Becoming Whole

I recently returned from my first weeklong meditation and mindfulness teacher training with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. The week had the intensity of a silent retreat but the bonus of actually being able to talk with my fellow teachers-in-training. During one of the question and answer sessions, a woman expressed a concern that we were focusing too much on the heavy topics – trauma, racism, neglect etc. She stated the explicit need to make joy a part of the practice too. A subtle, omniscient smirk spread across Jack’s face, and he explained that many people often seek out meditation classes because they are suffering in some capacity. I had a feeling there was more to his answer but for the moment that’s all he was willing to say.

Fast forward a few days to our last evening together… We all met in the dining room for an icebreaker activity followed by a dance party! Yes, that’s right. After a week of turning toward our shadows, we were invited to let go, have fun and party. Dancing has always been one of my passions and so I was surprised by my hesitation to join in the fun. My left-brain logic kept telling me that if I started dancing then I wouldn’t fall asleep and I had a long day of travel ahead. I was also overwhelmed by the sheer number of people on the dance floor and, to quote Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory,” I needed the comfort and security of my spot. The habitual thoughts of “You don’t belong” and “You’re alone” looped in my mind and were as loud as the music itself. After a bit too much time dawdling around the periphery, I shoved those thoughts aside and leapt onto the dance floor. I was greeted with smiles and laughter and, when the music stopped two hours later, I asked a few of my newfound friends where the after party was.

The word for health derives from the Old English word hælþ, which means “wholeness, a being whole, sound or well.” The poem below was inspired by my first, weeklong training session.

Becoming Whole

by Lauren Taub Cohen

Buried secrets –

stories of disappointments,

tragedies and traumas –

had become unearthed

and shared amongst strangers

swiftly becoming fast friends.

Whispers of “Me too” and “I know”

met tears with tender kisses

and a soft, inclusive embrace.

Later on that night,

the life-affirming pulse

of the magnetic music

encouraged us

to shake ourselves loose

from the constraints

of our stories and

spontaneously move

in the spaciousness

of unrestricted joy.

Time was lost

in a flurry of fun

and I realized

the alchemy of health

and healing

cannot be found

in a fanciful, far-off potion

but in the possibilities

of the here and now –

In an experience

such as this.