by Traci L. Slatton
My hat warned of twisting postures
an old rag, really, but after a quarter century
imbued with my fondness.
It was suddenly gone, vanished
as if it had never been yet it was
full of my cranium, and my hair, and various
dreams that had rattled through while it wore me
A pair of sunglasses featured
in favorite photos, me kissing my little daughter
growing in front of my eyes
asking to board away at a distant school
next to my friend the blonde Countess
she of evanescent visits
All that is
even my yoga
studio closed, the community
and the classes I enjoyed
the shala of my heart
a pair of suede boots my husband bought me. Will I ever find
all that is
like the close touch of a mate who has shed
over another woman,
younger than me,
and that faith misplaced
along with haberdashery and footwear and other
miscellany, even people.
Another warrior, a longer dog, a deeper backbend
to open my heart.
I move through until the body trembles denying
It is loss that is union.
Today was the memorial service for a dear friend’s infant grandson.
There were photographs placed around the room in the funeral home. It was a room for congregating, with neat rows of chairs for the visitors and tissue boxes placed at strategic intervals.
Mourning is excruciating anyway, but yoked to a child’s death, it is insupportable. There are no words.
This friend of mine has been in my life for nearly 20 years. He was my advocate and counsel, and slowly, over time and mutual respect, he became a friend. Then a dear friend, someone with whom I can always share a joke. He and his wife have gone to dinners with me and Sabin; they’ve come to visit us at various summer rentals, and we’ve been to visit them.
He’s a good man. He loves his children. I can’t imagine what was harder for him, watching his daughter grieve her tiny son, or his own grief about his grandson.
It’s not my first experience with the loss of a child. My sweet nephew died 25 years ago. He simply died one day. It was years before his pediatrician figured out that he’d had a rare genetic problem. I respect that my sister continued on after his passing. I just don’t know how she did it.
I sat in the memorial service and thought, This is the essential stuff of human life. This is it–stripped bared, down to the marrow in the bones–what life is about: loss, love, family. Togetherness. Having each other’s back when the worst happens, the unimaginable strikes. The solace of community.
It’s easy for people to get lost in a fantasy about life. It’s easy to get stuck in the quick and shallow pleasures. Especially in our culture, where there’s a cultural ideal of a beer commercial life, all frolicking in the sunshine with the hip gang. It’s a glib and seductive path.
It’s also all too easy to allow mundane problems to take over so that this moment now isn’t enjoyed and lived fully–with the juice squeezed out over your hands.
This moment now is never going to be perfect. But it can be savored–for those who are alive. I pray that I will always be alive until it’s my turn to pass.
“Remember that my son lived,” said my friend’s daughter. It came from her heart and pierced mine.
I had sent gifts but hadn’t yet met him. Still, I will remember that little guy.
Write again, they are telling me. You must write, Traci.
It’s the new theme: writing again.
The past twelve months have been excruciating. I am struggling.
It’s been a year of comings and goings from my life; intermittency like a suddenly thrown grenade blew up my peace of mind. It has been a year of travel, loss, loneliness, bad advice, uncertainty, sadness, emptiness, tough choices, betrayal, humiliation.
It has also been a year of joy: the birth of my beautiful grandson, deepening friendships, richer closeness with my sweet middle daughter. A lot of yoga! Books newly cherished. A beautiful place that has come into my consciousness as a home.
Change is afoot.
Write again, my husband says, as if that will erase everything that has passed between us. His eyes are soft and his voice is loving as he counsels me. Write again. He holds me often throughout the day.
His hands on my shoulders, my arms, my breasts, my belly help me. He is kind. And I am still struggling.
In every moment brims the fullness of the spiritual imperative: We are here to love, to learn, to work, and to play. We are here to choose love over fear.
Why then this heart ache?
For what reason did I come here? I’ve asked myself a thousand times over the last span of time.
What is the imperative that I am mindful of it?
How have I betrayed myself?
I suspect it’s the effort to answer these questions that will heal me. It’s the journey itself that will return me to Source–whatever the destination may be.
Of late, I think about love. The nature and meaning of love, the kinds of love.
References to love abound in our culture. Mostly those references concern romantic love. If you play American music, you will hear all manner of songs about romance, its thrills and heartaches. Other shades of love, like agape love, are mostly ignored.
Certainly, the dizzying rush of falling for someone is a kind of love. Taking a lover to bed and opening…opening…opening to the passion of merging is a kind of love. The great poet Rumi uses that merging to lift readers into an exaltation of love, the profound love of the omnipresent Beloved.
