Sustaining the Web of Existence, Human & Otherwise

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gn-dim-359346Photo by gn dim on Unsplash

 

What happens when human beings come to believe we do not matter? That we are needed for others but there is little to no need or use for what is within us?

What happens when we live our lives believing that who and what we are is not worthy of love? That there is something fundamentally wrong with us?

What happens to our connection to the whole? And what happens to the whole when this happens?

Our sense of disconnection as human beings doesn’t just affect our own psyches. It weakens the fabric of life, the web of human existence, and the web of existence itself.

This is much of what we are experiencing now on Earth. A weakened fabric of human existence and a weakened connection to the Earth and all that is sacred. We can’t necessarily see it in the physical realm, although we experience the disconnection from each other (and even from ourselves). But I see and feel it internally, on the inner planes.

I see and feel it and now know this because this was my experience — and I know I am not alone by a long shot. I sense the majority of human beings feel this way in varying degrees. I don’t know many who’ve been raised to truly know they matter not in spite of who they are but exactly as they are. That there is a place for them because they are who they are, exactly as they are.

As a young girl…

Growing up in a family with a lot of dysfunction, I came to believe I did not matter. This sounds dramatic, but I don’t mean it as drama. I am not saying my parents or the other adults in my life ever said that. They didn’t. Rather, it was the belief I came to hold about myself because of what I experienced.

We were a deeply disconnected family: emotionally, physically, and psychically. And that disconnection took hold in my soul. The soul longs for connection. Young children need to be connected. We, humans, hunger for connection. And when it’s not there as young children, we believe it has something to do with us. Children are self-referential. We make it about us because we desperately need to believe in the strength and wholeness of our parents and caregivers.

This belief ran deep. The wound was painful and it wasn’t until very recently that I saw it for what it was and is. What I now see is how disconnected I became from my instincts and from life. Our instincts come out of our connection to the instinctive nature of life and I became disconnected from my body and from the Earth.

As a very young girl, I see how my belief caused me to energetically and psychically disconnect from the fabric of life. I turned away from my own worthiness. I turned away from the Source of Life that gives me life. We don’t (necessarily) die when we do that, but we leave our existence by ‘going way’. By disassociating. By isolating. By numbing out with substance(s) or things we do repeatedly to get away from the pain of this sense of not mattering, of not being worthy of love.

And when I healed this wound of disconnection I saw how my connection to the web of life grew stronger.

Everything is interconnected in this web of life, but it is more than simply interconnected.

Everything on the web is the whole and at the same time is simply itself. This is what a hologram is — each part contains the whole.

“Thus each individual is at once the cause for the whole and is caused by the whole, and what is called existence is a vast body made up of an infinity of individuals all sustaining each other and defining each other. The cosmos is, in short, a self-creating, self-maintaining, and self-defining organism.” Francis Dojun Cook

If we come to believe we don’t matter (or we aren’t lovable or we aren’t enough or we aren’t ‘however you have this one wired’), and/ or we treat others as if they do not matter, then we aren’t being sustained and we aren’t sustaining each other. This is part of our job here on Earth — to sustain each other, to keep the web healthy and whole, to grow a vibrant community — and to be powerful, loving stewards to all of life.

We were created to be what we are.

If we come to live a belief that what we are and how we were created does not matter to creation itself, then we are weakening the strength of our link to the whole and the whole suffers for it. But when we are in the pain of the wound, we cannot see this.

While everything is connected, something profoundly damaging happens when we come to believe we are not…and that we aren’t worthy of this connection. This connection is sacred and when it is weakened we weaken our remembrance of the sacred in everyday life.

I can see it, but I still find this hard to put into words, to be honest.

But this matters greatly. Our human community must be strong and vital to evolve out of this mess we are in. We must be strong and vital to come to care for the whole of life as stewards on this planet. We cannot be strong and vital if we continue to live this western, patriarchal way of devaluing so many.

We don’t have to live as numb human beings, but to make the change we do have to learn how to feel and that means being willing to feel.

I am but one human being who has grown up in a kind of culture that devalues the incredible singularity, diversity, and creativity of each human being. My upbringing and family life were a reflection of this culture. My parents were/are good people, but they, too, were raised in a culture is deeply disconnected from this web of life.

Every human being not only matters; their voice, creativity, and uniqueness are vital to the health of the whole, and to the strength of the fabric that holds us all together. And many who are not in positions of power or privilege have been silenced, traumatized, and denigrated terribly.

Moving forward…

As leaders, we must ensure inclusion and diversity, as well as provide the opportunity for everyone to rediscover what they truly are and that what they truly are matters to the whole of life. As leaders, our job is to midwife this essential creative nature and create a culture in which people are free to express it. We need everyone’s creative genius in order to move forward. We need everyone’s happiness from being connected to the whole. We need connection, period.

We must come to know and live the truth that the expression of every human being, including that of our own, is sacred and vital to the well-being of the whole of human existence, and the whole of existence itself.

***

If you’re interested in finding out more about what I offer, including my one-on-one coaching and Writing Raw circles (current circle is still open for registration), please visit me at JulieDaley.com.

