Prayer for Tired

Let me go to bed at night, tired.  Not exhausted, depleted, spent, drained or worn out.  Just…. tired.  

Tired from a day well spent.  A life well lived.  A moment fully realized.  

Tired from doing all that I love and cherish and enjoy.

Tired from being awake and aware in every situation.

Tired from muscles that have been used appropriately and vigorously.

Tired from envisioning and philosophizing and working out complex issues.

Tired from going places and seeing people that bring me beauty and nourishment.

Tired from maintaining my home, my sacred space, with care and attention.

Tired from shuttling my children back and forth to the activities that bring them deep joy.

Tired from taking care of all the responsibilities that come with a privileged life.

Tired from sharing my gifts, my talents, my work, my love with my family, my friends, my students, my community.

yes, please, let me be tired.  Every night.  In every way.  

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Wo-manifesto for a new world.  

Part I.

I am weary of the masses.

of the places of the things of the activities of the drinks of the foods of the people

that are popular that are trending that are cool that are unique that are interesting

that are, “new”

I am wary of the multitude.

of the misplaced power in the perception of community

that is lacking any real depth, real connection, real “unity”

that at best, scratches the surface and at worst, totally distracts us

from the true work, the true change, the true collective.

I don’t want to chase the shiny objects, I don’t want the eye candy, I don’t want to feel clever and hip because because I do or have done the latest thing, because I know how to fill a room or because I have the most toys.  so there.

I don’t really care about any of that.  I don’t need to feel included.   I don’t need  approval.  My life doesn’t depend on societies conditions of success.

not anymore.

not anymore.

not this societies at least.

Pay attention to what is next.

to what color, to what season, to what style, to what animal, to what word, to what dance move, to what place, to what thing is suddenly what everybody’s doing now.

This is our drug.  Our collective addiction.

This is our prison.  Our self created cage.

This is our illusion.  Our mutual fraud.

And its time to come clean.

I’m ready.  And I’ve been ready for a long long time.

Are you?

Show me.

Let(’s) go.

Art &….

Recently I read something that triggered me.  It was an innocent enough description of a process of “art” making that involves following a kind of formula to create what they call: drawings that are “free from the anxiety of drawing” so you can embrace your inner artist, trust your instinct and let your creativity flow.

The truth is, this description made my heart hurt.  Made me literally want to cry.  It felt so utterly mis-directed to me about the one thing I hold absolutely dearest in my life and soul:  Art.  I felt sad beyond belief for the need to compartmentalize “art’ in this way. For the fact that people even need to create this kind of offering.  It felt to me, like the black hole of ART.  My initial physical response was to take a rapid deep inhale and my whole body said “Oh NO!  Don’t got THERE”. Like I want to save humanity from jumping off this particular cliff because I can see where it leads…. and it ain’t pretty.

But first, I had to let go of (or try to at least!) any judgement around this particular process so that I could come a place of clarity and discernment.   My belief system holds that when you clear away the mucky stuff (judgement, over analysis, expectation, false knowing, etc), you can come to the place where there is truer understanding of whether something is helpful, harmful, a good idea or a distraction. This place of discernment, in and of itself, is NOT judgy. Something can honestly have positive or negative impacts pending your desired outcome or intention.  Its kind of like when we think about a persons ‘behavior’ being disruptive in some way without intending to imply that the person themselves are disruptive.  Just because the process may be problematic, does not mean theres any ill will from the people leading the process or that the individual pieces of the process are problematic either.

But back to the “Art” class.  It has become fashionable to throw the term “Art” around so that everyone and anyone can participate and feel like they are an Artist.  Which, ironically, they already are anyway.  And, just to make it more trendy, we like to combine Art with all sorts of things now…..Art & Wine, Art & Dance,  Art & Yoga, Art & Meditation, Art & the Chakras, Art & Chickens, Art & Rollerderby, Art & Skydiving, Art & ….. AND the list goes on.  I assume here to make it more ‘accessible’ or ‘interesting’ perhaps?  None of these combination in and of themselves is ‘bad’.  And I’ve taught many of them (working on the Rollerderby bit… tricky to organize).  And again, the illusion here is in the perception, not in the Art itself.

How these offerrings are actually led/guided and taught and WHO is actually leading or guiding makes a tremendous difference.  Not to mention, how they are marketed, who they are trying to attract and where they are being taught.  I’m not particularly interested in prioritizing what is ‘successful’ in terms of bringing in the most people, being popular or making the most money. I’m concerned with what elevates us, and I use that term most carefully, to a place of deeper understanding about ourselves and the world.

