Learn to Love

The days of Patnem are rich in precious beach sunsets. If one would stroll along the beach, for sure he would find, scattered sitting on the sands, many other patients of the clinic. My memories from last year was of sitting by myself in solitude at the southtest part of the beach, where the sands meet the rocks and the waves meet the cliff. I would sit there in silence and watch the waves come and go, the sun dip and disappear into the air pollution,  the colors of the sky change, and the foam of the waves hiss all along and disappear into nothingness. 

This picture was taken by a clinic friend in Patnem beach of Goa last year. It was one of the most magnificent sunsets that we got to see there

This year I live in a different place in the village so when coming to the beach for the daily sunset ceremony, I end up in the middle of the beach, where lots of good clinic friends come to do exactly the same. And I enjoy their company and attention and love, but lately I noticed that my old idealised solitary sunsets of last year have replaced themselves with distractions of the human nature chatter.

I am aware of the sun flaming itself orange and bright, while sitting and listening to a friend. I turn my head to face to her- so I can better hear her and use her lips movements as helpful cues to listening, beacause the soft wind blows some of her words away. I am occupied in her for only a few minutes, and when I turn to look back at the sun- it is already gone. A blink of an eye, a moment of shifted awareness, and I missed the majestic end show of the day. So short it was in time.

This stands in opposition, to moments of intense wind that blew upon me in other beaches of the world. I have not made a good friendly relationship with the wind yet, and so I find myself quite disturbed by it. So when I sit exposed in an open space with the wind, time seems to stretch until forever. And only a few minutes would feels like hours upon hours.

And so I wonder to myself, with this subjective relativity towards the aspect of time, how come my inner state can influence so much my perception of time? One precious moment passes so fast, too fast, for me to miss it, and the other when I’m suffering can last for what seems like almost a lifetime.

And also, how much precious moments do I miss, so easily, while being distracted by my inner and outer everlasting chatter of the mind?

***

In my last day in the Akhaldans Whidbey school, we came out of the meditation with an invitation to be in silence. We were a group of 5 “youngsters” – late twenties and early thirties, amongst the other adults of the 50-60’s of age. And somehow it happened that us and only us ended up outside behind the dance hall, towards the magical forest. They were playing with “issue” – the dog, throw and catch. They would throw the ball from one to the other and issue would run after it and try to catch. Sometimes someone would throw it as strong and long as s/he could, out to the wild, into the bushes. And off like a rocket issue would go, run over stones and up the hill, into the bush and back again with the ball. There was a guy named Sky there, he would run and jump without any fear, just like issue, through the shrubs

and towards the ball.

I stood there watching it all.

Years and years of being careful with my body would not allow me to fool around recklessly with my spine like that. A decade of migraines has stripped me from my ability to jump without consequences. Even the tiniest impact to my scull would cause me pain. Sometimes i couldn’t even shake my head. I had almost no range of motion in my neck.

So I took a walk instead. I went up the forest trail that Nytai and me have cleared only a week before, finding so many amazing mushrooms on our way. I went up until I reached an intersection with a route I never got to explore. It was my last day on the island, so I decided to explore this right turn. I took it and walked slowly down, down the hill. In the silence, letting all the impressions in, inside me, noticing every step, every leaf, every glimpse of light. How is it that the forest can be so lively but so peaceful and quite?

A movement of the leaves, a quick sound from in the bush, which animal is lurking in there? I’m distressed, the fear is rising up again. This fear is EVERYWHERE. Everywhere I look, so many times that I pay notice to my emotional centre, fear I find in there. And it’s only just a bush shaking, why the hell do I get so easily distressed?

Out of the bush issue runs. Out and down. Out and wild. Down through the wild. Down down the hill. 

I keep on walking down the unknown path, and eventually it merges to a known one, the one that leads back home to the main house. I walk along it, my walk is nearing its end. And all of a sudden he runs towards me. The wild in him, chasing the dog. Hoping and jumping and heavy breathed. This kid of man, growing into adulthood, wild and free. He runs towards me. He picks me up. I lose my breath.

