Fax: What was it you were seeking that eventually led you to this work?
Tatini: When I was around 26 or 27 and living and working in Munich, my boss at the time gave me a book titled “Who Am I?” This book was written by a woman who was trying to find herself outside the identities of marriage and status. The book awakened in me a desire to know who I am outside of my relationship. At the time, I knew myself as a dental assistant, and a girlfriend, and so on. The message of the book led me to end my relationship and my job and start a new adventure in America.
I became involved with the spiritual mystic Osho for a number of years, then dipped into various practices and teachings– e.g. Shamanism, Advaita, Byron Katie and self-expression through singing from soul and 5-Rhythms dancing.
My very first Osho discourse on audio tape impacted me deeply: A Zen master was asked “What is the greatest miracle?” His answer, “To be alone and not lonely.” Being raised Catholic and rejecting Catholicism, I loved the Buddhist teaching that the light is inside, that I’m fundamentally good, and I just have to look inside to find that goodness.
Around the end of 2004 I came across Waking Down and attended Saniel and Linda’s “Tantra of Trust” workshop in February of 2005. I found I agreed with all the precepts. Most significantly, though, it was the way I was received by Saniel and Linda—a bodily initiation. During the workshop I was held with no judgment, and the impact of the greenlighting was powerful for me.
I spent time working with Saniel and Linda and also with the other teachers in the Bay Area. It was good timing: Saniel offered a three and a nine month intensive which I attended and lots of sittings with him and Linda and also the other local teachers. Six months later I had my second birth. In a session with Linda–I was on the couch with my head in her lap–it just came to me: I want to be a teacher of this process. I expressed it and Linda was very excited and supportive.
Fax: What have you discovered to be your strengths and your challenges in being a Teacher the past 8 years?
Tatini: I am a very practically oriented person, and in sessions I love to “go deep” and penetrate into all the aspects of a person’s story as they arise in the moment. I had to learn to trust my intuition and learned the delicate dance of holding folks in deep listening and more active pointing with words I speak. I learned to trust my being’s movement towards interrupting someone in their story to invite them to sense what else is there and to notice how what they say feels in the body. That was a big deal because there is always a risk of upsetting the other when interrupting their flow of words. I feel like I’m helping clean the dust from the diamond that is their many-faceted nature – so it can sparkle. I am drawn to do this discovery work for myself, getting to know my unconscious patterns and filters and opening them up so that Being force can “take over” so to speak. It is humbling work because the more I learn to be out of the way the more I can assist folks.
I’ve also realized that I am more of a midwife than a teacher. I feel I live our dharma and can talk about it quite articulately, but my heart’s fulfillment is to work deeply with people one-on-one in the unveiling of their authentic self.
A challenge has been the money question: how to make enough money to live. Ideally, I would like to spend much of my time teaching, but I don’t like marketing my spiritual work and also don’t want to be dependent on the income from it so that the teacher/student relationship stays clean on that level.
That is why I’m training now to be a nurse’s aide, so that I can do that to make a living and I can be authentic in my role as a teacher and not be political in any way in order to hold onto a student or try to fill workshops to support myself. That work will involve helping others in very practical, literally hands-on ways—washing them, feeding them, etc. and I will make enough money to pay the bills.
It is a bit of a compromise, because ideally I would like to be a minister or a therapist so I could work in a hospital or nursing home in that function. But in my research of avenues of how to get there, I got clear that I don’t want to spend years studying and most of all don’t want to have $50.000 debt once I am done. I see this as the healing of my own spirit/money split: Being is making it clear that it is ok to work as Nurse Aid for $13 an hour – I will be taken care off and I don’t have to be a therapist to do soul healing work.
Fax: It seems you have always been drawn to service. For instance, the many ways you volunteer your time in support of the Trillium Awakening Teacher Circle. Service seems to be a big part of who you are.
Tatini: I don’t think about it in those terms, like I’m setting out to do service. It’s like breathing to me. It is where Being force flows and I am finding myself fulfilled. And I love this dharma and my teacher colleagues and how we work together. It is as much my personal continuing education on all levels practical and spiritual, as it is a service that I am giving out of what comes naturally to me.
Fax: You also volunteer several hours a week as a hospice volunteer. What motivated you to be with others in this way?
Tatini: In understanding the nature of “who am I”, the reality of the loss of this physical body draws me. It always has, but since my 50th birthday, I feel I am going towards death, down the hill, rather than having a life ahead of me, or going uphill. I am volunteering in Hospice so that I can be very close to death, be impacted by death. I want to breath in death so I can get it as much as it can be gotten without dying myself. I want to make peace with death and face my fears about it.
I am observing that dying seems to be as much hard work as birthing. I am getting that the part of me that doesn’t die exists separate from the body. This deepening into my unmanifest nature is a great gift and I am surrendering more and more to being with folks on the spirit level. Sitting still, doing nothing (maybe singing a healing song if it feels right), trusting that I am having a healing impact on a dimension that is not physical, which is quite different from what I thought it would be: more hands-on in terms of literally touching people and having conversations with people.
Fax: You have also been serving as a member of the Trillium Operations Circle, using the principles of Holacracy, for some time…
Tatini: I love being a member of the Operations Circle. I am very aligned with the foundation principles of Holacracy—sensing into current tensions we’re feeling within the organization and finding the next actions to address the tensions, rather than operating on the usual “predict and control” basis. Our cultural influences are so much about security, gain, and long term planning. What I am learning from the “no predict and control” principle is that all I need to do is to tune into the present moment and feel what arises as the next immediate expression of Being.
Living in the NOW used to be exclusively associated for me with emptiness along the lines of Zen teachings. Now, 11 years after I landed in my body, (which was what my second birth felt like: “Now I am here”), I am living in a very full, alive NOW. And how relaxing it is to have to know only the next moment! Not the ones after that – in fact it is becoming more and more clear to me that the moments after the immediate next moments are disconnected from the whole and a fabrication of the mind. Not to judge thoughts but for me, I can find the greatest degree of sanity and wholeness in this moment that arises out of the past moment and that will give birth to the next moment.
Fax: Given that you are most comfortable focused on the present, do you have a feeling for the direction of Trillium Awakening going forward?
Tatini: The organization as a whole has a next moment that will emerge naturally, organically in alignment with Being – I trust that. There are a few areas of tension in the current form where I/we can feel a new expression wanting to come through. This feels very alive and sacred to me. I feel happy to be part of our collective teacher circle and look forward to our work together to birth the next expression. I continually deepen into the Trillium Awakening dharma as it evolves moment to moment for me individually and for us as a collective. So nothing concrete at this time but as things evolve we will share them with the community.
Fax: Thank you, Tatini.