Monday, January 28, 2013

Holding the Tension of the Opposites

Facebook isn't my scene. I did, however, recently create an alias profile so that I could participate in a forum of students in my graduate program. The day I signed up for an account, Brooks said, "Welcome to the 21st Century, Jenny." It's true. And since then, I have loved communicating with my peeps so much that any time I'm on the computer, whether I'm actually using the forum or not, Brahm chides me, "Logging onto facebook again, Mom?"

I decided that maybe it's time to start blogging again because I'm starting to want to post in the forum at length and, when I step back to compare how often and how much the other students do, my compulsion seems a bit excessive by comparison. I don't want to burn them out just yet so blogging seems like a good alternative.

Backing up a moment for a few basics: I was accepted to Pacifica Graduate Institute last summer ( and began classes on their campus just south of Santa Barbara last October. Pacifica offers various specializations in depth psychology, the tradition founded by Freud and Jung. It's all about exploring the relationship between the Conscious and the Unconscious. The specialization of my track is somatics, or how the body figures into all of that (soma is the Greek word for "body"). So if you were wondering what a massage therapist is doing in a psychology program, there's the connection.

You should know that Pacifica is a very unique school. It's accredited and if I finish after two years, I will receive an MA, three and I am eligible for a Ph.D. so in this way, it's all legit. The fun part is the kind of classes I take. Last term I was enrolled in classes on dream tending, Eastern meditation techniques, and temple healing in ancient Greece. When I told a friend I am currently studying alchemy along with Western Cherokee witchcraft and sorcery spells, she commented that it sounds more like I'm going to Hogwarts than to graduate school. I couldn't find fault in her reasoning.

And how is it that I'm attending school in California while living in Utah? Most of Pacifica's programs are designed so that students come in once a month for three days of intense classroom instruction on campus (where we also eat and sleep in between). It's amazing. I love it. And it also means that nearly every penny I earn at my jobs goes either toward tuition or travel expenses. And that's ok because it really and truly feels like I'm on my path. And it's not like this is the first decision I've ever made that doesn't make much sense financially.

Soooo, my reason for wanting to blog today is to acknowledge some of my shadowy parts. I'll back up to say that in my meditation class last term, I learned a beautiful Buddhist "loving kindness" meditation that I use quite frequently (I'll post it at the end for anyone who is interested). Most of the time when I do this meditation, I feel good inside.

But then there are times when I do not feel much loving kindness and I don't want to either. Take, for example, the morning commute on the freeway today. Everyone is going 10mph on the 215 because of the huge storm that blew in last night. The roads have been plowed but aren't totally clear yet. I'm in the slow lane when all of the sudden I see a truck (and it seems like it's always a truck) come from the shoulder of the road and butt into the space between me and the car in front of me. What?? I put that space on there purpose. OK, rude driver stories are a dime a dozen so I won't force the rest of the details on you. What I do want to point out is how I said out loud, "I hope you get in a roll-over" and really meant it. I meant it for the next couple of miles, too. But then I realized that black cloud could hover all day if I let it so I cleared out the bad energy by making room for some possibilities: maybe he just got news that his wife was in labor of that his mother was about to pass. We've all been there, right? OK, enough said.

I guess if that were an isolated incident, I wouldn't be writing about it. But I can't help see a connection between that and what happened last week when I was coming home from work using public transit (an attempt to AVOID the bozo drivers). I had just gotten off the bus and had walked over to the train platform. I was really tired, it was cold and the only place to sit down was right in between two people who were being detained by the Trax police. Oh, well. So I sat down, put in my earphones and pulled out my textbook on the Cherokee spells. Eventually the guy on my left got arrested and taken away in cuffs. The woman on my right was given a warning and released. After the police left, she turned to me, said some insulting things before walking away herself. Again I ask, "What??" So, my shadowy parts surface and I find myself in the middle of a fantasy where I've already read and memorized the whole book so that every spell therein is mine for the casting. I imagine having mastered a pretty convincing command of the original tsa-la-gi pronunciation so that all I need to do is appear to go in a trance-like state (not hard, I'm thinking) and make her sorry she ever crossed over into my peripersonal space. It's all harmless, I tell myself, because all of the spells in my book are defunct anyway. That and I'm not a Cherokee witch. But she doesn't know that, right?

Jung says that the inability to adapt to circumstances in the face of insurmountable obstacles can trigger a regression. And so I regress to a seven-year-old part of me in both cases — a part that has trouble adapting to the fact that there is rudeness in the world. This is an example of what my therapist could justifiably call "job security".

So for now, I will leave you with the loving kindness meditation I promised earlier. For the Cherokee spells, see me in private.


Find a quiet place where you know you wont be disturbed. Close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting in front of you, then a loved one, a stranger, a "not-so-loved one" (then the whole world if you're feeling ambitious) in that order. You repeat the words of the meditation in between each person coming from a place of an open heart.

Loving Kindness Meditation

May you be safe from inner and outer harm.
May you be free from guilt, shame and hatred.
May you enjoy physical and mental well-being.
May you live life with the ease of an open heart.
May you go beyond your inner darkness and awaken to your radiant true nature as boundless love.

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