One might think that Julian Lennon would have a heart filled with envy for his half-brother. Sean got the full-time dad, the intact family, paternal love and attention — so many vital relationship elements denied Julian while his father lived.
As with the biblical Esau vs Jacob and Joseph vs his 11 brothers, Julian had reason to see Sean as competition — or worse, the WINNER in the competition, through no fault or merit on either son’s part. After all, John Lennon left Julian and his mother behind, favoring Sean and showering his fatherly love on his younger son.
But somehow, Julian Lennon skipped emotions of murderous envy and stayed steadily on love and conciliation.
Not only that, but in later years, Julian had to resort to buying back his father’s memorabilia (including postcards from John to Julian) which had been auctioned by Yoko Ono.
(Watch from where it’ queued up to at least 6:15 — about a minute).
We sit on the floor in criss-cross applesauce at the beginning of yoga class, and Jane instructs us to close our eyes and remember a time during childhood when we were hurt or scared, in order to find if there are areas in which we need to release and to forgive. Her soothing voice and evocative words take each of us back to address our own personal boogeymen, troubles that loomed large because we were so small.
This won’t work, says my inner voice. I’ve already exorcised all my demons.
I open my eyes and peek around the room, surprised that my fellow classmates are going crimson in the face as strong emotions rise from their bellies. Something powerful is going on, and if I can surrender my thoughts to my emotions, I may have the chance to release something I’ve carried for a very long time.
Hah, that’s what you think! — comes a reply, also inside my head.
With an exhale I allow my hips and tailbone to feel heavy, to sink into the earth. With an inhale I lift my spine, filling the space between my vertebrae with, well, more space. In an instant
I see Mommy and Daddy walking away. I see them through the droplets of the dank and cold prison they’re leaving me in, the plastic walls and ceiling I’m sealed inside, where I’m having trouble breathing. Don’t leave me! I’ll be good! I won’t scare you any more please just don’t leave me here! I scream and still they walk away. AGAIN. Every night they leave me here. EVERY SINGLE NIGHT! They leave me here in the care of my torturers who stab me with sharp things and make me bleed and hurt me over and over again. They leave me here in a wet and cold bed. They leave me here in a place where I get only icky food. They put masks over my face thirteen times a day and it smells bad. I am suffocating. I am so afraid and uncomfortable and….ANGRY. I am so angry at all of them for putting me here, for leaving me here.
I hate this oxygen tent. I hate the nurse who gives me shots. I hate the doctor who keeps adding days and nights I have to stay here. I hate all the white, and the smell of someone they call Auntie Septy. I hate my lungs for getting New Monya again. I’m mad at my parents for leaving me behind again. I’m mad that I’m so small and powerless still. I’m mad at my body. I hate my life. HATE HATEHATE HATE!
I am shocked to meet my hate-fueled (and scared) 5 year-old self. I am amazed that I could uncover all that in about 5 mindful breaths.
We begin our sun salutations, stretching the sides and back parts of our bodies with forward folds and crescent moons, strengthening our cores with plank pose and chaturrangas, then simultaneously grounding and lifting in downward dog. Yoga is a practice of alternating currents, of balancing opposites to bring about wholeness: right/left, upper/lower, front/back, sun/moon, rising/melting, strength/stretch, inhale/exhale, tension/release.
And, apparently, my past and my present.
As I move through the rest of the practice, I focus on my breath. With the inhales, I abide with that scared little girl I once was. I am acutely aware of the tension in her body, the balls of wadded up anger, of densely packed fear. With my exhales, I mindfully aim to dissolve those balls of heavy energy, some still residing in my body — mainly in my lungs and hips — using my breath and intention.
The oxygen tent is where I began laying victim patterns that would serve as my template for 30+ years. It was in that cold, wet, lonely place that I realized I was at the mercy of others, that I did not control my circumstances, that I was not the subject in my life but rather an object in others’. The doctors made me endure procedures that hurt, my parents made me swallow icky medicines and stay in fearsome places, my body continually disappointed me by not functioning as it should.
I do my thing: I look at this childhood scene through a rational lens. Of course my parents weren’t persecuting me. Of course it was as hard for them to leave me each night as it was for me to be left. Of course the doctors and nurses weren’t trying to hurt me; they were trying to heal me. Of course I wasn’t abandoned; people were there to make sure I was going to be okay. Of course my body wasn’t malfunctioning on purpose; it was doing the best it could.
