Monique, as in “Unique”

A dear Facebook friend of mine recently shared her beautiful story of spiritual awakening over Facebook. Let me Anglicize her real name, Monica, by calling her “Monique” as in unique, because that is what she is — a unique person and friend. I wish to pay tribute to her through this blog.

I am sharing her story of awakening in the exact same wording of her wondrous storytelling. Here it is.

    Like a Phoenix … or just a Hummingbird

    In these days, I’m celebrating the anniversary of my second birth, which happened in March 2009. Yes, I’ve had the opportunity to be born again, and I’m really thankful for it. I invite you to celebrate it with me, and even if we don’t know each other very well, or maybe we don’t know each other at all, maybe something will resonate in you while reading it.

    As I wrote, it happened in March 2009. In that period of my life, I was very satisfied with my career. I had been working in theatres and TV for years, having a lot of fun and receiving awards as a performer and as a movement coach and trainer. I was working both in the fields of health and education, as an instructor and a practitioner, sometimes alone, sometimes beside my husband, a psychologist who was sharing with me interests in neurosciences, rehabilitation and body-mind-emotions-environment connections. I was pretty “famous” in my country, always happy to share my enthusiasm, experiences, and passions, always happy to learn again, and share, more and more and more… It seemed a kind of call, to me. And I was happy to respond to this call, a call about sharing and spreading around the benefits of certain approaches, methods, techniques I had experienced and studied, helpful both for achieving psychophysical health and improving peak performances. Following my call, I consecrated my life to the purpose of “integration”, or at least this was my thought and intent (in my opinion,“integration” means to realize our full potential in complete harmony with the world around).

    But something was missing, and was neither congruent, nor integrated, in my life. There were some conflicts in the relationship with my husband, so we decided to take a long break. Actually, it seemed at that time to be a definitive break, even if we were very friendly with each other, and very careful of our son, who was just a little child. It seemed right, to me, to invest fully in my career: I had just met a group of people who seemed to understand, finally, all the potential I could bring to a team, to their team, and following them, I started a journey that very soon revealed its dangerous nature.

    Within a few months I accepted a lot of compromises, cutting off a part of my spontaneous nature, cutting off my love for arts and theatre. I stopped dancing, suffocated my passion in working, experiencing new ways, and I started serving the cause of business, running after fame and money to nurture the organization in which I had became part… It seemed to me exciting, dazzled as I was by the mirage of great opportunities that would come soon. It lasted only a few months. But it was enough.

    One day, I was alone at home (my son, at that time 7 years old, was with his father) Image of Kuan Yin riding the Dragon.and I decided to come back to my practice of meditation and self listening that I had stopped because I was too busy. I felt like I was missing something important, something that was not clear, so I decided to take a break from my busy life, and lied down on the floor, just forgetting all my goals in business, and just listening to my heartbeat and breathing, like I used to do before my “woman-in-career”, or “business woman”, life. There was something deeply out of tune in my life, and I was wondering what it was.

    It happened after a few minutes. Listening to myself and following my breathing and my heartbeat again was enough to realize that I had been cheated by my own distorted ambition. I had become a seller of something that should have been my work, instead of being a person who lived her life and worked with passion. I was simply losing my soul.

    It was like a slap on my face that made me jump up from the floor. So I jumped up, and I did it too fast. I took a few steps, then, without any warning, I noticed that everything became black around me and that I was falling down, without any possibility to avoid it, without any control of my fall and of my body, while “something” was screaming with a scary “crescendo” in my head, which had become too light. Oh, sh…t!! My blood pressure… In a blink I was aware of something that was going wrong, really wrong in my system.

    I had a last thought for my son… and I felt sucked away, like I was literally shot away, towards the ceiling. Oh, what a surprise… so funny … no ceiling there, but only a dark, black tunnel with an incredibly bright light at the end! Oh, everything seemed to me really funny, yes, funny, because it seemed to me like I was in a high-speed-movie (that could be titled “My life in a blink, beyond space and time”)… Or at least in a beyond-space-and-time fast trailer, in which I could see and feel everything I’ve lived and experienced in my life.

    And then I felt myself suspended in a stunning light, made of all the brightest and in the same time softest colors that you could imagine… I cannot tell you that I was “seeing”, or “hearing’, or “sensing”, or “perceiving”, or “thinking”… it was more like receiving amazing, wonderful, awesome “impressions” affecting directly something truly essential in me, beyond the filter of my senses that meanwhile seemed to have become so clear… I can tell you that it was the most beautiful, amazing, intense, deep experience I’ve ever had in my existence. I was awake, I was aware, and I was present like I never had been before. Everything was so clear, and pure. I was so deeply aware of existing, finally, beyond the veils and filters of my habits, my beliefs, my goals, my thoughts, my needs, my wishes, my desires, my identity…in two words, my ego. And then, I had the clear feeling of having been on the right train, in my earthly life, but also to have taken the train in the wrong direction, in my last months on the planet where I was living. I was immersed in the purest beauty and bliss… and I felt that I’ve missed? …the only “real”, worthy thing.

