Last week my friend Darrell treated me to a session with Catherine Shainberg, a world leader in the use of imagery for transformation. Darrell and his wife live on Bainbridge Island, so my day started by walking down to the ferry on a gorgeous, sunny Seattle Thursday. There's something transformational in the very act of making that crossing-- letting go of my business and personal obligations in Seattle and crossing Puget Sound to a different land.
Darrell picked me up from the ferry in his truck and drove me out to his house in the woods. After entering on a windy dirt road past a fully in-bloom mature Magnolia, we arrived at his beautiful home hugged by ancient Cedar trees. Catherine and Darrell's wife Joyce were waiting when I arrived. After a quick hello, Catherine led me into the small office where she was doing her private sessions for the day. I hadn't prepared a question before going to visit, nor did I have any idea really what to expect.
I've always been headstrong. My way or the highway. It's gotten me into lots of trouble, created loads of conflict and discomfort for me with family, friends, colleagues, partners. The older I get, the more I see what a waste of time this is. Life is too short, time is precious. So while I didn't have an exact question in mind for my session with Catherine, I was, and am, very interested in learning ways to move on from my lifelong bullheadedness.
After a few minutes of background questions, Catherine told me, in her lilting French accent, "You are very stubborn." Yes. Very. "Do you know how I know?" she pressed, "That line on your forehead. It tells me you are holding on. You are stubborn." The night before at our dining room table, my daughter Lucia was sketching picture of me and actually made a comment about that line on my forehead. Two references in less than twelve hours. That's a pretty noticeable line.
Catherine invited me to close my eyes and proceeded to guide me back, through beautiful imagery and breath, to a time where this "stubbornness" might have originated. The process was hard work, emotional, and I felt tears streaming down my cheeks first intermittently, then continuously, until we were done. When I opened my eyes, I could see through the window, a little brown squirrel perched on the porch chair behind Catherine, peering over her shoulder through the glass, looking right at me. I wondered if that little squirrel had been witnessing my process the whole time-- anguished face, dabbing my tears with kleenex-- or if he'd just shown up to welcome me back to reality.
Catherine then told me that I have a lot of work to do, a lot of practice to let go of my brow-wrinkling stubbornness. I asked if I could actually get rid of the deep groove in my forehead, and she smiled, "Yes, you can. You just have to keep working."
"It's all there" Catherine explained, "All of the beautiful parts of you are all there. Your work is to let go of what's blocking it." I don't fully understand it, but I basically get it. I have a line in my forehead that reminds me, every time I look in the mirror, to let go of my stubbornness. I don't have to recreate or rebuild or fix some part of myself. I have to look within, imagine, the release of my rigidity, and what's already there will be set free.