Pink Elephants and Golden Buddhas...
Before sitting down to write this post, I was feeling out of sorts; restless, uneasy, emotional. My body yearned for movement and my mind felt like a tangled ball of yarn in need of some un-tangling. I needed air….I needed to reconnect; with that thought I headed out to my favorite road in this town, away from the traffic and busy streets; these days its nature that most soothes my soul.
I walked briskly down the quiet road, blanketed with forest on either side and felt my senses begin to awaken. Breathing in the oxygen-rich air I took in the scenery; an abundance of new plant life sprouting from the moist earth, trees exploding in green foliage, the sun peaking out from behind the gray haze that had settled over much of the day, casting a golden springtime glow as birds sang from their tree top homes.
My pace quickened and I took off on a steady, gentle run feeling my body revive and my mind come alive.
This earth is sacred…..its a miracle and we live upon it… I am so thankful to be here, to witness this, to be part of this. This is Love. This is Life. This is holy.
I smiled and drank it all in, profoundly full with gratitude.
These days this kind of experience seems to be showing up more frequently in my life; when I feel disconnected or off balance I head for nature and Its there I find myself again, my path becomes clear and I'm filled with a deep heartfelt reverence for the blessing of this earth, for the blessing of this body, the blessings of this life.
You see, after making some of the bigger decisions around treatment, I knew it was of vital importance to face the "big pink elephant" in the room. You know the one. The big one; death. life. living. meaning. being. transience.
Regardless of how someone chooses to heal, facing the pink elephants is a vital piece of healing; not easily done but necessary.
For me personally, this process has evolved as I've reflected on my life and what it means to me. The first step was getting quiet. Really quiet and still; and looking directly at the pink elephant standing before me, which is symbolic for one thing: fear.
"Where there is fear there is no love." (G. Bernstein)
By carving out time and space to get quiet, the guidance and answers I seek rise up out of that stillness like lotus flowers out of muddy waters. Its' from this place, that I found my path and was able to make decisions for treatment and its this very place that I have gone to take inventory of this life. My life. And its from this place that I have been able to look back and see how severely my thoughts have shaped my beliefs and those beliefs have shaped my decisions and from that a life unfolded only so much of it was born of fear and small thinking.
Fear of what? Who the heck knows why half of us are afraid….this society breeds fear. Our parents unconsciously passed on their unhealed wounds and fears to us and if you're deeply sensitive- as I am--then you'll feel that vibration and take it on as your own. By the time we're adults most of us are carrying around blankets of accumulated emotional muck that cloaks us from the pain of feeling but also separates us from living; from experiencing the direct connection with Life.
I've witnessed this around the societal approach to cancer. Not only is there a tremendous amount of fear instilled during the time of diagnosis but everywhere I look I see #fuckcancer or claims that this or that treatment will "attack and kill the cancer" "Annihilate the cancer". This "cancer" is our own body…our own cells are reacting to a strained environment whether that be from pesticide exposure during birth, or years of severe stress, suppressed emotions, awful diet lacking in nutrients or any combination of the above. Its all OUR body reacting to a depleted immune system and the way I see it, is this body is sacred. This body is a blessing. This body is divine. This body is in need of healing and of deeply loving, healing vibrations.
For me, this is where my healing had to begin. This was the pink elephant standing in my room. After struggling for so many years on many levels in my life I've had to look back and see I have not been living, I've only been surviving. These are two very different things. Now here I was, having to ask myself - Do I WANT to live…..? And if so, what do I vision this life to look like….?
Prior to this wake up call, a.k.a. "Cancer", I would muse on my future and I couldn't see past the wall of fear. All I could see was the struggles I've immersed myself in for so long. The stories in my mind took on a life of their own…."How will you ever own land and horses, when you struggle just taking care of your daughter? How will you travel the world when you barely make it to Boston once or twice a year?"
These I recognize now, as just thoughts. Nothing more. They are empty unless I choose to fill them with power. And I don't. They are all smoke and mirrors and it was in this realization that I was able to look at the pink elephant and watch it dissipate like smoke as the resounding "YES" bubbled up from a wellspring deep within my heart.
BUT….life as I knew it before, is over. There was a death in that moment of realization as I woke up to the knowing that I would never return to my life as it was. This was about removing the layers of old, delusional thinking to reveal the beautiful potential that is inherent within me; within all of us. We only need to be willing to peel back the layers and believe in our worth enough to see it. Our potential. Our beauty. Our strength. Our body's ability to heal.
One of my teachers on this path reminded me recently the importance of connecting with purpose. For without purpose we may not find a reason to live. That purpose can be making coffee for customers each morning or teaching a yoga class. What matters is that we find deep meaning and fulfillment in those moments, in that creative flow of work.
In 1957, there was a group of Tibetan monks who were told they had to move their sacred shrine as a highway would be built on their land. A central figure of this land was a huge clay Buddha which would also have to be moved. They got together and managed to locate the machinery needed to relocate the Buddha statue, however as the crane began to lift the statue the clay began to crack. To make matters worse, rain began to fall which only further deepened the cracks and so the monks covered the statue with tarps and reconvened to come up with a new plan. During that evening one of the head monks went to the statue and climbed under the tarp with a flashlight to assess the damage. Upon shining the light on the Buddha the monk noticed some shimmers of light emanating from the cracks. He fetched his hammer and chisel and began to chip away at the clay; as he chipped away further he realized it was not a clay Buddha after all--the Buddha was made of gold.
Many centuries earlier the monks had worshipped this same Buddha but got word that the Burmese army was coming to attack and destroy their community and so they covered the Buddha with clay to protect it. When the army arrived the monks sadly were killed during the attack however placed no value on the clay Buddha and so they left it unharmed.
In a sense are all golden Buddhas and each of us has our own clay to chip away at. This is the journey I find myself on today; each time I cross paths with someone who lives in the fear place and emanates that toward me, and each time in the face of that I choose love and faith over fear, I know I am chipping away at my own clay to reveal a new strength. Each time I turn loving energy toward my entire body, all the perceived flaws, all the perceived "dis-ease", and choose love-- ridiculous amazing love--over fear, I am chipping away the layers of clay. Each time I rise up out of small thinking and remember my limitless potential, each time I remind myself that my limitations are perpetuated by my thoughts, each time I breathe through and past fear and each time I choose to connect rather than disconnect, I know its a little more clay falling away to reveal the healthy, vibrant, woman I am and the new path unfolding before me.
The ideas of beauty, of worth, of where to find happiness, where to find healing, how to find love, how to make money, all of these ideals thrown at us by society are merely other people's thoughts trying to convince us that "this is the way".
Ultimately I believe its up to us to find our own way. To find our true purpose….and in this to connect with our own healing; To reckon with our own demons. At the end of the day its up to us to choose love over fear. We all eventually must face our own pink elephants and recognize that beneath it all, we are golden, shining Buddhas.