Trager, Revolution, Post Traumatic Stress & Peace
by Kate Rose, Certified Trager Practitioner /Tutor/Instructor
I received a request to come to Cairo and teach 2 Level 5's back to back. “Patterns & Positions” and “Feeling: The Heart & Soul of Trager”. My last visit to Cairo had been in 2009, and I was on my way there in 2011 from France, when the Revolution happened and all travel was stopped. So it had been 5 years since I was last there.
This would be my 5th trip to Cairo. I have always felt strangely at home in Egypt and had missed both the community and the country. It is not an easy place to be at any time, given that the high, high levels of pollution make breathing a challenging proposition and the beauty and splendor side by side with the terrible poverty. But I have always loved it. The Pyramids, the Sphinx, the Nile - the ancient side by side with the modern. Lines of camels and lines of cars.
The Cairo Trager Community is a wonderful group of women, learning and practicing Trager and other forms of healing in a world where these things are not allowed. And of course the incredible hospitality. It is a level of welcome and generosity that one can only be humbled by. A lesson in receiving. And it is from everyone. It is in the DNA of the culture.
I was scared, to be sure, about the trip. Only reading the news and hearing of all the shootings and bombings, I decided to choose to trust what I have always trusted. In this work that I truly believe can and does create Peace, being called to a place of war seemed like a great honor and responsibility. So I went.
One always arrives in Cairo at about 2 a.m. and then there is the process of getting a Visa Stamp, 15.00US, and then getting through customs and of course finding your luggage. So it is close to three when one finally exits the airport. I was to be picked up by a man named Hassan, a Nubian gentleman who is both driver and protector. I have known him for many years, trust him with my life, and although we do not speak each other's language, we communicate very clearly. As soon as I saw him, I felt utterly safe. “Sabah al kheer, Hassan, I say. This is the greeting of Good Morning in Egypt, which translated literally means something like “ I wish you Light and Blessings on your Day”
Answered by Sabah al Noor enjassim which is I wish you Light and Jasmine” Such an incredible language.
And he said Good Morning Madame, and shook my hand which is very rare. In Egypt if someone is in the position of serving they usually back away from you if you approach. But Hassan and I were very happy to see one another. And shared in this exchange, the awareness and joy of knowing what he and his country had been through and my own deep happiness at my return.
We then drove for about 40 minutes, first through Cairo and then into the desert to where Katrina Shawki lives. I had taken this ride many times and was familiar with the ride through the empty desert into the villages and then onto the farm.
But as I looked out the window, even in the dark, I could see everywhere buildings and a road I did not recognize with a line of trees down the middle...where did all this come from? I arrived at the house at about 4 am to be greeted of course by Katriona and a cup of tea.
She told me that after the revolution, because there has been basically no government to enforce regulations, people just began to build at great speed, because they all know that once the government would be established, permits would be required etc. So villages have disappeared and big buildings and homes are in their place.
Cairo itself as we drove through on the main motorway seemed suspended somehow. Quiet, but waiting, an inward breath. It is such a huge city, one drives over the Nile, seeing Minarets, Mosques and Hotels, everything altogether.
I had one day to rest, and then on Thursday we drove into Cairo for the class. Hassan took us on an amazing circuitous route that only he could have discovered or created. Sometimes it seemed we were not even on roads. The traffic is so terrible now, much worse than 5 years ago, that a ride that would take under an hour could take 4 hours. Unless you have a brilliant person at the wheel.
It was so wonderful to enter the studio and greet all the wonderful women I had not seen for so long, who had lived through and survived this incredible revolution and learned to deal with the daily challenges that I cannot even imagine.
As we sat in our opening circle in silence, I could feel, like a heavy cloud, the weight of these 3 years of fear and violence and I know that this is what we were here to bring out into the open, to share, and balance and heal. And so we began. You must imagine that daily conversation could go something like this:
“Did that gunfire wake you up yesterday morning? “& “Where were you when that bomb went off?' In the same way that we might say,”Did you see the new Captain America movie?”
