Sunday, June 19, 2011

Heart Messages from the Dream Team

My dreams have been wildly imaginative, vivid and memorable for most of my life. I feel like it's when God and my angels do their "work." It's as if they are rewiring my heart and brain back together, and they're constantly showing me, and allowing me to actually feel what's happening in this life. I remember lots of my dreams in detail. I wake up and write about them so that I don't forget their messages. I've seen mermaids having a tea party in the hull of an old ship at the bottom of the ocean. I was under water with them, holding my breath, watching. They had about a thousand different shades of color bouncing through the water around them. They glanced up at me and said "it's alright to breathe, child. You're dreaming." And so I did. And at that very moment, (because time doesn't really exist in dreams), I looked over my shoulder and saw a torpedo coming. I've never actually seen a torpedo in my awakened state. In the dream state, this torpedo was small with a little propeller on the end of it, and it was headed right for the mermaids. I couldn't talk underwater. I started waving my arms and legs around, hoping to distract them from their light-hearted-happy-mermaid conversation. One of them looked up, saw the torpedo, kept talking and simply held her hand up in the water. The torpedo stopped and fell to the bottom of the ship. I woke up with one more "heart message from the dream team." I call it this because it's always an overwhelming feeling of clarity that I've been given from my dreams. It feels like direct truth from God, from the Universe, that's messaged into my soul by way of a dream.

The message was this: You have no idea what's happening on this planet. You do not have the capacity, in your human form, to see it all. But there is magic everywhere.

I knew with total certainty when I woke up that there are mermaids underwater working to heal this planet at the exact same time that we, above water, continue to miss the point of why we are here. Forces are working together to create balance at any given moment. An earthquake or a Tsunami is this planet's effort to maintain balance. She is just as alive and has a soul just like humans do. We can either work for her, or against her, but either way, she is striving for balance.

Last night's dream left me waking up with fear and sadness running through my blood. I sat up, got my journal, didn't want to speak, and just started writing. Some dreams I want to let go of even while I'm having them because I can't comprehend or absorb their level of darkness and intensity. But like I said, I can't disregard any of my dreams anymore, because there have been too many that I have acted on. They are an inner guide for me now. I feel obligated to pay attention, to remember, to absorb the message, and let it become a part of my tapestry.

I'm in a two story old house with wood floors and high ceilings. The furniture is worn and the air is thick. Someone brought me there, and she is in the room with me, but I don't know her. She takes me to a woman who is sitting on the edge of a bed. This woman was in the deepest emotional pain I have ever felt from another human being. It had almost taken her completely down. She wanted to die. The woman I came with helped this drained, lifeless woman take her shirt off. She had deep bloody scratches all over her chest, arms, back and stomach. She just sat there, in a state of total surrender, showing me her pain. She looked up at me, and the deep sadness I felt shot me out of the dream. Some things are too painful, too heavy, too dark. I woke up with an immense feeling of sadness and fear in my body. Tears were running down my face. I asked God if that was real, and was he trying to show me that there are people who are in that much pain on this planet? He said yes. And the truth is, I knew that, but I am always too busy trying to make my bubble a better place to be, to ever really connect with the real pain of another human, and try to help them heal. My chickens like to just work on Jamie. They're always busy trying to fix and improve HER, comparing, judging, analyzing so that SHE is in the best possible place while she's alive. The dream showed me what I already know to be true.

Our brains are not the best place to live. Our hearts have messages, and bigger plans for our lives than our brains are capable of grasping. I was given a joyful spirit, and a heart that wants to help others heal. I can ignore what I was given and continue to let the chickens cluck around and guide me through my life, or I can try to tap into something more meaningful and move through this life with faith that there is a higher order at work here. Mermaids are stopping torpedos for God's sake. Literally.

So what about this woman in my dream? What do I do about her? Here's what I know. That woman exists in all of us. I have felt her many times through the years. I wanted to scratch my skin off from feeling so much fear and heartbreak and confusion all at the same time. She represents us all. She was me. I still work to heal her, inside of me, because the more I take care of those deeply torn places in my heart, the more whole I become, and capable of helping the person next to me who's dealing with that deep, deep sadness and fear. That's the only way I can help her. I love her, I write about her, and I heal her.

And once again, I am grateful for my "heart message from the dream team."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Octavia goes to Camp Bikram Yoga

Bzzzzz... how is everyone out there??

Octavia is my yoga chicken, and if you're completley clueless as to what it is I'm talking about, then go back to Step One, read my first post, and work your way into this third step. Baby steps, baby steps. The chicken coop is alive and well inside my head. I've started and stopped a few posts in the last week or two because I felt uncertain as to how to approach some subjects without getting lost in the details, or derailing into another life chapter. I wrote in my journal one day that I felt "blogged down." =( Poor little chickens... they've scattered to the far corners of the coop and are pointing fingers at each other again. Chicken scratchin', Hen peckin' each other to death.

