Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Deeply Embedded

Some people enter our life and they are jagged, clumsy.  Never quite fit.  We contemplate the karma and we notice that we spend a lot of time agitating over their presence, practicing patience, tolerance and tact.
Some enter our life and our heart and cause unimaginable hurt and harm and then never afford us the opportunity to say goodbye to them.  
Yet, there are others who enter.  They may even be silent about it.  They may even stay on the periphery.  But they are there to help us find our way.  And we know it when we meet them.  Others will try to convince us to feel a particular way about these folks.  But something in us is steadfast and unwavering.  We will even defend to the death about these folks, even if we haven’t seen them in years.  Even if we only met them but for an hour.  There is a knowing.  A deeply embedded knowing.
These are our soul retrievers.
I met mine five years ago, eight months into my yoga practice, during my first teacher training.  And she woke me up.  Her name is Kelly Morris.  The woman who was leading the program at the time asked us to make suggestions about what we wanted Kelly to speak about, to go home and think about it.  I didn’t have to think about it.  I went up to her at the end of training that day and said, “I’d like for Kelly to speak about forgiveness.”  Kelly came to be with us the following weekend for four hours.  She spent three of those hours speaking about forgiveness.  It was utterly magnificent.  SHE is utterly magnificent.  
Her teachings went in deep.  And I knew that because her words stayed with me for years.  Partly because she is a woman who means what she says, and partly because she entered my life that day, silently but powerfully.  
Ours was to become an ongoing conversation.  
There is too much to say here, because I am still learning from it all of the time.  But there is a karma that brought me to this moment where I can truly say, “Thank you.  Bless you.  For always and consistently showing me that you are my teacher, and a beloved holy being.  I bow to your goodness.  The goodness you see in me.  The ways in which you only wish light upon my world, for me to find my own wisdom and strength and compassion and for my suffering to end.  And for all of the ways you stay real with me.  I honor you.” 
Flash forward, five years.  I had a transformative experience yesterday with a magnificent healer.  The terrain covered places of deep loss, deep wounding, and big trauma.  I stayed engaged and present every step of the way.  
I found a way to say “thank you” every step of the way.  Thank you for still being here (alive and embodied).  Thank you for the source that looks out for me.  Thank you for my survival skills.  Thank you for being held in this moment.  Thank you for knowing how to keep myself safe. 

Today, I went to Kelly’s class.  It was MAGNIFICENT.  She spoke of almost all of the same things my healer spoke to me about yesterday.  I cried through most of the class.  Every moment of the class, even ever tear, felt like a blessing to me, releasing me from the shackles of the pain that I can no longer choose to be in.  And in those tears, I realized, maybe our deepest blessings are our moments of awakening.  Truly waking up.  Because when we feel seen, if the person who sees us cares on that subtle level, she helps to call our souls back home.  And that is how we begin to heal.
As we laid in Savasana, she spoke beautifully about aligning our breath.  The first suggestion was to think of it like a baby would breathe with its mother.  The second was like two lovers breathing in sync with one another.  Tears began pouring down my face.  She saw that my tears weren’t stopping.  And as the function of Savasana is to quiet the nervous system, this is the opposite of what was happening for me.  She said “if you are finding that your thoughts are getting in the way here, try to go back to whatever occurred before you had the thought and feel beneath the thought into the body, into the sensation.  See if you can feel if your body feels warm, or soft, whatever it is telling you, and see if you can let the thought release itself.”  Mine did.  And I was able to find my breath again.  And settle.  And feel held by a teacher who could see past my pain and call me back to myself.  Fully.  And respectfully.
In gratitude, and blessing, I bow.
March 25, 2012
Jill Bacharach

