Posts tagged ‘Personal Practice’
There are only two directions in life: Soul Killing life and Soul Developing. Each is a choice. Each takes a long time. One is mostly passive while the other requires effort. Though Soul Killing is smooth slide into Lethe, it is littered with clues. You get heavier and heavier. Poison seeps into your pores, drips liquid lead into your tender lung sacks, hardening and stilling their swell. You hardly breathe. You can barely move in your flesh tomb. So you grind to a halt. Or run maniacally away from yourself. Busy busy. Your heart slams and rattles ever more weakly against the dungeon wall of you. Your body is one tremendous clue: if you hate it, if you feel numb to it, if you barely know you have it, and if you even exist thinking of your body as “it”, you are in Soul Killing.
Soul Developing is a conscious act every step of the way. Read more
My friend, magnificent dancer and being, Alia Thabit, invited me to write a guest post for an online 90-day daily practice group she is conducting. I addressed two topics she and her group have been working on.
Hazy End Goal
What makes daily practice interesting to me is engaging in it with no fixed expectation. A hazy end goal is enough. Saying, “I’m heading there,” is enough. Anything else gets a little delusional. Read more
It is a quiet thing, learning from wilderness, becoming less tame, and less inclined to tame every little moment and every little action, to let time roam freely in me, my hair to tangle, my ears to grow as big as jackrabbit ears. ‘Wild’, as I am coming to know it, is learning a different way of being, and discovering, once the old veneer of self has chipped off, the original wood of self, Read more
Evie told Poppy how one day, nestled in the stalks of the Shasta daisy, she found a tiny neat nest of slender twigs stitched together with spider threads. In it were three speckled eggs. One was a dud but the other two hatched. At first day the babies were grotesque. Dark skin sealed big eye bulges shut. Yellow-rimmed beaks gaped automatically, fantastically whenever the leaves of the daisy stirred no matter what stirred them, and thin pink rib skin hammered out helpless, helpless.
Earth—what we are on. Sky—what we are in.
Earth is gravity. It is constant.
Sky is breath. It is cyclical.
During winter months in NYC, I teach a stellar Tuesday morning group. We’ve been working together for a number of years so I can go wherever the flow takes us. One morning last March, midway through the session after a long period of moving, they lay resting, all eyes closed, while I was watching the room, feeling my way through it. Were they sleeping? Reflecting, or struggling quietly? This was good, this internal chewing inside their beings. Read more
Soon a big year starts for me: I will have been engaged in daily spiritual practice for thirty three years.
That is a lot of daily practice. Some delicious, some a slog, some neutral. Once set in motion, the dailiness was fairly easy to maintain. The health benefits—both mental and physical—are striking and rewarding. Spiritually it is less predictable, but I think that’s because from time to time I entertain fantasies about what ‘spiritual’ is, what Path is. (As distinct from the experience of Path which arises from practice and study.) My favorite fantasy is that Path will relieve me of my ‘self’ and of the conflicts in my life. I ask it to be Prince Charming. The escapism disappears, however, when I get down on the mat and breathe & move. I find myself, whatever she is today, and no matter what trouble I have been avoiding, I find solace. Such a simple thing. Read more
A week or so ago, Nannette, Ric, and I got together for a much-needed impromptu Dancemeditation practice on Cape Cod. I had been feeling stressed and overwhelmed and was very grateful to be spreading out my blanket, getting down on the floor. With the neutral Kerala Dream as soundtrack, we settled into an easy going Opening Sequence. Once we were relaxed, I said:
Practice: Bone Watching
Close your eyes. Move any way you feel. Let’s focus on the bones. Watch your bones as you move. The soft tissues will actually move the bones, but when you pay attention to the bones instead of the muscles, you’ll draw attention to the part that is ‘being carried’. Let your soft tissues carry your bones. Let your bones ride along. Read more
Days of hammering nails into the porch frame of the barn transform me. I’ve gotten good at swinging the hammer, letting the tool do the work, the nail going straight in, but I have to focus on each strike. I breathe and strike. Breathe and strike. Then I stand and gaze at the march of 2X4s thinking of the time when the boards will all be screwed down and people will sit here, chatting, or quietly watching Hermit’s Peak. This thought makes it easier to bend forward and begin striking again. Breathe and strike. This is mantra work. This is breath work. Read more
He’s got that blue collar presentation: sturdy work jacket with ‘Bill’ embroidered on the right chest patch, the clean Saturday jeans, Brooklyn accent, burly body. I’m sitting in a camping chair out in back of Ric’s apartment building under budding trees beside a bayou drinking my tea. I like this spot. I watch skittering squirrels and Red-Wing Blackbirds. On the opposite bank, a black-and-white cat hunts in the rushes and reeds.
Bill and I are surprised by one another. Nobody uses the back. We both think we can sneak quietly around unseen. Read more