Divinity in Disguise
Many people, when I told them I was going on retreat last November, sent me a private message and asked me what kind of retreat I was attending and with whom. This is the story. There is a beautiful video at the end where I am featured talking about my experience with Igor Kufayev if you’d like to skip the text and watch it.
Sometimes life gives me opportunities to find out what works for me by exposing me to what doesn’t. This was the recent case at a story telling event in which I was a participant. The theme of the evening was called ‘Overnight’ and I was one of five guest story tellers scheduled to tell the tale of how my first music video, ‘Older Ladies’ went viral and received over 12M views on social media sites.
The evening was wonderful, full of fascinating people and engaging stories. The final story was to be told by a woman who calls herself a ‘God scribe’. I was really looking forward to hearing the story of how this woman went from being a devout atheist to publishing a book of a dialogue between her and God. This, however, is not what took place. Instead of telling us her story, she started channeling, telling us about who we are and how things ‘should’ be according to God. In minutes, most of the smiles had been replaced by pained expressions. The uncomfortable energy in the room became palpable to everyone except the woman, who went on 30 minutes longer than the allotted time we were each given.
I had never had the gift of such a clear seeing! The difference between teaching and preaching was so obvious. I saw that preaching happens when someone attempts to teach without an invitation to do so and requires people to believe rather than to have a direct experience!
To me, a true and effective teacher doesn’t give me answers, but knows I have my own and encourages me to find them within myself. A great teacher gets ‘behind me’ so to speak and pushes the answers out of my own heart so that I may bear witness to them. For a long time I believed what others told me without question and I dare that is precisely what prevented me from knowing myself. It would seem that there is little or no distinction between a teacher and the teaching itself. They are one in the same, an offering to know the depth of my own heart more fully.
After a certain degree of recognition takes place, I find even the hierarchy of a student/teacher relationship fades and teachers start occurring more like friends who are more familiar with the terrain than I. They can tell me where the pot holes lie and even how to go around them, but in the end, they are friends who have no preference as to whether I take their guidance or not because they trust that I have everything I need to make my own way and at times, have to discover things on my own. Igor Kufayev is a being I consider to be not only one of the truest teacher/teachings I have met to date, but a new and trusted friend.
My first encounter with Igor was at the Science and Non-Duality Conference in San Jose, CA. I was singing and debuting my new music video, ‘If I Were Enlightened’
I was just a short drive form the conference so I came down a little early to check out some of the world-renowned speakers and cutting-edge workshops. When I got there though, it was such a gorgeous day, I was more drawn to hang outside in the sunshine and soak up the beauty of the grounds, the chirping of the birds and the shiny energy of the people walking by.
I was crossing a courtyard when out of the corner of my eye I saw a gentle, soft-spoken man with long, salt and pepper hair talking to about a dozen people who were leaning in, listening intently. I didn’t think anything about this; people connecting in this way is a big part of what the SAND conference is about.
I had no intention of stopping, but as I walked past, my body halted and then turned towards the small gathering. A woman sitting a couple of seats to Igor’s right looked up and when her eye caught mine, a smile that was sweeter than sunshine itself spread across her face. She gestured for me to come and join in. Again, there was no decision to be made, my body was already approaching.
Now this may sound a bit odd, the body moving with a mind of its own, but I’ve actually put a great deal of time, energy and effort into what I call living ‘from the neck down’. That means I listen and trust the inherent voice of the body over the conditioned responses of the mind. Earlier in life, I had a classic, text book case of O.C.D. Learning to ignore the cacophony of worrisome thoughts and to rely upon the natural signals of the body to guide my life was a long, intense and extremely important journey.
I also have to say that learning to live from the neck down is NOT for the faint of heart, especially if there has been substantial trauma in early life. There is a reason the mind races and for me that reason was to pull attention away from the felt sense because it was too overwhelming to feel. It was a brilliant survival tactic as a child, but as an adult, it doesn’t work; it just adds fuel to an already painful fire.
