Love in a Time of Personal Power

Share
leopard
Photo by Jake Weirick on Unsplash

 

“We have put the value of love — of life, self, and others, — in combative opposition to the value of personal empowerment. In actuality, these two values should be more like the Eastern concepts of Yang and Yin, which are not combative. Rather, they compliment each other as opposites while retaining their own identities, reaching toward a universal harmony. Love needs empowerment to have strength and substance, and empowerment needs love in order to have value, purpose, and meaning.”
— Massimilla Harris and Bud Harris (Into the Heart of the Feminine)

 

I grew up during the second wave of Feminism. I remember those years of women fighting for equality. And, I remember how they were treated for wanting equality.

Looking back now, I see that the call was for equality but not really for love for all of life, for justice for all, for the leveling out of the playing field for all.

It’s clear the feminine (as she appears in all human beings and in all of life) has been missing when we see the ways in which the power structures and institutions of our western culture values some lives more than others. When we discriminate against some lives and not others, when we commodify lives, when we don’t provide safety and care for all lives, we are witnessing the lack of the feminine in our institutional, systemic, and individual behavior.

Over the past two decades, many of us have found ourselves on this deep reclamation of the feminine.

She called and many of us answered, not really knowing what that meant.

The feminine (yin) can only be known in relation to the masculine (yang), and the masculine only known in relation to the feminine. In Chinese Medicine, this relational dynamic is understood as an elemental way of seeing and knowing life. Everything is related and nothing truly stands on its own. So when I speak of the feminine, I speak from this perspective. I am not speaking of women and men, but rather the energies of yin and yang.

The feminine is dark as related to the light. The feminine is moist as related to dryness. The feminine is non-linear as related to linearity. These aren’t moral leanings. They describe life and all life entails, including death.

The feminine is the mystery. She doesn’t reveal herself in clearly defined ways. Instead, she reveals herself through symbol, intuition, dreams, and the deep imagination of the inner world. But, the feminine has been revealing herself back into the world of form and we’ve begun to see the world in new ways. We’ve come to see how the feminine appears in this world.

We have so far to go to truly hold all of life as sacred, worthy, and equal. I believe one of the reasons we have not done so is that we don’t know the feminine. We don’t clearly see her. And, because we don’t see her clearly in relation to the masculine, which has had a greater presence in our world, we don’t see that the nature of life itself is to live not for itself but for the whole.

This is how the feminine moves in all of us — not hierarchically, but relationally. The feminine cares for life — all of life. Not some life. And not just life that is commodifiable. She cares for all of life equally.

The feminine is Eros. And Eros is love. Eros nurtures the impulse to live. And the living of Eros moves in such a way to ensure the preservation of the human species.

But the feminine is not moving within all of us because we haven’t become conscious of how she is within us. And we become conscious of how she is within us when we come to see what is hidden within us when we find the courage to face that which we haven’t wanted to see. When we do this, our hearts can break open. Our compassion can flow. And, our love can pour forth.

We can come to remember our wholeness.

While we’ve been seeking empowerment and equality, this twin ‘value of love’ has not been championed in the same way.

“We are liberating our empowerment, yet at the same time, we are denying our inherent abilities to like, nourish, and take loving care of ourselves and to make the love of ourselves, others, and life the dominant value we try to live by.”
– Massimillia Harris & Bud Harris

We want to be equal to men. We want to be empowered. But to what end?

Ultimately, it must be for the love of all things, all beings, all of life. For this is the nature of the feminine. She does not discriminate. She does not exclude. She does not favor one child over another.

Empowerment needs love in order to have value, purpose, and meaning.

What does empowerment do for us and the mess we find ourselves in if we aren’t caring for all beings if we aren’t using this power to liberate all of life from the effects of our out of balance, hyper-masculine western culture, exemplified by racism and white supremacy? The feminine does not hold any aspect of life supreme over any other, any expression of life over any other, any incarnation of life over any other.

Yes! Love truly “needs empowerment to have strength and substance.”

We must do what it takes to free the Love within ourselves, otherwise, we are still stuck in the old paradigm of ‘what’s in it for me’ where there is little true value offered to the whole of life through our work. And when we do free ourselves, we then have the strength and substance to bring Love to the forefront of our work in the world.

When we face all of the intense conditioning within us — everything that feels so hard to face and own — we often feel guilt and shame when we finally do. But here’s the thing. It is through feeling these very things that love frees up within us. When we truly stay with everything that comes to call on us, asking for us to face it, our hearts can open to the life that is here — to all of life, not just some of it.

