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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual’

Invisibility

Posted by Amanda Gray on August 6, 2015

I’ve been invisible.  It’s not as cool as you might think; like Harry Potter and his Cloak of Invisibility, sneaking around, spying on secret conversations.  No, it’s not like that.

First of all, I don’t know when I’ve gone invisible.  Everything is normal in my experience.  I only know I’m invisible through the consequences of not being seen by others. Like, for example, nearly getting run over in the middle of the street.  And, before you ask, no, it’s not like the driver was just distracted.  I have observed cars driving by me, with multiple occupants, none of whom were seeing me – and literally, looking beyond me – as if I wasn’t there.  It’s pretty unmistakable, and I’ve encountered it more than once.  There was a period of time, in fact, where it was happening rather regularly.  Until I decided I didn’t like almost being killed in the street, and then those particular occurrences stopped.

I bring this up today because I’m seeing a common thread of this ‘invisibility’ issue in my consciousness.  Fifteen years ago, just before I started on my spiritual journey, I had been a mad seeker of fame.  A sudden epiphany led me to realize that this seeking was due to feeling invisible and needing others, not just 1 or 2 others, but the whole world of others to pay attention to me, to recognize me as being special.  I thought that when I was famous, I would feel special, and therefore, loved.  I’ve had many years now to look at this prior seeking behaviour, and I thought I was done with it.

Bond_Faceless_ProfileYet, now I see it’s come up again, in a seemingly different way.  In the past couple of months, I’ve become completely, obsessively, boy crazy!  It started with a surge of desire, perhaps energy in the root chakra that I was rejecting over the past 10 years that I’ve been practicing celibacy, but, whatever the case, it came on in such a torrent, that I couldn’t resist it.  I decided not to judge the desire, and went with it.  The desire wanted sex, so I went after sex.  There was a fellow at work, who I fixated upon at first, but when it became apparent that he was in a sound relationship, I joined the dating app, Tinder.  I chatted with a few guys, went on a few dates.  While my intentions were clearly sexual, I didn’t feel right about the ‘hook up’ thing.  When sex was offered too quickly, I rejected it.  Anyway, two months later, several first dates, a smattering of second dates, and joining a second dating app, OKCupid, alas, I’ve still not found the right person/moment to have sex.  The desires have diminished somewhat over that time.  I’m still interested, but it’s not as overwhelming as it was at first.  Now, I can take or or leave it.  Yet, I’m still boy crazy – ogling cute boys everywhere I go and flirting aggressively anytime I catch an eye.  I want their attention so badly, I’m like a wounded beast on fire, begging them to help me, “Please, put out my flames!”

And yet, they don’t… won’t… can’t.  There’s been interest from many corners of the Tinder-verse and OKC-land, but the interest seems to fade fast.  Young men who express interest in an ‘older woman’ cancel our first dates, or stand me up (and by young, I mean 25).  Men closer to my age drift before we get to a second date. By ‘drift’, I mean that I assume they’re finding someone younger and cuter, although actual feedback, when I’ve asked, assures me they’re still interested.  Perhaps interested enough to keep me hanging on as ‘backup’ but not interested enough to become more involved.  Whatever the case, I’m clearly not getting what I want, so I have to ask why that is.  Is my overweening desire blocking the actual fulfilment of it?

I recognize that my activities have been motivated by some crazy ego thing.  I was thinking that I was addicted to the attention – the attempt at specialness through the ‘getting’ of a boyfriend.  Yeah, that’s probably in there.  But today, I also realized that there’s a tremendous amount of fear behind this seeking.  What am I afraid of?  Well, I feel lonely.  So I’m afraid of being alone.  When no one is paying attention to me, I feel alone, empty.  The feeling of loneliness is like a burning in my heart – sooooo uncomfortable – so I make any attempt I can to distract myself and avoid it!  There’s a feeling of ‘desperation’ in there too.  For example, I’m desperately grasping for the attention of anyone who passes by my desk at work.  If these people don’t stop to talk to me, then what?  Why is that a problem?  Could it be that I’m desperate for them to SEE ME?  What if it’s, literally, that I need them to SEE ME, because I still fear being ‘invisible’?

