I walked through the black iron gates onto the 9th Avenue seminary grounds. The buildings shielding the gardens stretched from 9th to 10th Avenues. The stillness comforted me long enough to feel safe in the darkness. Timidly I walked towards the only light shining through an open door at the top of a staircase. A partially lit man stood at the bottom of the stairs.
"Is this your first time?" he asked.
I raised my head, slowed my pace, and whispered, "Yes."
"May I give you a hug?", he replied.
In the stillness coupled with a momentary loss of thought I'd forgotten my distrust of humanity and agreed.
New Yorkers don't hug, and we certainly don't slow down long enough to embrace strangers in the middle of New York City. And at this point in my life, I trusted no one. My doctrine was complete reliance on myself. But something strange happened to me that night in May of 1999, I was beginning to lose faith in myself. Or more accurately I was starting to lose faith in the self I thought myself to be.
The reality that my mind had imprisoned me with beliefs such as it always knows best, and it's always telling the truth were beginning to seep through. Deep down I was terrified because I worshipped my thoughts and my emotional states and neither had gotten me very far.
When I had a thought, it was right, which led to some pretty insane choices, which lead to equally mad circumstances. In was in my late twenties when I began to experience something different. Every now and again my mind would have no thoughts, and I'd do something entirely out of character like hug a stranger.
So there we stood in the seminary gardens embracing, for what seemed like forever. I cried, as the man embodied the reality that I was going to be okay. Although it took several years to fully understand how a complete stranger could 'embody the reality that I was going to be okay' eventually I discovered his secret. This momentary lapse in thought was the beginning of a new way of life for me. A journey of deep surrender, which would eventually turn my experience of living into what I now call, a Magical Carpet Ride.
I left that Friday night in May of 1999 wanting to experience that profound sense of stillness and safety again. Although I had no idea at the time, I began the most significant journey a human can engage. I started my quest to find something higher than my mind, something more meaningful than my emotional states, and something that would remain despite circumstance. And I was willing to abandon what I thought I knew and had accumulated in 28 years of life in hopes of finding something real and lasting.
We've all had days, weeks and perhaps months where we're merely going through the motions of life. We run through all the things we must do, feeling tired, disconnected, and diverted from the pulse of life. Relying on Caramel Mocha Frappuccino triple espresso concoctions to get us through one more day.
But what do we do when those days turn into months or years? How long do we run through our moments ignoring our inner call to slow down, stop running, and say no? If we refuse to listen to our spiritual wisdom life appears hard, we experience way more suffering than is required, and we fall asleep to the fact that what we do matters!
Unfortunately, numbing is a common choice. Food, drugs, alcohol along with a myriad of other addictions are rampant in our American culture. I understand those looking to hide in a box of donuts or a bottle of alcohol, I've been there.
The truth is if either of those things still kept me feeling connected and happy, I would never have walked through those seminary gates that night in May 1999. And I certainly would never have hugged that stranger, who was greeting newcomers. I'd still be drinking vodka and devouring mozzarella sticks at the Peterpank diner at 3 am. But the shame, guilt, and remorse that followed behind my behavior eventually grew too big to ignore. When my numbing tools stopped working, there I was with myself and the suffering I continually created.
Awareness can be a painful part of letting go, but it is necessary if we want to change. Waking up to patterns of behavior that we know are leading us to self-destruct is a process that results in change. Fortunately, there's a way out of intolerable situations, and we always have a choice.
Taking a journey within is nothing new unless you've never tried it. The people in the east embody it. The people in the west attempt to emulate it but most of us are still addicted to our doing.
Exploring our inner sanctuary and allowing our being-ness to come out and play isn't on most people's To Do List.
When I had my momentary lapse in thought, I experienced something real and lasting. The man who asked me if he could hug me embodied something real and lasting. He had peace, knew who he was, and he stood firmly in his knowing presence with me in my pain. He knew the way home and was happy to share it with profound silence.
Fortunately, there is a way. A path. A journey we can take other than following our mind and emotional states down another rabbit hole. Although my spiritual journey began years earlier with silent retreats, and following Gurus around the United States it wasn't until I walked through those seminary gates that night and into a 12 Step fellowship that my life began to take flight.
I finally understood what the gurus were pointing to because the 12 Steps provided a practical pathway to take me there. Discovering who I am and how to listen continues to teach me how to unite my whole self rather than foolishly attempting to live merely from my mind, body, and emotions.
Throughout the years I've learned many useful tools to continue my inner exploration, surrender the false parts, while reawakening to the lasting reality of who I am.
I love being a change agent, a co-creator of this magical life we are blessed to live each day. As a Mindfulness Coach, I'm able to facilitate change in my clients through the combined power of our awareness. Watching courageous people explore themselves, take responsibility for their circumstances, and consciously choose their future creations is magical. Witnessing humanities continuous growing humbles me.
Ready to take flight? Come soar with 24 Courageous Soul Seeks in my brand new 6-week Pilot Coaching Program. Tell me more, please!