Sunday, December 26, 2010

you don't have to wait for a single or particular kind of person or life circumstance...

Flight From Embodiment from Alliance for Wild Ethics on Vimeo.

Friday, December 24, 2010

And let it have its way with you.

The invitation is everywhere. For me, it came in his body possessed by his music. Just watch how he coils around his violin willing to do whatever it takes to produce the sounds demanding to be made. There is the building of tension on his face as the intensity of sound builds and a release of bliss as the music moves from his soul, through is arm and out through electrical currents into my ears, and my soul.

Obviously his skill is inimitable, genius. His compositions are exquisite in and of themselves. But it goes beyond that. I love to watch how his bandmates communicate with each other on stage, the body language is intimate, spontaneous, seductive - its like eavesdropping on a sexy and dynamic language.

There is a reason I would rather watch music being made or be part of making it live than recordings - because it is more than vibrations in my ears. If I relax into it, the sounds take me on a journey through a range of emotional landscapes elevated into mythical realms as though they are being told to me by the gods themselves.

I can tell it's magic by how the entire stage transforms. And I might be left out by not showing up with my heart open. but there is no other requirement of me. His passion is indiscriminate. I feel that passion truly works that way - it cares if you're open, but doesn't seem to have many other requirements.

So on christmas eve, I open to a passion that infuses my time with my family, for the treats and food and the time I spend with the cold and dark or in love and delighted as they come. And I give thanks for other passionate people existing in the world, sharing their gifts, inspiring us with their rawness. If you get a chance to see Dr. Draw live - do it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

...let the darkness come upon you and sit with it a while.

This post is a treasure I collected from Witch, please!. It gripped my attention and brought me to an attention for this season that settled into my bones.

Understanding nature in the way she describes - by allowing it all, not trying to tie it up in rainbows and make it candy scented - but being willing to dance with what is dark and brutal about it, applies to the deep work of the heart, too. Getting in touch with your passion, your creativity, your power - It can feel a lot more like meeting Death, than the vitality we might hope for - that comes, but in season. And when its a dark time for you, remember these words:

There is beauty in the destruction of things that no longer function as they should. There is a peace that comes from saying goodbye to what was and letting Death take what we cannot hope to keep. There is strength found in embracing the darkness not as some tarted up fantasy fuck, but as she really is, cold and deadly and incredibly beautiful. Love Winter. Love cold. Listen to the wisdom of the frozen season and befriend the darkness. Fast, and know emptiness.*** Keep the Night's Vigil and know exhaustion. Die here and be reborn a different flower in the spring. This is the sacred cycle. This is the truth of Nature.

This is Winter. Welcome!

Monday, December 20, 2010

While reading 'The Soul of Sex' by Thomas Moore, I had so many sparks flying - things I wanted to share here and how they intersected with experiences I was having. But when I sat down to write I couldn't untangle one from the other and follow a cogent line of thought from inspiration to conclusion. There was simply too big a chunk of inspiration at once. I was brimming and spilling with things I wanted to touch on. I couldn't just choose. Instead I'll write several posts. Missing some things I wanted to grasp until they come around again. And they will overlap. Excuse the redundancies.

I used the little snippet from the book in pursuit of a tangent of my own on Desire so I thought I would present the thought in a fuller, original context. The conversation shifts from Desire alone to its role in soulful sex.

And that's a topic I love exploring - how soulful sex fits into an unleashed life - so here are some decadent morsels from the Erotic Intelligence subchapter.

In order to discover the sublime joys of sex, we may have to develop a special kind of intelligence about the erotic life. As a therapist I found that one word characterizes most people's attitude toward their own sexuality - confusion. They don't understand their attractions and desires. They feel generally that their sexual lives are and have always been a mess. They believe that they are blind and powerless in the face of passion. They sustain the hope that one day they will find sexual bliss, but so far that hope has not been realized.

