Just being.


I was telling Ross this morning that I think Claudia and I can really relate to each other.  Claudia, as you may or may not know, is our cat.
“We’re both anxious, impatient, and only children!” I said.
He looked at me with the sudden realization that he had, in fact, married a crazy cat lady.

But the funny thing is, I told him this while Claudia was curled up on my lap, getting her tiny forehead scratched.  She was utterly at peace, resting her chin on my arm, and even peeked one eye open at me for a few blissful seconds.  Her little face said, “this is exactly what I want.”


It was funny because, just a few moments earlier, Claudia was skittering around in her nervous morning way: Meowing urgently, scratching things she’s not supposed to scratch, biting us with just enough pressure to indicate, “I’m kind of playing, but I also kind of want MORE WET CAT FOOD DAMMIT.”
I could tell she didn’t know what she wanted, because she actually had everything — food, water, our attention — but that frenetic cat energy kept jerking through her.  It reminded me of myself.
On Saturday night, I went to see an energy work healer.  I had heard about her through a friend, who wrote me a few days ago to ask if I would ever be interested in a session.
“YES,” I wrote.
One thing I’ve debated about several times before is just how open I should be about my spiritual leanings on this blog.  That’s mostly because:
A) They’re a little all over the place.  Back in high school I was a very serious Christian for a couple of years, and while I’m not so much anymore, one thing that always stuck with me was “not picking and choosing parts of scripture that you like.”  Isn’t that funny?  I still have this hang-up about only getting into Buddhism for the meditation and attachment doctrines, for example.  I feel “bad” that these are my two genuinely favorite parts about Buddhism, and I totally picked them out from Buddhist scripture.  I’m slowly learning to realize that it is OK to study a variety of different spiritualities and faiths, to choose practices that really work for you, and just … live your life.

B) I’m worried it will scare people off.  You, for example.  Maybe you’re atheist.  Maybe you’re Christian.  Either way, I imagine you thinking: “Energy work? Freak,” and x-ing right out of this blog. But I think that’s alright, too. There are some parts of my life I’ll always keep private and sacred, others that I am moved to share.

And Saturday night was one of them.

So: back to my friend’s message. I texted the energy healer soon after, and set up our session.  After we sat down, I started telling her about my New Years Words.
“Well last year, it was openness,” I said, feeling that was definitely an energy healer-approved kind of word, “and this year, it is evolve,” thinking I had probably just blown her mind.
She just nodded then, smiling wisely.
“I should also tell you too that I’m a very easy cryer, so … just … FYI.”
She explained to me that people express all kinds of things during energy work and that tears weren’t good or bad, just a different form of energy. Which immediately put me at ease. Because tears can make things really weird, and I didn’t want to muck up our work together by obliging her to feel sorry for me. With that out of the way, I relaxed, and sank down into things a bit more.
It’s hard to describe what happened for the next hour, so I’ll just tell you the two things that struck me the most:
One. She immediately went to my stomach. Part of this woman’s energy work is identifying “blockages” in your body and then helping you release them. (If you’re into yoga at all you may be familiar with the concept of chakras; this is totally similar, if not identical.)


I mention this because I have had stomach issues for a REALLY long time. They became more frequent in grad school, but the problem may have even started earlier than that.  As you can imagine, energy work sessions are not so much “hmm, I see you have a gastro-intestinal disorder!” as a more mind-body-spirit thing.  The latter perspective is frequently written off in the West as super hippie (I know because I used to do the writing off), but in Chinese medicine, Indian medicine, and in many other parts of the world it’s not as bizarre to consider that maybe – maybe? – the reason you feel so bad could have something to do with forces not strictly corporeal.

Two. She told me my feminine energy was very depleted.

Now my mind was blown.  I wanted to say, “girl, did you not see the mascara I blotted all over this Kleenex?” but held my tongue, suspecting she might be referring to a deeper feminine something.  And indeed she was.

“When you told me about your word, ‘openness,’ it made me wonder if a lot – I mean a lot – of things had come into your life lately, and if it sometimes wasn’t a little overwhelming,” she said. I told her that was a zillion percent true.

I told her I couldn’t believe all of the good things I have in my life, and that also, I feel totally ungrateful when I’m not experiencing them to their fullest. I told her I felt tired all the time, and asked why is that, when I’ve got so many zingy projects, side jobs, hobbies, relationships, etc. to fill my day?

She gave me that same wise smile from earlier.

“You can keep your words, Tolly, but I want to give you a couple of new ones. They are: ‘just be.'”

“Just be?”

“‘Just. Be.'”

I am a doer by nature, so you can imagine how foreign a concept this is.  Just be?  Won’t I get bored?

Maybe.  But perhaps boredom isn’t so bad.


There’s one thing I’ve noticed in certain types of spiritual people: They are very good at “just being,” and also, they have lots of energy.

My cat Claudia and I are examples of the opposite: We are anxious doers, and we tend to drain ourselves very quickly.  She scratches furniture, I pull out hairs on the back of my neck, and neither activity satisfies us.

So I’m going to take my energy healer’s advice.  I’m going to keep “evolve,” but maybe not be so forceful about it.  Do I still have goals?  Yes.  Lots of them.  But I think now I can meet my goals in the middle, by letting them take their time, and helping them along when they need me.

(By the way.  The reason I didn’t go into extreme detail with the energy work itself is because as I understand it, it’s very tailored to each person.  I can tell you that mine involved meditation, and lots of smells … good smells!  It was exciting, and I’ll just be frank here, I totally loved it.  If you are into this kind of thing and if you live here in Austin, please feel free to contact me if you want more info about my gal.)