I look in the bathroom mirror, glancing into hazel green eyes, holding my gaze for a long moment, then I study the dark circles under my eyes. So much work to do.
There is no point in this focus, I scold myself, pushing away my exhaustion, feeling Beauty, my tortoiseshell cat, rubbing against my leg. I set my timer for fifteen minutes. A news alert pops up. I scan it and shiver. Trump Administration proposes a new rule change for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allowing states to set their own plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
So much to think about. Yet, today, I can barely find the energy to take a shower. I tell myself, you’ve already decided, there is no turning back now. You are taking on the deepest mysteries of the body, the evolution of consciousness, the evolution of culture: how do individual human beings step up to our global crisis and live our unique potential?
I turn and pull open the blue and gray shower curtain, stepping into the slightly too hot flow of water, not realizing the shower jet is pointing out of the tub. Beauty turns and darts as I grab the hose of the shower just below the head and turn it toward the middle of the tub, pulling the shower curtain shut.
I teach Contemplative Writing in forty-five minutes. I need this cleansing to breathe. The fire soot from the five hundred fires along the west coast of North America is thick in my air even though I live two-thousand miles to the east, in Madison, Wisconsin. And, I want to show up as a writing teacher like I’d show up for a fancy date – made-up and ready to love my writers. We are writing in community, evolving a new story of humanity, using the book 52 Codes for Conscious Self Evolution: A Process of Metamorphosis to Realize Our Full Potential Self, by Barbara Marx Hubbard, futurist, author and public speaker..
The water is hot, turning my white belly red. I forgot not to flush the toilet before I stepped into the shower, so I’m not sure how much the flush is still affecting the temperature. I bend down, avoiding the direct spray of water, turning the hot-cold faucet from the noon to the one position, reaching back to feel the water with my hand, trying to tilt my naked skin away from the still too hot water.
My mind wanders to writing as my water temperature comes to hair washing hot. I stand up into the steaming hot water, the water pounding on my back. Who am I? What is love? I grab the plastic mauve shampoo container. I pop its lid open, squeezing the silky shampoo into my palm and carefully set the container back on the inner edge of the tub. Questions continue to arise.
Am I getting anywhere close to living within my body in close relationship to the universe itself? I rub shampoo into my hair and scalp. Isn’t this what we mean when we speak of our oneness? Feeling and loving it all, in our own bodies, unpacking the physics of consciousness: the potential that our individual actions can change everything as we intentionally and continually grow, change, evolve through an ever-deepening paying attention to the laws of the universe with all our human senses?
I rinse my hair, thinking about how the water is made up of the atoms hydrogen and oxygen and if they might be interacting with my own quantum world of atoms. I wonder if this collection of the atoms of the water and the atoms of my body have ever been together before this moment. I wonder just how intimate I can get with the infinite mysteries of these atoms within my own body.
I’m squeezing out conditioner, thinking again about the writing class. A song pops into my head from last week’s Festival of Love in Holland. Humming, I decide to try introducing the song during class today. I sing out loud.
let the way of the heart
let the way of the heart
I stop. When I start singing, even in the shower, my body quivers with shame at my out-of-tune voice. I drop the idea of the singing as quickly as it arose. For now.
I grab the frankincense and myrrh soap, my back to the water. I lather up my belly in circles, my breasts, down and up my legs. Helium. Hydrogen. Carbon. Atoms into matter, into life, into this mystery. Every single heavy atom of the human body was once forged in the heart of a star somewhere in the universe. My individual life waking up to both its co-creativity and its evolutionary crisis.
How do I let go of shame?
I rinse off my front side, feeling into the texture of the shame, trying to compare it to this grand history of my atoms being forged in stars. I begin to massage the conditioner into my scalp with this question, how do I let go of this shame?
I feel myself opening to a deeper place within myself. I feel myself letting go of the now and suddenly, I begin feeling like someone else’s hands are massaging my scalp.
At first, like it always happens when my perceptions shift dramatically, I push the sensation of the hands away, thinking in a flash, this can’t be real, or that was weird, or what the hell was that? Then, as is my deeper practice these days, I decide to feel back into the potential experience of the hands touching my head, inviting the unusual contact, the touching. I close my eyes, completely letting go of time,place, and resistance as I feel my own hands transform into
tough, brown hands,
yes, ape hands,
massaging my head,
through my own hands.
My body fills with comfort as these hands seem to work their own way around my head. I further open, letting this experience, this creature, these sensations give me what it wants to give me, pulling into my awareness the whole of time, space, and evolution.
I am able to drop more deeply into this meditation, this sensual experience taking over my entire being. Dropping even more deeply, I get a building sense in my body of its whole body, not just the hands.
A flash of memory pops in and pops out. I keep massaging the conditioner into my hair as I allow this out of the ordinary experience fill my own body. I feel a new story alive in my body. I feel my shame gone. The story unfolds in front of me in another flash. My shame replaced with the journey of this ancient ancestor to myself, the atoms we share, the genetics we share, the stories we share.
I feel living in trees,
coming out of the trees as they faced climate changes,
adaptability to a rapidly changing environment.
My iPhone timer goes off. The presence is gone as quickly as it came. I take a deep breathe, say goodbye, coming out of this generous meditation.
It is abrupt. Leaping back to this time, back to my writing class starting soon, back to the realities of the climate crisis we face now which I am told again and again I have no power to effect.
I step deeper back into the water, letting its wetness fall over my whole body, rinsing my hair, soaping my back, neck, buttocks
Shame is now grief. I let myself feel the grief, my tears disappearing with shower water down the drain. I am sad people are taught they have no power over their own home – planet Earth. I am sad over losing my new friend’s presence. I am sad over the fragile dignity of humanity and our profound journey from the stars themselves. I notice the journey I just took with her is fully embedded in my own memory. I notice myself feels a little less under siege.
I finish my shower, opening the shower curtain, grabbing my red towel, stepping out onto the gray bathroom carpet to see my cat Beauty licking her fur in the same place she was when the shower water hit her fifteen minutes ago.
I dry my hair, my face, my body, singing the song, let the way of the heart…I wipe off the fog off the bathroom mirror. I give myself a giant smile and say, “there is no turning back now.”