There is an old story about a Zen master, the head monk of a certain sect, who noticed that his most promising student was holding himself back from the fullness of his spiritual potential. As the young monk was meditating, the head monk came up to him with no warning and pummeled the student’s knee with a wooden bat. Why would he do that? Well, the knees represent our ability to move forward, and breaking a knee broke the karma that was holding the student back from becoming the master.
Five years ago, I ripped the two main ligaments in my left knee. My husband Eric and I were looking to re-create the way we had lived when we were younger: in the high mountains by a lake. I wanted to reduce my teaching obligations; I was trying to turn away from that life. I wanted to get back to being a mountain climber, a horseback rider, anything but this. I knew I was turning away from my dharma as a teacher, my true life purpose. I was saying to Spirit, I don’t want to live such a life of sacrifice.
We’d only been in the mountains for three days when I rented a paddleboard at the lake. I was standing on it in shallow water, getting ready to paddle out, when a man came up behind me suddenly and accidentally knocked me off the board, causing the knee injury.
Despite the severe knee trauma and a year and a half of rehab, I didn’t get the message from Spirit that I needed to accept my path in life.
Fast forward exactly five years, almost to the day. Eric and I were once again in the Sierra Nevada mountains, hiking this time. Again, all I was looking for was a quiet place where I could get some rest from my intense schedule as a spiritual teacher. Again, it was the third day we were there, when all of a sudden the narrow cliff I was standing on gave way and I went flying through the air, tumbling ten feet down the rugged terrain.
This time that same knee was smashed to smithereens, and my right wrist was broken as well.
Clearly, Spirit was not pleased with my plan to renew my love affair with the mountains. I must have veered off course, and this was Spirit’s way of bringing me back to my true self. I was tired; I wanted to take care of me; I wanted to spend life in the mountains and reduce my responsibilities. But Spirit didn’t care about that. Spirit cares about my being a teacher and helping to raise the consciousness of the planet.
This time I have no choice but to listen. I can’t hobble away, I can’t even use a walker. I’m observing myself, staying in the witness. My mind is clear since I have refused all painkillers from the beginning. I’m totally surrendered to what is, and not even anxious or worried about the upcoming surgeries. You could call it the flow of grace that happens when you acknowledge there are no accidents, and certainly not two freak accidents that both happened on the third day of my trying to leave the intensity of a teacher’s life.
Instead of planning a move to the mountains, I was now trying to find a care facility that could handle me for the next few months. My main interest during my research was to find a place with a strong spiritual basis. The only person I was interested in interviewing at the skilled nursing facilities was the Spiritual Director!
I chose a facility run by an order of nuns (real nuns in real habits, taking me back to my childhood Catholicism) that started in Spain over 150 years ago, with their sole mission that of caring for the sick. But the place was full. I forcefully pleaded my case to the nuns. They finally called me back and said they had found a room for me.
Since I had to be under a doctor’s care, the next bit of serendipity was choosing a doctor to supervise my healing at the facility. An East Indian doctor (very compatible with my spiritual beliefs), around 60 years old, actually showed up in my room at ten at night! She came over to my bed and said, “This is unheard of. This place has a huge waiting list. How in the world did you get a room?” Eric chuckled over my ability to talk myself into any place.
I asked the doctor, whose office had told me she wasn’t taking any new patients, why she had taken my case. She said, “I lost a young nun here to leukemia, and the nuns got me through her death. Then I had colon cancer and they helped me through that. Now, when they call and want me to help a patient, I do so.”
So here I am, in the right place at the right time with an amazing opportunity to go deeper inside, to learn even more that I can later teach you: lessons about humility and patience and surrender to the divine plan. I have cleared my schedule for the summer, which is what I’ve been told it will take for the surgeries and rehab. Right now I’m flat on my back, with what feels like 30 pounds of metal temporarily around my left leg, screwed into the bones of my thigh and calf, to brace and stabilize the shattered knee until it’s time to surgically repair it, and a full cast on my right hand and arm.
As soon as I am able to, I will get back in front of my computer and resume teaching and video sessions with my students.
This time, Spirit, trust me, I got the message!
P.S. My Mindvalley Academy master class is still happening; it’s just been postponed for a brief time. Stay tuned for the new start date.