Fear of my body, tense my muscles become. He holds me up, he whirls me around. Afraid, but the one I love, I take the breath deeply inside my lungs, I release the muscles, I breath the smell of his sweat on him. This kid I love, this free spirit. Such a precious moment, we are so so close after a whole month of being quite remote. A memorable precious last moments in the island for memory, being held, held by him. 

He puts me down. we look each other in the eyes. No words. No sound. As if the world stops all around.

And off he goes, in pursuit of the dog. A moment it happened, in a moment it’s done. Ans without clinging to it, I’m quite content. What a precious moment it was to close my last day of the inner work in this school. 

Off he runs, he jumps, he’s free. No fright of hurting the body, No fear of damaging the spine. I wish I could be this free. Of the fear, of the pain, just running and jumping wild in the forest, like a free dog, after the dog, no issues. Jumping after issue with no issues… 

Mushrooms we found while clearing the path in the forest of the school. There were loads of them, many kinds shapes and colors. At that night, I felt one of them calling me from the forest, trying to pull me, tame me, devour me, like the witch from Hänsel und Gretel

***

An ex partner has come to visit me here in Goa. We spend our time reconnecting after 6 months in which I decided not to be in contact with him after feeling hurt. We had some very old “sediments” (as we say in hebrew) in our relationship that called to be resolved. I told him that if we wish to continue being in contact, we have to reconcile with those. To open up and acknowledge the hurt feelings.

Diving slowly into better emotional literacy I understood that I needed from him a recognition of the feelings that I felt, for him to understand that every time he disappeared and retreated it had an effect on me that he was not aware of. As suggested, I did not accept a hollow “sorry”. I put myself in the uneasy position of softly demanding him to say how to act differently. That if he retreats he at least have to be honest about it, and tell me that he is about to do so. I apologise for my part of hurting him. We have an intense and not easy conversation, but we make amends. And at the end of it I’m even able to stand up, and shake everything out of me. All the hurt feelings, all the seriousness, and give way to new lightness to arrive. I do feel lighter.

I sit with him on the north part of Patnem beach for the sunset of one day. A guy passes by in front of us, and he is familiar to me, but I do not wear my specs so I am not sure wether it’s him or not. He looks at me. I look at him. I feel recognition in his eyes, although he is too far away from me to actually see his eyes, yet I feel that he recognises me. And in this moment I’m sure that it’s him.

His name is Yuval, which means a creek in hebrew. 5 years back I used to go with a group of warm hearted Israelis to trance parties, a very caring and loving group of friends that took care for each other on the dance floor through 3-5 days of ongoing tripping. So many moments we used to rave, jump and dance our minds out, by the right speaker of the stage.

And here, out of all places, after half a decade, I meet him again. A person I never really had a decent talk with, but shared so many powerful moments in the dance floor of the Israeli psychedelic scene. As the sun sets down we exchange whatsapp numbers and hope to meet later on.

unexpectedly bumping into a rave friend during Goa’s beach sunset. To my left is Yuval, to my right is an ex, that during 8 months in the continent completely got the look of a baba. This was such a special moment of re-meeting after so many months / years, and like magic- a friend from the clinic that didn’t even knew it was me sitting there, took this picture of us, capturing the moment

We meet for lunch the next day. I tell him that I’ve been attending a spine clinic in the past year, and find out that that’s exactly why he’s here. Apparently two years back, he was sitting in a car at a red light, his head turned to the side, talking to a friend, when a car hit them from behind. In this accident, not only his neck whiplashed, it did so while his head was turned to the side. One vertebrae in his neck twisted around, and as a result during the time his spine twists accordingly.

This guy that had danced and jumped beside me 5 years ago, has a very limited range of motion for his head now. Back then we would rave across the dance hall, but slowly slowly I came to a state that I could not jump at all, and he suffers from neck pain. As he tells me that he lost his life, I can completely resonate. I know it for myself. I know what to lose my body is, I have also lost my life. Now as I’m slowly gaining it back, I meet him on this Goan beach. So much pain and suffering all around me. I see so much of it in the clinic. I see so much of it in the street- In the poor miserable indian dogs, in the begging kids at restaurants doorsteps, I can not even start to explain what one can see across india.