In my mid forties, I picked up a book called ‘Open Focus Brain’ by Dr Les Fehmi and started sobbing when I read it. I’d spent a life time thinking something was terribly wrong with me both emotionally and physically. Externally, my body was in a tremendous amount of pain starting at the age of 19 for no apparent reason. Internally, I suffered from an early onset of hurt, rage and self-loathing that resulted in a 14 year long eating disorder that no one knew about. I spent decades looking for answers as to why I felt and acted the way I did. No matter what I tried though, no matter who I saw, I never found answers or relief. When I read ‘Open Focus Brain’, I was struck by a profound realization that helped me turn the corner forever. I learned that nothing was wrong with me, but something was amiss with the lens of perception through which I viewed life. It was not a personal problem, it was a perceptual one. The actual manner in which I was paying attention got skewed and my attention was stuck in an emergency mode. Living in chronic state of www.cialis5mgbestprice.com – information anxiety was the bi-product. I was completely unaware of any of this because since birth I was in critical alert and a crisis mode was the water I swam in.
As I learned to relax out of an emergency state of attending, I began to see I had never been in the present moment and the present moment is the only place true well-being resides. My whole life I had been narrowly focused upon a past and/or future that didn’t even exist. The more I learned to relax the way I was looking and the way I was listening, the more present I became. The more present I was, the more the whirlwind of negative thinking slowed down. Like the blades of a fan that appear to be a solid thing until they slow, I started to see there was a gap between each thought that had never been noticed before. I became intrigued by this silent gap and started to study it. The more I did, the larger the gap grew and the defense system of cyclical thinking that kept painful feelings at bay started to weaken.??
I began to realize that the physical pain the body had been in for over thirty years had actually been kept in place by the incessant thinking and stressful emotional states. My blessed body was screaming at me to listen to it instead of the spinning thoughts, begging me to come down, to come home into it, but in an emergency state with attention glued upon fearful mind chatter, that was impossible. The pain was not the enemy I had once thought it was, but my ally all along.
I learned to turn my attention again and again and again from the spinning mind to the felt sense of the body until I started to be able to feel what was happening below the neck. I also began to question everything and believed nothing the mind said. Thoughts would tell me I was sad or angry or depressed, but I forced myself to look beneath those definitions and found that those words were blanket labels given for a particular group of sensations. I found this to be true of all emotions and that emotions seemed dependent on stories about the past or future, but sensations always happened in present time!
The more I investigated like this, the more intense the sensations became. It became disarming and frightening, even though the physical and emotional pain I experienced lessened. The sensations were so intense at times, it felt as though I was having a heart or a panic attack. I was concerned enough about it that I went to my doctor, who luckily had had his own spiritual awakening process, and as I suspected, everything was just fine.
It was as if every cell in the body was finally given the space to be felt and this feeling registered in the mind as something terribly wrong. It felt as if the whole world were falling apart even though it was evident nothing in the immediate environment was being disturbed. This juxtaposition of the agitation felt in my inner world and the calm I witnessed in the outer world was very disconcerting. More than once I feared I was going crazy. The feelings started arising many times a day, and were so intense, if I did not stop whatever I was doing and become very still, everything I was engaged in would go awry. In the night time when I would lay down to sleep, in the mornings upon awakening or when I sat down to meditate, it’s as if the feelings knew somehow they were going to be given attention and would surge to the fore with the force of a hurricane.
For the first couple of years this was happening, I hardly slept. On the contrary, it felt like I was plugged into a 440 outlet most of the night. Sometimes my heart would beat so fast, it felt as if I might die right then and there! Despite all this, in the deepest part of my being, I knew that even though thoughts were making villains out of these feelings, they were not. Even though it was almost impossible to remember this when the feelings reached peak intensity, it seemed a teeny spark of trust gave me the courage to keep going, to keep feeling. And courage is exactly what it took to stop, to look and to keep surrendering to what I was feeling over and over and over again.
