Week 9: Ojai
I'm spending a week in beautiful, magical, cosy Ojai; Ojai which has become, in the past year, a safe haven in my life.
Ojai is an energetic vortex, first settled by the Chumash Indians and home to the Topa Topa Mountains. Its fertile land gives rise to acres upon acres of avocado and citrus orchards, it's one of the few places I feel safe in this world, it's one of the few where being a vegetarian is normal.
On one of our breaks I see someone walking their miniature horse like anyone else would walk their dog, and before class in the mornings I walk the path of a labyrinth on a nearby hill. It is sweet, mysterious, and a little out of reach. I can belong to Ojai, but Ojai can never belong to me.
Spending time in Ojai isn’t new for me, at least in the sense of linear time. This week was the fifth over the course of the past year, mostly due to trainings I am taking with Ray Castellino and Anna Chitty. The cream of the cream.
But it is always new in the sense that every time I spend time there, I have a moving experience. I know all the metamorphosis I have been through this past year is related to my time here - because Ojai is special, but mostly because the people I have spent that time with are very, very special.
This week, I spend time absorbing my super-deep course material in the company of remarkable people, and my brain is struggling to understand how to ‘categorize’ this in the context of this project.
So here are three ideas that spark my internal reflection, based on the meaning of intention, the concept of using a problem as a pathway to resolution, and what it means to belong...
1. So, if you’ve ever been to yoga class, you have an idea of what it means to 'set an intention.' If you’ve never been to yoga, you also have an idea of what the word intention implies. Because it’s everywhere. Honestly, I go to yoga all the time and don’t like this part of class, because it feels too fluffy for me, even when I understand that intention directs life or something.
So when my course teachers explained this word and its importance in this way, something registered: intention is contextual...present, but in relation to the past and to the future. It is forward-looking - about transformation - but because where we are now has a lot to do with patterns of the past, it’s all-inclusive. It’s not just a ‘nice experience’ that one does not grow from.
Someone can say, 'I intend to go to the movies,' and the word 'intend' is still used correctly, but I resonate with the idea of an intention implying a transformative experience when people discuss setting intentions.
2. "You can use a point of disconnect as a moment of inquiry." - Ray Castellino
We might be more familiar with this sentence if the word ‘inquiry’ was replaced with ‘judgement,' or ‘numbness,' or 'pretending everything is fine.’ What our Earth, our collective and individual worlds, would be like...if we lived from this place of inquiry, both within ourselves and in relationship.
3. We, clearly, have a need to belong encoded in our physical, emotional, even spiritual, natures.
It's not a new idea, it is a poignant way of encapsulating our ‘belonging problem' in modern culture: we try to belong by comparing ourselves to others. Is it not true that, these days, competition and comparison are our primary ways to find our (so-called) places in mainstream society? Oftentimes, being a 'unique individual' equates to 'not belonging.'
Being met - fully reflected - by another (or others) helps us actually belong, because in that meeting - that reflection - we are able to discover who we are as individuals. Think about it: when we come across still water we are able to see our reflection; similarly, when we interact with empathetic, empowered, and present people, they are able to mirror ourselves back to us while fully maintaining their own essence.
However, if we want to fit into an 'approved of' individual, we will abandon and dissociate those part of ourselves that do not fit, in order to gain acceptance by someone we hand over our value to. We think this is belonging, but it is the opposite - it is abandoning ourselves - because we have given our ownership of our very selves, quirks and all, to the representatives of a society of 'standards.'