Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Embrace Your Damage

This video about the Japanese art of Kintsugi so perfectly explains why I have named my dance modality Kintsugi Dance. If you're ready to turn the splintered and broken parts of you into the gold and light they actually are, you're ready for Kintsugi. (You can find my new Facebook page here. Soon there will also be a new website.)


You can now learn how to teach dance as a spiritual practice! My first teacher training is coming at the end of September! Just visit the "Teacher Training" tab at the top of this page.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Lost in Space

My new parlor with two crazy animals
My house.

When I'm talking to Marcy, I still say "our house," but it's my house. She is now fully in HER house. Right next door.

And after just under two weeks, my space is pretty settled. There are always a million projects, right? But for the most part, the cats and one rabbit and I are settled.  The at-home studio on the first floor is cleared and cleaned and just awaiting some finishing touches that won't come until I am ready to transition from my not-at-home studio.

Settled.

Physically. But not really on any other level.

Struggling with getting settled would be more accurate emotionally and mentally and spiritually.

Everything just feels...off.

I feel all at once too busy and not busy enough.

Too busy with house projects and running back and forth between houses and figuring out day to day logistics.

And then not busy enough with meaningful work or study because I feel so distracted by having all this space and time and quiet in my life.

Which I've always said I wanted.

There is an edge to this that I could read one of two ways and I am vacillating between the reading, feeling a bit untethered, disconnected from my familiar moorings. The reading of this edge is vital to my experience because one reading could lead to despair and the other would most definitely lead to fulfillment.

So what's the problem?! Just read the positive one, you're thinking.

The edge is the razor thin dividing line between the spaces of loneliness and alone.

I am a bit lost in all this space I have now, for sure, but I could far too easily read that as loneliness, which can only eventually lead to sadness. Loneliness...which seems to me is born of thinking that one's identity, one's very sense of self, one's concrete feeling of place in this world comes from someone else or many someone elses, rather than from where it actually comes from -- inside.

It takes a lot of patience and deep awareness to see this as healthy aloneness. Healthy aloneness...born of inner freedom and the knowledge that we are already whole, that we need nothing and no one to justify our unique and beautiful existence, that just being in this body and in this now is enough in and of itself, that there is plenty to explore right here. This is the space from which the fruits of creativity and wisdom could blossom.

As I walk this edge between these two spaces, feeling my way into the healthier space, I am trying not to cover up the pain of it with lists of things to do or more activity or more socializing than this mind and heart can take. It would be easy to do so.

Instead I sit with cats and rabbit and self and a bit of Merton:

When I speak of the contemplative life I do not mean the institutional cloistered life, the organized life of prayer. I am talking about a special dimension of inner discipline and experience, a certain integrity and fullness of personal development, which are not compatible with a purely external, alienated, busy-busy existence. This does not mean that they are incompatible with action, with creative work, with dedicated love. On the contrary, these all go together. A certain depth of disciplined experience is a necessary ground for fruitful action. Without a more profound human understanding derived from exploration of the inner ground of human existence, love will tend to be superficial and deceptive. Traditionally, the ideas of prayer, meditation, and contemplation have been associated with this deepening of one's personal life and this expansion of the capacity to understand and serve others.
You can now learn how to teach dance as a spiritual practice! My first teacher training is coming at the end of September! Just visit the "Teacher Training" tab at the top of this page.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Follow the Beauty


"God is beauty." John O'Donohue

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty." John Keats

Neither of those statements has anything to do with aesthetics or our current ideas of pretty and glamor and perfection.

During an interview with John O'Donohue (here), he mentions briefly how he wonders what would happen if we created a psychology/therapy based in beauty, rather than in problems as our current models tend to be.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about this. (As I go searching for my copy of his book, On Beauty...)

It can be as simple as noticing all of the natural beauty around us, but I think it also goes far deeper than that.

Natural beauty is pleasing and, well, pretty, and both O'Donohue and Keats are talking about an inner quality as opposed to those outer qualities.

And what of difficulty and hardship and heartache? Neither of these men are saying that we must shy from, avoid, or downplay those realities in our lives.

Ah. But what of that which is truly ugly to the human heart? War, poverty, abuse, neglect, hatred...

This is what they are talking about.

If we follow the thread of beauty, it is inevitable that those things be weeded from our inner landscape because they are antithetical to the very notion of beauty.

If you follow this thread, what could change in your life?

You can now learn how to teach dance as a spiritual practice! My first teacher training is coming at the end of September! Just visit the "Teacher Training" tab at the top of this page.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How the Bay City Rollers Reminded Me of My Inner Strength


I was having a pretty down day yesterday. I think it was due to gluten exposure. That's exactly what it felt like, which is to say it felt like I used to always feel before I figured out the connection of gluten to my chronic and life-paralyzing depression.

