Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tracking the ISP Journey

To all who want to read more about Raja's Integral Somatic Psychotherapy training in India, please scroll down and click on both January and February posts.  It'll take you to those pictures and entries. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Spring Sunday at home

March 20th, 2011~ A wonderful response of financial aid from afar for Shailendra, which many of you had asked me about.   Dr. Anne let us know that further donations shall be devoted to rehabilitation and prosthesis fittings. I include her note below and a picture from her. I was so deeply touched by him, his father and his wife when I worked with them at the hospital in Ahmednagar. A very sweet family who truly were left reeling when the accident happened, but with love and faith have been 'heard' from many who will never meet them personally. This speaks of the best of human nature... our willingness to give, to feel another's plight, to reach out anonymously. This and Baba's love.

This week I am preparing to welcome Diane Poole Heller here in my home and to Asheville. She'll be leading us into a deeper learning space of early attachment, how it affects our relationships as adults and how we create what is known as 'secure attachment' with one another. When I think of secure attachment, I think of my dear friend Daniel... we have learned so much from one another, weathered so many storms together, witnessed death, loss, celebrated achievements, retirement, visited lands beyond together, danced under the wild moon and courageously returned to school to stretch in a new direction. Through it all we have had an abiding heart hold on one another. There seems to be a bedrock of connection, though it hasn't always been easy or pretty between us. But when I think of Daniel I feel a solidity in my body, a simple planting into here-and-now. This is what secure attachment feels like to me. I thank god for that, and for all the variations on that in my life with so many good friends and companions along the way.

From Dr. Anne at Meherabad:

"Dear friends,
The response to the appeal for financial help for our Amartithi volunteer has been tremendous.

Shailendra is doing well, his wounds are almost healed and he will be able to go home soon. After a couple of months he should be fit to go to a rehab center and try artificial limbs. There is still quite a long way for him to go, please keep sending him your prayers to help him adjust to a new way of life. Last Sunday Shailendra went to Meherazad. It was a beautiful visit. I am enclosing a photo of him and family with Meheru.

Thank you for your support,

In Beloved Baba's training, Dr Anne"

His father standing on the far right, his wife behind him on the left, Dr. Anne kneeling on the left.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


"... Ah, poems amount to so little when you write them too early in your life. You ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness for a whole lifetime, and a long one if possible, and then, at the very end, you might perhaps be able to write ten good lines. For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)--they are experiences. For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and know the gesture which small flowers make when they open in the morning. You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighbourhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you had long seen coming; to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained, to parents whom you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn't pick it up (it was a joy meant for somebody else--); to childhood illnesses that began so strangely with so many profound and difficult transformations, to days in quiet, restrained rooms and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to nights of travel that rushed along overhead and went flying with all the stars,--and it is still not enough to be able to think of all that. You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who have just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and scattered noises. And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves-- only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Arriving Home and Patient Update/Donations

I arrived safely home on Feb 26th, but with a 'close call' the last 48 hours in India when dysentery hit. I became violently ill and was treated twice during the day at the clinic at Meherabad with ayurvedic medicinesin adjunct with western meds. I wasn't sure I'd be able to travel unless I had a seat in the bathroom- joke, but you get the point. However it did begin to clear and I was able to go to Baba's birthday celebration at samadhi in the wee morning hours of the 25th. It was beautiful and very moving, I felt emptied out, in more ways than one. Receptive. Open.

As I left India after samadhi for a 6 hour ride in a private car to Mumbai airport I felt such a mix of emotions and awarenesses, realizing that this might take a long while to actually process. My arrival back to my beautiful home, friends, office and clients and literally gorgeous downtown Asheville was very touching. I realize what we have, what we can never realize we have- unless you venture far, far from home. The amazing gift of private bathrooms equipped with running clean hot water, a flush toilet and shower - much less this thing called toilet paper! This alone! The quietude of my home, without a strong odor of particulates, diesel or sewage. And such space! This is one reason I search again and again the outer realms of travel at times... to remember and have gratitude for what I am given each day.

