“You have many different temples. Your mind is one of those temples. You are used to using it, you are very intelligent, have very good logic. But the mind is not the temple where you thrive. Some people thrive there, but those are the inventors who never stop thinking, who will come in and create something on my waiting room table before we even get started…
You find your power somewhere else, in your ability to trust, not in knowing everything ahead, not in planning out every last detail.”
Errett Circle is a strange street, the very center of five fragmented loops that further confuse the already jumbled flow of Santa Cruz traffic. The bullseye is a huge round lawn and community center. It is a quiet street; non-local drivers would not penetrate so deep into this neighborhood unless by accident. Some argue that the town is intentionally set up this way, designed to disrupt traffic.
I lay face up on a massage table inside a muffled office on the rim of the quiet circle. A collage of uncensored home-birth photographs plastered the wall, and a german shepherd sprawled on his bed next to me, with his belly exposed.
He sighed heavily and Cindy chuckled. “He will track the energy of the session sometimes,” she says. I have always heard that animals are more sensitive to energy.
This was my second session with Cindy, a cranio-sacral practitioner and former midwife. Cranio-sacral therapy works with the rhythmic pulse of the cranio-sacral fluid in the brain and spinal chord, and restrictions in the system’s connective tissue, the meninges. As aggressively as I treat my body, I am drawn to such gentle forms of healing. My body melts under the light, steady pressure, and emotions effervesce with the release of tension.
In January I travelled to San Francisco to learn the technique, and then set off to practice. But I couldn’t get a feel for it right away, and became frustrated. A teacher recommended I get work done to clear blocks in my own body. I found Cindy by word of mouth and we quickly clicked. She, like my mother, is an Aries and had studied midwifery. She knew friends from home, and drove a VW van, bumping along with her dog, Pico. She seemed intuitive, honest, and independent. I made sure that I’d be able to talk through thoughts and emotions that came up, treat the session as therapy as well.
Our first session we talked excitedly about the life that was unfolding for me in Santa Cruz, the synchronicities and lessons. A stranger in Oakland had just boosted my car, directly but unintentionally launching me into a complete lifestyle makeover. As Cindy worked, I chatted, and she monitored how my body reacted to different ideas and thoughts. She commented on my tendency towards logic and reason, how my strong mind enables my addiction to plotting and organizing the future.
She cautioned that the phase unfolding before me might defy explanation by my intellect. She suggested that I stay open to experiences I cannot explain. I thought of all the dancing, yoga, the unexpected synchronicities, the openings, the letting go required to advance in my own healing arts, and I sensed that she was right. I felt beyond ready to experience myself differently than ever before. So many old identities and patterns had worn out, served their purpose, prepared me for the next phase.
Yet here I lay again on her table, months later, eyes open and glazed, staring beyond the pale yellow ceiling to somewhere far away. So much had just happened. Her hands working under my back, kneading my spine, feeling the subtle motions of my vertebrae. We worked in silence for a while, tense almost, before she asked.
“Where are you?”
Jeez! Where am I?
The request jolted me awake from a subconscious reel of worry and scheming. My mind felt like an uncrackable nut. I didn’t even know where to start, so I just started.
The last few weeks had been turbulent, and I was stressed indeed, but stressed by a deep current that was hard to identify.
A series of events had sparked some surface disturbance. A whirlwind visit home to Oregon, where my father confirmed our sailing trip to start in a few months. Then back to Santa Cruz, to challenging community lessons, and the anticipation of a visit from a romance I had been trying to get over for a year.
Meanwhile, I questioned my form of meditation, doubting if the bare bones Vipassana style allowed enough space for the spiritual expansion I craved. I sat to meditate daily, watching my thoughts run around, trying to catch and calm themselves. All I could do lately was try to find positivity in all the angst.
All these situational particles collided, creating ripples in my external world, and I pressed it down a layer, to keep the surface smooth as I attended to my worldly responsibilities. And at the depths, just at the edge of my awareness, the ripples brewed and strengthened, into a current that pulled at and strained the cords of my mind. Out of sight, constantly churning.
Cindy’s request required me to stop, to look down and acknowledge the current, the deep mental habits which had formed in response to the events. A fountain of thoughts welled up for the first time. My worry for the future, about leaving Santa Cruz. How much Graham’s visit had rocked me, as I battled the desire to be close to him and free of him. Worry about my overall purpose in life. All which I stuffed tight out of the way as I continued my busy routine, delicately suspended like a raincloud threatening to burst over my head. This was first time I’d had a chance to stop and wrangle these visceral emotions into words.
Cindy listened, before saying, “I felt that a male presence had rocked your world.”
I marveled at the body’s ability to talk, and the healer’s ability to learn the language. She explained that to her, each person has a specific energetic mark, a way that they feel, or seem, and that the last time I was here my mark was significantly different, back when I was swept in a cloud of excitement and faith for the future.
I rattled on, letting out the raw, unrefined worries, about money, logistics, what I might do after the sailing trip (still months away), until she stopped me with another question.
“When do you feel the most at peace?”
I thought back to the serendipity of my first months here, of feeling like everything was falling apart and together at the same time.
“I think when I just trust in the universe, when I just sit and feel connected, like something is holding me,” I said, and imagined sitting in a forest with soft green light pouring through jagged leaves. My body relaxed a little. The incessant nagging thoughts backed down.
“Ah,” she said, smiling slightly, “your body likes that.”
“You see,” she continued, “you have many different temples. Your mind is one of those temples. You are used to using it, you are very intelligent, have very good logic. But the mind is not the temple where you thrive. Some people thrive there, but those are the inventors who never stop thinking, who will come in and create something on my waiting room table before we even get started…”
My mind bucked defensively, thinking, ‘I can be an inventor, an engineer.’ I thought of my Dad, and the desire to be close to him, in his mind temple, then realized how much more at ease I feel in my spirituality, my intuition.
“You can visit the mind temple, but you should not stay there, should not act from there. You find your power somewhere else, in your ability to trust, not in knowing everything ahead, not in planning out every last detail. That will just wear you down,” she went on.
We fell silent and I thought back to our first session, when I explained to her that I felt a big shift coming, a big opening, but I didn’t know what. She had mentioned that I might not be able to explain it and define it in the context I have always known, that I was moving beyond my mind and my intellect.
Isn’t that what I had been feeling with my own healing work, that it was my mind which stood in my way? Just beyond that wall there was a pulsing ocean of intuition and wisdom, and feelings I couldn’t explain logically but that nonetheless seemed real and functional. Hadn’t I been craving for many years to be free of my mind and it’s worries and limitations?
I breathed and closed my eyes, assimilating the information she had just given me, considering the different temples, noticing my mind vying for attention and trust. Hesitant to let go of it, out of habit, pride, and the desire to impress those who dwell in that mental temple; my father, Graham. I wanted to fit in to their world. I worried that in my intuitional world, they might not understand me, might not appreciate me as much.
Then I envisioned the entity I call “the universe”, kind, playful, loving. I thought of sitting in nature, with all my senses soothed by the pure world around me, and knowing how real and OK and taken care of everything is. I remembered that in those moments, it is not hard at all to surrender the mind. Even the possibility that someone may not understand me becomes inconsequential in light of the overwhelming connection to the moment.
I fell silent on the table, and peered up at that kind friend, hovering just above my body, just beyond the smog of heavy thoughts. I shushed the hum, cleared a space in my atmosphere and invited her in, with all her peace and contentment and joy. I felt an inner smile as I released into the idea of her.
“Ah, there you go! Good!” said Cindy, breaking the silence, her hands still on my spine. “Good!”