My Writing

The Back Of The Book by Julia Marks

It was during the time when I thought I was “free” of God.  I had had a call vision when I was seventeen (see Call and Response).  But, having wanted to be “normal” all my life, when my call came, I said, no.  Not even no, thank you.  Just, no.

And then I skipped off into the world and was normal.

Yeah, right.

It was during this time of “freedom,” that I spent my every spare minute studying, well, God.  But it was from a my point-of-reference, not from an active and ongoing relationship with him.  I don’t know if feeling in charge of the search myself made me feel somehow safer in the world, or as a young woman, it made me feel in charge of my own life, like every young person wants.

I don’t really know.

I do remember feeling very distant from the world, and as though I were in an echo chamber — as though my relations with others swirled in an undefined way around me, instead of connecting right to me.

And I remember how I still felt so uninterested in the world in general, and how distinct I felt, no matter how much effort I put into blending in and flowing along with the life around me.

I noticed that people tended to be good at their certain thing, pottery, basketball, complaining.  And I wondered what my “good” thing was.  I didn’t like to think about the visions I had had all my life, now blessedly GONE FOR GOOD.

Yeah, right.

And, being pushed to an emotional head by an impending marriage proposal (that I “knew” was coming), I was shocked to find that the only thing I was interested in was finding out what lay beyond the horizon.

I knew — I voraciously read about, in truth  — that people all over the world, and during all ages of man, had experienced visions of a living God, had experienced miracles that could be explained away by no science, had accomplished life in ways beyond even their own imagination.

So, knowing he was coming along to say what he was going to say, and not wanting to be in a position of not knowing what to say, or having to say, no, I don’t want to marry you, I walked out the door and started my search for what lay beyond the horizon.

On my own.  Without God.  I was in charge.

Yeah, right.

I eventually wound up in Berkeley.

For fun, I studied piano at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.  Not that I felt that the piano was my first instrument, but finding a piano and a piano teacher is a whole lot easier than finding a harp and a harp teacher.

Unlike the harp, playing the piano can be very, very intense.  Pieces surge powerfully.  It takes your whole body to keep up with the emotion and heat.  Playing the piano can be a force in your life.

But something started to happen.

As I worked on pieces, as they became forceful, pains started to shoot up my arms.  During etudes I was fine.  During Scarlatti I was fine.  During Bach I was fine.

But during the big sonatas I was in pain.

I knew it had to be psychological.

I just had a lot of difficulty admitting to myself what I knew the cause to be: my refusal to receive visions from God.

And I had just as much difficulty with feeling forced to admit that I was not in control of my own, my whole, MY life.

It was the San Francisco Bay Area.  It was the seventies.  EST had come to town in a big way.  The area was choked with “alternative” approaches to stress relief.

So, I consulted my friends and I decided to try a certain breathing technique that was growing in popularity, and which didn’t seem to ask the participant to pee in his own pants or go about with glassy eyes telling everyone else to try it.

I went to group sessions at first.  It was a pleasant experience.  Soothing breathing while listening to soothing music or the sound of water moving gently.  It was hard for me to relax though.  I didn’t want to know what I already knew was coming and was avoiding.

How would I share with my friends what I found out was bothering me?

I just wouldn’t.

But the inevitable happened.  It was a choice, I guess.  Put up with the pain in my arms while I played the piano, give up playing the piano, or face the music.

(I thought it was kind of funny.)

The pain was growing so great that I was avoiding the piano altogether.  I knew that even though I gave up the piano, the pain would find another way into my life.  So I kept breathing.

And the visions came back.

But they didn’t just come back like before I had shooed them away.  No.  It was as though I had received visions all those years that I thought I was “free” of them, that they had stored themselves up in the filing cabinets of my subconscious, and were now flooding my mind and soul.  I was experiencing a spiritual tsunami.

Meeting again this reality as though we had never been apart increased my feelings of anxiety a thousand fold.  So I decided to see a practitioner of this yoga-styled breathing individually.  I even found someone who had studied in India so extensively that he was not put off by my admission to having visions.

And he didn’t speak to me about them, either.

Which I liked a lot.

So I breathed.  And breathed.  And breathed.

I came to a point when it started to feel like I was being tickled inside.  During the session I was at ease with my visions.  And I even had one recurring one.

When my giggling became a pattern, I was asked by my instructor if something specific happened when I was laughing.  So I told him that someone kept appearing to me, but that my response to him was always, Look at the baby.  Gee!

My practitioner would nod his head and look away.  I was told to control my laughter, that it was a means of releasing discomfort but that it could become distracting.

Then, one day, browsing in a bookstore (one of my favorite pastimes), I happened to notice a basket by the door of the shop full of used paperbacks.  I felt inexplicably drawn to the basket.

I noticed one book, I don’t remember the title, but I picked it up and turned it over.

There, on the back of the book, was a picture of the man who had kept appearing in my visions during my breathing sessions.

Breathless, I bought the book but avoided looking at it when I brought it home.  I took it to my next relaxation session and showed it to my coach.

He silently got up and left the room.  When he came back, in his hand was a framed picture.  It was the same man as on the back of the book.

It was the man he had studied with in India.

His name, it seemed, was Babaji.

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