Dear Gangaji and Eli,
A letter seems to want to be written, so here it is: a report to let you know how this form is being used, how the Truth moving through this form is being used. Gratitude wants to be expressed over and over and over.
The Leela School has been a profound gift, a beautiful crucible of burning and deepening and a deliciously supportive sangha. Wonderful skillful means to be used. Layers of doubt are dropping and the fire of Truth burns brighter with more and more steadiness and certainty. I love the sessions I do in trade with fellow students from all over the world – beautiful connection!
After spending a year away from working with Native American youth from a reservation here in northern New Mexico, I did a couple of Leela Sessions addressing the PTSD-like secondary traumatic stress symptoms that had shown up in this body/mind. Such relief! Wow! All last year I had a strong physical reaction when I thought of going back to the reservation or being in contact with community members there. Now I have been doing Leela sessions with a friend there who loves them and I have met with a few more folks I know as well.
I am also working one afternoon a week with 5th through 8thth graders at a small school just off the reservation that serves Native kids from the reservation, and this has been beautiful! When I go we talk about their lives and the stressful thoughts and feelings, how they are usually about the past and future. So much death and so much trauma – it continues to surprise me even though I have been hearing these stories for 14 years. I know the older brothers, sisters and cousins of many of the kids I am working with now, so I have a sense of their home lives and histories. As we were talking about the stress in their lives one girl told me who her older brother is, and I knew then that she must have been a toddler when their father hung himself in their back yard. We talk about these kinds of things freely. Sometimes the sadness and despair arise and we sit with that. Mostly there is a sense of relief at being able to talk to an adult who does not react with fear or anger, who does not enter their trance. Who sees what is whole and shining always.
I pass on tools for self-regulation so they don’t get too overwhelmed by emotions, and we practice them together. These are breathing exercises, movement exercises, and grounding exercises to recognize what is always safe. Some hypnosis techniques for deeper relaxation. I don’t know when I will get a chance to work more deeply with them on the nesting of emotions – I like to do that one-on-one or in smaller groups, and that opportunity has not arisen yet. And we laugh a lot. At the end, when we can, we sit together resting in that which is untouched by all of the stories, all of the emotions, all of the circumstances they can’t control. We rest and we breathe.
In an hour or two a week it feels like it is not enough – it always feels like it is not enough. But yesterday, when I asked a small group of 6th grade boys what they do when people are fighting in their house, one boy said that he meditates. When I asked how he knows about meditation, he said that he doesn’t know, he just does – he just sits quietly and breathes. He knew to do this even before I showed up in his class. At the end of our class together, he said, “This was fun!” So amazing, especially when he was one who spoke of a lot of violence at home and previous thoughts of suicide. I feel his thirst for what is being offered.
After the Leela School, I am opening to work with adult clients for the first time outside of a school setting. The day after I secured office space in a small village nearby two former students from the reservation reached out to me for mental health support. I am excited to be able to bring more of the skillful means of the Leela School and the Freedom Inside Program to them. All grounded in the Truth of Being. We will see how things unfold. So far things seem to be unfolding very slowly which is just right – it is why I love living here – things happen slowly. (limit setting of the six fixation?? maybe)
Doubts do arise – it is not enough, “I” am not doing enough. “I” should be doing more. Ha. Ha! A dharma bell to tell the Truth. “I” am not doing anything. “I” could not have orchestrated any of this life. There is no “I”, there is no “other”. This beautiful energy breathes this body, sends inspiration into consciousness, moves these arm and legs, sits quietly with itself in the form of “other”, sends words through this mouth, types these words on the computer. And here “I” am, happy to be in service to this community of young people. Apparently, it is exactly where I am supposed to be. The mystery of it all.
Thank you so much! What joy to live this life!!!!
Much love and gratitude to you both,