But there are other kinds of love and it is those less heralded varieties that are rolling around my thoughts. For example, love is forgiveness. In this world where we are all imperfect beings doing the best we can, forgiveness is essential. We are all going to hurt each other. Your family members will badmouth you or fail to support you or steal your inheritance, your friends will lie to you, your spouse will threaten to divorce you or, devastatingly, will stray.
Forgiveness is love in action. It’s love that says, “I may never again put myself in the position to be hurt this way by you, but I release myself from re-experiencing this pain over and over again, and I release you to your own karma, which is between you and God.”
Forgiveness permits—encourages—the one who made the mistake to recover their dignity and self esteem. Forgiveness is understanding that we are all prone to err. As painful as it can be, forgiveness is a blessing for both the forgiver and the forgiven.
Another kind of love is allowing someone to project their shadow onto you. Parents and therapists know this kind of love all too well. Sometimes, in the process of integrating themselves, a child or client is scorched by his or her own dark side. That person needs to disown it and project it outward onto someone else. It’s a pure and great form of love to hold that until the person can own it for herself and heal.
Life is a great journey. A friend of mine told me that the basis of love is respect and kindness. At the time, I agreed, though I thought to myself that it was a tepid basis for something so vast and protean. Now I realize, respect and kindness are the basis for friendship, and friendship is an integral component of every love relationship. But those aren’t necessarily love.
Rather, love is giving everything when called. It’s saying, “Yes, I’ll be there for you as you need me, no matter what the cost is to me. So if you need me to sell my house and take up residence across the street from you to catch you when you fall, I’ll be there.” Following through on that promise: that’s love.
Love is that you’d lie down in a street and let a truck run over you if that saves your kid. And you feel grateful for the opportunity. That’s love.
Love doesn’t wait to be given to first; it doesn’t negotiate; it doesn’t play tit-for-tat. Sure, yes, relationships between flawed human beings require constant negotiating. But love isn’t negotiable the way people aren’t fungible.
Love’s accounting is about giving and offering and surrendering. It’s about giving everything, everything, with hope but without expectation, and allowing the chips to fall where they may—because we humans can’t control everything. All we can do is love and allow.
Yoga Teacher Training
A few months ago, a long time friend came for dinner. She’s an American living elsewhere. She’s brilliant and amazing and full of knowledge, an expert in her field.
But she has forgotten how to listen.
She talked over my husband and me and couldn’t hear any of our ideas or opinions. Now, this lovely lady is a wonderful person in a thousand ways. She’s a repository of information about the fascinating field of the esoteric, because she has studied metaphysics for decades. Her whole life, really. But there was this thing missing from the way she related to us and it was receptiveness. Her vast knowledge has become a bulwark through which no one else’s thoughts and experiences could penetrate.
That dinner made a big impression on me. I don’t want to be like that: ossified behind my own learning. I want to be open and flexible and receptive. I want to hear other modes of thought, other people, even when I have education and experience that contradicts what they think. Even when it’s hard to listen, which it can be, because I’m an opinionated person with a great deal of education.
I thought of this dinner when I signed up for Yoga Teacher Training at Three Sisters Yoga; as the body goes, so goes the mind. A flexible, open body will yield a flexible, open mind. I was also thinking of the next three decades of my life. I don’t want to teach yoga but I do want to invest in the training to nourish my body and to create flexibility, strength, and stamina for the next thirty years.
The program at Three Sisters Yoga is meticulously thought out and the teachers are terrific: warm, engaged, present. But already I have encountered opposition to my own internalized systems of thought. Because Yoga considers itself a Science, and I studied and used a different system that also considers itself a science. I studied Healing Science for 4 years at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing (BBSH). I had a practice as a healer and saw clients for a decade.
The BBSH was a pivotal, seminal experience for me. It is integral to who I am as a human being and to my writing. Most of my characters are healers in one way or another.
This thing about wholeness haunts me.
I seldom speak of the BBSH now. When I was at the school and for years after I graduated, I went around talking about it a lot. It was amazing: there existed other people like me who were attuned to the subtle worlds! Who perceived the subtle worlds! I was newly out of the closet as an energy sensitive and exulting in the liberation.
But I got tired of head-blind non-healers projecting weirdness onto me–as if it isn’t our birthright as souls taking on flesh to see, hear, feel those other, primary realms.
Also, there’s a lot of acting out at the school. The BBSH doesn’t always act in integrity. Graduates and teachers of the BBSH don’t always act in integrity. It was upsetting to me that when someone questioned the school, the school’s response was to squash that person and to decree, “You’re in resistance.” Translation: you’re bad.
