There is rhythm beating and flowing through us, connecting us to the earth and her ways, her seasons, her cycles. We live within her rhythms, and the rhythms of the moon and the sun. Sounds strange? Esoteric? And yet you look to the calendar each day, the calendar is a mapping of the rhythms of the earth’s dance around the sun. There are rhythms within us too, which can be supported by flowing with the greater cosmic rhythms of light and dark, rest and activity, being and doing, expansion and contraction, inhale and exhale. Pause now and then to feel into your bodily rhythms and find yourself connecting to earth and sky and the spaces in between.
Such attention helps me to connect to body and to earth. I seek to deepen my relationship to both.
Cultivating our own wildness takes time and patience and practice. We look to the ground of our being and nourish the soil, plant the seeds, water them, bathe them in sunlight and trust the magic that is life on earth.
At a recent workshop with Claire Dunn, author of My Year Without Matches, she shared some of the ways to reconnect with wildness. (http://www.naturesapprentice.com.au/) There was much good learning here, new skills to expand and sharpen our senses, which are so underutilised in our screen based, consumer orientated, urban culture. For this journey to wildness is a sensuous, embodied one. I have been practising my fox walking, wide eyed vision and regularly sitting in my sit spot. This last activity, was something I had been doing anyway, without knowing a name or way. It is the simple act of regularly being in the same place for a period of time, and observing what is going on. These observations can lead to questions, investigations and to moments of grace.
Just this morning I was blessed to feel the invocation of dawn, to be a participant in the greeting of this day by the urban wildlife. It was dark when I arrived, a small patch of light from the not yet risen sun hung low in the east. Pre – dawn birds were still sitting, perched, and yet calling themselves awake. The predominant energy was of stillness and yet vibration of song had begun. There was a stirring of movement and after some time as the light pitched across the expanse there was an eruption of song and flight. The birds wheeled overhead, noisily greeting this day. Shivers of delight waved through me, lucky enough to be a participant in this creative act. Joyously feeling into the birth of a day. Such magic, such beauty which happens every day, if only we pay attention.
I have been sitting in my sit spot, (which is on the deck in my back yard ) most mornings for a few months now. I have watched the clouds move east each day, so yes the prevailing winds do come from the west. I have felt the winds caress and throttle both me and plants. The banana leaves shred in response. I have noticed the darkening of the morning, and the beginnings of dew. For we are in the descent, in the time of year of increased and lengthening dark. But to know something intellectually is quite different from being an active participant engaged in the changing light, the shift in mood and place. This morning was ecstatic, a real shudder of delight moved through me, with the flaring forth of this day. I encourage you all to find a sit spot, to visit the world around and within you. Through this regular sitting I am feeling into my interconnection, new shoots are forming in the ground of my being, so that I become more rooted here to this place, to this earth.
Rooting ourselves in our bodies,
A beautiful teacher of mine, Chameli Ardagh, (awakeningwomen.com) often speaks of rooting ourselves back into our body, and into the body of the earth. This is both literal and metaphoric. We can shift our attention back into the embodied sphere and begin to experience life from this place, rather than from the place of a mind cut off from bodily experiences, which is what our culture teaches us. This rooting back can be as simple (and simple is often the most difficult) as paying attention. Taking our mind into the body, so that we experience the body/mind. And in this experiencing we allow the sensations, the feelings, and the rhythms within us to arise. It is quite humbling and sometimes scary but mostly beautiful to be this way. To consciously be in the bodymind. Chameli reminds us that we “don’t have to go anywhere or do anything, we just have to be.” For “Your truth is not something you need to reach, find or create. It is already vibrating fiercely in the depths of that which truly matters to your soul.” So we pay attention to that inner call, to that truth already present within us. It is less of a striving and more of an allowing. Dancing and walking are two important ways for me to remember my truth, to come home to the rhythms within my body and the world around me.