I am reminded of a conversation with a student recently who was commenting on the common parlance among yoga teachers these days, I think it was about a comment such as “All levels, bodies, types…. are welcome in my class”  (or something like that)  and she said “You know, ALL yoga teachers say that (substitute in whatever you want for the “That”!), but they all mean really different things by it.  You have to do your work to find out who really means it. “

Anyone can claim to integrate “art” in their practices, but who really means it?  You might start by asking them: What Is Art?

This is where I believe, the divergence lies.  As someone who has studied, taught and created Art, both professionally and personally, for her entire life, who grew up in a family of Artists and who always thought of art kind of like breathing….. its just what you do….this question touches my heart and life deeply.  Not because I think I know more, or because I have studied longer, but simply because it is truly Who I Am.

What is Art?

Well, for starters, Art is not imitation. Art is not knowing how to follow directions.  Art is not easy.  Art is not quick. Art is not something you learn a process to ‘do’.  Art is not formulaic.  Art is not for profit.  Art is not something you judge.  Art is not good or bad or ugly or beautiful.  Art is not created to match the living room couch.  Art is not created to hang in frame on a wall.  Art is not an idea.  Art is not a method.  Art is not a place to show off your skills.  Art is not therapy (although art therapy is its own legit thing).  Art is not pretty.  Art is not repetitive.

Let me put something out there to consider. Art is real. Art is enough. Art is like the breath.  ART IS.  In and of itself.  When guided as an authentic process.  With patience and learning and understanding.  Art will teach you everything about this world, your life and your role in it.  Art is as deep a reflective and transformative process as any spiritual pursuit, as uplifting and mobilizing as any creative endeavor,  and as skillful and knowledge filled as any science.  There is no need for Art AND.  Art AND Nothing. For that matter…. Yoga AND Nothing.  Meditation AND Nothing.  These are all comparable processes that lead you to transformation through careful study and ability.  Why the need to combine them in “new” ways?  In actuality, we do them a huge disservice through many of these combinations.  We miss the point entirely.  We create distraction instead of progress.

I’m fascinated by this when it doesn’t make me want to bury my head in the sand and cry to the earth.

So back to the original post I read.  Heres the stinger for me “free from the anxiety of drawing”.  I need to take a long slow breath here to even continue.

Drawing is prayer.  Drawing is a discovery.  Drawing with authenticity is a personal journey of deep understanding. If there is anxiety around that, theres personal work to be done. Or a total misunderstanding.  The drawing process itself and finding your path through it can address the anxiety.  But not in one 90 minute class.  It takes time, commitment, patience, love, determination.  It takes mastery, courage and yes, actual learning. There’s a whole language to absorb that you then have at your disposal to create with.  Theres no skipping steps.  It is, in fact, a process.

So Instead of the commitment, we change the parameters of the drawing process.  To make us feel better?  To make it more “accessible”?  Why?

No … really…. WHY?

I’m suspect of anything that in the long term serves as a distraction or an escape because we are overwhelmed, tired or agitated in the moment. Lets deal with our “overwhelm” ing feelings and beings rather than to look the other way and stuff our challenging feelings in a box for temporariy relief.  Hell, lets do that together and muck through the journey with our hearts wide open and our minds freed and our footsteps bravely forward charting truly NEW territory.  Not what the mind wants to convince us is new through the lens of what is “unique”.  How’s this for something new:  slowing down, looking around consciously, taking a long deep inhale,  and bravely being STILL instead of running all the time.  We can do this through meditation, through true yoga, and yes, through ART.  Real Art.  But we must practice keeping it Real.  Supporting each other authentically.  Walking each other home.

Thats my journey, at least.  Its not the easy way necessarily, or the fast way, or the way that makes you feel like you’re a star or an artist or a badass….. at least not immediately.  Theres not immediate gratification as we are used to or want. Although, it depends on what you find gratifying.  Because, sooner or later, you come to realize you already ARE all those things anyway when you stop distracting yourself through these clever disguises we have so creatively designed.

In fact, you find, we all are.

 

Poem for the New Moon 2/16.

Who are you?  I asked the stars.

And they twinkled and burned and danced in fluttering patterns against the backdrop of darkness.

And so did I.

Who are you? I asked the clouds.

And they drifted and hung and swayed in lilting rhythms across the silvery sky.

And so did I.

Who are you?  I asked the rain.

And it fell with a heavy sigh in orchestrated unison collapsing to the earth in complete surrender.

And so did I.

Who are you?  I asked the sun.

And it blazed with glory and might, its powerful song arcing across the wide open curvature of the planet, in a single note.  And so did I.

Who are you?  I asked the moon.

And it radiated its beacon of glistening light in undulating waves embracing all of creation with a long slow exhale.

And so did I.

Who are you?  I asked myself.

And I melted into the earth and surrendered to the sky.

And the stars became my eyes;

And the clouds, my thoughts;

And the rain, my tears;

And the sun, my belly;

And the moon my, heart.

And so am I.

 

 

One Winter Morning

One Winter Morning

Theres a chill in the air today.  The ombre grey skies foretell of it, before you even step outside.  The light, a filtered haziness that comes from nowhere but everywhere at once.  Trees sway.  Body listens.  To invisible sounds on a silent movie screen through wide panes of glass.
I step outside and sniff the air.  Eyes closed,  I smell the familiar.   A sweetness, an odor, that no words can describe, but ushers forth memories of life, childhood, family, dreams, moments.  Specfic moments.  Individual moments.  A breath in time.  How does one breath so efficiently remind you of all that has been and all that is here now?
Weaving together past and present on the waves of a single smell.
I open my eyes, this moment has happened many times before.  I shuffle in Pajamas and an overstuffed puffy coat, shoes barely on my feet, down to the driveway.  Each step is a memory unfolding.  I get something from the car, pick up the paper and look around.  A neighbor is walking two white dogs on a long red leash.  A golden brown leaf drifts downward, in slow motion, through the air.  A single black bird glides from one tree to another.  That smell,  I notice it again.
Its not just winter and fireplaces and smoke in the air and pine needles and dried up leaves.
 Its so much more.
I walk up the stairs back to the house.
And a warmth fills my heart.
A warmth the lives in the simple memories of passing moments.
of taking the time to notice.
to sniff the air.

On the process of moving forward.

This morning, as I helped my daughter with her violin home practice, we had a conversation about the process of learning and ‘improving’.  In order to reach the next level/phase/step in any process of learning, you must practice and ‘master’ the skills associated with the level you are at.  Then, through a variety of techniques, you move on gently pushing yourself forward through practice, repetition and focus.  Parts of this process are challenging and quite frankly, boring.  Parts of this process feel effortless and exhilarating.  All of it:  the tedium, the joy, the frustration, the fun…. are necessary components to development.

As far as I can see, this is true of all artistic processes and maybe most everything.  We know it in music, art, dance, martial arts, creative writing, etc.  Knowing its truth does not make it easy or desirable. I’ve known many who simply give up or walk away when they reach one of these points of transition that are especially difficult or frustrating.  And perhaps that TOO is an appropriate response.  After all, timing is everything. And we can’t possibly expect to be experts at everything.  At least not all at once!

Interestingly, there is one place in my work that I am perhaps most motivated to “succeed” where I see other drop off or plateau regularly. That is in the process of self-discover or awakening.  Many claim to be on this path towards wholeness and ‘enlightenment’, but few are willing to really push through the places of resistance and engage in the difficult work that it takes to get there.  Many find a place along that path that feels good/comfortable and simply remain there without much resistance.  This is also true in many other disciplines.  My daughter could choose to stop progressing in the violin at the point she is now. She would still be able to impress her friends with her playing, bring out the violin at Holiday gatherings to play for family, teach the basics to kids and perhaps play with a community orchestra.  This would be a fine place to stop.  Or she can continue and aspire towards something else.  The choice is hers and we talk about this choice frequently.

Spiritual development follows many of the same patterns.  We can use our practices (meditation, yoga, energy work) to move us forward OR we can plateau at a place we feel cozy and choose to stay here.  Both are viable options especially when chosen consciously. There is a vital difference though here from other practices.  This ‘self awareness’ piece is something we all are engaged in whether we are consciously working on it or not. The same is not true of the violin, for example.  Because we are all human and in the process of evolving both individually and together, the self-work we do effects not only our personal existence, but our collective experience as well. Every single one of us on the planet. And where we choose (if you believe its a choice) to plateau has a profound impact on our world.  Its a spectrum, of course, and knowing where you are on that spectrum represents a key element of our awareness.  Understanding the reasons and necessity for moving forward is also a key part of this awareness.  Its not just about YOU.  In this one area of our life, we truly are all connected.

