They are all gone.
After a busy morning of breaking down the last of camp—the Privy Tent and the Shower Tent—stashing garbage, washing final cups, after saying goodbyes to the airport crew who will bump down the mesa road in the pickup to load into a van to the airport and fly back into civilization, after goodbyes to the drivers with many hours of road ahead of them, I stop. I feel the stillness. Soon, everyone will be home to proper showers and baths and laundry and clean hair and wifi, eating what they want when they want, feeling things moving and fluttering inside them. It is too soon to assess the retreat, too soon to understand internal motion. Read more
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
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
When we cultivate our spiritual life, our daily life increasingly becomes the face of the Divine.
This came to me as we chanted Ya Muhyi (The Enlivener) in the recent Baton Rouge weekend workshop. I saw daily life as surface, like the earth’s crust, floating above a timeless unitive Communion. We have families and jobs, responsibilities and identities. This is our surface. If, inside, a spark flutters then flames into a blaze of spiritual life, we find, Read more
I want [my veil] to unfurl so I toss her but don’t drop her. I let her billow. I wrap a wide arc of space in her skin. Soon she has seduced me into her world. My legs and feet have forgotten their clay and I am in the small sky that inhabits my NYC apartment. Air is always a morsel of sky, yes? Breath is always a morsel of sky.
Here is a wonderful string from a Facebook conversation amongst Dancemeditation™ practitioners. Our goal with this conversation is to inspire and support a daily practice or teaching of Dancemeditation. Each month we work on a suggested topic.
November 1 Dunya McPherson, Principal Teacher
Please describe in excruciating detail exactly where and when you do your daily practice. Where is the space? What time of day? What do you wear? What do you sit on? What music have you been using? How long have your practice sessions been? How many each week for the past two weeks?
November 1 Jessica Iscah Tkach Paquin
In the last two week I have practices 2-3x a week. I have a dance/meditation room. It has teal walls and big bright windows. Read more
In an earlier post I wrote about coming home from retreat and, with all that new juice, getting involved in lots of projects and using the energy lavishly though often unwisely. I remember those words as I return to NYC with recharged batteries, as if the New Mexico sun had charged my soul. I am aware that all the cleansing breaths I’ve taken on the mesa have been healing. The light has been healing. And my cells feel wonderful. Alive!
Back in NYC I focus on business. I sit in front of my computer and type away. I’m on the phone. I email. I organize Dancemeditation sessions and ‘run the store’. But as I do, I feel what I am doing. Inside my apartment, I inhale EMFs. As I walk along the street, I inhale heavy metals. With every breath comes poison.
NYC is a stimulant — caffeine or speed. It’s a great jolt, useful in creative tasks and for un-spooling complex ideas. The mesa is nourishment. Direct inspiration. I make the two sound very black and white. Who wouldn’t prefer the mesa? But the mesa has its rigors. Its austerity is a large part of its ability to heal, and that must be gotten used to. New York is materially cushy. Lots of water. Lots of electricity. Anything you could possibly want — for a price.
The power of NYC for me has always been its raw energy. If I can transform it with my practice I have a dynamic resource, but I have to transform it, not get lost in it, or follow its whims and tides which easily chew up a soul.
I feel almost as if I need to get all my business work done quickly before I lose my juice. But then I realize that the healing that took place on the mesa is changing how I am working. I breathe as I type. I tend toward balance. I don’t teeter on an edge. I am all here, and being all here is far less crazy, less volatile, less self- destructive than past ways I’ve lived in NYC.
I stopped in at Grace Church on 10th and Broadway to listen to the noon organ concert. That was a nice break. The cool colored light. The smell of wooden pews and leather prayer books. Timelessness, to breathe and be bathed in music.
My night reading of Koran verses was surprisingly refreshing. I used to find them judgmental—all that ‘do the right thing or be in hell’—but with a new perusing and the leavening of age and experience, that they are right. They just are. The question is understanding what the ‘right thing’ is. Each sura drops a tiny clue in its bed of poetry to what a right thing is. Read more
Late night. The crickets sings. I don’t sleep. I wake, light a candle, and read beautiful Hafiz poems and Koran. My cabin is a cranium, the door a mouth, and the deck its tongue. I walk out of the head, through the mouth, onto the tongue, and fall into space as a song. Quiet settles in me. It grows too cold for the cricket. I close the window and lean toward the candle. Read more
Five Ruby Women
(written after Thursday class)
My hands climb the air slowly on their own.
The canyon floor spread around me,
the pale green trees lacy along the river.
A dense hiss then
a blast of pitting sand folding me before
shooting off like a big air serpent disgusted
by its marbled morsel of me.
And the world halted.
My hands halted.
There was nowhere else.
A silvery kanoun hangs the icicles of plucked tones on a sparse branch.
My heart beat.
The canyon still.
In a room with a red floor five women
with five wombs, five hearts, ten hands
and ten thousand pulses
A silvery kanoun hangs plucked tones.
Pale green branches eyelash cheeks.
The river of thoughts or no thoughts winds
her water, ruffled by fish, stones, breaths
of five ruby women.
During Dancemeditation my body combines times. The sense of dual realities – not so much recollection – is montage or pentimento. In this poem, the stillness combines all times. During the class, this was so palpable to me. I also felt that there was no particular importance to the specific scenes other than their stillness. I had no urge to analyze the ‘meaning’ of place, or action, or who. The value was ‘stillness’.
Yet there was place. There were occupants. And these aspects were beautiful to me. It was a limpid, awake dream-like perception – not a day-dream or memory. The exactitude of the experience had the detail of Persian miniature, though not particularly visual so much as a full-range awareness. An other-worldly awareness.
Stepping beyond ordinary awareness is an interesting cultivation. These perceptions are not accidental. They aren’t easy to find. Like a coming across a tiny brook with perfect green moss, undisturbed, pure, with a small bird flipping its head in a shaft of light, and you know, never having taken that path before just at that time of day, you might never see that exact scene ever again.
It is so delicate…