Tag Archives: sangha

Thriving after Trauma

This past week I participated in an interesting discussion on the Sisters in Crime Guppies Yahoo group.  The thread coincidentally began while I was preparing to lead the next Yoga Sutra discussion for Whole Life Yoga’s advanced yoga teacher training.

For those of you who don’t know, Sisters in Crime is an organization that supports crime writers, like yours truly. “Guppies” stands for the “great unpublished,” of which I’m gratefully no longer a member. Many of us continue to hang out together even after we’re published because, frankly, we’re heck of a lot of fun.

This particular discussion centered around current backlogs of DNA evidence and how such backlogs might be incorporated into our future crime novels.

The confluence of these two conversations got me thinking, and when I get thinking I inevitably get myself into trouble. This time, I considered this age old question:

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Many spiritual teachings, including the Yoga Sutras, have an answer.

For their own growth.

Many of you know, either from the Guppy thread or from past conversations, that I survived something almost two decades ago that was, to put it mildly, painful. Some of you know the specifics, some of you don’t. Honestly, they don’t even matter. There isn’t a person alive over eighteen who hasn’t known trauma in one form or another. At least no one I’ve met.

The question is, when we experience said trauma, how do we deal with it?

The Sutras say that we have no true control over what happens to us or around us. The only thing we can control is how we react to it. An easy enough concept, if sometimes seemingly impossible to put into action. But the teachings go on later in Chapter 2 to hint that anything that happens to us has a purpose. The bold font and words in brackets have been added by me

Sutra 2.18:

“The seeable [our experiences, good and bad] has the characteristics of brightness, activity, and inertia. It is embodied in the elements and experienced by the senses. It exists so that the seer [you and me] may experience it and then become free.

About a year after my personal trauma, I met with a counselor. I told her that I knew there was a purpose for what had happened to me, but I hadn’t found it yet.

She looked at me, deadpan, and asked a question.

“What if there isn’t?”

My answer came from a place so deep inside of me that, until that moment, I didn’t even know it existed.

“Then I’ll have to create one. The alternative is too awful.”

That was the day I began to heal.

Who knows why bad things happen to good people? I sure as hell don’t. But can we find growth, perhaps even peace, in spite of it? The sutras say yes. I’m inclined to agree with them. I wouldn’t trade my life for any other on earth, in spite of the traumas (and like all of you, I’ve had more than one) I’ve experienced along the way.

I’ll leave you all with one final comment, also from the Sutras. This is for those of you who are now feeling cranky with me. The translation is my own.

“Individual results may vary.”

May your life’s experiences—good, bad, beautiful, and challenging—serve as a springboard for your growth.

And ultimately, may you find peace.


Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and book sellers everywhere! 

Facebook, Community, and Joy–Found in Seattle

Joy rests after her long journey home

Joy rests after her long journey home

Those of you who are connected to me via Facebook may have noticed an increase in my postings there lately.  To be honest, I’m hooked.  I waste—or rather, invest—a couple of hours on it each day.  My activities are varied: from oohing and aahing over cute puppy pictures,  to sharing my adventures in trying to get published, to asking complete strangers if it’s silly to cry over Superbowl Clydesdale commercials.  But one story really caught my attention.

A week ago last Saturday Tasha, a friend, and I were walking on Greenwood Avenue, when a complete stranger stopped us and handed us a flyer.  “Have you seen this dog?” she asked.  We told her we hadn’t. She then said, “Keep your eyes open.  She even has her own Facebook page.”  I put the flyer in my pocket and looked, but I didn’t find the dog.  The retriever mix’s sad eyes still haunted me the next day, so I visited her Facebook page, hoping to learn she’d been recovered.

I was far from the only person who visited “Joy lost in Ballard.”  Literally hundreds of people followed the discussion and offered to help. I shared the page on the studio’s and my personal pages and forwarded information on when I could.  

The odds of a happy ending weren’t good. 

Joy had moved to Seattle from an out-of-state shelter just three days before she disappeared.  She was easily frightened, and she hadn’t fully bonded with her new forever home.  Worse yet, she slipped her collar, so she had no tags, and she didn’t yet know her name.  Joy was more likely to run from someone trying to help than come to them.

I continued following the story.  My husband warned me that I was l annoying my Facebook friends by continuing to post updates.  Yet shortly after he chided me, I caught even him checking for Joy sightings and considering joining the search. Like me, he was hooked.

I don’t know if anyone involved in Joy’s story has ever done yoga, but they are all yogis.  Complete strangers volunteered to get up at 3 AM to check humane traps, kept waders and dog treats in their cars “just in case,” discussed dog capture strategies, and created Joy sighting maps.

These kind strangers were living examples of two yoga principles: sangha (community) and active compassion.  The Yoga Sutras say that when yogis encounter suffering, they should respond with active compassion. In other words, yogis shouldn’t waste time feeling bad, we should help. The teachings also promise that in community, we find energy and healing we can’t find alone. That group of electronically-connected strangers demonstrated both of those concepts perfectly.  They restored my faith in humanity.

Ten days after she bolted, Joy was reunited with her family.  She’s healthy and happy to be back home.  We may never know what transpired during her adventure, but her travels touched the hearts of all those who helped her.  And the people who helped her definitely made a mark on mine.

Thanks to all of you who helped Joy and sent her positive energy.  May you continue to find your own Joy in Seattle.



PS–I truly love getting to know students and fans on Facebook! “Friend” me at https://www.facebook.com/tracywe

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle!