Tag Archives: Iyanla Vanzant

Love me tender

30 Jan

It is a juicy cold winter day in Wettenbostel.  The temperature is -6 degrees… luckily, that’s celsius not farenheit.  But still, it is cold enough. Bundled in wool, I love it outside, for a little bit. But mostly, I am grateful to be warm inside!

I cooked the most delicious food for myself today.  How is it that sometimes you can cook the simplest of things… broccoli stir fry and rice… and it tastes SOOO GOOD!  I have a little break in painting the ceiling of one of the seminar rooms, my latest task here at the Seminar Haus.  I ran out of paint.  Alas.  So in the meantime simply tending to a little cleaning in the kitchen.

As I bask in the warmth of the kitchen I hear the voice of my friend, Reiki Master and counsel, Elizabeth Ohmer Pellegrin, saying  “Use your alone time wisely” .  Hmmm… I find myself thinking.  What exactly is using my alone time wisely?  I think…in part…I am beginning to find that answer.

As I continue to listen to the story of Iyanla Vanzant on my new audiobook, Peace from Broken Pieces, her story unfolds and I listen intently.  The story has moved past the tragedy of her childhood and has blossomed into her world as a successful spiritual teacher.  What has struck me today as I listen is her spiritual practice of turning to God when she needs an answer for herself and her life. Guidance along her journey. Her practice is to immerse herself in prayer for 5 or 6 days until she feels she has an answer for herself and her life.  That is it, I thought today.  That is wise use of my time… going within, using the tools of my spiritual practices, to nourish myself and to seek and explore what it is I need to know for myself and my life at this point in time.  I check in with the Tarot cards, an old friend and confident.  They agree as they reveal to me the Hermit card… a time for being alone and connecting deep within.

When I was a child I used to have this sort of unusual experience.  The word I used to describe it was feeling like I was in a straw, like a vortex of energy was slipping and sliding right through me…and I was part of it.  As I grew older my recollection of this feeling came and went.  And then one day… it revisited.  I was assisting at a course taught by Landmark Education known as the Wisdom course.  One of my favorite courses in the Landmark curriculum, it was a series of powerful weekends that span over the course of a year.  As someone who was assisting… my role, my function was to be of service to the course and the participants.  The role of assisting during a course always keeps you hopping.  Being present, paying attention, and being available to do what is needed to make the course happen.  Whatever it takes.

It was during the course that I felt this feeling again.  This straw-like notion swirling through my body.  Now a little older than when I was a child, I at least had some modicum of wisdom to be able to pay attention to what it was that I was feeling.  That feeling, that sensation I could discern was oneness, our “we-ness”, that space in the cosmic soup where there is no you or no me… but we.  And it is my understanding that I was able to experience that feeling once again during the course in the context of authentically being of service.  Giving of my heart and giving up my me to be in service to others.  In that space, the I or me just kind of slipped away and what was there?  We!

That moment was a spiritual breakthrough for me.  It reminded me that our spiritual essence has been connected to me my whole life.  I have had that feeling, that straw-like sensation on a few more occasions since then.  Sometimes I experience it during a Reiki treatment.  … and ultimately it seems that is what I am returning to… like a slippery slide.

So here I am…being a Hermit in Wettenbostel.  In the still darkness of winter. A little breath of sun today as the temperatures get a bit more frosty.  Taking time out for a few earthly pleasures like yummy food and, okay, watching a movie or two on my computer.  But intently basking for a few days in my spiritual practices… Reiki, chanting, A Course in Miracles and yoga… exploring that deep place within.  Ah, feels so good.  Feels like some love.  Some time just to…love me… tender.

Photo by me from the snowy fields of Wettenbostel


25 Jan

Greetings from the cold walls of the kitchen at the Seminar Haus in Wettenbostel, Germany.  My hands are cold and icy as I take a moment to write a little in the cool winter air.  Preparing yet another pitcher full of hot tea… nourishing me on the inside and I suppose nourishing my spirit as well.

My current project here at the Seminar Haus… painting the ceiling of the Big Dojo, one of the buildings in the collection here.  I must confess, I feel far away from the inspiration of Michelangelo… and I have a pretty good kink in my neck, but in general I am glad for the work.  It feels good to have a place to come to put a little time and energy on something.  To focus on something as simple as dipping a paintbrush into a bucket of paint and then applying it carefully along the seam of the ceiling and its many beams.  While I am painting I have been listening to an Audio book by Iyanla Vanzant.  She is a spiritual author who I have enjoyed over the years.  There was an offer on-line for a free audiobook … so I took advantage of it and downloaded Iyanla’s latest book, Peace from Broken Pieces.  I am not that far into it, but listening to it is like eating some sort of food that I didn’t even realize I was hungry for.  It is satisfying.

My time here in Germany and Europe, as I have written, continues to be a time of healing for me.  A healing path that began most notably with a personal crisis my senior year in college, then ten years of  a steady diet of Paxil … and well, the turbulent journey off getting off of Paxil and life with the puzzle and experience of the trauma that lied underneath.  The journey of healing has shown to me that… it is a process, unfolding, leaf by leaf, flower by flower… and year by year.  You cannot rush healing… perhaps accelerate it at times, but it is its own mystery, its own path.  And at most what you can do is take it and yourself one step, one day at a time to see… and try not to take things so seriously.

I started practicing Reiki about 8 years ago.  I found my way to a first degree Reiki class not long after getting off of antidepressants.  And it, in its own way, was a miracle for me.  The beginning of release.  Sometimes it seems that in healing oneself you must first go down a long and sometimes lonely journey to get to the bottom of the well.  And just when you think you are at the bottom… you are still not there yet.  Still more.  Still deeper.  Still more to lose, give up, surrender.  Healing has shown many different faces to me… despair, loneliness, rage, laughter, unspeakable beauty.  It is in the depth of her invitation that I have found something balanced and beautiful and it is there where I rest my hat.

In Iyanla’s book, she shares her own journey and expresses that she has come to believe that each of us choose our lives… our parents, our families, hurts, traumas, joys and laughter… as our perfect spiritual curriculum.  And it is the perfect curriculum, just for us, as its ultimate goal is to lead us back to God.  And in that way, all the characters in our play of life become heroes… the good and the bad as they have been the exact gift that we needed.  That have sent us to pray, to meditate, to take a different path.

And so, here I am, in the latest chapter of my healing.  I find myself in the lately quiet space of Wettenbostel.  A village of almost 60 people set amongst the potato fields in Germany.  Listening at times to the silly stories of my host and his friends here.  And much of the time on my own and independent.  In the quietness of the woods amongst no one but the trees surrounding me, I see and feel that I am here for my healing.  It is not always glamorous.  I often struggle.  But my time here seems to be folding me into a gentler surrender with myself as the woods and the land hover around me and protect me like a nurturing mother.

Listening to Ilyanla, I am reminded I am on a journey.  I am reminded to be tender and kind with myself.  And I am activated by the idea that my life is my perfect curriculum.  Everyone’s journey of healing is different.  And for now, mine has sent me to Wettenbostel.  Land of the wild pigs at night, late night hot tubs, and quiet nurturing nature.

Photo by Michael Hartly.

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