 

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Watershed: A Moment of Awakening

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Watershed

This remembering and returning.
Wave upon wave.
A spiral that begins with wide arcs
Never seeming to make their way around
To anything recognizable.
Until one day they do
And I notice
The slightest sense that
I’ve been here before.
Rediscovering something I’d discovered before.
About who I used to be.
But now there’s less veil and more light.

Big mind unknotting.
Catching glimpses of who I am and
Who I thought I had to become.
At the same time,
Flashing back and forth
Beginning to understand
I can now let go.

A mind so very tired of
Believing I am separate
Vigilantly watching
Carefully holding on
While remembering what it was like
To be free
To love the sunshine
To feel unabashed joy
And to simply love what I loved.

Watershed moment
Who am I now?
Back and forth
Unknotting and releasing
A distinct sense of Self, emerging
That isn’t distinct at all
Then birdsong sings and joy floods in
And I realize there is but One
Who is both tired and joyful
Unwinding and free.

***

Yesterday was a full moon eclipse. I experienced something powerful – an unknotting of my awareness. It was quite amazing, really, to witness my thoughts and how I kept seeing through them. But it was without effort. All I did was stay present to what was occurring.

I was walking along when tears came and my mind and heart opened. There was a distinct sense of organic qualities that were just present, while layered upon this was a sense of a created self, born out of trauma and a reaction that turned into habits. A created self who monitors vigilantly, hovering above the self who just is, joyful and radiant, soft and curious, tender and vibrant. A created self, born out of a fractured relationship to life from that trauma, now believing it was separate and wary. As I walked, my awareness slipped back and forth between the two. The wary one was aware that it could possibly let go, that it just might be safe enough to return to the open spacious awareness it was before it became vigilant. And then it let go as much as it was ready to and I softened. And I realized that our consciousness identifies with some idea of self and then habits build up around that idea of self that help to maintain that idea of self. I could clearly see this.

I immediately wrote the above poem to capture the essence of what had happened because it was such a profound experience to be so conscious of it while it was occurring.

***

I share it with you because I know we are all on the same journey – the journey home. When we share our stories, we help each other come to see what is happening within our own experience.RISEstairsbadge

This is much of what my new course R I S E is about – allowing our wholeness (creativity) to be the source from which we choose to make choices in our lives. Our wholeness is here, but we’ve fractured into ideas of who we believe ourselves to be, oftentimes making it really hard to experience who we truly are. We can step back and root down into our wholeness. We can come to live from this place.

And when we do it with others, together, we lift each other up. We rise together.

This is going to be a beautiful, potent exploration. I know sometimes that can be frightening, but it is truly a chance to explore and discover yourself in a way you’ve perhaps longed to do.

R I S E begins on Tuesday, Feb 14th – Valentine’s Day – for this is ultimately about love and letting love be the guide for your life.

 

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A Walk Can Be a Question

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Detail of wooden gate on Divisadero St.

 

Sometimes, when I feel the nudge, I take a walk here in the city over from my place to Divisadero Street and then walk down Divisadero toward Market Street. As I walk this section of Divisadero, I thoroughly enjoy the feeling in this part of the city. There’s a lot going on. I find inspiration everywhere: in the people, in the diversity in general, and in the architecture and design of things. Like the gate above, the color, the creativity, the craftsmanship.

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afternoon light

There’s a cafe I love. The people are friendly enough, but also have that hip edge. They combine the love of coffee and bread, baking the bread fresh there so the smells fill the space. The windows and high ceilings offer amazing light to work in. They play music is from a phonograph and records (and often the music of my teenage years). And the customers are hip in a design kind of way.

I walk, sometimes stop in the cafe, and generally just soak it all in. And, I find that when I return home, I am inspired to dive into and work on what has been sitting on my desk waiting for my return.

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Victorian detail

The inspiration fuels my creativity. Diversity in people and in all things does that. It feeds and nourishes us and our own essential expression.

When we’re working hard or perhaps even struggling with something that we don’t quite know how to move forward on, it can be helpful to remember that we aren’t separate from the world. Often, this idea is seen as a kind of esoteric, spiritual idea – you know, like the idea of Oneness in that we aren’t separate from each other. But, it is a practical understanding, too. When we venture into the world in a state of amazement and wonder, following the thread of the things that spark our interest in the things we intrinsically love, we stimulate our creativity. We become aware of ways things can bridge together. We become aware of ideas and insights that can be just the thing to spark what is waiting on our ‘desk’ for our return.

Our creativity is fed by what is present here, right now. Life responds to the questions we ask, even when the question we are asking is something as simple as a walk down Divisadero Street.

Yes, a walk can be a question if we are open and attentive, and listening deeply for the answers life is offering.

Life is a creative process, so any walk, activity can be such.

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Red light overhead

And, when you are deep in a current process, actively strategizing within the incubation phase of this process, activities you consciously engage in to stimulate responses, knowings, and cross-pollination become rich sources of inspiration for that wonderful AHA! moment you are working toward.

When I take a walk down Divisadero Street, paying attention to all that appears before me as I go, I come into direct relationship with the answers life is offering to my question. I am stimulated by life, by the things that inspire me.

A practice for you.

If you’re working within a creative process right now – and I am sure you are as just about everything we do is in some way a creative act – make time to explore. Take a walk down a street or path, or to a place that inspires you, that calls to you. It might be in nature, but it can just as well be in a part of town that stimulates you. On your walk, pay attention to everything. Look for a particular color, or a particular shape, or a particular anything that gets you to really look at your surroundings in a way that is brand new. Then, watch what happens.

