Sunday, February 19, 2012


Have you ever felt like you were living in a blender?

I’ve recently come through a spell in which things were topsy~turvy and spinning fast. Rather blender~esque, in fact. Yet, there’s a touch of violence to that metaphor, what with those blender blades a~chop~choppin’ and all. There’s another image that works better for me.

A centrifuge is a device in which a substance is rotated around a center axis at high speeds. The resulting centrifugal force causes the denser matter in that substance to separate from its lighter counterparts.
This image has great potential when our lives are moving with an intensity that stirs up our own dense material~~the anger, fear or sorrow we often prefer not to experience. Rather than trying to avoid the tempest, though, we could see in it an opportunity for spiritual growth. We could welcome the spinning for its ability to bring our dense matter to consciousness.
My recent sojourn to the centrifuge was initiated by a mix of rather disturbing symptoms in my 92~year~old father, resulting in a hospitalization and a few weeks of rehab. This led to a daily barrage of calls and emails with treating professionals and siblings that spanned weeks.
Part of the challenge was that all this had to fit into a life that was already quite full. My father’s being ill and distraught, however, mixed with some incompletely healed family dynamics to trigger lots of emotions.
I was plopped right into the centrifuge. My goodness, but I was spinning!
It seems humankind’s default position is to greet unpleasant emotions with an eye to making them go away. Sometimes this is necessary, as when a young nurse is firing questions at you about your father’s health history and whether to hook him up to a ventilator, should that become necessary.
Living in avoidance, however, doesn’t work so well, since our emotions are an integral part of us. If we routinely shut them down, it’s like erecting a plate glass window between ourselves and life. We might try to convince ourselves that it’s safer to view life from this distance, but we know that isn’t so. Without direct experience~~without opening ourselves fully despite knowing we will encounter pain~~vitality drains away. Our lives grow pale, and we and those around us suffer. No, avoidance is ultimately not safe at all.
When life has us whirling, the centrifuge metaphor can be helpful. Here’s how it worked for me…

Rather than avoiding or bemoaning the turbulence I was feeling, I tried to greet this experience as an ally, one who was spinning my dark matter into awareness in order to be healed. That slight shift in perspective made a world of difference.

It encouraged me to listen closely to determine if these raw feelings might also have another dimension~~intuitions pointing to a current needed action, old emotions sparked by present stress, or some combination of all three. I took time to sit with whatever arose, neither pushing it down nor acting it out. I let myself feel.

After I’d extracted the learning and felt the emotion, I knew the centrifuge had nearly completed its work. It was time for release. For me, this worked best when I imagined, on the exhale, those spent feelings exiting my body through my heart center.           
This practice always soothed me, much more than my attempts at avoidance. It was through feeling and releasing my darkness that I returned to center~~at least until the next email had me spinning out again!
My father is back in his apartment now and doing well. I am doing well, also. I am lighter from my time in the centrifuge~~and thus better able to perceive the One Light.
No, centrifuges are not always pleasant. They can, however, be helpful. And they’re much kinder than blenders!

I wish you all well in your own centrifugal moments. Spin it on out!


Loanne Marie

PS. If you’re needing a little help in this process, try Tom Kenyon’s Heart Meditation. (You’ll need to click that you agree with his terms and conditions, then scroll down to Heart Meditation, the 7th one down.) Esthetically speaking, this is not my favorite of his selections. In fact, I truly disliked this rather odd piece of music when I first heard it~~turned it off halfway through. But my time in the centrifuge taught me how to use it as a heart cleansing experience. During those rather odd sounds~~and don’t worry, you’ll know ‘em when you hear ‘em~~I released it all, again and again until nothing was left. Perhaps it will work well for you also. Happy release! Blessed release!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Real~World Alchemy

Last week, I dreamed of Paulo Coelho. Upon awakening, it took me a few minutes to remember that he was the author of The Alchemist, a book I’d tried unsuccessfully to read twice before. Not in the habit of ignoring such clear dream messages, I retrieved the little book from a dusty corner and gave it another try. I found it a sweet read this time.
And it has me thinking about alchemy, that ancient art in which adepts sought to turn baser metals into precious gold or silver. Some attempted this on the physical plane and in the process, developed methods that morphed over the centuries into our modern sciences. Yet it is on the metaphoric level that alchemy really shone~~and continues to beckon us today. How do we transform our baser human qualities, and those of the situations we encounter, into shining gold?
In my home office, I have a bright pink square of card stock paper on which is written, “What do I choose to create in this moment?” You see, I need reminders. This is how it works…
I’m on the phone with an insurance company’s claims department trying to get paid for psychotherapy services I rendered 4 months ago. I’m speaking to a man with a decidedly South Asian accent, which I can barely understand, who gives his name as Elvis. Elvis also gives me the same inaccurate and completely unhelpful information I received on 2 previous calls.

I was on hold so long before reaching Elvis that I now run the risk of being late for an appointment, but feel pressure to remain on the phone until resolution is reached so as not to have to begin the process yet again. Suddenly my eye is drawn to my hot pink note. I remember that I can choose~~not how Elvis responds or how his employer responds, but how I do. I breathe and recognize an opportunity to practice.
During an exercise at a writing retreat years ago, we were asked to call out persons, places, objects, verbs, adjectives and adverbs as the facilitator recorded our offerings on a whiteboard. We were then directed to create a written piece from these words.
Life is a lot like that.
We are born into a certain family within a particular culture at a unique moment in human history. The bodies we inhabit bear the mark of our ancestors, and our spirits shine through personalities that are an ambiguous mix of nature and nurture. What shall we do with this raw material? What essay shall we write with our human life?
These are good questions when things are going well and when they are not. They are particularly relevant, though, when you realize you have become harsh with a poorly paid Indian customer service rep named Elvis.

I recently was given an exceedingly helpful quote by author Karen Salmansohn. When we mess up, she suggests, “Instead of slapping your forehead and asking, “What was I thinking?” breathe and ask yourself, “What was I learning?” With Elvis, I was learning to hold a higher vision and prioritize accordingly. I was learning that I am in the process, always in the process, of creating the essay of my life, an essay that affects the lives of many others~~even some halfway across the world.

I offered Elvis an apology and began to interact with an eye to the highest good. I accepted in that moment that the way I behaved was more important than getting paid.

This is real~world alchemy. It is the alchemy of the spirit, an alchemy in which we transform our individual pieces of lead into shimmering gold. And in this, our teacher just might be a man from Mumbai named Elvis. 

I wish you each well in gathering gold.


Loanne Marie  

Here's a link to Karen Salmansohn's website page with the full quote mentioned above.