Ah, so many things to record from my two days, even though I’d rather be watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy online. First, just a quick catalog of the events of the past two days:

– made 4 trips to/from San Francisco (35-40 miles each way)

– not a cloud in the sky on either day…just gorgeous weather

– started each day with a chai from the CIIS student cafe…I love that place

– got 5 hours of sleep last night, after a long phone call with my boyfriend who’s on a business trip right now on the East Coast

– Folsom Street Fair was going on today in SF, which caused some detours en route to Mission Street this morning, and another detour getting out of the city at the end of the day. I went with my intuition and found an alternate route for future reference!

– at certain times I felt like I was “not mystical enough” for my cohort of Music Healing students. I’ll try to describe this more later…

– I came home and sat on my balcony for awhile, laid down on my yoga mat and napped, and then pulled myself up to eat dinner before my weekly call with Lori, my Martha Beck Coach Training Buddy…potentially the subject of another post

– I bought a Tibetan singing bowl last night…subject of a separate post

Dream Keeping

I’ll start with the story of Ione’s dreamkeeping session yesterday afternoon and this morning. My overall review of her parts of the workshop were that the seemingly constant partner sharing exercises got laborious. There was not enough content to work from or guidance or whatever to provide a foundation for the sharing. I found myself just staring at people and smiling a lot, on both days. But there was an interesting revelation from yesterday to today. I noted my state of silence – both blankness in my mind and non-arrival of sounding from my vocal cords when we were asked to “give sound” to our dreams and memories. I just lay there silently. I wasn’t going to force a sound when there wasn’t one coming. I just listened. My “dream pod” mates had plenty of vocalizations, vivid images, memories of conversations they had about their dreams, and quite confident interpretations. I was silent. So when it came time to write a letter to our Dream Soul Guide, asking for guidance overnight in our dreaming, I wrote about silence. I asked for help in either filling the silence, or dealing with the fear that silence brings, with all of its unanswered questions hanging there. I wrote quite beautifully actually…

Dear Dream Soul Guide:

Help me discern how to fill the silence I have imposed on myself. My heart is filled with sound and music (being composed), but it waits in silence, as if for a prompt or permission from someone outside myself. Who is that person who will grant me permission? When is the moment when I will be receptive to a prompt?

Help me deal with the fear I am feeling in the meantime, with so many unanswered questions ahnging silently in waiting. Help me see these as beautiful decorations in my interior, things I should look at, touch, take care of, and not worry about showing to anyone until I invite them to enter my interior space.

With gratitude,


I closed that notebook yesterday at 5:00.

Banging on the Bowls

What happened after that: I stopped on my way home from class thinking I wanted to buy some floor lamps at Crate and Barrel for my studio. I didn’t like how they looked in real life, so I didn’t buy them. I ended up buying a set of mini shelves for my studio because they were bamboo, cute, and 50% off.

And I stopped at the Tibetan Arts store in downtown Menlo Park. There is a phenomenon in Menlo Park and Palo Alto where whenever a storefront is empty, these Tibetan Arts stores open up for a month at a time, selling traditional silk scarves, purses, jewelry, wall hangings, Buddha statues, and other Tibetan items. For our class on Tuesday, we were asked to bring Tibetan bells, singing bowls, or crystal bowls if we have them. I’ve only seen them sitting in yoga studios, and I’ve heard yoga teachers use them as the equivalent of a gong.

I walked into the store, deciding that it was karmic messaging that the store happened to be set up right now, when I’m in the market for a Tibetan singing bowl. I was the only customer. I smiled at the young, bearded Tibetan man at the front counter, and set off quite authoritatively on my mission to find the bowls. I saw several sets of bells sitting on the counters against the side wall of the store. I took my time reading the small cloth banners stamped with oddly translated quotes from the Dalai Lama. I considered buying one of them to hang in my studio, but decided it would make people feel guilty about their materialistic excesses. I didn’t need to make people feel more guilty right now.

