Updated: Sep 10
"To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don't need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself."
~Thich Nhat Hanh
Have you ever been laughed at by the Buddha? I have. For over thirty minutes until I finally broke. Here's a lesson the Buddha shared with me about right effort, right thinking and ultimately belonging.
Like so many of us born and raised in the West, I had learned that I needed to prove my worth in all that I did- as a mom, as a wife, as a daughter, as a friend, and in my chosen profession as a healer. This way of thinking and being impacted me in a way that I was always "on". Meaning, I was always accessible to anyone who needed or wanted me. I worked late hours, I made sure all the tasks at home were done, I checked in with everyone and listened to their problems and met their needs to the best of my ability. I was also committed to my spiritual growth and evolution, and focused a lot of time and money on learning and growing so that I could be the best version of me always. Many times through this I felt like I was supposed to be closer to my goals or have achieved more. More of what though? Recognition, money, love, healing... fill in the blank. I didn't really know to be honest.
Along my journey to becoming a better healer (I am being sarcastic here), I took a breathwork facilitator training. I learned a two part Pranayama breath that is helpful for people to release stuck emotional pain and/or energy from their bodies, hearts, and minds. It helps to quiet monkey mind and brings you in touch with your own pure energy. It is a really powerful tool to help oneself to access and establish a deeper connection to their own inner guidance. Breathwork sessions can bring up and release many stored emotions, and sometimes ones you didn't know you were still holding onto.
Part of facilitator training is experiencing the beathwork several times for ourselves. Coming into this facilitator training, I had fancied myself as having done "a lot of work". While that statement wasn't totally incorrect, I hadn't fully grasped the totality of what karmic patterns actually are, the kind of healing necessary to begin to unwind out of some of our deeper patterns, and the possibility that we don't get to check healing off the list of things to accomplish. Whenever I hear someone say "I've done a lot of work" I smile at them with sincere loving compassion knowing that their journey is about to crack them wide open! I went into my third weekend of breathwork healer training feeling pretty confident that I was about to check HEALED off the box for this life so that I could be in service to others (Are you laughing yet? Buddha and I are!). My trainer decided to have us all breath as a group versus having us partner up so we could experience what it would be like to have a true group breathwork experience. I was excited for this! (Still laughing)
We were all laying comfortably on our mats, eyes closed, holding our grounding stones, and the music started. That is our cue to begin the rhythmic two part breath. I always experience resistance and some fear in the first few minutes. It's almost as if those old beliefs and patterns know that they are about to have a light shone on and through them until they soften and release. It's their last ditch effort to stay in control and hold onto their grasp. I felt and acknowledged the fear and resistance and just stayed committed to the rhythm of the breath. About five minutes in I could feel strong vibration throughout my body. All of a sudden I see in my mind's eye an image of Happy Buddha on the top of a mountain. He is laughing, and he's so cute that I begin laughing with him. Then he begins to point at me and laugh. I find this amusing and I'm still laughing with him. Song after song, Happy Buddha points at me and laughs. The deepest belly laugh I have ever heard and it's so infectious I can't help laughing with him. At some point I realize that Happy Buddha is actually laughing at me, and that was when I broke. Laughter turned into tears, and then I released a scream so loud the vibration I was experiencing made me feel like I was levitating and I began to sob, really sob. All the pain and frustration at trying to be good, trying to be the best everything, trying to just be.....
When the sobs subsided I glanced up at the mountain and Buddha was still there. He was no longer laughing. He was now looking at me with the most loving look I had ever been given. A look that communicated unconditional love, acceptance, and belonging. He looked me right in the eye and said "Just Shine". In a moment my life flashed before me like a movie, and how I'd been trying vs being. His loving glance brought me into the understanding of what it means to truly belong. There is no trying to belong, just belonging. Stop trying to shine, and just shine. I don't have to be anything other than me to be a good _______ fill in the blank. I am enough exactly where I'm at and how I am.
Happy Buddha illuminated a very deep karmic pattern of mine. It's one that is still dissolving, and one that I may not get to check off the list in this life. Or, maybe I will. I'm just happy that I know that anytime I feel the need to start proving anything it's a signal to me slow down, connect to my higher self, and just shine. It's enough for me to just be.