Friday, December 23, 2011

Winter Solstice (or, light first piercing the dark)

    Happy Winter Solstice! Yesterday marked the time of year when the tides finally turned--when darkness, after months of gaining progressively more hold over the light (ever since the Fall Equinox), finally reached it's breaking point and began loosening it's grip.  And, so, although it remains dark outside most of the time, the light force is now progressively building, bit by bit. . . Can you feel it? How wonderful, and apropos, that we are about to begin our holiday celebrations of Christmas and the New Year at such a poignant time. 

    Despite it being the beginning of "winter" yesterday, it was unseasonably warm.  And so, rather than gripe about global warming (don't get me started), I decided to do a little bit of hiking out at a branch of the Patapsco State Park.  (I did a ton of hiking there over the fall but not so much since Thanksgiving or so, due to the chillier weather. . . and maybe a little laziness.) While I was hiking, I also decided to call Sarah, a new friend of mine that I met my first astrology retreat last month, to catch up a bit and discuss the changes in season and the stars.  (Such a blessing to have a new friend with whom to ponder such things!)

    As I was hiking, Sarah and I reflected together how, from both of our perspectives--hers in Boston, mine in Baltimore--the sun felt so far away, even weak.  And yet, here it was, such a warm day--strange! Ah, the paradoxes of a Winter Solstice.  I mused about how the beginning of winter seemed such a fascinating time for me. . . On one hand, we are celebrating the return of the light.   But, on the other hand, we are "shoring ourselves up" or "hunkering down"--preparing, in other words, for a long period of indoor living, while the weather outside blows and gusts with icy fury.  What a strange paradox, that the return of light and the beginning of the most introspective period of the year would be simultaneous.  How unexpected.  And yet this happens every year. . . I am only noticing, just now, as I have developed an increasing interest in the rhythms and cycles of nature and stars over the last couple of years. 

     Today I read something that explained this paradox for me in a way that I could digest.  In a description for an upcoming local astrology meetup, I read the following:
"We are in the energy of earth sign Capricorn from the Winter Solstice until January 20th. All the visions we created during Sagittarius (November 22-December 21st) now need to be firmly planted. A Capricorn mantra is “mighty oaks from little acorns grow”. Capricorn is about building foundations. During winter dormant seeds lie underground, they begin to germinate in early February and to sprout at the Spring Equinox. We prepare for an introspective time of self examination to root out anything that will impede the manifestation of our vision."
Of course, that makes sense. . . and it parallels what Sarah and I were discussing yesterday, which is the nature of how the Sun (the principle of unconditional warmth and confidence) might manifest in the more conservative, even somewhat pessimistic, sign of Capricorn.  Capricorn is all about mastery, and mastery is a two phase process (which continually alternates): Phase 1--Learn a skill really, really well, and spend a lot of private time reviewing and perfecting and Phase 2--Demonstrate your skills to the world, where you can get objective feedback on how you've done.  So, maybe, this winter period, this gradual increase of light while being shut away inside, is a reminder that the light shines first in introspection and in our minds.  And this makes sense, because light has so much to do with being conscious and aware.  The process of en-lightenment begins inside; it is worked and refined in the winter months, and it is only in the spring that the warm coaxes the light outwards into nature, and the warmth of nature likewise coaxes us out of our plans and inhibitions and into freshly expressed, spontaneous action--Yes! . . . but first, the winter.

     And so, with the Winter Solstice, we mark a new beginning of the solar cycle--but not one in which we will be off and running.  We must prepare ourselves first.  Luckily, starting tomorrow, we will have another cyclical energy come into play, another new beginning, which will, I believe aid us in our preparations--that is, a new moon.  I found it fascinating to think yesterday, while celebrating the Winter Solstice (and pondering the implications therein), that we in a Balsamic (waning, and nearly diminished) moon phase, and so simultaneously a time of endings as well as beginnings.  Balsamic moon periods, e.g. the period of the last few days before the new moon, is all about reflection, winding things up and releasing those karmic/behavioral patterns which no longer serve you.  It is a nice of, one could even say, self-forgetting.

    But tomorrow, just before 9 am, we will herald the new moon, and that is a different matter.  The new moon is a time of new beginnings and ambitions, of a freshly discovered egoic impulse first emerging from spirit out into the world.  Now, mind you, it is still winter (as I have just discussed), and it is a new moon in Capricorn (so the new beginning might be related to work, introspection or self-improvement), but still!--it is a cause for celebration, as is any new cycle.  And celebrate we will, with the presents, and food, and music and merriment. 