Finally, I got to the bowls, which were sitting on a low coffee table in the center of the floor, towards the back half of the store. I picked up a wooden mallot that looked like a mini rolling pin, about the size and length of a hot dog. I started hitting each of the smallest bowls. I glanced at their bottoms, noticing they started at $38. A little more than I expected, but not bad. I focused on finding the one I liked. Most of them appeared to be made of tarnished brass. They were smooth, with a slightly flattened bottom and walls that curved slightly inward at the top, reminding me of Korean metal rice bowls that I’d been served at restaurants. They were not shiny, and the nicest sounding ones actually looked quite tarnished, black in some areas. I was banging away, making quite a chorus of sound, and very happy with myself, when the bearded man from the front counter approached me.

“You want me show you how make them sing?” he said, with a huge smile.

“Sure!” I said, not imagining what he could possibly show me that I wasn’t getting already.

He picked up one of the bowls, balanced it on the tips of all five fingers of his left hand, and held in his right hand directly over the top of the bowl the mallot. He began swiveling his right wrist, moving nothing else. It was like rubbing the rims of wine glasses, only he was doing it with the mallot. The way he had the bowl sitting on the tips of all five of his fingers made it look like he was invoking some kind of magic.

I was so embarrassed at my ignorance! But also grateful that he taught me the right way to play the bowls. I picked one out, after trying the new technique on all the bowls I had previously just banged.

I went home with a small bowl, a mallot, a small orange silk pillow, and a green silk pouch for all three. It is my reminder of HEALING ENERGY every time I look at it. Plus, it’s cute!

Not being “mystical enough”

At several points during this workshop, I felt like maybe I wasn’t “mystical enough” to engage in the conversation. Mainly this occurred during the dream sessions. Classmates were gushing passionately and quite articulately about their dream phenomena, speaking journalistically as if they were reporting on what they had for breakfast.

I wondered how many people felt like me, like they were missing the “woo woo spirituality gene” or something. Like after our three-minute chi gong exercise this morning, when we were asked to turn to a partner and reflect on what we had just experienced. I literally had nothing to say, other than, “I feel pretty good! Nice to get the breath moving and knees bending first thing in the morning!” Nothing more profound than that. I wondered if there was “more to it”…and if not, why we were taking the time to share our observations.

At lunch, I met Hilary, a British woman who told me she is transitioning out of her job as Dean of the Engineering School at Stanford, in order to pursue a PhD in Transpersonal Psychology and do this Music Healing certificate. I wondered how her work colleagues had taken this news. She claimed that EVERYONE – even her worst adversaries – had supported and encouraged and even valued her decision. It was disarmingly clear, according to her. I felt momentarily reassured that maybe if I found the courage to be truly, totally authentic and open about where I feel that I am in my heart of hearts, that something good could come of it, even in my life, my circle of clients right now. But it feels so scary and uncertain!

Stories like Hilary’s should be inspiring. And they are.

Then I made the mistake of calling my parents, who just returned home to Chicago after a dual-wedding trip to the East Coast. They were full of images and stories from their two adventures – one a family wedding and the other a friend’s. Wedding always do this to them – give them “future on the mind”. They started asking about the holidays, whether I would be bringing my boyfriend with me to Thanksgiving. I myself, before even calling them, was in a place of such discordant emotions in my gut after reading emails from my brother to my parents about the holiday weekend plans, emails I only got to read because my mom chose to Cc me on her replies.

I felt like I have been for so many years of my life – invisible and playing  a role of good daughter, good sister, someone who will give the appearance of happiness that others want to see. Knowing that this is what people expect of me – the people closest to me in my life – makes me UNhappy. Even if I am fundamentally in a place of happiness. It is always tinged with sadness. I know in my heart what my road to happiness is. It involves upsetting the people I love the most and who love me. Such is the bittersweet nature of life. In order to breathe life into something, occasionally other things must die. In my case, it’s expectations, desires of others, images created by my own, younger, innocent self.

I have no idea how to navigate the balance between the pain-tinged presence of these dichotomies throughout every stage of life. I don’t know who to talk to about the deep disappointment of parental dreams unrealized. I feel for these disappointments, and the level of acceptance that my parents have had to gently nudge themselves into.

I don’t want to die an unlived life. That’s all I know for sure.