I am going through an interesting process right now and so are many other people that I know. I am being guided into new territories. Just as I thought I was winding down into a quiet boredom waiting for death, the universe has decided to give me a nudge or two. I have decided to take an online course by Mirabai Starr, a well-loved mystic, writer, teacher, philosopher, scholar and many other things. I am drawn to this course because Mirabai believes that we are all everyday mystics – we just have to realize it and claim it. Really? I always thought that a mystic was a very rare breed of person, way too elevated for the likes of me. It turns out that I was wrong according to Mirabai. A mystic is far more common than I realized. It seems that we are all mystics in our deepest hearts.
Come to think about it, I know many mystics. I know them by their kindness and by their joy and peaceful energy. But they also make mistakes and often live messy lives. They could be you. Just being who you are, doing whatever you are doing. But you would probably not identify yourself with that label, which sounds a bit elevated. Mystics are humble people. Although I vowed I would not take another course, I couldn’t resist this one which is called “Divine Meltdown.” I must be the Shift Network’s best customer.
This week I also started learning Qi Gong, an Eastern method of movement which is a little like Tai Chi. It is very slow and meditative and is known to be very healing. Because I have arthritis and lead a sedentary life, I felt it was just what I needed. I have a very gifted teacher, Christa Royal, who radiates joy and peace. She also teaches yoga and does Reiki and Reflexology. She came to my home, for which I was grateful. After one session of seated Qi Gong followed by some Reflexology and Reiki, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I was in a state of deep relaxation and I felt more alive than I had felt for a long time.
Why am I doing all this? Well, I sense that there is something more to life and to all of us than appears on the surface. I believe that everyone has this divine spark in them, no matter their circumstances. I have a longing to draw closer to this something more that hides inside of me. I catch glimpses of her from time to time but she is flighty and elusive. As soon as I sink into this energy of divine love, something comes along to distract me – usually something mundane like getting a meal, making a telephone call or needing to take a nap. Yet Mirabai says that it is in our very ordinary, everyday, messy lives that we can awaken to our divine birthright. The trick is to stay present and to spend even a little time each day in stillness. I trust this teacher and so I’m going along with what she says. I don’t know where it will lead me but it should be interesting.
Sometimes it feels like God is taking me on a crazy roller coaster ride. I don’t have any control and so all I can do is surrender and enjoy the ride. This may sound rather magical and woo woo – like something I made up. Well maybe it is coming from my imagination. But God gave us this capacity to imagine greater possibilities. I find I am seeing the world differently, with a fresh sense of wonder. This is truly wonder-full. When I look at trees and flowers and squirrels, they sparkle with life. People too.
But then the divine Ferris wheel stops or slows down and I see the world through a more sober lens. I see the terrible climate crisis we are in, the polarities in our politics and other institutions, the wars and senseless violence in our society, the racism, sexism, other isms – the list could go on. But I am also hopeful. If each of us can raise our consciousness to a higher level, we can influence the collective. I don’t know how this will happen but I trust that God knows. It feels a little like seeing the world through dark glasses and then taking them off. I prefer seeing the world as bright and beautiful, which it is, even when we are making a mess out of it. It’s just that it is often hard to see beyond the chaos.
I had my first class last night and it surpassed my highest expectations. Mirabai was poetic, down to earth, authentic and loving. She prayed, lit a candle, read some poems, led us in guided meditations and took some questions. Later we broke into groups with other students. That was truly amazing and reassuring, hearing where other people are at. I left with a sense of excitement for the possibilities we all have to make a difference in the world mostly by being who we truly are and doing what we truly love. I say Hallelujah to that.I
I have just turned 90 and I have been wondering where my life is going from now, what is left of it. Whenever I take an online course or watch a video on YouTube, I am told that if I follow their advice my life will be transformed and I will have success and abundance beyond my wildest dreams. This no longer seems to apply to me. I already have all the abundance I need. I am in the stage of letting go of a lot of my conditioning rather than expanding into new horizons. What more is there? As I go within to a quiet place of inward reflection, I sense that the letting go from now on will be more radical. What do I mean by that? Well, I seem to be in the process of letting go of any need to be different or better than what I am now. This is very liberating. It is not that I think that I am so perfect. Far from it, I am very imperfect but I accept my imperfections. I even revel in them. I have spent a lifetime trying to improve myself and I am now giving that up. What a relief!
I am aware that my imperfections seem to be growing with alarming rapidity as I grow older, at least in the physical realm. I am very slow and awkward and not very steady on my feet. At one time this frustrated me no end but now I am coming to accept it. Society is generally not very tolerant of slowness as life moves very quickly in our modern world. Still, when people see my white hair they are usually very tolerant and also helpful. As an old person, I live in a different world. I stay home most of the time. When I do go out, people call that an outing. To be quite honest, I often find my innings more enjoyable than my outings. At least they take much less energy. I am not as good at small talk in a group as I used to be, partly because I can’t hear as well and partly because I don’t participate in the same activities as my younger friends and acquaintances. However, I am a good listener one to one, partly because I don’t have a lot to say myself but also because I am really interested in other people’s lives.
But the big letting go is of the values and activities that most people think are important and I once thought so too. I am no longer excited by shopping and acquiring a lot of stuff. I am now trying to get rid of a lot of my stuff. If I knew how hard that would be I would never have bought it all in the first place. Next on the list is being successful in the eyes of the world. Highly over-rated. Then there’s trying to please other people. That’s a little tougher to shed after almost 90 years of conditioning but I am getting better at it. I try to make a clear distinction between trying to please others as an automatic reaction and kindness. Kindness is essential in making the world a better place and I try to cultivate kindness in myself.
Actually being old can be a wonderful time of life as you get closer to just being yourself. When you’re older, it is harder to pretend. I find that it is easier to laugh at my peccadilloes and I love acting silly. I am lucky to have a few people I can do that with. I don’t get as upset as I used to about small things like breaking plates...well, not as often. And if I do get upset, then I don’t get as upset about getting upset. How far back can we go with this?
Am I making old age sound attractive? Probably not, but that is not important. Being old is a little like being an extra-terrestrial. Sometimes I wonder if I belong on this planet. Yet I love the world and nature and the people on it. I have heard that it is harder to make friends when you’re older but I have made some wonderful friends recently. I love intimate conversations when you talk about things that matter - matters of the heart. I think that is the biggest change about this time of life. You live more from the heart. I think it is because you know that you have less time left and you want to make the most of it. For me love is the most important thing there is - love of family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, nature, God...even me. Expressing love is not my strong suit...at least not yet. But I’m learning quickly as I experience my vulnerability and get ready for the big Letting Go. Letting go never stops until we take our last breath. And after that...who knows? But I have let go of the need to know.
And then it happened
I became what I was looking for
An every day mystic
My own version
Messy and playful.
I guess you would say I became more myself
No need to pretend I was better than I am
I am...that is all
And it is enough
It has to be.
Why does it feel so good?
It’s like shedding a tight costume
I can breathe
I unapologetically love this new person.