This is how we do the deeper work we must do. We do what is ours to do. We face what is within us so that our hearts can do what our hearts know is true to do. This is how Love moves.

And for those of us who’ve said yes to Love and have been uncomfortable saying yes to power, myself included, it is time to bring these two together. Power-over, how we see power playing out in our world, is a zero-sum game. But power born of love is power-from-within, and this power is the expression of our deepest being into the world. It is our life force. It is Soul born from the deep Love that moves all things. It is generative. It is inviting. It is intelligent in the way of Life.

It can be frightening to live our power when our true power has been suppressed. We’ve feared our power for suppressed power fears harming others. We know somewhere that if we unleash it, it can be harmful. Yet, by not addressing it, we harm, too. Our true strength and power are of life itself. When we come to trust life itself, we come to trust that which flows through us and that which flows through all — the Source of life itself.

We cannot have true empowerment without having the conscious understanding that we are given our lives as a gift, that all of life is of equal value, worth, and beauty, and that we are here to serve the continuation of life itself. When we are willing to see what is standing in the way of this knowing and willing to do the work to dismantle it, I sense we will be able to live for life itself and to live life as the gift that it is.

Again, the feminine is the mystery. When we sit in what we don’t yet know and are unwilling to face what we must feel in order to know it, we’ll suffer and cause suffering. Everything is conspiring for us to end this suffering and liberate ourselves and the whole.

Originally published at JulieDaley.com

If you’d like to know more about my work, please sign-up for my newsletter

.

Share

The Radiance of Life Unfolding

Share
reddahliaatdusk
the radiance of life unfolding

…the body is suffused with wild and vital divinity.
…the sensuous is sacred in the deepest sense.
~ John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

~~~

I go to the side doors of the large room where we are to dance. These double doors are open to the park just across the way letting in the late-summer evening breeze. I lie down on the floor, face up, and gaze up and out the doors. All I see are the branches of the tall pine that stands across the way, branches that fall across the way between the tree and me.

The first music of the night is soft and slow, and I feel my body soften into the floor. I’ve been dancing long enough now that when the music begins my body begins to dance, even if that dance is simply breath meeting beat.

There is so much here in this moment that I love – truly love. Warm soft wind, music with melody and soul, trees, and others surrounding me who’ve come here to move, too.

As the stresses of the day fall away, I begin to feel my flesh and bones against the floor in places where my body meets wood well-worn from years of feet moving across it and bodies sweating over it.

Here in these moments between the heat of the late-summer day and the cool of evening, between the word-soaked moments of my busy life and the ripe silence of moving to music without conversation, I remember, then feel, the words John O’Donohue wrote before his body passed back into the earth:

Your body is in the soul, and the soul suffuses you completely.
Therefore, all around you there is a secret and beautiful soul-light.

Lying here, I feel this beautiful soul-light. Around me. Around the tree. Around the room. Around the others coming and dropping into silence.

As the music shifts and the tempo picks up, my body rises to meet it and I begin to dance.

~~~

I always love the first moments of the evening dance as I move into flow, relaxing into it like easing into a stream. Toes dip in, then legs, and then I slide the rest of my body down into the cool dark waters of the dance. Each time I dance, these waters cleanse me, washing through the layers of soul that suffuse this body. These waters cleanse me of everything I’ve brought in with me, and over the last few weeks each time I come I’ve brought memories and images of generations past.

My sister and I’ve been going through pictures my mother left behind after her passing, and we’ve come across images of great-great-greats. Moving my fingers across these portraits of faces from five generations prior, I touch more than paper and tin-type. I touch people who gave birth to those who would give birth to me. I touch joy and heartache. I touch youth and old age. I touch promise and defeat. I touch my own DNA.

As I dance, it comes to my mind that they are all gone now. Yet I, their offspring, still dance. My body moves with the wild and vital divinity of one who is alive, fully alive, with breath and beat, sweat and heart. I feel the radiance of life unfolding from deep within me, deep in the hidden places of the heart, deep in the dark of my belly.

I notice the soul-light because the music hits soul first, before it enters my ears. The soul suffuses my body, but the music suffuses my soul.

To be touched in this way by rhythm, to have it touch my soul even before it touches my cells, is to be touched by the sacred. Literally touched. Rhythm and beat to soul, and soul to skin. And when, in the heat of the dance, my skin brushes up against the skin of another, our souls have already met prior to skin meeting skin.

Perhaps this is why it is so hard-to-describe the experience of dance when flesh meets flesh. Perhaps this is why life is so sensuous. It isn’t flesh meeting flesh first. It is soul meeting soul.

Share

Inevitable Alchemy

Share

wintersmagicondeviantart 

 

She bangs the bars.
She screams out to be set free.
She’s found her voice after years of submission.

