Do you believe in miracles?
On the website for her new Oprah Winfrey Network, Oprah is looking for people who have experienced a miracle.
Wanna be on Oprah? Just write up your miracle story and send it in to Oprah's "Miracle Detectives." It's that simple.
And, who doesn't wanna be on Oprah? Even in my small-town community where few people have any claim to fame, I have yet to run into someone who doesn't harbor a secret dream to be--well, on Oprah. Next to realizing the elusive American Dream or making it into the select group destined to move upward in the hereafter, few things, it appears, wield such power over our collective national imagination as--being on Oprah.
So, seeing that OWN announcement got me thinking. What exactly are miracles? And, have I experienced a miracle in my life?
You know, the kind of special effects, flashing lights miracles where the waters part, the skies open, and Gods speaks to you--or maybe He doesn't bother speaking to you, but at least picks you out of the pickle you're in?
Have you had a miracle like that? Do you know anyone who has had a miracle like that? Me neither.
But the prospect of being on Oprah, of course, is a tantalizing one. So I jogged my memory a bit more to see if there was something, even a teeny, weenie little miracle I could come up with for Oprah and her "Miracles Detectives."
And as I thought about it, I realized that, yes, I have had miracles in my life. Many times. Significant miracles.
It's just that they are sort of sloooooow motion miracles. The kind where you don't know they're a miracle until the months and years after it happened. The kind that continue to unfold all through your life.
In fact, I have had four BIG miracles in my life. Let me share them with you, because in doing so, you might find that you too, have had similar slow motion miracles in your life.
Miracle #1. I became a vegetarian, at age 18. Why was that a miracle? Well, have you ever seen those movies where it starts out in black and white and then suddenly changes to color? That was my life before and after shifting to a vegetarian diet. The thought of being a vegetarian may not float your boat, understandably so. But it worked wonders for me; eating that light fare of veggies, pulses, and fruits utterly and radically changed my experience of the world.
Miracle #2. I started to meditate, Transcendental Meditation, at age 19
Why was that a miracle? Because it taught me the power and importance of rest and relaxation as an avenue for refining both mind and body. But more than that, it made me experience how the capacity for growth in life is infinite and that like a flower, I could continue to unfold, all life long.
Miracle #3. I started dancing ballet, at age 39. I don't need to tell you why that was miracle!
More than that, though, it took me out of 25 years of couch-potota-ism, and made me physically active in a way I hadn't been my entire adult life. It gradually transformed my body from a jello-like state to a sense of vibrancy, well-being, and vitality I hadn't known since I was very young.
Miracle #4. I began practicing yoga an hour a day; every day, when I was 49.
Why was that a miracle? Well, there are those who would say that it was a miracle that I finally realized that 40+ year-olds don't DO ballet.
However, the shift also heralded in something much deeper--a new relation to what it means to be physically active; a new sense that I had the power to take control, not just of my health and my well-being, but the power to turn back, or at least slow, the clock of aging. But even beyond that, as any yoga buff can attest to, it gave me the experience that our capacity for health and well-being literally is infinite; that refining the body ultimately more profoundly than anything opens up the gateway to the soul.
I call these miracles. Slow Motion Miracles. Why? Because they all did the same thing: they gradually changed my relationship with my body in a way that invited in much greater health. But much more than that. As my body changed, so did my life. Utterly, radically, completely.
All of these were miracles, because they gave me a new perception of how the body is a gateway to the mind. The gave me the experience of how the body is the gateway, not just to the mind, but--to how you feel mentally, emotionally. And, that the body is a gateway not just to how your feel, but how you experience life. And therefore how life experiences you. These slow motion miracles opened a new perception of how the body is the gateway to something even deeper. That which we call Soul; Spirit.
These Slow Motion Miracles were miracles in the truest sense of the word. It wasn't about losing weight, or becoming a size 2 wearing a D-cup . They were miracles, because they heralded a profound transformation of my life, or rather, a transformation of how I created my life.
Most people have had at least one slow motion miracle in their life. Something that happened, which profoundly changed their life, and the course of their life afterwards. Because, ultimately, what are miracles if not "simply' a profound transformation that affects our life forever after? Something that leaves us bigger, better, expanded, greater as human beings?
For me it was the act of realizing how intimately my health is linked to emotional and mental well-being, and that our capacity for refining health and well-being is so infinite it eventually encompasses and touches upon the realm of the Spirit as well.
For you, it may have been the birth of a child, the overcoming of adversity, the triumph of climbing a mountain, the experience of embracing the grandeur of Nature in a new way, or the feeling of Grace as a loved one gets healed. Miracles are there in our lives, every day, whether we see them on or not.
As psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow--The Psychology of Optimal Experience, puts it: "For each person there are thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand ourselves." And the peak moments of our lives "usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to the limits in a voluntary moment to achieve something difficult and worthwhile."
So, Oprah, if you're out there listening, listen up: Miracles are for EVERYONE.
Everyone, if they think carefully about it, has had some experience of a miracle. Miracles are not so much when something "supernatural" happens and affects us from the outside. Miracles are those moments when our life takes a turn at a crossroads which somehow broadens our perception, and, ultimately, brings us more present with that greatest miracle of all: Being Alive.