Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Taking a Hit

My teacher Kelly Morris teaches from the Tibetan Buddhist lineage, teachings which go back thousands of years.  Teachings which link directly to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Buddha himself.  Teachings which instruct us to love all beings.  Teachings which inform us that our world is actually coming from us, as a result of how we have treated others in the past.
So today... 
I knew against my best judgment that I should not go shopping.  But I also knew I needed to buy a gift... blah blah blah... and so... 
I drove.  I was concerned about going.  My instinct said, “Don’t do it!  It’s going to be madness!!!”  And yet, I went anyway.
As I sat patiently waiting for someone to pull out of a spot, I noted that it was a beautiful day, bright and clear, and felt badly that I wasn’t out with my dog.  Suddenly, something began to happen which seemed unimaginable to me.  A woman in her car began to back out right where I was waiting.  My car was blocking hers.  I honked my horn and rolled down my window and I asked her to wait so that I could back up and get out of the way.  She kept backing up.  
It was a sunny day, and for some reason this woman was just sitting in her car for a long time... but it was obvious to no one.  And then, suddenly, she decided, “That’s it, I’m backing up!!!”
I thought about Kelly.  How to love this woman who was determined to keep backing up in her SUV.  She saw me.  She saw my plea.  And she actually shook her head at me in her massive SUV and kept backing up anyway.
I was furious!
The same thing had happened to me 5.5 years ago (which was the reason I began practicing yoga) when a man was in a hurry and decided to run a red light and sideswiped me on my bicycle in his monmouth SUV and me and my bicycle and injuries went flying!!!
I did all that I could today.  But this woman did not care about my well-being.
And what happened was I was in pain.  A lot of pain.
My neck seized up as I yelled to be heard and as I fought to not get hit again. 
After she pulled out of the spot, I pulled in.  And I took several moments to catch my breath.  My neck was hurting bad.  I have significant injury in my neck and the woman’s massive SUV came within a foot of pounding into my car.  As far as I’m concerned, it was a boundary violation.
A few months ago, I was with my teacher, and I spoke about someone who had entered my space without asking and my neck began hurting as I told her the story.  It was a BOUNDARY VIOLATION.  
I’ve had to work very hard at this practice.
Most of us do.
I have a practice of FIRST DO NO HARM.
And if harm is done.  Done to me.  Done to others.  Then I have had to work very very hard with those folks, and the truth is, I have a very difficult time SUSTAINING “LOVE” with those folks.  “NEUTRAL” is much easier in my Metta practice with them.  
I am a realist.  
With these lineages, I don’t think you are supposed to use the word “but.”  
I use it often.
And I forgive myself when I do.
I work at it.
I start over.  Again and again.  I start over.  
I was deeply saddened by what happened today.  I am tired of placing myself in harm’s way.  At first I thought it was because I was paying back a karmic debt.  And then I realized, “NO.”  NO WAY.  Because when I sat in my car after the episode and felt the pain in my body which I absorbed, which was SOOOO BIG, I wasn’t 100% sure what had just “hit me.”  I was really sad, and I wasn’t completely sure why.  I know there was a big part of me that was saying “NO.”  But I couldn’t put it all together yet.  But paying back a karmic debt?  No.  That wasn’t it.  Not after the sad faces I saw today while shopping.  No way.  No way.  Not after the pain I absorbed in my body.  I realized that I took a hit today.  I took a hit from a crazy woman and probably prevented someone from getting killed or seriously injured because I said “NO.  This is not Ok.  You cannot do this.”  I said it to her.  And I said it to myself.  
Step one:
Step two:
Step three:
Step four:
Step five:
And finally:
LET GO.  KEEP LETTING GO.  (Or take the elevator! - couldn't help it- Michelle Berman Marchildon)
Jill Bacharach