Fair warning:
This can cause you to be happy, feel alive and grateful, and unleash your creative joy into the world!

 

 

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I Am Not That

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Manuel Barroso Parejo

 

The walls of the room where I’ve danced for over thirteen years are made of thick wooden slats. Each one, about four inches wide, stained dark brown, offers a surface to push against, to create space between my body and a world that attempts, or has attempted, to close in on me, asking me to conform, to believe, to shrink, to silence myself, to become smaller, tighter, more like what I am expected to be.

But I am not that.

The body knows I am not what I’ve claimed to be.

Hands push against, hard against the slats, arms reaching to their full arc, feeling their full length, their full aliveness.

Hands pressed against the slats, feet firmly planted on the floor, I move to the beat, slowly arcing and arching out into fullness of being and expression. Something inside me pushes out, trying to return to its natural shape and arc and arch, trying to feel into what it remembers itself to be.

Space opens, virgin space between center and the arc of my full reach. Space opens, lungs expand, belly relaxes, hips soften, and big exhales come.

Suddenly there is room for soul, room to feel beyond body, to know that I am not this body yet beautifully and firmly rooted in and through flesh and bones.

Something inside knows it is not ‘in relation to’ but instead ‘simply is’. Something knows that all moves to be this or that could never be the expression of what it is.

What it is has no counterpart, no opposite, no comparison. What it is just is.

I find myself pushing away from… ideas and meanings and arguments. Not arguments as in arguing, but arguments as in crafting a cogent, logical premise and all of the words and ideas that must follow in order to substantiate my point and myself.

I find myself pushing away from… stating my case, needing to tell you how to be, needing to tell you how I should be, and needing to tell you anything about yourself.

Who am I to say?

I find myself pushing away from… separation, me here, you there, objectification, duality, and pushing into freedom where there is only one.

Outside of my mind and thoughts and rigidity, I find freedom. Freedom to just breathe, to feel the inhale and exhale on the soft skin just below my nose and above my upper lip. Freedom to feel the true spaciousness of soul as I shimmer and flow ever so gently as a stream. Freedom to listen for song, to feel appetite, to know the rise and fall of each wave of creation creating itself.

I lie on the day bed in virgin space, soft after three days soaking in pools of warm sulphur water, feeling waves of being, softly moving in and out, in and out, in and out, alongside breath. I move in and out.

Here, self is fluid space, silently becoming and dissolving with each breath, outside of the mind that conceives of. There is no longer an impulse to do anything, fix anything, change anything. It all just flows, on its own, in its own rhythm, beat and meter.

No river banks. No shore. No solidity. Just pulse, heart beat, rising, falling, contracting, expanding.

Everything is new and old, ancient and deep, virgin and light, growing and decaying, one sea.

::

photo by Manuel Barroso Parejo under creative commons zero

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Dark Times? Stay steadfast to the wisdom of your heart. You are in beautiful company.

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When I was a teenager, I would sit on my bed and listen to the folk songs of my era. Late sixties, early seventies was a beautiful time when much of the music offered a new way of seeing things. There was an energy in the air of Love, of the possibility of living differently.

I remember the feeling in my heart. I remember feeling this deep connectedness to Life.

I remember the Beauty.

I remember hope, a hope that seemed to have a powerful life of its own.

Lately, I’ve been listening to this music again. The Beatles, Neil Young, James Taylor, Carol King, Crosby Stills and Nash, were some of my favorites. When I listen, I feel those same feelings of connectedness and hope. But along with those, I also feel a steadfastness that comes from age and wisdom. I now know, as experience, things I only dreamed of back then. I now know that it is possible to make this shift to peace, to compassion, to Love.

::

As a species, we are facing, and have been facing, choices that demand we find a new way of being, living, and creating in this world. The old way of domination and control have brought us to, not only other beings’ actual extinction, but the brink of our own.

I know it can be hard to stay with what you know in your heart when all around you are images, feelings, words, and rhetoric that attempt to manipulate and intimidate you to disbelieve what you know.

Do not listen to those voices that try to condemn you for your open and compassionate heart.

Do not listen to those voices that keep trying to push the illusion that might makes right, that toughness will always win out over compassion, reconciliation, and tenderness. 

Don’t listen to those voices, AND don’t close your heart to them. Those voices are inside you, too. They are inside all of us.

“The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart.
The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.”
~ Carlos Santana

Compassion, reconciliation, tenderness, and resiliency are qualities of the heart and they can be fierce in their commitment to love.

::

Stay with your heart. Hold beauty there, the beauty that constantly graces us in each moment. Even in these difficult times there is beauty. And, beauty is not what we’ve been taught to believe it is. Beauty is all around us, in every moment, and you know it when you encounter it by its fiercely tender powerful effect on your being.

The forces against awakening to our oneness with all of life, both inside of us and outside of us, are still functioning from a belief of separation, one that manifests in forms of tribalism that many will tell you is how human beings are. Period.

But this is the opportunity at hand: to realize, both inside and out, that what we truly are is not this behavior that’s been lived out by humans over thousands of years. What we truly are is love, is compassion, is the One that breaths all of life.

