The room had a dark wooden floor, there was a Christmas cactus on the table in one corner of the room and a small round couch covered in leopard print in the other corner. Books loaded the shelves to either side of the fireplace which was concealed by art materials and two framed pictures – one hanging from the mantlepiece and one on the floor below it. Across from the fireplace, a studio table filled a large portion of the room beyond a wide opening which could have had sliding doors but didn’t. In the other half of the twenties bungalow living room, through an arch that divided the two 15” spaces as is the style of these houses, some more built in bookshelves and drawers lined the walls, and beside the round table with the Christmas Cactus, another doorway opened into a kitchen and beyond the kitchen to another small space with double doors leading to a deck and a garden. A breeze came in from the open front door and fans swirled overhead from the thirteen foot ceilings.
Savanah, a full bodied red head with curls like Annie Oakley, came in, laid her mat down in her usual place, and settled herself upon it. Marissa, slender with straight, short, full grey hair carefully took her position on her mat; the teacher having finished setting the tone of the ambient music, settled quietly into her space.
‘Sit straight and feel the space between your vertebrae…… “ the teacher breathed audible ujayii breath, reminding the students to focus their breath awareness in the body.
“Lift your ribcage off your lungs”; this reminder made Savanah think of Indian sunworshippers pinning the skin of their chest to ropes leading up towards the heavens. It was a connection of physical to cosmic.
“Angel wings, scapulae, sink down towards the central spine, loosening the shoulders…”
“Be aware of energy flows up and down your spine, connecting earth to sky, sky to earth through you, the rainbow bridge.”
“I universe am.”
As they breathed, bringing their consciousness home to the moment and the body, Savanah recalled the interesting linguistic information the teacher had shared: in Japanese “I see the dog”, is rendered, “I dog seeing.” In English there is a separation of subject and an objectification of the subject’s experience. In Japanese the reciprocal and transactional nature of experience is expressed as mutual process, rather than agent and that acted upon. Dog and I are both seeing and seen.
As they stretched and moved, Savanah tried out this new way of seeing the world –
“I leg stretching” she thought to herself and felt a connection to the life in her body as herself, in a way that was new. It could be called coming home, she thought.
“I universe am”, she thought as they held the forward bend. “I universe am trump and dying children, babies being born, all people in this moment now. I am aware that I universe am.” She remembered that she was supposed to be being aware of her muscles and finding the edge – the boundary of comfort and discomfort. “ I forward bend am” , she thought, and smiled to herself feeling the process that had been experienced by so many bodies just like hers and not just like hers. Not only the same but also different. Not only … but also…that was another verbiage the teacher had shared, and it was so helpful for resolving conflicts of the mind.
Paradox. Contradictory perceptions CAN co-exist, but only one can be observed at a time by any one observer.
“Savanah?” , Marissa’s voice broke her reverie. “Oh gosh” , Savanah thought, “ i have to try to observe my thoughts without getting swept away by them”. The teacher had moved on to the counter stretch, Savanah had completely missed the instruction.
It was a physical and intellectual pleasure to attend yoga class with a teacher whose mind so answered the questions Savanah had hardly even formulated.
The Christmas cactus flowers glowed warmly in the soft light. Savanah breathed, stretched and flowed. Yoga class was good.
The bathwater is hot and shallow. The air is cold. her little butt and feet are warm in the water and steam arises around her. She can just see over the edge of the tub. She is alone. There are some towel rails and clothes hooks on the cream wooden walls of the large and fairly empty bathroom at her grandparent’s farm and there is a toilet in the corner.
This delicious sensation of time alone, timeless time, has stayed with her.
As third child of three under three, taking her time was not a usual experience.
Billy doesn’t want to HAVE to do ANYTHING. Her whole life seems to have been mostly having to do things. Her friend cried the other day that her whole life seemed to be earning money at a horrible job to pay for her house. “i’m working for my house!” she wailed.
Billy had cleaned house for a 98 year old woman who was crotchety and irritable. This elder was determined not to be told what to do, and got positively ratty when contradicted. This was to be avoided with much backtracking and apology and agreement that the elder was completely in charge of everything. The elder felt that her whole life had been working for others; in her retirement she had determined she would do ONLY what she wanted to do.
In the Cypress Swamp.