***

Stretching one year ago in the Goa clinic

One full year has come to a close since I started treatment in the clinic, and I feel that I have finally regained so much of my body and life back. But still I am in a place where I’m quite cautious and careful with my body. How amazing would it feel to run like Sky in the Forest of the World, not concerned about my spine, being able to jump and land on the soil, without being afraid of the impact going up my scull. 

The deeper I go into my psychological early childhood scripts, the vaster I explore my body, more and more fear I find. A fundamental fear, disguised as anger, shock, survival mode, or even calm and stillness. In traumatic situations in my life when I was seemingly functioning with a calm, rational, focused manner, I understood later that I was actually terrified underneath it. And when a rational thinking was my mode of survival for so many years, no wonder I ended up with such a long process to regain the true emotions that inhabit my broken beaten body and soul.

How long will it be till I can regain the confidence in my body to such a degree that I could easily, innocently just run and jump in the wild?

And I see now that I have managed to have complete trust in Ringo- the spine master, in the path- of dance and meditation and inner work, and in Carol- the teacher. But when shall I regain complete trust in my body?

Morning stretch group, towards the end of my time in the clinic. My heart is resonating deeply with patients in this special place

I meet and get to know many patients in the clinic during the weeks and the stretches. I hear many stories, of courage and loss, of pains and sufferings, of hope and fears. The skies of the beach sunsets weave themselves with the skys of that forest in Whidbey, with the stars of the cosmic rhythms, with the memory of Akash’s words as she rang the tibetan bowl “wake up wake up” she softly called. Called me out of the state of sleepwalking through my life. Sleepwalking without recognising the fear, the anger. Sleepwalking without recognising joy. Sleepwalking slouching in my habitual body patterns, of standing and walking and sitting in a droopy posture. So many years I’ve slouched my body, and now so many hours the clinic and my self discipline are calling me to stretch it back again.

My first visit to Akash (RIP) after the stroke, last year in Goa, when I just started the clinic. Both of us were learning to walk in new ways back then- she out of a half-body paralysis, and me out of a body that has been misaligned for decades. Now she is walking in her new incarnation, and I am walking in my new body that the clinic gave me, along with giving me my life back

 One day during stomach treatment a memory has risen inside me- Boaz (which means “strength is inside him”, in Hebrew) is riding me on the back of the scooter to the corner, around the church and up the hill, through the fields and swamp of water buffaloes and up to green valley- Casa Azul Skye- to Akash’s dance studio. As the memory of her studio came to me, so came the memory of her presence. Tears ran down my eyes as I realised I can not sense her presence anymore. I could still sense her in the days after she died. I felt she was still around. And now I can’t feel her any more.

And then came a feeling- I felt her in Whidbey, in the school. I came all the way to Goa to sense that she is not around here anymore. And to sense her call that she is present, her teaching is still present, in this newly founded school. I still have some of my stuff in her home up in north Goa. But I dare not go there. I do not want to face her studio and her home vacant from her presence. It would be an empty shell.

*

“Round and round you go, round and round you go” calls Miranda to rotate our feet during stretch class every day in the clinic, after we finally reach the floor (“congratulations, you have reached to the floor!”). Round and round I go from country to country, from continent to continent. Everywhere is home but Nowhere I belong (DON’T BELONG). And Nowhere is my fixed home but Everywhere I belong (I AM IMPORTANT. i DO belong).

And what is to be-long?

be long with relation, all my relations. Belong to the world. To the world, I surely belong. When shall I belong to the culture I so detest, the culture to which I was burn? Burn to and burnt by. 

