Embracing the exiled

Recently I have been unexpectedly tumbled into a process around my willingness to be with and reclaim those parts of myself I have exiled for some reason or another. In this case, it has been around belonging and my heartbreak, grief and despair at the fractured state of humanity in these times.

I am also digging deep and reclaiming some of resources that help me to be with these big feelings: the simple things I can put in place that orient me to health and wellness amidst these big feelings.

I am noticing a deep sensitivity to polarising language, how it lands in my body and how it can cast into exile some of the marginalised parts of myself and how that can be reflective of marginalisation in culture. I am engaging in an enquiry around how I can more clearly communicate an intention towards something that is more inclusive and welcoming of all that we bring in our wholeness.

I am unpacking my desire to belong alongside a need to move slowly in relationships to develop trust over time and tune in to heart felt resonance. I am asking questions about what community really means, about how we create spaces where we hold each other through the expression of our joy and playfulness as well as through our grief, anger and longing. Spaces where we can come as we are and we are held through the healthy, mature expression of the wild array of experience that is available to us as humans.

More and more, I am turning towards parts of myself for wisdom and guidance that over time I have been developing relationship with; my own anger; my own fear; my own grief; my own longing. Time and time again I find a resistance in myself to turn to face these feelings, a desire to bypass them into something idealistic and inauthentic. Yet, each time I do – and I do so in a healthy and resourced way, say through movement, voice and breath – they have so much wisdom buried at their core. So much so that they have become inextricably connected to my capacity to experience joy and playfulness. The seemingly vast crevice between these polarities (say, joy & fear) narrows to be connected through a breath.

Connecting with my anger gives me a sense of healthy boundary and its expression along with a clarity about my edges. Connecting with my fear offers me vision of the kind of world I would like to live in. Connecting with my grief allows energy to move through me and creates space for what is new to arrive in my body. Connecting with longing connects me with beauty and art and poetry that deeply settles my nervous system. Connecting with joy allows me to feel part of something larger than myself and brings me hope. Connecting with playfulness brings me a sense of belonging in community. I am speaking into a healthy and mature embodiment of these emotions. There are times I am lost in these experiences too and it is in these times that I need to pause, take a breath and resource myself so I can find the gold at their core.

I wrote this poem in response to a process I have recently been going through around my questions about community and how we are there with and for each other. It’s a big question for me as I feel so comfortable to bring these feelings into my own personal realm or explore them within a therapeutic relationship or a group container I have built safety with over time.

My question and my longing here are around how we create a culture of safety that these processes are welcomed in our communities and are seen as part of normal life and deeply interwoven with our relationship with the sacred. The deeper my well, the more energy I can hold as well as move through me; the more the presence I offer is dynamic, responsive, living and inclusive. I include nature and the other-than-human as part of our community web.

Who will catch me when I fall?
Who will hold me in the warmth
Of their embrace as
I let go,
As I strip myself down
To the bare bones of
Who I think I am and
Birth again anew?

Who will catch me and
Simply hold me?
Who will let me know they are there
By the depths of their presence and
Willingness to be with me as I am?

Who will hold me and
Not try to save me?
While I sob and writhe and
Scratch at soil,
Messy with snot and salt and
Tears.

Who will walk beside me, silently,
To the underworld?
That I may retrieve something of
My exiled self.
That I may reclaim it 
As part of who I am in my wholeness.

And who will sit with me
While I dance, sing and write poetry as
I try to make sense of
What I have found,
Even if it doesn’t make sense to them?

I have accompanied myself upon
This journey many a time.
I feel the support of unseen forces 
Guiding me through the terrain.
And, to those, I bow in gratitude.

And still, I long to
Lean in to the warm human bodies
Of those who know the territory.

What will it take for
Communities to come together
And hold each other in this way?
Hearts pulsing in resonance,
Bodies connecting through
Shared tears and laughter,
Voices echoing a shared longing,
Recognising beauty in all life.

Here I am.
And I will hold my intention,
Though there are times I will fail,
To see the gold at your core
With all that you bring.
In all that you are.

Come as you are to me.
And let us give each other
The gift of seeing and 
Of being seen.
As animal and angel,
As earth and sky
As human and divine.

Restoring, grounding practice

I made this recording for a group I have been facilitating and thought I would share it with you all as a resourcing, grounding practice during these challenging times.