Of course on the flip side of that coin are the blank, vacant looks in the eyes of many Americans, which is a great soul loss of embodiment. The focus on doing and consuming that is so apparent at every moment here is a hard shift. This is the price we've paid, for what we have received. Perhaps all the more reason to devote one's life to practices of presence and embodiment, as in Somatic Experiencing and Integral Somatic Psychotherapy. Each day when you wake up, offer a prayer of thanks for that little white porcelain seat down the hall and for all the food in the refrigerator and your roof and that body lying next to your own. And especially offer up a thanks for your own blood-and-bones vessel that houses you, your own True Home.

Update on Shailendra, the brave man with double amputations~

People have asked me about how the patient has been doing and I got a fantastic email from Dr. Anne this very week. His progress has been remarkable and I include her note to me here:

"Wishing to share with you all that Shailendra is making remarkable progress! On Friday the 4th he sat in the wheelchair for the first time. On Saturday he insisted that he was fit to go to the samadhi, so he did the 6 transfers from bed to wheelchair , wheelchair into the car etc...and all went very well. He was beaming to be again at the samadhi. His wife and father were with him, they had brought garlands! Yesterday he went in the wheelchair all the way to the dhuni platform, despite the bad condition of the road in a few places. He wanted to go, and not by car! He greeted every person we met on the way with a wide smile. Seeing his determination, I feel the wounds on his residual limbs will soon heal. A medical laser will now be used. At the moment there does not appear to be phantom pain."

Note about Donations: The family does need ļ¬nancial help to pay for his medical care, rehabilitation,
prostheses, and to support the family until he can earn a living again.

If you feel moved to make a donation, a bank account has been opened in the name of his wife, Umadevi Ahirwal, in the Arangaon branch of The Indian Overseas Bank.

Account No 0721 01000005445 IFSC code IOBA 0000721.

With these code numbers donations can be made directly to this wonderful family from anywhere in India or abroad.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pumpkin House

Today we took a rickshaw to a Meher orphanage nearby called Pumpkin House. What a delightful place it was and I loved seeing the local efforts. It is right on the road, quite noisy and with loads of deisel smells like all of India. We waited for the house couple, lovely Fiona and her husband, Vianni, to open the metal gate to let us in. They are presently around 67 children, ages 2 - 14 years of age, but are adding on to a maximum of 100 children eventually. Very well behaved and attentive with emerging English, they greeted us respectfully and with a dance in their step (which of course I returned in kind!). Fiona showed us the childrens' art work and later Vianni played 2 songs that the children performed for us. They had precious dance and arm movements paired with the words: think kid Bollywood meets the 4 Tops. So adorable! I notice that one thing that works in Indian schools is that they do not expect the children to be still, but allow movement and exuberance. Hello! Children are meant to move and squirm and wiggle. So all of that was going on during our meeting, as they were also very much looking into our faces and singing loudly!

Please look at their website:

a surprising image of the Divine Feminine here at the Pumpkin House!

No pictures were allowed since these children are in a protected environment and have all come from difficult circumstances. But I think your mind's eye gets the idea. Think glowing faces, a bit dirty and smudgy, with curious eyes and some shyness here and there.

In my sweet little bunk at the Pilgrim's Center, Meherabad

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

When you step up to the plate...