    It was love.
    Immediately I was overwhelmed by an incredible wave of love, pure, deep, essential love, and I became aware that love, the love I’ve loved, was the only thing that really mattered in my life, and that could have really last forever. The love I’ve loved, the love I put in all the things I did before my “business woman period”, that love that does not expect any reward, because it is the reward itself. Then, suddenly, I felt sucked back.
    Back to . . . life?

    I opened my eyes, I noticed that I was on the floor, immediately I turned my attention to my heartbeat, and I felt again something really wrong. It was my heart. It was not beating. Instead of its beats, I could feel only something like very fast, furious, light flapping wings… like there was a hummingbird in my chest. It has a scientific name: fibrillation. Not good, I thought… Then I had the very funny experience (again…yes, probably I’m able to have a kind of “fun” in these situation, because I’m used to not taking myself too seriously) to feel my heart stop. No more flapping wings. No heartbeats. Nothing at all. I was there, totally incapable to move, just waiting for a heartbeat that wasn’t coming… for one…two…three seconds… Oh God… I’ve never thought that death would have taken time, at least some eternal seconds, after a heart stop… And so, stunned and astonished, I let go.

    Game over.

    Image of Kuan Yin's face in bliss.

    Kuan Yin – “Midnight Meditation”
    Sue Halstenberg, Artist

    Suddenly, everything seemed to shut off… and my consciousness turned into a bright spot floating in a kind of liquid, dark, soft velvet… warm and comfortable, like the most comfortable place in the world.

    I felt safe.
    I felt.
    Feeling awareness… Feeling presence… Feeling existence… Oneness.

    And love.
    Everlasting love.
    Beyond imagination.

    Then, what I remember is that I opened my eyes again, awaken up by a far away lonely heartbeat.

    My heart had started beating again, so slowly, I noticed. My head was hurting so much. But the memories of this journey were deeply impressed in my depth. In the depth of my heart, which was beating pretty normally now, I felt so grateful, so moved, so lucky. I felt that a second opportunity was given to me, the opportunity to get off the train and take it again, in the right direction. But everything has a cost. My brain at the beginning seemed not really happy of the lack of oxygen, and it took long time to regain my ability to control my perceptions, my body parts and my movements. Actually, according to the doctors, after this episode I should have been condemned to live under drugs for the rest of my life, but being a kind of wild cat, I have the incurable tendency to take care of myself in original ways, refusing any kind of drugs (not all medicines, only drugs because the idea of taking something that would change my brain chemistry seems to me very violent)… …and so I refused any medical treatment.

    But I didn’t give up. I thought and think that nothing happens without a reason, I think that our resources are more than we know, and I think also that there are many things that we don’t know at all (quoting Shakespeare: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” – Hamlet 1.5.167-8). So I started to apply my skills, my knowledge, my experiences, my enthusiasm, my trust and faith to my recovery process, like a pioneer, in order to find another way to come back to a full life, and to my passions.

    Apparently, this episode could have been the ruin of my life, and career. But, really, it was a wonderful turning point. It was the start of a new life, indeed, where I learned the difference between giving up and letting go, or surrender, too. I didn’t give up. I let go. By letting go, abandoning my ideas of what should have been “right” for me to do, I surrendered to that flow which wanted to drive me towards the accomplishment of my call. This flow brought me to a new start. It was a true, deep, complete healing. It was really a divine experience. Let go. Let God (quoting my friend who wrote it on his fb page, “Illusion”).
    It was integration, finally.

    The first sign of it, was a renewed relationship with my husband (and you can imagine how much it made our son happy…). Back together, we restarted to work together on rehabilitation, experiencing new ways. And I came back immediately to arts, to music, and dance. Because art is healing, art is life. I recovered almost all – but my memory… I’ve lost parts of it, with funny side effects like “where did I put this and that??”…

    And I started to work again, with even more love and passion than before. I learned so much from my recovery process, that it became a treasure of experience from which to draw, something worthy to share with other people, both colleagues and patients. It made the difference. It was finally an accomplishment, that made me able to respond to the call.

    And, dulcis in fundo, I started a new life free from useless worries, weights, frippery. No more fear to be judged. I obey to the call that rules my life, doesn’t matter if sometimes I look like a little, crazy, busy hummingbird.

    I think that everyone of us hears a “call” in life. Maybe call is not the right word for you; maybe it is more mission, or passion. Doesn’t matter which word you like more and you do want to use. If you are reading this note, if I shared it with you, or if I invited you to read it, or if you stepped into it, it’s because in some way we are connected. We have been, we are, or maybe we will be, in touch.