It's a horrible thing to feel like you used to feel in this regard and to immediately drop back into that sense of forever that comes with it...that there will be no end until The End. Today I can feel it already lifting off of my brain, and there is light and air where there was damp and dark.

But yesterday, I got in the car to go to the city cemetery for my morning walk, and the Bay City Rollers came on, singing my favorite song from when I was in second grade, Saturday Night.

And suddenly, I was inside this memory of my deceased Aunt Ginny. We were on the beach of Galveston, where she lived and where I got to visit with her (and my uncle and my sister) for a whole month the summer I was 15.

I had just walked back from the water and plopped down next to her.  My sister was near the water but not in it, playing carefully at the edge.

I had just walked back from the water where I had been crashing my body straight into the huge waves of the crashing ocean. The ocean is one of my favorite places, and though the waves scare the shit out of me, I also love them beyond measure.

I had just plopped down next to her, and she turned to me and said, "You have always been brave and I have known this about you since you were in second grade when I visited you in State College, and you got yourself up and ready for school, and I came downstairs and you were watching a morning show and eating your breakfast, and I remember thinking...this one will be okay..."

Second grade in State College and my morning show included the Bay City Rollers.

Second grade was a time of some of my most fond memories of school and friends and Brownies and then also a time of some of my saddest and scariest memories.

And I know that my Aunt would have known at least some of that scary and sad so she was speaking directly to her understanding of my strength.

And on a day when I was feeling my old depression creeping in (for whatever reason), this memory was a relief and a balm for my aching brain and heart.
You can now learn how to teach dance as a spiritual practice! My first teacher training is coming at the end of September! Just visit the "Teacher Training" tab at the top of this page.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Monday, September 8, 2014

My Inner Landscape is Not for Your Hiking


We can never really know the mind and heart of another, and that is the way it should be.

And yet, I think there is a deeply embedded and "romantic" cultural myth that if you find the "right" person, you will become "one."

That is a deeply embedded culture myth that happens to be psychologically unhealthy, just to start.

This deeply embedded myth is especially difficult to extricate from your own personal myth system if you were raised in any kind of abusive or neglectful household.

One of the marks of an abusive household is the enmeshment that happens between the children and parents. Someone's needs weren't met or they likely would not have become an abuser and those unmet needs are then looking to be fulfilled by a wrong source -- people outside of themselves, including the children.

On top of that little mess, an abusive household depends on maintaining a closed system from the outside world (or people might figure out what is going on), AND at the same time, within the system itself there is usually zero privacy as the abusers try to control everything everyone does and thinks.

Voila! Just the right mix of dependence on others for needs being met and no privacy.

But in a healthy relationship, each individual is meeting their own needs. Then as a WHOLE individuated and realized human, they can bring something real to the relationship -- the potential for each individual to grow emotionally and spiritually.

In a healthy relationship, each individual feels autonomous, like they have physical AND mental space that is JUST THEIRS.

And thus the title of this piece: My inner landscape is mine for exploring by ME. And yours is for you. We might share bits of this inner landscape with people we trust and love, but it's not for them to take or demand.

This has taken me 45 years to really learn.

I was raised to believe that love was ownership, that love is a consuming of the other and a being consumed.

And then? We happen to live in a wider culture that reflects those sick beliefs right back to us.

Love is not ownership or consuming of any kind.

Love is space and time and patience and freedom.

Love does not demand anything. Love allows.

Love is life force, and when it is flowing and not contained or controlled, it is the very stuff that makes each of us the best us.

But we must -- we must -- let go.

You can now learn how to teach dance as a spiritual practice! My first teacher training is coming at the end of September! Just visit the "Teacher Training" tab at the top of this page.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Making Space for Your Needs rather than Sizing Your Needs to Fit Your Space

Looking over the bay toward the city
When I go on retreat to Chautauqua, I post a sign on my door that I don't need housekeeping. I do this because even that interruption and the inevitable social interaction can be too much when I am trying to dive into inner silence.

I go for walks but I don't speak to anyone. I don't stop for coffee hoping for small talk. ((UGH)) I don't drop into the bookstore with little excuses.

And one of the first things I notice is how quickly and then how clearly I can hear my inner voice.

Which reminds me of the contrast with my "regular" day to day life when I really cannot hear that voice much at all.

It can be startling to notice this -- to notice that you've not even been hearing your own self -- and then to notice how much is needing to be heard.

