Tag Archives: healing

I Know You Understand

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Around 7:30 on the Wednesday night before Independence Day Weekend, I got two sets of campers within ten minutes. I’d thought I’d have an empty campground again, but suddenly I had company.

The second camper pulled in before the first group had settled on a site, before I could collect money from them or write a permit.

I walked up to the car parked by the sign board where the driver was probably looking for the amount of the camping fee. I said hello and asked if she (for the the driver–the lone person in the car–was a woman who appeared to be in her 50s) was looking for a place to camp for the night.

She said she didn’t want to camp–she didn’t have a tent–she wanted to park–she slept in her car.

I was confused for a moment, but then I realized we don’t have rules against car camping. It doesn’t matter to me if a camper sleeps in a tent or in a car or on the picnic table as long as s/he is quiet and doesn’t burn the place down or cause other trouble.

I told her it was fine if she slept in her car, that the campsite fee was $20. She told me she was happy to pay it.

Then she told me she was here to be with the sequoias. She said she’d had open heart surgery six weeks earlier to repair a birth defect. She said she was recovering from the surgery and had decided that the most important thing she could do for her health was to be with the sequoias. She was planning to go to the trail the next morning and spend the day with the trees.

Then she looked directly at me and said, I know you understand.

Yes, I told her, I do.

I believe these trees are deeply nurturing and deeply healing. I know they are ancient, and I believe they are wise, in a tree way, although perhaps not in a way that humans can truly understand. I believe these trees can heal mentally and emotionally, so why not physically? Our mental, emotional, and physical states are all connected, so healing one state should help heal the others.

If I’d had open heart surgery recently, I’d probably want to sit with the sequoias too, and let their healing powers flow through me.

I did understand, but how did she know I did? I’m kind of undercover here in my camp host uniform, not exactly letting my freak flag fly. Somehow she took one look at me and knew I’d understand her. Being recognized that way was a wonderful feeling; it’s such a comfort to be known.

I saw her at the parking lot the next day. I arrived at work just as she was preparing to leave. She remembered my name. She said she’d been with the sequoias all day.

As she was about to pull her car out of the parking lot, she called me over and offered me one of her (delicious!) breakfast cookies.

I said, Hang on! I have something for you too!

I intended to grab a piece of rose quartz that’s been bouncing around on the floor of the van since before I left the city. Instead, remembering a lesson I learned about giving the best I’ve got, I grabbed my really lovely chunk of rose quartz from the console in the front of the van.

I took this photo of the piece of rose quartz I gave away.

I took this photo of the piece of rose quartz I gave away.

I handed it to her through her driver’s side window and told her it was rose quartz, the stone of unconditional love and infinite and peace.

She said, I know what it is.

She said she was going to sleep with it on her heart. I told her I’d done exactly the same thing with it. I told her it has really good energy, that sometimes I’d put it on my forehead to calm me down when I was too agitated to sleep.

She was crying and she said, You gave me this to heal my heart!

I hadn’t thought it out and decided I’ll give this woman a piece of rose quartz to heal her heart, but rose quartz is healing, and it is all about the heart, so I guess she was right.

Sometimes I’m blessed with understanding I don’t even know I have.

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I took this photo of a giant sequoia.

To find out how I came into possession of that piece of rose quartz, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/08/22/give-the-best-youve-got-a-lesson-in-giving-from-neotribal-the-gathering/.

Coming Back

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What It Looks Like
Of everything I read in Marta Maranda’s book What It Looks Like (of which I’ve written before), the concept that gave me the most hope was that of “coming back.”

Maranda introduces the concept first in terms of her meditation practice. She writes of times during meditation when she “simply cannot quiet [her] mind.” She recounts asking the facilitator at a group meditation session “how many minutes out of his daily sitting was he where he wanted to be.” His answer was not one of minutes.

He said there are times–after work, the kids, bills to pay, and chores to do–when just making it to his cushion at the end of the night was the strongest part of his practice. He explained that it is the “coming back” that defines any process. It is coming back to your cushion to meditate when you would rather sit on the sofa and watch television. It is coming back to breath number one after a thought or feeling, once again, interrupted you before you had reached breath number ten. It is coming back to being an observer after you attached too long to a thought or feeling you should have let pass. (p. 338)

The next words written by Maranda are the ones that really hit me.

And it is coming back to your commitment to living an honorable, compassionate, and forgiving life after you reacted to something or someone in a dishonorable, angry, or vengeful way. Every errant step gives us another chance to come back to love, healing, and truth. (p.338)

Maranda writes more about the idea of “coming back” and how that idea relates to enlightenment.

Ironically, the concept of “coming back” is essential to enlightenment. Most imagine enlightenment to be the ultimate goal. One that, once achieved, transforms a human being into a perfected one free of all anger, fear, pain, ego, judgment, and difficulties, who lives his life in complete surrender, and radiates pure love and truth…However in his book After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, Jack Kornfield explains, “There is no such thing as enlightened retirement.” (p. 338-339)

Maranda goes on to quote Jack Kornfield:

Enlightenment does exist. It is possible to awaken. Unbounded freedom and joy, oneness with the Divine, awakening into a state of timeless grace–these experiences are more common than you know, and not far away. There is one further truth, however: They don’t last. Our realizations and awakenings show us the reality of the world, and bring transformation, but they pass… (p. 339)

Maranda wraps up her thoughts on “coming back” by writing

With awareness comes the realization that there are times of deep compassion, great wisdom, boundless joy, and ultimate freedom that coexist with times of fear, pain, struggle, and brokenness. By refusing to acknowledge and address the shadow that accompanies life, we never receive the gift it yearns to give us. The physical world, with all its pain and problems, is not here to thwart our enlightenment, but to strengthen it. With every satori, or enlightenment experience, we come back and hone what we’ve learned against the challenges in our lives and in the world: we come back to show others what love, healing, and truth look like in a world of anger, pain, and dysfunction. (p. 340)

This idea of “coming back” has really encouraged me, given me hope. I’ve often thought that if I’m not always a 100% perfect person, then I’m not a good person. When I get to a place of serenity, I can maintain it for a while, but I tend to slide back into gossip; petty, snarky thoughts and comments; irritation with friends and strangers,; general grumpiness; lack of gratitude; and jumping to ugly little conclusions about people. I thought all these negative ways of reacting to people meant I was a bad person with a negative attitude, but maybe these negative reactions mean I’m just a human person trying to live in this really fucked-up society that we call home.

I think the answer is NOT to think, Oh well, I’m human. We live in a fucked up world. I am what I am. Can’t change now. I think the answer is in this idea of coming back. Maybe the better thought process is I didn’t handle that situation the way I wanted to. What can I do better next time I find myself in a similar situation? How do I make amends for what I did?

The idea of coming back means my life is not an all or nothing proposition. It means I don’t have to see myself as a bad person just because I didn’t act or react the way I wanted too. I can still see myself as a good person, even after a failure, as long as I come back to the thoughts and behaviors that define the person I want to be.

After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path