Sunday, October 21, 2018

Writing to Bridge the Gap: Practicing My Evolutionary Tools

Writing to Bridge the Gap 

Practicing My Evolutionary Tools

I inquire about perceptions above and below the line separating vital creativity from stagnation.

Observing a clear line inside me and shifting my attention in a life-affirming direction was a relief; until I became a bit too sharp with it.

Sometimes my mind is a dictator coldly looking down and sorting to affirm and dismiss at will.  I can no longer condone such measures. It hurts. 

Within me, I practice including my energies home in my loving attention:  the domineering and the docile, the fearful and the sad, the wholeness and the brokenness, and most of all falling in love with my instinctual movements: rich, honest, and pregnant with primal power to ebb and surge and bloom within, a healing weave which makes everything new.

Photo by Paige Mills-Haag

Saturday, August 11, 2018

New steps, and things I've learned

Happy birthday to me!

As I look back on this past year, I’m most struck by what a challenging and growth-inducing year it’s been. I’m happy to welcome what is newly emerging in my life, even without knowing exactly what that is yet.

Starting in September, I’m excited to be taking the next few months to travel from my home base in Chelsea, to explore and choose where I want to locate myself on a more permanent basis. I’ll continue to coach online and create destination retreats and trainings starting with Bali in early 2019. More about that soon!

photo by Paige Mills-Haag

A few things I’ve learned this year, in the order they occurred to me:

  • Take care of myself first. All of the loving actions in the world won’t have their full positive impact if taken from a context of self-denial rather than self-love and self-respect.
  • Resolve doubts about my direction before taking action. This lesson has crystallized for me as I’ve navigated a year with significant shifts around personal situations I created while experiencing inner conflict. Thinking “I’ll work that out eventually” led to a big mess and results I didn’t enjoy.
  • Perceive that my coping mechanisms are/were at one time the most life affirming choice I had access to. Hindsight is 20/20. Even when I chose something I now see as a mistake, bring presence, compassion and openness to learning and healing to what occurred. At the same time, turn toward change and growth even when it stretches me uncomfortably.
  • Welcome grief and mourning when it arrives at my door. The journey of being human and becoming more of who I am includes accepting myself, my past, what I see as my flaws, with love and compassion for the whole experience. Ironically to me, grieving contributes to healing inner conflict.
  • Deepen bonds with people who can attune with me. (Me attuning with others is not the same thing as them attuning with me.) Notice when that’s not happening. Continue to develop my own capacity to attune to others and with myself at the same time.
  • Embrace the paradoxes within me. The more my inner conflict resolves in a felt experience of wholeness, the greater my capacity to relate with who and what is in front of me so that something new can emerge (vs. recreating personal, generational, cultural or collective trauma.)
  • Prioritize my wholeness, always. Continually notice how each part of my life aligns with my essence and be willing to let go and say no to what doesn’t align.
  • Do what sustains me and the life I choose: Creativity, collaboration and contribution. Without putting the work I love in the center (which doesn’t really fit the definition of what most people call work) I don’t thrive. Accept how central my purpose is to me, and go all the way with it!

Dancing is always a good choice!


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Inspiration I'm catalyzed to share

Originally posted June 15, 2018

Since 2001, I am continually fascinated with the way human beings connect, learn, heal, create and evolve.

These days, the following questions most inspire me and catalyze me to share:

What is essential?  How can I embrace wholeness in me and in people around me?  How can I fully rest into stillness and delight in movement personally, as well as the larger movements of life?  How can I  gather with others to connect our consciousness, and to facilitate the processes of healing, deepening, and expanding light?

I have four workshops in the St. Louis area in the next 10 days.  Join me to dive in, explore and share in various settings in a conscious container of loving presence.


The beauty of the question

Stay with the question. 

Don’t rush on through to relief, to action, to something, anything, to relieve this awful discomfort.  Stay.  Breathe.  Allow.  Welcome.  Be.  Wonder.  Relax.  Open.

That’s all there is to do now.

Eventually, when you are ripe, which may seem like forever from now, the question will ripen into an answer through you,

All on its own. 

Well, perhaps not only on its own,

But with the sunshine of your presence peeking through the clouds of doubt and anxiety, your question will ripen into the answer you are becoming.

Life is like a garden

Our lives bloom from the seeds our ancestors planted and cultivated. Their life experiences are the ground and roots which support us, or in some cases which hinder us personally and culturally.

We are the roots, and also the gardeners, of and for the generations to come.

How will we participate?

photo by Paige Mills-Haag
Contemplative questions:
  • How can I make the garden of my inner and outer life more beautiful, compassionate and just?
  • What weeds — in wrongful thinking or bad habits — would I benefit from removing ?
  • What personal or collective growth is asking for the sunlight of my attention?
  • What needs in the garden of my life call me to action today?
​Note: Begin contemplative practice by centering yourself and breathing to cultivate a relaxed state in your nervous system. As you ask yourself the questions and receive answers, feel the impact of each answer in your body-mind system. Insights and wise actions that are aligned with your core resonate with some sense of life-affirming, peaceful strength.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Gateway to Presence

​Awareness is a gateway into presence, deepening our availability and engagement with life.

