More thoughts on the abuse of power in the Satyananda tradition.

Dear all,
I would like to share the following brave post by Amit Surana questioning Swami Satyananda’s involvement in the sexual abuse and abuse and manipulation of his disciples that have been brought to light in the recent hearing through the Royal Commission in Australia who are investigating this.
The following post does contain some triggering issues about sexual abuse and brings the guru – disciple relationship into question, so please do be aware. If you are questioning the involvement of Swami Satyananda and also Niranjan I would encourage you to read the first 3 comments on this post that are links to statements people have made with regards to this question.
Personally, I think the ashram has handled this situation shockingly and I am increasingly shocked by the lack of true and responsible acknowledgement and accountability by many Satyandanda organisations who continue to use his name. While there may be some value in the teachings, they do not belong to Satyananda and do not require his name to continue to benefit people, nor do they need to be attached to any system or dogma. They were never his to begin with. It does not take a genius to link body movement with the breath and other yoga practices predate his teachings and his life. He deserves no name and no respect in my eyes. None.
Furthermore, the ashram in India continues to fail to acknowledge what has happened and further investigation into what is happening in the present day remains undone. The sheer lack of acknowledgement and accountability represents nothing to do with yoga as far as I am concerned. People in India are being sheltered from the truth and told that the people who are now reporting the child and sexual abuse through the ashram are lying. The power that a guru can have over a disciple is strong and many are willing to believe what their guru says because they have been fed with a lot of fear about their karma if they don’t. This is a huge manipulation of power that, I believe, we are close to maturing out of as a culture and through our evolution as humans.
I do not stand for sexual abuse nor manipulation or abuse of power when in a position of authority. I have and am withdrawing myself from any organisation that supports this tradition (Satyananda Yoga) through the sale of their books, products or name. I urge anyone who is part of the ‘yoga world’ to do the same. Every time you buy one of their books you give money to the organisation that supports it to continue. The knowledge is widely available elsewhere so there is no need to get it from their books. There are many teachers out there today who come from a much less self interested perspective, why not support them as oppose to famous ‘gurus’ who abuse their position?
I trained with the Satyananda yoga academy and spent time at the ashram in Mungher and in Rikhia before I knew anything about this. I can not change the past. I have gained a lot of ‘knowledge’ and experience through my time there… and I am deeply disappointed and feel betrayed by their actions past and present. I disassociated with the school internally many years ago. I stepped away from gurus quite a while back now as I wanted to listen to my own inner voice, to be able to hear it clearly as it is the one the guides me with the greatest integrity. This voice can become clouded over by the voices of others to the point where it can become hard to hear. To anyone who is finding it hard to hear, hard to let go of this tradition, I truly suggest seeking support during this time. It may take some unraveling if the grooves are deeply ingrained.
We are human beings and we all have within us all the wisdom and all the answers that we need in any given moment (even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time). If there is an ethical guru out there, they will not let you become dependant on them, they will not play power games with you that mimics co-dependency, they will not give you all the answers and disempower your journey to find them for yourself.
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903
It is never too late to change the direction of your path. It may take some time and feel uncomfortable in the process of unraveling, but this is the journey into what is true. It was never going to be a delicious, delicate journey wrapped in cotton wool. Brushing up upon our edges help us to see where we are stuck and so make space for growth. In the same respect, there is no use in beating ourselves up about our past actions. Sure, feel remorse, make amends, apologise where needs be and most importantly, breathe, turn courageously towards it and gently, slowly, compassionately allow it to unfold, feel those uncomfortable feelings and allow yourself to integrate and evolve. (This is where support is helpful – there are so many resources through somatic psychotherapy, body based practices that are not driven by dogma, close friends, shadow work etc – something that actually faces the issue as oppose to dampens it down with ‘niceties’ ).
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If this does mean anything to you, please do take some time to read and to consider the choices you make when signing on to a workshop / buying books using under the ‘Satyandana “Yoga” ‘ name.
All thanks and much love and may we live with integrity, in truth and with the deepest respect for each other and our planet.
s

