The past little while has been difficult in some ways, but somewhat gratifying in others.
I've been spending a lot of time alone. My "social life" (such as it was) has been on hiatus. I do go along to events with my partner and his friends and family, but I only engage as much as I feel comfortable engaging.
That's a theme that keeps coming up as I prepare to go to the Amma program next week: disengagement without letting guilt get in the way so much. "Feel the guilt and do it anyway."
When I chose to return to the Vishuddha Kali yantra and to name the account after it, my intention at the time was to give myself a space to vent critically about whatever came up, without any compromise whatsoever. What I found was that I became quieter and quieter and more and more comfortable listening to music (whether "dark ambient" or "Krautrock" or otherwise) that generally had few if any words but rather sustained moods without any hurry to fit the experience into 3-minute slices.
I also found myself just hanging out in the virtual environment created by my journal design, taking in the energy of the colors. The design was chosen because of its resemblance to the design of Peter Wilberg's The New Yoga site. I have found the tantric colors to be both centering and stimulating, perhaps facilitating the emergence of what Wilberg refers to as non-focal awareness.
When I reflect on these colors, I often think of the malefic planets Mars, Saturn, and Pluto. I had written about Saturn at the end of May. Recently I dug out an interview with Liz Greene about Pluto in an old astrology magazine--in fact, one of the first such magazines I had purchased. The article was 8-9 years old. It's hard to believe I've been studying astrology on and off for that long. I often regret the haphazard, on-and-off way I've been studying it, but reading some articles in that old magazine helped me to appreciate how much my understanding has grown over the intervening years.
After reading that article, which helped to reassure me about the kind of healing process I seem to be in, I picked Donna Cunningham's Healing Pluto Problems off of my bookshelf. I had looked at this book before, but now seemed to be a better time for me to read it. Among other things, it is pinpointing kinds of things that therapists, friends, mates, co-workers, etc. often say to people who are dealing with grief and other "Plutonian" issues that can have the effect of shutting down or complicating people's healing processes and which frequently lead them to become resentful, enraged, sullen, and withdrawn. Yeah, I think I know a bit about what that's like.
What's beginning to shift for me is that it seems as if the period of intensive analysis and churning about particulars--who said what, did what, etc.--has calmed down a bit and it's becoming easier to keep an eye on how I'm feeling in the moment. As it becomes easier to tune in with how I'm feeling, it becomes easier to make decisions about what level of contact with people I think I can tolerate at any given moment, and more likely that I'll do something about that with less confusion, conflict, or regret than used to be the case.
The book also reminded me of flower essences, which is something that interested me briefly but which I had shelved years ago. I took out the bottle that I have and have started using it. I see it mainly as a symbolic magical tool, but if it reminds me of the usefulness of "softer" types of healing intention and that proves to be useful, so be it.
July 4, 2002 was the day that my mother went to the emergency room with the headache that turned out to be related to brain cancer. This July 4 weekend my partner and I found out that a member of the extended family that we had been close with when we lived in another state had been admitted to hospice there. She passed away earlier this week. I'm not sure of the exact timing of her death, but about a day or so before it I saw her in a dream, in a dark restaurant with wooden tables where I had seen other departed people in the past. She seemed calm and rather detached, but I felt emotional during the dream. The same night my partner had a feeling that she had passed, or was about to. I didn't tell him about the dream until he mentioned his feeling. In 2005 my grandmother died while I was at an Amma program, and in 2007--a few weeks before my mother was diagnosed with a recurrence of her cancer--I had a vision of a hospital bed during a darshan with Amma. On top of that, of course, I have struggled with painful disappointments in friendships with Amma devotees, and going to the programs virtually guarantees that I will see one or more of them as well as people I have met through them. So, it has become typical that the period prior to the annual Amma program(s) can be rather "fraught."
Speaking of dreams, I had a dream that involved Amma last night. She was seated in bathtub, dressed in a sari, and I was in the tub with her, wearing jeans and a shirt. I asked her if she wanted me to warm up the water, and she said yes. I did so, and before long she was beginning to exit from the tub.
There is an element of hype and drama that has the potential to be part of the scene around Amma. I've really had it with that, perhaps even more than was the case last year. I struggled through portions of the New York program last year, but eventually got into the groove (although I was disappointed that I had missed the Guru Purnima puja, which she had done early in Chicago). This year I chose to skip the New York program in favor of the Massachusetts one only. With or without the New York program, I've been going through a lot, and I don't regret staying close to home and pacing myself through it.
In her Pluto book, Donna Cunningham suggests gentle bodywork in addition to flower essences and visualizations, etc. I had considered tapering the Rosen work and discontinuing after the end of the year, but based on how my body has felt recently and on work I've done on issues with past therapy (mainly through reading David Smail but also now through reading Cunningham as well), it's starting to feel less pressing to consider discontinuing Rosen. I think I'm getting a better sense of the modest and yet significant contribution that Rosen may be making to my healing, and I'm not quite able to get "there" on my own with yoga and regular meditation.
So, we'll see how things go next week. As a result of work I've done recently, I think I have a better sense of where my feelings of resentment come from, of some of the things that trigger them to flare up, and of how deep their roots seem to go in my life experience.
One thing that stood out in Cunnigham's book was her observation that a number of Plutonian types who have had feelings of ambivalence or resentment about being here in the first place came from successful pregnancies that directly followed miscarriages. It seems as if she were implying that the babies that were eventually born had perhaps been so ambivalent about their parentage that they may actually have succeeded in refusing to be born on the first try. This struck me because, when I was doing hypnotherapy, one of the first things that came up was dissatisfaction at having come here, associated with images of myself in the crib at what I estimated to be about 6 months of age. It was only about 3 years or so after that hypnotherapy appointment that I found out that my mother had had a miscarriage about a year before I was conceived.
I had gotten to a point where I had turned away from such New Age speculations, but after I have come to view my more "authentic" spiritual groups as not necessarily supporting genuine personal healing as well as I had evidently hoped they would, I'm more open to giving ideas like these a little more breathing space.
Om Kali Ma,