A Course in Miracles says that the body doesn’t truly exist in the moment, it’s only ever an image that’s remembered or projected.  It only exists in the past or the future, and requires a belief in time  to extend or manufacture it.  So, I have to be telling myself some kind of story about it, believing the body and it’s story is useful to me in some manner.  Yeah, to attract a boy (really, don’t get me wrong, I mean a MAN, of course) and have SEX before I’m too old and nobody wants me anymore!  I have to say, it’s not entirely about sex either, I’m also VERY interested in CUDDLES.  Some men have offered cuddles and THAT, for whatever reason, completely blows a gasket in my brain-basket!  I WANT CUDDLES!!!  I’ve gotten some cuddles, on a few EPIC first dates, and some lovely kisses, but there’s never ENOUGH – and I WANT MORE!!  ARGHHHHH!!  And, there’s also love.  Where does love fit into this?  I want to give and receive love.  UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

Anyway, it’s all very curious, and, as usual, I don’t have any answers.  It’ll bother me until I let go of the attachments, and then it won’t.  Eventually, I’ll see through whatever bullshit is making me a crazy, obsessive monster.  Such is the way.

Posted in Sex & the Body | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Invisibility

Follow the White Rabbit

Posted by Amanda Gray on August 13, 2013

So I finally have the job situation I always dreamed about – working 3 days a week, at something generally enjoyable (customer service) – and having 4 days off – to do whatever I want.  Yes, I finally have the perfect work/life balance situation… but what have I done with my 4 days off every week for the past 2 months?  Nothing.  All inspiration has completely dried up!

So, my left brain has done what it’s always done: tried to fill the perceived lack.  It frantically sought for an activity to inspire and fill my free time.  First, I thought I’d make another short film, but I couldn’t come up with any interesting ideas.  So then I looked to the past: I bought a book and downloaded some software, hoping to resurrect my computer programming skills from 13 years ago.  Yet, the ambition has been sporadic.  I dug out my cooking books from when I was a professional pastry cook 19 years ago.  I examined the recipes, thinking that I might rent a kitchen and make some cakes to sell.  But that ambition dried up too.

Then I was invited to guest teach a drama class at the local school.  Again I picked a few books from the bookshelf, dusted them off, and resurrected my professional acting skills from 21 years ago.

The day I spent with the kids was amazing.  First, I spent a couple of hours trying, with difficulty, to motivate, a very unmotivated, group of teenagers.  I did my best, and enjoyed the experience with them, for what it was.  Still, at that point, when I might have felt disappointed with the outcome, I was asked to present my acting exercises again with a larger group of, far more motivated and energetic, junior high kids.  Later, when I considered the two, highly contrasting, experiences, I could see how the aperture of life – energy, experimentation, and joy – that the younger group displayed with abundance, can close down in our teen years – just as we start to feel self-conscious and begin to judge ourselves (and everything else).

I can now see how the teenage period of life can magnify a fear of expressing.  For most, it’s a fear of judgement, or rejection by others.  What if I say the wrong thing?  What if I hurt someone’s feelings?  What if they misunderstand me?  And mostly, in my life, I’ve preempted my self expression right off the bat – just blocked it, entirely.  When I look within, I find nothing… just a solid black wall… so I believe that I have nothing important or valuable to express.  As I became habitual in my disregard for my own creative imagination, and established a belief in creative poverty, I spent my life searching for a specific form (i.e. “acting”) that could restore it.  Always regurgitating someone else’s ideas and words, yet desperately wanting to create something unique – and express my true self.  Yet, I felt that I couldn’t: What can I say if I don’t have anything to say?  On the other hand, if I don’t value my own ideas, who will?

– Now I see why I developed a major migraine at the monastery last year when I was helping to paint the tipi.  I became sick as a denial of my creative expression.

– Now I see why I couldn’t stay to participate in the Strawberry Fields Music Festival.  Because I was jealous of the ones who could openly express themselves.

– Now I see why I had to meet Ben when I went to San Francisco.  He’s FULL ON expression, all the time!  And because I could see my greatest desire in him – to express without fear – I loved him and was able to join with him in the spirit of that love.

