I walked into the room, though the silence of my footsteps made it seem I was floating. I remember it was breezy, surprisingly breezy. The air was fresh and circulating in a gentle yet convincing whirlwind between the two open windows on either side of the bed. There were thin curtains caressing each window, white with a few patternless paint splatters. They looked worn from the mind’s perspective, yet priceless from the soul’s.
They’d seen some good fights, some sleepy and over nothing, others big and groundbreaking. They’d shimmied to the vibration of belly laughs. They’d witnessed a variety of air. Different temperatures, storms, and levels of pressure; physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
I glanced out of the right window, while continuing to float toward the same side of the bed. I smiled–one of those involuntary, unplanned smiles that give faith in true happiness and make one wonder where it all comes from–at the view.
The beach. Sand, housing countless cozy critters, with wispy weeds waiting to tickle bare legs.
She’d always loved the ocean. It refueled her, cleansed her, grounded her, empowered her. Since she was young, she said she’d own a house on the beach. And sure enough, she did.
The oxygen was tacky on my skin, salty blown kisses from the ocean.
“I miss that hair,” a voice said from the bed.
“Yea?” I pulled my long wavy hair behind my ears, but it didn’t stay there for long. It loved dancing with the wind.
“Once I got the balls to chop it off, I would never convince myself to grow it out again.”
There was something so magical about hearing a woman in her late nineties say “balls.”
“Why did you cut it off the first time?” I asked.
She patted the side of the bed. I sat down. “Ego,” she said with a smile.
“I cut it off because I relied on it. It was a security blanket. I felt like I needed it. It was a false sense of self. The ego was afraid to lose it. And so, I lost it.”
“That sounds terrifying,” I smiled.
“Fear is just excitement without breath. It was invigorating and freeing. I remember feeling raw, like my very presence was a guttural scream.”
“Did you cry?”
“Sometimes. But the tears quickly turned to laughter. I was mourning something that was not me. Through allowance of tears, the mourning transformed into a celebration.”
“But you’re not here to talk about hair, are you?”
“Good girl. What questions do you have for me?”
“Hm,” I paused. “What was your favorite part?”
“Laughter,” she responded immediately, as if scripted. “Once I learned to really let go, laughter became somewhat of an elixir. No matter the day or the mood, the trauma or the grief, laughter offered a doorway to my heart. A direct connection from Spirit to self. Laughter, in its very nature, is freedom.”
“So, I need to laugh more?”
“You need to stop worrying about what you need to do.”
“You don’t understand, do you?”
“Logically, yes.” I paused. “But it’s like I’m operating from a program that’s here to fix what’s broken.”
“And what is broken?”
“What is it that’s broken? Can you name it?”
“Um… My… Mind?”
“Your mind is broken?”
“Maybe not broken. Injured. So, I’d like to heal my mind. To heal my soul.”
“And you intend to do this how?”
“I’ll do whatever it takes,” I stated, matter-of-factly.
“Even if it’s nothing?” Her eyes twinkled. I could tell she felt my discomfort at her response.
“How can doing nothing heal me? There’s rewriting that needs to happen. Reprogramming. Learning. Releasing.”
“And don’t you think that this body, this beautiful body of yours… A vessel to your mind and soul… In all its innate wisdom… Knows that?”
“Well… Yea. I guess.”
“I’m afraid that, if I take the backseat, I won’t heal.”
“Do you have to think to breathe?”
“Oh my. How on earth do you breathe, then?”
I laughed. “I don’t know; it naturally happens.”
“How strange,” she said. “It’s almost as if the body wants to be alive.”
“Yea,” I squinted. “I guess so.”
“You often think that your power comes from your mind. That your conscious awareness is where you’ve made this decision to heal and learn and help others. This simply isn’t so. Your conscious awareness is merely one tool. Your passions, yearnings, wishes, and desires all stem from a soul-level, accessible to you in each in breath and out breath.”
“So… By doing nothing (which I need more details on, by the way)–”
She laughed, heartily. The curtains gently shook.
“You need me to describe nothing to you?”
“Well, yea. How do I do nothing? Like… Where’s the limit? I have to do some things. I have to shower and eat and write and communicate.”
I thought for a moment. “Yes.”
“You mean to tell me that if you quieted your mind, setting that specific tool aside, that you’d cease to exist? You’d cease accomplishments? Your hygiene would deteriorate, as would your social skills? Your dreams would float away?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
“Think of a time you were fully present. When life was flowing through you, and you knew you were exactly where you were supposed to be.” She waited. “Got it?”
“What were you doing?”
