On Monday night I went to Alternatives in St James’s Piccadilly. The nice man who opened proceedings asked people to raise their hand if they’d never been before. About half of the audience did so. He said, very humourously I thought, that Alternatives had been there for thirty years and what’d kept them! And it reminded me (marketing insight) that however well-known you are to some, you are still a well-kept secret to most.
All day Monday I was thinking about going out in the evening and wondering who else was going. I thought about putting it on Facebook as I was going to see someone speak I’d never heard of before, making that marketing point again. I knew I’d bump into someone there. They are my tribe and I am theirs. I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a gig at Alternatives without meeting someone I know, or someone who went on to become a friend, client or colleague. It’s that kind of a place.
Anyway, in the end I just went without telling anyone I was going for an evening which promised True Refuge – Meditations for Emotional Healing and Spiritual Awakening. The friend I’d suggested going with was out of town.
I drove up and parked in my usual spot, fetched a cup of coffee over the road at Pret and then crossed Piccadilly towards the church. OMG! Had I made a miscalculation!! There was a massive queue, the like of which we normally only see for Doreen Virtue or Marianne Williamson who, as it happens, is sold out at Alternatives in a couple of weeks’ time.
Well, I thought to myself, as I began to walk towards the queue, I’m BOUND to meet someone in that queue (and I won’t need to go to the back!). Even before those thoughts were fully formed, someone I didn’t instantly recognise stepped out of the queue and called me by my name. I looked at her and I knew I knew her but it took me a few moments to recognise Jayne who worked with me in my accountancy business in the Eighties, who I’d pretty much last seen at her wedding in 1990 she reminded me. And neither of us could have been more amazed to see each other after all these decades and neither of us could have known that we would both be into spirituality now when what we were into then was commerce.
I remember Jayne in her twenties, almost as though she’s fixed there forever but, of course, she’s now 51 and the 8 year age gap between us was as nothing, we were just two middle aged women exploring meditation and she was a first-timer at Alternatives but not new to the speaker, Tara Brach. Jayne’s a fan and couldn’t wait to tell me what a treat lay in store for me. She wasn’t wrong.
I pride myself on being all over everything that counts, except I’d never heard of Tara Brach and yet there was a queue round the block and no wonder. What a wonderful woman! What a wonderful speaker! I cannot wait to read her two books Radical Acceptance and True Refuge, and subscribe to her very popular free podcast.
Tara spoke in a way which moved me deeply, and she also read us several amusing and thought-provoking poems and snippets. I wish I could have captured them all. Here’s a couple I enjoyed:
Do not try to save the whole world or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create a clearing in the dense forest of your life
and wait there patiently,
until the song that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.
by Martha Postlewaite
and this …
If you can start the day without caffeine,
If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
Then you are probably ………the Family Dog!
Thanks, Alternatives, for another cracking Monday night out. See you again soon.