It is Wednesday at rush hour, and I am late for the event.
It’s in Berkeley, so I have to drive, and it’s downtown, so I have to find a garage. The first one I pull into has a clearance that’s too low for the van I’m safeguarding while my partner is away, and the lady on duty admonishes me as though I could have anticipated this in the absence of a sign.
It’s 40 minutes past the hour as I approach the venue on Allston Way, hoping to make it into a seat before the “embodied meditation” begins at 6:40pm. I loathe showing up late to meditation – which, of course, is ironic because it makes me rush to arrive on time, only so that I can settle into peaceful stillness a bit sooner.
As I am pulling open the door, I catch eyes with a woman pulling on another door down the way, and we exchange smiles before meeting on the other side. She has driven all the way from Petaluma, which she never does, and we are both first-timers. We ride the elevator, follow the noise, find our nametags. "Shall we sit together?" she asks, and I happily follow to two empty seats.
Alas, the “embodied meditation” turns out to be a sort of primal dance activity, so the sitting must wait. Having recently decided to be receptive to things that may have offended my extra practical brain in the past, and having inexplicably moved my calendar around in order to attend this gathering for “Spiritual Women,” I decide to check my ego-driven inner resistance and shake my body to the drum beat with as much abandon as I can muster.
It’s fun. I’m glad I wore flats.
As we settle in for the speakers, my seatmate introduces herself as Sarah. “I feel like we’ve met before,” she says, fixing me with her warm, clear green-eyed gaze. Inwardly I admire her ability to look deeply without being invasive, which I’ve found to be a rare combination. “I feel the same way!” I exclaim. “But I don’t think so. I’ve never been to Petaluma. But maybe somewhere else.”
She agrees, returning my conspiratorial smile at “somewhere else,” and then we turn to listen.
Three speakers and four more dance meditations later, the networking begins. I turn to Sarah and ask what she does.
She shows a barely perceptible moment of hesitation; then says: “I’m clairvoyant. I see layers of energy over the material world. People come to me when they feel unclear about what to do next.”
Sarah says everyone has this ability, a “sixth chakra” to which she just happens to be very attuned, from the time she was a young child, and that she teaches people how to access theirs. She calls it “a different way of seeing.”
“Like Magic Eye?” I grin, referring to the illustrated books where images of flowers and sailboats emerge when you relax and/or cross your eyes. She laughs. “Yeah, kind of.”
We talk about her business model and membership community, for which she leads guided meditations each week. She no longer does live consultations, with a 2- and a 4-year-old at home. We brainstorm how she could create online products that would enable her to continue giving her gifts without having to be there in the moment, delivering them. I remind her that she already has the most vital part of that equation, which is an audience who likes to hear from her.
We go back and forth about our respective challenges and victories as solo-preneurs. I admit that for the past three years (!) I’ve had a deep and curious resistance to publishing blog posts. Even though I enjoy telling stories and have always told stories; even though I’ve written several since launching a new website; and even though I know I have to share them in order to grow my business -- for some reason, I just keep doing other things instead.
Finally, I can’t resist any longer. “Sarah, forgive me, but how does it work? Do you see or read everyone you interact with?”
She nods to accept my question; one she gets all the time. “When I was younger, I was way too open... It wasn’t good for me. But over the years I’ve learned how to sort of turn it off, and just be really present with people.”
Even as she says this, I can see her gaze shifting, pulling back a little, as though to take in my whole face as opposed to just my eyes. “You know, now that you mention it, I do see something,” she says, gesturing with her hand to the back of her head. “You have a little muse back there.”
I ask her what that means, and she shrugs. “Think of them as your creative guides. Talk to them.” I ask her if she means in meditation. “No, not necessarily. Just in life. Just communicate with them, ask them for guidance. They’ll give it to you.”
As we are gathering to leave, even though I know she will likely not come all the way from Petaluma, I offer her a flyer for my upcoming workshop, and then my card as well. She receives them as though I have given her precious gifts, her eyes lighting up to take them in.
“Oh, you’re going to do so great,” she says, still looking at them. “Seriously, you are bringing big gifts into the world. You are so on the right track.”
And then Sarah has to run, off to meet her friend for dinner, after the requisite detour on her way out to thank the event organizer.
I wander toward the back of the room, smell a few essential oils, eat a Lindt truffle, and come out of my reverie to thank a presenter or two. Then I call it a night, head out of the room to the bank of elevators, and accompany two cleaning ladies down to the lobby.
When the doors ding open, who do I see running across the lobby from the opposite elevator, but Sarah – her light grey sweater trailing behind her, her quick grin meeting mine for an instant as she rushes off, and out into the cool night air.