Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture
MY HAPPY PLACE

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Practice

Practice.

I want to come clean about what it has been for me.

My body has humbled me when my head longed to go in another direction. My body has humbled me and taught me everything I have needed to learn and know.

But it was only because I listened.

If I was not listening to its pain and cries, I was not embodying or deepening or staying dedicated to my own practice. And I knew it.

When I couldn't walk, there was no where to move.

When I fell countless times from not listening to my inner pace, I knew I was not practicing, but instead, only pushing.

When I found a new language of quiet, so quiet that I could hear my body's instruction, I knew my practice had begun and it looked nothing like asana. It was about giving up an identity which I had only been firmly rooted in and deeply enlivened by  muscle and action and activity and I knew that had to, needed to, change. The cost was too high. 

There was a lot of grief in giving up that identity, but body wisdom is bone deep and it doesn't relent.

I have been in this practice for a long time now. Listening. Waiting. Facing various challenges. And I see there is a difference between daily pain and the alarming pain which grips you, the one that you know means something else. Another great disruption which may mean another long journey. That tethered road you have to look into and wonder life's big questions around.
 

And then you breathe when you breathe, and you are grateful for all of the moments (my teacher Christina brilliantly refers to it as "the fine-print of practice") you experience in your daily life.

My desire is to stay humble. That is my practice. Bow to the the practice and sanctity of deep self-care in all of its evolution. Step by step. To stay faithful to my body's wisdom. To keep listening to all that it has to teach me without negotiating and resisting. To try to find ways to be a humble recipient as the process of renovation occurs again and again.

After the dissolution, renovation.


3.6.16 

Jill Bacharach 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Essential Transitions

When my father was getting ready to leave his body twenty years ago, he was very intentional about saying his goodbyes.

I was the last one he asked to come.

I flew alone from San Francisco to Naples, Florida with two flights in between. It was a long journey on many levels.

My father no longer looked human.

My father and I had never spent more than a few hours with each other at any given time over the course of my lifetime. We mostly exchanged silences and arguments, entirely initiated by me, followed by further silences, initiated and terminated by him. But when he became ill, he was lucky to have a daughter who would push through all of those patterned behaviors.

Even though he didn’t look human, and even though I was quite young, I had the wisdom to commit to seeking the essential pieces inside of him which were calling for the love from his daughter as he was about to leave a body which was failing him on every level imaginable.

In those final days, my father became a man who leaned into me for love. Love which I was able to give and which then flowed between us because there was nothing left to do but that clearing.

We were no longer arguing over pride or pain. Even as we had hugged each other only a few times in our lives, and even as hugging him them was the closest thing to death I had ever seen, nearly breaking several of his bones, there was simply no veil.

Even as his wife was shouting and cursing at me from the other room, like a tormented character from an O’Neill play, nothing else mattered but these moments of pure seeing. Seeing past the fear in his eyes, eyes which no longer resembled anything real. And finding a quiet in me, which only could have been borne from a love we had come to heal with each other and were able to finally show.

Those years of his illness changed how I lived and he knew it, even as it scared him. But I believe it also soothed him to have me by his side, not seeing him as broken, but learning something about what his own essence felt like and how it came to breathe what would become known as a real life.

What are the essential pieces of ourselves that we cannot see but that we deeply feel about those we love? Can we find a way to lean into those places and remember?

This is my practice.