Monday, April 23, 2012

Something That We Do

You know that you are rock solid when things and people around you change and you stay steady in your seat.  
I used to wake up with lyrics in my head every morning some twenty years ago.  And one song that repeated itself often was from “The Wiz.”  
“Suddenly my world’s gone and changed it’s face, but I still know where I’m going.”
God, that was wonderful.  
So much has changed for so many of us recently.  And the truth is, this time I don’t know where I am going at all.
After my last two surgeries, I thought I had a job to count on once I was fully recovered.  Not only did I not know that was not to be the case, but I also didn’t know that so much would change from inside of me.  
The fire that once burned so bright has now become dim and subsequently, I began to question everything.  But why wouldn’t I?  It has taken a long time to walk.  I have a new configuration in my body.  I am not quite sure about how safe I feel practicing yet.  
And the yoga world as we have known it has been turned on its head.  So many of us have been questioning where they want to be.
Many still know where they are going.
But I don’t.
The good news is I still know myself.  I still know my soul.  I know who I love.  Who matters to me.  But I’m not so sure what matters to me in terms of work.  Asana, which once was everything, no longer is.  
I sat, amidst, 70 something yogis, at the apex of my practice, just a week before my second surgery, when Desiree told everyone how hard it was for me to be there because I would be having a very major surgery and posed the question to the group:
“What do you do when the only identity you know suddenly has to change?” and without hesitation someone shouted out, “Well, you just practice one of the other limbs of yoga!”  
These are things we say to each other as spiritual practitioners in theory.  But how many of us, ACTUALLY live into this practice?
I can speak from real experience now.  
And I have to say, at times, it has completely dismantled me.
The day that Desiree made this announcement I actually ran out into the woods and I cried out to god.  It was probably like a scene directly out of a movie.  But it was real.  I ran as fast as I could and I poured my suffering out to god.
Because I knew in a week I was going to have to surrender my body completely and it was a grief that at that moment, I had to prepare myself for.
Folks, you don’t just “GO” to one of the other limbs of yoga.  It’s a lot of work.  It takes discipline and listening and practice and there is suffering which must come out.
What I have come to now is another layer.
What if I don’t want to teach anymore?  Who will I be then?  
I sat in a meditation and I listened and I saw the fiery, buoyant, enthusiastic woman many of you have known.  The BIG person with the BIG laugh.  And I asked her if she wanted to continue teaching.
And I listened.  And the answer was “no.”
And I cried.  And cried.  Deep painful cries.  I cried for what my body has been through.  For what is also ahead of me with some further changes (god bless change).  I felt into all of the places of pain that still need rest and healing and I cried because they needed to be heard.  
I cried because they needed to be heard.
Not because I don’t know where I am going.  But simply because they needed to be heard.
So that they can heal.
That is all that is wanted here.  Healing.
Just like in the woods with god.
Just like in prayer.

I have noticed that I am a bit of an enigma in that I have not identified myself by what I do.  Some of that has come through privilege.  And although my finances have changed radically, the way I identify myself has not.  I would say I have always I identified myself by how I feel.
And in a world which is focused on what one does... it has always been quite fascinating , compelling, frustrating (for the sake of wanting more) and at times, inspiring, to relate to others from this place of feeling.  After all, although I am still working hard at it, my life coaches named me a “PARALYZED SENSITIVE”  (which I found accurate and humorous all at once).
Here’s the good news, though.  I may not know where I am going, but one thing is for sure about me, I will always know how to name what I am feeling.  I am clear there.  I am sure of myself there and damn steady there, even if I am soaked with tears.  Determined to get through anything, is what I know I am.  If I love you, you know it.  If I am upset with you, you will know about it so I can clear it up with you as soon as possible.  Those who know me best, will even say I am quite “pushy.”  It’s true.  But these are all qualities that say I always do know where I am going.  It’s just not in the same realm everyone else is headed.  And the truth is, I’m okay with that.
“Love isn’t just those words we’ve said
It’s something that we do.”  ~ Clint Black
“Do” good, everyone.  Even if you don’t know what yet!
God bless.
Jill Bacharach

Monday, April 16, 2012

Who Would You Be?