The first track is Embodied Relaxation, the relaxation practice I share that fuses the principles of yoga nidra with somatic relaxation. This can be done as a stand alone practice or can be followed by the second track: Bone, Breath and Earth.

Bone, Breath and Earth brings the awareness in to the grounding qualities of bone and connects them with our breath and the earth through improvised movement.

I recommend having a journal handy, perhaps some art materials or anything you may have gathered from nature to make with, following the practice. This is to help bridge any unconscious material that may arise during the practice into conscious awareness so it can be integrated. Writing, drawing and/or making can aid this process.

Here’s the link to the practices. May they be useful for you.

If trauma is present for you, sometimes embodied practice can be triggering. If at any time during these practices you feel disoriented or triggered, allow your eyes to open and orient by tracking your eyes through the space around you, feel the contact points of your body with the ground and allow your attention to externalise, while attempting to maintain a sense of ground. I also recommend working in person with a skilled practitioner who is trauma informed.

Meeting me meeting you

It’s alright, my love,
We don’t have to agree on everything…
Surely we can still find 
The places where we can meet,
The places where we
Remember the humanity in each other.

I won’t throw out the attributes
Of love, of compassion, of kindness in you.
Please don’t throw them out in me
Because we disagree.

Look harder, can you still see them?
I see yours.
And I know it’s difficult.
I feel threatened too and
That makes me what to close off to you.

It’s just that, at the moment,
I notice so much division,
So much pain and fear,
That I question what motivates me 
To shut you out.

It’s true, there are some
I have had to walk away from over the years.
Because meeting and feeling met
Is something reciprocal.

In the cases where I have felt I am
Over reaching, over extending, 
Over accommodating to meet another
I have had to walk away.

Even still, I recognise that
Whatever it is in that person that 
Can’t meet me or 
That I can’t meet in them
Doesn’t mean that
They are wrong or bad.

It doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of
Depth of relations with others or 
That there are parts of them where
We may, one day, find a meeting place.

Sometimes there is
Abuse of power and then it is
Clear to walk away or speak out.
Sometimes the abuse is not so clear.
It’s more complex then.

When it comes to the world at the moment.
When my heart bleeds with the division I see.
I’m looking again into my being and 
I am wondering how we can allow
Our differences without writing each other off
Because of our pain, our fear, our relationship with death and change?

Imagine a world where we all agreed.
Wouldn’t it be a bit bland and lacking in creativity?
Where we rub up against each other is
Where we find our edges.
We just haven’t been taught how to do this
In a way that is constructive.

I’m learning. We’re learning. Slowly. 
There’s a lot of repair to be done. 
A lot of years of closing off to each other,
Of disrespecting boundaries,
Of disrespecting choice,
Of labelling each other into fixed boxes,
Of abuse, gas lighting and
A habit of ‘us and them’ thinking.

I’ll try not to see this so
Right and left so
Black and white so
Us and them.
Will you?

Hayley Price (C)

Body Listening

I’ve struggled with saying I practice ‘yoga’ for years now and yet, I still move in a way that could be called yoga almost every day!
It’s been a huge journey – one of exploring the patriarchy, appropriation, throwing the baby out with the bath water and then learning to re-relate with it. More on that another time….
I’m arriving at a place with it where my relationship with the practice feels much more authentic and healthy, phew! And I embrace the practice of breath with movement for all its resourcing qualities.
Here’s a wee glimpse into what a practice MIGHT / MAYBE / NOT ALWAYS look like these days (it’s different every time as over 20 years of practice has guided me to meet my body where it is and respond to it – moment to moment).
The video speeded up so it’s 4x as fast as I was actually practicing so the shaking looks MEGA! The point is connection – with myself, bodysoulmind, environment, breath… enjoy x

Embracing down

Here’s a wee poem I wrote a while ago…

‘We cannot reach for the sky in any meaningful way until we embrace the dark, moist mud of our Earthen selves.’…

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Strongly rooted,
Our bellies breathe fully
The air that fuels us.

Our hands reach and
Fingers spread like
Branches stretching out.
We touch the heavens.

Still,
Our leaves
 will fall and
Return to the ground,

In which our
Roots remain,
Sinking ever deeper into
Our beloved Earth. 

And,
Eventually the fleshy, boney
Decay of our bodies will,
Too,
Offer themselves back into the soil.
Dreaming into another form;
To be born, to live and return
within the cycles of nature’s timeless pulse.