After lunch the first day, I shared my experience of listening to the conversations and we began to explore the telescoped reality that everyone had been living in. We did this is the context of the first Level 5 “Patterns& Positions”. Looking at the actual positions that our bodies are in as a result of trauma, violence, fear, etc, how we get used to it and accommodate it in our systems, the toll it takes on us, the position it puts us in and the pattern it creates. We explored this within the context of discussion, Mentastics, both on our own and with a partner or in a triad and at the table from both directions, i.e.: as the Practitioner practicing while holding unconscious and conscious trauma, and as the receiver, receiving loving care and support to release trauma throughout the system; through gentle suggestion, silent and spoken, exploring new positions, of mind and body. The partnerships we created and experienced were so profound and so healing. There was so little doing, and so much listening and receiving, using the work creatively, intuitively, simply. Embodying the principles to allow the openings, to create the questions. It was remarkable. So for 3 days we explored our Positions and our Patterns. Then we had a break of a couple of days and came back to 3 days of “Feeling: The Heart and Soul of Trager”. From our first three days we had identified and explored where we were, the shapes we had created, the needs that arose. In these next three days we flowed into continuous questioning and exploration of feeling on as many levels as possible and the needed integration to bring everyone back to themselves, the recall of what it felt like before 3 years of violence and upheaval. To access the somatic and unconscious memories, let them move and find ourselves and each other in our innate wholeness.
It was incredibly beautiful to observe and interact with the artistry, skill, humor, and joy that these 12 women expressed more and more as the days went on. And to see the truth of Trager creating Peace.
So in the midst of bomb threats and tanks and machine guns, fear everywhere, we became an island of peace and inspiration.
For me it was a process of being aware of my own fears and being present with them as I facilitated the class.
The tears of exhaustion fear, and trauma were replaced by tears of joy and so much laughter.
We began to work on translating Trager into Arabic, as several people were becoming Intro leaders and we explored how to share Trager in Arabic. Some of the expressions are so exquisite. Like.....” this particular feeling is described as that amazing Egyptian rose that one just smells the fragrance of and is immediately transported into softness.” That was one word. It is a language of grace and fluidity. And the laughter of the transplanted expatriates and their stories of trying to communicate and the ridiculous things that get said when one is learning a language.
We ended with laughter and joy, renewed strength, and a sense of having cleared and released so much that had been imposed by living through a revolution.
Teaching the trainings back to back was a marvelous experience, seeing how they seamlessly wove perfectly into each other and the effectiveness of what became for all intents and purposes a 6 day Level 5 Immersion. The effectiveness of Trager with Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress cannot be understated. It is a simple and profoundly effective technique/approach that organically, naturally brings through recall and movement, balance, harmony, release, integration and ease to a system stressed and damaged in ways that are only present in a situation where a human being must deal with the ravages of violence and fear.
On a final personal note. The last night I was awakened at 2 am by gunfire. First several shots and then what sounded like an automatic weapon. I said to myself, Kate, that is gunfire. Then I said,” I think you should probably not turn on the lights.” (I was in a huge compound surrounded by a high wall, never the less...) then I said to myself, “You are in your pajamas, maybe you should dress and gather some things in case.”...... and then I said,” Kate, my darling, if someone comes to shoot you, being dressed or in pajamas is not going to make a difference. “
So I laid there until dawn and then fell asleep for a few hours. When I met Katriona at breakfast, I asked her, “Did you hear the gunfire?” She said,” No. “ I said, “What do you think it was? “
She said, “Well, it could have been a wedding, they fire guns for that, or it could have been the men who protect the farm just telling the world they are there and this place is protected.”
I thought, how amazing. One sound and it could have been, Death, or Celebration, or just Hello.
A powerful and formidable lesson.
My deepest thanks to the Brave Trager Women of Egypt.
Peace Peace Peace. Peace be unto us and unto all living beings.