Rain pounding rooftops

Rain pounding rooftops
Comforting, rocking souls to sleep
Smiles enter dreams

This time of year is time fraught with peril for some of us.  It is a time that is inherently ceremonial for some and yet for others has become a time to dread.  I fall in with those for whom it is inherently sacred. I love this time of year! I love the weather and how cold and rainy it gets here. I love hunkering down in front of a fire and pulling out last year’s unfinished knitting projects! I spend hours in the kitchen canning, jamming, baking and creating sweet treats for people I love. I love bringing in a tree and decorating it with white lights and crystals that reflect the light and make me feel starry eyed.  I love taking the time to wrap gifts for those I have spent the year with, taking the time to honor and celebrate the individual without having to explain why. It is a time of peace for me and deep, deep nourishment. This isn’t true for many who struggle with the whole idea of Christmas and the commercialism/have too-s that surround this time of year. My challenge is: how do I integrate my love of this time of year with those around me who don’t share my passion?  How do I honor and integrate the differences in how we approach this time of year without squashing my enthusiasm?  I love giving presents.  I love living into the magicof December and celebrating the solstice. I love how the houses come alive at night with all the lights. I love the mystery of endings and beginnings.  I love Christmas morning.

This is what I practice and I offer it to you as a way of engaging or shifting your relationship with this time of year especially if it is fraught with peril and distress. It is a beautiful time of year in spite of all the cultural overlays. It is a time set aside for going in and reflecting on the past year, of where shadow and light meet in you. It is a time when the dark is greater than the light and in the wonderful words of Carl Jung, “We do not become enlightened by…but by making the dark conscious” This can become a time when we can consciously relate to the dark as we light our fires on the Solstice and take a turn with the earth back towards the sun.

It is December first and we begin the days towards the longest night and the turn towards the light.  As tradition has it in my life I count the days by opening a window into a simple mystery of the day on an advent calendar or a simple gift or delight is given or received. I would love to invite all of you to share in this time with me as it is a favorite and though many find it stressful – take the time to fillit full of love, light, giving, creating and filling life with beauty.

With each “window” that is opened, or each day that passes, think about a deed that you can participate in that helps you to give, as well as receive. People love to create, feel useful, and feel appreciated. Here’s are some ideas:

  • Bring flowers to a neighbor or friend.
  • Practice random acts of kindness.
  • Draw a picture and send it to a relative or friend far away.
  • Make kite or wax paper stars to hang on your windows, and extras, for neighbors and friends.
  • Make popcorn chains and hang them outside for the birds.
  • Paint pictures and make your own gift cards- make extras to share!
  • Join others to sing in the light.
  • Think nice thoughts for an ill friend.
  • Use beeswax to make candles to give as gifts.
  • Bake for the holidays.
  • Make a simple gift for a friend.

Have fun, love, spread your creative wings far and wide and lead with a full and grateful heart for all we have been given. Make it a practice.

Here as an exploration designed to put you on your own personal quest:

Make a list of ten challenges that reliably show up for you.

List how you can creatively meet those challenges in ways that transform and forward your evolution.

Do them!

Here are someof my challenges and creative solutions:

                Speed:  I start moving too fast and fill my plate too full with projects and ideas and I forget that I live with others who want me, present, not running around all the time.
Creative Solution:  I have to slow down – it is as simple as that.  To do that, I temper my excitement and enthusiasm for doing with the essence of this time of year which, for me, is about sharing and listening.  I slow down enough to let my heart lead the way.

                Commercialism:  WOW! There is a push for consuming, consuming, consuming and as unconsciously as possible.  Some people simply push this time of year away because of that.
Creative Solution:  Connect your heart with your hands in action.  Christmas has a year-round quality for me and rather than feeling overloaded during December I am making and baking throughout the year as well as thinking of what I want to make and/or give to others all along the way.

                Obligation:  This isn’t one of my challenges but it is definitely a challenge for those around me. There is the pressure/obligation perform in some way or another when December rolls around and to ‘buy’ into the whole gift-giving game.
Creative Solution:  Identify your values and align your actions with them.  Truly connect your heart with your hands and give and receive in ways that honor you, your beliefs and let yourself lead with enthusiasm and appreciation for yourself and all those around you!

This is a magnificent world we live in and the universe is always flowing towards us.  Remember to let yourself flow in response whether it is in gift giving, serving others, receiving love, giving love, generating love, leading with gratitude…whatever it is, make it yours!

I celebrate each and every one of you in all your glory!

Moving Dreams

In my dreams I wake
Cherry blossoms fall like rain
On an upturned face.