The future for our children and their children is bleak if we do not make this leap of consciousness.

People will say over and over and over (I hear it all the time) that what we see in the world right now is proof of what we are. But do not believe it. Much of what we see in the world right now are the EFFECTS of believing what we’ve believed. We see now are the forms that our thoughts and beliefs and fears have created. AND, if you look and feel, really look and feel, the bright green new shoots of something new, very new, are here. They are the sprouts of a new way coming into being. Perhaps these sprouts have sprouted from the seeds that we sown back during those years of the music that guides us to something different.

::

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” ~John Lennon

When you doubt yourself, remember you are ‘not the only one’. You are in beautiful company. By staying steadfast to the wisdom of your heart, you invite others to join you. They will feel your steadfastness.

Until recently, I would let the words of others cause me to question my wisdom, what I know in my heart and soul. No more. There is no time for that.

Look at the new. Feel it in your body, in your heart, in your soul. The new is what is coming into being. Allow these shoots to spring forth in your heart. Allow them to perfume your words, your acts, your prayers, your song. Allow them to guide your action in the world. As long as you follow the truth in your heart, you do not have to know where you, or we, are headed. You cannot know. But your heart can guide you.

May you know that you are always graced with beauty even in what seem to be such dark times. Hold beauty in your heart. It is a form of prayer for your more loving, fiercely loving, nature to pour forth.

::

ps This post was fueled by darjeeling tea and serenaded by sixties music. If you sit still and listen, you just might feel that transmission.

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Patriarchy vs Love: Time for Men to RISE

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I came across this post today and my heart broke open. I began to cry. I read them again, and I began to weep. I was taken aback by the intensity of feeling. I had no idea I would feel so seen, so understood, so hopeful upon hearing words such as these for the first time in my life from men I’d never met. The chains are breaking.

What I love about this post, is that it happened spontaneously, on the street, between two men who were strangers. And, as they spoke of what was happening, they expressed such grief and love, and wondered how they could change it. Then, they went on their way.

I wrote to the author, Dan Mahle, and asked if I could share the post here with you. He said, Yes.

This post was  originally published at Change From Within, by Jamie Utt, Dan’s friend. Here we go…

::

Dan Mahle at the 1 Billion Rising event in Seattle, WA

This week’s post comes from a dear friend.

Dan Mahle is a program coordinator, facilitator, and community builder living in Seattle, WA. He received his B.A. in Peace and Global Studies from Earlham College in 2008. He has been involved in a variety of non-profit organizations since then, including several youth programs that he helped to launch. His personal mission is to support people in uniting across lines of difference to identify common values & goals, build culture & community resilience, and share powerful stories through creative expression. When he’s not working, he can be found running, hiking, writing music, and eating tasty bowls of cereal late at night.

 

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One Conversation: A Call to Men

I had an incredible conversation with a complete stranger today. He was an older guy who happened to stop by the 1 Billion Rising local event that took place in downtown Seattle. As I was walking toward the small crowd of mostly women who were holding signs and dancing, he stopped me with a loud, “Hey, what is this ‘1 Billion Rising’ thing?”

When I told him that it was a global movement to end violence against women, launched by Vagina Monologues playwright, Eve Ensler, his voice softened and his eyes darted away.

He started telling me about how violence had affected so many of the women in his life. He began tearing up as he shared that most of the women he loves have been victims of sexual assault and/or abuse. He recalled spending 15 years with his ex-wife who, despite endless medications, could not overcome the depression she felt ever since the day she was sexually assaulted. I could see the hurt and sadness in his face as he told me that he couldn’t find any way to help her. His mother, he said, had also been a survivor.

Suddenly staring firmly at me, he said, “Women shouldn’t be treated this way. They are the life-givers; we owe everything to them.” He was visibly shaken.

I looked back at him and asked, “So what can we, as men, do to begin to transform this culture of violence against women?”

We talked about how important it would be for more men to have honest conversations about patriarchy and its countless negative impacts on us and on the women in our lives. Both of us acknowledged, though, that these kinds of safe spaces for male emotional expression are few and far between.

I gave him a hug and he said, “I love you, man.” We had met just 5 minutes before, but the moment of solidarity and healing that we shared in that short space was profound.

It got me thinking: Why don’t we, as men, seek out more spaces for truthful sharing about our feelings and our experiences with patriarchy? Why don’t we talk about violence against women, about sexism, and about rape culture? The ‘1 Billion Rising’ movement is based on a single, chilling statistic: One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.

That’s 1 billion women worldwide. How can we say that we love the women in our lives, even as we are perpetuating (consciously or unconsciously) a culture of violence against them?” Every day that we are silent, the cycle of violence continues.

The Cost of Patriarchy

This is where shame often comes in. I’ve known it by many names: frustration, defensiveness, anger, aggression, rage, a need for control, etc. But it all comes back to shame. It all comes back to some deep-seated feeling of unworthiness that keeps us from meeting our most fundamental human need: the need to feel loved.

While women in our society are taught that their worth depends on their physical beauty, men are taught that our worth depends upon our performance, our control, our accomplishments. At some point, like so many women, many of us realize that we will never be able to fulfil the expectations placed on us. But instead of questioning the patriarchal culture that has burdened us with these perverse and insatiable demands, we come to believe that who we are is not good enough.