I feel her, past stirring, now demanding.
I see her hands, withered, but coming back to life.
I know her – she’s the banished one.

She’s demanding to be heard.
She’s demanding to know who keeps her jailed.
She’s no longer willing to submit.

Barely out of the shadows, the jailer just stands, keys jangling.
Tantalizing her with the taste of freedom.
Taunting her with her own power, stolen long ago.

I feel the jailer’s tyrannical nature.
I see the jailer’s smirk.
I know the jailer fears what it does not know or trust.

The jailer is a heady mix of misogynistic power and the false sense of security that comes from being able to control something, anything.
Just like her, the jailer is welcome.
Just like her, the jailer is me.

They stare at each other, sizing each other up, taking each other in.
She knows her desire is too potent to be contained.
The jailer sees the inevitability of alchemy.

Image: Twelve Drummers Drumming by Winter’s Magic on DeviantArt.com

Share

The status quo and the status quo keeper are in Cahoots!

Share

The status quo is only interested in one thing – keeping the status quo the status quo.

Whether it’s our own internal status quo, a community status quo, or a cultural status quo, at the heart of the status quo is a built in defense mechanism for maintaining things as they are. By definition.

You can see how hard the status quo works to maintain the status quo. You can see it in yourself, and you can see it in the culture at large. Even when a big part of us doesn’t like what is happening, there is a part that wants to keep things EXACTLY AS THEY ARE. That’s the inner status quo keeper.

We all have one. Yup, we all do.

For a moment, just feel your internal status quo keeper. Get a sense of how it will do almost ANYTHING to keep things the same as they are right now…forever…and ever.

And, get a sense of how it feels to fight against the status quo keeper. How does it feel? Like a battle of heavyweights going a full 15 rounds?

Fighting the status quo only gets the status quo to dig in its heels deeper.

And…consider the cultural status quo…the culture you live in. Consider how intractable some problems are. Racism. Misogyny. Religious intolerance. Homophobia. The devaluation of our planet. Greed…just to name a few.

Something in our culture, and within us, is trying desperately to hang on to the ‘way things are’ – the way we as a species has been living on this planet. We are in cahoots, whether we want to see it or not.

This something is really good at rationalizing. Really good at it. It rationalizes all over the place why this ‘one little thing’ won’t hurt, or that ‘way of doing things’ isn’t so bad.

This something is powerful, and NOTHING will ever come out of this something that could upend itself or its way of life.

No thinking out of this something will ever bring about the end of this something.

 

This is so important to get. Really important. Nothing will ever come out of the status quo keeper that will end the keeper.

 

So what do we do?

What resource do we have as a species that can show a new way out of this seemingly intractable mess?

Our creativity. Yes, creativity. Not art. Not artistic talent. Creativity, the essential nature of each and every human being, and of all of life.

Life is a creative process. Life in general, and our lives. We are creative beings. I’m not talking problem solving. That’s almost always more of the same thinking…trying to solve rather than allowing, receiving, trusting in a deeper knowing.

The status quo keeper doesn’t like creativity. Not at all. It doesn’t like anything that knows that the unknown is a place of fertile possibility, an unfathomable mystery. The status quo keeper doesn’t like mystery. It holds up logic and reason as the sole arbiter of problem solving. And the more we try to ‘solve’ our intractable problems with more intractable thinking…well you get the picture.

Just look at what’s happening at the top ‘leadership’ positions in the United States. So many keepers trying to keep their idea of what is right and logical in place. At the heart of it all, there’s an ‘established order’ of things we have somehow all agreed upon…even if it was by simply being born into this culture. Institutions and systems all based upon some kind of agreed upon way for human beings to ‘run’ things.

 

We know we are failing and we don’t know what to do about it – but creativity does. Creativity is outside of the keeper. It sees the status quo and it sees the keeper of the status quo. And the keeper knows it.


What can upend the status quo? Creativity. Life. The wisdom of the Body. Embodied Creativity. Sacred Creativity.

We are life and when we embody our creative nature, we know we are deeply connected to life and our wisdom flows in harmony with life. We know we are living in a sacred world, and that we are sacred.

Talking about creativity can get people riled up. Much has been made about how creative people are crazy. They see things differently. They are a little out there. Yup. That’s the point. Don’t we need to see things differently? Is doing the same old thing, getting the same old outcome NOT crazy?

Creativity is a direct challenge to the status quo. It is a letting go of what you want, in fact perhaps even a letting go of the ‘you’ that wants it. It is getting out of the way of what wants to be born.

