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
The cycle of light and dark means we are turning as Earth—a dervish—faces the sun then the wide cosmos. The salubrity in light and dark is a matter of degree; bright light and blinding light, soft dark and blinded dark. Dusk. Closed eyes. Sleep. Hiding. Beneath a crust of autumn leaves tiny shoots grow. In shadowed places are freedom, gestation, peace, recovery, quiet, liberation, respite. Read more
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
On the New England coast, my childhood December in this house was music, music, music. Two years ago, December was Dad dying. A year ago, my newly replaced hips were mending. This December, the unseasonably warm world is magical. I walk along a foggy beach or in hidden woods, fallen leaves rustling under my feet. I visit Mom at her assisted living and, curled up on her bed, our arms around one another, we smile and sing in whispers like little sisters. I light evening fires in the fireplace, clean old dust out of closets, and toss the clutter my parents got too tired to oust. Lilies and white mums draped in ivy and spewing a frond of Norfolk Pine deck the mantle. I listen to the foghorn, the boat horn, the wind splattering rain on the south facing windows. I love being inside in the storm, wrapped in the house, like being in the womb, safe, not yet born. Read more
A storm grumbles in the distance, plodding slowly across the canyon from behind the mountains. A wood pewee sings over and over and over again a clear plangent descending note. Sitting in the Ravenrock Barn, I grieve both parents. Until now, I haven’t had time, energy, or distance to grieve, my hip surgeries coming so soon after my father’s death. (My mother, still alive at an Assisted Living, seems permanently away at college, living in a dorm, having a happy life with not only no thoughts of me but no thoughts at all.) Here, where nothing but a few inherited rugs and pieces of china are associated with my past, I can look as one gazes at a valley from a summit, no longer seeing it from within in myopic fragments.
What if you had no job, no school, what would you do? At Ravenrock where society doesn’t remind me of its mania, I construct a few rituals to keep me on even keel. Morning tea. Late afternoon meal and washing up. These frame what is otherwise an organic flow. I have creative and household projects lined-up as sanity guideposts in case I become overwhelmed with aimlessness and the terror of irrelevance, moody bluesy-ness that can disrupt my peace. But always in the front of my heart is the Fall of Flow. Read more
I am finally allowed, post surgery, to submerge in water. Yesterday, my PT took place in the pool, my body moving fully, my tissues rousing from torpor. This morning I wake, my dreams forgotten but with the pleasurable feeling of having dreamt. When I have movement during my day, I dream at night, as if dreams coil in my body, waiting for the quiet of sleep to emerge. I snuggle under the covers, watching a soft sky above crowns of thinning, yellowed treetops, and savoring the departure of lost dreams, secretly glad they are lost because I don’t need more filigree cluttering my mind or flesh. In the basement, the furnace kicks on dispelling early day chill.
…I am ten years old, on the island in July. One night, I sneak out to meet my neighboring friends, each of us clutching a pillow and blanket. We cut through the woods, clamber into the loft of a neighboring barn, and bunk down, giggling, in the hay. Above, in the rafters, sleepy swallows stir. Read more
Many dancers use bulimia as a solution to getting and staying thin, but I have never been able to stomach it. In fact, I refused even the occasional necessary illness purge. Through a recent Ayahuasca journey in Brazil, I got from that fear and loathing to gratefully accepting my body’s grace.
I am in an airless anteroom, under fluorescent light, with two hundred people, all wearing white, crowded close. Anticipation mingled with anxiety, nervousness, glee swell the murmuring. Some bring memories of previous journeys. Others have never had this experience, though experienced or not, everyone acknowledges that expectation is a hindrance. Read more
Someone has moved all the living room furniture to prepare for the lecture. I say no, put it back. They refuse so I must put it back myself. I go to move the red chair; its arm is broken; a tattered Indian throw covers grimy brocade upholstery. The stained blue love seat verges on collapse. The paintings are not paintings at all but cheesy magazine pages pasted onto thin, rumpled cardboard and put in a flimsy dime-store frame. Rather than a charming installation of venerable, valuable antiques, the room has been a farce. It should all be thrown out. Read more