    Perhaps I am a little over excited.  I do sense that I am "spilling out of myself" a bit tonight as I write this, and I can only hope that I express myself coherently enough that others will gain something from reading this--as opposed to just shaking their heads at my over-enthusiasm.  I could blame my excitement on the season, on the start of these new cycles, on the combined impact of the current moon + Mercury in Sagittarius along with the stationing (and so never-so-powerful) Jupiter.  It seems rather un-Capricornian of me to bubble over this way with excitement, and so Jupiter and Sagittarius (eternally optimistic!) may, in fact, have something to do with it.

    But there is another reason.  I am excited about this new moon because it is my new moon.  (Okay, maybe it hasn't technically been named for me, but bear with me here.)  There is a new personal astrological cycle that begins for me with this new moon, a cycle that happens only once every 27 years, in which the progressed (e.g., evolving) moon in my chart conjuncts (joins/combines with) my natal (in-born and ever-present) Sun.  In other words, this a my own personal new moon, in a way.  A fresh beginning, an emerging from a period of inner processing, of shedding skin and discarding false hopes.  I do not know what awaits me.  And I know that, in Capricornian fashion, I will need to introspect, clarify and work hard--e.g., I am not "out of the woods".  But still, there is a light.  I can see it faintly growing, illuminating the recesses of my mind that have wallowed in the dark for too long.  I herald the light, and celebrating this new beginning.

    Happy holidays!--and, as always, Namaste: "The light in me bows to the light in you."


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

More poems, as a reflection of my process (which has been, and continues to be, about going deeper)

A lot of developments have continued in my life over the past few weeks, and at some point, I will write more directly about my experience--I promise! But, for now, I will simply offer more of the personal writing that has moved through me in the last two weeks, as it is a direct (if symbolic) expression of the energetic processes that I have been working with .  I will let the poems speak for themselves. 

Thank you for listening, and Namaste :-):


Your job is to stay:
stay, when the walls seem to come crashing down,
while others seem to laugh and spit at your ideals.
stay, while anxiety gnaws at you from the inside,
while it calls you nasty names and threatens not only your competence, but your sanity.
 Stay, and know that you will not disintegrate,
you will not crumble into a thousand little pieces,
and the vultures will not come and feast on your bones.
(Even though they loudly threaten and beat their wings.)

This horrid reality that has become your worst and closest friend,
It is only a movie that plays in your mind, over and over,
taking a rare break on a holiday, then promptly resuming.
There are other movies, too, of course, that one can watch,
many that are far more enjoyable: fantasies, romances, mind-bending thrillers;
they play at the peak times of rapture, or when others are around and demand a happier tale.
but the default, it seems, is this slow, monotonous horror movie,
in which the seams are always slowly ripping and life is slowly spilling it's contents,
its wretched guts, out for everyone to see and mock.

It's a gruesome picture, terrifying—so absolutely numbing and thoroughly convincing.
Your brain cannot make sense of the pieces and put them back together.
Your heart cannot find the courage to put itself on display again.
Your spirit has lost hope, feels defeated:
Why, this movie again? Why, after all this time, after all that has been gained?
Why, why? What can I do to rise above this?

Who knows the answer?

I know only this:
Do not try and rise.
Do not give yourself false hope. (It will not work.)
Only, wait. Stay.
Move behind the projector--
yes, there.
See, not so scary.
See, the wheels are turning, but it is only the wheels of imagination, and of karma.
We will not try and change the picture,
we will not try and force it to a halt.
We will only sit, and wait. Stay.

There. There it is, the silence behind the noise.
The animator behind the movie,
There. (The wizard of Oz is not so great and terrible.)
Have you slowed with me?
Can you feel the wheels slowly coming to a halt?
Yes, stay here, now.

Here, where there is only ocean, and sun, and a warm breeze caressing your cheek.
Here, where there is space, infinite space,
and a deep feather bed on which to rest.
And, when you are ready, you will rise, slowly.
And, when you rise, the world will great you, warmly.
No more monsters, no more lies,
for your mind is calm, and your heart is open, and your spirit has found its home.


So, perhaps I have not been listening.
I will begin now.
Tell me your story;
I long to hear it.
I long to know what you know,
the way you know it, and why.
I long to see with your eyes,
hear with your ears--
to be still, and feel your silence.
For if you are not heard,
my friend, then I am alone,
My completeness rests in you.

You, who are the dearest part of me;
You, who are complete, in and of yourself;
You, who are perfectly whole, and so beautiful;
So, very, deepful beautiful;
I long to see you.

You, who feel broken, and bruised,
and battered, and alone;
You, who long to hide and to never come out,
not ever;
You, who wrap yourself in a sheath of
silence and wait until everyone leaves,
then curse their names and collapse into
you, who feel despicable;
come forth.
Show yourself.