Yoga and The Somatic Voice Retreat

Yoga and the Somatic Voice

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Below are the notes I wrote prior to teaching on the retreat at Cortijo Romero. Enjoy 🙂

‘In order to have room for what’s difficult, we have to have access to a sense of safety and peace.’
Tara Brach

To me, this is a major reason as to why I / we partake in some form of conscious practice, be it yoga, dance, movement, Meditation, singing – any embodied practice that includes awareness of the felt sense and present experience.

We learn to develop the muscle of ‘grounding’ and the ability to contain and embrace our experience as well as coming back into the body when we may otherwise be dissociated.

So much of life can be spent living outside of the body, often in ways we are not even aware of. An embodied practice and an embodied focus allows us to come back home to the field of our physical selves and meet life through every cell, interring the various sheathes of our beings from physical to emotional to mental to subtle.

Of course, it is not possible to be in this state of full presence at all times (at lease, I am yet to meet someone who is – even “enlightened” masters). We need moments of respite from ourselves. These moments can be very helpful for us to process events on an unconscious level that may yet be too shocking for the nervous system to fully experience on a conscious level.

It is important that we allow for this time and don’t beat ourselves up for ‘zoning out’ occasionally. What we may wish to look at, however, is if that ‘zoning out’ is happening on a more frequent basis and is, therefore, affecting the quality of our lives and relationships with others.

This ‘zoning out’ can happen in many ways, even through our, so called, ‘conscious practice.’ The response I get from many when I ask why they want to learn to meditate or practice yoga nidra or the likes is that they would like to ‘switch off.’ I often respond that these practices, if embraced fully, are not about switching off but switching ON and engaging more fully with life. There is a very fine line between zoning out and the mind becoming dull and tuning in to a space of pure mind. Often the former is mistaken for the latter and some can develop the ‘zone out’ muscle which can lead to all sorts of apathy and ‘detachment’ towards life.

Even if someone is zoning out, there is likely a very good reason for it and it is certainly not  about trying to produce a counter action that will get rid of this experience. Rather, it is about gently turning towards it with and open sense of inquiry.

When we turn towards it, we invite that otherwise sleeping / unconscious experience into our awareness and it is only then that the essential energy of that part of ourselves can be freed into motion. Unless something is first accepted as it is, it is almost impossible to let it change.

Paula Shaw, of the Max states three stages in relation to acting that I think are very applicable to life as well.

It is as it is

Own it

Create

If we look at these three stages using the energy of, say, anger we can see that if we can turn towards the anger and see it for what it is then we can see more clearly and realistically. Then, if we can own our anger and say ‘I am angry’ or even ROAR! When we own that part of ourselves we make it less of a taboo and shame driven emotion and we allow it into the open space of our unconditional awareness. When it is owned by is it can no longer own us. The acting out of this emotion now comes from a conscious space rather than an unconscious one. The energy has been freed, as oppose to repressed / suppressed / pushed down.

(think about emotions that are uncomfortable for you…. how do you push them down? How do they unconsciously rule your life?)

When the energy of the emotion has been freed through truly owning it, then you are free to create with it what you will. There is so much energy even in the most challenging of emotions. If we can learn to use that energy then we can even allow those emotions to create something beautiful through us, albeit raw and wild at times.

‘To be fully alive is to say Yes to the wild array of human feeling.’
Dana Faulds

All emotions are valid. Every single one. All too often we have been delivered the message that we somehow need to cultivate only positive emotions and get rid of the ‘negative’ ones. A ‘negative’ emotion only becomes negative when we make it so through our perception. So called negative emotions can actually have a very positive influence in our lives.

(Think of ‘negative’ emotions… how can they have a positive influence?)

