Shifts in Perceptions
Today my life unfolds with showers of blessings. I love being with individuals and groups in heart-centered ways that nurture each person’s spiritual journey. I also enjoy playing with my grandchildren, walking with friends and traveling around the world.
At the age of twenty-nine, however, I was filled with despair. During the sixth month of my second pregnancy, I became paralyzed. Losing the ability to walk meant that I couldn’t live as I had envisioned. I didn’t lift, bathe, feed or dress my infant daughter or her older sister for the next five years. Learning to meditate alleviated my pain and suffering.
Bed-ridden, I meditated several hours each day. Gradually my identity as a woman, wife and mother shifted. So did my perceptions of what it meant to be alive. After a third major surgery, a miracle occurred. I walked again.
Subsequently, I became a high school English teacher, heading anti-racist efforts and initiating systemic reform for thirty-two years. Those challenges — and a mid-life divorce — led me to the Integral Philosophy doctoral program at the California Institute of Integral Studies.
Fifty years old, I wanted to figure out who I was — and how to become a more effective catalyst for change. My dissertation Dark Grace: A Heuristic Inquiry into White Consciousness documents my journey seeking freedom from the limitations of my perceptions and the bounds of my consciousness.
My inquiry focused on what philosopher Alan Watts calls the false premise: that the self is something that can be known, that the self is the body, the sensations, the thoughts, the consciousness. Facing enormous emotional and psychological stress in encountering hidden beliefs and misperceptions, I feared for my psychic survival. Eventually I realized that this work meant surrendering the self.
I meditated and practiced QiGong multiple hours daily. And I surrendered. I surrendered to the outpouring of sorrows — and into grace — and the river of shared awareness. I surrendered to the unknowing mystery.
We are all in this life together. The river flows. It has its own rhythm and its path. As does the unfolding of each one of us.
If you, just like me, know pain and suffering…
If you, just like me, are limited by your reactions, thoughts, and beliefs…
If you, just like me, seek to live joyously…
Then join me so that we can journey together on this path to freedom.
Life is to be lived in its present and actual depth.
May our time together be experienced as communion.
May our relationship nourish the unique expression of your life and mine.
May our lives, and all lives, blossom with showers of blessings.
[Image Source: Luster Lai Photography]