A creator is an activist. A creator activates something within that is much more intelligent than the status quo keeper – ANY status quo keeper.

Why? Because life is never stopped long enough to become a status quo. Life flows. Always. Life births, grows, dies, and is reborn again. There is no status quo. Everything is in flux. Change is constant.

 

I share this here because we’ve just begun our 24-week deep dive into embodied creativity for women – Becoming a Force of Nature. A force of nature is unstoppable because nature is unstoppable. It flows, moves, creates, lives, dies, and is born again. A force of nature is always transforming…and when we live from our creativity so are we.

I’m calling all women activists to come along
on the journey, but activists who are
willing to lean in to life itself, to nature, for nature.

 

Life lived through human beings CAN be in harmony with nature, rather than attempting to control or dominate it. The status quo keeper is into control and domination.

Take a look at the course. Listen to our Kickoff call, an hour long call where we experience a deep meditation, and talk about the deep erotic nature of women and the feminine, a nature that is at the heart of sustained change.

You’re not too late. You can register through midnight pdt tomorrow night, Tuesday October 22nd. 

If you feel the urge, the nudge, the knowing that you belong in the course, please follow it.

It’s really good material. I know. I’ve taught it for eleven years now to a wide variety of people in a variety of situations, and I’ve seen the transformation that happens. We’re a beautiful group of women and we’d love to have you join us.

Right now, we are being supported in untold and unimaginable ways to help us make this shift as a species. It is time for this. 

 

 

Share

Reclaiming Flesh is Holy Work

Share

 

The innermost layers of a woman’s flesh hold stories whose endings can emerge as the most beautiful tales of redemption and liberation.

Redeeming flesh is not easy; yet it is holy work.

~~~

This is a vulnerable post. I won’t tell you details, but I’ll tell you I’ve been weeping – you know that kind of crying where the tears just run out your eyes and down your cheeks? It’s as if the tears have a life of their own. They just flow. You aren’t completely sure why they are flowing, but it is clear the tears know. They flow out from these innermost layers of flesh, places and pockets where pain from long, long ago were secreted away.

There’ve been many little moments this week that seem to be bringing forth these tears – moments where I can feel love wants to move through me, guiding me, yet I feel frozen because of fear. While the culture, and of course my own ego, would tell me I am right to trust my fear, my heart just breaks when I do…when I choose fear over love and offering myself to the moment at hand. These are real life moments, with people I do not know. Love wants me to move toward them in moments that might very well be unsafe. Yet, I can feel the love, and I can feel the grief when I do not move with love.

This week, though, rather than getting upset with myself for my responses, probably because I’ve been softened inside and out these past two weeks, I find these tears flowing from the heartbreak of seeing just how painfully, and beautifully, human I am. And, yes, it is painful when I see myself choosing between ‘staying safe’ and offering myself to an unknown I can’t know.

And there’s been a big moment, an experience that’s really accelerated this ‘undoing’, something that has me feeling into these deep places and pockets where I long ago secreted away experiences too painful to feel at such a tender age.  In the dark, stories of rejection and abandonment grow into what seem like beasts too fierce for reacquainting.

At some point, these stories wake up and begin to make noise. They don’t like being caged. Like everything else in this world, they long to be free.

 

I can feel love behind these tears, right behind them, trying to make its way in on the tail of my tears. The tears soften my flesh and love rushes in.

It feelings like a river of undoing, like the river that is rushing is wearing away my resistance to love. I can feel that to choose love is to let go of a kind of ‘forced certainty’ I can hold onto when I stay insulated. It is forced because I am forcing it. I get that.

The river is rapid and insistent. Love is that way.

It is in these moments of choice that I come right up against my flaws and learned separation, and the habit of responding from fear. The stories the flesh holds about letting love in to these darker places put up some strong resistance. And I see how deeply the pain and shame of past hurts is burrowed into the innermost flesh in my body.

And the flesh holds stories about power and instincts, about unleashing and unchaining, and all the things that could happen. So many damn stories about this power within me

I remember it as a young girl – this instinctive connection to all of life.

 

I remember the power dancing with instinct as if they’d known each other forever.

But now, I sometimes feel like a lioness that has lost her footing. Her power is there, but the instincts aren’t fully conscious, so her big furry paws step guardedly rather than assuredly.

I sense this is why there is fear in some of my choices. When the instincts have been deemed too much or too powerful or inappropriate, they get caged where they can’t roam free. Instincts need to touch ground, feel the wind and sun, and be nourished with breath. They need to be fed and loved. They need to feel the earth.

Four paws that are in divine relationship with the earth know where to take that next step, can feel into the next step, and can sense direction and speed and gait. Four paws that are bound know little of these necessities.

 

The deep love a woman has for life, and her ability to hold the space for it, needs her instincts to ground it. We need this instinctual self to sniff and taste and hear and feel what is so. This love, this power, these instincts – they are all part of our aliveness, our vital life force. They are part of our creativity, and redeeming them out of the stories in our flesh is our necessary work, necessary for our own emancipation and the emancipation of our planet.

The process of reclaiming flesh is intelligent. Tears falling shows us something, especially when they fall of their own accord, as if flushed out of flesh ready to be free again.

Reclaiming flesh is holy work. Your tears can lead you across the threshold into these secreted places. And even though the stories were created in a time when it felt like true love was nowhere to be found, a river of love is riding on the tail of each tear, ready and waiting to inscribe ‘The End’ at the end of each story.

