And now we begin…

As we become more in tune with our inner being, our life widens and we begin to feel a deeper connection with ourselves, a deeper connection with others, and also a deeper connection with nature and the world at large. Our world begins to feel like a stage on which there is a certain natural order to the play of things. We begin to feel more at home with the nature of things. We can begin to feel a part of Nature herself, a part of something immense, which is acting itself out.  We begin to feel more at home with the play going on, wherever we are, and also more in tune with the nature of things. We learn to accept what is, in order to move forward into what can be.

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You and I are all going in the same direction, moving at our designated pace. On the way, we may or may not meet to exchange some energy with each other, but ultimately or finally, we will move along, alone. I have always willing to share my energy with others, but have never really been interested in sharing my personal experiences. Being asked to share experiences and stories has always  felt unnecessary and uncomfortable, if not downright irritating.  But, just now, I feel as if I have been preparing to write this blog about my life, since I was twelve.  The reason I  blog now is that throughout my whole life, I have been guided.  People and events arrived at my doorstep to deliver me a messages or for some particular karmic reason. Circumstances arose with lessons for me to learn.   If I remained unconscious and refused to see what I needed to change, accept or forgive, the circumstances would worsen or repeat, as often as necessary.  When finally, I gave up and accepted the situation or changed my thought processes about the situation or person, the circumstance or relationship would dramatically change.  New opportunities  presented themselves.   I have felt guided, held back, protected, and pushed forward, inspired and enlightened by some force other than my own small self.  And  I expect that you too have experienced the very same phenomenon.

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As a adolescent, I enjoyed writing short stories. I wrote without an outline or really knowing what I would write. I called it my automatic writing practice.  During that period I wrote that as an adult I would write about my life experiences.   I knew that the events in my life would reveal to me the subject of the book.  I knew that it would involve my attempt to find myself.  At that age, I was so full of trust and faith. I  so easily connected with my inner sense of self.     I only had to close my eyes and drift off into that “fuzzy” inner space to be comforted by my divine friend, guide and protector.

At this  moment have I chosen to begin to share  my personal story.   I will write as I did as a child, except that instead of taking pen to paper, I take to the keyboard. Today, I begin my blogging with no real notion of where I am to begin or where it will take me.

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I was seven when I recognized my self for the first time. I knew that I had lived in another body in another lifetime. It was 1960, the courts had ordered all schools in New Orleans to be integrated.  My parents decided that it would be safer for me to attend a private Catholic School than to attend a school where the “colors could mix.”  They told me that my old grammar school Bienville, would shut their doors before they would allow colored children to attend.   I told my Mother that  I thought I was colored.  She was not amused.  My skin was much darker than both of my best friends.   In the summertime my grandmother would tease me about looking like an Indian or Mexican. And anyway, the most popular girl in our school was Lila Kay who had an olive complexion and almond shaped eyes. I thought she was so beautiful and absolutely perfect.  I think everyone would have been happy to mix with Lila.

Regardless, on the first day of school of second grade, my two best friends, Christine and Barbara and I, dressed alike in plaid uniforms and navy blue backpacks were driven by my mother to the oldest “Parochial School” in the Parish.  Our parents spent the whole summer discussing the pros and cons of us going to this Catholic school. During the very first month, I had an experience that convinced my parents, that powerful, occult energy hid within those dark and foreboding incense penetrated walls.

Each Friday, catechism classes were held in a room at the top of a winding staircase in a tower of the Cathedral. It was a bit daunting to climb single file up all those spiraling stairs within the narrow staircase.  On one of the landings, just below the upper staircase,  there was a large full length mirror positioned on the wall.  One Friday,  during the first semester, as I reached the mirror on the landing, I witnessed myself.  In what must have been an instance, I observed my little body in my little uniform and experienced the understanding that I was not this body. I said to myself, “oh, this is how I look this time. That will work.”  Those were my exact words.  It had been quite an ordinary experience in a way, as true understandings always are!  That “I“ was not this small body was definitive. It was a subtle, yet profound knowing that had an enormous impact.  Of course, in catechism class, I could not help but share my new found truth with the teachers. My class teacher and the catechism teacher were not at all impressed by what I had discovered and quite reprimanded me for my outburst.  I was unable to see the writing on the wall, and so went home full of news for my Mom and Dad. My parents did not respond much differently from the nuns, although my Mother apparently knew this would happen. And it was all their fault, after all they had sent me to a parochial school.

I didn’t last long at the parochial school. My friend Barbara returned with me to my public school quickly thereafter. Christine stayed with the nuns for rest of the year. Bienville hadn’t closed after all.  I was quite disappointed, there was not one new student there with colored skin.

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It took years for me to stop fantasying about my past lives. My mother said she thought I dreamed it all up. My father said the experience disturbed and confound him.    He asked our Presbyterian minister to discuss this matter with me years later, when I was about eleven. The intellectual Reverend Crosland told me that Presbyterian doctrine could not offer any answer to my question or explain my experience, that Presbyterians do not believe that they have had past lives.  However, he said that they do believe in predestination, and if one really contemplates that subject deeply, one might arrive at the question: “Are we predestined to something in this life, because of something that happened in our last life?”  He told me that some religions like Hinduism and Buddhism do in fact believe that we live many lives, through reincarnation (re-births) and that, he did not know the truth.  He could not answer one way or the other. I was thrilled and exhilarated to learn that there were at least two religions that held the belief in past-lives and that my minister had given the go ahead to look elsewhere for answers.  My Father was livid; after all he had been a deacon and elder in the church for decades and all he wanted was to put an end to the  nonsense.

This experience was not my first foray into spiritual realms.  My earliest recalled experiences are  as a  child of three or four.   Whenever I was  afraid or tired,  I would lay down, roll into fetal position,  suck my thumb, rubbing the roof of my mouth, roll my eyes upward and seek solace of “my brain.”  I would become absorbed in the swirling involutions I found there and immediately feel safe. I would fall into a “fuzzy, fluffy space,” which had a particular cottony feeling to it and experience total peace.  All through my childhood I could easily reach this space.   Decades later in deepest meditation I had a similar experience and was filled with bliss.    I had recovered that familiar space I had visited regularly as a child.

At thirteen, following some particularly stormy sessions with a particularly dogmatic Presbyterian Sunday school teacher,  I decided to leave the Presbyterian fold forever and seek answers elsewhere.  I traded in my Bible for Bertram Russell’s, “Why I am not a Christian.”  That book not only led me astray but also to my path.  And then my  father accidentally introduced me to Yoga when he gave me an exercise book which used asana, called “Sanasession.”

Discovering Hatha Yoga

So at fourteen, I discovered Hatha Yoga and began to practice these few asana daily. I began to stay in the postures for extended lengths of time and began to feel energy flowing in my body. I experienced deep peace and an inner strength, not only more flexibility.   I did not know what these exercises were were providing me but I liked doing them. I soon found a book by Richard Hittleman that led to a study of Hatha Yoga, and in a second hand book store, books by Sivananda, Indra Devi, Gopi Krishna, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Autobiography of a Yogi.  By nineteen, I was longing to discover the “right” Yoga for me.

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