In my work, I guide people through the process of moving to that next level. Whatever it is for them. Wherever they are in the moment.  That process, by its very nature, involves intricate detail and subtle awareness around where it is easy to get stuck, give up or plateau.  Especially those deceptive places that make think you have arrived, when really you are still in the process itself.  Its a tricky  balance that I see as a kind of dance.  But this is my specialty and I work invisibly.

Knowing and expecting that you will get pushed, that there will be resistance, that you’ll have a natural tendency to want to reach for the practices and places that represent “escapism” in its many deceitful forms when the going gets tough.  And then, being willing to take a deep breath in and take the next step forward….  anyway.   This is the process of living and learning and evolving.  And when we are able to see that our spiritual development requires the same kind of learning process that ever other “skill” we have every attained requires, we’ll slowly begin to understand both the process of AND the necessity of this work. This vital component to the well being of our present moment and all future generations on this beautiful planet.

May you find the courage, strength and support you need to bravely and boldly take your next steps forward in this moment, today, this week and this life.

peace.

 

Where or where is “yoga”?

October 27, 2017
A conversation I had recently went something like this:
“Oh, you are doing art & meditation & sound healing, but no ‘yoga’ for the workshop?” 
 How is THIS not yoga?  How is all of THIS not yoga?  Have we forgotten what yoga IS? Did we ever know in the first place?  Everything is Yoga when Yoga is understood.  There is no separation between not yoga & yoga.  As I write, I am practicing my yoga.  As I sit, I am practicing my yoga.  As I plan my day, I am practicing my yoga.  These are not just words to say and repeat robotically. This is not just a script I have been trained to recite. This is not just a theory or exercise. This is the most profound truth I have ever known.  Yoga is “Union”. These are not words to be taken lightly. Not a phrase to be gently smiled upon as you nod in agreement.  Saying it is not enough. Reading it is not enough.  Printing it on a T-shirt, is not enough.  Telling others is not enough.
Understanding it, is everything.  Let is sink in.  Let it inform every aspect of your life. 
Yoga Is Union.
Sometimes I think studios and the studio culture has completely ruined yoga by cultivating the culture that yoga is something you can pay for.   Something you can go to and experience for an hour and then go home or back to work or wherever.  Something you can read in a book on or have printed on a bumpersticker. Something you “Do”.  Something you can call/label yourself.
Yes, I am aware of the counter arguments regarding making a living and money as an accepted and valuable form of exchange.  And I am in no way against any of that. Still, I find myself asking all the time:  What have we lost, what are we in the process of losing, as yoga becomes increasingly commodified, “studio-ified”?   Its a big question.  Perhaps it is too late.  But asking it will help us as other spiritual paths (shamanism, meditation) go mainstream and are in danger of walking this same slippery slope .
I wonder how many of us really think about this, sink our teeth into this question and engage it fully?  Really consider, 10 years out, where does this path I am paving lead?  What are the pros and cons of the choices I am making now,  to the future collective awakening of this world, this consciousness?  Am I helping, or hurting?  Can I be honest? Can I even know?  Does that make it OK?
Is Beer/Cat/Glitter/Naked (fill in the blank) Yoga truly guiding us to awakening? (assuming thats everyones goal, which is a big assumption, I know.)  If it is now, does that make it a good idea?  What even contributes to our understanding of what is a ‘good idea’ or not? Thats the bigger question.
Before I started teaching “yoga & sound”, I went first to my Yoga Guru and asked him if this pairing was in accordance with the yoga lineage that I am a part of.  I then went to my Sound Healing teacher and asked her what she thought about it as well.  Both gave me their blessings, their feedback, their assurance that this was an appropriate use of both these tools.  Only then did I design the ‘curriculum’ and start teaching “yoga & sound healing”.
When you’re not sure if your work is ultimately contributing to “the greater good”, ask your teachers, your guides, your gurus, ask the Divine.  And them be willing to listen.
I am a humble vessel for the Divine and respectfully tread very carefully anytime I create a “new offering”. This is tremendously powerful work.
  • Its time to stop being so aloof with the term “yoga” and how it is applied.
  • Its time to practice better discernment as we come up with new ideas and how to apply them.
  • Its time to not just judge whether something is a good idea or not by how many people show up or come through the door.
  • Its time to be willing to live and breathe “Eyes Wide Open” instead of just saying it.
This is my wishlist at this time.  Its a personal wishlist, not meant to be coercive, judgmental or derogatory in any way.  Just one persons vision of what is happening now and one persons dream of a better tomorrow.
“May you see clearly the path before you. May you  understand fully the path behind you.  And may you walk with Grace, truth, equanimity, compassion and focus, in the here & now.”