I find that my sexual life sometimes *seems* like a separate thing to deal with apart from my creative health or spiritual growth or intimacy in the social realms, or the development of my intellect - well, separate from all the rest of myself in general. I'm supposed to talk about it as though it is. Do I have a satisfying sex life is asked as though its different question from whether i have a satisfying life. But it isn't. I feel my creativity the way I feel my sexuality. And my comfort and ability to unleash passion toward anything is inextricably linked to my feelings of the erotic energy in me. My soul speaks to me through my sensuality - I can't separate out the wild health of my sexuality with the needs of my soul in any of its expressions. This confusion Moore refers to - not understanding my desires or attractions, feeling overwhelmed by a passion, disturbed even - I know it. And i've seen it filter into all sorts of unexpected restrictions. Restrictions that have relented as I sought to understand the intimdating desires underlying them.

The ego trusts the mind, and so we often look to a book or an expert for guidance through sexual confusion. The soul, on the other hand, operates primarily on the principle of eros. Desire and pleasure are signlas of its current condition and need. Erotic intelligence requires that we appreciate these usually neglected feelings and use them as guides.

And isn't this just a terrifying suggestion: to appreciate our neglected sexual feelings? those desires that flash their heat in us when we least feel able to acknowledge them. And yet, we must - eventually, turn toward that heat and be bathed by it or burned as it requires.

Desire has its own intelligence. If we think that the mind is the best guide through life, we will make choices by gathering opinions and weighing the options. But if we follow the soul, we will understand that desire is also an indicator of what is needed and what is best. We may be confused, especially at the outset of desire, about the exact nature of our soul's longing, but over time we will become clearer about what the soul is seeking. This is a dynamic way of life rooted in deep longings that call for a response, rather than a static way based on fixed ideas about what is prudent.

Foregoing prudence is a shameless rebellion that makes my skin tingle. Certainly the part of Unleashing that excites me the most. Not being held down by fixed ideas - but allowing a wilder instinct have its say. Always learning more and more ways to do this wisely and deeply. Allowing me to have a stronger trust, which lets me have more profound intimacies in my life. I love even more being in a position to help others strengthen their own experience of trust and gain deeper, more intimate experiences of their own.

Because the soul is so deep and so high, when we are connected to it - mainly by being responsive to its desire - our very sense of self has a sublime quality. Today some would call it personal excellence. Renaissance people spoke of it as virtue, by which they meant not moral integrity so much as personal power and capacity.
Many studies on sexuality and agression make it clear that eros requires a solid sense of power. In mythology Mars is a special lover of Venus. She smoothes his harshness, and he gives her sensuality an attractive measure of strength and forcefulness. Powerful and creative people are often sexually attractive because of the mysterious connection between sex and strength.

I love the idea of being responsive - responsible - to desire. That Desire calls us to develop our personal power, our inner core of strength. Not to dominate or destroy or force - but to make us able to respond to desire, follow through on the tasks our soul set out for us and to be accountable for our influence on the soul's of others throughout our pursuit of our desires. I find that incredibly sexy. and soulful.

May our listening to the tugs and nudges of our attractions and pleasures refine our ability to sense the subtle. May our devotion to Desire cultivate a wisdom in us of our true strength and power so that we can respond to life and beauty and love as it calls us. Respond with courage and integrity. And passion unleashed.
My self-discovery journey unravelled as my desires were tugged - I yearned to feel a kind of freedom, to know myself, to feel safe, to feel loved, to feel empowered, to have answers...I wanted to gain access to one community or another, to possess one virtue or one skill or one talent. Looking back, there isn't one consistent goal or focus I can say brought me to where I am - those shifted over time - which often left me feeling like I've been failing, flailing until I noticed all my seeking and striving had been always fed by my desire. Unquenchable, ravishing desire. It was always there moving me, having its way with me.

And in realizing that what I have been truly following is my desire I understood that all my efforts and pursuits and lessons served a much more focused purpose than i could have set out with. I though I was fixing what was broken, augmenting what was lacking, and so on. I was only ever learning about what was really there so I could have a wisdom for it - an instinct for how to hold all of who I was and navigate my place in things.