~~~

Update May 18th, 2015:

bafonbadge300pxIf you are curious about the journey of embodiment and coming to know again this sacred creativity, join me for my new course, Becoming a Force of Nature. We’ll be walking on four paws, feeling our instinctual way through a magnificent journey together. You can read more, here. The Early-bird price ends Sunday, May 24th at Midnight PDT.

 

 

 

 

Share

In My Skin

Share

I’ve come here to live in my skin. Not to hide away from life, but to shimmy right up to this ever-so-thin layer of dermis so I can truly touch and be touched.

I’ve come here to live in my skin. To relate to life, caressed by breeze, by sun, by dew.

I’ve come here to live in my skin. It’s the only thing that separates what I sometimes believe is me from what I sometimes believe is not me. It’s a tender line, isn’t it? This thin skin – a membrane so thin it defies rationality.

I’ve come here to live in my skin. A soft wrapping around the tender-most flesh, it gifts me with what many only speak of in hushed tones – one of the most joyous experiences of life – that of being touched, deeply, reverently consciously.

I’ve come here to live in my skin. To know the true intimacy of life is to know the sublime interaction that happens here. It is so simple, yet so profoundly mysterious. We can describe these bodies in scientific, physiological terms. We can say, “Oh yes, I know how it works.” But when we touch another with our whole being, our whole awareness, at the point of connection there are no words to describe it. Nothing we can say can capture this moment of exquisite intimacy.

I’ve come here to live in my skin. To be alive, fully and vulnerably, is to offer this skin to the world. To do so is to allow yourself to be touched by what greets you.

I’ve come here to live in my skin, yet along the way I learned so well how not to live in my skin. Each of us has moments when what we experienced was too much, too painful, or too frightening to feel the immensity of the sensations of those experiences.

Over these past many years, I’ve been taking this long journey back into the body. Along with many things, one thing I’ve discovered is that sometimes what I long to say can only be said through my body. Sometimes, there is no way to say with words what the body longs to say. It must be said with touch, with movement, with song or dance.

Maybe that’s our journey, to come back into the skin. We are here in bodies.  We are alive in these bodies, in this skin that was created to know the sublimity of touch and sensation and life.

Why are we alive if not to fully live in this skin?

 

Share

Feel Her

Share
photo by Anne Jablonski

 

There is one thing we MUST do right now if we are to survive as a species…if we are to respond to the mess we’ve made.

One thing.

We must begin to feel, deeply. We must open our hearts to the world, to each other, to the Earth.

To do that we must find our way down to our bodies. To the heart. To the soul.

We cannot bypass, either mentally or spiritually.

We have to re-learn how to feel what is here. We’ve been so strongly conditioned out of our natural feeling state, and yet, when we do feel, we respond.

Our hearts are meant to feel. We are designed to feel. It’s how we relate to each other. And, it’s how we can re-learn to relate to the Earth, for She is alive.

Imagine for a moment the Earth as a radiant being. She breathes. She feeds. She is alive. Now, for a moment, consider everything that has been done to her and is being done to Her, all across Her body. Let yourself feel. Her pain is our pain. We are not separate from Her. We are born from Her and we die back into Her. There is no way we cannot feel Her pain, and there is no way She cannot feel ours. We are in relationship with Her. The only way we don’t feel it is if we are not conscious in the places where those feelings are experienced: in the body, in the heart.

No one is going to feel this for us. No one is going to take care of this so we don’t have to. It is our responsibility as Her children to care for Her. We are the only ones who can stop abusing Her and protect Her from more abuse.

Deep feeling leads to responsiveness. When we are open in relationship we see and hear and come to know each other.

You have a relationship with Her. Your body is waiting. Your heart is waiting. Mother Earth is waiting with open arms. She always has been.