I learned late last night that the mother of a student of mine had died. As my heart broke open to the challenges of navigating loss I began moving. This is what I wrote as I emerged. It is for you, Blake, and all those who walk with grace, with grief, with loss, with love as part of being in this world and of this world.
Blessings all.

“There is something pressing on me as I move, an overflowing cup of something that simply wants to be held – held strongly and deeply as the chords wrapped around it unwind. It is made up of dreams of magic, of healing, of the creative life force moving through me unencumbered. It is a whisper from the deep past as well as a beckoning into the future. The pace is steady. The pace is daily. The pace includes completion. The pace includes the poetry of my soul as it whispers to my heart enfolded in my hands:
Yes, Yes, Yes.”

The mist is like rain
Gently reminding, cleansing
A new day begins.

Staying Tuned

Breath breathing inside
Listening to the cadence
Of hearts deepest call

Recently I returned from a two week trip to Ireland which was inspiring, challenging and eye-opening on many different fronts.  The land itself feels tired though it is refreshed everyday with storms that sweep over the island and remind the land, and the people, of a wild and mythical beauty that used to be and is now only remembered in the stories of what used to be.  I wandered the streets of Galway and Dublin and thought…what chance do our young adults have to thrive, to feel nourished, to understand how important they are when bombarded at every moment with relentless invitations to escape into alcohol, sex, drugs, and virtual realities?

I dropped into a place of hopelessness that lives inside of me and then took a deep breath as I reflected on the workshop I just attended.  There are pockets of people and individuals who are lifting their eyes to see beyond the shadow our culture is casting, to feel into the new story that is being woven and participate in the weaving of it in their own unique way.  I am not alone in the work I do.  I am part of a whole voice that is emerging – it may have different trappings but the essential story that is emerging has familiar and similar threads.  I don’t think we know what it is yet but if you listen, you will begin to hear the call for connection, for attending to the health and development of the whole, for a gathering where the sky meets the water, where the masculine aligns with the feminine in peace and solidarity, first within each of us and then with each other, and where individual acts of courage contribute to the wellbeing of our children’s inheritance.

I am not alone in the work I do and it is sheer ignorance on my part that keeps that thought in place.  I listened to women teach these past weeks the same thing I teach though in a different format.  I was on my porch developing a new yoga flow for my practice.  I went to a yoga class the next day and my teacher taught the flow I had been developing.  I thought it was mine.  I don’t think there is a ‘mine’ anymore.  I felt, clearly, that in listening and moving, I was tapping into something greater than me but of me.  My responsibility is to express it as it moves uniquely through me and know the meetings that are happening all over the planet supporting an emerging new story to be heard.

Martha Graham illustrates this magnificently in the following passage:

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action.  And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.  If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it.  It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how it compares with other expressions.  It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open…

Wild Ways

Listen to the dawn
Colors chase the lightening streaks
Of cloud streaming shapes.

To be able to move in wild and surprising ways…

To shake, to see differently and allow the wild inner worlds room…

We all need room for the wild, the unpredictable, the mystery of living.

The day to day of a life lived through the virtual world happens in straight lines – linear and habitual.  As we live in a world dominated by technology and ever increasing disconnection from our hearts and hands, the wild in us has no place to express itself and is cornered into expression through text bullying, dares in the street, adrenaline highs, and is systematically absorbed into the virtual world where hunting and gathering is an art played out in games, in money, in sex, in education.  The wild, inner and outer, is all but being annihilated as we bow, as a culture, to the virtual world.

And yetour longing remains unsatiated and the call, our hearts’ call for connection, remains unanswered.

How do we meet the wild of our feelings, the depth of our longing and the need to feel connected through touch, through being seen and seeing?  How do we establish a tangible sense of living in this world? We have to come into a sense of embodied wholeness.  Learn to move in our bodies, in relationship.

Children are coming into schools as early as kindergarten with blinders on – seeing only themselves and the ‘screen’ in front of them.  There is less and less a sense of being able to relate and participate in the health of the whole of even just one other person.At age 5, as children enter kindergarten, the learning curve should be all about relationships, a sense of object constancy and a growing capacity to navigate the field of self and other.  If we plop our collective children in front of a screen, put an iPhone in their hands, a game board…there are serious and possibly unredeemable ramifications as these children grow up and emerge into the field of adults without having learned the basic principles of embodiment, differentiation, relationship, responsibility, integrity or, even, that learning is an active, generative experience. The damage is done.

