Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Soulful Trip to Chicago - Part IV

Things got started again at 2pm. From time to time, Neale's wife would share some of the poetry she'd written. One of my favorites starts with the line, "Nothing needs fixing". Those three words have brought me much peace this year. Things are fine just as they are.

We did a meditative exercise in which for a minute, we looked at the things we'd experienced starting with birth on through to the present day. Another minute was spent looking at the things we'll most likely be experiencing over the course of the rest of our lives (pun intended). I saw a lot of joy in the future, but also the passing of loved ones and pets. Neale said that the things we were visualizing had nothing at all to do with what is going on at this very minute, with what is happening now.

At the end, as we opened our eyes, we were instructed to look at something we agreed with. I looked at a light on the ceiling. When he asked us to look at something else we agreed with, I stared at a balloon and then at my pen.

When our time was about up for the day, Neale looked upon me, there in the front row, pointed at me and then asked that I stand up. He mentioned that I'd been to his retreats before. I nodded and said that last summer was the most recent time. He directed me to stand about six inches away from him. We were about to perform an experiment in which we stare into each other's eyes for 60 seconds straight. I was familiar with this exercise, but had never done it with another (I did it once in the mirror and fell in love with myself).

What a person to do it with and in front of dozens of others! Though it would be difficult, I resolved not to laugh or flinch. It wasn't easy, but I was able to do so. I stared directly into the eyes of the man whose book had changed my life almost 15 years ago for a full minute. He looked into my eyes and didn't even blink; I did once or twice. When the minute was up, he drew me close to him and then embraced me. This was certainly not something I expected when I woke up that morning.

The purpose of the exercise was to show that it's virtually impossible to dislike someone after staring deeply into their eyes, which many say are the windows to the soul. Many times when people argue, they don't look closely into the eyes of the other, preferring to get their point across over seeing their common humanity.

As the room was being broken down for that evening's keynote address, I got in line to have my pic taken with Neale; I've done this three times before. I asked the guy behind me to do the honors and here's what I got:

On a nice little high, I walked two blocks to the local mall which had a Subway that I'd visited before. While in line, a girl of about 18, upon seeing a pie, said to the cashier, "You have pizza?!" The man said, "Yes" to which the girl said, "I didn't know that".

There was a nice little surprise in the dispenser where change is given to people after they've paid for their order. I dug out three quarters before my own change was put there. I'll leave dimes, nickels, and pennies in there when I get em, but not quarters. Speaking of which, I had 18 cents I wanted to get rid of as I left the food court. I wound up dropping it as I passed three teenagers. I didn't look back to see if they picked it up or not. It's always a laugh wondering what their reaction was.

As I left JCPenney and headed back to the hotel, I saw three women from Neale's all-day, two of whom were smoking. The eldest pointed at me and said, "There's that guy" to her friends. I smiled and waved.

I spent a short amount of time in my room before getting ready to go to the first keynote lecture. More than a thousand souls would be present for it.


Rocketstar said...

I totally called it!!! I hope he used a breathe mint beforehand,LOL!!!

Kudos to you Thomas, I figure it's like me meeting Sam Harris or Christopher Hitchens... except without the molestation on stage.

Mags said...

That's pretty amazing-very cool, indeed. We used to do something like this in drama club in high school. It was always nerve racking when you had to do it with a member of the opposite sex.

And, as always, you crack me up. "I fell in love with myself."

ExtraO said...

I like that... eyes are the windows to the soul. I think I'll try that... I mean... looking into people's eyes to remind myself they are people just like me. :-)

Thomas said...

Yes, Rocket, it would be just like you meeting one of your idols. For a time, my preference would've been Tori Amos or Garth Brooks, but in the end, they haven't moved me as much as Walsch.

Thanks for stopping by, Mags. That exercise is meant to make you fall in love with the person you're looking at, so staring at oneself in the mirror would theoretically have the same effect.

I also did the exercise in a drama club; mine was in college. The girl who I was facing wound up crying! She was obviously moved by something.

Go for it, Extra. You won't regret it.

Phats said...

This is cool, I had to go back and read the part before this to catch up. Glad I did :)

I didn't know subway had pizza either til recently

Phil said...

Sounds like a great day. I love Chicago.