I will not shine the light too bright;
I will not look at you and freeze in horror;
I will not banish you;
I will not run away.

I will only stay, and be there with you.
That is all.
That is all.
And if you choose to speak, I will listen.
And if you turn away, I will wait.
And if you go within, I will follow.
Never pushing, but always there.

For I am awareness, and I am love.
And I cannot just turn away.
I made a covenant to you long ago,
a covenant which I must keep.
I made a promise to never leave you,
to never abandon you,
to never force you,
to never coerce you or
shape you into a false mold.

I made a convenant, which I must keep.
And so, I am here.
And I will wait for you.
Wait for you to dissolve,
wait for you to reform,
wait and watch as you emerge in all your brilliance
(you sweet and beautiful butterfly).

You are utterly unique and priceless.
You are the one to whom I turn,
the one who gives me life,
and I am the one who is all that you need,
no more and no less.


I am listening.
I am listening to whirr of the computer motor.
I am listening to the sound of my fingers as they tap, tap, tap on the keys,
to the sound of the cars as they zoom through the puddles outside.

I am listening.
I am listening to the noise of my own inner critic--
There it is. . . Now, silence. . .
I am listening as my cat bathes himself in the hallway.

I am listening for inspiration.
I know it is here somewhere,
for I always find it.
It begins as a swell in my chest that rises through my heart and brain.
It takes over my writing, for it knows far better than me what to say.
I will let it speak. I will listen.

What is this thing, this inspiration?
Is it part of me?
Is it a force that possesses me, when I allow it to take over?
(That sounds sinister!)
Is it a knowing?
Yes, that feels right. That feels true.
It is a knowing—but not a knowing in the head.
It is a knowing like the knowing of the sun, and the rain,
and wind on my back, and the earth beneath my feet.
It is the knowing of things that go beyond me,
that are within me, that support me.

I am listening, and I am feeling as my breath
becomes deeper and steadier,
until it aligns with the pulse at the core of the earth,
until it stills all thought and reveals the superficiality of all other things.
I am so deep now; I am in the core,
where the pulse of the earth and the pulse of my heart are one.

Can you meet me there?
Can you meet me in the space that lies in the kernel of all things?
Yes, there. . . there. . . there. . .
You know the way;
just trust and listen.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thoughts: on giving thanks, and on embodying energy (the four elements and stillness)

   It is once again time to write and yet, after another long gap, I hardly know where to begin.  And so, I will begin with what is obvious.  It is Thanksgiving (albeit the end of it), and therefore a time to express one's gratitude for all things that sustain us.  In my case, I would like to begin by acknowledging and thanking the different elements:

Today, I will begin with earth.  For earth is the element that sustains and nourishes us.  Earth is the element through which we plow our fields (even if only metaphorically) and reap our harvest.  Earth grants us a bed to lay on, a foundation to build from, a home to keep us safe and warm.

Next, I would like to acknowledge fire.  (I did this in a much more in-depth fashion several months ago.) Fire is the joy, the life, the spark, that animates us.  It is what inspires us to act, to assert, to risk, to love, to reach for the glory of heaven.  It is fire which keeps us expanding, while never looking back, always seeking a purer and more passionate expression.

Next, let us bathe in water.  Ah, cool, cleansing water. . . Water which quenches our thirst, which heals our wounds, which coaxes us in into the deepest and sweetest states of surrender. . . Without water, we would slowly harden, crystallize, into statues of stone or patches of thorny briars.

And last, but not least, let us acknowledge air: the wind that plays with us, tickling our minds and whistling in our ears.  The wind is always moving here and there, never still or stagnant, never locked down into one fixed position.  Without the movement of air, we would truly be lonely and solitary creatures, chained down with dead weight--and thoroughly bored. 

And so, I am grateful to the elements, the purest and most sustaining of all archetypes (well--one could argue that yin/yang is the most basic archetypal distinction, but even that underlies the elements!).  And most of all, I am grateful for the ways that these elements manifest and play in my life: In relationship, in spirituality, in work, in play, in dance and creation--in all these ways, I see the elements, I feel them; I understand that there is a Divine and purposeful order in the way that these blessings flow. 

Truly, truly, I am blessed.  I am so blessed to have friends and family whom I love, and who love me.  I am so blessed to have enough money to pay my bills every month and to put food in my mouth.  I am so blessed to have a body that supports me and to have practices that support my body.  I am so blessed to have a keen and sharp mind that is always learning and growing, and to never have a shortage of mental-experiential material which which to tinker.  I am so blessed, that the closer I align myself to my Divine and individual soul purpose, the more I allow myself to live and breathe Oneness into the core of my being, the more I am nourished.  It only gets better.  The experience only becomes deeper, and calmer, and more expansive and more loving.  This is my calling; I align in perfect knowledge and in absolute and loving submission.

