Thursday, September 9, 2010

Journey to the Source

Now for something else I've hesitated to write.  Partly because it's hard to describe.  But even more than that, what is my point in doing so? 

It was like a waking dream.  Yet it was more real in some ways than being awake.  Though no waking reality that science could explain.

It happened during a time of great suffering:  Bearing the suffering of some of my patients, especially those who had experienced a lot of abuse.  (I had written poems about that.)  I was having trouble sleeping.  And I kept having this agonizing ache in the middle of my back - right between my shoulder blades.  Mr. TheraP told me I was "growing my wings."

Trust me, if growing wings is like that, you do not want wings!

I suppose I could now be addicted to tranquilizers or sleeping pills.  But that route did not appeal to me.   So I talked with a trusted friend about doing some hypnosis.  He's a safe, caring psychologist.  He too had dealt with victims of abuse.  He used a lot of hypnosis with them - to help them relax.  As did I.  We met only a few times.  Five.  Six?  This may have been one of the last.

Certain memories and books and poems were running through my mind during this time.  One was the story of a Frenchman who had visited India, met with Ghandi, and taken a trip to the source of the Ganges.   Probably Four Quartets.   Memories of the past.  Some of them I've written down here.  It was like a time of digging down into a well.  Seeking my inner depths.  Seeking, I suppose, to access some inner source - for my work, for myself.   Though I didn't know it at the time.

So this particular day, my friend and I had set aside a longer time.  But he'd forgotten.  So we ended up doing two hypnosis sessions, back to back.  Now, if you know anything about hypnosis, you know that back-to-back sessions lead to a very deep trance state.  On the other hand, maybe you don't "believe" in hypnosis.  Which is ok, except you're stuck with this:   Things out of the ordinary are a Mystery.  This is one.

My friend was using "suggestions" to set the scene.  He described a wood and a stream.  However my mind had its own journey to take.  And pretty soon his suggestions did not match what was already happening for me.  I struggled out of this intense state to let him know that.  After that I really can't say whether he spoke much or not.  I must have tuned it out.  Till the last... when I seem to recall, like a voice in the distance:  To come back to a normal waking state.

For me this memory remains vivid.  Colors very vivid.  Intense awareness of nature.  Trees.  Sky.  Sunlight.  Stream.  Water.  Smooth stones on the stream bed.  Myself as if floating in the stream.  Looking up.  Feeling a sense of union with the beauty all around me.  As if united with the trees and the stream and the sky and the sunlight.

Just being.  Like a still center

When suddenly I decided to follow the stream to its source.  A small stream:  Flowing out of a rock.  Black rock.  Polished.  Smooth.  Like obsidian.  And again, suddenly, I decided to go inside the rock.  As if I had to seek this source even more deeply. 

And then the stream was flowing through me...

Like flowing through my heart.  Clear through me.  Clear through where the pain had been.  Pouring out.  Through the very same space that I described in the first poem of this blog.  The place I experienced later as full of stars in a night sky.  A starry sky surrounding me - as far as I could see.  Going right through me.  But that was later. 

And both times, I had this thought:  Now I can stop breathing.  As if I had reached a source, so utter, so beyond our normal conception of life - that breathing, itself, was no longer necessary. 

Now, just at that exact moment, I think my friend must have been talking me back to a waking state - to the here and now.  For somehow I began to leave that experience.   Though it has never left me.  Indeed, it has been reinforced by this other,more recent, experience.  Though they are one and the same, I think. 

I have always viewed this as like a revelation.    To explain it would be impossible.  Yet it taught me something about the beyond in our midst.  About the power of love - flowing through one's heart.  Pouring out.  About the value of risking entry into that source.   Thus becoming part of the source.  Or the source becoming part of you.  It explained to me things written in John's Gospel.  It gave me a kind of reassurance in my work.  A numinous quality beneath my ordinary life.  As in this Icon.


William D. Lindsey said...

TheraP, thanks for mustering the courage to share this piece from your depths. It's very moving, and a call to me to find and listen to that centerpoint from which we need to live and move, if our life is to have meaning.

TheraP said...

Bill, I so appreciate this comment. And you spur me on to remain centered myself.

So much can pull us "off" course these days. Life is so fast-paced and it makes us think we should race to keep up. When really I think we need to resist that kind of pull and let ourselves feel the pull within.

Peace be with you. What a lovely gift of your comment this morning!

Alan said...

I have been "put under" and am a decent subject if I believe in/trust the practitioner.

This is a fascinating account, and centering is something more of us ought to know about. I have been fortunate enough to be taught some quick self-centering techniques for agitating moments, mostly through my long-ago tai chi practice. They work, and often, out in the real world, only that little moment of refreshing clarity is required.

Thanks again for that account though, Thera. As always, it's very informative and deeply infused with your warm humanity.

TheraP said...

Ah, yes, trust is "the one thing necessary" when it comes to hypnosis. I actually had to become proficient in hypnosis after one patient started spontaneously going into trances in my office... the very one I especially suffered with and mention in the post. (The first three years of working with her, sometimes on a daily basis, were, as I've often described it "like walking endlessly on a bed of nails".)

I love tai chi! Yes, it's centering, isn't it? It's like meditative dance, I think. We took tai chi on Saturday mornings for about 7 years - with a wonderful teacher, a social worker dedicated to all those "forms".

Often it's a deep breath, letting your shoulders relax, maybe using a mantra tied with your breathing - if you have one - that makes that huge difference.

Bless you for your kind words, Alan, and your presence here. (I'll always think of you in the "form" I first met you at TPM, now with all these things added as well.)