5:30 a.m. I awoke in a panic. I jumped out of bed, put on my clothes and got in my car. I couldn’t breathe.
This is not a new sensation for me. I remember the first time I encountered it was when I was 4. It was my first surgery. Next was at 7 caught in domestic abuse. Then again at fifteen I was raped.
The list goes on and on in fact extreme panic arose in me at least once a year. Sometimes it goes on for weeks, and sometimes for months. Often for no “Real Reason” and yes, even a yogini can experience panic.
My first response is to cover it up. Hide it with anger or frustration. To lash out in protection of myself.
It’s been going on most of 2020 as I am heavily triggered by meaningless deaths of the elderly, blacks, babies, and animals. Guns, bombs, and natural disasters along with finger pointing politics. It really got to me this morning.
Last night I felt despair. I reacted on my husband. I reacted on my ally, my partner, my friend. This morning I woke in a panic. Chest caving in, coughing, gasping for air. The Sun hadn’t lifted to view when I got in my car, the morning light was peeking through. I found myself in nature.
One of my favorite Ancient Oak trees. I borrowed some breath. Just for me. I felt the presence of stability. The tree seemed to like my visit too.
I am writing this because so many are triggered, and suffering paralyzed by panic and fear. Covering it up with anger, grief and despair. A whole array of destructive emotions.
I encourage anyone experiencing panic and feel to self-conscious to reach out, drowning in cannabis, alcohol, adderall and sleep aids. Whatever your thing is. Find an Old Oak tree, or Sequoia, Redwood, or Fir. Any tree the older the better! Befriend the tree, breathe with it and when the wind blows listen to it. It may very well be here long after you are gone.
And, if you feel so inclined, find a human being to share with. Be vulnerable and brave. We are not designed to “Have It All Together.” As human beings we will never “Have It All Together”. This is the illusion. We are vulnerable and frail. Alive for a short time, surviving then thriving, surviving then thriving, then dying. This is what it means to be a Human Being.
Love and Tenderness Always,
“Come on let’s go” Dandelion said. The sun was just coming over the ridge as we set out on the trail. We
were looking for Clary Sage.
“It’s best to get an early start before it gets too hot. The sun burns the oils right off the leaves," she said.
“How did it get the name Clary?” I asked.
“It comes from the Latin word Clarus. It means clear. In ancient times they used it to help with vision and eye
fatigue. Sometimes they call it Clear Eyes Sage.”
“What’s the matter with your eyes Dandie?” She didn’t answer. We walked on in silence through the meadow.
“The wild flowers are so beautiful” I said. “So colorful”.
“I can’t see the color” Dandie said. “Ever since Ben was shot.”
The Deep Red Blood
On his Dark Brown Skin
Turned Dull Gray.
She turned to me and stopped. “The wild flowers are all gray” she said. She turned and started walking again. We passed a stream and some wild blackberries.
“Wait a second” Dandie said. We stopped next to a Sassafras tree. She reached out one hand and laid it on the tree. She put her other hand on her heart. Her gaze turned toward me. I put one hand on the tree and one on my heart just like she did.
“Sassafras says we should slow down” she said.
“Yeah” I said.
We both took a long deep breath, with an even longer exhale.
“I think we’re finally here” I said.
“Maybe” Dandie said as she looked at me. She turned back to Sassafras.
“Are we in the right place?” she asked.
“That depends on why you’re here”, Sassafras said.
“We’re looking for Clary Sage”
“Look in your heart” Sassafras said. “If your heart is clear you’re in the right place.”
“I can’t see my heart”, she said.
“Your eyes are not the only way to see.”
Dandelion kept her focus on Sassafras. She didn’t move a muscle. And her eyes. They didn’t blink. She reached out, searching with her hand.
“We all have blind spots” Sassafras said. “You can’t escape them.”
“It started when Ben was murdered” she said.
“It started long before that” he said. “Before you were born.”
“What’s your favorite color?” he asked
“Yellow” Dandelion said.
“What color are you afraid of?” he asked.
“White” she said.
“Would you kill it if you could?”
“Would that bring Ben back?”
“Ben is here” she said.
In the purple flower of the Milk Thistle
With its sharp prickly leaves.
In the Black Oak tree
The way he walked
Strong and tall
I feel his wisdom rising
From the soil
A light breeze rolled across the meadow. Just a little puff, here and gone in the time it takes to breathe.
“I can smell the sage”, Dandelion said and started to dance. Moving toward her, my body agreed.
“Ben loves sage, don’t you Ben?”
“Yes, Ruby Slipper is my favorite,” he said.
“We’re looking for Clary Sage today.”
“What is it you want to see?” Ben asked.
“A color blind world.” she said.
“Why would you want that?” he asked. “Without color the world would be a very boring place.”
“Yes, and you would still be alive.”
“Don’t worry about the end Dandie. Look for the beginning.”
Ben stood in the shadow of the tree with patches of sunlight slipping through, landing on his chest. The leaves of his heart unfolding to the day.
In the fields
And the cracks in the stone
You can find me
Looking for the sun
To some I’m a Flower
with secrets to discover
To others a weed
Unworthy of life
Come see me in the morning
Gives way to light
And be a fearless lover
Especially in the shadows
Slivers of the night.
“Where are we?’ Dandelion asked.
“We’re In the meadow.” I said. “You, me and Sassafras.”
“Why are we here?” she asked.
“To find clary sage.” I said.
“Yes, my brothers and sisters,” she said and started walking down the trail.
“I thought I was your family” I said.
“You are my family. You can have more than one family, you know. A family of friends, a plant family, an animal family, a family of enemies.”
Her voice trailed off as she spoke. She stopped and held out her hand to me. Her little pinky finger was curled around like a hook. I reached out with mine. We curled into each other and smiled at the the clear, bright flowers of the sage. From lilac to blue they danced with us in the morning sun.
“Have you ever seen a Dandelion crying?”
“No I haven’t” I said. “They always seem so happy.”
“I know” Dandelion said.
Karen Barbarick-Collins is a Certified Ayurvedic Technician and Wellness Coach as well as a Registered Yoga Alliance Teacher. She is the founder of Bending Blade Healing Arts.