Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Coming home to be healed

Amma came to me last night.  I don’t mean that she came in a dream by some sort of astral travel, if that’s the sort of thing she’s prone to do, but more that (at 3am today) I had a palpable sense of who she is and what she offers, and it opened my heart.  More importantly, I had a sense that it is something that is a potential in me, you and in everyone.  It was a profound experience and I want to share it with you.

It’s not really important for you to like or even know Amma for the purpose of this story.  Her role in proceedings here is metaphorical.  But in order to understand what I have to share it might help for you to have some idea who she is and what she does, if you haven’t met her yet yourself.

Amma is a large jolly looking Indian woman who hugs people.  Lots of people.  She goes all around the world doing it and people queue up to be hugged by her.  Many people believe that she is a living saint - an enlightened avatar, and that her hugs have mystical and healing properties.  This is why they queue up for hours and late into the night to receive her blessing and her embrace.  They come to her to experience her love, they come to her for healing.

I’ve met her and been hugged by her on 2 occasions in the past.  Actually, the hugs were not life changing experiences for me.  Frankly, I’ve had better hugs from the people I love and more transformative esoteric energetic experiences from other beings and teachers.  There is no denying, however, that the feeling of the room when you are sitting there with her and the other participants is a delightful one and it does feel to me like bathing in a sea of love.  There are many worse ways to spend a Tuesday evening, especially in Alexandra Palace.

Anyway, this story is not a discussion of Amma and her work and whether or not it is a good use of anyone’s time to seek her out for a cuddle, it’s much more about what I realised at 3am this morning and how it reminds me of what she does and what we all can do.

At 10pm yesterday I arrived back from an amazing tantra workshop with Jan Day (Living Tantra 1, since you ask) where we had spent the entire week practising saying “yes!” to all of our human experience.  Yes to the pleasure, yes to the pain, yes to our sexuality, yes to our wounding, yes to it all.  It did feel like something had started to shift in me during the workshop, that I was finally ready to start to embrace parts of my experience that in the past I had at best tolerated and at worst had actively been resisting.  I offer my deep heartfelt thanks and my gratitude to Jan for holding such a safe space for me to start this part of that journey. I sense that I will be working with her some more.

But doing it on a workshop is one thing.  Doing it in life is quite another.  And doing it at 3am in my own bed when I can’t sleep is not something I would have believed possible.  And yet it was.

I woke up at about 3am feeling intense discomfort in my body.  This is not an unfamiliar experience for me.  There are old patterns in my body (probably trauma from childhood, perhaps not) that play out at various times and whilst I’m asleep is one of their favourite times to express.  I often wake feeling internally contorted and churned up and in such physical/emotional discomfort that I’m unable to sleep.

What I usually do is try to find a way to soothe these patterns away.  Essentially finding the places that are tight and gently bringing my attention to them telling them that it’s ok for them to relax.  And they usually do, eventually.  And then I can go back to sleep.

And this is fine, up to a point.  Except it feels like a bit of a sticking plaster.  I simply relax the tense places enough for me to sleep, but the underlying patterns themselves are not addressed.  They are not addressed because I don’t really want to engage with them, to meet them and to know them.  I feel a little like a teacher who has learned to be able to calm down the children in class who are misbehaving, rather than being willing to sit down with them and really help them to work through the pain that was causing them to misbehave in the first place.

And that’s what was different last night. 

Last night when the pain came, for perhaps the first time I was willing and able to welcome it.  Not to try to soothe it away, not to try to deal with it, but simply to be genuinely curious about who had come to visit and to welcome it as a long-lost cousin from a far-away land (which in reality is not so far away at all).

The experience was incredibly moving and the response of my body was astounding.  The pain came – I said yes.  The tears came, I said yes.  My body contorted into strange shapes – I said yes.  I said welcome.

I was left after about 30 minutes feeling more relaxed than I had ever felt when I had been trying to soothe the pain away.  I felt like a little part of the pain had really been met and having really been met had been able to let go.  But even this is beside the point.  I felt that I had been really inside and celebrating my experience, even though it was a difficult one.

I was reminded of what my teacher Adam had said to me recently about the absolutely fundamental importance of really being willing to have the experience I was actually having and that when I was refusing to do so I was rejecting and devaluing my life.  I was starting to have a deeper glimpse of how it might be to really embrace all of my experience and so to be present in all of my life, celebrating it all.

I am now starting to see that there is no end-goal in life beyond this, being present in and celebrating our experience.

I was reminded of the metaphor of life as a record player that came to me recently.  (I know record players are rather old-skool now, but updating it to CD technology seems to squish the romance). Our still-conscious nature is the needle, our ever-changing experience is the vinyl.  When consciousness touches experience, there is love.  When the needle that we are as source touches the vinyl of the experience that appears and changes, we are the music that plays.

I was also reminded of something that Pamela Wilson had said when I had explored the question of pain with her.  She had said that the pain comes to you as the guru, in order to be seen and loved by you and to be set free.  I had understood what she had said at the time but had had no sense that it might actually be possible for me to do and try as I might had been able to relate in this way with my pain.  Except last night at 3am, that’s just what I did.  And it was so, so beautiful!

I was moved to pick up my pen and write some words.  These are the words that came:

Coming home to be healed.

It’s not about even allowing tension/pain to soften.

It’s about the patterns of pain coming to you, for you to love them and set them free.

Don’t ask “How can I be free from this pain?

Do ask: “Who comes to me just now for healing?”

“What is your nature?”

And then say:

“Ah!  You’re like that!”


“Welcome!  Welcome just as you are!”

“There’s no need for you (the tension, the sadness, the pain) to change”

“Welcome home”

“You are loved.”


Ask simply: “Who comes to me next for healing?”

Sit, as Amma sits, in front of the queue of beautiful hurting pieces coming to you for a hug, and one after another love them.  Say: “Yes my child, welcome home!”.  And hug them to your chest as they sob in your arms, and the two of you cry and laugh together.

Some of them have traveled many miles to be here, as they have heard that you are a saint of extraordinary power, a living embodiment of god.  You tell them: “I don’t know about that, but you are very welcome nonetheless and I love you.  Yes, my child, it’s OK to cry, mummy’s here.  Yes, sweet one, it’s all OK”.  And rock them gently in your arms as one by one you welcome them home.

Don’t play favourites, take them into your arms in the order they come to you.

Don’t try to change them.

Don’t even try to set them free.

Just ask “who comes to me for a blessing?”

And love them one after another.

Because that’s what they need.

And because you are the only one who can.