Furthermore, as I’ve continued to inquire into my desire to express, I’ve used the population at large as an experiment group.  One day, my question was: How honest can I really be with my customers at work?  All day long, I allowed myself to say whatever was on my mind – even if it was, in my opinion, rather rude, and, in the past, I would’ve censored it.  Surprisingly, I learned that people could take all kinds of honesty – and even seemed to appreciate it – as long as it was said with an attitude of humour, a tease, or a wink-wink, nudge-nudge.  Then, it didn’t come across as rude, it was funny instead, and a shared ‘truth-joke’ between us.  My experiment failed only when my statements were fuelled with a sour attitude, a judgement of the other person, or anger used to defend and attack.  Then I was belittling, or patronizing, and it was no fun at all.  I judged myself most harshly when I made the mistake, felt horribly guilty, and expected to be punished.  I wasn’t punished, thank God, but I had to move quickly into forgiveness to restore the situation, and I learned that no one is ever fooled with the underlying intention – particularly myself.  Acting shmackting!

And I started to ask: what does it really mean to express myself?  Does it require a particular form?  If I’m walking, talking, moving, thinking, drawing, singing, working, doing dishes or shovelling shit – am I not always expressing myself???  I listened to an Adyashanti radio show where Mukti (his wife, also a spiritual teacher) said, “We meditate to express ourselves.”  I had never thought of meditation in this way before!  Could I be ‘expressing myself’ in meditation?  Well… not if it’s only FEAR that’s allowed!  That’s the nothing – the black wall – that I’ve experienced within.  I’ve been afraid of myself!!!  I’m blocking myself!!!  From what I really want!!!  ARRRRRGH!!!

– Now I see why I kept manifesting painful pimples around my mouth.  I felt guilty that I wasn’t participating in the ego story: that I be an actor (or artist, or rock star, etc.) – and then I’ll be great and famous – and then people will love me – and then I’ll feel loved and be happy.  I was fixated on a particular and preferred, but also very limited, ‘form’ of expression – and when I participated in activities that haven’t perfectly matched that form, I felt guilty and punished myself with pimples.  I felt envious of the creative expression of others (also in particular forms)… and punished myself with pimples.  The bottom line, of course, is that I’ve been denying expression that could’ve been going on all the time, regardless of form.  Also, I’ve been more interested in ‘getting’ a particular outcome (ultimately, love) than I’ve been in the expression itself.  Which – paradoxically – can only come from a natural extension of our truth – being LOVE.  Haha!  Twisted!

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What if… I open my mind… and remove all limited ideas of a particular form or activity for my life?  What if I allow my burning desire to express, allow it to arise from the depths of my guts, and ask it how IT wants to move?  In THIS moment?

What if I follow the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole?

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Reversing Effect & Cause – INTERACTIVE Video

Posted by Amanda Gray on March 22, 2013

Here’s my latest video creation – an INTERACTIVE video.  YOU choose how you want the story to go!

I began with an interest in exploring cause and effect ideas from A Course in Miracles.  It was, simply, the topic that was showing up with the inspiration for a film.  I also wanted the project to be light, fun and easy to video.  The interactive aspect arose because I’ve always loved old school text adventure games, like Zork, and  the next generation graphic interface games, such as Myst.  For EVER, I’ve wanted to create something along those lines.

In my last post, I said that the project encompassed more sides of my abilities than I ever thought possible.   The plot, acting, filming, editing… sure… but then, as the simple 4 part story expanded to 22 parts (ACK!), I referred to my past programming experience to flow chart the scenes.  It’s been a long time since I put on my programmers thinking cap!  But it was SO MUCH FUN!  I forgot how much I love solving logic problems!

I don’t claim to have ‘figured out’ the ACIM passages I contemplated for the film.  I looked long and hard at:

  • Chapter 2: The Separation and the Atonement, VII. Cause and Effect, and
  • Chapter 28: the Undoing of Fear, II. Reversing Effect and Cause

I got a few extra tips from David Hoffmeister and Adyashanti along the way too.  (I love how the dream witnesses to whatever’s bouncing around in consciousness.  It was apropos for the project, that’s for sure!)

As far as I can understand the theory:  the ego view is that there’s something that happens out in the world that’s interpreted as a ’cause’, and then a correlating reaction – emotions, thoughts, etc. –  that would be the ‘effect’.  Reversing the ego viewpoint for the Holy Spirit view would recognize the ’cause’ as the MIND (fear thoughts or love thoughts) and the ‘effect’ as the witness (to fear or love) that’s projected out to the world.   So this is the understanding I worked with in the film.

The Course also says:

Actually, ‘Cause’ is a term properly belonging to God, and His ‘Effect’ is His Son. 

