Shanty Town Transcendence: The Ultimate Freedom from Trauma


It happens rarely, perhaps once in a decade, that a simple tool, with the real power to create an experience in an individual that could change their lives for the better, comes along. The Simplicity of Stillness Method, one which requires no religious affiliation, no special equipment, no massive financial investment, is so clearly and easily understood and implemented that it’s being used by everyone from Buddhist Monks and business executives to young children. In 2006, Marlise Karlin traveled in Africa sharing her work. Here she writes about how The Simplicity of Stillness Method enabled the people of this African village, to free themselves from painful memories that often dictate their future life choices….

Karlin2You could see how the light had dimmed from their eyes and faces. Some of their struggles were those we’ve never had to deal with in the Western world, while others were similar – the deep sadness and grief that comes with resignation and hopelessness. Much of the sadness recorded on their dark-skinned faces was from the hardships they had endured. Many of these women became wives at the age of 12 or 13. Those who had husbands unable to afford the luxury of more than one wife were left with no support and no way of taking care of themselves or their children.

I arrived at the rural clinic in the middle of the Mara Plains, the home of the Maasai tribe, not knowing what to expect. Their new clinic, with its freshly painted stucco walls and blue-lined windows, stood out like a lone jewel at the edge of a shanty-style town. Talek Village looked like a surreal movie set of one-room buildings with tin siding, no windows, and no plumbing. When you wanted food from the “store,” a man would come running down the mud-packed street, shushing roosters out of the way; from behind the wooden bars above a dust-filled counter, he’d ask your bidding.

The previous night had been magical; a Stillness Session brought untold gifts to a tribe of Maasai warriors by the light of a roaring campfire and the glow of an iridescent moon. The rains had set this unusual occurrence in motion. It was part of a golden thread that was to weave a series of mystical events into my life, and into the world of these disheartened women, just waiting and wanting for life to offer them more than it had.

Karlin4When the soul’s yearning is to know more
Jackson Njapit, the lone practitioner of this last-chance enclave of hope and healing, was among those who discovered a newfound wisdom in his heart in those moments of deep stillness. Inspired to share what he had experienced, he invited me to bring “that blessing of peace” to the women and their babies coming to his clinic the following day.

As I toured the new medical facilities, a warrior appeared: a towering form with chiseled features highlighting skin that was as dark as a moonless sky. If he hadn’t been wearing the traditional clothing of the Maasai, he could have stepped out of the pages of Men’s Vogue. No one knew why he was there, as he wasn’t sick. Possibly, it was the whispered talk resounding through the neighboring villages after last night’s unparalleled entrance into new worlds that drew him to find out more. Speaking in the English of one who works for the tourist trade, he questioned my background and the method I had taught. Jackson gently interrupted the warrior’s inquiry, informing me before he left on his rounds that the women had gathered and were waiting for me to join them.

Doubtful, skeptical, questioning: Who is this woman and what could she possibly have to tell me about my life? I certainly couldn’t blame them for being distrustful. These women had every right to be, especially given their backgrounds. More had arrived than Jackson expected, including those who weren’t even sick. I wondered what had brought them. We later discovered that some were wives of the men who had been at the session the night before. They had come with that wanting, that yearning of the soul, when it’s time to rediscover what has long been forgotten.

Karlin3Cultural differences or common ground
Often people believe that our cultural differences mean we have nothing in common, when actually there is a universal ground in our global village. At the hub of it all, beyond any differences, are the values we mutually share in something bigger than ourselves. This understanding was brought into clear view as the inconceivable unfolded before our eyes moment by moment.

A new element was added to the mix of distrustful emotions in the room when a man unexpectedly arrived. As he entered this domain of women he scowled at me from across the room, sending an implicit message of disapproval. He stood glowering above everyone, in striking counterpoint to the women who were positioned below him on a bench that partially circled the room.

There is a long-established Maasai custom that men and women do not fraternize publicly; interestingly, the scowling man did not appear to want to leave. I decided to invite him to stay, only asking that he be seated if he chose to remain. He walked quietly across the room, and sat down! I also invited the English-speaking warrior, who had joined us, to participate by translating. He willingly agreed. Something had begun to happen that was outside the cultural norm.

The awakening of tenderness… the release of intolerant traditions
I spoke about the challenges that all people face and how we all have a deep knowing where we connect to the peace in our hearts. The women appeared curious, while uncertain. I suggested they close their eyes and just feel what this stream of limitless life energy had to offer them. Unlike the preceding days of tempestuous weather, in this moment, it wasn’t raining. The sun was streaming through the windows. The rag-tag curtains billowed as golden light poured through them. The awakening of tenderness could be seen even on the faces of the babies who had all stopped crying and were lying in their mothers’ arms, eyes open wide, as they drank in the healing Stillness, the musical ambrosia radiated throughout the entire clinic .

The warrior seated himself quietly next to a female nurse. Another set of intolerant traditions began breaking down: the one where men don’t sit with women. He closed his eyes, opened his mind and heart to that honeyed revelation, the wondrous tranquility that had become as thick as heat feels on the open plains.

It’s rare to observe a cultural shift this transcendent. All barriers had disintegrated. Serenity illumined the room. The sorrow and depression that had advanced stress on the faces of the men, women, and children dissolved, and in its place was that glow love offers when it permeates our hearts. All hierarchal differences faded into meaninglessness as the nurse, the warrior, women, and children blended into a community that respected the inherent value within each person.

A renowned political leader once stated, when working to create peace in a country whose citizens were intemperate with one another, that he wanted to “make water move uphill.” I don’t know if it happened then, but when pure awareness creates visibility within, this will always be the consequence. Here in Kenya, in a tiny rural clinic, the mists had cleared.

The illuminating diamond waiting to be unearthed in each of us lies just beneath the surface where human pain and trauma are encrusted. Fear, helplessness, and withdrawal are symptoms set in motion by the violence of unconscious individuals confirming universal themes of betrayal, loss and mortality. These women, and also the men, and so many of us in every corner of the world, have been recipients of corresponding cultural beliefs; bullying, physical and mental abuse, exposure to all kinds of violence, unintentionally perpetuating the nightmare.

In the way that honing a diamond to perfection is a process, we are all on training wheels. What awaits us and is possible today is a jewel of caring and compassion, the recognition of our shared humanity through the ultimate healing of our very soul.

I spoke to the now-smiling group about infusing their lives with the stillness at the source of all inspiration. They could, I promised, lie down in the fields, watch the wheat blowing in the wind, look up into the endless blue of the sky, and touch this Energy of exquisite peace again and again. Would all their challenges be solved overnight? No. Would they shift from where they were? Yes.

Once we awaken to the essence of our true nature, we see the perfection that exists, and from here, water running uphill is really not a problem….

Photos Copyright © Patricia Lanza

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Marlise Karlin
Marlise Karlin is a new voice in the field of personal transformation and is rapidly emerging as someone to take notice of.  Wayne Dyer has recently described her as a "great force in facilitating a shift in consciousness toward a divine love and cooperation." She comes with unique credentials; as the founder of the Simplicity of Stillness Method, a distinctively different kind of meditation practice, she has traveled globally enabling people of every age and culture to free themselves from painful memories that often dictate their future life choices. Aside from Karlin's work with the Maasai tribe in Africa, she has worked in Cambodia with survivors of the Khmer Rouge, as well as others.


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