When you step up to the plate you may not feel all that comfortable or skilled, but go by simply your own inner compass and continuing faith in something greater than yourself. I was asked by Dr. Anne here at Meherabad Clinic to go with her to provide post-trauma relief to a man who recently lost both legs in a terrible accident at the railway. He had been volunteering for Amirtiti here at the end of January and was on his way home. He was standing near the edge of the platform waiting and the crowd surged just as the train arrived. He was thrown onto the tracks and both legs were severed. He is a small man from No' India, no bigger than myself but a husband, father of three and from a very good family of devoted Baba lovers.
Dr. Anne was reached within 3 minutes of the terrible accident and was able to travel with him to hospital. He was initally refused treatment because his state was so critical, but she faced off the medical staff - as the only woman there, quite a sizable feat here in India- and demanded he get blood transfusions (7 or 8 pints eventually). He had no blood pressure that they could find, but she persisted. He survived but has been in such pain and shock.
His last surgery was 10 days ago and he was now stable and taking food, so an appropriate time to see him, re. some SE therapy exploration. This occured really through a blessed introduction with Meherwan only the day before at Meherazad. He is the most gentle of spirits and I felt so comfortable in his presence and drawn to him. He is now an elderly man whose brother had been a mandali and closest to Meher Baba. He apparently called Dr. Anne after our meeting and suggested I see the patient, having been introduced to him as a 'trauma therapist'.
I can say this: the journey to the hospital was another long drive through difficult traffic into Amhendangar (I realize I am butchering the spelling there) with Dr. Anne who only recently decided to try to drive so she could visit him. We found him in stronger spirits than she'd seen him, he smiled and was able to do some basic hand lifts and simple rotations. After she completed her initial assessment, I sat near him and held his hand. There was no discomfort or shyness; only an opening where we could both meet in the land of the heart without words. Indians do not usually accept touch, especially from a person of the opposite sex. But it was seamless and we did our work together to help his body begin to shed some of the shock from the tissue. His arms were rigid, held out to his sides, in the eternal bracing/freeze of a defensive response unable to be made. But he and I worked well together, and it lessened tremendously. He cried in a gentle way, and I kept my hand on his heart and encouraged him to softly open and close his hands as he did so.
But I believe the biggest shift was with his wife who had sat on the cold tile floor with her shawl covering her face for weeks. She had been unable to make eye contact over the month with Dr. Anne, and refused to sit on the bed or chair nearby. She clearly was in her own state of shock, and in a deep dorsal shut-down. Through touch to the back of her heart and repeating Baba's name slowly and resonately together, she came through that phase and back into relational being. Much shock came out of her heart, until finally I began to feel a deeper and more calm pulse in her tissue. It was very moving and touching to work so closely with this couple who allowed me into their world. Eventually I did a bit of SE eye work with her as well, knowing I might not get another chance to work with her. Her response was very good, and she began to make eye contact and pull her shawl back. Toward the end of the time, she moved toward her husband and held his hand. It was such a good shift toward healing.

I had two words that I had translated into Hindi: "Easy" and "That's right, that's good." They were enough, and if you ever think words really matter this was a testiment that they don't. It's truly in the realm of non-verbal communications that we affect one another. Meher Baba spent 44 years in silence, communicating the one thing that matters: love. And that, as we all know, is communicated in presence alone. I have been so deeply affected by this trip, and by Meher.
Thank you for taking the journey with me, via these posts.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Journey Takes a New Direction

We have finally wrapped up the ISP journey and Raja's wedding yesterday after spending 3 nights near his childhood home in Southern India. The day after the wedding we gathered and visited his home and where he was raised. Very pastoral with rice fields, cows, an irrigation system and lots of village children who were delighted by this gang of white skinned people. The children sang out "Hallo!" over and over, and actually their English was very good. I met mostly 9, 10 and 11 year olds who I have photographed (for your viewing pleasure later). All bright eyed and smiles and jostling each other to be center in the photos. I taught them sign language: "I love you".

The next day I spent mostly traveling but this time alone, via taxi, car and plane. A bit daunting, being a sole woman on mainly a male passenger airplane. I was in more conventional, conservative land so kept tugging at my shawl to make sure it covered all parts it was supposed to cover (hey, that gets trying, y'all) and my knees weren't somehow irreverently poking out. But all without a glitch. I finally arrived at sunset to my spiritual retreat, Meherabad. It is the home and teaching area of my Beloved, Meher Baba. Dry, much like the American Southwest desert, it feels comfortable and like coming home. I visited the tomb this morning, which was very touching and powerful. I am grateful for this in my life, and feel will be a life changing experience. My heart opens further.... if at all this is possible.