If we insist on disassociating from our bodies, from a tangible, real sense of contact in the world, if we insist on a constant stream of distraction, entertainment, virtual relationships, if we insist on the status quo and simply keep plugging ourselves in deeper and deeper, the results are a certain collapse of will and positive engagement. And when that is questioned by an experience or awareness outside the ‘norm’ our inner voice claims,“Our needs are met, we are busy, our children seem O.K., the world hasn’t blown up yet…why change? In my‘virtual’ world all is well – I am in contact with thousands of people, Facebook friends, I can communicate with whomever, wherever in an instant, my child never cries and if he or she does I simply plug her in.  Sure, stomach migraines are on the rise, chronic illness due to stress related lifestyles are undeniable and the sense of being overwhelmed, malnourished, sleep deprived, never having enough time or doing a good enough job a constant nagging thought accompanied by the constant stream of text messages, emails, keeping up with the social media but…what else is there to do?”

For how many people is the following true?

I am busy.  I am making it in this world.  I may not know where my food comes from let alone if it really even grows but I am willing to live in an illusion of reality created by millions of dots and dashes because that is what I know as evolution, as success, as development, my survival depends on it. I can’t even remember the last time I actually talked with someone, holding their hands, looking in their eyes, feeling.  I don’t know what dirt feels like or what a potato looks like when it is growing.  I feel diminished, smaller in my life and less able to cope than ever before.  And underneath all the busyness, all the façade of activity and happy engagement I am unhappy and I know that I have lost something vital in my life. I no longer have any sense of my own place, of how I truly feel and am at a loss when asked, ‘what do you want?’  I have no idea so I just keep doing what I am doing and hope that something will change along the way.

All of this points to the crying need to stop, to listen, to feel, and interrupt the cycle of living in a virtual world without which we do not feel our relationship to the living planet, to ourselves and to each other.  Why change?  Because the joy, the deep sorrows of being, the heart opening, the health of the planet all reside in our willingness to change, to risk everything for love.  In deciding, every moment, to choose what is real around us, to come into relationship with our bodies, our feelings, to tolerate being uncomfortable, to learn how our minds work in relationship, to know our values and beliefs – all this allows us to live and act in our lives from a place of empowered, tangible, generative YES! A yes that is moving at the speed of life, free from the dictates of a virtual world that is moving at the speed of dots and dashes, not life!

Staying Alive

Sweet cadence arise
My heart springs into action
With the call of sap rising.

 Born with a spark that is mine…

I was listening to music with my fourteen year old daughter yesterday – belting out One-D songs at the top of our lungs while driving with the top down (lucky us!) – and woke this morning with the lyrics of one of the songs in my head…it goes something like this “if this room was burning, I wouldn’t even notice. ‘Cause you been taking up my mind. With your little white lies, little white lies…” of course the song is about someone else but what if we took that home and looked at all the little white lies we are constantly telling ourselves that are, literally, burning up our will to live?

And the song keeps pestering me, those particular lyrics, and I began thinking about what is burning in me? What is the fire that I keep trying to put out, to squelch, that has me sludging through my days rather than celebrating?

All of us are born with a spark inside that is uniquely ours – a spark that will burn and flame and direct us if fanned from within yet we look outside of ourselves to keep our fire going.  We look outside of ourselves for direction, for purpose, for something to do and the longing for this unique spark to be met is extraordinary and…when it isn’t met I think we try to destroy it.  We despair of ever finding a place and instead of going inside and fanning the flame ourselves, listening deeply to the sound that flame makes that is our and ours alone – we do our best to let it burn out, to put it out, believing that somehow, someway, in doing that we will find a home outside of ourselves, a place in the world, and meanwhile the spark refuses to die – when it dies so do you – and what rises in its place is despair, self-destructive behavior, anger…what would happen if we listened to what our spark is saying and followed it even in small ways?  What if we met ourselves?  I think this is one of the tasks of growing ourselves up…I begin again, today, to listen to a spark that has grown faint – to fan it from within and see if I can get a fire growing down in my soul that places me perfectly on this planet, exactly where I am to BE and let whatever doing rise from there.

There are other tasks as well which each of us point to in our own ways – differentiating from parents, becoming financially independent, navigating intimate relationships, finding work that inspires and doing what is needed along the way, educating ourselves through the process of formal education but also through the experience of living more and if that wasn’t daunting enough…learning how to navigate change and stay alive in our own lives!

So, take a breath, stretch your arms out wide, bring them in tight around yourself for a hug and open them wide again.  Feel your feet on the floor, notice where you are connected.  Close your eyes and listen.  There is a flame inside that is always burning and it is yours, only yours…what can you do today that is a bow towards that part of you? An expression of the gift of you on this planet? How can you move into your life?!

What is Authentic Movement?

Authentic movement is a profoundly simple form in which a mover moves with eyes closed in the presence of a witness. Listening to the inner wisdom of the body and following impulses, movers experience the inherent wisdom of their body as it becomes conscious through movement. This process, combined with creative exploration, becomes a direct route to understanding and transforming emotion into expression, understanding into action. It is an opportunity to celebrate your unique essential contribution as it unfolds in you through movement, creative expression and learning to bridge the invisible with the visible.