The tall Cypress trees arose above their buttressed trunks with knots from lost branches or dead remnants projecting like alien limbs, at the lower levels, and lightly leaved branches way up high. It was coming on winter and the Cypress were losing their leaves. Shallow water the color of burnt umber flowed in a winding bed between the Cypress mounds and many many Cypress knees projected everywhere around the base of the trees. The Cypress knees looked like people or bodies or hands – they had great personality and attitude. It seemed to Billy that they were spirits, that maybe we become a Cypress knee when we die, and get to express in wooden effigy our favorite moment of being human. Billy thought of this and looked for a knee that might represent her. “But I want to be the TREE”, she realised.
She was not a performer because she had not believed in herself as such.
She was not a writer because she had not disciplined herself to write, in an organized manner.
She liked the expressions – an “artist manque”, or an “artist faute de mieux.” That was what she had become, an artist missing something, or an artist for lack of a better choice. Choice – that was indeed her issue. She knew what she didn’t want – more of the same. It was very hard to see what she did want, and a long long struggle to get it.
She called her life a quality drift. It was certainly a fine looking life in many respects from the outside, but it certainly was a drift, adrift. It was past time for Billy to wake up.
And the best thing that is helping with this is a timer. A yellow plastic timer from the 60’s, with a white flowershaped face and black numbers, a black turn handle and a self winding mechanism that busily ticks off the hour or minutes before ringing loudly. Billy uses it to help her focus and get things done – an hour of this and an hour of that. She is prioritising those things she always wanted to do but never felt there was enough time to do. She is waking up.
A Question of Justice.
His tears flowed, large liquid crystal drops from his five year old eyes. “But I didn’t do it” , he wailed.
“Just say sorry!” , she repeated in frustration. His little sister wailed mournfully from where she had landed on the grass.
“But she pushed in!” , he insisted.
The father from next door growled ,
“that is not the correct way to treat your sister”; his boy looked on with interest.
“Apologize or we’re going inside and that’s it for playtime”.
Apology was not forthcoming. Inside, the weeping and wailing intensified from both children and the baby joined in. Eventually peace was restored and snacks were distributed. The boy was able to give his side of the story, and the tears were dried.
Granny explained that even if it was wrong to push in, and even if his sister had made a good job of falling even tho she was not pushed, she was smaller, he was bigger, and sometimes apologizing is simply the easiest way to get things sorted, especially seeing he was bigger. Sometimes its easier to let a little thing go, in the interests of keeping the game going.
“ So it’s better to apologize” , he said thoughtfully later, after eating his peanut butter sandwich for a while in silence. “Mmm hmmm” came the affirmation.
But is this the lesson to teach an impressionable mind – that it is politic to accept injustice? That standing up for a fair application of rules across the board is unwise?
I guess so. And thus the process of adult-eration begins.
Billy was walking in the moonlight and looking up at the great beautiful bowl of the heavens, as dusk glowed its final warm red light at the horizon. Towards the lemon quarter shaped gumdrop moon, three lights moved speedily at a level suggesting civil aviation. Suddenly, as though having come in reach of a mirror, another set of three lights was moving towards the first, set on a collision course. The lights met, seemed to dance and one lot went out, then both sets reappeared a little further away from the collision point and continued in both directions and then disappeared in a way which was neither sudden nor gradual. It was uncanny.
Billy thought she should write about it, then she felt glum at the non progress of any book or blog or even organization of what she had already written. Her mood became dejected and heavy. Her feet dragged and she walked with less enjoyment and a heavy weight of disappointed expectations.
She sought the reliable comfort of a tree and put her hands on its warm bark, asking it to take the entity from her – this bundle of defeatist conditioning which seemed impossible to permanently shake. After a while she walked on and stood again under the beautiful moon, and Moon’s indigo sky showing through silhouetted branches. She felt able to sense a different entity, as she stood, planted, feet wide apart and pulled her short hair into some sort of gathering for a queue at the base of her skull. She felt like a Chinaman with a pigtail and loose short trousers, her own pants were gaucho length. Loki. His name was in her head. The trickster in Norse mythology. Lo Qi in Chinese . Mixing Energy.
Lo Qi seemed to symbolize a state for Billy in which she was able to handle both Linear and non-Linear thought, paradox, web mind, and still be able to communicate.
Her phone pinged with a message about a friend’s elderly father dying. Billy texted the mutual friend who had sent the news –
“ I salute him in the sky, where in the Bardo, he watches the play,
’til all those he knew and all those who knew him, fade away.”