As I've moved into more and more metaphysical territory with my thanks, I would now like to wrap things up, to move more deeply into my own inner silence.  But first, I would like to share a poem that I wrote several months ago.  It is one of several poems that reflects my journey inward to find absolute stillness.  As I wrote it, I moved from a state of agitation into a state of increasingly clarity and finally into a state of rest.  It has been my deepest aspiration, of late, to make this place of rest into my permanent inner abode, and I feel now that I am coming closer (perhaps it is now my vacation home, rather than an exotic retreat only visited at very rare intervals).  At any rate, I hope you enjoy it.  Love and blessings to you on this Thanksgiving holiday.  And, as always. . .



And maybe, if I soaked in silence long enough--
hours? days? weeks?--
maybe I would FINALLY emerge fully saturated:
drenched in the stillness of a meditation that had seeped
down, down, down:
down into the crevices of my bones,
down into the tender meat of my heart,
down into the twisted nooks and crannies of my habit-riddled brain,
down into the DNA loops that replay my karma
over and over and over again, like a broken record.

Maybe then I could rest, truly, permanently:
no longer riddling myself and others with my endless highs and lows,
my tos and fros, my visions and sorrows.

Oh, how I long for that day.
Oh how I yearn to be free from this prison of ambivalence.
Oh, how I long for rest of the deepest kind.

None of these cheap substitutes will do now:
not flattery,
not greed,
not high regard,
nor speed,
nor lust,
or fantasy--
not even love (of the cheapest, clinging kind).

No! I am no longer fooled!
For you servants of Mara:
You never fill me up.
You always leave me weak in hunger,
shoveling more, more, more, down my throat,
but never am I sated.

And so—your game is up!
No more will you substitute
ignorance for repose,
lust for pleasure,
pride for satisfaction,
pity for compassion.
I feel each twist of the karmic knife
as it wrenches my heart,
clenches my gut,
poisons my mind--
I will give you control no longer.

For I know what I need.
And from here on out,
I demand love of the TRUEST kind,
rest of the DEEPEST kind,
joy of the FREEST kind.
This I deserve and I will settle for no less.

And so, knowing this to be true,
I can now surrender.
I release all thought, all hope and let go,
collapsing, sinking effortlessly into the deepest and
clearest of watery beds:
the calm waters of the deep self.
Here I wait, in love, and in purity.
Here, all thought disappears and all is revealed.

I sink deeper and deeper.
I soak more and more.
I become lighter and freer.
Watch me as I disappear fully, and then emerge.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Healing the divided self

    So, here I am again, a week later--practically a record for me! ;-) At least, lately my track record has been far from regular, but feel that that trend is shifting, as I have had a lot of excitement about writing again over this past week.  And tonight I definitely have something to write about, something about which I am simultaneously (or alternately) excited, confident and nervous.

   So, tomorrow I will be giving my 2nd ever open house talk at the Baltimore Shambhala Center.  That, in itself, is enough to provoke nervousness and excitement, I daresay.  (I am relatively new to this whole "teaching the dharma" thing, and my four Taurus planets do NOT appreciate anything that is new and uncertain.) The topic for tomorrow's talk will be "Healing the Divided Self". 

    This topic, and my opportunity to give a 2nd talk, both came about in response to a lunch meeting that I had with our new center director on Tuesday.  Joe started his post this past May, and I immediately felt a shift in the energy of the center, which (again) simultaneously excited me and made me nervous.  Over the past few months, I have had opportunities to talk, plan and brainstorm with him numerous times--even assistant/co-teach an improv class with him over the summer.  (Joe has professional experience as a comedienne, so he led the classic improv activities, as well as giving the main talks and meditation instruction, while I chipped in with some movement and sound improv work.  Overall, it went really well.)  So, when I was doing lunch him a few days ago, we started out by talking over some personal material that was happening in our lives, and I gave him a sort of "energetic"/intuitive impression of something that was surfacing as a pattern for him.  He then asked me, "Well, if you were going to title what you were just talking about for an open house talk, what would you call it?"--to which I thought for a bit and the answer popped into my head: "I think I would call it, 'Healing the divided self'."  Little did I know that, an hour later, he would ask me to teach the main body of tomorrow's talk!