There was a point at which almost all of the teachers with open hearts were either fired or chased out of the school. I did not respect that.
The founder of the school Barbara Brennan sued people over her healing techniques, an action which lacked integrity. In the field of science, scientists throughout history have built upon one another–that’s what leads to progress, to the slow and meticulous accumulation of scientific knowledge. Newton didn’t try to own gravity. But Barbara wanted to own her healing techniques, some of which had been developed by other people. She had a paranoid streak which she never owned but which was clearly visible to anyone not submerged in the cult of her personality.
Nor has the BBSH been open and honest about what’s going on now with Barbara: she’s institutionalized with Alzheimer’s. Students and graduates deserve to know this. Barbara Brennan isn’t just a private figure; she’s also a public figure. She put herself on the world stage with schools in Europe and Japan. She has forfeited some of her right to secrecy.
I had a lot of problems with the conduct of Barbara and the BBSH. Nonetheless, I remain grateful to both. Barbara’s vision was extraordinary, both her high sense perception and her larger sense of the possibilities for healing techniques in the world. The BBSH was a left brain mystery school. It was a gift and a blessing for someone like me, who has a good working intellect as well as access to the subtle realms.
Barbara herself was extraordinary as a human being. Before enrolling in the school, I attended a lecture she gave. I walked up to her to have her sign my program, and as I approached her, my energy bumped up. She had that affect on me. She smiled at me and her eyes got dreamy as she gazed at me. She wrote, “Traci, Keep letting out your love, beauty, and sweetness.”
In my sophomore year at her school, Barbara read my field in front of the class. She said, “One day everyone will know that you have a secret, private inner world full of butterflies.”
As someone who has spent a lifetime with a secret, private inner world full of butterflies, I was shaken, startled, and freed to have her see me and validate me.
I owe Barbara a debt of gratitude. Also, I used BBSH healing techniques effectively in my practice.
This circles back to Yoga Teacher Training and my desire to remain open and flexible because already some of the Yoga precepts that are taken as “true science” butt up against my training and experience as a healer.
Can I stay open and flexible and allow divergent schools of thought to live in me simultaneously? It will be a challenge. Of course, it’s only fun if it’s a challenge–and I love to have fun.
Malcom Carter on IA&T
BlogTalkRadio show Independent Artists & Thinkers is BACK! On November 23, 2016 we will host Director/Producer/Writer Malcom Carter.
Are all things in the Universe really connected? How can we learn to see things differently? Join us as director, writer, and producer Malcom Carter talks about his new film THE CONNECTED UNIVERSE.
THE CONNECTED UNIVERSE is a fascinating and visually poetic journey of exploration of the connection of all things in the Universe. The film is Narrated by the legendary Sir Patrick Stewart. It explores many intriguing ideas and features the science of Nassim Haramein and his search to understand the mechanism of connection of all things in the Universe.
The Connected Universe has a global message, and it’s the highest crowd funded documentary in Indiegogo history! In its first two weeks of release it has been purchased by people in 104 countries – over half of the countries in the world!
This film will INSPIRE YOU to CONNECT TO YOUR POTENTIAL… the potential of WHO YOU ARE and WHO YOU CAN BECOME.
Malcom Carter is an Award winning Filmmaker and director. Over the last 20 years his work has appeared on 544 television networks, in 155 countries, and reached a combined global audience of over 2 billion viewers. Malcom is passionate about using the power of film to make a difference in the world by communicating messages that matter. He has extensive expertise in creating compelling communications with global impact. He is also known for being able to work with visionary thought leaders and advanced thinkers to translate and synthesize their ideas in an understandable way to a wide audience.
This has lead to work with NASA think tanks, and with global humanitarian organizations.
Malcom is also known for creating cinematic, engaging, and emotionally compelling films. Films that touch the heart. Films that inspire and inform the mind. Focused on global messaging – Malcom is part of a global network of top film makers in over 40 countries that shares communication strategies, film techniques, and local contacts to truly enhance the ability to film affordably around the globe.
Malcom currently lives in Vancouver, Canada and was the Director of the Asian Winter Games for the International Olympic Committee of Asia (2011), he also is an advoccate for mental health and worked with Kaiser Foundation Films. Malcom is a member of the International Quorum of Motion Picture Producers, Billion Minds Foundation Board of Governors, and various think tanks (NASA AMES, Colorado School of Mines, Talberg Forum).
Selected Awards: 25 motion picture award nominations (Best Director, Best Documentary, Best Promotional Film, Best Public Service Film, Best Music Video, Best Educational Film, Best Program Reflecting Cultural Diversity, Walter Klein Award, FREDDIE).