Mary Ruth Velicki MS, DPT
Sometimes our attachment to the everyday mindset is loosened, and in this state, new and expanded perceptions of ourselves and our world can flow in. For some people, this shift in consciousness happens subtly and gradually. For others, it happens suddenly, and they can describe the moment when they woke up. What follows is an example of a shift in consciousness, which happened for me in the peak of suffering.
The pelvic pain had been bearing down on me for two months. During that time, I’d traveled throughout Europe, battled a severe bout of the flu, and lost my father. Then, suddenly, for the first time since the pain began, the activity stopped and I was alone. Alex [my husband] was gone on a two-week business trip in Germany, and I Iacked a support network beyond him. The pain rose higher and higher, and it wouldn’t let me sleep. I would lie in bed with my pulse pounding in my ears, and when I’d finally doze off, the pain would rouse me from a dead sleep with an intensity that terrified me. I was handling everything I needed to do for my kids by myself, but the pain was taking a toll.
One night, after dropping off Katherine [my daughter] at a friend’s house, I stopped at a red light and gazed numbly at a landscape cast only in shades of gray. Sitting there in the car watching the cars go by and the people scurrying about, I felt like I was looking at a world I no longer inhabited. It all seemed superficial and unreal.
That same night, I started reading The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. My brother had given me the book one Christmas, and it had been collecting dust on the shelf above my bed for a couple of years. I’d tried reading it once before but didn’t get past the introduction, in which the author describes how he came to the realization that he was more than his body and mind. At the time, I’d concluded that the writer, who had suffered severe depression prior to this experience, had diminished activity in the frontal lobes of his brain and had activated other parts of his brain in response to this stress. In my view, his new perceptions were neatly categorized but completely suspect, so I’d shut the book. Despite this earlier skepticism, at the end of that dark day during the second month of the pain, I found myself reading The Power of Now.
The first chapter discusses the idea that we are more than the activity of our minds. The author invites the reader to tune in to his or her inner dialogue and to recognize that underneath all that chatter there is more. I was well aware of this inner dialogue; mine was incessant and often negative. That night, as I concentrated on moving beneath all that internal noise, I suddenly felt fullness in my heart and an electric wave flow from my heart all the way to my fingers and toes.
The next night, once again, the pain was heavy on me and I lay in bed crying. I called out to my deceased parents, “If there is any way you can help me, now would be a good time.” I thought about my dad, and a little tingling when through my body. Then, I thought about my mom, and wave after wave of electric energy passed from the top of my head through my body and out my fingers and toes. After the fifth time, I started to laugh and said out loud, “Okay, okay! I get that you loved me.”
In the past, I would have written off these experiences as a neural pathway in overdrive because of the pain. But it was different this time. I just knew that even if my body were consumed with pain and illness and even if my mind suffered from major depression, a deeper part of me, my spirit, would never die. In that moment, I also knew that when I felt I had nowhere else to turn, there was always more within. That night, a scary experience turned into something exciting, and my predictable life turned into a journey full of potential.
More than ten years have passed since that experience. Now, I can see that up to that point, I had been living a more constricted version of myself. I had been locked into the patterns of trauma that I held both at a body level and a mind level. After forty-five years of living in that double-bind, one might expect that this would be my experience for the rest of my life. But on that desperate night, I reconnected with Spirit, and my healing journey began.
From that time on, I had hope and faith that there was more to my experience than the very real suffering I was enduring. I felt more empowered, and I began working diligently to heal. The journey was often difficult and painful, and I had to allow the changes to happen. But from that point on, there was movement in a positive direction. People came into my life, and information flowed in, and I was able to recognize and receive this loving guidance.
When I consider this event with my present level of awareness, it seems like I made a choice on a soul level to allow this spiritual connection and to begin the healing process. Suffering stopped me in my tracks, challenged me, and gave me a choice. I could stay closed, or I could take the leap and allow myself to receive love—from myself, from others, and from Spirit. I had never considered that this type of help was out there or that it would be given. But when I opened up to the possibility, I found that there was more comfort, wisdom, and guidance within me and around me than I had ever known.