Call me a metaphysical person, but on the fringe…knowing there is more to life than work, wine and shopping, but unwilling to discuss my beliefs with anyone, except for a few of my hippie friends in my hometown of Santa Cruz, California. I am a closet meditator, always waiting for everyone to leave the house before quickly catching a 15 to 20 minute session of deep breathing and centering. See what I mean: Quickly meditating, an oxymoron.
I started a wonderful love/hate relationship with Hot Yoga about two years ago. I love how my practice has brought my clavicle out of hiding and helped me lose two of my three chins. I hate the intense heat and contorting my 52 year-old body into such pretzel shapes. I love the quiet and connection with my fellow Yogis, I hate holding postures for what seems like forever. I love the studio and their focus on spiritual growth, it is a safe haven where I can let my inner guru’s hair down out without the sounds of uproarious laughter.
Along with yoga, the studio sponsors meditation, classes, workshops, and services. Chakra Reading/Healings sounded interesting. I knew a bit about chakras, I worked with a woman in the early 70’s who blamed all her misfortunes on one of her seven chakras being blocked. So far in my life, I’ve had two divorces, many abodes, and several means of employment. With all that going one, I figured one of my energy centers has just got to be clogged. So, I decided to give it a whirl!
The 9:00 am appointment seemed early for enlightenment, however my healer, Suzanne, would be fresh and rested; I assumed chakra cleaning to be exhausting work. She opened the door, her calmness and the quietness of the room engulfed me instantly. Inside the tiny room about a dozen candle flames sparkled in the dimness.
After a quick introduction, she asked me to relax face down on the portable massage table; she laid her hands on my shoulders and lower back. I felt so safe and comfortable, nearly paralyzed in an envelope of peace.
“There is someone here for you.” Suzanne whispered as she continued to press circles into my spine. “She is standing at your left shoulder. I’m getting an old fashioned name…Ethel. Do you know an Ethel?”
My body started flopping like a hooked salmon yanked on to a hot fishing dock. Suzanne held her hands firmly to keep the spiritual connection and I am sure to keep the hinges on table legs from snapping. “Yes,” I stammered, “she is my grandma, my dad’s mom. They have both been gone for over 30 years.” I muffled through the face cradle. Suzanne kept pressure on my upper and lower back calmly holding me down. “Ethel is smiling and wants you to know she is always with you.”
After about an hour and lots of swirling motions around and on my body, Suzanne finally rested and said my chakras were now open, the right colors and I needed to quit procrastinating and ask my boss that pressing question (How did she know?). And that every important person in our life has been in our past lives and will continue to be in our future lives, they just take on different roles.
I heard what she said, however my head was still swimming with the presence of my Grandma Ethel. I never forgot my grandma, but I didn’t think too much about her either. After my session I went right home and found a photo of her taken just a few months before she died. She is standing in a red checked housedress in front of a huge Geranium plant with two zucchinis in her hand, her curly silver hair just so and face bright with a big smile. The photo, now framed, hangs over my desk; I introduce her to everyone who visits.
My grandma lived in a big house on the San Francisco Peninsula; we lived close, so we got to visit a lot. She was the kind of grandma that kept a clean coffee can in the garage so we could gather all the lizards and other crawlies we would find in her vegetable or flower gardens. She always said, “Just visit with them for a while and put them back where you found them. They need to go home and make dinner for their families.”
I used to love it when she would call me and run through all her other grandkids names until she came to mine, PattyTommyBobby – LeeAnn all one word. Then a loud “Oh hell, just come over here and give grandma a hug.” To make her laugh, I would call her Mabel, my other grandmother’s name.
Grandma Ethel was a tough, strong woman who outlived both her sons and two husbands. She loved a couple of cold cans of beer with dinner after a few shots of Jim Beam before. In our 22 year relationship, I only saw her cry twice, at my dad’s funeral and the day Lawrence Welk died.
Since that Saturday a few weeks ago, I have thought about my times with grandma and how she taught me so many wonderful life lessons. Lessons I hope I am passing on to my own grandchildren: Be kind, strong, and always thoughtful of others.
I can’t think of a better person to have at my left shoulder as I head out the door,
“Come on Grandma, let’s go.”