As a kid I had a secret. I don't know when this started but what I would do, laying in bed at night in the dark, is ask inside myself this question that seemed to come out of my body. The question was "who am I?" I discovered that when I felt the question come, and when I would ask it, there would ensue a sort of conversation between the question itself and my mind. Mind would answer based on names and identity traits and information I knew. "I'm Ginger", "I live in San Angelo", "My family is...", "I look like...", "I have...", In response to each of my answers, the question would keep asking. It was distinctly different from any other question I had ever asked or been asked because there was no judgement in it. There was just an invitation. There was a distinct body feel to the questioning. Intimacy. As I lay there, eyes closed in the dark, every answer about me being met with the same spacious question, I would sometimes come to a tipping point on which consciousness would go beyond everything I "knew". Like outer space but I was totally at home, expanded out of my sense of anything. I would wonder if I was dead but it didn't scare me. Utter peace. And then I'd sort of land back in gravity, confused but not, and fall asleep.
Life went on, we moved from San Angelo to Temple, my parents divorced, I started 3rd grade, made friends, I probably forgot about the question. In middle school I was aware that the Baptist Church was talking about salvation and God. I was good at following instructions and pleasing adults and I took to laying in my bed at night praying praying praying until I fell asleep. I was trying and reaching and asking their story of God for connection and I just got tired. Maybe I recognized something I had forgotten and was wondering where it was.
When I was probably 15, sitting in the passenger seat with my dad driving down Gen. Bruce Drive to the Walmart or somewhere for the 400th time, looking out the side window at mowed brown grass, a very distinct question spoke in my body - "God, is this all there is?!" But the question had a familiar, intimate tone, spoken so clearly inside me that I wasn't sure if it had broadcast into the car. I looked over at Dad but he just kept driving.
Our culture doesn't talk much about this stuff but we are starting to listen. I meet more people in recent years who are tuning into their body's information, this intimacy with life that might show up, and this helps me live more honestly than I could in the past. We are wired for social connection and we follow what others do until we have enough sense of our reality to start following our own inner messages, which I've heard referred to as "spiritual questions". They get our attention and they direct us back to ourselves. When we listen and allow, in that internally vulnerable way, what we eventually run up against is our beliefs - those readymade answers that are given to us by society, our families and our own minds as they've come to be conditioned.
Healing takes courage. It's not exactly comfortable to release beliefs so that we can find out what else, but that is exactly where the healing process will take us if we let it. It's up to each of us how and when we'll let it, so the process is unique for everyone. And we help each other find the courage when we share how unscary it actually is to move beyond beliefs. As a matter of experience, once a belief is disintegrated we can look back and realize just how fearful and limited our lives had been when the belief was running the show. And what I mean by beliefs running the show is believing a story that isn't true. When we are believing stories that aren't true, we wind up hunkering down and defending the story in some way and that divides us from what IS true. It could seem like an impossible or terrible proposition to let go of defended beliefs (or to find out just what it is we're believing that isn't true after all), but reality doesn't need us to believe in order to exist. Existence and reality are one, no defense or belief needed. I don't have a belief in sitting here, I'm just sitting here. I don't believe in breathing, I just breath. I don't believe in sleeping, I just sleep. Even though I didn't sleep much last night and I want to take a nap right now, I still don't have a belief in sleep. That would be silly. Who am I when I'm not believing a story about myself?
*photo credit: Body Intelligence Training, Brian Tierney, Instructor