Friday, March 16, 2012

For Blessing

When I met Matthew Sanford, he posed many questions which I am still sitting with nearly one year later.  
He began by saying, “I teach from direct experience.”  
He asked the question “can you sit in the presence of suffering (and know your own story) without trying to fix it?”
I learned from Matthew for three days.  And the truth is, I am still learning from him.  
“Can you be in the presence of another person’s pain and just hear it?  Just be with it- without trying to fix it or deny it or shape it into something else?  Can you tolerate brokenness?”
I was grateful to Matthew for raising these questions, from the point of view of my own pain.  From the point of view of the places inside of me which I am still trying to heal.  I was grateful for these questions because I knew that anytime I had sat with my own grief, it was not useful to me when someone else was unable to simply just sit still with me.  If I was “talked at” or interfered with or interrupted, I was inevitably pulled out of my experience and it was a disservice to me.  I knew this about myself.  And so I was tremendously grateful for these questions.
A few days before I met Matthew, a friend of mine lost her baby on the eighth day of his life.  At the time, Seane Corn had been speaking very specifically about the experience of losing her father and the time leading up to his death.  Her words were raw and penetrating and personal.  I sat listening to Seane during those days, soaked with tears, filled with compassion, and deep deep presence.  My own grief, which is ample, was in check.  Yet, by the time I learned of my friend’s child, the grief which was awakened inside of me, completely overwhelmed me.  
That night, I wanted more than anything to find a way to reach out to my friend and extend love and support to her.  But I knew I needed to get out of the way first.  We would finish our evenings around 9pm and by the time I arrived where I was staying it was around 10pm.  I called ahead and warned the friend with whom I was staying that I was extremely emotional that evening because the family room was just on the other side of the wall from the room I was staying in.  I thought it best to warn her since her children would no doubt see my puffy-eyed face and the look of grief which I simply could not hide.  By the time I arrived at her house, what was a normal activity, (the family watching TV in the family room) had been moved to another part of the house for the evening and it was a true act of love which I recall as a gift for which I was beyond grateful.  
I went into my room and I wrote for four hours in order to get my own “story” out of the way so that I could find a way to show up for my friend who had just lost her child.  Then I began writing to my friend.  I knew that it would be wise to sleep on the letter I had just written her since everything felt so raw and I needed to gain some perspective, and so that is what I did.  I waited.  And the following day, I revised and sent her my offering.
I never learned how it was received or if it was.  It isn’t up to me to decide how she chose to mourn her loss.  But I knew it was incumbent upon me to do my own work if I wished to offer anything to her.
* * * *
This week, a beloved friend of mine lost and buried both of his parents.  His mother went to the hospital, he flew to go be with her, and then she passed the next morning.  After he told his father of her passing, his father died within hours of hearing the news.  
I love my friend dearly.  He is kind and generous and beautiful in every way I aspire to be.  
I noticed immediately, that I felt grief rising up in ways which were torrential.  This was happening because I was grieving before I heard his news.  And I needed to find my center.  
So although I doubted my ability to be able to sit in the presence of his suffering at first, this doubt came from a very distinct place.  And herein lie the gift and fruits of practice.
I was able to sit and therefore, understand.  I could name my own places of wounding and then stroke them sweetly, and then have a good giggle at myself.  
I was able to call my friend forth and usher him towards me.  Safely.  And find out how he is doing.  And further, ask what I could offer him.  
Sometimes grief rises up simply because we are feeling regret.  Feeling that we aren’t doing anything.  Not that we can “fix” anyone’s pain or suffering, but by simply taking action in expressing love and emotional availability, so much changes.  Even in our biochemistry.  I am certain of it.  
Experiencing loss changes us in so many ways.  Questions, mysteries, secrets held, unanswered or perhaps finally revealed.  But what I have learned is a lot closer to the idea that we can change our path at any moment regardless of what has happened to us, through us, with us, in us, even if we no longer have the fellow journeyers we wish for, as sad, as tragic, as challenging or perhaps, relieving, as these realities are to live into.
How we change changes as well.  And if we are lucky, truly lucky, we will have one or two people who will be willing to “sit” with us as we change without fighting it, resisting it, denying it, or trying to shape it into something else.  But just loving us through.  Bearing witness.  And staying with the mystery.
May it be so.  
“Zichronam livracha.”  May our loved ones memories always be for blessing.
Jill Bacharach