    My Taurus self doesn't always do exceptionally well with sudden surprise shifts in plans (for example, giving a last minute talk ;-)), so I told Joe I need a little bit of time to chew on the idea.  Taurus is the sign of "fixed earth" and so it's biggest talent is to plant itself in some kind of commitment, or plan, or way of being and not move--not ever.  (This "talent" can also be a hindrance, if you haven't guessed that yet.)  But other parts of me--maybe my Neptune + Midheaven in Sagittarius (sign of the teacher, adventurer and guru) were very excited about the prospect, so I plumbed inside myself to give Joe a definite "yes" or "no" today for the talk, and found that--yes, it was definitely doable, and a worthwhile endeavor, as long as I was willing to coach myself through some nervousness and expand through this new teaching window.

    And so, yes, my excitement and nervousness has been due, in large part, to this new endeavor of "dharmic teaching".  But there's more to it than that.  Another reason has been that the topic is so deeply relevant to my own life--so, so personal.  In fact, for as long as I can remember--and definitely since my high school years--I have deeply sought to understand and to develop more confidence in myself as an individual:  I have not felt "whole" or "worthy"--anything but.  Some examples: I desperate wanted to "fit in" with others, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how.  I also wanted to stand out, to find some unique gift that would become "my voice" and earn me recognition.  I wanted to be a "good girl", to passionately be involved in the church community, but was also plagued with doubt about who God was and whether he was judging me as unworthy.  And perhaps, in a parallel dilemma, I wanted to earn the love and respect of my dad, but also claim my right to make my own choice and determine the course of my life (e.g., who to date, where to go to college, when to go to bed, etc., etc.)

    In the years following, the results of these initial insecurities, and my own insistent need to discover things for myself, played themselves out.  And, so I would many things to fret over:whether I believed in God or any religion (I was basically agnostic for about 10 years), which career might be the one for me, whom I should date, whom I should trust, whether I should marry, etc., etc.  I think, in my almost continuous state of anxiety I believed that there were some "right choices", some "perfect matches", some "ultimate truths" out there, and I just hadn't found them yet.   And so, I would keep looking for the next book, the next person, the next understanding, the next experience to "shift everything" and make my life apparent to me.

    But, strangely, it never really worked for me that way, and so I would just settle into "good enough": a good enough career, or relationship, or spiritual path.  But somehow, that still was not satisfying--so I would keep my eye continually out to the horizon, to the next thing, but also work hard at pleasing those that were in authority in my life.  Because, I think, I was looking for the "badge of recognition" that would prove that I was worthy, that I was okay.

    And then, in 2007, I had a breakthrough.  Or, as some would call it, a breakdown.  Without going into excruciating detail, suffice to say that I spent a few days in a mental hospital.  And I had some strange ideas that would float through my head from time to time (initially paranoia, also grandiosity), but in between the noise, there would be this AMAZING clarity, this information, this love that would flow through me.  It was God, it was Source, and after 10 years of confusion and doubt, I suddenly had a relationship with Divinity again.  I started writing poetry from a place that was pure and unfiltered, utterly without censorship or division.  Amazing.  Later, I would learn to perform, to heal, to teach from this place.  

    My intuitive awakening put me in a bit of a quandary, though, as somehow who had more or less committed to the Buddhist path.  How could I talk about this stuff? Oh, I've tried, a handful of times over the years.  I've tried talk about God, or intuition, or reiki/energy healing, but my intuitive world and my Buddhist commitment have often clashed, at least when brought into the same discussion, and that has left me at a bit of a standstill.  It has left me feeling like I needed to choose.  Divided again.

     But this year has been the year of healing these divides, for me.  I have been doing a LOT of healing: healing of myself, healing of my relationships, healing of the need for constant validation from friends, from audiences, from authority figures.  This has been my ongoing work, and you have caught glimpses of it--in my entry about working with anger, or about Eris, or about healing the Chironic wound.  At other times, my internal split has been too strong and I have not written at all: either because I was too busy committing to "outer world" projects to commit to my writing, or because I was feeling very internally divided, or because I was feeling depressed and questioning the whole point of writing.  This summer and early fall has also been very intense in the realms of healing interpersonal relationships and my own tendency to "over-give".   And September was sort of my "last straw".  Last month, just after Mars entered Leo and I wrote my one entry for the month, I came down with shingles, a nerve condition (born of the chicken pox virus) that can wrack you with some incredible pain (for starters).  I was lucky that it was easily treated in my case, but still--it was a wake up call as to how I had not been listening to my own needs for time, for decompression, and care, and rest.

