LIVING THE SOULFUL LIFE
By Scott Kalechstein
Have you ever had an in-the-body-experience? I’ve had quite a few recently, and look forward to more. After living most of my life in a disembodied state, it’s been quite a journey getting back in.
Getting out used to be the in thing in my world. During my teens I had more than a few psychedelic experiences. I liked to think of them as extra-curricular field trips, enhancing my study of metaphysics and psychology. There was one trip amongst them that stands out in (what is left of) my memory. On that day the camera lens in my mind opened wide, and I became ecstatically aware of a big picture truth: there could never be anything in my life that could ever justify worry or fear. Everything was an illusion, nothing in the world mattered, and in my recognition of that truth, I was freed from the spell of matter. Gravity may keep my body from soaring, but not my mind and spirit. I was free! I had touched the kingdom of heaven, here and now, and here and now is all there is, was, and ever will be. I was safe eternally. There was nothing left to do with the rest of my life but celebrate!
I realized while I was soaring that when the drug wore off this vision would fade, and my life from that point on would be about gradually climbing the mountain of consciousness until the peak experience I was currently having was where I lived, not just a place I visited.
In my devotion to getting there, I made enlightenment my first priority, and things like my health, relationships, family, money and taxes were way down on my list. I resisted anything that had to do with the physical universe for fear that it would distract me from my goal. I found spiritual practices that allowed me to hide from the world in which I lived. I used meditation as an escape mechanism to take me to higher planes, any plane but the earth one. In my efforts to transcend fear, I rejected anything that might stir up fear. Of course, while I was busy being detached, fear still owned me. I was attached to detachment, and the spaced-out, far away look in my eyes was not the look of one who had found real peace.
Eventually I recognized that I was never going to ascend until I was first willing to descend. I was twenty five years old. Up until that time I had avoided driving and relied on public transportation and the kindness of others. So I chose to engage in one of my first worldly, dangerously un-spiritual activities: learning how to drive and getting my license. A few years later, I filed my first tax return. Although trembling every step of the way, Peter Pan was beginning to grow up.
Getting into relationships initiated me into the world of hopes and disappointments, and it became clear to me that my past attempts to stay detached had been a strategy to protect myself from my own woundedness and pain. When I fell in love, I fell hard. Looking back, I can see that in my middle to late twenties I had finally become willing to enter into a clumsy, unavoidable stage of life that up until then I had managed to avoid: adolescence. You could say I was a late bloomer.
My repetitive mis-steps with women caused me to limp my way into therapy, something I had previously thought of as unworthy of my time. Therapy conjured up images of spending years making snail’s progress, staying stuck in my head, and getting good at analyzing what was wrong with me. I had already perfected that on my own, thank you! But the counselor I was led to was a big cheerleader for moving emotions, and the tissues I used in his presence far outnumbered the diagnoses he offered. Together we created a safe space for me to honestly and nakedly face the pain I was carrying, feel my way through it, and get to the other side.
During this process I completely forgot about being detached. I lost interest in lengthy meditations and learned the practice of journaling my feelings. When pain came up I practiced being with it and not shrinking away. This commitment to a deeper intimacy with myself helped me attract the intimate relationship I am in now. Occasionally, like in all good relationships devoted to mutual personal growth, the fire gets hot between us. In moments of conflict I am learning to stay present and express my fear, hurt and anger instead of vacating the premises. It is amazing how intense feelings rapidly dissipate and, like with a good thunderstorm, the air is cleared when we are willing to get out of our heads and into our bodies.
Last week Lisa said something that pushed my buttons. I took physical distance and began getting mental (out of my body), judging how right I was and how wrong she was. Quickly I recognized that my superiority head trip was a mask for my wounded feelings, and rather than wallow around in separation, I got back in my body, walked up to Lisa and expressed, “The way you just talked to me really hurt my feelings and I feel very angry at you right now!” She had some anger to express back and for a few minutes I wondered if I did the right thing by opening my mouth. For a recovering control freak such as I, letting myself experience moments of chaos can be quite a leap of trust. A few minutes later we were holding each other, sharing tender feelings of love and regret, crying softly and feeling close.
How exciting it is for this retired space traveler to be coming down to earth! What a joy, after a lifetime of resisting them, to honor and embrace the gifts that God has given me: my body, my emotions, my humanness, my life.
I wrote the following song to celebrate the journey.
The Flight Of The Tree
At the point of being on my knees with no runway left to turn
Out of my mouth
there came a prayer like I never prayed before
Plant my feet in soil firm and high, to the earth I
As for the rest you
know it well, for it’s what all life’s about
Scott Kalechstein is a counselor, minister, inspirational speaker, recording artist and performer known for his wit, wisdom, warmth and humor. He travels through the United States, Canada and Europe, giving concerts, talks and workshops, as well as presenting at conferences. Scott can be reached at (760) 753-2359 or you may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org To find out more about his offerings, visit www.scottsongs.com
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