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


My friend Sam wrote beautifully about “the place between” in asana, the place you explore before you arrive at the final form of the pose (  For me, her words were a beautiful exploration because she connected “this place” with the difficult transitions we each face in our lives and she was generous and thoughtful in the ways in which she used herself as an example.
As I have faced loss and grief in my life, what I recognize is that I have developed a very challenging relationship with “surrender.”  Because early on in the grieving process, full surrender, full-on letting go, for me, has simply meant “more loss.”  And until you arrive at full surrender in the time it really takes, you just aren’t ready to let go, because more loss when feeling loss, is just, well, too much loss.
Grief requires making and accepting transition.  Right now, I cannot do anything but just be in the pain of all that I am feeling.  Each morning when I wake up and feel heaviness in my body, I tell myself to move from resistance to surrender.  I tell myself that this is my task.  
I have heard language in my head which has caused me to grip in further pain.  
“I can’t.” was something I heard myself cry one day.
In all my life, I have NEVER heard myself say such a thing.  So I knew it wasn’t the truth.  
The truth was I wanted to make a choice towards self-preservation that was more along the lines of “I won’t.”
Can v. will.
From the time I was around five years old, I began fighting with my grandmother who used to tell me “I can’t change, it’s my conditioning.”  For some reason, I couldn’t bear to hear that kind of language.  I rejected it even at the tender age of five.  I may not have had the skill to write a dissertation about it then, but I knew in my bones that I would not allow that thinking to be acceptable to me.  Each of my parents used those words, and in addition, to me, a far worse word, the word “impossible.”  I rejected that language constantly.  So I grew up like the ball inside a pinball machine, getting hit on every side, but working very hard to find my way to a home somewhere inside of myself.
Can: to have the ability... the POWER or means to.  
Will: going to.  Sure to.  To bring about.  
I think I understood this as a child.
My father left when I was two years-old.  And although my mother was the one who remained IN the house, her presence lacked real presence.  On both sides, I truly believed both of them COULD have done better.  
I believe it is a choice to do better.
I believe it is an act of courage to do better.
I am currently facing deeply painful questions.  I am asking deep questions of myself.  To uncover and reveal more to myself requires sitting in more pain.    Demanding more of myself than ever.   
Can I do that?  Yes.  
Am I doing that?  Yes.  
Growth is a decision as far as I’m concerned.  And one I am going to keep choosing... until I take my last breath.
Presently, I am working very hard to heal my heart.  And given that my default mode has been grief (because it has been so familiar to me), I must be very careful to find the proper balance.  I must tend to the places in me which need healing.  But I must not stay too long inside of the pain.  Because I know my default, I am recognizing this distinction now.  What must be healed and what must be left behind.  
What I know is that my heart is pure.
What I know is that I don’t have the answers.  I am eager and willing to step into this place of courage knowing I can surrender and bow to the place of asking, of seeking answers which may or may not come... but I believe will come just as healing eventually comes.  There’s just no mathematical formula.  
Surrender is a matter of trust. 
My job right now is to collect my heart.  The stories and murals of my life are barreling towards me now and it is my job to simply sit still and listen.  Without reacting.  Because I am not at the final pose yet.  I won’t listen to language emerging from inside of me which does not serve my growth, but I will listen to language which inspires it.  
I’m not looking to get to the final pose.  I’m just looking to be super steady and easeful and able to say I WILL through every transition.
Perhaps what will come is a patchwork.  Because I know a “bissel” (Yiddish for “little”) from here and a “bissel” from there goes a very long way.
So what I know I can do, and what I know I will do... is slowly and steadily, kindly and lovingly, reach for a bissel at a time from resistance to surrender.  
From resistance to surrender.
Until I no longer have to remind myself that this is what I need to do.
Until... I no longer have to remind myself... 
Until I no longer have to...
I will.

*   *   *



Jill Bacharach