Based on Jungian principles of the collective unconscious, dreamwork and our own embodied mythology, authentic movement as a discipline emerged in the 1930’s in the studio of Mary Whitehouse – a pioneer in her time, weaving together the collective unconscious with personal story in movement. For more on her work see…

With a witness holding the space for us as movers, we close our eyes. Following impulses, listening deeply to our core being’s request for movement, we begin to explore and express ourselves. We listen to the voices that are clamoring to be heard in our bodies. Our eyes stay closed. We wonder at the impulses rising, at the sensations that seem amplified, at the sounds wanting to erupt. We keep our eyes closed and continue listening and moving in response to what captures our attention. Contact happens. We keep our eyes closed. A sound emerges in the space near us. We keep our eyes closed. Feelings begin to rise and we begin to panic. What now? We keep our eyes closed. We move. We begin to track our internal map/terrain of who we are and how we define ourselves. We become archaeologist of our inner world as we experience it in our moving bodies. Keeping our eyes closed we are left with nothing but ourselves.

We have no solid space to blame anyone else for the emotions and meanings that arise within us as we move. There is no one but ourselves with our own personal history and habitual responses responsible for all the meanings that we place on our experiences. Our eyes are closed. Listening, moving, sensing into our inner world, understanding begins to rise. We, alone, attach meanings to noises, touch, moving alone, moving with someone else. We begin to have a direct, visceral, and kinesthetic understanding of how we create meaning. In that moment, our attachment, our particular meaning world, has an opportunity to shift to the simple reality of being present with what is. This shift affects our ability to experience our world which profoundly affects our relationship to our self and others. Suddenly there is more room to play, to create, to be spontaneous – in response rather than reaction. Making such a shift neutralizes the past and transforms the present into a smorgasbord of possible new creations. Moving through our meaning world, allowing the shift to happen, brings us to a place of “seeing,” witnessing ourselves or another in a way that is without meaning, bringing unconditional regard to each moment and creating from there. We understand that our only job is to listen, track sensations and let action and response arise organically out of presence.

Time is called. We open our eyes and make eye contact with our witness. We are seen.

Why Move?

Movement is a vital learning modality in both LEAPYEARLEAPYEAR 2 and Body Visible/Body Invisible.

bvbi5We are moving beings from the moment of conception. There are no shortcuts. As we breathe, we move. As we learn to walk and talk, we move. As we learn to think, as we absorb our world, we move. As we move from our families out into larger communities, we move. And yet, somehow and somewhere along the way, we forget this most basic and vital aspect of coming into this life. We forget the wisdom of our moving bodies, of what it means to feel our way into a question. We forget what it feels like when all our senses are activated and we become alive with possibility. We become flattened, one-dimensional. We sit. We consume information and experiences. Our breathing becomes shallow. Our feelings become a distant memory. Our thoughts dictate our understanding of our lives and there is a sense of disappearing into an intangible world. We become walking heads. We forget about the vitality and heart that moving in our bodies gave us when first we came to form. How do we begin to remember? How do we access the wisdom of our moving bodies when we have forgotten so much? How do we hear the call that is sounding from the earth as well as from our own sickening bodies? How do we wake up and move?

There are many forms, practices and ways of moving towards how we define and experience our world through our moving bodies. Authentic Movement, Contemplative Dance, Body Visible/Body Invisible, Deep Ecology of the Body, Moving Truth, Five Rhythms (to mention a few) are all different forms and offerings that encourage and support literacy in the body. Each is an embodied practice and a moving journey into deeper relationships with ourselves, others and where we meet the world. As moving practices, each modality encourages and supports us to exquisitely and tangibly manifest our embodied wisdom in the world while at the same time creating a conscious bridge between inner experience and outer action. This is vital to our survival as a global family on this ailing planet and gives us a living experience of the questions and the answers we ask as individuals and then as world citizens. To be with all the questions that are rising during this great turning, we must first move.

When moving is an intentional practice, a conscious descent into an embodied experience, whole worlds are explored and excavated. Belief systems are challenged. We discover how we use meaning to interrupt flow. Moving towards an authentic experience of ourselves deeply grounded in the moving body– coming into relationship with our impulses initially and then into relationship through our impulses – we descend through layers of meaning that have developed over the years – layers that create our own unique and particular sense of the world. We begin to learn new pathways of experiencing and expressing our innocence, our joys, our angers, our fears – we begin to fill out as dimensional beings. As we become aware of how meanings define how we are in the world and even who we are in the world, we have an opportunity to come into a different relationship with meaning, with ourselves and with others.