‘Our emotions are not the enemy after all but messages that reconnect us in the most basic and intimate of ways with the adventure and experience of being alive.’ John Kabat-Zinn

Any emotion, whether deemed to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ become toxic when it begins to run the show and we become identified with it, acting it out in unhealthy ways. Happiness can soon become neediness when it is dependent on some external factor. The root emotion of anger, which in and of itself is not bad, can become violence when we have not learned to effectively contain this emotion, own it and allow it to offer energy to create healthy boundaries in our lives.

“What gives light must endure burning.’ Viktor Frankel

‘To live in truth is to be able to live in these contradictions – to accept that each piece can be true without negating the other.’ Anode Judith

Let’s take a look at some of the primary emotions and see how they can affect us either way.

The following from ‘The art of empathy’ by Klara Mclaren

Emotions become unhelpful when we become ‘angry about anger, fearful about fear and ashamed of shame.’ Klara Mclaren

The Angers:
Anger is the emotions that sets boundaries and helps you hold firm in your sense of self image.

Anger, Shame, Apathy (a masking state for anger), Hatred.

Gifts that come from anger: Honour, Conviction, Healthy self esteem, Proper Boundaries, Healthy detachment (one where you can look at others and not be totally enmeshed with them), Power in yourself not power over others.

Anger ‘arises when there are challenges to your voice and to yourself.’ The task is to restore your personal boundaries, restore your stand point…. without violating the boundaries of others.’ Klara M.

Guilt and Shame: In the dictionary, guilt is not an emotion. It is a fact (you are guilty, you don’t feel guilty). Shame is the emotion. (according to Klara M.).

Shame helps you restore your integrity.

Gifts: atonement, integrity, self respect, behavioural change, the ability to make amends.

Who has been hurt? What must be made right? (sometimes you are the person that has been hurt – sometimes by yourself.)

Most of us learned about shame by being shamed – which is different. Shaming shame is not the point. When we are shamed we do not learn how to deal with shame authentically. Wait to see if someone feels their own remorse before adding shame. If there is no remorse, there are kind ways to invite awareness into the action that caused harm.

Apathy (boredom):

Gifts: Detachment, boundary setting, Separation, Taking time out.
‘The mask for anger.’ – arises in situations where it is hard to express anger openly. When anger is repressed it can become apathy.

What is being avoided? What must be made conscious?

Hatred: ‘the profound mirror’
Gifs: Intense awareness, piercing vision, sudden evolution, shadow retrieval.

‘The shadow is things that you cannot accept in yourself and demonise in others.’ KM

Can be an extremely dangerous emotion. Shadow work helps you to make your container larger to hold hatred without it becoming destructive. In this way, you can unlock the energy of the emotion and free it for creative use.

The Fears

Fear, Worry & Anxiety, Panic & Confusion, Envy & Jealousy.

Fear: ‘Intuition in action.’

Gifts: Intuition, instinct, focus, clarity, attentiveness, readiness, vigour.

Focuses you on the present moment and on the immediate surroundings.

What action should I take?

Worry & Anxiety: ‘Focus and completion’

Gifts: Foresight, focus, conscience, task completion, procrastination alert!

Arise to help you organise and plan for and complete your tasks. Future focused, where fear is present moment focused.

If you are feeling anxiety it likely means that everything is OK in the present moment… you  have the time to focus on the future.

What triggered this feeling? What really needs to get done?

Action focused, fear based emotion. Can be helpful to make lists.

Confusion: Masking state for fear and anxiety. You lose your instincts and intuition.

Gifts: defused awareness, innocence, malleability, taking a time out.

Can arise when overwhelmed by change, novelty and too many tasks.. confusion can offer a vacation from these.

What is my intention? (present, near future, distant future) Anger is helpful here in setting boundaries and making clear who I am in this situation.

Panic and Terror: ‘Frozen fire’

Gifts: Sudden energy, fixed attention, absolute stillness, healing from trauma.