In an effort to avoid feelings of vulnerability, we methodically replace emotional expression with emotional numbness. And so, in our disconnection from self and others, we unlearn what it means to truly love.

As bell hooks puts it in her book, The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, “The reality is that men are hurting and that the whole culture responds to them by saying, ‘Please do not tell us what you feel.’”

When we forget what it means to love, we often desperately search for cheap replacements: we work long hours at work in an attempt to receive praise and recognition; we watch porn or buy prostitutes in a distorted attempt to feel loved and sexually fulfilled; we buy an endless number of things in an attempt to fill the painful void of loneliness within. Until we, as men, face our fear of vulnerability and begin telling each other what we feel, nothing will change.

Right now, there is a powerful, growing movement of women who are rising up all around the world to demand an end to violence. This movement is a struggle for equality, but it is also a call back to love. It is an invitation to all people to transform the dominant culture from a culture of violence to a culture of love, starting from within our own hearts. We owe it to all women to stand beside them as they say “enough is enough!” We owe it to ourselves to finally invite love, in all of its fullness, back into our lives.

Learn more about 1 Billion Rising here.

::

“This movement is a struggle for equality, but it is also a call back to love.”

Blessings to you, Dan. I bow.

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Dance to Break the Chain

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On Sat Jan 26, I participated in a flash mob for One Billion Rising. If you don’t yet know what this is, take a peek here. Short version – it’s Eve Ensler’s vision to have one billion women strike, dance, and rise to end global violence against women. One in three women on this earth will be sexually abused or beaten in her lifetime. One in three. Think about the women in your life. Out of every three, one will have to endure this violence. And, you might even be that one in three. I am.

At this time, 190 out of the world’s 193 countries plan to participate.

You probably all know what a flash mob is. This was not really a flash, but still a mob…about three hundred of us. We gathered downtown, across the street from the Ferry building, and right near San Francisco’s financial district. We were there to perform the dance that Debby Allen choreographed for One Billion Rising to the song, Break the Chain.

Many women and men volunteered their time to help teach, to organize, to set-up, and to ultimately help to put on this day, as well as the other four performances to be held in the next month or so around the San Francisco bay area.

On V-Day, always held on Feb 14, VDay, we will gather again, this time at the Civic Center in San Francisco to do the same dance, and in the evening in Fairfax to dance a 5Rhythms wave – all to strike, dance and rise, in support of ending global violence against women.

On this day, though, I was deeply moved by what I experienced dancing to rise up, in solidarity, to this violence, and to the complacency so many of us seem to have to the kind of culture that breeds it. I’m a dancer. I love the dance. I’ve been dancing for over ten years, now, and lately many of my friends from the coaching world have begun dancing, too. Friends I have known for these ten years danced alongside me.

On this day, the dance was holy – holy moments of dancing with 300 other women and men; holy moments literally dancing to Break the Chain, as well as metaphorically to break the chain; holy moments dancing with my whole body and whole heart for everyone who cannot dance, everyone who is not free.

My friend, Amrit Rai, and her husband Larry came to the city to watch the dance. They are both part of my dance community. I spoke with Amrit after the dance, and she shared her experience of watching. She spoke of the depth of feeling that she witnessed as we danced. Her words pointed to something very similar to what I felt dancing, yet she wasn’t dancing. I asked her to share them here:

 

“When Larry and I first arrived I felt immediately uplifted as the collective field that was forming was one of inclusion and joy. The thought of witnessing a herstoric, dancing event in the financial district environment had me curious. On getting there we were immediately whisked onto the stairs by a couple of women in the crowd. We had the perfect view overlooking the center area where the dancers were starting to gather.

The most moving thing to me was seeing so many familiar faces from the dance community and to see a united moving body– moving together on behalf of women’s rights and freedom.

The dancers and group energy field was infused with heart — I couldn’t help from clapping and singing in solidarity.

I noticed that the dancers were the most moved of everyone in the crowd. Tears, expressions of awe and reverence were visible in their faces and palpable.

My sense of it was that it is important to be a direct participant in such a movement– that the actual embodiment itself makes a deeper commitment to what it is we are standing for, or rather dancing for – being a participant is at the core of the change.

I am happy that the collective WE is bringing light to such basic issues using such potent healing modalities, LOVE and UNITY– so much more energetically potent than protesting, and the embodiment piece is brilliant– wisdom in action!

Resonance informed transformation. Infectious and unifying! I loved it!

I left there with true hope in my belly for a loving and humane world. One in which life is celebrated and every being feels a deep sense of belonging.

 

When we act from our deepest desires, and from our own internal knowing, a powerful force is unleashed.
When our action is grounded in something we truly love, as it is here in the dance for me and for so many of the people in the dance community I am so lucky to be a part of, joy is also released, joy married with a desire to serve healing and life.

Our denial can be great; I know mine is. For me, denial is a many-layered thing. Denial creates a fog that makes it easy to continue functioning in the day-to-day, all the while underneath it we know we are not listening to our hearts, and we are not taking responsibility for the wellbeing of life. When we get into the body and feel, we can no longer deny what is true. The body moves toward life, toward love. The body moves toward healing.