The last time I took the Amtrak train, there was a lot of excitement.  Not the kind of excitement like Carey Grant and Katharine Hepburn suddenly arising from beyond and engaging in flawless banter, which would be exciting for me, but the “Houston we have a problem” kind of excitement.  
After having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 11 years throughout my 20s, I became accustomed to the sensation of earthquakes, something that my east-coasters found to be quite “INSAAAAANE” and never hesitated to say so.  After all, it’s in our blood.  We say what we think out here on the East coast without holding back.  It is a quality that I love about being a New Yorker, and one that many cannot stand about our inherent nature (I may even go so far as to say “our birthright”) when that is the case.  Anyway, admittedly, becoming accustomed to the sensation of earthquakes is somewhat unusual.  However, so are many things: becoming accustomed to smog, going to sleep with siren noises as “background music,” eating frogs legs, putting your legs over your ears, a speed limit of 90 mph, etc.  What we become accustomed to, what becomes “normal” to us can be very uncommon to the passenger seated beside you.
* * * * *
I was on the Amtrak train, minding my own business and I felt a sensation surprisingly reminiscent of the sensation of an earthquake.  As if something had just torpedoed towards the train and then exploded, and then no less than an instant later, I smelled smoke.
As I felt the sensation, I sat calmly and looked in the direction of the feeling of it.  Because I did that, I saw utter panic on the faces of several passengers.  And then what happened afterwards fascinated me.  I knew I smelled smoke.  I knew there was an explosion of some kind.  At least 6 passengers ran from the back of my car towards the front of the car to obtain items from their luggage.  Who knows what?  Money, personal items.  It was their “take the money and run moment.”  I found it really humorous.  
Many around me immediately made phone calls.  
A woman to my right was in a panic.  
Just moments earlier, I had been thinking about “Titanic.”  I guess because of the 100th anniversary and because of James Cameron’s re-release.  What I have been thinking about is “who would you be in (the retelling of) that story?”  I had often paused and wondered this ever since I saw the film.  Would I have stayed on the ship with my beloved in a loving embrace?  Would I have played in the quartet?  Would I have simply closed my eyes and remained in prayer?  Would I have done everything I could to survive?  Would I have rallied and insisted on going back for more passengers to save in the lifeboats?  
One thing I know for sure is that I would not have gone to a safe and collected cash.  Nor would I have shot myself in the head.
The Amtrak experience was certainly no Titanic, but the behavioral patterns were very similar.  There was greed.  Panic.  Generosity.  Love.  And there was also indifference.  For me, there was serenity.  There was love.  There was surrender and there was laughter.  
My laughter is not always I’m having a rip-roaringly great time, laughter.  So it is something I must be attentive to.  Sometimes, my laughter is actually a signal of distress.  As in, I’m hurt.  So I knew I had to sort it out.  This time, it was a mixture.  The passenger next to me was saying some very ominous things which were shocking to my nervous system, but the thespian in me also found her words quite funny.  Juxtaposed with all of the disparate reactions so close in proximity to one another and my fatigue from the day, I could not help but giggle because there really was nothing else to do.  
However, my most immediate response was one of lovingkindness.  Hoping that no one was hurt and wishing for their safety and ease if anyone were.  I simply found myself feeling calm.  I wasn’t focused on what had actually happened.  I had already let that go.  
So many people wanted to know what had happened.
I spoke with my Beloved.  I was very happy to do so.  But for me, I carried an awareness that others around me were very nervous while I felt very calm and that may have been making them more nervous by my being so. 
Who would you be in the explosion?
We weren’t allowed off of the train, so that doesn’t count.  Just passengers in a car on a train without information.  Without electricity.  Without information.  Late at night.  
I suppose the answer would change at times.  It’s changed for me over the last 15 years since “Titanic” was released in theatres.  My response has changed as I have changed.  
But I know that the goal is that we become unwaveringly steady even through an explosion, even during an earthquake, through whatever the trauma or disaster is, which is thrown our way.
But most of us are doing our best.  The woman who was panicked.  Those who ran to gather their possessions, even if in fear.
And so for today I will continue to practice my metta.
May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be strong.
May you be at ease.
May I be safe.
May I be happy.
May I be strong.
May I be at ease.
It goes a long way.
I don’t need to decide who anyone else needs to be in an explosion.  Just watch who I am in the eye of the storm.  Keep at it all of the time.  Without judgment.  
Hope it gets easier.  Hope we all find our way.
In, with, and from blessing.
Jill Bacharach