    And so, this is not to say that my own divisions are gone and dealt with, that they are all healed.  I am still working on that piece--and in working, I mean, learning to trust in myself and the universe. ;-) But I am feeling more solid, more stable every day, and I am excited to share my own experience with others, to validate that they too are perfectly okay, exactly as they are.  Last week's blog entry--in which I emerged through a difficult and very sensitive period to write directly from my soul and deeper knowing--is a validation to me that my internal wisdom can and will speak through me, even when I do not know what to say, even when I doubt that I am worthy of speaking.  And, so, I am thankful as always for this source that flows through me and sustains me.  And though I will create a plan for my talk tomorrow, I will also trust that my heart and soul will know exactly what to say.   


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The wisdom is in here (somewhere).

Today, unlike, last time, I am not being swept along on the breath of fire.  It has been a long and winding month since I last wrote, and I have been through many experiences: illness, communion, desolation, vacation.  I have rested; I have been moved; and still, I have been left bone dry, with nothing to show for journey.  Not really.  And so, I am not sure of what to write.  But  still. . . the impulse is there, the itch.  And it has been a long time coming.  And so, I will write.  And  I will trust the voice of wisdom, the wisdom that is hidden in me, somewhere.

It seeks a voice, this wisdom, and I will be it's servant.  It has it's way, it has it's tales, and who am I to question? For it knows more than me. . . This, in fact, scares me.  My mind, it believes it knows so much.  But this force--this force which seems totality irrational, it knows far more than my mind.  It will show me everything that it knows, too--but only if I can trust it completely, only if I can show up with no pretense.  Only if I can lay down every weapon and make no demands.  Not even the demand of reassurance.

This wisdom. . . Oh, she has a name.  Did I forget to say this? She is Lilith.  She is the wild heartbeat that demands my utter surrender, my utter abandon, my complete non-judgement.  She is Sophia, the whisperer of secrets, who illuminates my mind unexpectedly with x-ray vision when I am wandering in the Cave of Shadows.  She is Eris, the fearless one, the one who will not sugar-coat things for you, who will not play nice and sit quiet and act like the other girls.  She is Venus, the seductive, charming beauty who knows the way of pleasure, who knows when to partake, when to listen and when to hold her peace.  She is all of these; she is more than these; she is me; she is you.

This wisdom. . . Oh, she surprises me.  I never know when she will shower me with grace, when she will coax me into abandon, when she will help me find my stride, when she will comfort me, when she will lead me to rest.  And yet, I do know that she will bless me.  Anytime I listen.  That is the sum of it; that is all.  Anytime I listen, she is there, without fail.  Oh, what a miracle.  Oh, what a blessing.  This goddess of wisdom.  My own inner fountain.  Always available, always nourishing.  Always there for me.  Never separate from me.  Om, shanti, shanti, shanti.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The fire that ignites us to passion, purpose and performance

     I love ecstatic experience.  I crave it.  I also have an intention to ground myself more, to come more into the (often very messy) details of my life and create practical change and order.  Am I finding these two attitudes to be contradictory? Sometimes. . . Yes.  But in the grand scheme of things? Absolutely not.  Allow me to explain:

     Case one is this blog.  My original intention with this blog was to write every week.  Instead, I haven't written since June. . . Three months! I've recommitted myself to regular writing in the past and it just hasn't stuck.  I could give excuses.  Say how busy and crazy the summer was.  How it's hard to translate the difficult moments of my life onto the page while being immersed in them.  (There's a desire not to betray the people or institutions in my life that I have struggled with and also a plain old fear of embarrassment.) I could ruminate about how I never set a regular day of the week to write and so it's easy to see how I would "fail" in this endeavor, not be so regular as the "every day for 30 days" project that I attempt.  It's easy to wallow in excuses, in ruminations, in self-flagellation.  What brings me out of it? Inspiration.

     Inspiration is what puts a song in my heart, what sets me singing and dancing around the house.  Inspiration is what gives me a vision, a purpose.  Inspiration is joy, the reason for living, the impetus to reach out and connect with other people in some meaningful, or even silly!, way.  It is the reason to be out there, in the world.  It is the reason to be myself and follow my heart.  It is the fire, the spark of life.  It's the reason I perform, the reason why I teach, the reason why I created my album "Natural Surreality".

     To bring in an astrological perspective: The planet Mars went into the sign of Leo late last night.  I spent the last bit of the evening laughing and, playfully, verbally sparring with my husband--not in a negative way at all, just good, un-self-conscious fun.  (Proceeded with, and followed by, lots of cuddles.) The kind of thing that brought us together.  Today, I've been enjoying a morning off (I teach on weekend mornings, so today is kind of my weekend morning): watching videos on YouTube, snuggling with my cats, singing/playing piano and now writing this blog.  Elementally, Leo is the sign of "fixed" (meaning, enduring) fire.  It's also the sign that rules performing, self-expression and just plain having fun, being like a kid again.  And I welcome this new energy.  Thanks, Mars in Leo!

