By the time I was in my late twenties, it appeared that I had it all. I had achieved all of the trappings of conventional success. I was married, I had earned my Ph.D., was financially comfortable, and traveled often. However, deep within, I felt a haunting sense of incompletion. It was a pervasive longing for something I couldn’t name.
Then, one cold February day, when I was twenty-eight and attending a professional workshop, everything changed. I had a number of life-changing experiences that pierced the core of my being. This day unleashed life energy that had been locked up. Although I couldn’t quite yet put it into words, I knew that I had found what I had been longing for.
Early in the workshop, a fellow participant named Joe asked if he could do an exercise with me. I agreed. A group of us sat in chairs in a circle and Joe sat close to me, facing me straight on. He began saying to me, “Lynda you are beautiful.” Immediately, I said, “NO, I am not.” He repeated, “Lynda you are beautiful.” I adamantly shook my head “No!” He continued to tell me that I was beautiful a few more times and each time I resisted with one excuse or another. Finally, in a very clear and direct tone, he said, “Lynda, if you have to put your hands over your mouth to keep yourself from reacting negatively to my words, do so.” He took a breath and the room, all of a sudden, felt very silent. I put my two hands over my mouth and once again he uttered, “Lynda you are beautiful.” This time, I heard him. I had let him in. I felt like his voice was the first drop of sweet water I had allowed into my inner well in quite some time, or possibly, ever. In this sacred moment, the walls that I had built came down. While these walls were built to protect myself, this experience showed me that they were keeping out everything that was good, sweet, and nourishing, in addition to the bad. I told the group that if I built these walls, I could take them down.
The rest of the day brought additional experiences that continued to make me so very aware of the disservice my “walls” were doing me. I understood that living in a freer and less guarded place was what I had been longing for. The intense feelings of energy, love, and vulnerability that I felt that day were more like “real life” than the life I had been living despite all of my success.
Of course I wasn’t instantly transformed by my experience, but I got a taste of what it felt like to live a life with healthy boundaries instead of impenetrable walls. To live each day in this freer place would require further exploration, practice and commitment. I committed myself to doing whatever it would take to return to the powerful place I discovered that wintery February day.
After years of studying and training with many different teachers, I found my way. Subsequently, I have been able to help many others, both personally and professionally.
From the eyes of today, what I had been longing for and discovered, I would now call that indestructible place within us LOVE. Discovering love is nothing less than life-changing!
My inheritance was particular, specially limited and limiting, my birthright was vast, connecting me to all that lives, and to everyone, forever. But one cannot claim the birthright without accepting the inheritance.
— James Baldwin