One evening, near the end of the 2018 Movement Monastery retreat, we did Witnessed Self-witness. It yielded for me what our minds might consider a surrealistic episode, yet for the body this is a normal perceptual way.
The exercise: Witnessed Self-witness. Couples sat cross-legged, facing one another murmuring. One person spoke with eyes closed, tracking sensation in the body and speaking out loud these self-witnessings while the partner listened. In this retreat, we have explored listening, or visually witnessing, in a new way. We moved beyond responsibility for and guardianship of our partner, and opened to being influenced. In the Old French and Old English, the meaning of ‘influence’ was “the flowing in of ethereal fluid affecting human destiny.” Read more
Dancemeditation is to the Body what dreaming is to the Mind.
I would hate to never dream…I love to wake and wonder where I’ve been, grasping at dim air, fading figures amused at my futile attempts to catch their tail. I love the improbability of making sense of their portentous magic that flattens and dulls as I note it in my journal or recount it to a friend. Lost is the weave of one place tucked into another, actions looped and looped, tunnels of dense color, haunting fragments, timelines crossed. Dreams come while we lie still, our bodies suspended in sleep while our minds journey far and wide. What if the reverse happened? Read more
Thoughts on meditating—an oxymoron.
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
A childhood friend calls complaining about losing her once-upon-a-time ability to go full-out for twelve hours a day. I had so much energy! Not now. I think we all have to limit how much comparative looking back we do. We can get into a peevish resentment about aging, as if it is a personal affront, rather than moving into the next chapter. I mean, is age really such a surprise? Our house of memories needs culling. It’s a discipline. A little remembrance is fine. A few important, rich memories. I am tolerant of obsessing and redundancy—our rehearsing of the self, making sure we are still who we think we are—but if we rehearse this too much we miss who we are becoming. Read more
Four of us met for Sufi Movement Meditation and Tea last Friday. It was early afternoon in crisp, late autumn when light fades quickly. The first snow, the way we love it, feathery and delicate, glittered on the few leaves still clinging in the shrubbery. The dusting gives us time to switch gears into the darkest, coldest season.
I have been at Mass General Hospital in Boston for a surgery to replace my hip, then several days afterward in a rehab facility. For me, these are all one hospital experience.
Time has stopped. It moves back and forth, stuck in a groove without progressing. Overhead fluorescent lights flip on, blanching the close corners of a room that is better left in shadow. Weary dusky rose walls, linoleum floors, and acoustic tile ceilings. Stuck time, stuck time, stuck time, stuck time, stuck time…is stagnant. Read more
From writings about helping my father as he completes his life.
Getting from one chair to another. Five steps. Pushing down on the arms of the chair, engaging his shaking thighs, standing in a crumple, and inching one foot forward, then the other, grasping a table edge, a doorknob, the stepping stones of the room. He knows every bump and outcropping of furniture and makes his way like an old mariner on a pitching deck. Read more
I am staying in my parents’ house. The house is in limbo, no longer their home but kept exactly as if they might return at any moment, though they they never will. Like a dreamy puppet, I walk up the stairs focusing on each step, the bend in my legs, the extension to climb, my spine, my doing this coming from a need to feel right here right now as the end of their life rears closer Read more
Week One: Session Summary
Part 1: Words of Wisdom: Relaxation and impulsiveness. Read more below.
Part 2: Follow Me: Floor Movement. This session we will be lying on the floor. Near the end, you will need a long veil or strap to loop around you foot and gently manipulate your leg’s the range of motion.
Language inhibits our experience, a strong claim that I gleaned from a terrific Radiolab piece—’Unravelling Bolero’—about how Ravel’s ‘Bolero’, with its incessant repetitive theme, was a signpost of the beginning of a disease that over the next six years robbed the composer of his ability to speak, to recognize objects reliably, and other memory losses. Read more