On Feb 14th, VDay, we all can rise. Just think of the shift on our planet when One Billion women (and the men who will take the step forward to dance alongside of us, knowing that violence against women is not just a women’s problem) dance for liberation, dance for the end of the status quo, dance for freedom from violence for everyone, the entire planet will feel it. Think of the joy we will release through our feet, feet that connect with the earth. The earth needs to know joy, too.

Amrit is right: To embody this movement of rising, this movement of solidarity between women and men, this movement of love is an incredible experience. To feel it in your cells, to engage the body in dance, in music and joy, is to bring one’s whole self to stand for change.

What I noticed was that I wasn’t fighting against, but rather I was dancing for a new dawn, a new day. Dancing with my dancing friends, with such beautiful music and moves, for freedom from violence amidst the tall buildings of San Francisco’s financial district was surreal. It was as if two worlds were colliding for me. Dance is something that I do where most of the rest of the world doesn’t see it. To bring so much love and passion out into the street taught me something. It taught me that dance must no longer stay separate form the rest of my life. What I experience on the dance floor is holy. And what I experience dancing out in Justin Herman Plaza was holy. Dance is holy joy.

In the evening of Feb 14th, on V-day, Stacey Butcher and I will be hosting a 5Rhythms wave in Fairfax, a small town in Marin. Kim Rosen, a poet, will also join us sharing some of her spoken word poetry. It will be a joyous rising up, a striking for justice and love. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, please join us. You can sign-up here.

Silence is no longer an option.

::

Break the Chain Lyrics

Lyrics by Tena Clark
Music by Tena Clark/Tim Heintz

I raise my arms to the sky
On my knees I pray
I’m not afraid anymore
I will walk through that door
Walk, dance, rise
Walk, dance, rise

I can see a world where we all live
Safe and free from all oppression
No more rape or incest, or abuse
Women are not a possession

You’ve never owned me, don’t even know me
I’m not invisible, I’m simply wonderful
I feel my heart for the first time racing
I feel alive, I feel so amazing

I dance cause I love
Dance cause I dream
Dance cause I’ve had enough
Dance to stop the screams
Dance to break the rules
Dance to stop the pain
Dance to turn it upside down
Its time to break the chain, oh yeah
Break the Chain
Dance, rise
Dance, rise

In the middle of this madness, we will stand I know there is a better world
Take your sisters & your brothers by the hand
Reach out to every woman & girl
This is my body, my body’s holy
No more excuses, no more abuses
We are mothers, we are teachers,
We are beautiful, beautiful creatures

I dance cause I love
Dance cause I dream
Dance cause I’ve had enough
Dance to stop the screams
Dance to break the rules
Dance to stop the pain
Dance to turn it upside down
It’s time to break the chain, oh yeah
Break the Chain, oh yeah
Break the Chain

Dance Break Inst.

Dance, rise
Dance, rise

Sister won’t you help me, sister won’t you rise x4

Dance, rise
Dance, rise

Sister won’t you help me, sister won’t you rise x4

This is my body, my body’s holy
No more excuses, no more abuses
We are mothers, we are teachers,
We are beautiful, beautiful creatures

I dance cause I love
Dance cause I dream
Dance cause I’ve had enough
Dance to stop the screams
Dance to break the rules
Dance to stop the pain
Dance to turn it upside down
Its time to break the chain, oh yeah
Break the Chain, oh yeah
Break the Chain

Strike | Dance | Rise

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Being Woman. Supple. Unified. Amplified.

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Anjali, by Ramona Klee on Flickr

She is here.

If you sit, quietly listening with heart ears, feeling with heart touch, you will know Her. She has been on her way. A few years ago, the author, Arundhati Roy, wrote,

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

And, now… She is no longer on her way… She is here.

With the turn of this solstice, She is here.

She is here. In all beings. In all of life. 

A new way of being

I’ve been working with two beautiful women to birth something new in business. We don’t really yet know what it is or how it will come to be, but we know we are to be doing this together. We are feeling our way, trusting our intuition, following the petals as they are scattered upon our path, trusting in the intelligence inherent in life.

This is the new way. This is the creative way, the way of trusting in life to guide us as we work together in unity. I remember telling a friend a few years back how much women needed to find solidarity, find a way to realize our wholeness as women, both individually and collectively. At the time, the current paradigm separated women rather than joined them. At the time, there was still so much competition between women, and beliefs that we had to compete with each other for love. But that was then, and this is now.

She is here.

Rainer Marie Rilke wrote of this over 100 years ago when he wrote Letters to a Young Poet. Rilke wrote,

“Women, in whom life lingers and dwells more immediately, more fruitfully and more confidently, must surely have become fundamentally riper people, more human people, than easygoing man, who is not pulled down below the surface of life by the weight of any fruit of his body, and who, presumptuous and hasty, under-values who he thinks he loves. This humanity of woman, borne its full time in suffering and humiliation, will come to light when she will have stripped off the conventions of mere femininity in the mutations of her outward status, and those men who do not yet feel it approaching today will be surprised and struck by it. Some day… some day there will be girls and women whose name no longer signify merely the opposite of masculine, but something in itself, something that makes one think, not of any complement and limit, but only of life and existence: the female human being.”

