He bought a gorgeous aboriginal throw as a memento and as the space for our afternoon work. We took it over the railroad tracks, down the winding, sandy path to a quiet place on the dunes, removed from the beach below. I lay down and he set to his task rhythmically delivering the most profound healing work I've ever received. Honestly, no hyperbole. I reeled for days after, tremoring, laughcrying in yoga, swimming in the ocean, rolling around on the floor, writing pages on pages all in an attempt to integrate the way my mind and heart had just been blown wide. It was a glorious surprise, by far my best travel souvenir to date.
The last time I experienced such a deep inner earthquake was nine years ago when I was diving into Kundalini yoga, and, as I like to quip, Kundalini made me quit my job, my relationship, San Francisco...etc. In a word, this practice was destructive. Anything that wasn't fully in alignment with my truth and well being had to go. And this saved my life.
Perhaps then you can imagine the gratitude I have for my new healer friend, and the attachment I found cropping up as our time together began to close. When one has met someone who matches them so neatly, who is attuned, readily vulnerable and open, it's natural to want to keep them around. There also arises the danger of attaching the healing you've experienced to the practitioner.
This happens across realms of healing. Sometimes people transition from hard drugs or boozing to yoga and attribute all their success to The Yoga. I've even just written it: "Kundalini yoga saved my life." While it is true that yoga and meditation generate actual, physiological changes, these practices would be entirely ineffective without disciplined commitment. As they say in AA, "It Works If You Work It." It is the work we put in and our willingness to heal that makes the difference. We keep coming back...and it works!
The Healing is grown and lives inside us. It is not a gift given outside of ourselves from a teacher, preacher, therapist or guru. The Healing is the fruit of our labor, the reaping of our sowing. "Healers" are truly facilitators, creating the space and giving the permission wherein you are able to do the work. This is a valuable art, but without your will, all is for naught. When they are gone, when you've stepped off your yoga mat or out of their office, your healing remains with you and the course of it is in your hands.
If you are in a practice or see a healer that makes their presence necessary for your continued equilibrium, RUN away. The healing practitioner's goal should always be to become obsolete to you. Healing tools should serve to strengthen us to the point where we no longer need them. When you reach the roof of the house, do you drag the ladder up with you? No. It has served its purpose. You let it go.
Just as our healing does, all our feelings and experiences live within us. Love, for example, is not an inert, scarce resource that can be given away, lost, stolen or otherwise possessed. Our love is not "wasted" for having been shared with someone who leaves. It is alive in everyone and everything, in abundance never ending. There may be external stimuli which help inspire love or joy, but those feelings were in you all along. Happiness really is an inside job.
On the other side of the same coin, we must contend with our pain, shame and rage as beings living inside us. This is not Inception. No one snuck in in the night and planted them there. They were there and something happened to activate them, but they still belong to you. If you refuse to take responsibility for them and remain mindful of their activity, you risk having them control you from the underground.
During some recent train writing, I had an epiphany about attachment: part of what makes letting go of relationships and moments so hard is the feeling of loss that accompanies this, but we're not seeing the whole picture. While the moment may be over or your loved one gone, you are free to pool the experience, and to retain whatever joy remains or lessons that serve you. Sometimes we keep trying to return to something we know we can't resurrect looking for validation of what happened. It was real and whatever happened therein has not gone away! You get to keep all the healing that you experienced in the mirror of this other person. Your love and joy still live inside you. The only thing we lose when we let go is potential future pleasure, but this never existed. It was never ours to lose.
It is all there.
All our loss, sorrow, shame, anger and regret.
All our healing, growth, joy, pleasure and fun.
Everything that's ever happened to us is written on bones and tucked between muscle fibers.
If we heal, it's because we've tilled and fertilized the soil, creating a nourishing loam for new life to grow. We commit to the work with courage and keep at it.
If we are angry, it's because the anger lives in us. Learn to be with it. Let it teach you something important about the state of your heart.
If we are happy, it's because the happiness lives in us, too. We choose it everyday.
You can choose to give this power and responsibility away, to anchor your wellness in another human being, but this is pure folly. As soon as they go- and we all go, in time- then what? The end result of operating under the illusion that someone else is the master of our destinies is deep dependency and instability. If we wish to be truly independent and free, we have to learn to, as Zen Master Osho suggests, "develop within ourselves the capacity to make our way through the darkness without any companions, maps or guide."
Our internal environment is our holy domain.
We are the kings and queens of our experience.
The things we most need are already alive inside us.
There is nothing missing.