The main aim of the TRE training here is for the students at Tsoknyi Gechak School. However this large temple complex (Gompa) has a college for young nuns and senior nuns who study Dharma with Lopans (graduates of the 9 year Shedra Buddhist studies program)
I wasn’t sure how monks and senior nuns would respond to TRE. I personally assumed that they might compare TRE with their meditation practice and not take TRE seriously.
This assumption was quite invalid. The two male Lopans who teach in the school joined the class and both were very happy with the shaking that is generated by the TRE exercises. The younger Lopan has continuous pain in his joints from hours of sitting practice and takes pain killers for it. I advised him to do TRE after long sitting to loosen up the joints. He was very happy to find a tool to try out instead of just relying on medication.
The older Lopan was not shaking very much in the first session, but in the second session, he experienced deep tremor, and his eyes were peacefully closed with a little smile on his face. He had a deep breath and his tensed shoulders were going down and touching the floor. It was beautiful to see how deep he felt within his body with the natural body tremor. One male staff said after his second session, “ I feel that a little door opened in my brain!” I thought it was such a genuine way to describe his experience!
Finally! I’ve arrived in Tsoknyi Gechak Nun’s School, which was my initial motivation for coming to Nepal for the TRE mission.
The village of Chobar is about 1 hour from the capital, Kathmandu, and situated on top of the hill overlooking Kathmandu Valley. There are 116 girls in the school from age 5 to 18 years old. All come from very poor backgrounds and many of them are from Himalayan regions where they must walk more than 10 days to reach the nearest road accessible by cars.
Our volunteer, Gurutama, and I will be working in this school to teach TRE to all the staff as well as to the children, and hopefully some monks and adult nuns. Today was the first day, so we had two classes for the teachers. As usual, I explained the simple theory of TRE before the exercise. There were two Tibetan monk teachers who were so keenly taking notes and listening to my words so attentively through the translator. Many of the teachers still feel the impact from the earthquake and struggle with the feeling of fear, a sense of being overwhelmed, and nervous activation. The girls are so well looked after, smiling and polite. I can imagine how much effort and care is given to these children by the teachers day and night.
In the afternoon session, one young teacher humbly came to us asking if she could be trained as a TRE provider. She came from the village quite close to the epicenter and said she would like to share TRE with her community. Her quiet but determined eyes were telling me how devastated her village must have been. We talked in the session about how the Nepal’s biggest festival, Dashain, will be starting in late October. One of the school staff said, ‘Well, this year, I go back to my village to work on construction. Not much festivity…’
People who are working outside of their village will bring all of their earnings to their homes to help their communities to rebuild themselves.
Starting tomorrow, there will be 3 TRE sessions a day with the teachers. Then next week, we will start with the girls. Can’t wait!!
September 11, 2015
At an International NGO…
Today I was invited to give a TRE session to the staff of an International NGO. The very large and famous NGO now has more than 800 staff in Nepal after the earthquake. Seven people from different specialties, being very curious about TRE, joined in the mellow afternoon session.
Some of them talked about the nightmares they had weeks after the earthquake. One woman described how she still felt scared with little noise and the blackouts every night.
As I also worked in NGO’s for post-disaster response for a decade, I know very well what the personnel have been experiencing in the last four months since the earthquake. They are all Nepalese and their own homes and families are affected by the disaster. But they work everyday for others who are more vulnerable than themselves, and go back home at night and then have to deal with their family matters. They are all exhausted.
One of the goals of HSA’s mission is to deliver this simple but effect stress management tool to people who are working for others after disasters — people such as teachers, medical staff and NGO staff in particular. Unlike international expats who can leave Nepal when the situation gets too intense, these locals are working under extreme pressure and have nowhere to escape to regardless of how intense the situation becomes.
After the session, the participants’ faces were brightened. They shared their experiences during the natural tremor induced by TRE. Many of them noticed that there was a hint of sadness and heaviness at their chest for a little while and then it disappeared. After it disappeared, their shoulders and chests became so light.
“Can you come back again and have a regular practice here?” one aid worker asked me. I said “Yes sure, but how about you become a trainer so you can share this method with others?” His face lit up and eyes shined.
I keep searching for potential candidates to become TRE providers who are local and who can continue to positively impact this country long after we leave.
By chance, I met the wonderful lady, Usha Giri. She was brought up in a wealthy Nepalese family without any material struggles. When she went to study in Japan at the age of 18, she learned for the first time the real condition of her home country in terms of its poverty, caste discrimination and lack of education for most poor children. Then at the age of 19, she decided to build a school for poor children, especially Dalit (outcaste). After 20 years, the Sewa Sedan School is one of the best and most academically accomplished schools in the area, with more than 300 children learning there.
Although the school buildings were totally damaged in the earthquake, the earthquake occurred on Saturday, so all children were safe. Previously there were more than 500 children in the school; however now there are only just over 300, as many of them had to move away since the earthquake.
Nine teachers joined in the TRE class in the newly built temporary classroom. The smell of the paint was still strong. They are all very shy and did not know what to expect. Some of them tried to take notes of all my words, but I said ‘Just relax and try to connect with your body’. I noticed that some of them were having difficulties connecting with their feet, not very grounded. While they were experiencing the natural body tremors of the TRE exercises, one lady said ‘oh… is it an earthquake? Can you all feel an earthquake?’ I said ‘Maybe your body was shaking…’ She was puzzled and then laughed. And we all laughed.
After the TRE session, everyone was very calm and peaceful. They said their shoulders were lighter and more relaxed. I promised them that I would come back again in a month, and asked them to continue their practice together. Hopefully they will…. and will see the benefit of TRE and possibly be interested in becoming an instructor for the children in the future.
Walking a few minutes out of the tourist town of Thamel, I met with more local Kathmandu residents. As expected, many local buildings are in a pretty bad state. Although they are still standing, there are many cracks, with one building itself almost leaning towards me. If another major shake comes again, these structures are quite dangerous.
But people go about their routines as life and business continue. What else can they do? Said one person I spoke to, “This time of the year is the tourist season, normally the place is full of tourists… but this year, not many of them are coming because of the earthquake.” Indeed just what they need now is tourists. There must be so many people out of work now. Hundreds of shops are selling the same items such as T-shirts, bags and blankets. Their colors are faded by sun and dust and look very tired and sad.
I happened to meet a Nepalese lady who was running a school for Dalit (outcaste) children. As soon as I explained about TRE, she said ‘Please come to our school, we all need it”. So here I come, I will visit them tomorrow. This week is like my initiation to Nepal. Wherever the call comes from, I will go. I fervently hope this initiation will bring TRE to people who desperately need it right now.