We cannot reach
For the sky in
Any meaningful way until
We embrace the dark,
Moist mud of our Earthen selves.

Hayley Price (c)

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The incredible light

A movement offering  and poem to a moment I shared with the incredible light that touched the daffodils and crocuses.

The incredible light

There was something about the
Light this morning
That so piercingly illuminated the
Crocuses and daffodils as they
Burst into colour through the soil.

My heart couldn’t bear it.
She burst too.
And inside a grief,
A fluttering anxiety as
I Let the wild and tenacious
Fragility of our world
Touch my open heart.

I almost couldn’t look anymore.
But I did.
I softened my gaze and
Kept allowing the
Beauty of this earth to
Reach inside of me and
Weave invisible threads of
Belonging and connection in to
The soft soil of my body.

It isn’t comfortable
Every time the needle pierces and
Pulls another thread through.
But, as the tapestry begins to
Take form, I see a beauty much
Larger than myself and the
Pain becomes as fundamental as
The sun and clouds
Painting colours through the sky.

Hayley Price (C)

The community within me

Our next Nurturance group will be on exploring our cells: the communities that live within ourselves and how they connect us to our wider environment, and each other.

Some thoughts and inspirations:

‘Cells don’t live in isolation. This simple fact offers a lesson about our lives: Living creatures are tender and vulnerable and only thrive in situations that offer supportive context. If a person stops feeling connected to community and world, he or she will not thrive.’
(How life Moves, Caryn McHose & Kevin Frank)

Does this strike a chord within you? What arises?
I’m curious.

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Looking in, I sense a longing. A truth that lands, quite literally, within my cells. Sensing in to my cells I find the edge where my self meets the world around me. I am both individual and part of a much larger living matrix.

And, yet, here we are living in isolation from each other – in the wider world I mean.
I wonder what that does to our cells?

The longing within my cells is to live this truth of ‘supportive context’ – I need you and you need me. Yet, there is also a wisdom that speaks to me of the importance of boundaries – also embodied within the cell. How do I be me, with you – and how do I let you be you, with me? And how do I embody a reciprocal relationship with our world? How do we live in dynamic alignment with one another?

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It strikes me that somewhere along the way, our essential trust in one another has been severed. The nervous system can recognise the ‘other’ as a threat – and very likely for a wise reason that served in a particular situation. That situation may no longer be the living truth but the pattern sticks as a survival mechanism repeating itself through relational experience. How do we learn to trust one another again? Equally, how do we stand in our own presence as worthy of another’s trust? How do I trust myself in a world of so many voices, with such diversity? How do I learn to be responsive to each moment with regards to trust?

‘Some… may notice that to feel comfortable they need to move their body away from the group. [They] may then judge themselves as lacking capacity for intimacy. It is important to point out that acknowledging the level of proximity that is truly comfortable is the beginning of self-organisation and regulation of health. By noticing what is true for us, we can be spatially far but relationally present because a key barrier to relationship has been removed. Often our greatest barrier to health is an image of what should be. We encourage enquiry in to what is true in the absence of judgements and self-image.’
(How life Moves, Caryn McHose & Kevin Frank)

In my very early 20’s I witnessed many self development / ‘body based’ groups that asked me to come closer when I felt safer on the periphery. I have been told I need to be more open, when openness was defined by the amount of physical contact I was willing to endure or how much of my personal story I was willing to divulge. I have also had my boundaries outright violated without permission sought at all. I say this not as victim but as someone who is walking the long road of taking back ownership of my edges, learning to feel them, learning to trust and embody them.

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I seek safer sanctuary and trust my story with those I sense can hold it, with those who can be with me, while staying within themselves; with whom I can stay within myself while being with.

Empathic connection isn’t found in projecting myself in to you – or allowing you to project yourself in to me –  and vulnerability isn’t telling you every secret I hold. I find those qualities in the ability to locate myself within myself when I am with you; to know where I stand with you, while being receptive to your presence and the space between us. Dynamic relational attunement.

And, so importantly, to allow myself to be at the periphery until my body invites me to move a little closer. To get to know my edge, I must first be able to feel it – otherwise, how do I know where I am, let alone where I am in relationship?

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This, I believe, is where trust begins; at our edges. These edges are not fixed places. They can change, but we must get to know and embrace them before we can allow a new sense of edge to emerge. How many times have you overridden your body / needs in order to fit in, or people please, or because you simply don’t even know where you end and another begins?