Unity: This Humanity of Woman

Over the last period of time, a time that ended with the solstice and the birth of a new way of being, women were taught to not trust each other. We were conditioned to believe that it was in our best interest to compete with each other. I feel we were all, men and women, taught this, yet for women the distrust went deeper for in the old way, under the patriarchy, men were offered a kind of belonging within the structure that women were not.

Healing this distrust of women has been a beautiful journey for me. And, I hear it has been the same for other women. Now, in this new time, there is more ease and more support for this healing.

Shannon Port of The Art of the Feminine writes,

“Women are uniting in the Heart. We are remembering that we are One Woman. We could never really compete with each other for anything. The illusion taught us that we could be threatened by another woman. It taught us a false belief that we had to compete for love. This has never been so.  …  The old paradigm divided women and caused them to work against each other keeping them from UNITY. The support for this paradigm has left the planet. Anyone who chooses to stay in it will be shaken quite dramatically. We are moving into the knowing of our Oneness. When we align with Oneness willingly, we will be supported by the Universe in ways we never even imagined. The Feminine is being restored to its auspicious place in the World. Those who hold this Vibration of Love in their Heart will be the Teachers, Healers and Leaders of the New Era.”

Amplify

This humanity of woman, this One Woman, is here.

Can you feel Her? Can you feel this burgeoning unity? Can you feel it both within yourself, and within the collective as well? Notice the shift in coming together.

One of my new partners, Jennifer Kenny, speaks of amplification – just how important it is for women to amplify each other’s work in the world. Jennifer sees amplification as the opposite of competition. We can amplify with joy and with love, for not only is there more than enough love in the world, by amplifying we bring ourselves together and aligning ourselves with Oneness. When we follow the thread of Oneness, we amplify not only women’s voices, but also women’s creations into the world.

I used to feel solidarity was so important because it felt as if we were fighting the nature of the patriarchal paradigm and how the paradigm itself made it so difficult for us to know this humanity of woman. Perhaps I was feeling the different energy that was here at the time. Now, with this new shift, we are actively supported in this amplification. Whether we work together through collaboration, spend time in circles sharing, or share each other’s work into the world, the new way is of amplification, of celebrating, of flowing and aligning with Oneness.

It is Simple

Hilary Hart, author and wise woman, shares this about women and power on her Facebook page, Women’s Power Wheel:

“It is simple. It is simple like breathing. It is simple like gathering with friends. It is simple as standing in nature and knowing you are not alone. The trick is trusting how simple real power is… sensing it… knowing it… and not doubting it…”

When I read these words, I feel a softening and a suppleness to my body and breath that have been absent for most of my life. With these words comes an ease in the moment, when I relax into the simplicity of real power.

It may take time to know this more and more. I’ve been well conditioned to believe power not only looks different, but comes from doing. Yet, it is simple. This is being, coming together, and receiving, then offering up, what has always been so generously given – this life.

When I woke up this morning, these words were in my heart: It is so, so easy to take this all for granted, to expect this breath, this sun, this day to come just like it has each morning of our lives, to expect to receive without ever a thought of what is being given.

May today mark a change in how I receive these things…with conscious awareness of the love being so freely given and the opportunity in each breath to offer it back out in love.

The Feminine. She is here. She is you. She is me. She is women. She is men. She is us. She is all beings. She is life.

She is the Goddess.

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Dancing On the Earth’s Skin

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“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength
that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing
in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes
after night, and spring after winter.” ~Rachel Carson

Happy first day of Spring.

As I write these words, the birdsong is especially loud outside my living room windows. Sometimes, I write seated on my living room sofa, so I can see look out onto the church garden directly across the street. There are at least a dozen three or four-year olds running around the garden shrieking with delight. So much joy!

Spring has its own particular feeling. It is a time of coming out, blossoming, and growing. We begin to come out into the world, out from our hibernation and into connection and growth.

The natural world calls to me. It soothes me. It enlivens me. It reminds me of what I am.

We are living in a time of deep transformation and the chaos and turbulence that transformation holds. I feel this in my body.

And, as I’ve learned from dancing chaos, if we surrender to it, if we receive what it offers, we are transformed and we release that which no longer serves. The old dies and the new is born.

Our healing lies in our remembrance of our relationship with nature. We are nature. We are not separate from it. And in this remembrance, our relationship with the earth is reawakened and enlivened.

I have become much, much more aware of how much I am given and how little I appreciate it. I can see how much I want, and how little I offer in return.

What does it mean to really live with gratitude for this life? How do we live when we live gratitude?

Look closely at the earth – she is teeming with life. Smell her fragrance. Walk with conscious feet. Maybe even go barefoot! Notice how when your feet kiss the earth, the earth kisses your feet. Touch her in many places, with wonder. Taste the succulence she offers.

Remember the wonder for the earth that you knew when you were a child. If you can’t remember, ask a child to reacquaint you.

It is through her, the earth, that we can finally come to know we belong here, that we are a part of her, a part of each other. Every choice we make impacts the well being of all of life on this precious planet.

My footprint has an impact, has consequences. How awake can my feet be? How much love can they show?

How will my feet dance on the earth’s skin when they offer, to her, what words cannot say?

 

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Horror as the Foreground to Wonder

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Living, Dying, Grieving

This post isn’t full of the beautiful…at least not the surface beautiful. But stick with me…

This is my edge…

We’re all living, we’re all dying, we’re all grieving, we’re all transforming. It’s life’s nature, death’s nature.