Very few people in my life understand what was and is happening to me. I found myself saying to the people closest to me, ‘I wish you could somehow feel what I’m going through’, but none of them could or can. I began to hide the experience because if it is spoken about, the feelings are perceived as a problem and then they seek to help or fix me. It was a heavy load to carry alone, but I saw no alternative. I did not need to be fixed. I just needed to be reminded, but I didn’t know of what. Even my teacher/friend at the time suggested that I ignore the feelings. Ha! That was like suggesting I sit in an icy, raging stream, my hands hanging onto rocks for dear life and pay attention to the empty sky and not the cold, rushing water. It just wasn’t possible.
So it was in my fifth year of this energetic experience that my body sat me down with Igor Kafayev in that courtyard at SAND. And the moment I started listening, he was talking about the energetic disturbances that can occur with awakening if one does not have proper counsel. The tears that flowed upon reading Dr. Fehmi’s ‘Open Focus Brain’ were set free again. Somebody finally understood what was happening to me.
Igor only talked for about ten minutes before we dispersed for dinner, but that was enough time to know that this meeting was divinely ordained. I sat there for awhile after everyone left and let what he had said sink in. Someone told me he was having a post-conference talk the next day, so decided to come back. No one really understood why Igor’s workshop was scheduled at the very end conference when most participants had already left and the event was being torn down. No one but me anyway. It was grace. I needed to see him again.
When Igor came into the room, my tears started falling and ran down my face for three solid hours. This was odd because I am not usually one for crying. Something else unusual happened as well. My body started thrashing about and twitching all on its own. It was weird and a little embarrassing, but I did not stop it. I was actually quite intrigued by it. Igor touched a bit upon what he had spoken about in the courtyard, but this talk addressed another subject. It did not matter though; I was acutely aware it was not his words I came to hear. I came for the sweetness and whatever was happening to my body.
When the talk was over I went up to him and pretty much lost it the way many people do when they’ve been carrying something terribly heavy and someone finally understands. ??“It’s been so intense for so long. I’ve been so scared.” I could not stop the tears.
Without hesitating, he wrapped me in his arms and whispered, “It’s okay now. It’s not what you think it is. It is grace.” He held me in that embrace until the wave of emotion settled some and then urged me to find a way to stay in touch. ??At the end of his talk, he had announced he was giving a week long retreat starting two days later not far from me. Because everything had gone so awry the two weeks prior to the conference in regards to the new crowd funding campaign and new video I was trying to launch, I had already made the decision to postpone both and take some time off. Now I knew why. I had no idea what the retreat was about; I just knew I was going. I later found out the theme was working with divine energies. How perfect.
I was given not only very practical tools to work with the intense felt sense I experienced, but was given a new perspective that allowed me to welcome rather than fear what was happening. I was not the only one who was deeply affected. The sweetness and grace of Igor’s presence and teachings were hugely transformative for many of the participants. Igor reeks of sweet humility and wants nothing more than to gently walk the people around him into the beautiful way he views life.
The things I learned at the retreat are too numerous to name, but I will leave you with a few thoughts. (I recommend coming to one of Igor’s retreats and seeing for yourself the myriad of benefits available by hanging out with this wise and wonderful being.) The first thing that amazed me was that Igor’s beautiful wife and two kids were with us the whole time. Never have I seen such joyful, shiny and present children. For me, if ever there is proof that someone is walking the talk, it is evidenced in the faces of his children. Indeed, these were the happiest I’ve seen.
There was a tangible sweetness at the retreat, in Igor, in his family and in the people that attended. There were many who had similar experiences to mine and Igor was able to instill in each of us the knowing that what we were experiencing was to be trusted, not feared. I knew all along I was feeling energy. I just didn’t know it was divine. It was Igor who helped me see this life-changing distinction. I had never know that flavor of love before. It occurred as reverence.
I could have used a month longer with Igor. There are still many, many days when I need to be reminded that the things I feel are friend and not foe. Deep down though, the part that knows it is all happening for and not to me, has grown. And the more I remember that whatever I feel is divinity in disguise and is there for the sole purpose of guiding me back to my own heart, the more I am willing to let everything be as it is.
Thank you, Igor Kafayev, for having made my path a more beautiful one to travel. ??Here is a short, beautiful documentary called ‘A Touch of Grace’from the retreat I attended. It is made by CAROLINE HARRISON, Director & Cinematographer.