The practice of bringing awareness to our wholly bodies allows us to relate with what we are noticing. In any given moment, a rich tapestry of experiences within is pulsating with life beneath our habitual routines, just waiting to be noticed, discovered, and appreciated.

Neglect, abandonment, rejection - the wounds that so many of us carry and try to avoid - can begin to be healed when we practice wholly embodied presence.

The irony is that welcoming our experiences into presence is inherently pleasurable, even as the sensations and feelings we've been avoiding may be painful.

It's like bodybuilding -- but for consciousness!  In the love-gym of our hearts, we lift awareness which at first is heavy with entrenched habits and dusty remnants of past losses.  Through diligent practice, we bring awareness to meet inner experience, which impatient of waiting and hungry for presence, shout, "Yes, choose me!  I want attention!"

Bonus presence (conscious community) supports the process, as often it is easier, especially at first, to receive embodied presence from another than it is to create new pathways of wholly presence alone.

The eventual payoff? A strong inner presence muscle which can pleasurably welcome a greater range of experiences in a moment and be sustained for longer and longer durations, creating inner spaciousness which shimmers with new possibilities and wholeness that shines like deep wells through our eyes, resonates the sound of our voices, and pours through our pores.  If that sounds too good to be true, sometimes it is!  That is on a good day -- a moment of relaxed oneness within ourselves and with the river of life.  On other days we start again at the complete beginning, disheveled and askew, since like snakes we shed old skin so we can grow and emerge into fresh new versions of ourselves.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Love is Space; Love is Specific

There are so many ways to try to escape reality, to escape the here and now, and to escape really participating in our own lives.  We can escape by dwelling in the past.  We can get so caught up in our habits that we pick up the road of our pasts behind us, and lay that road in front of us to repeat again and again and call it our future; but it is not our future, simply a replay of the past.  I heard Thomas Hübl use this metaphor to describe how we can repeat the past, and I really resonate with it.  We can escape into a fantasy that we call our vision of the future, but is really just a pretty picture to get us away from something we don’t want to face in this moment.  We can escape by telling ourselves we are having the wrong experience.  Whatever is happening shouldn’t be happening, because it is not what we planned, or what we wanted.  We can also escape by telling ourselves everything is perfect, and attempt to rise up out of the difficulty of our human experience by trying to paint it in spiritual colors, so we can bypass the pain in our emotional and physical bodies and escape to a spiritual realm, far above.  We can escape from our present moment by blaming ourselves for how things are, or blaming other people for how things got to be this way.   And of course, we can turn to any number of numbing or addictive behaviors - drugs, drinking, sex, eating in an unhealthy way - to try to be anywhere else but here.

And, at some point, it all seems fruitless.  My experience is, when I finally locate myself in my body and notice what is happening in the vast field of my body-mind system, when I allow the river of experiences that is flowing within and around me to be as it is, I feel relieved.  I may feel a lot of other things too, and I think it is important to point out that relief is one of them.  It’s a relief to drop resisting facing what is.  It’s a relief to let go of the energy eaten up in trying to escape, which involves building a dam to hold back the energy of what is real, the life energy flowing, pulsing and throbbing which so wants to live through the field of my body. I find life is a continual call to presence and participation.  What a challenge, and yet what a joy to surrender the life I conceptualized, and become available to the life that is actually happening!

Sometimes life breaks our hearts.  Heartbreak invites us to expand, to allow the unexpected and unwanted to be here, and to allow the spacious grace of possibility, of spirit, to come in and make more space in and around what’s here, to become a large enough version of ourselves to presence what is here, now.  One of my favorite kirtan artists, Deva Premal, has an album called Love is Space, which I adore.  My mentor and friend, Kathlyn Hendricks, says that love is the ability to be in the same space with something or someone, and my experience is this definition of the spaciousness of love is true and powerful.  Being available to soften my defensive edges into presence, while simultaneously opening to the river of life energy flowing through what is actually happening, which is also presence, is expansive and makes me feel stronger.

I’m learning lately that love is also in the details: The particular sculpture of whatever life challenge I am facing becomes interesting and inviting once I allow my resistance to morph into presence and willingness.  The detailed practice of presence within myself -- my actual here-and-now sensations in my body, connection with the movements of emotions and energy, noticing the nature of my thoughts -- is a gateway to a rich relationship with life, which involves a continual willingness to open and allow myself to evolve and grow new capacities.  

This poem by David Whyte captures the beauty of love being in the details: 

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something

To find
another’s voice,
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

~David Whyte, River Flow: New and Selected Poems

There is only one you - unique in your history, your particular recipe of qualities and gifts - and your showing up in your authentic fullness in the world allows the river of life to flow through you back to the source.  Your full authentic expression equals fulfillment for you as you express your gifts to add to the rich tapestry of life here and now that we are weaving together, as well as a contribution to all of us, since nobody else can contribute just what you have to offer.