I've been on some sort of yoga journey the last three years. Sometimes I think I'm using it as a tool to uncover some great hidden treasure inside me. With each sweaty posture, I get closer and closer to the truth of who I am, and why I'm here. I keep waiting for the breakthrough. Another part of me feels grateful that I have found something that deeply connects me back to my spirit - to the quiet part of me that sometimes thrives and sometimes shrinks back quietly, depending on how loud my chicken coop is that day. Regardless of why, yoga has become the central part of my existence the last couple of years. Two years ago, I was out in California for Bikram's Yoga Training for 9 weeks. We practiced yoga twice a day, Monday thru Friday, and once on Saturday. The room was always atleast 105 degrees, and many times hotter.

It was extreme. It's supposed to be. I wanted my life to shift in some dramatic way, so it seemed like the appropriate next step. I had been hard on myself for so long that at certain points I know it was all my brain knew how to do. And so off I went, to Palm Desert, for enough yoga to make most people question their existence. I wrote to my healer about it right when I got home. Here's what I said:

July 1, 2009

So I came home last night after 9 weeks of Bikram's Torture Chamber, where I was a prisoner of paradise - wandering around the desert looking up at huge palm trees and two rows of mountains all around me. I felt like I was in the bottom of a bowl someone left sitting out in the sun too long. The edge of the bowl was mountains. And just inside that were hundreds of rows of palm trees. I see this scene every time I close my eyes. It's in a thousand colors. I had colored pencils and a sketch pad out there. I kept sketching and giving them away to smiling happy faces. I loved the vegetation there - the plants and trees native to the area were all in bloom - I was mesmorized by the trees. I looked forward to my Sunday morning walks - and to my early morning meditations when I could get more than 4 hours of sleep and have some sense of clarity about me. Many times while walking back and forth from the yoga studio to my hotel room, I felt like I was levitating. We did so much yoga - and everytime I lifted those sweaty heavy towels from my mat and threw them in the laundry bin, I felt the energy I was leaving behind - another layer of my soul shed thru 26 postures in 105 degree heat.

There were so many tears I stopped feeling afraid of them, and started to really love them. I felt no disconnection from my sadness anymore. I embraced myself - I hugged my knees tightly to my body and kissed the tops of them everyday. I breathed in the scent of my own sweaty hair. I had snapshot images appear at week 3 and it lasted until the end. Memories in snapshots of things I'd never thought about. I would see boards I was walking on as a child - boards on the pier of the house we had at the coast. I could smell the crab traps like they were right in front of me. I could see the oil on top of the water from the raw chicken we would tie to lines and lower down into the water to attract crabs. These images were as vivid as if they had happened days ago - and it has been 30 years. I could see the black dirt in the garden - I could smell my mother's skin and feel her cheeks. I can still do this when I close my eyes. None of it has ever left me - it has just been buried by layers and layers of doing - of life - of more memories, good and bad. I tapped into the really old ones because of the amount of sweat and tears and stretching I put my body through. They taught us about memories being stored in the tissues. Now I know it's true.

I faced my ego out there and said "I love you even though you have told me for 20 years that I am incapable, that I am damaged beyond repair, that I will never be a good mother or wife or friend or employee because I am not worthy. I love you even though you don't want me to love you, and you've been telling me since I was a small child that I couldn't do it. And that I would fail to some degree at anything I tried. I love you even though you repeatedly told me there was no way I could be a true success at anything. I love you. I love you. I love you."

I went out there not knowing I would face my worst fear and enemy - my own brain. I felt the fight inside me between heart and head like I was watching two flowers from the same vine fight for sunlight - for their lives. I would listen in class and catch myself drawing vines growing on the ground, and then one vine would shoot up towards the sky, towards the sun. I felt myself standing up to myself and saying NO MORE. YOU WILL NOT DESTROY ME ANYMORE. I have hurt myself more than any other person. In fact, I would say no one has even come close to hurting me the way I have hurt myself. I made sure of that, too. I laugh at people who think they've hurt me. They have no idea what kind of pain I was causing myself.

