Angry Youth meets Urban Yogi

Mantra to the Forgotten Children


By Barbara Bullard


My Tuesday yoga class focused on working from the inside out.  The ancient techniques of yoga are my solace and exorcism.  Holding my downward dog in a heated room with melodic tones is my chosen battleground to release demons and find peace.  This daily routine goes beyond focusing on myself though. My hope is that my journey will be a healing salve for the disenfranchised, battered and forgotten.  As I release I ask for my guides to support me in finding the strength to love myself and others, just a little bit more.

The deepness of its breath brought images of my mother to my third eye.  She was gone before I had to make “real-women” decisions.  Ripping off the band-aid of the loss of my mother, beams of sweat rolling off my body, I realized that I had never mourned. She was always available for me but what about the children globally those have lost their mother at early ages and not mourn.  My sweat and tears merged as I rose from the mat, yet the thought lingered into the crisp night.

Darkness swooped over the grey transforming to black sky. Retracing the pain newly surfaced after decades, it was just too cold to stand in tadasana (mountain pose). Making a stop at the local supermarket to break up this mental excavation resulted in maneuvering broken concrete toward my home, with backpack, mat bag, and groceries in hand.

Passing by dimly lit brownstones surrounded by stark massive trees a large shadow approached. The closer the shadow, the more expanded it became, hovering the entire sidewalk to its curb. Too drained to detour my path, I found myself toe to toe with a young man half my size.   His dilated pupils reflected the moon. Flaring his nostrils he motioned demanding that I move or there would be repercussions. I got a sense that he had done this before and they had fled in fear.  This boy can’t possibly think I’m going to move given these bags; and I’m his elder, I thought. “Excuse me”, I said.

The light had dimmed in his eyes.  It was the expression I had witnessed before in India in the forgotten children, devoid of human compassion, reverting to an animalistic way of being.  The journey through the portals of his eyes felt like death and despair.  No tears issued from either of us.  We both approached the matter from two separate positions, mine, a position of searching for ways to communicate and his, of returning to what he knows which is self-hatred.

The mass of shadows exposed approximately 15 children under the dim streetlight. Even if I wanted to move I couldn’t.   The boy reached for the largest fallen branch, “Move bitch!  I said move.”  I could be his mother, planting my feet like the root of an ancient tree.   The children circled me screaming obscenities in the harsh winter night. They made a pathway for a girl resembling any African-American pre-teen.  She morphed into the demonic force taught to her by society, shape shifting into an abusive 5-0 (police).  I then became a black boy being persecuted for no cause.

“Move your hand, touch him and see what I’ll do”, she revealed a glass bottle. “I’ll smash this in your face. Try me”.  Not flinching and definitely not moving my hands, I realized trying to communicate verbally was not the way.  Transforming from 5-0 to a sexually abusive male, she sandwiched the bottle between her thighs, motioning sexual violations, coloring the black and white night with shades of red.

The children wanted blood at as early an age as six years. I returned to tadasana. This was yoga in action, for real.  I didn’t speak a word but looked into her eyes. The children around began to come closer, “Oooh, look, she’s staring at you” egging her on to do something.  The young girl lunged forward,  “say something.”  Still in silence, I stood. “Yeah, I thought so”, cocking her head to one side, confident that fear had won.

Cars began to pass looking on but not stopping, once again becoming onlookers to a generation that needs love.  Conjuring the love from my mother, the energy of a loving embrace was sent to this young girl.  At such a young age her heart was broken and her mind was convinced she was nothing.

My mind searched for answers to how to save them, knowing that if I flinched they were going to attack.  “Jesus, Jesus”, I cried out, hoping that the universal call of love would bring them back to some truth of who they were, gifted people the power to create or destroy.   When I called out the boy ran toward me, again, to hit me in the face.

My reflexes blocked his blow while saying, “no one may have ever told you this before but I love you. I love you.”   The boy dropped the branch. The children began to scream obscenities at me, searching for the familiar in the darkness.   At that moment, I sensed a small portal opening to their hearts.  “I love you.  I love all of you.” My words formed chants of unconditional love.

But, there was one that resisted: “call 911.  I don’t care if you call 911.”  The girl’s pain was so deep. Speaking between steady breaths, I responded, “I’m not calling 911, because I love you”.  The mass began to back away disorientated, murmuring obscenities to each other”.

The children could not integrate the word love into their psyches, addicted to the venom of hate at their tender ages.  To be deprived of love is the first step into the prison pipeline.

Days later the young boy crossed my path on a busy street, brightly lit with thriving businesses.  Our eyes met.  I smiled.  He had a much gentler appearance. I made sure he realized I was smiling at him, and I thought within, “yes, it’s me. I still love you”.  In love there’s no separation.  And, so it is. 

4 Responses to “Angry Youth meets Urban Yogi” Subscribe

  1. Simone May 2, 2016 at 1:42 am #

    A frightening, beautiful, powerful story from a beautiful, powerful, inspiring woman. Brava, Barabara for always choosing love and showing us how to do the same.

    • Barbara May 10, 2016 at 3:45 pm #

      Thank you, Beautiful Simone! The work that you do provides platforms for our youth to explore and grow! Blessings!

  2. Dara Cole May 6, 2016 at 11:27 pm #

    Barbara, this story gave me chills. The stand you took for yourself and for humanity – for LOVE is the definition of yoga and it saves so many lives. You are me Shero.

    • Barbara June 6, 2016 at 1:11 pm #

      Thank you Dara! You are doing such great work. It’s an honor!

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