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Sheer: a Practice Session

My practice yesterday evening…

The sun had just set. Outside, a frigid wind pummeled the house. Inside, I danced for 40 minutes then lay down under a pile of sheepskins while dance tracks—Sheesha Lounge—bounced softly around. Out of nowhere, a casual, offhand invitation arose for one of my most significant sexual partners (why was he still lingering in me?) to leave my body. Then a sequence of invitations—please, I invite you to leave words came on their own yet from me to what was, apparently, in me. Long-term boyfriends, one night stands, two ex-husbands, and finally, after a bit of coaxing, abusive partners. Each went in a faint puff of the relationship’s predominant tone. One by one by one by one…I had to be patient with this ceremonial retinue of fleshy intimacies. The occupying armies departing after many years. Read more

Meditation & the Constructed Self

Thoughts on meditating—an oxymoron. 

Constructed Self
I recently came across the term ‘constructed self’ and felt how well it catches the sense of personal identity we all more or less consciously cobble together. Ego, persona, astrological sign, enneagram type, and any other system of human definition can be tossed right in there. We maneuver through the world using constructed self to deal, choosing shoes, jackets, apples or pasta, homes, partners, jobs, hobbies, pets. Are you a dog person or a cat person? Read more

Soft & Warm

In case you are meeting me for the first time, I tend to write about my Dancemeditation practice and Path—what comes up, what happens inside me, why I resist, etc. At the moment, it’s about how to survive in troubled times with a little help…


Surviving in Troubled Times

I’ve always loved sheepskins. They are some sort of perfect. For the past few years I have depended on them at Ravenrock which has no thermostat. When temperatures abruptly drop, I stoke the wood stove and curl up on my cozy sheepskin. This winter I am on Cape Cod—cold, damp bone-chill. I bought a quarto (four sheepskins sewn together) to do my practice. Read more

Inspiration

This past New Year’s Eve—my first New Year’s Eve  on the Earth without parents—I decided that I needed above all else to do a Sufi Dancemeditation session to set my course. I could have rented a studio locally or in Boston,  but a sweep of intuition pushed me to offer it in Woods Hole in the house I inherited from my parents. What would that require? This house needed to fit who I have been becoming all my life and am continue to become. It needed to become my beautiful Home Studio. Read more

Remembering & Forgetting

Winter holidays are occasions for the creation of memories that bond families, communities, and loved ones. Yet memory is a strange twilight, not real but sometimes more vivid than reality. Memory creates the context that makes meaning possible.

Notebook
Facebook offers up memories—what we were doing last year on this day, then two years ago or five, like an arctic core bore straight down of a single date over five years. But not much before because it depends on when you joined Facebook and, ultimately, on how long Facebook has existed. Read more

Hour of My Secrets

Inner Bomb Squad
Inner gaze. A friend asked what it was like, during the time of my surgeries, to close my eyes and look inside. I replied that a bomb had gone off in the house. I looked in and saw destruction and chaos. I saw my inner bomb squad. They told me to get out, they had a lot of work to do. So I withdrew. For two years. Now, I have been allowed to go back in. Read more

Finding an Evensong

Finding an Evensong
I have a well-established morning tea time—some call this a ritual, though I prefer the term Morning Tea. I have a lovely tea set—a pot to steep actual loose tea leaves, a beautiful china cup, a silver spoon to stir in the milk and stevia. I sip and write in my journal. I write whatever I need to write; drafts of blog pieces, screeds, notations of what I accomplished yesterday, notes on what I need to do today. Morning Tea is precious to me and I allow very little, save for an early air flight, to disrupt it. Read more

Solitude & Silence

Ravenrock is a ranch property in New Mexico where I teach retreat but also spend time in solitude. It is quiet, pristine canyon and rock rim land where I’ve put up a barn to work and be. 

September slips away unmarked by achievements or conversation. I’ve been at Ravenrock in solitude for ten days, growing more and more silent. The beginning was difficult. Now, suddenly, it isn’t. I do the projects I had set up to protect myself,  to soothe my fears and solace my grief, but more and more pass through the activity as if it was soft and edgeless as fog. The activities  protect but also, like fog, have hidden Earth and its high blue canopy. It isn’t the action of the activity––the lifting and putting and schlepping—which has been troubling me. It is the hooks inside that are bustling, driving, gibbering promises of reward and merit. Read more

Aftermath

The few days following an intensive retreat—this writing follows my annual Summer Movement Monastery at Ravenrock—is an especially potent passage. Day to day consciousness is returning since I am not longer practicing 6 hours a day with the community. Yet all that has happened inside me during the previous two weeks is unfolding. I remember these periods following Sufi Camp as well. 

 

Design ArabesqueAftermath at Ravenrock
I sit on the Porch watching the thronging hummingbirds and, in the far distance, Hermit’s Peak. 7:30 my phone tells me. I could wear my watch as I did during retreat, but it now sits roundly on a high shelf serving as a tiny, barely visible clock while I begin to once again forget time. It is only a few days since everyone left. The sessions are suspended until we next meet. The Barn is empty of bodies yet full of the grace we all spun. In the aftermath, I read Rumi who makes graceful sense. I sit in the field of the One, the Most Subtle Read more

What Really Makes a Daily Practice

Amanda wrote. She had been thinking of me, of Dancemeditation because she wanted to get going on a daily personal practice. This was not the first time she approached me. Her persistence is a good sign.  Many people seek me out expressing anything from an interest to a desperate need for a regular practice. In response, I have organized trainings bursting with techniques to deepen and relax, increase sensorial existence and calm overactive minds. I have made instructional DVDs and online courses to sustain practice at home. As well, I have written extensively about every aspect of practice. Considering this, I briefly wondered if I had done too much, fostering dependence, making the trudge appear more entertaining than it is. This time with Amanda’s request, a wave of clarity washed over me. I had never said the one, most important thing, possibly because it seemed too obvious. I don’t know. But I had not said this one thing… Read more