I am lying with eyes closed on the wooden floor of a yoga studio in San Mateo, surrounded by yoga teachers, listening to the resonant instructions of Lauri Smith, CEO of Voice Matters.
Her words are soothing and sonorous as she directs our attention to the tension gathering at the top of our heads, from where it will drain out of our bodies, like liquid:
"From the top of the skull, down over the forehead, face and neck; down through the shoulders and arms and out through the hands, where it absorbs into the ground...
"From the shoulders, down through the chest and torso and pelvis, down through the hips and thighs and calves and out through the feet, where it absorbs into the ground...
I am completely at ease in my body, relaxed and receptive.
“Now imagine a shaft of light beaming out from your heart. It starts to grow, eventually becoming so large that you can step inside it. Now the light begins to lift you up, away from where your body lies still on the ground, up and out of this yoga studio, above the town of San Mateo and the city of San Francisco, further and further, passing out of the atmosphere, until finally you are suspended in space, gazing back down at the swirls of white and blue and green that make up planet Earth.
“Now you notice a second shaft of light beaming from your heart back down toward Earth. There are colors inside this one. What colors are they?”
Purple and blue.
“You step into the second shaft of light. You start to descend again: passing back through the atmosphere, the Earth coming closer and closer, until you land gently in a new place. Now, look around you. What do you see?”
Mountains. Trees. A valley; a field. Green and more green. Not another soul for miles. Big, wide open sky. In the distance: the ocean.
“You notice a nearby dwelling, a structure of some kind. What does it look like?”
Dark brown wood. Big windows. Curious angles. Decks with views and nooks and flowering vines. Adirondack chairs.
“You approach the front door. As you raise your hand to knock, you realize that on the other side of the door is yourself, 10 years in the future. Now she opens the door and invites you in. How does it feel to be with her?”
Warmth. Beauty. Ease. Recognition. She is making us tea in her kitchen. A place where the beauty of every item is felt in its unique purpose. Instant home.
“She brings you to a part of the house where you can sit and talk. Where does she bring you?”
Two creamy armchairs in a reading nook set into a soaring bay window. Walls around us lined with books. Up-high and down-low at the same time, tucked into the side of a mountain, view of the distant sea. We curl up with our tea. The steam smells minty.
She is delighted, her eyes kind. She has been waiting for me.
“You ask her the first of three questions: How did you get here?”
Her voice, like a dream: “Spiritually generous.”
“The second is: What do I have to do to meet you here?”
“Be kind, and create.”
[I am still reveling in these two responses - so surprised by what they contain - when Lauri issues the third, and I miss it.]
Lauri has us bid farewell to our future selves, step back into the beam of light, and travel back up into space. There we meet the first beam of light, which brings us back down to Earth to reunite with our bodies on the wooden floor of the yoga studio in San Mateo.
She invites us to call upon that future self as an ally to ground us in times of fear or self-doubt. For the rest of the weekend, the words spiritually generous roll around and around the soft palm of my mind, like velvet Baoding balls.