In somatic practice, we explore these boundaries in a safe environment, within small groups. We works at the pace of nervous system integration. We don’t seek ‘intense’ experience, rather allow integrative ones; ones that allow us to land in our skin and point towards the regeneration of healthy connection with each other.

Sensing in to my cells there is both a longing for connection and closeness and a need for safety, for boundary. Seemingly opposite experiences yet I find connection within both. There’s a community within myself that I think may know a bit more about this. I’m delving in to the wisdom of my cells to enquire more…

Does this strike a chord with you? What arises?
I’m curious.

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The soul in my motherhood

I wrote this poem to bring together some of the musings I have been having about motherhood and soul work. It saddens me to hear women say they lose their souls in mothering, although I understand it as a part of my truth too.

My ongoing journey is in recognising my souls fulfilment in being a mother and remembering that through the challenging times when I feel divorced from my passions and other soul work.

I am also appreciating how motherhood is shaping my soul and how what I now bring to my work is deepened through my experience of becoming a mother. Mothering as soul work, for indeed it is. Soul work can demand of us to touch the darkest places in ourselves. Motherhood has certainly invited me to look at those places in myself.

Mothering has asked me to tend close in and slow right down. In the light of the current climate emergency, I have often given myself a hard time for not feeling ‘involved’ enough – then I take some time to sit with myself, with my despair, and I remember that how I choose to parent is as much of a political statement as any other…

Here is my poem:

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There was a time,
when speaking with peers,
I had to force myself to
Meet their eyes.
Shame burned in me and
I imagined they would take one look at me
And know…

The stiffness of my muscles,
The aching of my joints,
The tenderness in my breasts,
The tired circles that halo’d my eyes for
What felt like an eternity.

Although I never ceased moving,
Returning to movement as a
Line connecting me to life,
As a gasp for breath between
Deep dives…

There were times when I carried my body
With me like a weight,
Something I could barely feel
Except for the places where
The rivers were damned and
The ice was solid as rock
And the exhaustion bore down on me
Like an unforgiving sun in the desert.

Something in me strove and fought
To hold on to some morsel of
Who I thought I was –

The independent woman,
The facilitator,
The giver,
The eternal student,
The sensual one…

Yet, slowly motherhood stripped me.
Layer by layer.
And slowly, and
At times reluctantly,
I brought my ear to the ground and
I listened.

Until

Naked
I stood.

And Naked,
I exhaled
The relief of surrender that
Comes with giving up trying so
Damn hard.

I gave myself to the breath of life that
Insisted itself into my heart and to the
Metamorphoses of motherhood.

I have heard mothers say that their soul
Exited when they gave birth,
Forgotten for years while they
Tend the other.
And, in the beginning,
I believed that to be
Something of my truth that
Never sat fully true.

Yet, now
I see that, with the coming
Of my son,
My soul began to be
Moulded by a clay
From a much deeper, richer and
More resilient earth.

To welcome myself in my exhaustion,
To move with it instead of against it,
To allow my soul to give itself to
Mothering and all that it entails.

The greatest freedom I found
In becoming a mother was
In allowing myself to be a mother.

There are times when my heart lurches
Inside of me,
When there are choices to be made
And they weigh in the favour of
He with the greatest need.

There are times when I long for
How things were,
The ‘freedom’ I had before his
Head burst through my vagina,
Ripping me open and
Changing my world.

There are times when
I wish my husband and I
Had more time together
Just the two of us…
To remember each other…

But slowly, the spaces are opening up.
I am awakening into a
Deeper version of myself
Whose needs and desires
Have been shifted by
The ebbing and flowing tide of
Sleepless nights,
Of cleaning up poo and of
Digging in to the the deepest
Pockets of my soul to
Find my greatest patience,
The roots of my vehemency and
The most powerful love I
Have ever experienced.

I would not know this without
My son,
Who brought these gifts
To me.
Who has insisted the
Container of myself
Expand to include
Not just him,
But all the parts of myself
I had unknowingly outcast.

It’s an ongoing journey.
One integrative step after
The other.

Do I recommend motherhood?

It’s not easy, it’s not.

Really,
It’s not.

And it’s not for everyone.
It is not every women’s desire.
And it ought to be a choice.