That wisdom allows me to see now that being guided by Desire works very differently than an action plan for change - the motivations of the mindrealms - for one thing, aside from the instinct I gain for myself, I also gain a wisdom for Desire itself - how to let it move in my body. Desire, to me, is a way of feeling my own life course through me. We each desire differently and for different things - but where I find my desire I find my portion of life moving in its own way. The same for desires I find crushed into crevices in my body to be hidden away or tamped down. Sometimes rejected not even for the content of the desire but just for the intolerability of feeling desire at all. And when I find those constricted places, no amount of thinking could soothe that desire back to its fluidity.

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
- Jalal al Din Rumi

Only Desire itself can really show you how it unfolds, how to contain it, stand its agonies and ecstasies, and then to release it again for a new rush. Knowing this I let my focus become how to let more desire in without restricting it or tensing around it - I want to learn my courage, integrity, honesty and wholeness from Desire.

Thomas Moore refers to this as 'Erotic Intelligence' which he points out "begins with familiarity with one's own soul - with its strong desire and inclinations, its cycles and phases."

Of course the question is then, how to find desire, follow it in to your soul, and then find your way back out again. He suggests: "Living from a deep place may require periods of quiet and silence, when we can hear the soul speaking. Long, honesty, and open-minded conversations with good friends can often reveal what the soul wants. Dreams give many good hints about developments in the soul and about the ego's defenses. Diaries, walks, retreats, hikes, and certain kinds of travel are traditional ways for keeping in touch with the soul, and they are as relevant today as they ever were."

I used to start with where I felt pain - where I felt a lack - because that was where Desire spoke the loudest in my life - where it wasn't satisfied. Now there are more places where Desire speaks directly as pleasure, as a winking approval or playful nudge toward something. And i know that to really hear what it can teach me I have to take as much of the pleasure in as i can - through my senses, in as many subtle layers as i'm able to perceive. And life provides many opportunities to do this. And the more of them I take the more I find myself in an intimate communion with my own soul, often the souls of others and certainly life itself as it is, including the ability to stay plugged in when it isn't pleasurable at all.

In this way, following desire is more than the gratification of transient cravings. Desire isn't selfish, built on taking in - Desire inspires me to be an open vessel - taking in as much as I am pouring out. In fact, it's impossible to take it all in without remaining widely open. Desire is a wild force that I feel I have been taught or encouraged to fear and tame.

But I have been rewarded for refusing to be taught such a thing and unleashing my desire.

Here is a short video of the beauty we love being what we do - the sounds, the sensation of the paint, the experience of being the canvas between an artist and her expression, having her devoted attention to my jaw be a part of her devotion to her art - where we normally can be a witness (sometimes during though usually after).

The light was low, part of the charm, but makes it hard to see what she has created so i'll include a still shot of the art that lived, ephemerally on my skin that night.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Only one sentence on how tedious empty time can be when all you're doing is waiting? Barely acknowledging the dark rim around a restful time - what if 'rest' just feels 'dull'?

I confess, I fear dullness. A feeling of not being able to connect or get close enough to the pulse of life. I confess more, when the dullness comes over me I tend to blame my environment. It's not clean enough, pretty enough, the ambiance is not right and therefore none of my practices of being fully present will work. I can't be comfortable, let alone spiritual. The location trumps my actions. I must resign, wait it out until I can be in an environment I prefer, that nurtures me and supports my desired experience of lusciousness. I must be dull.

Oh dear.

No wonder I'm afraid of it. It's a ruthless way to think. Fundamentally helpless, encouraging a need to be in minut control of every detail of my physical space in order to just be me. I see it's strangling threads in many things - in every time I've told myself 'just wait it out, when the circumstances get back to good *then* you can be all passionate again'. Every inch of the specialness of life so critically dependent on these nothings of walls and stuff.

