August in Arizona feels like the marrow is drying in your bones. Sitting, hour after hour at my computer I’d mindlessly scratch until my brain registered the scaly, raw, crust, raised beneath my fingers and I’d think, what is that? Patches of eczema exploded on my skin much like an unstoppable plague.
I’d been writing, rehashing deep emotional wounds that I thought I’d healed years before yet, for the first time in my life, my skin was screaming. I meditated to center myself and relax. I heard the familiar voice in my mind say, find an Ashram near you and go for a visit. I googled “Ashram” and found one an hour’s drive from my home and after calling and explaining my plight, was invited to attend Satsang and then stay the night.
When I arrived I was greeted by a small, slender, man who was soft spoken and humble wearing bohemian clothing and glasses that were too large for his narrow face.
“Would you like a tour of the facility?” he asked.
“Yes, please. I don’t mean to sound ignorant but I’ve never been to an Ashram and don’t really know what happens here or exactly what Satsang means. Can you tell me?"
The main room was large and open and on the farthest wall a throne like chair sat perched on a platform with a microphone on a stand beside it. About ten feet away from that, were several rows of plain medal folding chairs, arranged in a semi-circle and five feet behind them was a four foot high plexi-glass barrier behind which, another microphone and a dozen plush recliners sat.
Pictures of Gurus in simple wooden frames, both past and present, hung above a rickety bookcase that leaned tiredly against the wall. I sat on a folding chair at the back of the room waiting to meet the Guru when suddenly, a very tall woman shaved nearly bald entered. I recognized her as the Guru from a photo on the Ashrams website.
No pleasantries were exchanged and instead I was instructed to follow the Guru downstairs into a basement that was both cool and dank. Movies lined the walls in every title imaginable.
The Guru glanced at me and said, “When you see a movie you are drawn to, tell me. I find that movies can have powerful teachings in them.”
I followed silently feeling a little overwhelmed. Several momentspassed and I didn't feel drawn to anything. The Guru turned to me and asked, “Is there nothing you feel drawn to?”
“Not yet.” I said.
Abruptly, the Guru said, “I have to go, I have an appointment. I’ll return for Satsang this evening.” and with that she was gone. I was stunned. Have I offended her? I wondered. What just happened?
I went back upstairs empty handed and was met again by the intern who said,
“Satsang isn't until seven so until then we can have dinner and then perhaps you would enjoy a hot bath in Sea Salts?”
“That would be great,” I said smiling, trying to let go of the idea that I’d just done something wrong. After dinner the house phone rang,
“Hello,” my companion said. “Yes, yes, I’ll take care of it. I understand,” he said and hung up the phone.
With a look of apology he said, “That was Guru. I’m afraid you can’t stay the night and you will have to leave before Guru returns. She has had to have an emergency Chiropractor appointment because you have so much fear in your energy that you've knocked her out of balance.”
“Wow, you’re kidding,” I said as shame and embarrassment blossomed.
Gathering my things I thanked him, we hugged and I left baffled.
A few days later I realized that yes, I still had fear because of my past and writing awakened it. I became conscious that the physical layout of the sanctuary was symbolic of the emotional room I’d built within myself which had only created the illusion of healing. In truth I had distanced myself emotionally from a traumatic experience by building an internal “throne” and carefully insulating myself but never really healing as I’d believed. My inner-self was a replica of the Ashram sanctuary.
The Guru being “knocked off center” was what I experienced during my writing process, manifesting itself through bouts of eczema, interrupted sleep patterns, and disturbing dreams. I’d been guided in meditation to peer into a giant fun-house mirror in an opportunity to see myself in a different way!
Sometimes when we have drama we need to find blame with others or criticize ourselves which keeps us from finding a deeper meaning. Life is full of mirrors and opportunities to see our experiences differently. I've learned that things aren't always what they appear to be, usually there is something more if we choose to look.