This is, currently, outside of my experience.  I include this quote in the film, because it’s such a clear, absolute statement, and somewhat startling to the ego, but I doubt one could develop much of a story around it.   That, or it would be a very different film from the one I made.  Haha!

So, here it is!  Click the link below, watch, click your choices in each section, and enjoy the journey!  (And keep an eye out for the hidden Easter egg too!)

Oh, one other thing – you can’t use the links from your tablet or phone – they only work on your PC or laptop. Sorry!

http://youtu.be/bHJe0IXS9Yw

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Spiritual Teachers: The Ojibway

Posted by Amanda Gray on November 30, 2011

(See Spiritual Teachers: Marc Baur for Part 1 of this series.)

On May 28, 2001, I moved from Vancouver to a small town in Ontario to live with my boyfriend.  We had lived together in Edmonton, before he moved to Ontario for work, and I moved to British Columbia to pursue my acting career.  Our relationship in Edmonton was marked with frequent and vicious arguments, but as we became a long distance couple, we became more loving and appreciative.  In our case, distance did make the heart grow fonder, yet eventually, we had to find out if we could survive in close quarters with each other again.  Would we get married?  Buy a house?  Have children?  Anything seemed possible.  Most importantly, we were both willing to try.

The kicker was that I had, unknowingly, developed a major clinical depression.  Although a small part of me hoped that true happiness was within the secure embrace of my boyfriend’s arms, my subconscious mind was trapped in a deep well of despair and – if you’d asked me then, I would’ve denied it – I really only wanted to close my eyes and sleep, like Sleeping Beauty, for a thousand years.  Stop the world, I’m getting off.  To disappear off the face of existence, that’s what I really wanted.

The most distinctive attribute of my depression was that it robbed me of energy.  Even a smile was a chore and required too much.  While I perfectly expected to sink into a lethargic pile of sludge on the futon for the rest of my days, life had other plans for me.  An opportunity arose for a ‘dream job’ as the reporter for the town newspaper.  I weighed the pros and cons, and against what may have been better judgement, I took the job.  Imagine the difficulty of attending every social event with a smile on my face, asking bright and brilliant questions like a fluttering butterfly, and putting together, at least, 5 fascinating and provocative articles every week, when I had little, or no, physical energy to do it.  It didn’t take long before I felt like I was becoming a farce.  A freaky fake that pasted on a smile when, just under the surface, not deep enough to be hidden from anyone with common sense, a grievous tornado of suffocation whirled.

I finally saw the doctor with a list of fifteen or twenty physical symptoms that I’d been experiencing.  He, very stupidly, told me that I needed to make some friends.  What did he think I was doing as the town reporter?  That day was the lowest point.  Contrary to my physical lethargy, my mind often raced, trying to figure out what I could do to fix my life.   But if the doctor couldn’t help me… maybe my life couldn’t be fixed… maybe I was better off dead.  As depressed and hopeless as I was, that wasn’t an option I’d seriously entertain.  So, like a zombie, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.

That was when my reporting job offered me an opportunity to participate in an Ojibway pow-wow.  I met an aboriginal man named Marcel, who was one of the funniest, most energetically generous people I’d ever met.  The whole tribe was welcoming and gentle and they encouraged me and the attending group of high school students to dance in the pow-wow with them.  As a reporter, I was used to watching from the sidelines, and was comfortable with the chance to rest before I put my ‘smiley face’ back on, but something made me stow my camera under my chair, and join the dancing that day.  The drums pounded, the jingle dresses jingled, aboriginal voices sang loud enough to rumble the rain clouds in the sky.  My body moved, but I was disengaged, I felt nothing.  I was disappointed and confused by the experience.  Yet, it opened the door for another invitation from the Ojibway band.

I’d given my notice to quit at the newspaper, but there were still a few jobs I had to finish up.  First I had to interview Ra McGuire from the band Trooper and get an article into the paper before they played at the town street dance.  I’d always enjoyed their music and I was thrilled to talk to someone of his fame and stature.  Ra was generous and considerate, even when I made the mistake of attributing “Boys in the Bright White Sports Car” to them.  DOH!  I had just hung up the phone with Ra, feeling rather cock-sure of myself, when it rang again.  Marcel invited me to a sweat lodge.  Wow!  Another exiting experience!  Sure, OK!