Paradoxically, only in deep silence can we hear our deepest voices -- and they are clamoring to be heard, for sure.

This silence space where we can hear our own voices, where we can hear the longings of our own hearts, this is the fertile space, the only space, really, in which we can grow and expand.

Otherwise, we spend most of our time simply holding on for dear life or struggling to keep our shit together, which takes up so much energy that we're almost always bone level exhausted if we take the time to feel it.

I am pretty sure I am not alone in this.

When I ask women what they really need, it's space.

As one of the people in my secret Facebook group pointed out, the "man cave" has become pretty culturally accepted/expected but what of a room for women?

This goes back to the basic, underlying sexism of our culture. "The whole house is the woman's!" men yell. Yep...the whole house is the woman's...to take care of.

But space to think and just breathe and just be and space to create within? Perhaps you have a small desk tucked into a corner if you are lucky.

Here's the thing: You can't wait to be given space. Women curling themselves into tiny balls that take up very little space on the bus or the plane or wherever...making space for the man to SPREAD OUT...that's what happens when you wait to be given space.

You must TAKE space. MAKE space. CLAIM space.

So many women's voices exemplify this issue. Small, breathy, high pitched -- none of that is natural. That's bullshit. Those voices are cultural. (We know this because there are indigenous cultures that are/were matrilineal and the men have/had the high voices.)

Those voices are the perfect metaphor for the larger issue -- the fear of our size and the fear of the size of our needs.

A little Thomas Merton for you to contemplate:

Now let us frankly face the fact that our culture is one which is geared in many ways to help us evade any need to face this inner, silent self. We live in a state of constant semiattention to the sound of voices, music, traffic, or the generalized noise of what goes on around us all the time. This keeps us immersed in a flood of racket and words, a diffuse medium in which our consciousness is half diluted: we are not quite "thinking," not entirely responding, but we are more or less there. We are not fully present and not entirely absent; not fully withdrawn, yet not completely available. It cannot be said that we are really participating in anything, and we may, in fact, be half conscious of our alienation and resentment. Yet we derive a certain comfort from the vague sense that we are "part of something" -- although we are not quite able to define what that something is -- and probably wouldn't want to define it even if we could. We just float along in the general noise. Resigned and indifferent, we share semiconsciously in the mindless mind...which passes for "reality."

You can now learn how to teach dance as a spiritual practice! My first teacher training is coming at the end of September! Just visit the "Teacher Training" tab at the top of this page.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

...You Might Find You Get What You Need


Even though I have found the whole second house buying process super stressful (I suck at waiting and buying a house has lots of moments of intense waiting), even though I had Big Stress, there were some other amazing things going on at the same time.

Unexpected things.

Though we are buying a second house to make for more space between us and for each of us individually, it has, in this short time, brought us closer together.

Marcy and I have lived together for 20 years. A bunch of those years were about my depression. Sadly. Then we finally FINALLY figured out my different Aspie brain and I settled into that...somewhat.

I realized that, yes, I DO enjoy my alone time, but we were still together most of the time.

Because we're a couple, right, and couples are supposed to be together, like, MOST of their time, right?

That's what all the cultural stories say. Those stories go on to say that if you don't want to be together, like, ALL the time, then there must be something wrong. Perhaps you don't actually love each other enough.

Wrong.

Those cultural stories aren't really serving us, are they? I mean, look at the divorce rate and then take a walk over and check out the numbers of our population on anti-depressants and anti-anxieties.

These numbers don't exactly paint a picture of HAPPINESS, do they?

It seems to me there are a lot of people walking around, going through the motions, not even able to articulate what is wrong, much less what the fix would be.

Turns out I was kinda one of those people.

I adore my life. I adore my person.

But I was constantly low level grouch. Short fused. Could snap at any provocation. Constantly anxious and on high alert.

Then we realized this whole "we each need more space" thing, and something just POPPED.

It was that bubble of stories I was living in.

Without even having her in her new house yet, even with all the stress of buying said house, suddenly I felt more relaxed and suddenly we were...having more fun!

IMAGINE.

Things feel easier between us, more flow-y.

My short fuse...just about gone.

I don't yell every five minutes. (Exaggerating but still...)

I am...relaxed. (What?! Relaxed!?)

I am also HAPPY and excited about life in general. I laugh more. I giggle more. I don't worry about what she is thinking or what's going on "between us." I don't micro-manage our togetherness and our responses to that togetherness.

I had no idea things could be so different AND so wonderful.

You can now learn how to teach dance as a spiritual practice! My first teacher training is coming at the end of September! Just visit the "Teacher Training" tab at the top of this page.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.