Love Her. Share your joy with Her. Bring Her an offering. Sing Her a song. She loves song.

 

::

EARTH MOTHER PRAYER SONG
(Click on the link above to listen to the song)

Dear Earth Mother come to me
Allow me in thy prayers.
May this moment speak to me.
Allow me to prepare.
Come Dear Mother be with me,
The sweat that we partake.
All who enter in your womb
Seek within your grace.
BLESSED MOTHER
Hold this Earth,
The mountains at your feet.
The lake behind us sources us,
The trees keep company.
In this mix may we partake
And taste of your sweet space.
Divinity will come through us,
Today we can embrace.
See as far as you see,
Hear as far as you hear.
Be as far as we can hold
And laugh and sweat and eat.

 

During our Waking the Inner Teacher retreat at Feathered Pipe, one morning this song came through Tracey, one of the women on retreat. We’d been singing and giving thanks to Pachamama all week. We’d begun to remember, and deepened that remembrance with profound practices of gratitude to Her. And so, we all sang Tracey’s song. It was a beautiful moment (reflected in the image above). After our time together, Karen Chrappa recorded Tracey’s song and I share it here, both lyrics and recording.

[Recorded at The Creative Arts Studio with Karen ChrappaStefanie LipseyTracy WarzerLorraine AguilarAimee Schiff; Sound edit by Abhita Austin of Hidden Chapel Studios.

Share

Shedding Skin

Share

 

A year or so ago, I had a dream.

I dreamed I was standing in a grove of wide-branched, thick-leafed trees. It was nighttime. Between the dark of night and the thick of the trees, I stood in darkness. No moonlight or starlight made its way through to my eyes. The darkness was deep, yet not at all frightening. Rather, it seemed to hold me in a kind of embrace not possible in daylight. Perhaps in the darkness all is allowed to simply be what it is. Perhaps.

As I stood in this darkness, my eyes fell to the ground and I saw that I was standing amidst a sea of white snakeskins. They were scattered all around me. The whiteness of the skin was seemingly brilliantly white against the beautiful darkness all around me.

I’m normally afraid of snakes – an old phobia that’s gotten much better through my life, yet still remains to a lesser degree. But, as I gazed upon the skins, I felt no fear even though I wondered where all the snakes were.

::

Just this past month, I co-facilitated a retreat at Feathered Pipe Ranch called Waking the Inner Teacher. One of my co-facilitators was Michael Lennox, an expert in dreams. I shared the dream with him and in response Michael suggested I see the skins as coming from one snake, and that this one snake was me. I was the snake shedding all these beautiful white skins, and I was doing so by coming to trust in the darkest of the dark places within.

Over these past few months, especially since returning from my time in Montana, I’ve been in the throes of another shedding. I don’t really know exactly how snakes shed their skins, but I sense it isn’t an entirely comfortable process. I know the shedding I’ve been going through hasn’t been comfortable or easy. Yet, something deep in the soul pushes and prods – gropes to find its way through the darkness out into the light.

::

I’ve written about The Project, how we all have one, and how when we take it off and set it down, we can breathe in a way we’ve never breathed before, and we feel a kind of freedom we’ve longed for. The Project is made up of all the beliefs you’ve taken on about who you are supposed to be, how you are supposed to live and look, even what work you are supposed to do in the world in order to be successful and conform to familial and cultural expectations.

I liken The Project to those protective aprons the dentist places on you when you have X-rays. It’s heavy and protective against rays being projected onto you, and when they take it off, you feel light again.

As I shed what feels like a deep layer of old outworn identity, I feel this lightness, and a kind of joy. It feels simple. It feels unencumbered by the heaviness I’ve carried around me almost all of my life. I now see why that heaviness was there. Like the X-ray apron, this heaviness was a form of protection, but it was also a reflection of the world in which I was raised. I’ve seen how I took on the look and feel of the world in which I grew up, thinking that’s what the whole world was like – because as a little one, that was my whole world. I was a child of the late-fifties and sixties and there was a lot of heaviness not only in my family but in the world at large.

So much of the hard and stern ways of the structure we live in were actively engaged during those times, ways we are seeing pronounced today in the rigidity of our political and corporate structures. Conditioned masculine and feminine ways of being kept, and keep, many people trapped in suffocating gender roles.

Children are very impressionable and the daily impressions of their world become set in the psyche as the way things are…until the soul pushes and wriggles and finds its way out of those old impressions. This is what I’ve come to see so clearly over the last few weeks. And even though I knew this intellectually for a long time, until I could be with everything that was stored in my body – impressions, emotions, events, beliefs, energies – and allow them to be revealed and move in the ways they needed to in order to be free, I couldn’t come to know this new skin. Or maybe it’s more an original skin that was covered up. It feels that way.

