Many people have asked about my recent performance—my first post-surgery—in NYC on Anahid Sofian’s “Atelier Orientale: Of Poets and Mystics”, a mixed program of legendary dancers and musicians. It was the beginning of a new phase of work for me. Below are program notes, description, and the prologue story text. Read more
Posts tagged ‘Sufi’
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
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.
Aftermath 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
Outside the march of wide-eyed windows hovered a soft, gray dove of a day. People swathed in loose garb pooled on clumps of blankets. I knew them well. Seekers. Those with a faint curiosity rarely curve into my orbit. Seekers, often not understanding why they have driven or flown exhausting distances, come to struggle with frustrations that have been brewing for months or years. They settle on the pale wood floor which is harder and less reassuring than their comfortable couch at home, a home which may not feel like home anymore because obligations have filled every corner and pushed their souls out onto the back porch. Read more
A dervish turns in white garb. A beautiful performance, beautiful costume. The tall hat, special leather shoes, a long circular skirt hemmed with rope to pull the fabric into a disc is crafted to be seen. But for most turning hours, dervishes whirl in soft, old clothing, in the shadows, feet bare and hair ragged. It is not the look of it, but the true heart heating… 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
Over this summer I was forced to not contribute to ‘society’, because I couldn’t. I had permission from all the world and from myself to survive surgery, to rest, to mend, and to stop feeling that I ought to do anything else. Of course, this tribulation has had quite an effect on me. As I gradually depart from that invalid condition, questions bubble up: What to do next? Who am I now? Should I reflexively return to who I was before, or am I no longer that person? Read more
Today I dance to Arabic taksim. The music hypnotizes me into the Moment. Vines of sound coil this way and that, furbelows and twists and double-backs and digressions. The flute takes me. We wind around and around, losing our bearings. As if in a blizzard, the world swirls white. I seem to waltz on the same spot, step after step, heading somewhere but which way? The world becomes spherical. The relentlessness of linear time has dissolved…When the snowfall ends, when the music resolves, the world stills. Where am I? I am somewhere, but is it forward or backward or up or down? I am just here… Read more
Sufi masters often say that the secrets of the Path are handed heart-to-heart, like seeds, for you to grow in your flesh garden.
In the past Winter Intensive, I said — though perhaps not as loudly as I felt — that a teaching which is not handed heart-to-heart has no Reality, it won’t contain the experience of spiritual lineage transmission. Sufis are big on experience. So, first of all, this is truth, not a bid for control or a slash of stinginess or cloud of mystique. And second, it underlines the respect with which true matters — like one’s life, one’s opportunity — are best approached. We can always approach ourselves with contempt and derision, and many of us do, but a healthier, more fruitful attitude is respect and appreciation. Read more