12.28.15

Jill Bacharach

Monday, September 28, 2015

One Hundred Years of Love

I believe our souls hold contracts with each other’s souls. Some of these contracts prove to be unbreakable. 
My most sacred contract was with my maternal grandmother. Our love for one another was unmistakable and we simply would have done anything to create a better life for each other.
Our contract probably began before we each arrived here. But to my conscious knowledge, I always felt the commitment to be fierce. When I was 5 years old, I saw her collapse in front of me from anaphylaxis when we were alone in her home and I was not willing to watch her die. When I was 6, she felt the same when I spent a week unconscious in a hospital room, and with my mother on another continent, she  watched over me night and day; she was my guardian, my heartbeat, she was utterly unwilling to leave my side. 
Our connection went on like this throughout her life including the traumatic details surrounding her death and all that followed.
My grandmother would have been 100 years young today, had she not passed from a severe trauma 12 years ago, this same week: October 1, 2003. 
She was the woman in my life who taught me about the power of love and through her I learned that love never dies. 
She was opinionated and judgmental. She was curious about life and the questions it raised- from the DOW to deep spiritual questions which enabled us to sit in conversation and contemplation about her own death and how it would impact her heart and my own, and my urgent request for her to find ways to contact me from the other side. 
With 60 years between us, there was simply no distance that separated us. She spoke to me of her loneliness and alienation, experiences which we all share, but feelings I knew I could not take away. 
I learned this lesson as a child: it was in that quiet look she had, her vulnerable eyes which spoke powerful narratives and taught me about the stories of her life.
I was the one who told her that her beloved had passed and I was the one who held her when he was removed from their home. I held her in her grief for the duration of her life, which grew to bewilder and confuse her. And she would continue to teach me about that quiet gaze.
This is why I sit now.
When my grandmother died, it was a traumatic event. What was asked of me caused further trauma which initially took at least a year for me to recover from. The sight, the smell, the entire forensic scope. But it took me far longer, more than a decade, to recover from the loss which was thrust upon me with the same ferocity as the accident.
It took time. Time given. Time lost. Time broken. Time forgiven. Time to rebuild. It  took the time it took. It took time.
The reality is nothing in life is ever ours. And nothing is guaranteed. Nothing. The only thing you can count on is who you know yourself to be. And surely that is going to shift and change with varying circumstances, especially traumatic ones. But I believe our core values tend to THRIVE and flourish even in the worst of circumstances.
What I know and have always known is that I came from my grandmother. I came from her and I honor and love all of her nuanced holiness and complexity just as she would want me to honor and love my own. 
I honor our ability to understand what was unspoken between us but was always deeply conveyed.
I honor all that she taught me about the beauty and power of love.
This is the power women possess and pass onto one another.

She taught me the ways love can break you. 
And how it can force you to rise from the depths.
Again and Again.

She taught me about the helplessness of love.
And also the anchor of it.

She taught me the sustainability of love.

She taught me about a love that is so quiet, you have to develop a new way of listening.

She taught me how to navigate my own edges of pain.
And grace.
She led me to learn how to wait for myself
no matter what.

She fought with me.
She fought with me.
She fought.
She fought
So I would know 
I could and 
Would always come out on the other side
Beautiful
And strong
And capable
Of knowing 
I would always be there to hold myself up 
In 
From 
and With love.

In honor of my grandmother and in honor of our collective call to act, in honor of the places in my grandmother and the places in me that push and push for things to be better and for others to rise to their strongest and their best, here is my personal call: 
I’m not buying that anyone and I mean ANYONE, a lover, a friend, a family member, or even a foe, can get in the way of this kind of love, or this kind of power. Not ever. 
In honor of my most sacred of all relationships, the turn of a century and on this Yarzeit, I honor you, I honor me, I honor all women and I say in honor of my grandmother, I’m not buying anything that does not line up with love, strength, empowerment, truth, integrity, dignity, accountability, kindness, engagement, and generosity of pure heart. 

To my grandmother, I thank you for always inspiring my heart to open. And I thank you for teaching me how to love more and from more. 

That is a power women possess and one we must honor and celebrate fully.

Today, I honor 100 years of love.



9-28-2015
Jill Bacharach

Please join our call to action on October 1, 2015 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Japa Mala

It is said that when a mala breaks that you have burnt off some of your karma by your practice. It is looked upon as something to be celebrated.

I understood this and practiced this quite diligently every time my malas broke and I released them with love and surrender and sometimes sorrow, when they broke. However, this time, when my mala broke, I wanted to repair it.

I purchased it in celebration of rejoining with my teacher and repairing (over the course of time) with another with whom I had treated unfairly, a profound breach I had caused and which I had always wished to repair. The entire experience was one of gratitude and honoring. Honoring of movement forward and honoring of my body’s movement back, which was the deepest honoring.

I held this mala reverently.

And as I stood a few mornings later, making my coffee, it completely broke apart. I just wasn’t ready to release it. So I asked for a “repair” which felt like the most honoring way to stay on track with my decision to honor myself fully.

I was told it would take some time. And I was okay with that.

Of all the days on the calendar for it to arrive, it arrived today. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Indeed, it took time. But what a blessing.

I don’t know how long it will stay with me, but what I know now is that this journey has already been an informative and sacred one.

I don’t know where it’s been without me, or before me… but somehow, it holds a truth for me around how much of me has journeyed on.

A few weeks ago, I had a moment when I felt the reflection of myself in every person I saw. And I mean every single person. It was sheer and utter humility. And through that lens my heart felt deeply rich.  

In Japanese culture, items are placed in both hands when presented to another person as an offering. This used to make me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t know how “to be with” this experience. I felt I was being made to feel inherently superior. But I now see it as an expression of humility. I realize now that it didn’t make me feel superior, it made me feel vulnerable. And subsequently, even more humble.