The playfulness and lightness that are here feel pure and innocent, while at the same time there is a new sense of maturity, a sense that holds a kind of responsibility that feels right and good.

This new and supple skin seems to delight in the simple (yet entirely magical and mysterious) experience of being alive.

While dancing last night, I was taken by a sense of awe at the ability my body has to move in the ways it does, by the way small white lights looked lining the walls of the room we danced in, and by the way each of us dancing seemed to find our own unique movement and expression while listening to the same music. All very simple everyday things lit brightly by eyes that have been opened to the blessing that it is to be here, alive, in this body.

I know that the whole world is in a big transition. Both our individual and our collective skins are being shed and its not at all comfortable. But something in us knows we’ve outgrown this old way of seeing the world through eyes of separation, distrust, and sternness. Much of our societal tendencies reflect a belief that play and pleasure, softness and compassion, creativity and giving, are weak values to live. Yet, these very places of tenderness that we’ve tried to protect by hanging onto our old skins are what we must embrace again if we are to know our wholeness and humanness, and we are to truly understand (even the slightest bit) the gift it is to be human and to live our lives as an offering to life itself.

We women hold a way of being the world hungers for. It is what we are when we stop trying to be what we are not. We are not men.Our bodies hold offerings we must now live if we are to survive as a species.

 

Photo : AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by rustman on Flickr

Share

Awake and Alive with Celebration and Ceremony

Share
Despacho Ceremony

I arrived home last night after just over two weeks of travel. Not the longest period of time to be away; yet, somehow

The feeling of coming home was wonderful. Even though I was away experiencing wonderful, beautiful, life-changing things, I needed to come home…come deeply home. I mean this both literally and metaphorically, and the two are intertwined.it felt like I’d been gone a long time.

When I walked in the door, I realized just how much the last two weeks had transformed me and my relationship to home. I felt more home than I ever have, and it’s no accident that this comes from profoundly shifting my relationship to the earth and to life.

::

I was lucky to spend time on the land in both Alaska and Montana, and I experienced both places as very different in feeling. But, what shifted was how I relate to the land. This relationship has been shifting over time; yet, beginning a practice of active contemplation and prayer to the land, to pachamama, and witnessing how she responds has softened me to what it means to be alive.

During the five days of reatreat at Feathered Pipe, which I co-led with Michael Lennox and Karen Chrappa, the land wove its medicine deep into my bones. From the moment I was asked to come teach, the land began to call. I heard it. I trusted what I knew. I didn’t know how things would unfold, but I could tell the land was calling.

When I arrived at Feathered Pipe, I could feel the softness of the land, and I could feel myself settle into its embrace. I could feel the earth’s open arms.

Over our time there, we held beautiful ceremonies that helped us learn how to weave our love and prayers into the land. I moved from a knowing of earth’s sacredness to an active remembrance of her sacredness, to an active and whole-hearted thank you to Pachamama for everything she gives so graciously, so readily, and with such love.

Remembrance and voice, woven together, weave us into the land. Karen Chrappa guided me to come to know this, how deeply we are loved by the earth, how each of us is her child and how alive this relationship is. When we remember this, and when we actively engage in this relationship, when we are truly grateful for what is given, coming to see through the lies of entitlement and privilege, we begin to hear and see and feel and know that the beauty of the earth is the very same beauty in ourselves.

It can feel like a stretch to consider that the earth is alive and has a soul…yet, it is so. While it can feel easier to know this and feel this when we are out somewhere in nature, like I was in Montana, our task, our very important task, is to come to know this deep connection to our true home right here, right where we live, deep in the city where the concrete covers the dirt, or deep in the suburbs where strip malls line our streets.

This relationship is crucial. Coming back into Pachamama’s embrace through remembrance, through gratitude, through an active celebration of the wonder of life is what helps us remember our true nature as earth and water, fire and air. We humans are not owed anything. We have tried to make ourselves believe that we are, yet somewhere deep inside we know it is not so. Entitlement and privilege cut us off from the nourishment and sustenance that active receiving and remembering offer.

There is no succor in entitlement. There is no relationship when we are steeped in false privilege.

There is no possibility to know the aliveness in our cells that dances in all of life when we keep taking, taking, taking as if there is an endless supply of earth to consume.

Deep in the belly of home we know this to be so, and the soul comes to know satiation when a true and real and whole ‘Thank you’ is lived and offered.