***

The man of a kid retreats again. It’s not the ex, but it happens again, in a similar form to how it happened with the ex when he used to retreat. DON’T BE CLOSE. Next week we’ll talk, he says. Next week comes and we do not talk. Next weekend maybe. As the weekend comes to a close, my heart gets excited upon me. I yearn. Next weekend comes, yet still we do not talk. Next week he says. As week by week draws, sadness becomes irritation, irritation becomes anger.

I would like to share with him the emotional effect of this constant postponing, but the call never comes, so I can not share and he does not know of this painful effect. Next week comes, but the call never comes. Tomorrow never comes.

Today is the only now, and in the today there is no communication, no relation, and it’s so long, so so long, since I parted away from him on the island. So so long and he does not belong, in my world and to my relations. So close we were, in that sacred moment when he picked me up in the air. So far away we are now, practically the other side of the world. I wish I could be so un-grasping like I was back then after he put me down and ran after the dog. But I can not. I am grasping and hoping and am attached…

And he keeps postponing. Weird, how in hebrew the word for “postponing” means also “rejecting”. And that’s how I feel. Rejected. “It’s not about me”, I’m supposed to recite to myself. And I do. But still I feel rejected. 

Eventually I recognise that if he would of liked to talk, we would of already talked by now. And that this is not the way I wish to relate to friends. I wish to relate, but there is no relation here. I wish to communicate, but there is no communication. He say he hope we can still be friends. Just friends. But I see that this is not the way I would like to be with my friends. I do not wish to be in constant grasping, so it’s easier to me not to relate at all.

I currently don’t want to be friends, I say. I want to explain that it’s not that I generally don’t want to be friends, just that I don’t want to be friends like that- when there is no communication. But I feel there is no channel to communicate the explanation. So I don’t explain myself any further. He says ok. I’m sad but I feel complete about it. For now it is not possible. Who knows if it ever will. But I cannot hold to an “ever” sometime in the future. The now is now, in the now it is not there…

***

Expectations melt into ashes as my wants and needs burn into doom. And sufferings turn to joy as in my heart I bloom. How can I release my expectations from the sky, when it seems like all the stars forgot me? And how can I wail about the loss when it never has been mine from the start? I sit under Goa’s open sky. Akash has went, expectations have gone. Her teaching is alive and to this I do yearn. Is it OK to yearn to the teachings? Is it ok to yearn to the divine? The divine in me and in the other, the divine in us all.

During our first movement retreat with Akash in Israel. The last time I saw her, before she passed, was during two months that I was living at her house, with her presence (present). She was very weak back then, often sick and tired. In my last memories of her, she was not able to stand or to walk unassistant. I would like to remember her the way she is in this picture, the way she was most of the time I knew her: majestic and so centred, so so centred, as a true sufi is. When I was beside her, I always felt more embodied, more in my body. So potent was her inner work, that it emanated around her. If I ever knew what a divine is, it was through her.

I walk upon this earth and all I see is suffering, all around me and all along. I walk beneath this sky, and everywhere I see joy: I stride softly amongst the foam of the end of the hissing waves, I see a father diving to the sea, swimming to his son, grabbing him from underneath the water, resurfacing and smiling. Such a tiny moment, the smile in the son’s eyes, the light in the sun’s glow. As my perception of suffering around me, not just my pain but in other beings, expands, so does the perception of joy. The more suffering I see, so the more joy. The more I relate to the suffering in other, the more joy I see in smaller and smaller portions of reality: a mare smile, a bare nod of affection, just the hissing of the foam.

The more my heart is opening, the more I learn where and when to close. Preserve my energy on relations that can really yield form. Once I thought that to open, is to open to it all. And in some degree it’s true: as I open to recognise the suffering, so I open to recognise the pure joy. But the more I open to relate, so I learn that if I wish to live a healthy life, so do my relations strive to be full, direct, honest, and open. If it’s not there yet, to some degree, I’de better stay away. I can not give it all. I can not rescue. It’s not my job.

***

I sit with a person who tells me he is unsure if to sign up to treatment at the clinic. He’s afraid to put himself into a process that might heal him.