But the 5 year-old on my yoga mat with me is not a rational being. I have carried her emotional energy of being scared, alone, abandoned, bereft, unwell. She’s pissed. Mad at those who left her, mad at those who poked her, mad at the body that put her in her predicament. She’s been having tantrums ever since, not having an outlet for her fear and anger.
With my teacher’s invitation to dig deep and excavate what lurks beneath my awareness, I am able to give the girl a voice. I feel my face turn crimson as the anger rises from my belly. Now that I know such a well of fear and anger is there, I can access it, breathe through it, release it.
Ten years ago, I began a series of one-year courses with my teacher, Ethel, called Multidimensional Energy Work. I’ve mentioned this before, as well as the profound impact that this work/play has had on my spiritual evolving.
One of Ethel’s teachers has been Mother Meera, a woman from India who lives in Germany and holds darshan there and when she travels the world. Her followers believe that Mother Meera is an avatar, an actualized being, the Divine in human form. I once read a book about her and scoffed when I discovered that she’d had nose surgery (not cosmetic) to correct a painful and annoying condition. What kind of god(dess) has body parts that don’t work? I mean, really, why not just fix it? Why the need to involve a surgeon?
I never really found an answer to the question about how an all-powerful and all-knowing being can have issues until years later when I was taking Ethel’s multidimensional energy class at the same time I was teaching 7th grade geography. I was teaching a unit on what happens when you smush a globe or the actual three-dimensional entity — the Earth — into a two-dimensional map. The teacher-guide of the textbook suggested having the students take a whole-as-possible orange peel and try to flatten it down so that no parts raised or buckled.
Turns out that when you turn something three-dimensional into something two-dimensional, there is distortion.
I applied this new analogy to Mother Meera. SHE is a multi-dimensional being (as am I, as are you). SHE is living as a three-dimensional being (as am I, as are you). THIS is how illness, misfortune, difficulties, horrible circumstances can happen to divine beings. On some level, we may actually be creating these experiences — for the sheer juiciness of being human and experiencing fallibility and the full spectrum of emotions.
I am going through a distortion of high magnitude now. I’m not sure what, if any, I will unfurl here publicly. But all this is to say that living and mindfully as I try to do, taking good care of myself and my family as I try to do, breathing and being present and all the things that I know I should do and yet don’t often enough put into practice — all these deposits in the karma bank did not protect me from a really tough thing. Nor did I expect them to.
This weekend I took the kids on a theatre-hike. As we settled at the first clearing where Hansel and Gretel unfolded in front of us, we laid down the blanket that the theater company had loaned us.
Another mom and her two young children asked if they could share our blanket. I said yes but Tessa’s body language said “No!” as it occupied as much of the blanket as she could cover. The lady drifted away, not wanting to further engage with us.
We walked to the play’s next clearing and I said to Tessa something we’ve talked about before: “The Universe has a way of showing you yourself. So watch in the next week or so for someone to not share with you when clearly they could if they wanted to. This is so that you get the chance to see what it’s like to be on the other side of your actions.”
Soon we were at the next stage of the play, another clearing on a beautiful hike. Tessa laid down our blanket and, without any encouragement from me, sought out that lady and invited her and her children to sit with us. Which they did.
I smiled at her and she smiled back.
I attended my very first yoga conference this week, a day at the Hanuman Festival. One instructor took us into a deep meditation where we were, in theory, accessing our intuition and experiencing the all-encompassing love of the divine, the unity of all.
I, deeply wounded from the events of the week and the absolute stuck-ness that had a stranglehold on my life, had difficulty getting my thoughts out of the way to fully experience the session.
After the meditation, the leader told us about the five yogic sutras. I needed only the first two she mentioned (there is no order to them).
Recognize the other person is you.
There is a way through every block.
If we see qualities that we dislike in another – again, we are only seeing ourselves – perhaps a disowned part called the shadow. The more we are identified with our ego, the more judgmental we will be toward others and the more we will project our own personality traits onto others…
…Every challenge, no matter how great or small, has a solution or a way through. This solution, however, doesn’t come from the rational or logical mind. A pros and cons list will not work. The solution will come bubbling to the surface through your intuition. How do you know the difference between intuition and thoughts from the mind? Intuition is neutral in energy – there is no judgment, no ‘shoulds’ and no fear. Intuition is the creative energy.
Not that I’m an avatar, not that I’m actualized, not that I’m anyone’s savior.
But within me is the seed of the divine. The boundless, multi-dimensional divine, which is playing around on a three-dimensional stage and experiencing distortion in doing so. I am perceiving myself in others and reflecting others to themselves on this stage.
We are learning to love, really love, our blemishes.