My Temple experience -- after I put my wooden heart and wedding ring on the wall, I cried, bawled, sobbed, for what seemed like hours. Tears streamed down my face, evaporated in the desert air and emptied me of pain I hadn't realized I carried. Then I opened my eyes and felt such an incredible lightness -- not a float away like a helium balloon type lightness but a freedom and clarity type lightness.
We bicycled back to camp and, exhausted, I went into the trailer for a short nap. For the past four years, every time I closed my eyes, I would have some thought about my ex-husband: wish he could see how happy I am, wish he could have heard that compliment my boss gave me yesterday ... some small sliver of thought. That afternoon I found that he, his name, the derogatory nickname my friends call him, his very existence, had become like a dark dwarf star or black hole or gravity well. I could NOT think about him even when I tried to! Just like bent light, my thoughts bent around the fact of him and would not land on him. Curiouser and curiouser! I really TRIED hard then to form his name in my mind. Nope. Wouldn't happen. I tried to say his name out loud. Nope. The feeling has slowly passed, as evidenced by the fact that I can write about this now, but I had a really hard time articulating it to my friend that afternoon. "I can't say ...." "It's as if ... never existed."
My experience in the temple was definitely cathartic. I think I needed some distance -- both time and space distance -- to really get over the hurt from my marriage and divorce. I am convinced that in no other place could it have happened. It wasn't the "church-ness" of that temple but rather the primordial, primitive, going back to our caveman ancestors feeling of the space.
Also of help was the alien feeling of the desert in general. It is hard to describe. Our human aesthetic (OK, maybe this is a bit Euro-centric but it is all I have to go on personally) requires some green in our vision. Grass, trees, water, whatever. Green is necessary. Even living in the East Bay and seeing the "golden" hills all summer, there was a bit of green in suburban yards and in oak and pine covered mountains. The playa is grey-brown for miles around. Even the distant mountains are greyed and brown. The dust eventually covers everything and even a once green tent becomes grey-brown. The only color was in human costumes and green tutus are not enough to satisfy my eye. The dust also changed the color of the sky and the sun; bright lights all night helped with the sense of unreality -- was this a planet with two suns? or several moons? It certainly didn't seem like my familiar Earth. People swathed in strange robes, scarves over nose and mouth, riding on and in odd vehicles -- maybe I had been transported to one of the worlds in a Star Wars or a Mad Max movie.
In any case, being so far out of my comfort zone was a big help toward letting go.