My friend Sara introduced me to davidji's "Deep Healing" meditation on Insight Timer a couple of weeks ago. Davidji promises big returns in brain structural changes if you do this "witness and accept" body scan every day for eight weeks, based on research results at Massachusetts General Hospital. He says it's like a "loving-kindness bootcamp for the brain" that will leave us feeling kinder to ourselves and more accepting of the world around us.
I first fell for davidji's soothing voice back in the mid 2000s as a leader of Deepak Chopra's 21-day meditation series, but I had no idea how he arrived at this auspicious position. Apparently, he was a top-flight corporate guy who left New York City in the wake of 9/11 and wandered across the pond to England for one of Deepak Chopra's Seduction of Spirit meditation events. His ascent from student to celebrated meditation teacher was nothing less than meteoric—davidji and his "Velvet Voice of Stillness" had been discovered.
I have no idea what eight weeks of his meditation will do for my brain, because I have yet to establish an unwavering daily habit. That's coming. Nearly all guided meditations invite us to visualize and imagine but this one is nothing but breathing, awareness, and acceptance. Toward the end, davidji asks us to repeat a mantra series, just four simple phrases—that for me, unleash a rush of energy in the best possible way. In fact, those words feel so profoundly powerful that I'm using them to calm my mind for breath work and silent meditation.
The only hangup is the second phrase. I am whole is the first one. Then what? Why is number two always so hard to remember? Just skip to three: I am Love followed by I am. Being a writer I can't leave anything alone so I tweaked the last one: I am whole. I am Love. I am Thou. What the hell is that second line? Why do I always forget that one?
For at least a week or two I've relapsed into paralyzing terror about the future of our beautiful planet and the self-created demise of mankind—one way or another, we've devised so many options at this point. Sometimes a news story, an email from an environmental group, or even a headline sends me plunging down the rabbit hole of despair and dark imaginings. Last month I was walking around in a haze of self-loathing because I wasn't growing all of my own food, eating a plant-based diet, and living off the grid. Every time I tossed an item in our recycling basket I felt a wave of nausea knowing that 95 percent of plastic still ends up in a landfill. It's hard to say what felt heavier to bear, the dire outlook for our human family and the Earth or my total sense of helplessness.
This dramatic downswing was fresh enough to be one of the topics with my therapist Sumer, who is more than a little Earth Mamma. I had already worked through "do what you can from where you are" in my own fevered brain and had googled container gardens. Dietary changes are best done slowly, adding more and more plant-based meals and finding yummy substitutes for meat and dairy. I can't do a thing about the impending water crisis but starting a thirsty garden feels like a fresh conflict. That Buddhist refrain of "Do no harm" is a lot trickier than it sounds in a world where pretty much everything about the way we live seems to be doing some kind of harm.
Sumer commiserated with the conundrum and suggested points of inspiration—mingling with garden lovers at nearby farmer's markets or visits to Singh Meadows. "Decades ago, it was just me and a handful of hippies who frequented Singh Farm," she said. "The farm is no longer open to the public but the owner created even more magic by transforming a former golf course into an organic oasis filled with Mother Nature's bounty. Fresh fruits and vegetables, plants and compost, handmade food and goods, farm-to-table meals. Just arrive as they open because his place has become so loved."
“What place can you go here in the Valley that is completely toxin free? Singh asks. "The Meadows is safe for everyone to come lay in the grass, enjoy food grown and cooked within a mile radius, and just be a kid again."
Therapists are wonderful but our beloveds can be especially gifted at talking us off the ledge with a simple phrase, or just their presence. My friend Carol once pulled my spirits out of a sinkhole with a voice mail. For months on end she had been sharing the incessant worry about her son's engagement to an heiress. How can they ever close the Grand Canyon-sized gap between their lifestyles and financial resources? What will happen to him if they break up? But the voice on the recording that morning was clear and strong: "I have surrendered. If these two people who seem to love each other so deeply can't find a way to bridge their worlds, no one is going to die over it. I love my son but something much higher and wiser than I am is running this show." That's all I needed to hear for my own heart and mind and soul to remember who's in charge. Up floated my spirits like an air balloon. (Yes, I do realize this sounds a little bipolar-ish. I'm okay with that.)
Richard Rohr once said that a line from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movie is the perfect message for our troubled times—or any time: "Everything will be alright in the end. So if it is not alright, it is not yet the end." The turnaround for my most recent Chicken Little meltdown came through my email inbox, one right after the other.
The first was a message from the angels, delivered each week by Ann Albers, who has been our family's very beloved angel-whisperer for the past thirty years. That's a lot of angel-whispering. Her opening lines felt like they had been written just for me:
Your world is not coming to an end. Your countries are not falling apart. Your economy has no power to drive you to ruin. Every loving thought, word and action become part of a vast stream of love moving your planet into a new era of light. Love will prevail, one soul, one choice at a time.
Just below Ann's message was a Note from the Universe that I had missed from the day before:
Warming planet—check. Species on the brink of extinction—check. Ice caps melting—check. Economies unpredictable—check. Enter Maggy Michaels—I trust this is going to be as good as your romantic comedies? The Universe
The one-two punch of those messages was exactly what I needed. Something I keep reading and hearing over and over again from spiritual leaders and Oprah is that action is the antidote to fear and helplessness. We all have passions and gifts, so whatever we can contribute, no matter how small it may seem, do that thing. In fact, just going about our lives with the intention of raising our vibe and being the most loving and healthy version of ourselves is the ultimate gift to the world.
The only thing I truly know that I am being called to do in these turbulent and frightening times is write, and yet it might be the thing that terrifies me the most. Right now, at this very moment, a book is living inside of me that is waiting to be born. I know how it begins, I know all the middle pieces, and I know how it ends. If tomorrow is my last day on Earth and my entire life is passing before my eyes, THE regret would be leaving here with that book unwritten. No one else can write this because no one else lived it. Just me. It's not a story that a Muse can deliver to another artist. This is the cargo I came to deliver, maybe the most important thing I will ever do. Possibly only for myself, but that's enough.
Last Sunday evening at a Group Sound Healing, I shared the intention of a return to trust. I can remember a time in the distant past when trust and surrender felt so natural, like breathing. Granted, I spent those years wrapped in a spiritual cocoon that was more like an Ashram in its other-worldly peace. On the nights when our teacher went into trance and we heard from teachers and guides on the other side, every message of reassurance to one person fell like a blanket of comfort over the entire room. All is well. Just let go. Everything is going to work out.
Words can be powerful but it was the avalanche of supernatural love that made believing and trusting so easy. What do I mean by that? On my first evening in this invitation-only group, I was already feeling giddy apprehension about being a part of such a weird phenomenon. The young man next to me leaned in and whispered: "Just to let you know that the blast of love at this wattage can feel overwhelming at first. I had to put my head between my knees to keep from passing out." Just what I needed to hear.
Would that all of us could walk around in that bubble of ineffable love. Unfortunately, wombs and cocoons have a predetermined expulsion date. Peak spiritual experiences have crossed my path since then but nothing remotely close to feeling breastfed by Divine Mother and having friends in High Places who show up each week with guidance and comfort. Fortunately, I know of healthy habits and spiritual practices that could lift me up to that place again. Unfortunately, they require intention and attention—and commitment. That's why they call it a practice. In the words of meditation teacher Gary Springfield, "You have to be relentless."
This morning as I was listening to davidji's Healing Meditation, that second line I can never remember rang out so clearly that I laughed out loud...