I had no idea what a sweat lodge entailed, and I was very tempted to chicken out, but the new reporter, Shauna, had agreed to go with me, and her enthusiasm gave me an extra boost of courage.  Shauna and I met at a restaurant to have some wings before we drove out to the forest location.  While we ate, we chatted with the bartender, Dan, who had done a sweat lodge before, and he offered, what I later considered, to be a lifesaving tip: he advised that when the heat felt too intense, stay still.

I’ll quote from the article I wrote for the paper:

There were four men and four women and the sweat was to go four rounds.  Before we entered the small, round hut, I was given some instruction as to my conduct and what might be experienced.  The guide said I might feel some fear.  Since I’d never been afraid of the dark or ever had feelings of claustrophobia I immediately dismissed the idea.

Once we were all inside the lodge, hot stones, called Grandfathers, were brought in.  The ceremony began.  Sweet herbs were sprinkled on the stones, causing sparks and smoke as the burned.  Then the door to the lodge was closed and we were wrapped in complete darkness.  Water was brushed onto the Grandfathers and the temperature rose with the steam.  I began to sweat.

A song was sung, drums were pounded.  Then the first woman was invited to speak. In her native language, she spoke of her troubles.  She prayed to the Gods and Spirits to be strong and to bless her family and friends.  The others in the lodge listened and acknowledged her deepest revelations with short sounds of encouragement and understanding.  When finished, a second woman was invited to share her deepest thoughts, fears and prayers.

Another song was sung, more water was brushed onto the stones, and then the door to the lodge was opened.  A rush of fresh air was welcomed and so ended the first round.

I had experienced the first round with curious interest.  When the participants had spoken, I compared the sharing of feelings to an acting exercise I’d learned in a class once.  In the acting class I learned that when people unburden their feelings and know they’ve been heard, they feel great relief.

Two more Grandfathers were brought in, the lodge was sealed up, and so began round two.

Water was splashed; the heat rose.  Unexpectedly, I began to panic.  It was too hot.  I fidgeted madly.  What was this feeling?  I’d never felt fear like this before.  The lodge exit was all the way on the other side of the hot stones.  I considered that I’d have to run over people to get to the door and I tapped the woman next to me to alert her that something was wrong.  I couldn’t breath – I was afraid I was going to die.

The woman didn’t respond to my tapping.  No one was going to let me out!  Then I realized that my frantic fidgeting was drawing the cloying heat. I stilled myself and focused on breathing deeply.  My panic subsided.  I envisioned myself becoming one with the heat, drawing it into my lungs like a friend.  I willed my mind to be calm.  Sweat streamed profusely in narrow rivulets down my face and body.

What I didn’t put into my article was that, at the greatest point of panic, I left my body.  There was no light in the lodge, it was as black as coal, yet, suddenly I could see everything, as if glowing under a blue lamp.  I remembered Dan’s advice to stay still, and I watched my hand as I placed it firmly against the sandy floor.  I was calm.  I didn’t ‘will’ anything, I just became aware of my spiritual Self, and knew that I was safe, even if I died.

Oh, yes, and I forgot when I wrote the article… as a child, I had been afraid of the dark.  I slept with my blankets pulled tight around my neck every night so monsters couldn’t cut my head off.

Then it was my turn to share my thoughts.  First, I asked the Spirits for strength to get past my fear and my panic.  Then, like the three women before me, I shared my troubles and prayed for my relatives and friends.  I kept it short.  A song was sung, water was splashed, and the lodge door was opened.  I had survived round two.

I exited the lodge for a break.  Once I felt cool again, I returned.

As the time grew closer to the closing of the door, I began to question whether I could continue.  My fear was returning. I argued with myself.  Suddenly the lodge door was sealed and I panicked again.  I sat up and begged them to let me out.  What were these words coming out of my mouth?  Who was speaking?  Who was this coward?

Calmly, one of the men encouraged me to continue.  He advised me to think of the reasons I came to the sweat lodge and to pray for courage. I felt better and I lay on the floor where the heat was less savage.  For most of the round, while two men spoke and the songs were sung, I merely kept fear at bay. I remained still even as sweat ran into my eyes. I remember thinking of a grizzly bear, standing over me and then wrapping itself around me like a cloak.  It consoled me and its fur bristled against my skin.

When the fourth round finished, the lodge door was opened.  The steam was thick and the fire outside had burned low. My eyes couldn’t distinguish anything.  Then, slowly, as the fire was stoked and the steam cleared, my vision returned with astounding clarity.  The ceremony was ending with a final song and I felt infinitely connected to the solid earth, starry sky, and the flashing fire.  All the beauty of the universe struck me with a delirious thump.  I wept.