“Speaking. I was speaking in front of a small crowd. Words flowed through me, my heart was wide open, and I felt at home.”
“Did you actively remind yourself to speak?”
“What? No. I mean…” I felt myself getting frustrated at her riddle-speak.
“So you mean to tell me that it just… Happened?”
“Fuck. Um… Yea, it did.”
“And did it go according to plan?”
“Not really. I didn’t even use my notes.” I became curious about where she was going with all this.
“Your notes were a result of you doing something. Planning, thinking, worrying. Your speaking was doing nothing. Do you see the difference? One act is out of a lack of trust, and the other is a result of open-hearted presence.”
“But isn’t there a benefit to planning?”
“What is it?”
“It gives a guideline. Some sort of structure. It helps me not…”
“Mess up?” she finished my sentence. “What does that even mean?”
My head started to hurt. Clearly she knew her way around in there.
“To…” I stopped myself, anticipating what she might say in response.
“Speak authentically. Don’t plan your words before saying them in an effort to sound a certain way. You don’t have to sound aware or put-together or wise. I know you. Speak authentically. What does it mean to mess up?”
“It means to fuck up… To make a mistake… To sound stupid. To say something wrong. To get a fact incorrectly. To look stupid. To be embarrassed.”
“What is embarrassment?”
“Fuck,” I said as I put my hands to my face.
“Did you expect this to be an easy conversation?” She giggled.
“Yes, honestly. I thought you’d offer some frou-frou fortune cookie guidance that I could easily type into my blog.”
“Easy. Frou-frou. Does that sound like the you you know?”
I chuckled and shook my head no.
“What is embarrassment?” She repeated.
“Embarrassment is when I have an expectation and–”
“–don’t try to use terminology you’ve read in spiritual books or learned in therapy. Speak at a core level. Talk to me as if you were a child explaining it. Remove the fluff.”
“Embarrassment is when people are laughing at me or thinking I’m weird or stupid or different. Embarrassment is when I feel small because something happened that I wasn’t expecting… Something I didn’t like or want. Embarrassment is shame.”
“Ah yes. There is the word. Shame. Shame for what?”
“Being human, I guess.”
“And yet you chose to incarnate as a human. From a soul-level, you chose to incarnate. Correct?”
“That’s my belief; yes.”
“And every experience is a lesson. Right?”
“And any time you feel uncomfortable or in pain and you stay with it rather than hide from it, what happens?”
“I grow. I expand. I’m able to handle more.”
“Yes, Dear. Yes. Do you see where I’m going with this?”
“It’s good to feel embarrassed?”
She gently nodded as her smile increased in size and depth.
I continued, “It’s good to feel like people think I’m stupid or weird or different?”
“And why is that?”
“Because I’ll survive it. And after surviving it… Its power is taken away.”
“Wow,” I responded. It was clicking. Everything she said was integrating on a deep level. This was not at all how I expected the conversation to go.
“So… If your reason for planning is to avoid embarrassment, then the planning is for naught. It is limiting.”
I said nothing, feeling a bit overwhelmed. Everything she said went against some of my major ways of living. It felt uncomfortable to integrate… And yet, it all rang true.
“Let’s say,” she broke the silence, “You interpret ‘doing nothing’ literally. Start there. You sit on the sofa, doing nothing. Then what happens?”
“I’d lie there for a while, probably feeling sorry for myself or like I was wasting time.”
“That’d be doing something. What would nothing be like without those thoughts?”
“I’d just be sitting on a sofa. In a room. Breathing. Experiencing. Witnessing.”
“And receiving,” she added. “Silence and stillness are when Spirit nurtures you most. Quieting the mind and divorcing yourself from self-pity or shame or guilt-trips opens you to receive the very healing you forcibly work so hard to attain. In time, an innate pull will arise from within. Seemingly from nowhere, you will have clarity. You will know the next move to take. And, just like your speaking, the actions will flow through you. Rather than force your body to do what you consciously think it should, you’re instead moving effortlessly.”
“My mind is sort of blown right now. I don’t know what to say.”
“That’s a good start. To not know what to say. That means you’re one step closer to the nothingness, the no-mind. The clean slate.”
“Okay so… What do I do now?”
She smiled, and I knew what she was thinking. Nothing.
I shook my head and rubbed my eyes. “I’m guessing this is one of those things where trying to figure it out goes against its very nature?”
She smiled a playful yes.
“Okay. I can do this. Or, not do this. Or. Whatever.”
“Shhh…” she petted me.
I looked at her eyes. Just like mine, except deeper. The sunbursts seemed to have grown, and I wondere–
“Shhh…” she repeated.
I looked at her.
She looked at me.