Looking back through the mists of time; cutting sharply back through 35 years of the “inner weather landscape” of my consciousness, and the endless scenes and scene changes of my life, I find myself landing centre stage, age 11 years, dressed as the Tin Man, somewhere on the yellow brick road on the way to The Emerald City. Hoping to meet The Wizard of Oz.
Back then, I wonder if I ever really understood the part of the Tin Man, singing his lines, “…Just because I’m presumin’ that I could be kind-a-human, if I only had a heart…”? All I knew then were my lines, that the costume was uncomfortable, and that the thick grey face paint was hard to wash off each night.
Wonder too, as I diligently washed away the grey, had I sunk into sadness; for although I made it to the Emerald City, and the Wizard had given me a heart (a very sad and sorry prop), I never felt any better about myself, never felt the joy I was sure could be found in singing Scarecrow’s song?
Leaving the Tin Man behind, I threw my heart and soul into the Theatre Family, both in amateur performance and later as a professional Stage Manager. By my mid-twenties however, I started to get the sense that there was more to life than theatre. Life beyond the lights, sounds, smells, smoke, stories and characters, on stage and off. Beyond after show parties.
For months my head and heart battled over whether to leave all this behind, let it all go, live one more production, be part of one last show.
Finally, after 16 years of stage and story, a day came when my head and heart fell into agreement and I made the decision to leave and venture out anew, into the big wide world… Experience what lay beyond…
But beyond…without my beloved Theatre, I was – unwittingly and unknowingly – lost!
Landing in the world of community care, I found some fulfilment, met some amazing people, but found day and night shifts did not suit my system, and I stopped sleeping, completely! Seeing and feeling the mess I was in, I sought help, and announced to a therapist “I don’t feel like I have a heart!”.
That dear therapist introduced me to Heartfulness, setting me off on a whole new inner journey, into a world that I had never really known existed. Bit by bit, as I opened my mind to the Heartfulness practices, and opened myself up to speak with those in my new world, I started to wake up: my heart to open up. Slowly, I became more alert and aware, as if I were coming round from an eternal sleep, or a very long operation.
Gradually I was more able to decipher and forecast the weather conditions of my consciousness; recognise the part I was playing in creating them, and observe them playing out through me.
Somewhere along The Heartfulness Way I started to feel human, more alive, and more acceptant of myself and others, of my faults and limitations: to let myself be. To get glimpses of what being me might mean. While further down the line, I touched on living in the present, watched the weight of the past and future dropping off, and the anxiety finally starting to fade away.
Supported by Heartfulness, I have come to recognise life, humanity, belonging and brotherhood, experiencing a new-found joy and appreciation for the extended family, the human race. Come to live beyond fear and anxiety, and beyond the thick black clouds that once crossed my inner skies. And, though thick black clouds and storms may yet come, there is a growing faith that the sun will always shine through, and the skies at times be pure brilliant blue.
At best I stand in awe, inspired by many, saluting our Guides, our practice and our Heartfulness philosophy. At worst, I keep practising, doing my bit to clear the clouds with cleaning, and consider my own character building, keep meditating to regulate my mind, try to remember to reconnect over and over to my heart. Keep wondering what love would do…
These days the Tin Man might well smile, shine his metal chest and sing, “This Little Light of Mine…’. While my heart sings for the day all hearts shine with the pure light of love, shining together till all merge in One, left basking in a beauty that the movies can only dream of. All life meeting in a reality beyond the illusion playing out on the world’s screen, dissolving in one ultimate sunset, all landing right back where we started, back home at the heart of all life, lying in the lap of the Divine, swimming together in the Source.
by LAURA CLIFTON, Tyne and Wear, UK