With today be a very sacred time of the year, I wish to offer my gratitude for the return of this beautiful mala. 

As 5776 begins, as I have said before, may we all be guided by deep listening and alignment to the source that replenishes the well of love, truth, hope, kindness, forgiveness, sustenance, generosity, and faith. And may we always seek that which we wish to repair. And may we also learn to release what needs to be released when it is time. 

In reverence and gratitude, may we keep growing in love.





9.14.15

Jill Bacharach






Thursday, September 10, 2015

Quiet: A Revolution


I’ve always needed a lot of quiet in my life. One of my favorite things as a child was finding my own quiet in a world that always seemed so loud to me. I searched the sky. I climbed trees. I made a special place in my room and I always saw a place when I closed my eyes, beyond the horizon that brought me home to myself.

I’ve spent the last several months requiring more quiet than I ever had in my life and from where I sit now, I see that I found myself my deep sense of “happy” and began replenishing my essential well-being. That is what quiet does.

For a long time, I was negotiating this need for my own quiet in my relationships. The reason for this is because we all need and require different levels of intimacy. The “key” is in listening to each other’s needs and in respecting our differing needs. When you love someone, it’s critical to not take it personally if that person requires less intimacy than you do.

The problem becomes this: If you push up against this principle (and I believe pushing up against it is foundationally one’s own unhealed wound), then what ends up happening is you draw people towards you over and over who simply push for more intimacy from you than YOU desire because you have not reconciled a wound and integrated it as a part of who you are (because it has not been healed). You have not owned it as a part of your own humanity. I know because this was my experience.

I let go of a relationship that I fought hard for. By hard I mean fought with every ounce of love and tenderness and hope and resilience I could find. The only thing left to do was to surrender.

To surrender to all that I was losing. To all that I had to relinquish, even though everything in me wanted to and needed to continue to FIGHT TO SUSTAIN the relationship. To surrender to a BIG TRUTH: that I come from a family that I am not a part of and even BIGGER than that, in spite of their limitations, that I never stopped loving them and most likely never will.

Here comes the most GROUND “SHAKING” TRUTH, which humbles me to my very core. As a child, I never would have believed it, but in this crystal clear moment, I have been shaken and rocked by a truth I cannot ignore (whether it is ever told to me or not). HERE IT IS: Even though people walk away from you, it does not mean they do not feel love in their hearts for you, which is not meaningful to them. Sometimes, the relationships are too confrontational or too painful for some souls to sustain.

Those who know and love me may kick and scream with self-righteous indignation. But I know I love my family. I know I demand fierce honesty that is frightening for many. I know my heart is soft. I know I need a lot of quiet and this is a boundary which is inviolate. I know forgiveness in my core. I know how to sit in pain, physical and emotional, and I know how to keep going. I know what it means to rise and fill my heart with love.

Quiet has been my revelation my whole life. Lately, since my inner renovations, I have required more of it than ever. But it has been revolutionary. Sacred. Godly.

And it has allowed my joy to rise up in me in the deepest and most sustained way.

Quiet. Sustained. Ground shaking. Joy rising. Love.

Blessings on the eve of this memorial to all. May we all hold in our hearts the love we choose to abide in and remember.



9-10-15

Jill Bacharach

Sunday, June 21, 2015

What Would Your Greeting Card Say?

I was shopping for a greeting card recently, and the "aim" was to buy the "most neutral card that exists." I must have spent more time on this endeavor than I have spent choosing my surgeons for complex surgical procedures. 

It was an unbelievable challenge. This could be the result of the greeting card business and it's very own aim, but other than purchasing "blank cards," there really are no "neutral" cards for holidays and special occasions.

I love the new Empathy cards which have come out. I think they are brilliant. Perhaps I need to discuss my dilemma with Emily McDowell, the innovator. Maybe she can make a card that says "Well this just sucks that I couldn't find a card that says absolutely nothing overly gushy on it, so have a (fill in the appropriate occasion) anyway!" But I digress.

I am usually pretty successful at my endeavors, but on this one, I was not.

And it activated many thoughts for me:

Am I missing the whole point here? Okay, yes, the greeting card business can, indeed, be far too gushy. But maybe the lesson here is that we could use a little more kindness. Right? In this case, where gushy was not "deemed appropriate," I was in a pickle. But maybe the greater lesson is that we could all benefit from sending one another love!

Right?

As I thought about it, that was what felt right to me even if it was out of bounds of what was "needed" for the card. Because, in truth, that is what my daily aim is anyway. Even if I don't always succeed at remaining steady or equanimous about it.