But, passion is my home. I am an ecstasy turtle, I can carry that home with me when it's needful. It's a basic and sacred need to have a healthy and safe environment. I think place matters and we have the right to choose and cultivate environments that nourish us and empower us to be our fullest. But you will never have total control about where you physically are in every moment of life. And some of those environments are just....dull. How do I got from stuffing my vitality into some back closet until my place is just right, to unleashing it always and living inside it. What does it mean to do that when I miss my perfect cup or that one book that would inspire me appropriately or the view that calms me or the food that delights me or the person that would make me feel connected or beautiful or special - the endless list of things I've come to feel I can't be passionate without?

Well, today, I simply slowed down around this unwinding insight. I turned off all my distractions, I took a deep breath, and I let its smooth wisdom voice undulate gently - easing my anxiety over dullness and seducing my blame of the space into a flowing trust of my true home. And I only felt it, rocking back and forth between fear and trust, until I knew how to be my fullest self even here, right now.

Maybe that moves me to write, or reach out to someone specifically for a spark, or to dance - whatever it takes to shake off the tyranny of 'its not perfect so I can't relax' - but it starts with just feeling it, the fear, the dullness, the vitality underneath it splashing out the cracks in the dryness.

candlelight whispers its amber secrets
under sandalwood scented starlight.
Creak and groan as the water rocks the boats to sleep,
I feel night descend on my skin

This is someone else's view still I let my hair down
when beauty speaks to you you're bound to come undone.
To this heart so afraid of dullness:
never fear, you were made for this.

You were made to be the full and pregnant moon
to the radiating, creative virility
you were made to be
the flute it breathes through

Another antidote

Burrowed under a blanket of snow. I've come to visit my mom who got stranded in another town and wont come home for a few days. I am taking the inspiration from the song for my own. Daytime t.v., the same pyjamas, snacks, my computer, some books, a journal. And surrender.

And it's delicious.

I love snow days - sure, they can feel pointless if you just wait for it to be over. But, I love to sink into the space they make and let other parts of me measure time. Parts that don't know how to read a clock. SARK once suggested you could 'measure time in cups of tea.' I prefer lattes, but either way a warm and liquid time is a nourishing kind of rest. My body measures time by the stiffness in my joints (time for a slow stretch), or by need of a bath or shower or it's hunger. My senses measure time by the shades of light in the sky - oh look! it's bathe in ray of sunlight time - or by the fluctuations in temperature - snuggle time?

How would you let a snow day lavish you with rest? How would you measure the time while the snow has it's way?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Every year I indulge in my favorite, personal Christmas tradition of trying to find or figure out what my presents are before Christmas day.  As a child I was often happily successful but now that I no longer live at home, it's nearly impossible to pull this off.  Instead, I upgraded my tradition to impassioned attempts to convince my mother that it's customary to open a present on christmas eve.  When this inevitably fails I resort to a gleeful re-enactment of my childhood waking-of-the-family-before-dawn ritual.  Mostly it's me exclaiming 'PRESENT TIME!!!!!' and jumping on the beds of sleeping people.
I'm grown. I *could* simply turn the excitement off.  That's what us grown people do.  Except so much of the joy and magic of this entire holiday season is made of anticipation.

An exquisite, collective waiting.

We wait for Santa, presents, warmer weather, snow to come, snow to melt, family to come, family to leave,  Christ's birth, the birth of a new sun.  We watch the light steadily succumb and in enveloping darkness we are left alone with our waiting.

I am inundated with pressure to create, make things happen, act, do, manifest.  But once you have collected all your faculties and applied them generously and thoroughly to a goal, there is always a waiting.  Whether you surrender to Time or not, it will have it's way.  So much agony settles into our sinew from the strain of resisting our portion of waiting.  So much of what we want, what we work for, what we invest ourselves in all have a price in the form of time.  Their fruition depends on the participation of other people and circumstances we have no control over.  You just can't make the sun any stronger any sooner.  Whether you seek healing, your soul mate, a better job, a richer spiritual life you must do the work, plant the seeds, and then you have no choice - you must wait.  These things need a nourishment only time can provide.