Dancing myself home
One of the most direct routes to embodiment has been through dance. Not necessarily the disco dancing of the 80’s (think Inflation, Chasers and Barbarella’s nighclubs) but even then, in those very disembodied, almost out of the body teenage years, dancing was sometimes the only time I felt at home in my body. The rest of the time I was split off, fragmented. I was cut off from feelings, sensations and much more. But when I was dancing I was present to myself in ways that I usually wouldn’t or couldn’t allow. More than this, dancing was a joy, I felt comfortable dancing, moving, sometimes losing myself in the rhythm, sometimes fully letting myself go, letting myself be in my body. I knew that it was part of my healing. And it was and continues to be. I dance now to find my way in the dark, to express my joy in the light, and to connect with body and earth. Barefoot dancing is the only way for me, sole on soil, feet on boards, on once were trees, body fully on ground, grounding myself into the place, into my being in this world. Despite knowing dance was part of my healing, I came to facilitating dance classes quite by accident . My then teacher moved to NSW and suggested I run her classes (thanks Mel from Heart Dance) and have not been able to stop. I love sharing the magic, the power, the freedom of dance. I want others to experience this too, to know just how much of ourselves we can reclaim and remember in the dance. We find our wildness, our wilderness, we find and know our deep interconnection with all life. Its all here in the body, we just have to tune in and trust the impulses of the moving body. Let your body show you the way home. Ah big sigh.
So I am pretty excited to host my first MoonDance on Sunday. We will be dancing ourselves home to and with and through our bodies. We will playfully explore the ways in which we are the earth. This is not an intellectual idea, it is a lived experience of knowing that we are made of earth, of stars, of air. We are earth and we are the cosmos. We are all the spaces in between. When we allow ourselves to really drop into the dance, to drop into that body consciousness we find that we are so supported by life. We remember how held we are by grace, by God/Goddess, by Spirit. Whatever name you call this deep web weaving, celebrate it, investigate it, honour it . My head often struggles with this, but my body knows. When I dance I feel spirit in me, I feel earth in me. I have to trust this. For this truth keeps revealing itself to me, arising from within and from without, We are interconnected, and the body is a glorious, sensuous way-shower. Better be quick if you want to join as we dance our interconnected and interconnecting rhythms, life seasons, the earth seasons, the menstrual cycle, and the lunar cycles. A big day of dance, movement, meditation and nourishment. Sunday May 22, 9.00 – 5.00, Carnegie. $100 Yes that’s tomorrow!
Walking in this world
On the first new moon of 2016 I walked 10 kilometres along a stretch of beach from Barwon Heads to Point Lonsdale through Wadawurrung Country. It was intention setting for the year, embodying my intention to walk this land, to walk this country and to strengthen the bones of my being through regular intentional walks (and it was a Capricorn new moon associated with bones, stones, structure) . Since then I have continued to walk, to deepen my connection to certain places, and explore new territory, both within my inner landscape and the world around me. And joyously I have found myself listening to many others who have walked themselves home to body, to country, to ways of being in this world which are connective.
Walk the path
And journey to the source
These are not metaphors
They are instructions (Maya Ward)
Maya wards beautiful, evocative and open reflection of her 21 day pilgrimage from the mouth of the Birrarung/Yarra to the source is a tale for our times. (http://www.comfortofwater.com.au/) She invites us into her story, her radical experience of fully being in the world. Walking is an experience through which she opens to the world, as she says, “There is so much more time when you walk. It is counter to external appearances, but inner experience has its own truth. We do less, but we are more.” Maya opens herself to the world around and within and finds the connective tissue that weaves us to place and to each other. She found the river itself winding through her, reminding her that, “Most of me is water. Most of me is a substance cycled through all living things yet unchanged for billions of years. I am, it appears very, very old. The mind bows to the body. Together they rise.”
And it is this bowing to the body that calls me each and every day. It is the wisdom of the feminine, and the wisdom of the ancients who bowed before the earth, before womb like structures, and carvings of breasts, of wombs, of body. It is the wisdom of Indigenous peoples who bow to the earth in ritual, in dance, in song, in everyday living. Many of whom, despite 200 years of colonization and language loss, and intergenerational trauma, still show up to share their wisdom, a wisdom imbued with earth time, with deep listening (dadirri/nyernila) with being in this world. And of course it is the wisdom of earth itself.
But this wisdom is not easy to digest. A mind distorted by western paradigms, struggles to embrace its vastness. In a recent talk, Maya reflected that her mind has taken much longer to begin to understand what her body knew then in the walking, there in the river. I was taken with this struggle because it is at the heart of my own struggle between body and mind, and the seeking of an integrated bodymind. So I keep walking, dancing, cycling (in many different ways) being, findings tools to support me, ways to grow into a more embodied experience of the world.