Fight, Flee Freeze. Panic will make the decision that will give you the greatest opportunity to survive – before your rational mind can come in.

No questions – just react for safety. Sometimes we get stuck in panic and it arises in other non threatening circumstances. It is natural to keep going back to it yet it is uncomfortable and can get into a feedback loop – PTSD

What has been frozen in time? What requires healing action? Peter Levine’s work.

Jealousy: protects connection to love and stability in the area of relationships.

Gifts: commitment, security, connection. loyalty, fairness

What has been betrayed? Me betraying myself by choosing mates who cannot love me or my mate who has been loyal but focusing attention elsewhere? What must be healed and restored?

Envy: arises from challenges that threaten material security.

Gifts: fairness, security, access to resources, proper recognition and self preservation.

What has been betrayed? What must be made right?

The Sadnesses

Sadness, Grief, Depression, Suicidal urges

Sadness: ‘the water bearer.’

Arises when it is time to let go of something that isn’t working anyway. Different from grief.

Gifts: Release, fluidity, grounding, relaxation. rejuvenation.

What needs to be let go of? What must be released? What must be rejuvenated?

Grief: ‘The deep river of the Soul’

Arises when something has died or been lost irretrievably. When loss is out of your hands and you need to mourn.

Gifts: facing loss,

What must be mourned? What must be released completely?

Situational Depression: can be tracked to something that isn’t working in your life. Depression isn’t the thing that bums you out… it stops you because of a situation that is already going on… ‘ingeneous stagnation.’

Where has my energy gone? Why was it sent away?

Once you know that you can work with those things. If you can’t see where the energy has gone it is hard to free it.

Suicidal Urges: needs support. ‘The darkness before dawn.’

Arise when there are already life threatening / soul threatening situations going on. The situation needs to end but your life does not.

Gifts: certainty, resolve, liberty, transformation, rebirth

What idea or behaviour must end now? What can I no longer tolerate in my soul?

Comes to help you end things that are making your life unliveable already, not to end your life.

THE HAPPINESSES

Happiness, Contentment, Joy

Happiness: anticipation and possibility

delight, amusement, hope, playfulness, wonder, invigoration.

Arises to help you look forward to the future with hope and delight.

Thank you!

Contentment: Pleasure and appreciation

Enjoyment, Satisfaction, Self respect, pride, confidence, fulfilment.

To look towards yourself with satisfaction. Connected to anger and shame. Make sure you are standing in your ground and speaking your truth.

Thank you for renewing my faith in myself!

Joy: Affinity and communion

Expansion, inspiration, splendour, radiance and bliss.

Thank you for this radiant moment!

Too much joy can cycle into Mania… watch internal regulation around joy. Work with it in a grounded way.

All of the above from Klara Mclaren’s book ‘the art of empathy’

As much as our breath comes in and out it must integrate inner knowing and outer expression. It is not enough to touch awakening. We must find ways to live its vision fully.’

Jack Kornfield.

For me, it is not enough to practice asana and meditation. I realised after years of practice that, in some way, these practices were keeping me safe from fully engaging with parts of myself and relationship that actually offered to challenge my edges much more than the practice I had become so familiar with.

I have a background in the expressive arts and music and the voices of these began to make themselves known through my body in ways I could not ignore. A few years ago, life asked me to return my focus to these parts of myself and feed them. They have been a huge part of my own journey into integration, which is ongoing.

The practice of yoga, which includes meditation, yoga nidra and conscious movement, have given me a home in my body; a heightened awareness of what is alive within me. The arts, which includes improv, vocal play and singing have allowed me access to my emotions in a way that I could not reach with yoga. They have turned me on to life and are wonderful tools for me, an introvert by nature, to come out of myself and express my truth to the world. I believe in their power to do the same for all those inclined towards the arts in which ever form.