I ask him
– “why are you afraid of becoming healthy?”
– “Because I have no wish to live”,
he responds. He tells me about depression of many years, about times he had tried to kill himself.

The rescuer in me jumps head first immediately. How can I save. I must help. I must rescue.

As fast as my rescuer role jumps into play, that fast I recognise that it’s a role.

I CAN NOT SAVE. Rather- IT’S NOT MY ROLE TO SAVE. It’s not my role. I am not a therapist neither a psychologist, and even convincing him that he should sign up to the clinic- even this is not my job. It’s his to decide. In fact, rescuing is not a job to take. So what shall I do? Distressed by his words I am. Feel him I do in every pore of my body. From my own experience I can feel him. I know how it feels, and resonating with him with all of my centres, I don’t only understand intellectually- I feel the darkness, the emotional centre, and physically in my body- the moving centre.

I know what it is to feel that this life ain’t worth it, the way they are. 10 years of ongoing recurrent migraines, debilitating period pain, chronic pyshical pain, and emotional pain- pain that sits on top and adds gas to the flames, have brought me to the same position. I also felt that my life as they were, were not worth living.

But what shall I do? The only honest thing I can be is be myself. Not the role of the rescuer, but my self. My self that resonates in every cell of my body, from my own experience. And so I say- that I know how it feels, that I also felt the same when I had daily recurrent migraines. All I can do is sit with him. Have my presence with him. Give my fullest attention at the moment. AND REFRAIN FROM ANY RESCUING.

It’s hard not to fall into rescuer. It’s such a complicated and delicate inner work just to sit with a person that is in distress without trying to fix anything. But that’s what I did.

And really, what else can one do?

The deeper I go into the inner work the more I see how much we were taught wrong. And how much I need to study, practice and be, just with being with people rather then fixing them.

I can not force a DON’T BE CLOSE man into closeness. I can not force a depressed person into the wish of living. The only person I can teach closeness is myself, the only body I can fix is my own, anything other then that would be pretentious and arrogant. Not to say that people who do have the specialisation in their field can not fix other people’s bodies or help heal other people’s emotional state. But my studies now are to be able to be. Just be. Be with myself(s) and be with others, with heart as open as I can, if the situation calls for it.

And so I sit with him. And so I nod. Yes, I know how it feels like I don’t want to live my life as they are. Sitting with him. Having regained my body, having regained my joy, maybe he’ll come to see that there is a way for him to do so too.

The foam of the wave hisses. The “one inch” counts in the stretch hall are being called. The glimpse of the last sunset rays, the sufferings and pains, the joys and laughter from the bottom of the belly. One moment I lose presence and I’ll miss the sunset of the day, million moments of suffering seems like they will forever stay. Time is so relative. A blink of an eye and it’s gone.

Lord, give me presence, to truly be with the other with an open honest heart. Lord, let me forgive myself for moments that I distractedly missed. I say “Lord”, but I call that divine inside me.

She has taught me well. Her teaching is still alive. Soma to Soma, it is ok to yearn, to the divine within me, to the path of the green valley of love. 

They had taught us all wrong when we were young at school. What I really need to learn is how to love. This is what I shall learn.

Photo: 825545, CC0 1.0
Photo: Nicole Peraud,
Photo: © Gili Chen,
Photo: © Gili Chen,

3 thoughts on “Learn to Love”

  1. you brighten my hope, refreshed my heart, so i tell you: you inspire me and im very glad that you exist, thank you for sharing gorgeous light being! long hug at you!

    1. Dear Sabrina, I haven’t seen you for ages! Thank you so much for your warm words. Maybe we will meet again one day…

  2. Well..the tibetan “love=wishing happy” comes to mind. Some people find talk antithetical to feeling.long ago someone said to me,you English,you think talk is communication…
    Now i am reading my own old teacher,thinking again about the pairs of opposites and the now moment..in kochi,an installation saying,thought is also a matter..the past and the future,just thought: only the present moment escapes thought.
    Sending you much love and thanks for your narrative..
    Xx juliet

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