I learned a lot while in Sedona this summer. I met with a Native American story teller, a wise shaman, a powerful energy healer and I encountered a racist Jeep-tour guide. I also learned that Kenny Loggins is not Jesus (and vice versa).
Apparently there is some protocol to adhere to when you meet an energy healer. For example, when you walk into a room that is obviously filled with pictures of angels and other celestial beings, you don’t exclaim, “Oh I love Kenny Loggins.” The energy healer might just look at you with pity, knowing you are from southern California and say, “Oh, honey, that’s Jesus.” (Still I couldn’t get Highway to the Danger Zone out of my head all day.)
Another thing I learned is that you may not want to bring your somewhat hyperactive nine year old boy on a walk around a sacred medicine wheel. (Turns out some sacred stones are breakable).
But mostly I learned about stopping. Taking a pause in life to connect and go within. It may seem kind of ironic to write about “stopping” in a month when I’m finishing up my last edits for my book, working on a second book, launching my son into a new, challenging school and my husband is having his movie’s world premiere. But I write this for myself as much as for anyone else. Even in the middle of a storm, or maybe because we are in the middle of a storm – we may need to pause – to find the inner center.
When I was learning new meditation techniques for my writing practice in the quiet of the red-rock desert, I found such exquisite peace. I found a connection to the earth. I know it sounds corny and hoaky and new agey but I swear I did. I worried though, that I would not be able to sustain even a bit of that peace when I returned home, to a September that would be more than filled.
At first I was able to hold onto the feeling. After all I had bought a cool purple geode, a little meditating Buddha and a sign that says BREATHE. (Yeah, I guess I forget to do that often). But within a few weeks I was wound up in my usual storm of activity. I was right back in the Southern California groove that is endlessly calling for us to do more, be more, have more, perform more. And then we get irritable or sick, or just pass out from exhaustion. And ironically, in the pursuit of more – we often feel less than. (Less than healthy, less than centered, less than energized.)
Yesterday as I was picking my son up from school and tossing him a clean shirt to put on for dinner with the family for a Jewish Holiday, listening to the beeping texts chirping at me along with the pings from the reminders of everything I was late doing, I remembered back to a moment with the shaman.
“When life gets going too fast, you have to breathe, Marni” he said. “Try to get out of your head and pull yourself into your spirit. STOP and connect with yourself, even when you think there is no time to do so. This is the most important connection. Feed it first.”
I stared at him blankly.
“But if I stop, I might not get everything done.”
“And so…” he prodded.
“And so if I don’t get everything done, then I might fail someone.”
“And so…” I could see where he was going with this.
He didn’t see failure the way I did. If he didn’t get something done one day, he would get it done the next. He might have to wait. Others might have to wait. But success would mean that he stayed centered no matter what.
And then it got weirder. My son had awkwardly buttoned up his new shirt in the back seat of the car – yes, every button was off – and I wondered how we were going to make it to the dinner on time. Then my son asked for the radio. I turned it on only to hear Highway to the Danger Zone.
I sat there and laughed. I took a deep breath, then I pulled the car over and laughed some more. I helped my son button his shirt correctly. We did it together, slowly.
Kenny Loggins may not be Jesus, but he had great timing.