Los Angeles-My Spiritual Catalyst

A couple of years after I’d initially decided to walk away from my Intel career I found myself pursuing an old but perhaps classic dream, in Los Angeles. Why not, and if not now, when? I had the time and thankfully the educational resources (thank you GI Bill) so off I went to finally discover for myself what all the hype was about. There is so much nostalgia that spans that vast city and it was exciting to explore it all during those few years. As anyone who has lived there will tell you, LA is an amazing but truly weird place to live, a “normal” life never felt too easily achieved. Everyone is chasing a dream; trying to catch a break, and hoping to meet the right people but more often than not, running down dead ends. The bi-product of this extremely ambitious culture is that it makes for an incredibly challenging feat to find folks you can actually count on. For sure, it always amazed me how lonely one could sometimes feel in a city with almost 4 million people, so many acquaintances but real friends were few and far between. For all its faults though (traffic, pollution, homelessness, violence, and pervasive shallowness…) the city does have its enormously redeeming qualities, aside from the glitz and glam of Hollywood the amount of sheer talent of all kinds is astounding!! Seriously, mind blowing talent spanning vast fields of expertise, everywhere you go you’re met with artistic beauty and jaw dropping skill. When I wasn’t getting wrapped up in all the beauty, nightlife, events, parties, hikes, food, and other random artsy culture I was studying theatre and acting in Santa Monica. Going out on auditions and trying to get paid gigs is easier said than done with the enormous amount of competition abounding, but its a good lesson in character building if nothing else.

And then one random day after classes I asked a school friend who had just bought a motorcycle, if I could take it for a spin. He had his doubts but I assured him I knew what I was doing and I really did. I had had my motorcycle license for seven years already and had previously owned two other bikes, I’d never been in any bike accidents, this was not a big deal. So later that week I brought my helmet to class and then went out for a spin. Not five minutes later I was laid out on the sidewalk unconscious after having flown over the front of the bike. Thankfully I wasn’t going too fast since the whole thing occurred in a very stupid circumstance of traffic at an intersection with drivers who weren’t committed to using their turn signals but nonetheless there I was. I woke up in an ambulance after they’d given me morphine and we argued about which hospital they should take me to. I demanded they take me to the VA hospital because I’d be damned if I was going to pay thousands of dollars for a fifteen minute ambulance ride, I didn’t care how long I had to wait to be seen when I got there.

Once at the hospital they took x-rays and I vomited all over the sliding table that moved under the x-ray equipment. My body couldn’t handle the morphine I guess, and I could barely handle the shame but when you’re in that much pain you just don’t care. As it turned out, I hadn’t broken anything but I did tear my deltoid muscle, stretched a nerve in my shoulder, I had some lacerations on my liver and fluid in my lungs. Good times.

About a week later after recovering from the worst parts of the accident I decided I would go get a massage to work out the enormous kinks in my upper body and try to find some relief. A good friend had just given me a gift card to a local massage therapy clinic for my birthday so it seemed like the perfect time. I called and made an appointment with a woman who had the earliest availability. Once I got to the clinic and nice older lady came out and escorted me to her room, she had a very friendly and comfortable energy with a bit more style and spunk that you typically encounter in someone her age.

Once inside the room I explained about my recent accident and asked her not to try to massage that area because it was too tender. I also explained that at that time, I could not move my arm from the shoulder. I could not lift it at all straight out in front of me and I could only lift it about an inch out to my side. All I could do with that arm was move it from the elbow down and my hand worked normally. (Thank god my car at the time was an automatic!) The doctors I’d recently seen had tested the nerve to see if it was cut and fortunately it wasn’t, but it was stretched and they said it could be somewhere between 6-8 months before the nerve would heal and I’d get full use out of it again. The massage lady agreed not to massage that area but oddly, she asked me if she could try something else to see if it helped. I told her to knock herself out, if she thought she could help it heal faster I’m all for it. What did I have to lose?

She asked me to hold onto these two crystals, one in each palm and she put some oil my shoulder. Later I would learn that one of those crystals was black tourmaline and the other one I can’t remember. After about a half hour, and a bunch of not touching my arm at all, or even the rest of my upper body she asked me to try to see if I could move it. I couldn’t really move it anymore than when I’d arrived. She went back to “work”, she would hover her hands over the injured part of my shoulder for a while and then she’d make these gestures as if she was pulling something out of my shoulder but that something was definitely invisible and she almost never even touched my skin. She repeated this over and over for an hour. Meanwhile I felt these two crystals in the palms of my hands. No joke, it felt like I was holding two tiny hamsters in each palm. Like whatever was in my palm was alive! It really felt like it was moving, or maybe the energy in my palm was moving so intensely, I don’t know but there was definitely movement.

I also felt these waves of actual heat and cold move through my body as she said she was working with the elements in my body. Again, I actually felt the heat of the “fire” and the cool “air” moving through my body like a slow wave. I was very intrigued but not prepared for what happened the last time she asked me to try and move my arm. She asked, and I actually lifted it!! I lifted my arm about four inches vertically in front of me and at least six or seven inches out to my right side! I started crying. I was shocked and immensely relieved. Part of me was so scared I might never be able to use my arm again or at best that I’d be carrying around my arm for the next half a year until it healed. How did this happen?! It had been a week! I’d only seen the doctors a few days before and gotten the news about how slowly nerves heal. Astounded, I asked what she had done. She explained that it was just reiki and a few other body work techniques that she just wanted to try. “Reiki….what is reiki?”, I asked. She explained that its a type of energy work and I needed to know more. Immediately.

I asked if she would be willing to talk to me after her shift or sometime later that week and she replied that actually I was her last client and that there was a good Mexican restaurant next door where we could go and talk. And so we did, and I got to learn all about what reiki is and more. I made a very good and very important friend that day, one I will never forget and am so grateful for. She introduced me to my very first spiritual practices, she was always there for me when I had questions and a couple years later she would play an instrumental role in introducing me to another woman who would change my life further by shifting my perspective on how I view consciousness. She was so warm and generous. She gave me books about reiki and she also gave me that huge chunk of black tourmaline that I held in my palm during that hour. I still have it thirteen years later. It is a physical reminder of the day when spirit said to me, “OK Janel, you’ve had enough fun for now, time to get on with your purpose”. Looking back at the day I got into that motorcycle accident, I have no doubt that it was the catalyst that launched me onto this spiritual path, it was a pivotal moment where the direction of my life changed course and a totally fresh chapter began. The first of a handful of requisite moments to come that would open my eyes, step by step, to our true nature as spiritual beings having a human experience but those moments will have to wait for another article.

PS. My shoulder was completely healed with full function two weeks after my “massage” and a couple years later I’d get my own Reiki Initiation training Level 1 and 2.

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