Interview with Tracy Cochran
Tracy Cochran is a writer and contributing editor of Tricycle: the Buddhist Review where she has a column. She also writes for New Age Journal and Publisher's Weekly. She is the co-author of the wonderful book, "Transformations: Awakening To the Sacred in Ourselves."
Tammie: What led you to write, "Transformations: Awakening to the Sacred In Ourselves"?
Tracy: I came to feel very strongly that a spiritual life can't really be granted to us or borrowed from others or from books. That extraordinary experience that I had while being mugged was evidence to me that spiritual awakening is an organic potential, a birthright that each one us can realize as we journey through our various life lessons.
Tammie: In your book, you mention that at some point you realized that you had lost over the years your sense of "the scale of my possibilities and of the value of my own experience." I believe that so many people can relate to your observation, and I was hoping that you might share how your journey helped to put you in touch with the vast mine of possibilities that existed within yourself.
Tracy: I slowly lost a sense of the miraculous. It dawned on me at a certain point that every spiritual experience I've ever had has occurred because I was receptive, because my body, heart, and mind were literally made to be a kind of laboratory for transformation...if I wanted it.
Tammie: You also mention that cultivating attention is a critical aspect of all spiritual disciplines. How does one best cultivate attention from your perspective?
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Tracy: I think learning a meditation technique is an invaluable help. There are many different forms, as I know you know. But I think some kind of mindfulness practice taught by someone who has been well trained is an invaluable daily touchstone--then we can learn to observe ourselves in our daily lives. If we're in touch with ourselves, our whole life can be a kind of spiritual food.
Tammie: How do you see the personal and the cosmic as connected?
Tracy: At the heart of the most profound spiritual experiences I've had is the realization that the personal and the cosmic are truly related. What was most astonishing to me in the midst of that extraordinary experience I had while being mugged was the feeling of being under a gaze of a higher being that cared about me personally, small and flawed as I was. That night, I experienced a light behind everything that wasn't a kind of impersonal void, but a loving intelligence that was profoundly attuned to us. This experience leads me to believe that there is an aspect to us that is cosmic, that vibrates at the same frequency, although we're unaware of it most of the time.
Tammie: I found that as I wrote BirthQuake, it began to write me in some very remarkable ways. I don't feel that I was quite the same person when I finished it. I'm wondering how the writing of Transformations effected you?
Tracy: Writing Transformations was a wonderfully empowering experience. It was also arduous because we were asked to write it very quickly, though I don't suppose it could have been done any other way. I came away from the project yearning to try to get even closer to the truth. I felt liberated but I also felt like I had just begun, just had the first taste of what it was like to try to express myself.
Tammie: What's your definition of wholeness?
Tracy: To be aware and alive in my feelings, body, intellect, and to live a life in which what is inside me gets expressed outside, to dissolve the difference between the inside me and the outside or social me. To feel free to be what I truly am.
Tammie: When you look at our troubled but still beautiful world, what concerns you the most? What gives you the most hope?
Tracy: Like everybody else, I worry about the destruction of the planet and our collective inability to stop destroying the planet. What gives me hope is the ever present of possibility of awakening.
Tammie:: What particular "quake" (difficulty, challenge) has been the most influential in your personal and spiritual growth?
Tracy: I think my moments of insight and creativity have almost always been preceded by a shock of some kind. Here are two that come to mind: Four or five years ago, while I was writing Transformations, I suddenly lost a friend who meant the world to me. It was baffling and utterly devastating, as if I had lost my twin. It turned out to be an incredible gift, however, as it galvanized me to really explore who I was and how I related to people. I had to reach down deep inside myself and learn to claim and hold disowned childhood feelings. As a therapist I know you know the value of this. So, it seemed like the end of the world but it was a doorway to transformation or rebirth. I encountered Tracy in a brand new way. All kinds of people have commented on how much I have changed in the past few years, that I'm much more open and self-accepting and available. It all came from what seemed to be an end.
Now, we're in the midst of a new BirthQuake because our building is being sold and we're searching for a new home, probably outside of the city. Again, all my childhood fears of rejection are being stirred up--as if I'm in a game of musical chairs and the music has stopped and I'm standing there stunned without a chair. In the midst of these feelings, however, there will be moments of a really wonderful vibrancy and awareness. I feel awake and alive and in God's hands for lack of a better expression. As if this move and this period of insecurity were given to me to push me where I need to go. I never feel more aware of the love in the universe than when I am in the midst of personal suffering.
Tammie: Where has your journey led since the writing of Transformations?
Tracy: I'm writing a new book full of stories about how being a mother has been a string of "quakes," a wonderful, surprising trip towards authentic being. We'll see where it goes.
Note: I've decided to share a synchronictic experience here. One night, I had a dream where I learned that I would be loosing my home and was anxiously searching for a new one. Throughout the dream, there was a gentle voice that kept saying, "you're already home, don't be afraid." When I awoke, I wondered what the dream represented since I wasn't planning on going anywhere or making any significant changes in the near future. The next morning, I received a letter from Tracy informing me that her building had been sold and that she'd need to find a new home.
Staff, H. (2008, November 28). Life Transformations, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/alternative-mental-health/sageplace/life-transformations