The bardo is a realm souls go through after death and before reincarnating, in the Tibetan attempt to explain Life and Death.
It consoled Billy to imagine the Bardo or Heaven, as in her head. So her parents could both “watch her from above” – to describe it imaginatively, or be found in her head, to express it prosaically. When she thought of one of her dead, she allowed herself to feel that they were happy to be remembered. She was sure they were only Love; They had done their very best.
Elizabeth Mitchell Studio Silk Painting and Art Experiences
At ElizabethMitchellStudio – aka Inspiration Zone – participants are given freedom to direct their inquiry into their own self expression.
Inspiration Zone — Silk Painting. Silk can be obtained in lengths of 300 yards and widths of 36 -60 inches. Large Scale projects are possible. At Inspiration Zone the methods of Painting Silk without resist – Zuni Bear
– or with resist – Stained Glass or Serti technique – Sunflower – are taught.
Inspiration Zone teaching covers the process for using Fibre Reactive Dyes that require mixing and steaming, and for using Dye Paints which are a finely milled acrylic and ready to go when dry.
Mounting and Framing silk is also taught; and the location of supplies. Classes are designed to suit the participant’s needs and wishes.
Gift Certificates Available. One class $75, series of three classes $180. Location Tampa. Contact via info[at]elizabethmitchellstudio.com
Cheers, LIB. Creative Genius at Inspiration Zone.
This is a story about our earthly life being the dream of an angel in angel school, where lessons are learned and courses undertaken, based on the dream of the night before, and worked on in the dream to come.
It was Leira’s turn to tell her dream. The teacher had told them the story of Pandora. Pandora was a divine child . She held in her hands a box she had been told NEVER to open – so what did she do? She opened the box she was never to open. Out crawled and scrambled and flew so many bad things. Ignorance, Meanness, Cruelty, Hatred, War and an uncountable number of evils escaped before Pandora slammed the box shut keeping one inside. That one was Hope.
The students had chosen an Evil to round up and return to the box by figuring out how to defeat it. Leira’s group had chosen Injustice. They had worked out a story of bullying and were studying different ways to cope with it. In the previous scenario they planned, last night’s dream, Leira’s best friend, Zayela, had said she would be Leira’s mother, and Leira was to be the child who was being picked on. It was Leira’s turn to tell about the life she had dreamed.
“I awoke in my life as a 16 year old girl, and found my self longing not to go to school. But mum – you Zayela – said I had to go, so there I was, and as my fear had warned me, the nasty girls were closing in like sharks around a bleeding prey. It was so much worse this time than yesterday because, in this 21st century life, my teenage identity revolved around my internet connections and they were posting such awful stuff and posing as me, and making my friends doubt me. They spread rumors about things I’d done or said and I couldn’t keep up with it. They managed situations so I looked guilty even when I wasnt. Other kids began staying away from me … oh I could go on …it was SOOOOO painful.
Zayela, you arranged a parent conference, and this is what the principal said she would do. If I would accuse the bully girls in front of her, she would see to it that they were expelled. But of course that wasn’t going to help ! That wouldn’t help my social life, or keep them away from me after school. It would be nice not to have them at school but it wouldn’t help me.
Oh I was so desperate.
Zayela, you reminded me that Pain is Inevitable, Suffering a Choice – but my suffering was just endless and I couldn’t see how not to suffer.
You reminded me, This too shall pass – but it wasn’t passing. I just couldn’t see that it would ever end.
I forgot that I am an angel and we have taken on Injustice. I forgot that I had chosen a side in the drama of Injustice. I couldn’t go any further.”
She looked puzzled, and frustrated. “You played well,”
she said, looking at two other smiling students.
“You dealt out injustice so thick and so mean. I couldn’t figure out how to play the one who deals with Injustice. I couldn’t figure out how to get it back in the box. So I killed myself.”
The students gasped. Leira sat down heavily.
The teacher congratulated Leira for an emotionally charged story. The students recovered from their surprise and agreed wholeheartedly.
It was time for recess. Leira and her friends talked animatedly about how she might handle it the coming night, what strategies to use, how to better remember the codes. They shared tips that each of them had picked up in their own dreams so she could get Injustice packed up and returned to Pandora’s Box. That was the way to complete this chapter.
