I wasn’t aware of my spiritual path—or awakening—until I met a woman with profound blue eyes. I hadn’t then and I haven’t since met anyone with eyes like hers: so deep and clear you couldn’t help but sink into them. I guessed she was around fifty. Her long blonde hair moves nicely around her shoulders. She wears it long, opposed to many of her peers, making her look younger.
She’s a beauticianI initially went to see for a facial. My curiosity had been aroused by something I read on her website. As soon as I sit down in her chair I ask her about this specific “energy” treatment. She’s happy to give me part of the treatment. I close my eyes as she holds her hands up over my face. She doesn’t touch me.
The feeling is overwhelming: her hands or my face at least feel warm, this glow makes me feel good. It’s a feeling I haven’t had for a long time. It leaves me amazed and questioning: What is this? Is this what they call energy?
My sight turned red. My entire life I’ve seen colours when I close my eyes. Usually, I don’t notice them because they’re always there. When I was young I thought everyone saw these colours, but deep down I knew it wasn’t normal. I had never shared this with anyone, until recent years when I met someone who told me she had this all the time. That’s when I realised I do too.
But in the end spirituality is about
waking up from the dream of separateness
to the truth of unity. That’s what it’s about.
I Have Been Curious What Life Was All About
A week later I am back, but now for the energy treatment. That little peek was enough for me to book a couple of sessions. I enter her salon again and she tells me this treatment is downstairs in a room with no windows. A slight feeling of disappointment passes through me. In a way, I believe it is important to have windows in a room. So the light can enter the room. That makes a room feel alive, but I know that in cities (andDutch cities, in particular, where houses and rooms are small) the space is limited and so sometimes there is no other option than to have a room without windows.
I feel tired when I lay down. It’s Friday, the day after a town council meeting. I work as a Political Assistant (PA) and it is my job to prepare the meeting. Or more accurately: to create the play of politics. Nothing in politics is ever a coincidence. People like me and most (professional and good) politicians know what councillor’s positions are and whether there’s a majority for the plan you want to propose. Without having a majority a politician would never bring something to the table. At the meeting I would check whether people voted as we had agreed upon in the weeks leading up to the vote. Often council meetings could take until 5 AM. This particular one had once again lasted till well past midnight and had taken up a lot of my energy.
I loved my job. For two reasons which I figured out during those years working in politics. First: I’m an idealist. I believe in change, good people, and good intentions. Secondly, I wanted to be where change was taking place. I grew up in the rural east of the Netherlands, a place called the Achterhoek (which literally translates to back corner, just to paint a picture). Growing up, my parents watched the news every night. Politics being the main topic most nights, it seemed to me this was the place to be.. Looking back maybe I just wanted my parents’ attention? Who knows. My fascination with politics kept growing. Before long I chose to study Political Science, followed by a masters degree in International Relations. Without really noticing I was entering a world that wasn’t mine. Or at least I was entering a world I didn’t grow up in.
Entering The Political Arena
At university I felt I had three options. First, upon graduation I could start work as a journalist. However, I felt I couldn’t align with a political party as it would deroge my indepence. Second, I could become a professor. That step seemed too big. I couldn’t believe I would ever be able to do that, I wasn’t sure if I was smart enough.
And third, become a member of a political party and try to become a politician. The only disadvantage I saw was that people might judge me based on my political views.. Which they did. But politics is also a lot of fun. I felt I could say what I think without having to worry about bias.
I joined a progressive political party as Dutch progressive politics aligned best with my life and beliefs at that time. Upon joining I receive an invitation for a welcome weekend for new party members. That night, on the dance floor, I’m approached by a well-dressed young man. We start talking and once I mention I went to [college] before attending university he tells me he doesn’t know anyone who attended [college], as strange as that may sound he adds. He continues, looking around the room and adding that everyone there has a university degree. It should be different, he believes that anyone should be able to partake in politics. But as it stands, all politicians have gone to university.
I glance around the room. I know he is right. I don’t know how, but somehow you can see these young adults grew up somewhere else—not in the rural back-country like me. I am different here. I feel different. A man once called me ‘intelligent but not intellectual’ when I was applying for a job. This place is filled with intellectual aspiring young people. I wish to be one of them, but do I belong here?
Some people awaken spiritually without ever coming into contact
with any meditation technique or any spiritual teaching.
They may awaken simply because they can’t stand the suffering anymore.
The Gift Of Energy
I don’t know what was about to happen. The woman with the blue eyes escorts me downstairs. The room is at most twelve square meters, it has white walls and there are some dried flowers hanging on it. There is pleasant perfume and background music. The room is less muggy than I expected. She leaves the room to clean her hands, that’s necessary to energetically cleanse herself, she tells me later. I take off my shoes and install myself on the table in the centre of the room. When she enters the room again she’s holding a bowl of lemon water. For purifying, she tells me, adding to close my eyes and relax.
When she has been at it for some minutes, she says: ‘I can feel your heat’. ‘Yes, very special,’ I say. My eyes are shut. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. The fact that she changes my state of energy without actually touching me is like magic. Is this energy? I have been practicing yoga for ten years when I decided to do teacher training. Initially only to grow and educate myself, not give classes. Work is politics (I thought). We talk about energy on the training course. But this left me wondering if I had never really felt it until now.
The yoga teacher training is every other weekend. On Saturdays and Sundays I meet up with a small group to discuss yoga poses, feelings and being vulnerable. As a part of the training I give yoga classes to my political colleagues. I speak of grounding, feeling, breathing and energy. Yet, today with this blue-eyed woman is the first time I can actually feel it myself. I feel ashamed. Who am I to be telling them what they should be feeling if I couldn’t do it myself?