I don’t think the ‘beauty of the universe’ actually ‘struck me with a delirious thump’ (how poetic), I think I was just tremendously grateful to be getting the hell out of there!  The sweat lodge was my introduction to the spiritual realm.  I’d never prayed before, and certainly not out loud in front of a bunch of strangers.   I wasn’t sure any kind of God existed, let alone to refer to Him directly for assistance.  That was an entirely strange idea.

I’ll never know what made those Ojibway people invite my drowning, sorrowful soul to that spiritual gathering.  Did they somehow sense that I desperately needed their help?  That I needed a healing miracle of spirit?  Well, then they knew more than I did.  I had started to read some spiritual books, but it would still be a long time before I admitted that I needed to actively invite spirit into my life.

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Spiritual Movies from Avaiya

Posted by Amanda Gray on May 22, 2011

You may have noticed some very pretty links on my site for spiritual movies.  These include:

I genuinely recommend these movies.  I ordered them all, watched them, and truly enjoyed them.  They’re keepers, because I’ll definitely watch them again.  Content includes interviews with many high consciousness individuals, expressing spiritual ideas that may assist in your own awakening.  Film production values are reasonable.  The website is well designed.  Ordering is hassle free.  The prices are great.  Shipping is quick, and cheap, even to Canada.

The site also includes some other products from Gary Renard, a collection of poems by Walt Whitman, and a new movie that I haven’t seen yet, called Spirit Space.  I’m looking forward to placing another order myself soon!

Please visit Avaiya via the links above or with the one below, to the main order page, so they’ll know I referred you:

With Love, Amanda

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Spiritual Teachers: Marc Baur

Posted by Amanda Gray on May 22, 2011

In the winter of 1999, I moved to Vancouver, British Columbia.  I was there to ‘get serious’ about my acting career.  It had been nine years since I’d completed a two year Musical Theatre Program and I had done very little performing in that time.  I decided that, in Vancouver, it was possible for an actor to make an actual living at their craft, even if it meant doing a lot of film extra work.  I considered extra work, somewhat, below my talent, but I was tired of taking random jobs to make a living, instead of doing what I really wanted to do, and did best.  So, after nine years of procrastination, I was finally ready to take my shot at the ‘big time’.

At this juncture, it’s important to note that I had almost no religious upbringing.  I went to church a few times as a child, but just enough to learn that I had a strong, innate, resistance to Christianity.  Rote rituals seemed entirely foolish to me.  Even basic Christian language, words like God, Jesus, or saviour, were intensely resisted.  I simply couldn’t trust people who claimed to know something about God because they read a book (the Bible).  Early on, I decided: since I didn’t know, myself, if there was a heaven or a hell, a God or a Devil, I would simply be good, to be on the safe side.  Still, I was never far away from the subject of spirituality in one way or another.  As a teen, I briefly explored Wicca and other occult teachings, but since they were equally focused on rituals, I quickly decided against them.  Spiritually speaking, I was drawn, most, and for a long period of time, to channelled material.  First, during my teen occult phase, to a book (that I – not such a ‘good’ girl at all – stole from a bookstore) about an entity contacted through a Ouija board, called Messages From Michael.  The material was far too esoteric for me at the time, but I eventually read it through, as well as the rest of the series by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro in my early 20’s.  Just previous to my move to Vancouver, I discovered the Kryon channelling.  I read the entire series and met the channel, Lee Carroll, twice in person.

So, there I was, spiritually fortified, and following my dream in heaven-on-Earth gorgeous, Vancouver, B.C.  The world was my oyster and I was the shiny pearl at it’s very heart!  I didn’t think I needed to learn anything further about acting, but a prospective talent agent encouraged me to take some classes.  Since my definitive objective was to work in the film industry, I conceded that some technique would help me shed my overly dramatic theatre style and make me more marketable.  I soon attended my first class in a small, run-down office building near West Broadway and Arbutus Street: the Marc Baur Studio.

On Wednesday, February 9, 2000, I wrote in my diary:

Went to Marc’s class.  It was a super experience. I did an exercise that was an important key for learning not to scatter my energies so much.  I learned that where I think I am is truly where I am, where acting is concerned.