The arts allow us to access different textures of our psyche and to play with them in a healthy way as well as developing healthy relationships with those parts of ourselves as well as with others. We can ‘act out’ in a safe environment things we may otherwise feel ashamed to do and play with different ways of doing so. We become more at home in our bodies and with our emotions so that when we meet them in ‘real life’ we have created a larger holding space within ourselves to experience them from. In this way, they are less overwhelming and we can choose to consciously respond to them as oppose to unconsciously react to them in any given situation.

It is one thing to be able to sit still and meditate, to rise above the mundane reality of the material world. It is another thing to fully engage with the material world with eyes wide open and heart fully engaged. This is not a question of ‘either or’ but one of ‘both and.’ A contemplative practice coupled with an expressive one integrates our dualistic nature into a dance of oneness, where both contribute to make up the whole as well as being individual in and of themselves. A healthy mixture of the ridiculous and the profound makes one neither too serious nor too flippant.

In this way, we can apply humour when appropriate and pierce into our relationships with depth and presence when necessary. When we are in trauma it is near impossible to play authentically. When we learn to work with and through our trauma in a way that integrates it as part of our whole experience as a human being, we then free up the energy we were using to protect ourselves for living a fulfilling life, as well as cultivating discernment as to where and with whom to focus that energy.

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Loving the Breath

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This afternoon I did my conscious movement ritual from here. I LOVE to move in and with nature or, rather, be moved by nature as I breathe her in and become inspired.

It really is quite something to let the breath fully enter the body.To let the breath initiate movement. I become more intimate with myself and all that I am holding inside on all levels from physical to emotional to subtle.

It’s interesting that the societal habit tends towards moving fast and breathing shallow. There doesn’t seem to be time, with the pace of life many live, to pause, to receive, to feel and allow. I found some sticky stuff inside me today as my breath entered my deep belly and, through it, through the simple act of breathing and tracking the breath with my open attention, I felt it move and lived it into art through the vehicle of my body.

There is such an invitation with the breath to open up to the wild array of, often unprocessed, feelings that inhabit the body. To include a conscious movement practice with this – a practice in which One becomes receptive to the needs of the body as it is and responds to it mindfully, with care and respect – offers an opportunity to move into a deeper and more intimate meeting with Ourselves. For what is mindfulness but to be with what is? And what is life but to glide with the continual and ever changing pulse of creation?

This is why I love to listen. To listen and then respond. When I listen I can respond with greater authenticity. When I impose an idea of how things ‘should’ be upon myself, be it through movement or breath or any aspect in my life, then I feel a separation between body and mind. The mind is ‘doing’ something to the body as oppose to body and mind in fluid relationship with each other.

Moving in nature, breathing with nature, being in nature is such a great reminder to pause, to rest in awe and wonder and to rest in not knowing what the next moment may bring. I return to myself as nature because that is what I am (and so are you). Our bodies, composed of the elements. Our hearts beating with the pulse of the Universe. Our minds spacious as the vast and open sky. And Life dancing its way through us, creating symphonies with every blink of an eye.

 

The dark side of “Swami Satyananda”

I would like to share this account of a 14 year old girls experience with Swami Satyananda of Satyananda Yoga. To me, it is surprising that so many are still so willing to use this mans name next to the word yoga. He has totally abused his power, in my eyes, as have some of his disciples.
Many thanks to Janaki, for your detailed account of your story. There is so much in there that touches me, that breaks my heart open with sadness for the manipulative way you were all treated… it is true, if you have no point of comparison, how can you know it is abuse? It is so sad that children were and, perhaps, still are brought up to be conditioned in this way.
It reminds me of a story of a boy in Cambodia who was given a gun at age 4 and told to fight for the Khmer Rouge, who had just killed his parents. He thought that it was normal until years later when he met some people who shared their stories of a very different kind of childhood. He slowly realised how conditioned he had been by war and has now dedicated his whole life to de-mining Cambodia (he picked up that skill while at war), and to housing and educating many orphans who have been affected by land mines.
I was so touched by his story and I see a similar opportunity in the stories that are coming forward now. That, now that people are courageously speaking out, there is a chance for reparation (even if the ashram are not willing to take full responsibility). To me this feels collective, not exclusive to the Satyananda story, but inclusive to all stories of abuse that are exposed throughout the world today. An opportunity to do the inner work, to integrate as human beings, and to stand together in support and live with integrity.
I am still working on my response to the abuse by Satyananda and his followers. It has touched a lot in me and I feel I could write a book about it all. It feels so pertinent to the time we are living in, to the breakdown of patriarchal rule, to the turning back towards our own intuition and trusting our own inner guidance, to taking responsibility for our selves and not assigning our authority over to another, to creating and committing to truly healthy and conscious ways of relating with others.

