I’ve been reflecting a lot more on the practice of immortality. Beyond vanity. Beyond seeking youth for the image of it. But tending to the true immortality of the spirit.
Understanding that we are eternal.
And understanding the expression of that truth not only in our daily lives and practices, but in the creation of legacy. And those we entrust to be the bearers of that legacy.
When I heard Tricia was first missing I was in Jersey, in my aunt’s home, hanging out in the kitchen as she made baklawa, my grandmother’s recipe. She had lost her daughter, my cousin Nouran, 11 years ago. Suddenly. Violently. We buried her the day after she passed according to Islamic tradition. (الله يرحمها)
My niece Lily, first in her generation of our family, was born as we returned Nouran back to the Earth. Nouran: In Arabic, her name means light.
As I read news of Tricia, we felt it. We knew the horror what could be. We paused and prayed she would be found safely. Otherwise we were silent.
I’ve observed my family’s practices of immortality, keeping Nouran alive. Nourishing and creating space for her spirit. The pain never truly goes away for them, transformed only in moments of intention and ritual.
The next morning I get up to see Jasmine’s email. Tricia had left her body. (الله يرحمها)
I knew Tricia through the community. Not very closely, but I enjoyed her energy and wisdom and levity with each encounter. Her radiance. Her light.
She is a woman who created roots and cultivated the earth, and brought life and green space into fruition in a way I deeply admire. She inspired so many and brought communities together through her creativity and her teachings.
There is something that happens in these tragedies, moments of chaos and darkness. We need to make sense of it. Create order.
We demand to know what happened. How and why. We make monsters. Someone must atone.
We live in a culture where we feel entitled to information so we can assess and plan and prevent and punish and exact justice based on information we may never know.
Always seeking outside of ourselves for answers. Mass media consumption. Approval addiction.
And so much of our yoga practice teaches us to go in. Dive inward with curiosity. And surrender to the inquiry and that which has yet to be revealed.. If we are eternal, then at the very least that eternal nature deserves inquiry.
But in many of our yoga communities we participate in a modern day manifestation culture that can be emotionally violent.
This tyranny of Positive Thinking in which we create pressure to be happy all the time. If we are not happy, we are simply not choosing happiness. We are not doing the inner work. An inner conflict unresolved. We are not manifesting.
We have bastardized understandings of the Laws of Attraction.
Good things happen for those doing the inner work.
Bad things happen to those who are not doing the inner work. Or those who are not careful in public spaces. Or fill in the blanks with any sort of pre-packaged shaming narrative designed to rationalize away the emotions we can’t sit with.
It’s spiritual victim blaming, isn’t it?
By the time something so truly awful happens, we can lack to tools to process it, we struggle to make sense of it. Staring into this horror of the human experience, there is no making sense of it.
We can’t even begin to understand what happened to Tricia in those final moments. Or if there was a way to prevent it. We simply do not have access to this information. Not just yet. Not from external inquiry anyway.
This week at Yoga District, I began my classes asking students to join their voices in a round of ‘Om Nama Shivaya’ invoking the name of Shiva, Hindu Deity of Death and Destruction, Creation and Rebirth. I then asked them to come into child’s pose, prostrating to the earth, compressing their forehead and stimulating their 3rd eye center, this seat of inner wisdom and clarity in the body. Wisdom that can only arise from surrender, submission into inward inquiry.
I landed back in DC just 45 minutes before her memorial and candlelight vigil Tuesday night.
We were invited to bring in plants and readings for her in offering. I searched through one of my favorite books, Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins, a treatise, a manual on the practice of immortality. I tried to find the perfect passage, the exact words that I thought would honor her.
When I think of Tricia, I think herbs and blossoms. Brought to fruition by roots she laid down, nourished by light.
In his book, Robbins describes the evolution of human consciousness, from the reptilian mind of our earliest ancestors- cold, greedy, consumed with survival. To the mammalian mind – warm, generous, nourishing survival of a tribe. To the floral mind – transcendent, consciousness set ablaze beyond the temporal with sensory perception of light.
“Since all matter is condensed light, light is the source, the cause of life. Therefore light is divine. The flowers have a direct line to God that an evangelist would kill for.”
Tricia knew about floral consciousness. Embodied it in her daily practice of courting the eternal.
Her presence in our lives and her teachings awakened something inside of us.
In her practice of immortality, she lived in her creative power and gave permission for her students and her neighbors and community to step into theirs.
She chose communities that she intuitively entrusted with her legacy, nourishing her spirit and her teachings.
She cultivated the earth, life that lives beyond her.
And she transcends beyond the temporal.