Life as Mirror

Life is always dying and being reborn. To grasp this truth, to live in this truth is to be fully alive. To never take this life for granted. It’s beauty, it’s power, the fact that none of us know. Can we embrace this? Live it? Touch death as we live life? Touch life as we die? Be with each other in whatever stage we are in? Really be with each other…

I don’t know have any answers. None. No flowery words. No insights.

But what I want to do is share what some beautiful women are writing about grief, dying, illness, death and life… and how reading their words is impacting my heart.

Unconscious to the edge…

The fact is we are alive and we are dying. Some of us are closer to death. Some of us are dead while we live, unconscious to the edge we exist on. Who’s to say what it is to be fully alive?

Joseph Campbell wrote,

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That’s what it’s all finally about.”

In one of his segments with Bill Moyers, Campbell shared,

Eternity isn’t some later time. Eternity isn’t a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Eternity is that dimension of here and now which thinking and time cuts out. This is it. And if you don’t get it here, you won’t get it anywhere. And the experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life.

There’s a wonderful formula that the Buddhists have for the Bodhisattva, the one whose being (sattva) is illumination (bodhi), who realizes his identity with eternity and at the same time his participation in time. And the attitude is not to withdraw from the world when you realize how horrible it is, but to realize that this horror is simply the foreground of a wonder and to come back and participate in it.

…not to withdraw from the world when you realize how horrible it is, but to realize that this horror is simply the foreground of a wonder and to come back and participate in it.”

I write this post as a somewhat ‘healthy’ person, so I am seeing and writing through the eyes of someone who unconsciously, and perhaps somewhat consciously, tells herself she still has a fairly ‘long’ time to live. In reality, this is BS. I do not know how long I have to live. Even writing these words and saying them aloud to myself doesn’t even begin to cut through the normal denial that is here about death.

I do experience the absence of time, the eternity of which Campbell writes.

Where I have difficulty is in being with the ‘horrible’ nature of life, what my mind wants to fix, eliminate and avoid.

Campbell’s words “that this horror is simply the foreground of a wonder” catch me.

Horror as a foreground of wonder.

My mind goes a little crazy wondering how you square this, square the horrors of this world with the mind’s concept of wonder. I notice that I write ‘wondering’ in the same sentence. To wonder…

In writing this, my mind fears it will sound as if I am romanticizing horror in some way, even wonders whether it is wise to include the word rapture and horror in the same post…

I recoil from the horrors of the world. I want to fix them. I want to save others. In reality, I don’t want to be with the horror itself. I don’t want to open to it.

As Campbell reminds me, the horror is the foreground to the real wonder of life, the awe-inducing wonder…

And yet, in those moments of life when the horrible knocked on my door, I did open the door. I opened to the horror, as much as I could. And in opening to it, I caught a glimpse of this wonder… the beauty in the darkness, the love in the horrible, the peace and silence that is always present all around this foreground of horror.

I do know Holy Is All There Is, yet my life, at least right now, is filled with days full of so much love and light. I can be content to sit in this ease, content to not open my heart to the horror…and it is here that I skim the shallow waters of life. Can I open to the rest of the wonder of life willingly, not just when it knocks, but now, of my own accord…

Krishnamurti said:

There must be no escape from it of any kind, no intellectual or explanatory justification – see the difficulty of this, for the mind is so cunning, so sharp to escape, because it does not know what to do with its violence. It is not capable of dealing with it – or it thinks it is not capable – therefore it escapes. Every form of escape, distraction, of movement away, sustains violence. If one realizes this, then the mind is confronted with the fact of `what is’ and nothing else.

The mind does not know what to do with its own violence…

This is my edge. This is the edge I recoil from…

I share words…

So I share others’ words, words that open me to this edge, words that help to open my eyes and heart…

In Pema‘s series, “Memory to Light“, she shares her experiences with grief, death, violence and life, leading up to the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Benita‘s new blog, The Useless Uterus or Chemo Brain Musings (she’s not yet sure what to call it) recounts her life as she moves through her days of chemo and healing.

Rhonda, a woman of 42 years who is dying from MS, is sharing her writing as she dies. Her writing is brilliant. Her words cut to the chase. And in responding, or attempting to respond by way of commenting, I found myself ‘trying’ to write to her, not quite sure how to share how her words have touched me. Perhaps it’s a mixture of things: partly that she is in the active stages of dying as I read her words, and perhaps because I don’t really know her. There’s an element of feeling like a watcher, reading her experience from this place of one who is ‘alive’ and not dying. My dear friend, Jeanne, is hosting these writings, offering a place for us to bear witness to Rhonda experiences and our own opening to how to be with…

And as we near this 10th anniversary of 9/11, Meg Worden shares her experience of 9/11, a day that was book-ended by her getting sober the day before, and conceiving her child two days after.

I do know…

What is true, what makes tears come, what causes my heart to open is the raw desire to serve life, to know the sacredness of life, to honor it…and I must admit, I don’t know how to do this… and I know there is no how.

I am this life, both the horror and the wonder. When I cut myself off from one, I can’t know the other. When I cut myself off from one, I can’t know the totality of what I am…I can’t feel this totality…

And, you?

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