     Fire, or inspiration is so essential.  It's the reason why I was able to move out of self-absorbed "stuckness" (one possible negative manifestation of Mars in Cancer, which is a water sign) to write this blog today.  I had been wanting to write for a while, but not sure what about or how to communicate something "worthwhile" and personally meaningful.  Then, last Sunday, while sitting under a tree, meditating and invoking the energy of the beautifully full moon (in the sign of Pisces, my "home", or natal, moon sign), I felt filled with joy and peace.  And the first inspiration came: "I could blog again.  I feel ready to write." 

      Then, it was a just a matter of either: a) going immediately with that feeling (allowing the "charge" from that experience to charge my own writing) or  b) setting aside (proactive) or "finding" (passive) time to do the blog post.  I didn't immediately go with the feeling then (the fire-y thing to do) or set aside the time (the earthy, grounded thing to do) but the stage was set.  And luckily, today I had the same opportunity.  I was running on the relaxed but pleasant charge of an open Leonine-infused morning, and then sat down to make my list of things to do this week, over a late breakfast (cue earthy, Virgo-an practically and paying attention to the body).  Blogging was one of the things on the list.  So, when the inspiration popped into my head (I crave ecstatic expereience.  I am also trying hard to ground myself. . . Are they things contradictory?"), and I realized I had the free time, I decided to go with it. 

     I've been playing (there that's Leo word again!) with joining fire and earth more, with acknowledging and following the inspiration: not just to sing, but to make lists, to put away that pile of papers, to call/text that person I haven't gotten back to and let them know I care (there's some water/air too), to make a sorting system for my incoming bills, to respond to the e-mails I've been ignoring, to compliment someone and not hold back, to hug someone I care about. . . . To go hiking! (That's earthy/firey, moving the body, stimulating health, feeding my soul.) So, yeah, in inspired style, I've listed some things that are very earthy and practical (doing the bills list) along with some things that are more about air/water (reaching out and connecting with others).  But the point is that fire, inspiration, can ignite it all! And I'm finding that to be the case in my life.

     Now, I will acknowledge that not everything feels so inspired to me (like, sitting down to do my taxes before the extension deadline this year, or logging my mileage every day after driving).  Some things involve top-down decision making, planning, a willingness to be patient and bear with a difficult process.  This is all very relevant and I honor the willingness and necessity of slugging through the trenches, not turning away from the tough stuff.  I'm all about that too.

     But today, this week, I wanted to hold that special place for fire, for how it moves and shapes and inspires.  I am so grateful to have a wind underneath my feet and a reason to write today, as I start my week.  Here's wishing all of you a wonderful, blessed and, most of all, inspired, week this week.  Namaste.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

And now, returning

      And so, here I am again, not totally sure what I will write about, but feeling it is time to write.  I do know that the tone will probably be a lot different than last time I wrote: The astro-geek side of me notes that, on the last day that I wrote, the planetoid/asteroid Chiron (representing the archetype of the wounded healer) was stationing, e.g., at a "stand still" while changing from forward motion in the sky to retrograde motion in the sky.  Planets do tend to exhibit greater than usual power when stationing, and, in this case, Chiron was, for me, bringing up a lot of old wounds that were ready to be healed.  I certainly plunged into this process on that day, in terms of choosing to write about the loaded emotional/transformational journey that I had been undergoing over the recent months, and so I apologize if it was a "bit much" to read.  It certainly felt cathartic and healing to me to get that energy "off my chest", so to speak.

     . . . Today I do not feel nearly as "loaded" and I am grateful for that.  I am grateful for a lot of things, actually, and so maybe that would be a good thing to begin writing about.  I am grateful for my husband and for my friends and family--so deeply, deeply grateful for those who are willing to show up and be honest, loving and emotionally available.  I am grateful for the abundance of musical opportunities that have been coming my way: 10 gigs in June!--including a solo opening for an out-of-town duo, and a lucrative private engagement for a lovely elderly couple, plus an upcoming show in NYC (a first).  It really is astounding, the things that are pouring in.  And most of all, I am grateful, so, so grateful, that life is so forgiving--that I am really learning that I can boldly be my authentic self and this is okay, that I can have a vision and others will support it, that I can relax and enjoy myself in almost any situation.  It is a beautiful thing to discover.  I am so, so blessed.  In practical terms, I have a lot of responsibility right now, and a lot of things to attend to, but that is okay.  That does not nullify or obscure the blessing that life is.  I trust that there is an inner compass within me that knows exactly what needs to be done, and how, if I choose to listen to it, to settle down and pay attention.