I dissociated from this tradition some years ago but am still deeply affected by this as I believe this sort of story is big in the collective at the moment. I will post my response to my blog in the very near future.

In the meantime, my heart extends to all who have been affected by this news; the survivors, the disciples who knew nothing about it, the ones who knew about it and have felt too afraid to speak up until now, those in denial, all of you who I know and love – and you know who you are. I stand with you in support to find a healthy way through this.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/629201367191873/permalink/646722428773100/?pnref=story

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Lions Roar

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Inspiring words from Pema Chodron in the article below, inspired by her article….

Allowing and turning towards the flow of empathy. Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel so much…and then, very quickly now, I catch myself and I feel SO grateful to be able to feel at all.

I would so much rather learn to feel the wild array of human emotion that is available to us, to learn to navigate it and touch it to its core as pure, essential energy, than to close down to life, to be unmoved.

It is understandable why people close down sometimes too. It can be a necessary coping mechanism, the only one available in certain situations. I have been there and sometimes I still go there.. and then I realise that it is a feeling too… somewhere under that sea of numbness is an ocean of feeling and the waves begin to swell and move again…

May we all support each other in this journey of life – showing up as authentically as we can with as much awareness as we are able in each moment. This means being real, allowing ourselves to be raw and owning our RAW.

This means owning our YES as much as our NO. This means seeing ourselves in the eyes of the other and feeling the other in ourselves. Knowing we are the same at the same time as knowing me from you.

This is a dance, a continuously moving dance, motivated by the still point at the core of its choreography. This is an art form in which nothing and everything weigh the same in dreaming, from which emptiness and fullness were born of the same womb, and in which form and formlessness are bound in eternal marriage.

There is no magic formula, no particular way this looks and nothing to hold on to. Simply moments flowing into moments, the unknown stepping into the unknown over and over again, expansion and contraction, life and death all part of the same heart beating.

Embracing the completely hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, and occasionally infuriating journey of being human ❤

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“It is fairly common for crisis and pain to connect people with their capacity to love and care about one another. It is also common that this openness and compassion fades rather quickly, and that people then become afraid and far more guarded and closed than they ever were before. The question, then, is not only how to uncover our fundamental tenderness and warmth but also how to abide there with the fragile, often bittersweet vulnerability. How can we relax and open to the uncertainty of it?”…..
“When you touch your sorrow or fear, your anger or jealousy, you are touching everybody’s jealousy, you are knowing everybody’s fear or sorrow. You wake up in the middle of the night with an anxiety attack and when you can fully experience the taste and smell of it, you are sharing the anxiety and fear of all humanity and all animals as well. Instead of your distress becoming all about you, it can become your link with everyone all over the world who is in the same predicament.”

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http://www.lionsroar.com/the-natural-warmth-of-the-heart/

Dreaming into Being

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‘The trick with manifestation is not to talk about it, but to do it. You can tell everyone your plan, you can ask the universe to support you, you can even hold a special fire ceremony to usher it into realization, but it won’t mean anything if you don’t ground it in reality. If you are having trouble manifesting, look honestly and lovingly at what may be in the way- unresolved emotional issues, shame and self-doubt, preliminary practical steps. Don’t sit and spin- work genuinely on what is blocking the path. And, then, when you are ready, channel that energy into constructive action. If you have a dream- DO IT into being.’