In fact it’s fucking hard and
Societal structures can make it
Isolating as hell.

But when I look at myself as who I was
Before he came and
Who I am now.
I can’t imagine it being
Any other way.

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The importance of arriving.

Time is precious, especially since I became a mama. When I approach my embodiment practice I can have the urge to dive right in to ‘make the most’ of the time I have. And time and time again my body reminds me – slow down. Wait. Listen first.

Movement can be evoke a timeless space so taking some of that precious time to attune can be tantamount to allowing that space to emerge.

‘arrive…river F. rive.. stream… shore, bank… L. arripare: to come to shore, to land.’ (Paraphrased from Miranda Tufnell’s book, A widening field).

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Time to land before I launch. Rooting myself in my resources before I enter in to unknown terrain. I have come to appreciate the importance of this over many years of practice.

Each time, before movement unfolds, I arrive. I take some time to check in with myself and see where I am at in this moment. I create a container of support and ground from which my movement can emerge.

In checking in with myself, I attune to the different layers of my experience that need attention; body, mind, breath, emotion, energy etc. Movement can unfold from there, meeting my present felt sense more fully, as oppose to routinely following a predetermined sequence that may override the inner wisdom of my body, which could be yearning for a different approach.

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The pressures of modern life can often see my nervous system in a state of hyper-arousal. Without offering myself a moment to ‘come to shore’ I may exacerbate my hyper-aroused state by avoiding the feelings that need attention through my movement practice. This is when movement, and other embodiment practices, can be used as a means to avoid rather than meet.

Focusing my attention and allowing my nervous system a moment to soothe in to a healthy neutrality (by which I do not mean numb, nor unaffected), I can be with what is with a greater sense of spaciousness, as well as allowing my movement practice to serve what is unfolding within me.

Just a few examples of embodiment practice that allow for arrival are:

  • feeling your feet on the ground, exploring weight.
  • observing the fluctuations of your breath
  • taking a few deep breaths
  • attuning to body sensation
  • feeling the contact points your body makes with the ground
  • listening to the sounds around you
  • awakening the senses

These are but a few of many of the resources we can call upon to help us to ‘arrive’ more fully in the moment. I leave you with a simple settling practice I have recorded for you to use.

Rebirthing into Spring

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I recently received an email about Spring time and the theme of rebirth that feels so present at this time of year. It inspired me to be in touch and to share some of my news.

Óran is 17 months now and I have been feeling my creative wings yearning to take flight once more for some time now. Mamahood is a creative process in and of itself… and I am also woman, human,  multi-faceted…

I feel excitement at having just agreed to facilitate at a couple of local festivals: This Earth Gathering, a festival for women where I shall be sharing a workshop called Validating the Wisdom of Your Living Body and Erti Suli, a family festival where I shall be sharing a workshop about Movement, Connection and Relationship to Ground / Earth as well as one for teens.

I am also happy to have found a training in Authentic Movement at the Karuna Institute, just around the corner, that will allow me to develop further and begins later in the year.

I’ve found, through this early stage of mothering, that it has been a process of tiny little spaces opening up as time flows steadily on. This has been both a breath of fresh air and, at times, frustrating as I have longed for some space and time to re-member myself.

Inner resources have kept me afloat; moving my body (even when Óran climbs all over me while I move); embodied relaxation; short moments of awareness and remembering my breath; the first breath of fresh air as I leave any building (I have come to LOVE this so much); communication and connection with my partner to maintain our bond with love; taking a shower and cold plunges to energise my body after long nights of little sleep…. there are many and all have been so helpful in their own rite.

And there are times when I feel everything is falling apart. Times when my insides feel outside, when the images of my world crumbling around me are strong and over bearing. Emotion runs high and the ground can often disappear from under my feet.

I have never had so much demanded of me with so little sleep and so little time for myself. I have never felt so exhausted…. And I have never felt so much love.

I believe it is this that keeps me going. My heart is asked, every day, to stretch a little further; to touch the ground and sky.

I witness my son develop and grow and I feel so grateful that he is here. And, it is with this renewed depth and love that I begin to see outwards again, that I begin to take steps back into the world of being woman…. and I will never be the same again.

Motherhood has, and always is, changing me – moment to moment. And as Spring seeds and will slowly shape into Summer, I am curious as to what will unfold in me as I feel creativity waking up and reaching outwards once more.

All love,

Hayley xx