For instance, some of the family members in Charleston, SC who have now tragically lost their loved ones in the massacre were able to root themselves in a love which I flounder in and out of. One was able to say, "God loves you and so do I." To me, this is pure grace. Personally, I have had to do a lot of grief work and experience a lot of loss and anger and work my way up the mountain towards forgiveness which I catch glimpses of and then sustain for portions of peaceful time, only to have to work my way back to it again. I just don't NATURALLY embody that kind of spiritual freedom.

Another said, "We are the family that love built and we have no room for hate." This feels more accessible to me. I know this one in my bones.

So, perhaps moving from a place which is accessible and authentic, rather than forcing neutrality, would most likely be one of the answers here.

However, some situations are not clear cut. We may not always be "invited" into certain homes. Even with a greeting card. The card itself may get boomeranged.

Those homes may not have been built by love. So navigating your inner world of true expression with "the rest" (the outer world, the reality of various situations) can be the pickle.

Navigating worlds which are not yours becomes a spiritual practice and brings me back to my original aim which is to just hold others in love. Without necessarily sending "neutral" or gushy cards at all.

Intention is truly the skin we live inside of. And I want to keep making my insides as beautiful and as compassionate as possible.

How about a card that says, "You are always welcome to visit a room in my house. And my house is a house that love built."

"The House That Built Me." 

www.emilymcdowell.com

6.21.15


Jill Bacharach

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sister Teacher

Years ago, it was an image on television or in a magazine or newspaper which made time stand still. We all have these. Images so powerful that they live inside of us as real memories.

Today, these images are on constant download through social media that it is harder to have an impact which is lasting. Some of this may be due to our diminishing attention span. It seems more and more rare to just choose to sit and "be with" what is before us before rushing off to the next thing. Multi-tasking is the new place of reverence. 

However, I still revere the place of stillness. It is my teacher.

I awakened this morning to an image of two sisters. Two sisters whom I know and have had the great privilege of seeing together. The images speak so loudly of their love in the depths of its quiet. 

I am in awe.

In awe like Michelangelo awe. 

Of course I don't know any of the complexities of the relationship. I only know what I can see. I know they are very different people who have shared interests and navigate what could be for others, challenging dynamics, with incredible grace. 

Awe.

Each time I feel a little lost in my own ability to keep what I love alive inside of me, I am presented with an image of them, like an answer to a prayer. 

It is almost always quiet. Non-presentational. Intimate.

I don't think there is anyone on earth who knows you the way you know your sister. If she lets you. If the relationship is close, or even if it is strained, but there is a fierce tie of love (or commitment to loving each other), I think that the ways in which you have walked side by side with each other, and borne witness to each other's lives sort of "certifies you" as a "person of valor." Which is why, for so many of us, when we hurt our sisters, or when they hurt us, we want only to repair what has been hurt.

I have always had great difficulty believing that something was not possible. But I have learned that one person cannot do the work of two. Two people have to show up for a relationship. Period. That sometimes, being released, is part of one's karmic journey even if it doesn't feel natural to a heart which only wants to pour love into the hearts which it loves.

But when I see these two sisters, something inside of me heals a little. Their love has become a beacon for me. 

I think the love we bear witness to in the world, in all its variations, is there, not to exclude us, but to let us know, in the quietest of ways, that it is a part of us as well. 
A few years ago, as my hips were healing, I was with them during a weekend. I vividly recall a moment which moved me deeply. I knew I had wanted to grab my camera and capture the sweetness of what I was witnessing, but I knew it was far more important to allow what was swelling up inside of me, to come into its fullness. And just sit with that.

One of my mantras is "You are held in love."  

This was the moment I was held. It wasn't mine, but I didn't have to intrude upon it either in order to know of its existence or power. Or to know it could be shared as I was already feeling it.

It was the most subtle gesture from one sister to the other. But it disarmed me. 

Perhaps because it was so simple. So easy. Perhaps it even slayed my own dragons. The quiet stillness of two sisters standing together as one. No walls between them. Just tenderness and gratitude for each other.

I think we get so good in life at erecting walls which we decide others are not allowed to penetrate. When the truth is, we may actually be shaking behind them or worse, we may have even forgotten why the wall is there in the first place.  

When I see these two, beside each other, to me it looks like how two people lift each other up and grow the best in each other from a place of mutual respect.

I sit in hushed awe of them.

Not only because I recognize that my eyes do not intrude, but perhaps because they bring me closer and closer to a part of myself which is becoming whole.

In gratitude for all of the ways you teach exactly what I wish to know, I sit.

4.10.15

Jill Bacharach