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Stories of Power

Meeting My Teacher Carlos Castaneda

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)

Twenty three years ago, during my first lunch with Carlos Castaneda at a local Cuban restaurant in Los Angeles, he introduced me to a warrior’s premise that is one of the most important: Freedom of Perception. I learned that my interpretations and beliefs are not unalterable, but the product of unquestioned repetition. Castaneda urged me to question my thoughts, to take a deep look at my beliefs. He then said that my beliefs were stored in my body, and by questioning them I could not only free my perception, but also boost healing from any ailment and restore my vitality.

I could perceive the world as mysterious, unfathomable, filled with possibilities. I could dream myself anew. I would be free.

It was a lovely sunny day in Los Angeles! My friends Cecilia and Rosa and I arrived at the restaurant at around noon. Castaneda was already there, sitting at the head of a large table with several people. He greeted us and, pulling a chair from a nearby table, indicated for me to sit between him and Florinda Donner-Grau, a writer and Castaneda’s close colleague.

The restaurant was packed and the customers loud, as loud as lively Latino families like mine can be. I squeezed in between Florinda and Castaneda. My hands were sweating and I held a tight smile between my teeth. I was hungry. As usual, I was running on empty. Raised in Argentina, my breakfast habits consisted of a cappuccino and a croissant. Following Castaneda’s suggestions, I’d been avoiding both things—caffeine and sugar—because, according to him, stimulants deplete the energy systems. At the hotel where I stayed the night before, it was hard to find anything but sugar and caffeine in the morning, so I opted for skipping breakfast.

I had flown from Argentina to the U.S. for the first time to assist at a workshop that Castaneda was leading in Culver City on the Arts of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico. I had read his books for years, and practiced the movements his teacher taught him with a small group of friends in Buenos Aires. I was passionate about and admired his work. However, there I was sitting next to him, at a greatly desired lunch, paralyzed, with an empty stomach, feeling crappy and like a loser. I wanted to hide under the table.

Yet I was looking at the table with hungry bear eyes, searching for bread, seeking the waiter. “Oh darling, you are hungry. Wait here,” Florinda said and left the table. Florinda was energetic and alert!

Castaneda, seemingly aware of my moods, out of the blue said: “The thoughts running in your head are not your creation: They are the product of your socialization,” he said with a large smile, showing all his teeth. “Repetitive thinking leads to fixation. For example, señorita, if in the background of your head you keep telling yourself that you are not good enough, guess what?” he waited for my answer.

“I won’t feel good enough?” I guessed trying to please him.

“Yes. And, you will suffer from low blood sugar,” he affirmed as if reading my thoughts. I did suffer from hypoglycemia and I thought it was weird for him to immediately see that in me.

“We have been conditioned to believe that our thoughts are real and that they define us, but is that so? ‘Question your thoughts,’ Don Juan told me 30 years ago. And still today it is great advice…Eat something,” he said to all, pointing with his chin to the table as the waiter started serving dishes with fish, rice and beans to everyone. “You need energy for your assemblage point to shift.”

I heard him mention the assemblage point quite a lot during that weekend. According to sorcerers in his lineage, the assemblage point is an area within our energy field, the size of a tennis ball, located between the shoulder blades at an arm’s length away from the physical body. The big deal about the assemblage point is that it is where we translate the pure energy as it exists in the universe into something perceivable, and then we interpret what we are perceiving. Awareness or perception takes place by means of alignment between the energy inside of us and the energy outside of us; the point where this alignment takes place is our assemblage point.

Scientists, shamans, spiritual seekers and others have spent hundreds of years trying to find how this process takes place. According to the tradition of shamans of ancient Mexico, the assemblage point answers the question. If the assemblage point is loose and flexible, our perception and ability to interpret the world around us is being enhanced and changes fluidly, as it is stimulated by new filaments of energy passing though it. If the assemblage point, on the other hand, becomes fixed or solid, our perception and interpretations become limited and static.

“You can question your thoughts and free yourself from the heavy ones you don’t want to have,” Castaneda continued with lovely Spanish intonation. “Once you start being more flexible in your thinking, and in your joints, the assemblage point is no longer fixed. You are free to change your thoughts and perceive yourself and others in more uplifting ways.”

I had witnessed him the day before teaching movements with ease, as if dancing on the stage. He was strong and flexible, and encouraged us all to be so.

“Direct your attention to what really matters to you. Don’t be a babosa. Use your energy and time to manifest whatever you intend,” he added. Then, almost whispering, he said, “My time is clicking: for me it is five to twelve. What is interesting to me now is to know what you are going to do with what I am going to teach you.”

That was the very first day of my formal apprenticeship, which continues to this day. Even thought Castaneda is no longer in his physical form, he still teaches me through the legacy he left behind. He introduced me to the ancient seers’ world in the traditional ways in which he was introduced to that world, and I became aware both of myself and of the world around me as a source of endless creativity, improvisation and growth.

Today I am still growing and teaching through the organization I founded with Dr. Miles Reid called Being Energy. I learned how to release old beliefs stored in my body and heal myself from hypoglycemia and diabetes. I regained my joy for life, my enthusiasm for movement, and my thirst for learning. Today, I nourish my body with nutritious healthy foods. Today I know I am enough.

Castaneda inspired me to live my life as a path with heart, not only shifting my assemblage point and living my life from the heart, but also accessing a state of heightened awareness he described as “seeing energy as it flows in the Universe,” granting me the freedom to follow the flow of life and growth that is open to us all.

WHAT HE TAUGHT ME IS WHAT I SHARE WITH YOU IN THE ONLINE CLASS SERIES: Path with Heart.

Join these classes to:

  • Learn how to release unhealthy beliefs and free your body’s healing response
  • Break the chain between self judgments and your biology
  • Give birth to your own definition of freedom
  • Free your joints and connective tissue by bringing light to unconscious patterns of moving and thinking
  • Achieve wellbeing through movement, visualization, and something we call recapitulation (reframing your experiences)
  • Join a worldwide community to support you from wherever you are

Being Energy’s online Path with Heart classes can make the difference in freeing you to experience the health and enhanced awareness that you have wanted for so long.