They returned after break and it was Zayela’s turn. Zayela talked about her experience of Sorrow and Pain. The burden of sorrow and pain Leira had agreed to carry had fallen onto Zayela. Injustice causes sorrow and pain. After her daughter’s death, Zayela found strength to go on by becoming involved with Habitat for Humanity. The teacher was very pleased with Zayela as she told of how she had remembered to walk through Acceptance of the Burden of Pain to Joy.
In the afternoon, it was the turn of those who deal out Injustice. They were newly arrived at this level and were still beginners. Micaela described her dream. She had had a rough home life and she had learned the tricks of cruelty – she said that life hadn’t been much fun for her either. After Leira’s death, she discovered yoga in a counseling program for troubled teens, this became her life’s focus. The teacher gave Micaela points for Public Service, and Repentance as a precursor to Self Forgiveness. She would be able to take on the chase for Injustice in the coming night . Leira hugged Micaela for playing so well and welcomed her to her cohort. Himelca on the other hand would have to repeat the dream life of misery and try once more to deal with it – she had lived her whole life as a person who made others miserable. She was congratulated for her role, and helped to see how to play it differently in the coming night’s dream life.
The next day, the students waited excitedly to hear each other’s stories. Leira was smiling. She knew she would be graduating to a new challenge this time.
“ When I woke it was with that same dread and misery. Zayela, you were so great. She called me her darling warrior. You hugged me and I felt such love. Zayela told me I could take that amount of misery out of the world if I could just Accept it and find a way around it. I think Zayela has made a new code,” Leira said, looking around.
“She told me to ask myself, ‘What good can come of this?’”
“What of good can come of this? ” the teacher said. “That is a code. Very good Zayela.”
Leira continued happily, “ It was as miserable as ever but I just decided not to use Facebook. I changed my email – I had to keep changing it. Suddenly I didn’t seem to care about those bitches. Excuse me,” she said, smiling over at Himelca.
“ I found my good friends would make the effort to find me, I really dropped out of the social life of the crowd. I would go to the library – I did really well in school that year and I found a passion for chemistry. My 17th year I met a boy in chemistry class. Oh my god, it was a version of Love Story. I’m really looking forward to waking up in that dream again.”
The teacher was plainly happy about this and asked Leira to talk some more about her strategies. Leira said it had been so helpful to have an adult who was able to let her see herself as something more than a miserable teenager.
“You know”, she said, “ in the early 21st century, humans were still dealing with the residues of a Newtonian world view – seeing only the parts and not how everything is connected. The world of subatomic physics hadn’t really affected the mainstream thought. They talked about a web of being but didn’t really understand it, even less the emotional web of being. In my loneliness, I figured out that a human can choose the emotional focus of their life, regardless of what happens; that as a human I had a choice to be part of any of the emotional fields which surround the earth; that when I focussed on feeling so bad I couldn’t get out of the negative emotional field.
This time, I was very aware as I was experiencing the sorrow and pain and I focussed on letting it go. I focussed on giving myself some love and finding something to do that would reward me…”
“ What you focus on you get more of”, the class chanted, laughing.
“ Yes,” Leira continued, “ It was hard and it was lonely. I was lucky to have you mum, I mean Zayela” , she added hurriedly. Leira paused then said thoughtfully,
“ Maybe I’d like to try it again without such a great mum”. She looked up at the teacher. “Could I get more points? Could I get to Love Story faster if I did Injustice at a harder level?”
“We can talk about that at your next conference,” the teacher replied. “You know you can do Love Story along with the Pain sessions. It’s all helping to bring Peace to Earth. I’m very pleased with the progress this group is making. You are doing great work. Continue with your story, Leira”.
“Well, yes, I focussed on what I was doing. I focussed on who I was, not who those bitches, I’m sorry I still feel kind-of pained about it, tried to make me out to be. They would be sure to tell me all about some social outing I hadn’t been on whether I wanted to hear or not, they continued to spread rumors. I would cry at home – but then I would kind-of see myself from a distance and I felt a sort of love for myself. I felt like a warrior going through a war zone alone, but brave and determined. I focussed on what I was going to do when I got out of that hell hole of a school. Actually what brought it to an end, was the school finally set up a system of video monitors – there became fewer and fewer physical areas they could pick on me, and emotionally I lived in a different space. Lonely, yes, but independent. And I found real friends.. Especially in my Senior year.”
Leira paused. The bell rang.