I have not known why my path has been to travel to so many ‘alive’ places. I do know that many places have called to me and I have had the profound luxury of being able to answer the calls. I am coming to see that one of the elements of wisdom growing inside me is this relationship with the land, is this known experience of the uniqueness of the song that each place sings. I am coming to know great reverence for life through this body I’ve been so generously gifted with.

Being here, right here, fully here, is to be in relationship with the earth, with life. Breathing in the belly. Listening to life’s song, and singing to life in return. Receiving what is offered, with gratitude. And, knowing it is all given because life lives for life. We’ve been taught we get because we are ‘owed’, yet receiving is entirely different. Receiving happens when we come to know that the love is infinite. It is a flow. Love asks us to receive, deeply, so deeply that we finally come to know that hole we’ve been trying to fill in our hearts can only be filled by this love.

I am coming to see how little I know, except what I know in my bones, and I know it in my bones because they are awake and alive and grateful with celebration and ceremony. I know my practice will now actively include these things. Something has awakened within.

I’d love to know how you’ve come to know the sacredness of the land and of your own body. I’d love to know how that is for you. Please share with me and with others in the comments, if you feel called to.

::

photo by Anne Jablonski

Share

You can’t think your way to Blossoming

Share

 

 

 

The work of reverence:
to solve our darkness by blossoming and to solve our loneliness by loving everything.
~ Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

 

I’ve been in a bit of a writing slump. When my mind goes crazy on itself, trying to figure out the unfigureoutable, I find I drift away from writing, caught up in some illusional world about solving and understanding.

When I write regularly, I tend to not get into this thinking cyclone. Today, though, the pain of too many thoughts hit my body like an overdose of chocolate sundae. Did you know that, from the Chinese medicine perspective, thoughts have to be digested, just like food? Yes. That is so. And, when I overindulge on thinking, I begin to feel way too full.

One method I’ve found to help digest the thoughts is a really good intense cardio workout. I’m not sure this is technically true from anyone’s expert perspective, but it is certainly true from my experience. When I have to breath really hard, breathing all the way down into my pelvis, I begin to feel settled and clear as the tonage of thoughts falls away from my head, my shoulders, my chest and my stomach. It’s as if all the weight I’ve been carrying around my brain falls off of me as the oxygen brings me back into my body.

Sometime a long time ago, I learned that I could handle the stress of living in a stressful childhood by trying to figure everything out. There were many dark times, scary times for a little one, and thought I could keep the darkness at bay by figuring ‘something’ out.

Just today, as my mind began to race once again, I was present enough to see where I was headed. Hooray for the mind. Truly hooray. It was as if the mind, seeing itself caught in the circular wasteland, realized to itself that there was no way out. It literally could see there was no way out. It could see it was checkmated.

And, the beautiful thing was that it could feel the silence all around and through. It felt held. It could feel its relationship with life, knowing on some level that it’s functionality was no match for the intelligence of life.

And in this moment, it stopped.

And, I just sat here breathing as the tears flowed.

The mind got that it cannot do it. It cannot figure out life. And it is so damn tired of trying.

And so, this darkness I learned to try to solve, this unknown I needed to somehow manage, cannot be solved nor managed. I only thought life was dark. Instead, what I thought was dark was the unknown. In some ways, it can feel that way. And this is where I came to the work of reverence, the work of blossoming and loving.

I could sense a bit of reverence in my awareness as my mind stopped in the realization that it was fruitless to keep going, because I could sense everything was holding the mind, holding the thoughts that were circling into over-thinking gluttony. Perhaps we don’t solve our darkness by blossoming. For me, it feels like blossoming requires trusting in something else, the urge to blossom.

I cannot think my way into blossoming. All I can do is blossom, and that requires feeling, and trusting. Feeling the urge to blossom means feeling that urge which moves up through me, up from the sacrum (or the holy bone).

It’s so funny, because when I coach, my mind is quiet and I listen into the deepest levels of the darkness of possibility. I am there completely for my client. I hold them. I know what that feels like so clearly. Yet, it has been certain places in my personal life that have triggered the over-indulgent appetite of mind. places that take me so quickly back to those early years.

The mind just wants to be held, and in this vast universe of love it is held. In every single moment, it is held.

So, I decided to share this beautiful meditation with you. The meditation grew from my own experience of being with the pain of the over-indulgent mind. I recently shared it with my newsletter subscribers as a gift. Today, I want to share it with you. I know it has been a beautiful meditation for me, and on some level know that it helped guide me to today, to this moment of the mind letting go.

Download The Holding Meditation

Please share it with your friends and family, people you think might benefit from it. I hope it helps ease minds and helps you know you are held, deeply held.

With love,

Julie


 

 

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
Share