And then she cracks up about my perspective on politics, and politicians in particular. ‘You don’t think of anything,’ she tells me. ‘That’s right,’ I say. I just know, she knows. She is reading my mind. It is nice that she believes me. Most people do not. ‘Not thinking’ is not possible they say, but I am blank. Politics takes up all the room in my head, nothing else matters.
‘You’re sensitive,’ she says. ‘I am?’ Not understanding what she implies. I do not think of myself as sensitive. ‘All your energy centres are open,’ she continues, ‘so everything is entering’. I know from my yoga training that this is not what you want. I know I have seven Chakras; my energy centres.
‘Were you shy as a child,’ she asks. ‘I used to be extremely shy,’ I reply. I was a blond shy girl who would never speak a word. I hardly ever cried and was extremely brave. I did well at school. All was normal, average. That was what I desired to be. I never liked to be noticed or be a troublemaker.
That changes when I hit puerty. That’s when I decided not to be a shy girl any longer. I didn’t want to be like that, it no longer served me. I believe that attitude got me into politics.
The blue-eyed woman continues to treat me, now with her eyes closed: ‘You’ve built a wall around yourself because it all has been coming in so strongly. Because you are sensitive. You had no control over it so you closed all your chakras off.’
Why Do People Choose To Become Politicians?
The following weeks are a revelation. For the first time I can sincerely feel the energy, I realise it’s been there all along—I just didn’t notice.. Yoga has left me feeling more, so I choose to start another training course.. I had started to feel better since starting the first training. Why hadn’t I connected the dots?
And I can see clearly now. When I decided to stop being shy I had to build up a wall in order to protect myself. When I entered into politics I unknowingly stepped into a world where there were more people like me: who builded a wall around them. Wow! I wasn’t aware of that. For the most part, politics is from the head and mind. You have to practice yoga from the heart.
That’s why we call most politicians “talking heads”. Sometimes literally, because they (and aren’t we all) are not grounded. Those politicians don’t feel. I am not saying all politicians are like that, but sometimes we all are. No one is perfect.
Thus, I started to ask myself questions: why are they (and I) in politics?
I believe they are, but they just don’t know it. I sensed a need for recognition among colleagues. I can’t ever prove it but for me the idea has grown that people in politics—and in political public spheres—do it for the purpose of being recognised. To be noticed. Because they weren’t seen by somebody in their youth. Maybe their mum, or their dad, or whoever. In politics, people will be looking. Your work matters, therefore you matter.
I also feel pain. For a long time a younger version of myself, the one that was shy, was not good enough. I rejected her. She had to be different from who she really is. She had to be brave, she had to show off. She had to change the way she looked and everything around her in order to not face what was going on inside her..
Instead I focused on the wall. I believed in that wall. That wall was me. When I described myself, I was actually defining the wall. That’s what people perceived of me and that’s what I used to do. Being in politics meant my job was my life. How politics works and feels to an outsider is impossible to explain. You have to experience it for yourself. The adrenaline you get from being in the spotlight and in the media every day, you have to experience it for yourself. Having great responsibility from a young age, an excellent salary, not to mention the prestige—it’s an exceptional experience. I would give talks and the most frequently asked question was always ‘how can I get to where you are?’ But for the first time I was looking beyond the wall. This frightened me, but I was curious too. What lies beyond?
As soon as you look at the world through an ideology you are finished. No reality fits an ideology. Life is beyond that. … That is why people are always searching for a meaning to life… Meaning is only found when you go beyond meaning. Life only makes sense when you perceive it as mystery and it makes no sense to the conceptualizing mind.
― Anthony de Mello
The Door is Open and Will Never Close Again
‘See you’re going to do something with energy,’ she says. What I don’t realise here is that she is exposing my gift: energy and working with energies. This is my call to adventure as Joseph Campbell would call it. He is a writer who wrote about the stories of life. Most stories follow the same path. I won’t tell you the whole path, but one of the first steps is that a guide will give you a gift, like a sword or in my case: energy. So, in a sense, she gives me the first sword. The sword is my tool to a new world.
Energy is my tool to open other worlds, but back then it only made me curious. I find energies interesting, just doing something with them doesn’t seem like it. Yoga is just a hobby and we are talking about energies in the yoga course, but that’s it. Politics is my destiny and I’m good at it. I just think: ‘Another one of those comments. Fascinating.’
She concludes the treatment by closing my chakras, to protect me, I hardly realise it. Yet I feel totally different than before the treatment.
She gives me a tip before I leave. I don’t have to demolish the wall right away. That is intense and difficult, but what I can do is put a door or a window in it. That can then be opened from time to time, to experience how that feels. When it gets exciting in politics, when the knives are sharpened, I can close them again.
Without realising that day, this opened the door to a new life I could have hardly imagined back then. A world that would suit me better. Not the world of politics. That first day when the boy told me about all the intellectual people at the party, we had a discussion about whether everyone in the country should be allowed to vote too. I was amazed back then by the people who thought that not everyone should be allowed to vote. They said that most people don’t understand anything about politics, they don’t care about it—so why let them vote?
I don’t agree. Because democracy exists by the grace of the majority participating and feeling represented. Voting is the voice of the people. We should never take that away. Even though people don’t know what privilege they have.
Politics is more than the game in what we call politics. The door to that view opened that day. And it never closed again.