Right now, I am at Esalen, in recovery in the wake of the death of my mother. Although grief can be consuming and the deathbed vigil with my mother was intense, I couldn’t ignore the #MeToo stories that were erupting in the news during this journey with my mother. So let me take a moment to add my two cents to the swell of outcries rising from women who are finding their voice. I know my mother would be proud of me for saying, “#MeToo.”
Before January 2014, I had never heard of the term “kundalini” other than vague references to kundalini yoga, which I associated with people wearing white turbans and breathing hard. But on my daughter’s 8th birthday, I experienced something that my medical knowledge never prepared me to understand. I was with my new friend Dennis, an agnostic scientist who was drawn to me after we met at a holiday party at the Institute of Noetic Sciences because of our shared curiosity in energy healing. We weren’t doing anything particularly interesting at the time. We weren’t meditating or doing yoga or having sex or doing breathwork or using any mind-altering substances or otherwise seeking out any sort of mystical experience. We were just sitting upstairs on the floor of my bedroom with my roommate April, when something very curious happened.
My dear friends, I just survived one of the most intense ordeals of my life. A series of traumas—one after the other over the past two years—have threatened to level me in a way that is reminiscent of the Perfect Storm that led me to leave medicine ten years ago. That Perfect Storm fundamentally transformed my life, resulting in a quantum leap in my consciousness, my career, my relationships, my spiritual journey, and how I live my life. I can only assume this one will as well. But damn . . . it’s been painful.
Many of us are well versed in tolerating pain. Especially in spiritual circles, we may even gravitate toward painful, uncomfortable situations, milking them for all the soul growth we can tolerate and being grateful for the discomfort. But we can get out of balance this way. We can even venture into full on masochism if we’re not careful! What if the real challenge is being equally fluid and open to both pleasure and pain? What if we’re not grasping at pleasure or resisting pain, but we’re also not grasping at pain and resisting pleasure? Might it be possible to just roll with what life throws our way, relishing in the pleasurable experiences when they arrive and composting all the painful experiences as soul growth?