I had to memorize the dialogue for these 26 postures and deliver it to a panel of teachers and about 50 trainees sitting behind me. I had to do this 26 times. The anger and frustration I felt thru this process left me feeling empty and disgusted and full of rage towards myself. The voice inside my head was shouting at me "YOU CANNOT DO THIS. JUST GO HOME NOW. YOU WILL FAIL AT THIS LIKE YOU HAVE FAILED AT EVERYTHING. DON'T EVEN BOTHER EMBARRASSING YOURSELF LIKE YOU ALWAYS HAVE. JUST ADMIT DEFEAT LIKE YOU ALWAYS DO, and RUN HOME. AND DRINK AND SMOKE YOUR LIFE AWAY." The voice was so loud that it was impossible for me to retain the dialogue. It just laughed at me. Ridiculing and cruel. I felt completely defeated. And it hit me as I sat in the bathroom of the posture clinic room by myself in a small ball on the floor, that I have always felt this way. I pounded my fists on the bathroom floor until deep pain shot up both arms. I cursed God for making me into this self-destructive self-loathing woman who has felt trapped by her own brain her entire life. I went back outside and told the teachers I had memorized SOME of the dialogue, but that I had voices in my head that were so loud, telling me I couldn't do it, that there was no way I could deliver the posture for them. I was ready to go home and hide for days. Isolate, shut down, shut out -- all the same things I have done for years when I am faced with a challenge. They said "No one can make you believe in yourself but YOU." And they looked at me with huge, sad eyes and I saw their compassion and I felt my body reject it, just like it always has. My ego loves to feel separate. Unique in my sadness - alone in my own dark despair.
The next day I had posture clinic and the dread I felt as it approached was bewildering. My heart kept saying "it's yoga, and you love this yoga. Do the best you can, and you will be fine. This is a learning process, no one is expecting perfection. Baby steps... just be yourself. You are beautiful on the inside, and people see that, too." My head kept saying "you will fail, you always do. There is no way you will pull this off. And you'll be embarrassed and it will send you away feeling defeated again." The battle inside me was far more exhausting than doing yoga twice a day in the hot room. I WELCOMED that yoga each time. My body screamed YES - because sometimes it was the only relief I got. I also saw that this is what drew me to that kind of yoga. It's hard - but I'm a lot harder. It barely scratches the surface of how hard I can be on myself. And so it is.
I went to posture clinic and waited until the end to go. The teachers said I HAD to get thru the next two postures to stay up with the class. My stomach hurt, my head was pounding, and all thoughts of "this is just yoga - relax and do the best you can" were gone, and all I heard was "you will fail" loud and clear.
But there were angels in that room, just like there are angels among us everywhere we go - all the time. So why did it surprsie me? Because the noise in my head didn't allow for much observation or attention towards anything, or anyone else. The angels came in the form of 50 students who had seen my anguish and tears the last few nights, and wanted so badly for me to keep smiling the way I had been at them each morning in yoga. Already these people loved me more than I loved myself, and already they were helping me fight my own ego without even knowing it.
One man from Australia, he's about 6'3", he's a Cattleman, maybe 55 years old - very quiet usually... he stood up and said "Let's all do the posture for Jamie and help her through it." (Usually there are three students in front of you doing the posture while you say the dialogue - the rest of us wait our turn while sitting behind the person delivering dialogue.) Several students jumped up and said "yes, yes! Let's all do the posture for Jamie!!"
And so it went. I got up and delivered "Awkward Pose" with 50 or so students doing the posture 5 feet away from me with HUGE SMILES and the brightest eyes you've ever seen and BAM! It hit me like a giant rock being thrown at my heart. Instantly they became my reflection. Instantly I felt that connection to every living thing on this planet, and my anxiety flowed out of my body thru my fingertips and toes as I kept talking and spewing out the wrong words and smiling back at them because it just didn't matter - and their smiles got bigger and my fucking ego got smaller and smaller until there was none left and all I felt was LOVE. BIG MOTHER FUCKING LOVE - running thru my body from bones to skin, fingertips to toes, and I hadn't felt that LIGHT in YEARS. Even the teachers did the posture with the students for me. And if I went blank, they would point to their body parts to cue me. It was so hilarious and sweet and beautiful. And afterwards, they all said "see? you can do it, too." And the teachers said "Now, take this experience and move forward with these postures and do the best you can. Nothing more." I floated around for the next several hours. I wrote the teachers a letter when I got back to my hotel room at midnight. I told them that there was no way for them to know what that night had given me - but that it was one of those pivotal moments for me. I felt like just another piece of the whole. I didn't feel defeat or hatred towards myself. I just felt like a child who'd been given a chance and actually just showed up dancing her way through it. Passing or failing wasn't the challenge. Letting go of my own enemy, my ego, was. And I did it. I couldn't sleep that night I felt so excited.

So, this is one moment I had at yoga camp, and there were several. After that night, I still had huge battles with my ego... and I still struggled with the dialogue thru the very end. I sit in Austin today wondering if I'll have the courage to teach - but knowing I already do.

I don't fight myself as much. And because of that, I don't feel like myself anymore. I feel that flower just growing towards the sun, without anything holding her down. And there is fear in that, also. But I know I'm finally headed in the right direction. And I know my heart is leading the way.

This was a long one, so I hope you made it through. It's important stuff as I weave the threads of this blog into something meaningful for you, and for me. I'm a full time Bikram teacher now, in a Bikram Studio. It took me two years to get here. It has been challenging, revealing and amazing. Such is life.