Jeff Foster

I read this article this morning (link at bottom of page). It is an interesting take on ‘positive visualisation.’ I have actually had the experience described in this article, being a dreamer myself, and can somewhat relate. The brains capacity to mistake the imagined for the Manifest can be useful in many ways apart from, perhaps, when we really want to pull the thought into being.

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Have you ever had that experience when you dream something so much it feels like it’s already happened and then you somehow let it go as if it already did without fulfilling it in the physical realm only to realise later it passed you by?

This article suggests there is a place for what wee seem to be ‘negative’ or ‘obstacles’ and that, in actuality, they are useful to us in bringing our dreams to life, literally.

It seems it’s easer to simply ‘think positively’ or become ‘lost in a dream’ and become despondent than to really make our dreams a reality by accepting the challenges they may face us with, the ways in which they may connect us with deeper aspects of ourselves and actually act as vehicles for our personal development.

Too often, we want to skip to the end result and, by imagining it to be so, we seem to disconnect with the journey it often takes to get there. And, after all, life is about the journey isn’t it?

Overcoming-obstacles

This man (above) didn’t just magically land at the top of that rock. He had to get there somehow. Had he just landed there he may not have his arms so outstretched in appreciation of his achievement. The obstacles he met on his journey likely both inspired and humbled him in some way and allowed him to appreciate in awe the magic that is life itself, let alone attribute to his depth of experience as a human being.

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 We’ve all flitted off into dream land and had the experience of feeling so satisfied with all the ideas we’ve had, and perhaps keep having, and yet nothing around us had shifted. Time to look at why that may be. What are we in denial of in those times? What part of life are we not willing to accept?

So, yes, keep dreaming and dream BIG – why not? But let us also dream those dreams, the ones that really matter, into being. Time to get grounded and get real. And, in doing so, embrace to whole of life.

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“There’s nothing wrong with a bit of positive daydreaming if it makes you feel good, so long as you don’t expect anything more than feeling good. “Daydreaming can be great!” Oettingen told me the other day. “It’s only when it comes to actually realizing these dreams that positive dreaming is problematic, because it feigns that you’ve already attained these desired futures. You relax, your energy goes down. It’s a question of: ‘Why face the hardships of the bumpy road to achieving these things in real life, if you can float away on dreams?’”

Enjoy

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/oliver-burkeman-column/2014/oct/16/fitter-happier-more-successful-mental-contrasting

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Moontime

The Moons Blood

A river of Red flows
Between my thighs

Two tall trees
Taste the trickle of
Thick,
Iron Rich Wine
That oozes abundantly
Toward the damp,
Fertile earth.

None may enter here
Today
Nor taste the sweet darkness of
This moist and sacred
Space
That pulls me to
The Ground…
To Ground

And, in time,
If they dare and are willing,
Only the initiated
May make their journey
Into this darkness
That can either consume or

Ignite the wildest passion,
The most intimate sense
Of purpose,
Of presence
In those who understand.

But not today.

Today is an initiation
Of another kind.

In the soft and dripping
Walls of my temple,
I curl up like a
Cat
Resting in a Slumber
Of immovable ecstasy.

I purr wildly.
I groan and moan from
That primal place
Deep within my belly
Of bellies

As my body Surrenders to
The blissful ache
Of another moon gone by.

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I wrote this poem yesterday, on the first day of my blood, the super moon in Pisces shining down from the night sky, piercing into my body and cleansing the emotional realms of my being through my blood.

I wasn’t sure whether to post this or not. There is something very raw about it and I feel somewhat exposed in sharing it. I decided to share because I yearn for this kind of thing to be born out of the shadows and integrated into life in loving embrace of all that we are, not just the parts we want others to see.

