In Gratitude.

January 29, 2021

In Gratitude.

May 29, 2023

It is exactly a month since my Sabbatical Sessions experience at MEA. And since my return from Baja, the last couple of weeks has provided the opportunity for perspective as the honeymoon charm has subsided.

Can my soul experience what I embodied in Baja? I was worried whether Life, the wretched mistress, prisoned in the bewitching castle built on the edifice of old habits, routines, mindsets would pull the drawbridge across the moat for the soul to drown once again amid insecurity, anxiety, self-doubt and sloth!

Almost on queue, the “To-Do” list once again reared its snake head to slither and hiss into my ears all the pending administrative BS I had not focused on for a month. The demands of holiday routines and by-passers seeking the secrets and wisdom of my “Hero’s Journey” seemed unrelenting. And of course, I got caught up in the dull-witted, uninvolved, time filler, casual conversations answering the question, “How was Mexico?” I wanted to distill and share the magic of “MEA Soul Food!”

And, yet, what was I supposed to share, point to and relive?

How to “Spy on the Divine”? Paint the vision of whales breaching the Pacific or the dance of the Hibiscus in glorious sunshine! The agony of the heart to be numb at a newborn turtle struggling to reach the edge of the ocean or the delicate flapping of the hummingbird at the edge of a thorny cactus. Maybe it should have been the sound of the waves imitating the crack of a rifle shot directing the sun to disappear doused in its own flames on the horizon.

I learned so much and from so many. Our cadre of soul teachers taught me to “operate at the speed of partnership.” A thirty-something helped me understand meditation by “Staying Woke.” And, I admired a success-drenched professional espousing the wisdom in abandoning a career peak to wrestle her destiny to accept the noble goal of moving a billion people.

The Academy asked if I really knew how to listen and if my date with money has led me to a fulfilling relationship. Certainly, appreciative inquiry ripped every shred of fake ego armor enclosing years of incessant, tiring efforts to prove myself. And bless the shaman who held my hands invoking the might of the mountains and the Pacific, comforting the ego and letting the soul lift and be one with the ultimate.

It seemed like divine intervention that the petite gal in a onesie wearing oversized sunglasses and a wide brim hat ambling along is my “Big Sis” for many lives past. I rejoiced “How about the marvel of nature and its greatness?” She nonchalantly responded, “Too much cream on the Taco.” I gloat and appreciate the thoughtful assortment of scrumptious, savory food, tenderly breathing with love and tended to by hands from a beautiful soil. Or maybe just how amazing it felt in watching a seventy-something couple single-mindedly and endlessly focus on 1,000-piece puzzles, board games and devouring a piece of cake as they planned their next Airbnb destination.

When I sought direction, Chip and Jeff engulfed me in the quicksand of empathy, offering me honest listening rather than clever advice. But was I not in pursuit of error-proof solutions of my ultimate purpose? Isn’t that what a “Learning Academy” is meant to provide? I did not get even a whimper of a solution of what to do next in life.

Yet, how could I deny this emerging self-belief of the possibility of limitless harmony of my soul in the vortex of a chaotic mind and Life, the wretched mistress. Could it be that the CEO, environmentalist, anthropologist, artist, executive coach, media executive, meditator, surfer, event planner and a four-legged companion were all basking in the glory of that possibility?!

So still seeking and exploring, amazingly, I found my shoulders ease up and drop and I was smiling more. And it stayed that way for all the time I was at the Academy. What a relief not feeling the weight of action and reaction and letting life pause to have a chat with my soul. My eyes wandered and got introduced to the beauty of nature in its full glory. The heart reopened doors to the chant of meaningful friendship. And camaraderie ran aloof without abandon sharing vulnerable episodes of love, care and fear. The mind found solace amid brilliant soul lifting literature, art, architecture and pizza-infused music. My mind sat and found silence in the cross-legged posture.

The physical body walked long without effort on the dirt-paved roads meander to the top of the mountain at the precipice of the ocean among barking sea lions. I was serenaded by the sound of the waves, relentless in their fury and unyielding in the darkest of the nights with the Milky Way a blanket of godly, soothing light. My soul just rejoiced! I realized, as a human, I have limits, but the soul within can rise to unseen levels, limitless.

So, as the examination of my sabbatical adventure continues, I just drop my shoulders and seek silence and just be present with a smiling soul. There were no major epiphanies that were revealed at the Academy other than there is much to unwind and edit in the messy midlife. I am just more hopeful and aspirational. About nothing specific but more the desire for purposeful effort in life anew.

To create, love, serve and be fulfilled!

My MEA experience introduced, taught and made me understand the importance of:

  1. The secret to personal change and growth cannot be just mere willpower but the existence, strength and anchor of a positive community.
  2. I recognized that the deep mind scripts, fixed mindsets and insecurities are the dense fog that envelops and numbs action in exploring deeper, fulfilling soul experiences.
  3. I saw the subtle difference between failures and mistakes, including the accurate characterization of failures versus mistakes.
  4. The value of generosity of (self) space – To be unyielding in preserving and holding my intellectual, physical and soul presence and not compromising by submission to the habit of deference. To allow for experiences to be larger than the whole with active involvement and contribution rather than succumbing to desire for passive politeness and deference to solely please
  5. Being deliberate about spending time and involvement only in projects, interactions, relationships and friendships that align with my soul matter and purpose.

I will close by sharing something that I believe, summarizes the profound moving truth that provides direction and clarity of purpose for my own journey (stole it from Chip who stole it from someone else!)

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of your life is to give it away.”

The heart yearns for more MEA! And yes, I let the last drop of tear fall, I was holding back all these years. Now the shoulders bear no more burdens!

For more than twenty years, Anand Rao was a Wall Street Modern Elder embroiled in mergers and acquisitions who is now seeking to acquire soul food and wisdom to merge with the ultimate consciousness.

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