When I was a young girl, I could see energy and was often lost in the clouds of my imagination. My parents were research-scientists, and grounded in a worldview that meant if you couldn’t prove it, it didn’t exist! Later in life I have learned to see science only more as something that points to the great mystery of life. As a young girl, I did not know how to make sense of my experience of the unseen worlds.
When I was 18, I traveled to India to begin my spiritual journey. Later, I took a leave of absence from college to trek through Europe with nothing but a toothbrush, and a change of clothes.
Without knowing where I was going or the impact it would have on my life, I stumbled upon a place called Plum Village in the South of France in the middle of the night. My anxiety was high as I had taken a train all night into rural France, and had no clue where I was going, or even why. Except that my brother had told me it was a place I needed to go see.
You are home
The first thing I saw was a beautiful sign written in calligraphy that stated, “You have arrived. You are home.”
Plum Village is the residence of Thich Nhat Hanh, a renowned Buddhist monk who survived the Vietnam War and came to France as a refugee. Reverently known as “Thay,” he is renowned for bringing the practice of “mindfulness” to the West.
Thay taught Western practitioners how to bring the awareness of meditation, a focus on the present moment, to the practice of daily living, walking, eating and washing dishes.
My spiritual journey has gone through many incarnations, and taken me to many different places, but no matter what, I always come back to the breath, to the present moment, to what’s happening right now.
As a psychotherapist, it is my job to help my client’s dive deep into the pain of the past, but it is always with the goal of being a more awake, more alive individual in the here and now.
Anxiety, depression, and loneliness are a universal part of the human condition, as well as joy, beauty and love. There is no escape from suffering. When we try to run from it, we add to the suffering and pain.
We develop addictions, and other coping strategies to numb and it affects our ability to be in healthy relationships with others. Bringing conscious awareness to difficult life experiences, using the gift of mindfulness, the awareness that every breath is a precious gift, together we can journey to the shadow of the unconscious and heal the wounds of the past.