Thursday, April 10, 2008

Something's Happening Here....What it Is Ain't Exactly Clear

So I've had some kind of transformation lately. I haven't written about it because the truth is, I don't know what to make of it.

Let's start from the beginning. As the two readers of my blog know, I can be kind of cynical about self-help, even though I work in the industry (maybe because I do.) Posts like this one, and this one are a testament to my love-hate relationship with all things self-improvement. Actually, both "love" and "hate" are too strong. I'm mainly ambivalent about it. Partly this is because I've been trying to improve myself since I bought my first self-help book ("How to be Popular") in fifth grade, and have been trying out various therapeutic tricks and techniques ever since then. Therapy, books, "process groups", books, pills, books, you name it. After awhile, a girl just starts to get tired of having to improve all the time, right?

A few months ago, it dawned on me (and I mean "dawned", as in a slow, steady, ever-brightening realization) that part of my cynicism was actually resistance. Resistance to going deeper. Resistance to being uncomfortable. Resistance to looking myself straight in the face. Even resistance to really grasping what I'd been saying for so long: that there really is nothing wrong with me.

"Coincidentally", my boss sent me to a work conference on the science of consciousness - a highly experiential two-day retreat in Portland, OR - sponsored by the Institute of Noetic Sciences. many things happened in Portland, but the most intense experience happened when I was taken into a trance state and met two creatures in a dark, damp wood that should have been scary but wasn't. The laughing Cheshire-cat-like grey fox with bright eyes, and the laughing willowy nude woman with long auburn hair both answered my despairing question of "What do I do now?" with the same answer: "You're already doing it." "You're OK", they said, laughing, as they led me on a half-run, half-flight through the forest, "You're already perfect." In this trance I felt, really felt, in the core of my being, the basic and incontrovertable "okay-ness" that is every creature's birthright. The thing that people say they feel when they become enlightened. I felt it, and knew it, and nothing has been the same since.

Other things have happened in the last two months to support this notion of my basic, core, human goodness (the idea that I - we all - are completely and totally perfect and whole, deserving of all good things, simply because we exist). I've met amazing people, I've understood more about why I'm here on this planet, and I've understood more about how I can stand up every day and connect rather than isolate, love rather than flee, laugh and cry and dance all at once. It's been amazing and not something I can tell many people. That's why I'm writing it on this blog :-)

At the same time, I haven't become a trance-happy, grinning, lightheaded hippy-dip (nothing against hippies; I did grow up in Berkeley and am a hippie in my soul). I'm still me. I laugh at inappropriate things. I like movies and books that are dark and complex and use foul language. I still like to swear like a truckdriver, drink, talk about sex (and nowadays, I can even HAVE sex. With someone else. Imagine!) , get kinky, get frustrated, eat pizza, all the things I've always done. If anything, I'm more me than I've ever been.

Yet everything's different for me now. I've lost 95% of my habitual fear of people. I talk to strangers. I keep my office door open so I can talk to my coworkers as they pass by. I'm not as afraid in general. I can be patient with those who frustrate me. I've been getting an amazing amount of positive energy coming my way. I take more personal risks. I can have social events every night of the week and not get tired, where more than two nights a week used to make me exhausted and cranky. I'm more comfortable being uncomfortable. It's not that I never get depressed anymore, or get pissed off, or drink too much, or get bored, or think yoga is a waste of time. It's just that that core part of me that knows everything is now and always will be OK just comes right on back up, like one of those sand-filled clown punching bags from kids' parties.

Everything's coming up roses, because something in me is already a bed of roses - and callas and forget-me-nots, and daisies, and all other sorts of flowers - and always will be. Thorns and sweet smelling flowers, bugs and butterflies, and all. That's what I've been up to in the last two months. It's why I haven't written. I'm still transforming, I think. And I'm curious to see where it all goes. If anyone wants to write to share stories or insights, please do. I feel an urge to connect with like-minded people who are also transforming themselves, and the world.


larissa said...

Hi, I've been keeping up with your blog but got lazy about commenting...I have enjoyed the last entries though. I'm not sure I've really had any sort of awakening type experience but I thought I'd throw my ideas out there.

I've always felt vaguely mistrustful of self-help -- not that it's always bad. I think some of it is quite good and I have learned a lot from reading some, but it also strikes me that a lot of it is there to make money, much like the pharmacuetial industry. It's often bathed in a sort of altruistic light but in the end no one is going to make any money telling you that it's okay to be the way you are.

Plus the older I get the more I disagree with the whole idea of "goal" oriented personality development. It seems like in the US there's a definite sort of personality (outgoing, cheerful, upbeat, productive, kind but still ambitious...) that's more appreciated and considered good to strive towards. But I also think that there's a lot to be said for not being that type of person, being the type of person that does complain and think about ways for things to be better, that doesn't multi-task constantly but thinks deeply about an idea, that doesn't ignore the darker aspects of being a human... I find it annoying that most self-help expects that everyone would want to be this one sort of person and devalues most other personality types.

Okay, I'll end my little tirade, I do really enjoy your blog. Hope you keep posting!

Amy Lenzo said...

I love this sense I get in your post of emergence... the vibrant power of LIFE flowing through you, and your awareness of it illuminating every corner. Accepting it all, holding it all, each moment one by one. Here. Now.

I love having found you. Thanks so much for writing and being here.

By the way, I laugh at what others might think inappropriate moments in movies too. :-) I remember once in some dark movie - I think it was LA Confidential - where the good guys had one of the bad guys hanging out of a 12th story window by one leg trying to get information out of him. It was all very tense but somehow hit me as absolutely hilarious.

It can be very disconcerting to others - in this instance I had a terribly embarrassed boyfriend (he was English, what can I say?) admonish me for my reaction, saying there was obviously something wrong with me. :-) Needless to say, he's now an EX boyfriend!