What?  Oh dear.  I think I meant that I could believe that I was, indeed, a talented actor, and ready for a successful film career.

And, yes, I was successful.  I went to many auditions, got some unpaid independent film roles, and hung out frequently in the audience at the Vicki Gabereau show.  I also did a few paid gigs, as an extra, almost immediately, but it wasn’t consistent.  In order to have free day time for auditions, and a job to pay the bills, I worked a few night audit shifts every week at a colourful Granville gay hotel.  Within a few months, I procured fancy new resume shots, signed with a reputable talent agent, and I was thrilled that my career was going along, tickity-boo.

In October, I started a ‘Being Real’ class with Marc Baur.  On Wednesday the 18th, I write about the first class in my diary:

For 4 hours we did vulnerability exercises and, while it was exhausting, it was a terrific learning experience.  Marc had brought pumpkin pie and I had 3 slices!  After class, a bunch of us went out to a pub down the street and had wings, fries and gabbed.  I had a really good night!

Excellent.  Ah, but little did I know that I was headed for a big ‘Being Real’ crash’ola.  On October 25th, I wrote:

Class was ok.  I was too tired though.  I almost fell asleep during the first scene presented and then was way too nervous when I did my monologue.  I had a good ‘therapy’ session though.  I did an ‘I’m afraid that…’ exercise and cried a lot.  It was cathartic and felt really good to release.

November 1st was pivotal.  I wrote:

I really wanted to be lazy, but Marc said I should do a cold read scene with Bob.  Well, that turned out to be a major surprise.  All my life I’ve been missing the boat in my acting – all of the sudden, I got ON the boat!  I learned how to find the emotional backbone of a scene, first, before intellectualizing it.  BRILLIANT!  It was also easy, effortless and real.  I could trust it, moment to moment.

After class, Bob, Marco, Rick and Elizabeth and I went to Subeez for nachos and gabbed.  They helped me see some things about myself.  Cool.

I remember, specifically, at Subeez, Bob pointed out, “You’re looking for recognition.” 

The same night, around 3 am, as I sat down for a break at work, I considered it.  Why was I looking for recognition?  And, why was it, that no matter how much recognition I got, it was never enough?  I was always seeking for more, and more, and more.  Like an addict.  Did it have something to do with my childhood? Yes, I was always an attention hog as a kid, but inside, I felt acutely invisible.  In fact, I could still feel it.  It was like I had a huge hole inside me, and that, for all these years, I had been running around, trying to fill it with attention from others.  In a shocking epiphany that would completely re-direct my life, I realized that, even if I became wildly famous, no amount of attention would ever fill that gaping maw within.  No matter how many people said, “Amanda, you’re awesome and the whole world loves you,” if I couldn’t believe it myself, if I couldn’t love myself, it would be useless.

The ‘Being Real’ therapy exercises effectively pulled a lot of my crap out of hiding.  In an ‘I feel’ exercise, I learned how to be intimate and connect with another human being.  In an ‘I’m afraid’ exercise, I learned that there were deep feelings of unworthiness and rage that I could never entirely stuff behind an actor’s mask.  By interaction with Marc and my classmates, I learned that there were also real qualities within me – under all the shocking and embarrassing qualities that I would rather have ignored – qualities of light and beauty.   

My teacher, Marc Baur, may not have considered himself a ‘spiritual’ teacher.  At the time, I wouldn’t have described him that way.  Yet, Marc was exceptional in his ability to fully accept and embrace the wide variety of personalities in his care.  He saw through to something brighter and more profound in each student, even if the student didn’t recognize it in themselves.  I’m sure that as Marc has witnessed individuals developing greater personal and spiritual depth through his class exercises over the years, he can’t be immune to the greater implications.  Perhaps he now also perceives his role through a broader lens, as I do. 

I touched Grace through those acting exercises, but I wasn’t ready to fully receive Grace.  I was being asked for more than I could, then, have given.  Frankly, it scared me, shitless.  I continued with the class into the new year, but I had less and less energy for it. 

Eventually, I lost all energy for everything.  I was turning and turning, within a box in my mind that was squeezing, smaller and smaller, but I could find no way out.  Unbeknownst to me, a clinical depression was setting in.  I didn’t want to be an actor anymore.  All I wanted… was to disappear.

(See Spiritual Teachers: The Ojibway for Part 2 of this series.)

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