‘Where was I?”
Which was really another way of saying, “What in the bleep was I doing?”
I asked myself these questions through my haze as I lay prone on a couch in the living room of an Israeli couple I barely knew.
We had just had an intense couple of hours of discussion, meditation, and something called “deeksha,” which is spiritual Indian-speak for “energy healing” or, if you’re a literal type like me, the “laying of hands,” much akin to the way Jewish parents bless their children on Shabbat.
Which is another way of saying, I rushed out of work one day to take the bus from Jerusalem to a suburb outside of Tel Aviv in order to have this lovely Israeli couple I had met over a year ago at a yoga retreat gently place their hands on my head and bless me.
Was I losing it?
The questions never left me. All during the bus ride, and again while I was waiting in the scorching sun for them to come and fetch me from the bus stop on a very busy stretch of highway somewhere in Petach Tikvah, I kept asking myself, “Why? What was this journey all about?”
“Everything we unearth here, Avigail,” said the husband of the couple, “is actually truths that come from deep within you.” We were engaged in a little chat session before we embarked on the deeksha itself. There we were, three Jews around the same age, born in different countries (and one fluent in Sanskrit!) but linked through a yearning for something more.
Without hesitation, I unburdened all the sorrows of my heart. Which, unfortunately, doesn’t take much. As an old boyfriend once said, “Abby: You live your emotional life on a public stage.” In keeping with his free psychological diagnosis, I unhesitatingly shared with this couple every detail they never wanted to know about my search for love. My fears. My disappointments. Why, as I neared my 40th year, was a romantic partner still so elusive?
We came to some truths, this couple and I. Truths that finally made some sense. Truths that even years of therapy had never unearthed. So maybe they were right. I had the answers all along. Or as my friends the Eagles once said, “So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key.”
What can I tell you? How the rest of the evening included some intense meditation, sprinkled with a healthy dose of gratitude, followed by the deeksha itself. By then I was already in something of a zone, but I managed to sense them, one after the other, gently placing their hands on my head to offer up blessings.
Then, after an extended rest period on their couch while they lay on the floor (“We’re used to it, Avigail,” they told me since they spend so much time in India), we put off saying goodbye for a while and instead chatted, huddled in their entranceway, about YouTube videos.
I recommended my most favorite, Paul Simon’s live performance of “American Tune” from 1975, which is really nothing less than a prayer. And an exercise in cuteness. Hello, handsome!
After finally bidding them adieu, I reviewed the whole experience in my mind and came to the conclusion that this meeting was not random at all. It was almost Rosh HaShanah, after all. And as such, a little spiritual housecleaning was in order.
What difference does it make if it takes place in the form of Indian traditions? I mean, I have a nose stud, which makes me just a wee bit Indian.
The whole thing reminded me of one of my most favorite High Holy Day books, Rabbi Alan Lew’s “This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation.” In it, he takes the reader on a spiritual deep cleanse, beginning with Tisha b’Av and continuing through Sukkot.
“On this journey our soul will awaken to itself,” he writes. “This is a journey from denial to awareness, from self-deception to judgment. … This is the longest journey we will ever make, and we must complete it in that brief instant before the gates of heaven clang shut.”
Which is another way of saying, I believe I am getting closer. Soon, very soon, I will be open enough to actually see the right man when he plants himself firmly upon my path.
I just hope when that glorious day happens that I remember to wear something cute. And also a good bra. One can never underestimate the power of a good bra.
“And a little lipstick wouldn’t hurt, either!” as someone I know very well would most likely say.
Which is another way of saying, “Don’t worry, mom! I will put on a little lipstick.”
Abigail Pickus is a writer living in Israel. Follow her Abigail in Love (Maybe) blog on The Jewish Week’s website, www.thejewishweek.com.