Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Ecstasy of Belle

Sometime around ages 10-11, I spontaneously woke up to the fact that I AM not my body.

My clearest memory of this phenomenon is of standing in a childhood living room in Phoenix, Az. (I won't say "my" childhood living room because there were so many.) There were archways opposite each other at one end of that living room that led, on one side, to the dining room and, on the other side, to a hallway that led to the bedrooms and bathroom. Between those archways was my baby sister's crib.

Imagine standing in front of that crib a gawky kid in shorts and a stained, probably, t-shirt. She has a homemade haircut, short to keep gum out of it, and a wicked cowlick that makes a tuft of hair stick up in odd curls from the right side of the back of her head. She has two upper front teeth that are too big for her face, and freckles that out-pigment her Arizona tan. There she is, smelling like dirt in a living room with carpet so old it smells like wet dog and dead cockroach, holding her arms out in front of her looking at them as if they don't belong to her.

Doesn't strike the same spiritual image as, say, the Ecstasy of St. Theresa now does it?

But that's what I was doing, staring at my arms as if I were a driver and my eyes were the front windows of a car, and my legs were the tires and my arms were the car doors opened on either side of myself. I felt I was inhabiting my body only. Borrowing it. Driving it. And that one day, I would abandon it like the cars one finds stacked high in a junk yard. Up until that day, I was my body, or so I had assumed. I hadn't really thought about it. When I cut my finger, I cut myself. When my body was hungry, I was hungry. Until that day, it had never occurred to me that what happened to my body wasn't necessarily happening to Me. That Me was something more, something beyond my flesh and blood and bones and cowlick. Me was the energy that noticed it was inside this car, that noticed it was inside my body.

The funny thing is, I forgot about it. I had that "I'm not my body" sensation a few times during my childhood. And then it went away. And I never really thought about it again until I was several years into a conscious spiritual journey. Then I remembered it and realized that I was - had been all my life - a very spiritual person. I just didn't know that that was what I was experiencing – my spirit. Calling to me, to wake up and heed its needs.

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