how the day progressed. How I progressed. How I was struck with divine inspiration. Filled with an easy air of devotion that fueled me, propelled me into an 11pm yin yoga practice followed by my 2nd round of an SRF guided meditation on Peace, before drifting off to sleep. And the insights that came to me throughout the night and in the morning....
But sometimes it's hard to put into words. Or the moment passes. The moments pass. They're gone. Does it even matter any more? Does sharing it here, or elsewhere, do any good? Does it help anyone? Does it help me? Does it drive it in? Make it more real?
Yes. No. Maybe so.
Maybe I'll just have to break it down like this, provide a little structure for what feels so formless:
1. I woke up, rolled out of bed, opened up my iPad, clicked "play" on the SRF Peace meditation. I'd done this the previous morning too. What was different this time? It was easier to focus my gaze upward to my third eye, but couldn't consistently hold it there. And I kept seeing an image of Yogananda, a black and white image, and I don't remember seeing it in a book, in a movie, or online. He was sitting on some steps outside, his hair about shoulder length or maybe a little longer. Seeing him helped me focus, helped me relax.
2. I taught a Union of Three Hearts meditation class a couple hours later. And when I asked the students if they had any intentions for this meditation, they all said Peace. I smiled and then weaved the theme of peace in and out throughout the Sheng Zhen meditation, inspired and guided by my earlier morning practice.
And then? Then I spent the next several hours not feeling at peace. I spent the next several hours in some sort of time warp in which nothing was accomplished. And that's not even true. I did do some things other than stare into space. But the feeling I had was that it wasn't enough, that I should be doing more, that if I'm not going to do something "productive" such as working on my book or my business, then the least I can do is meditate, practice Sheng Zhen, or take it to the yoga mat. What is this resistance to doing? What is this attachment to doing? Is it my ego getting upset with me over this non-doing? Or is it my soul?
3. A bath and a long talk with a good friend helped me release these and other annoying thoughts in my head, including thoughts about isolation and loneliness on this path that I'm on, as well as questions about if I am spreading myself too thin with the various practices and studies calling to me now.... And then a few students showed up for a 7pm Union of Three Hearts meditation at my house.
The previous week, there had been a request for the room to be darker, so we tried that. And I don't know if it was the darkness, or the state I was already in, but I dropped deeper into my own meditation than normal while teaching. Usually when I teach, I enter into the Sheng Zhen state, a meditative state, but rarely this deeply. I kept my eyes closed for more of the time than usual, only opening them to check the time a few times instead of also to periodically scan the room and see what's happening for my students; this time I just felt into the field. I could see without looking. And truth is, I could always see without looking, but I didn't always trust it, and so I would look too... But now I know. Now I trust....
As for my own meditation experience while teaching, I felt the qi building up strong in my dantian. I felt the qi traveling up and down in the zhong mai between the dantian and niwuan. And then when the qi remained in the niwuan, this is where I went in the deepest.
I saw the cosmos within my head, within my consciousness. It didn't feel like the qi had expanded out and beyond and like I'd traveled out or merged with some cosmos "out there." No. This was inside of me. This felt contained and yet vast. And instead of pulling myself out of there, as I sometimes do when teaching, I simply relaxed into it, opened my mouth, and said, Allow yourself to get lost... in the blackness,... in this pure consciousness, or something like that.
It was awesome. I felt at peace again. I felt grounded. I felt relaxed but also energized.
4. But not too long after my students left, I went back to contemplating whether or not I have "too many" practices (and from different schools of thought). I read something online that made this less of an issue, something that helped me get out of my head and back into my deep knowing. Rather than quote it here, this is my own translation and elaboration:
If you are in alignment with the practices to which you've committed, if you know they bring you closer to God (Source, Spirit, whatever you want to call it) and in doing so bring you Peace and Joy, then you will gladly wake up earlier to do them; you will easily, and with pleasure, find the time for them in your day rather than feeling overwhelmed, over-committed, or too lazy or tired for practices and related studies.
And instead of just being words of some sort of abstract concept or "should," this time it was like a wake up call. Literally. I'd been fighting off sleepiness most of the evening. And although I felt awake right after Union of Three Hearts, I had come back down and was contemplating sleep instead of a late night yoga practice and another round of meditation.
But suddenly I had a burst of energy and a feeling of needing to sit and meditate again. Not "needing" in a way of "shoulding" on myself, but needing to because I felt a strong love for this practice and a deep knowing that meditating right before bed would be good for me. So I started cleaning my room to prepare the temple, so to speak. And as I cleaned my room, I noticed my body crying out, yearning for me to spend some time on the mat. I'd skipped yoga the previous day. And the day before that, I had cut my practice ridiculously short. So although it was nearly 11pm, and I am NOT a night owl, I found myself back out in my living room for a Yin Yoga practice.
I felt truly and joyfully devoted. I felt fueled by this pure love and devotion. And it felt amazing. So easy to drop into the poses and rest into it so late at night. And knowing that next I would get to sit and meditate? Yes, please.
5. So back to the SRF Peace meditation....
This time, this third time, was even easier. And several times when I brought my attention back to my 3rd eye if my attention had wandered, especially if not picturing it as a blue circle with a star in it (the image described on SRF's site), but instead just seeing more of an actual eye there, I felt little jolts of energy pass through my spine.
I also saw that same image of Yogananda from the morning, but this time in sepia instead of black and white. An image of an old Chinese sage came in a few times too. And then I was surrounded; in my room I felt the presence of deities and avatars from all these various traditions. I was not alone. This was especially significant in that earlier in the day, I'd been noticing a lot of feelings and thoughts regarding loneliness, and specifically the words I'd heard from others so many times regarding spiritual path: "It's a lonely path."
Part of me wants to say Bullshit. You are never alone. And the more you meditate and feel this sense of connection to the divine and a sense of Oneness with all, the less lonely you will feel. But.... There's a "but" here that is too much of a tangent to get into right now. So perhaps I'll return to this topic another time....
For now, I just want to wrap up this longer-than-usual blog post by saying that I woke up a couple of times in the night with some deep insights that weren't just thought in my head, but felt in my body. Deeper understandings about being part of the cosmos and about "not being your body." This statement "you are not your body" has actually often bothered me a lot over the years, but last night it didn't. Last night I got it on a different level. And getting that resulted in some insights about desire. Attachment. Suffering. Peace. All that good stuff.
I want to write more about this "not your body" thing and what followed from there. But I make no promises. We'll just wait and see if inspiration comes for a follow-up post....
© 2015 Rebecca Clio Gould. All rights reserved.
Rebecca Clio Gould is a Certified Sheng Zhen Teacher and Holistic Wellness Coach. Her specialties include self-love, embodied joy, women's sexuality, spirituality, surgery preparation, and trauma recovery. She is also a Supreme Science Qigong Instructor, Essence vs Form Coach, and Award-winning Author of "The Multi-Orgasmic Diet: Embrace Your Sexual Energy and Awaken Your Senses for a Healthier, Happier, Sexier You."