     So yeah, that's sort of the really, really basic overview.  Another thing that I'm investigating right now are my dreams--and what does it take to go from being a "pie in the sky" individual to someone who actually, passionately, lives their dreams and follows through on a real and practical level.  So, I'm asking myself the question, what is it that I really want to do, that I'm passionate about? And then, different answers come up.  There are some things that are obvious, that I'm already doing--performing creative music for an audience, as an example.  Giving astrology consultations.  Dancing and singing.  Healing work--especially transformative healing work (e.g., work that involves personal change on a deep level).  And teaching--particularly in fostering the creativity and unique voice of another individual, giving them tools to help them develop themselves.  (Right now, my teaching vehicle is as a music teacher.)

   But I feel like I'm about to move into a very important stage in my life, and this is why the simplification and clarification and grounding--along with vision!--are sooo necessary.  I am moving out of the stage of personal, private healing and explorations, and into the stage of working more meaningfully with other people, while, at the same time finding my own unique voice and vision.

   I can intuitively feel this transition, I am in the process of it, and yet the way is still nebulous to me.  BUT. . . I do feel like it has a lot to do with learning to work in a deeply collaborative way in order to more strongly affect change in myself and others.  And more deeply and consistently putting myself into situations where I can use my "sixth sense" of intuitively finding harmony and balance and putting it into practice.  Also, I know it involves my ability to teach--both directly, and by example (e.g., embodying/demonstrating a principle).  I know that the work that I need to do involves music--singing it and moving to it in authentic but nuanced ways.  And finally, I know that I need to begin transcribing the information that I have figured out and encoded--whether vocal/energetic or astro/energetic--to begin encoding it and writing it so that I can more effectively disseminate this material to others. 

   To decide to engage intentionally in this work, to tease it apart and to commit, is scary, but so necessary.  I know that this is my path.  To sit around and wait forever, always following other's initiatives and then crying about not being heard--that is not what I need any longer.  I need to commit to discovering my own voice, while honoring the beneficial commitments that I have already made to support and collaborate with others as well.

    To get more specific about what "my voice" might be: I see myself, 10 years from now (maybe 5?) as a spiritual teacher and faciliator of energetic and transformational processes, especially those that involve creatively expressing the self (especially through movement and music).  I see myself having a "center" of my own, or being well-establishing in a spiritual community (could be Shambhala, my own healing center--both, neither, this part is unclear) and this being the basis of what I do.  But I also travel, maybe once or twice a month, to other locations, to faciliate the movement/voice/healing work that I do, and to give workshops and performances.  I continue to work both on a personal coaching/teaching level AND on a group level.  Both are important.  I know that I am doing some amount of writing, but mainly to clarify and explicate the principles that I teach.  Am I published? I think so--but am not sure on those details.  I know that I am still performing, both solo and in some kind of group--but am I leading it? This is unclear.  In whatever group I am in, the musically process is deeply creative, collaborative and fulfilling for all involved.  I believe I am still working with atro/energetic archetypes as well but how?--I am not sure about this part.  That is unclear.  So, there's a lot to be worked out, but an outline is there.

    So, this is the vision, which is a ways down the road, I think 5/10 years.  It is a bit fuzzy, and I know there are a lot of details to be filled in, perhaps some that will change. But for now, the wheels are beginning to turn.  I am learning to work with groups in my Shambhala center and am taking baby steps towards becoming a teacher there--about to give an open house talk and looking forward to being involved in a Improvisation class that the new director is about to run, to the extent that I can.  (The class is running on the same night as my Biodanza dance/movment class, so sadly, some "split time" is needed, but I will be able to dance with that.) I am learning how to relax into my teaching more and to do it an a collaborative and more intuitive way, so that is good too.  I am hoping to co-teach a Reiki class at some point as well, in order to learn more about teaching/facilitating an intuitive process in others.  I also really want to get into fleshing out and writing down the details about my energetically-influenced way of working with vocal students (a process that I will perhaps, one day, market under the title of "Vocal Energetics").  To explain this process would require a whole other entry (and I promise you that sometime soon!), but if you want to get an idea of what I'm talking about, check out this entry from my old blog, when this idea first became birthed: There is much more to say about that process, but now is not the time.

Now is the time to wind up this writing.  Perhaps, when I blog next, I will delve more into a specific energetic, vocal or astrology concept that I'm working with.  In the meantime, for now, I am grateful to begin writing regularly again.  And I am grateful for the growth opportunites (in music, in relationship, and in attending to real world detail) that life is handing me.