    Maybe it’s because I have been touched by something that you transmit, share and spread around you. Maybe by your art, maybe by your presence. Maybe because I’ve learned or I’m learning something from you. Or maybe only because it’s my pleasure to share this story.

    Anyway, I’ve experienced that, even in the worst situation, even if we are told (or we feel) that the game is over, or that there are no ways, or no hopes, there is a turning point that is waiting for us. There is something in us that is waiting for a change, or for a new life, sometimes very similar to our previous life, sometimes so much different from it that we cannot recognize ourselves. And I think that anyway we all are called to transmit and spread around our beauty, our strength, our light, our unique colors, our courage, our dreams, our passions, our determination, our resistance, our resilience, our adaptability, our flexibility, our ability to surrender, our capability to go ahead, our acceptance of changes… our stories, our experiences, our being, our heart. Our essence.
    We can give so much to each other. Just being present.

    Life seems to me sometimes a challenge, sometimes a very hard test, and always a precious gift, even if and when we don’t understand its meaning, its message, or which role and place we are taking in it. Maybe there is no “right” and “wrong”: there is experiences, and learning. Maybe we don’t need to be someone, even if we are; we don’t need to do something special, even if we do; we could discover that we are just called to smile, to enjoy beauty, to be grateful, to be a presence. Life flows, carrying us thought a journey, in order to make people resonate and vibrate with all our beautiful, unique, given and conquered gifts, human qualities and talents.

    I’m turning just 5, in my second life, and I feel joyful and light like a 5 years old child: nothing to defend, nothing to justify. Even if in my job I like to refer to a scientific, proven knowledge and background (physiology, psychology, psychophysiology, neurosciences, etc.), about my “life & death” experience I remain completely open, non-judgemental, and I don’t need any explanation.

    Quoting Rumi, “beyond the ideas of right and wrong there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to resonate with you, to be inspired by you, to learn from you, and to be with you in this journey.

Photograph of Monica.

Monique: Reborn, Transformed, and New

I posted a comment about her sharing at her Facebook page:

    That was a BEAUTIFUL life story episode you shared, Monique. It can’t be otherwise coming from the beautiful soul of its storyteller. I am curious about one thing: You have been hesitant or restrained about sharing so openly and freely before; what made you “break out” or “come out of the (spiritual) closet” at this point in time? It’s like asking: what finally caused the baby to come out of the womb?

    We seem to go through such a mystical awakening at one moment in our own unique life experiences and in our own individual way. I’ve had my share as a result of which the three things I used to value so highly early on in life as a result of my formative years — fame, power, and wealth — were one by one sloughed off from my value system. Then one day, the experience came and the human ego began its process of dying and fading away. I believe that that common experience of freedom from the human sense of self allows us to understand each other at a deep intuitive level beyond the confines of time and space.

    I feel you, dear Monique. To quote you quoting Rumi:

    Quoting Rumi, “beyond the ideas of right and wrong there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

    We met in that field. We are in THAT field. It is a wonderful “field of dreams.”

      a) Ms. Monique for album Facebook images used in this blog.
      b) Sue Halstenberg at (Fine Art America) and Mythic Imagination for the Kuan Yin images.

About Marc of Contemplative Pathways

Marc teaches contemplative meditation in the context of "contemporary mysticism" under the style of "Contemplative Pathways." His spiritual work is backed by a profound understanding of mystical teachings and the mystical life, that is rooted in fifty (50) years of personal study, practice and spiritual unfoldment (inner realization and spiritual experience).  In the course of his spiritual journey, he has received the gifts of mystical discernment and spiritual transmission. Marc has been conducting classes and meetings on contemporary mysticism and meditation at the San Francisco Bay Area for over fifteen years, usually in a classroom, lecture, seminar, workshop, online meeting, or group practice setting. He has facilitated study groups and workshops for centering/contemplative meditation practice meetings since the 1980s. Marc's teaching work meaningfully shifts consciousness in students through the process of spiritual transmission and mystical transformation.  He enables others to embark on the spiritual journey by understanding the Truth teaching and by living its principles in their daily lives. His methodology of instruction is divinely inspired and firmly rooted in pure, authentic mysticism.  Marc's approach to the subject of contemporary mysticism is essentially nondenominational, nonsectarian, culturally interfaith, transreligious, definitively unitive, and unequivocally nondualistic. Within the context of the great shift in consciousness presently occurring all over the planet, Marc’s work focuses on individual and collective spiritual instruction and transformation. He promotes the practice of contemplation or meditation as the vehicle for spiritual transcendence and ascension to the higher dimensions of mystical consciousness. His other contributions to worldwide spiritual awakening and the global contemplative movement include spiritual mentoring, spiritual direction, and spiritual healing work. Marc is firmly committed to the vision of a global spiritual awakening and the divine promise of humanity’s mystical illumination. His brand of mysticism is the only true contemporary mysticism born of 21st century illumination and spirituality.  
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