So what is the quality of your waiting?  An anxious, fretful waiting does you no good, the antidote to this is not 'make it happen faster', If you happen to succeed what you get is likely to be feeble and sickly.    The space where our dreams swell is sacred space.  The hibernating Earth, the resting sun, the gestation of love and hope are decadent in their stillness and patience.

When it comes to receiving presents I choose to wait excitedly - it helps that I know the end date to my waiting so it's like an energetic sprint.  I know I can sustain my excitement for that period of time and for that time it's like baptising my system in holy water  (you should see me at birthday time!).

  For longer, indefinite waits, those waits for things that are complex and profound there is no pressure to be constantly, or gushingly excited. Instead, I find ways to honor what I am waiting for, to prepare the space for it and keep that space in ready.  I slow down and attend to smaller or more concrete things. And when my body tenses with impatience and urgency I find a way to remember that waiting can be a state of worship and the things I value deserve to be honoured by waiting well.

What you are waiting for is blessed by how you wait for it.  I hope that you wait with hope, with a sense of the sacredness of this in between time in your life and in a way that draws the wisdom of patience into your bones.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for -
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant -
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

~ Mary Oliver ~

Tell me, today, what captured you so stunningly it took your breath?  What made you pause long enough to forget yourself and be lost in wonder?  What reached deep inside your gut and tugged at you and said "pay attention to me because you were made for this.'?  Whose prayers did you overhear and to them add your own?  What colours painted and washed your day?

For me
it was the quivering
that looked like a frigid breeze
on bare skin
but was really
knowing myself so intoxicatingly
it was unbearable
and the excess leaked out
in shivers

It was the small blushes
of bluesky
on a skin of cloud
the kind of tell
that gives it away
to anyone paying attention
that you have been touched.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Having a sense of meaning about things is nothing like understanding in the intellectual sense at all.  I can be immersed completely in a sense of meaning in a moment or circumstance and still find the question 'what does it mean?' utterly bewildering.  A sense of meaning isn't about explaining something away -  It is an experience in my body, the way I can *feel* a physical location with all of my senses.  A sense of meaning is an ambiance that permeates the way I am experiencing my life.

Within the experience of meaning the layers of what is true exist without compromise, including all our ambiguities and contradictions.  We can experience simultaneous joy and sadness.     Our intellect urges us to pick one or another,  to smooth the wrinkles of our understanding and make a linear explanation of ourselves.  But, I know for myself, that I need more than one world at a time to feel whole.  I can't trim out anything, I can't synthesize anything - I need a vehicle to experience all of it simultaneously - and when I am in that state of being I call it 'meaning'.  The things around me are luminous with their own aliveness.

For some, sense of meaning comes to them through the architecture of religious and spiritual beliefs which create context for the ways life falls apart and changes and causes suffering despite our best efforts at living spiritually or consciously.  But a sense of meaning can come without religious structure.

My wellbeing thrives on being sensitive to the subtle aliveness of the things around me.  For me, I find that connection in poetry and story. A quote I found by M.L. Richards (in Poetic Medicine by John Fox) says: "Appreciating poetry is probably like appreciating anything else.  It means having the generosity to let a thing be what it is, the patience to know it, a sense of the mystery in all living things, and a joy in new experience."

There are many ways to invoke the magic of appreciation to connect us and bring us into our own lives more fully.  What is your way of being in all your worlds at once, travelling between your layers and living with a sense of meaning?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This poem, to me, captures the essence of a good therapeutic connection.  Whether it's 
between you and a counsellor or you and a striking grove of trees.  
First I get a sense of rest, calm and even safety before it mentions the work.  And then
it reminds me that we don't struggle in a vacuum cut off and cast out of life, but in the midst
of a vibrant world innocently unaware of our despair.  To me this is as beautiful as it is
harsh because the world's role is not to comfort us, but to remind us of how to be.
Finally, this poem reminds of the most powerful healing tools we are given - imagination, 
the ability to be inspired and create, to love and connect with life and those around us
simply by employing our attention.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -- 
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things

Copyright 2010 Unleash.

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