Barefoot walking is for me a simple way to reconnect and be with and in the world. On my walks I notice what a different experience it is to walk in shoes pounding the pavement, even with the beauty of the beach beside me, to that direct experience of sole on sand. How the grains of sand massage and talk to my feet, how that opens lines of communication to and through my whole body. It is a quickening of the neural networks between bodymind, a more direct and active participation in the world here and now. It is mindfulness at work. So kick off your shoes, and let yourself awake to the moment by moment presence of the world.
“To walk permeating and permeable, open, thin at the edges. To fall forward, letting my foot catch my fall, again and again, a slow fall always saved by the momentum of body rhythm. Falling, into the open arms of the world. ” (Maya Ward, The Comfort of Water)
The open arms of the world
Don’t you love that line and all that it says? Yes the world is open to us, it is inviting us to participate in our co-creation, and yet it is we who have closed ourselves to the world. And this closing has led to the current crisis, and our response to it, is to close again We pretend that we can continue living as we are, while all around us as Deep ecologist, Joanna Macy says, “Your tracks are grown fainter. We cannot bare, a world we have wrecked” and yet bear it we must, we must stay open to the arms of the world, lest we close ourselves off forever.
Only this morning my 16 year old son tells me, mum we are about to reach 400 ppm (of carbon in the atmosphere) and there is no going back. He showed me the article in the paper..This is devastating! What does it mean to be a young child growing up in a world where future generations may not exist, where millions of species will become extinct? Where life may become too inhospitable for us, because after all we are often inhospitable to her? We have closed our bodies, our being to the world. We are not taking care of our land, we are not taking care of our country,and therefore we are not taking care of ourselves or each other. And the results of such ways of being are all around us. So what do you do when you son tells you this. What can you say or do? I think I groaned, and my heart broke open a little more. I am trying to be like the sun and the earth, ever present, ever loving, ever generous and I have to steel myself to stay open, and to show him my faith. So I remembered the birds rising with such faith this morning and each and every day. I remind him that in times like this it’s good to go outside and be in the world, and be reminded of her vastness and her goodness. And I did. I went out to greet the morning with the tears in my being stretching down towards the dew, and up towards the sky and I sang, “When I rise, let me rise up , like a bird, faithfully, and when I fall, let me fall down, like a leaf, gracefully.” Singing myself to sanity in a world gone mad! (This song first sung with the 2015 Nourishing Early Childhood Class! Bless you all (http://steinerseminar.net.au/our-courses/part-time-certificate-courses/early-childhood/)
I feel like much I do as a parent is incomplete, or inconsistent. We are learning us parents, learning how to parent children, and ourselves through the greatest ecological crisis, through global epidemic of violence against women, through a culture that lives in a narrative of economic greed. Where are the stories of our times that help us reclaim a way of living with this world? They are there! So many poets, dancers, dreamers, weavers, shamans, wise ones sharing their knowing, baring their souls, and of course there is the earth. She is asking us to listen. In the words of Miriam – Rose Ungunmerr- Baumann, a woman of the NGANGIKURUNGKURR tribe ( Ngangikurungkurr means ‘Deep Water Sounds’.) the earth is talking to us but we need to listen. This is an excerpt from a talk by Miriam about listening to the earth and tapping into that deep spring that is within us.
“What I want to talk about is another special quality of my people. I believe it is the most important. It is our most unique gift. It is perhaps the greatest gift we can give to our fellow Australians. In our language this quality is called dadirri. It is inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. Dadirri recognises the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us. This is the gift that Australia is thirsting for. It is something like what you call “contemplation”. When I experience dadirri, I am made whole again. I can sit on the riverbank or walk through the trees; even if someone close to me has passed away, I can find my peace in this silent awareness. There is no need of words. A big part of dadirri is listening. Through the years, we have listened to our stories. They are told and sung, over and over, as the seasons go by. Today we still gather around the campfires and together we hear the sacred stories.” (http://nextwave.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Dadirri-Inner-Deep-Listening-M-R-Ungunmerr-Bauman-Refl.pdf)
My body is telling me that I am tired now, that its time to cease. I’lll have to tell you about the Making a Medicine Drum Workshop (August 21, Carnegie) next time and more about belonging, longing to be too. Until then, be in your body, be in your nature. You are all this and more xx
Sarah xx x