So, here I am. Bleeding. Loving bleeding. Celebrating bleeding. Feeling the ache. Embodying the different archetypes that flow through me as I bleed. Honouring the sacred cycle that affects me and all the other women who attend to their womb space.

Growing up in a fast paced society  that is geared towards linear achievement and carries undertones of inconvenience towards the cycles of nature, there is part of me that has resisted my own inner nature that fluctuates as the moon waxes and wanes. I recognise this resistance in other women as well as men in their attitude towards women. I feel it is the result of a lack of education, a misinterpretation, perhaps, of the importance of honouring what is natural and wild within us. While the outlook towards menstruation is shifting, I feel, there still needs to be a shift of perspective that uproots the patriarchal attitudes towards women and the power of our blood.

There are so many subtle ways in which the lack of acceptance of the fluctuation of the feminine nature infiltrates into society. I think that there is still so much learning and unlearning to be done before a healthy relationship between the mature masculine and the mature feminine, the inner masculine and the inner feminine can be truly embodied and lived. My commitment is to do that inner work and allow it to be reflected in my relationship with others and the world.

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There are many ancient texts, statues and images that depict the worship of the sacred feminine nature that exists within us all, women and men alike.  While I may be greatly inspired by books, images and wisdom teachings and teachers, at the end of the day, unless my relationship with myself, others, the environment and Spirit is a healthy one, I will be ever looking outside of myself for ‘the answers’. So I turn my attention toward my own embodied experience and to trusting the innate wisdom that abides within me, within all of us. ‘The answers,’ including the questions, are all here. They are never not here.

Allowing myself to flow with the cycle of my being, I can greater appreciate the different archetypes that live their way through me. At different times of the month I embody different aspects of myself. These can vary from a Lover, a Nurturer, a Shamana, a Queen, a Divine Slut, and even to a Hag / Witch. When I can accept the ever fluctuating nature of life, I can live with greater ease in beholding the many faces of myself. When I identify myself with any one of these archetypal examples, the running waters of life stagnate within me. I experience pain, confusion and separation. For I am none of these archetypes just as much as I am all of them. I learn to allow them to flow through me and, like my blood, I give them back to the earth when they have served their course.

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The lover is an angel of devotion. Her heart is as big as the world and she sings melodiously, attracting bees to her nectar and the potential of new life to be born within her belly. She is easy to identify with because she embodies a concept of beauty that is easy to accept. She is ultra feminine. She can give and receive love in equal measure and make all those around her feel embraced by her loving attention and presence. She is an easy one to stagnate within because she adheres to so much of what popular media can portray as beautiful and good. However, if we cling to her too tightly then we will find it harder and harder to embrace the parts of ourselves that contradict her beauty; the days when we wake up and feel like crap, the times we need to set clear boundaries and say a firm no.

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The nurturer is more like a mothering energy. She has the energy to embrace and behold in a non sexual way all that comes before her. She see’s the inner child in others and it appeals to her nature that wants to give, to feed and to keep safe and warm. She is useful on many occasions when this energy is needed and can also be a hinderance when the space is needed to allow someone to grow into their power by truly embracing the challenges that lie before them. In those times, they do not need a mother, they need their own inner strength.

Stacey Dean

The Shamana is a powerful medicine woman. She is somewhat unconcerned with the outer world as she tends to the unseen. She is magical and mysterious. She senses energy and can read thought and feeling. Used wisely, this energy can serve the times that we need to spend alone, to go inward and seek the council of the unseen and whatever that means to us personally. When we over identify with this archetype, we can become detached and cut off from others, and even see them as a threat to our sanctity, which will not serve us in our times of need.

medicine woman

The queen is also a powerful and directive archetype. She embodies nobility, integrity and inner strength. She is a natural leader, teacher and space holder. She cares deeply for those around her and acts in their service, often sacrificing her own needs for those she serves. Again, this can become an isolating archetype if given too much importance.

The divine slut is like part of ourselves who is fully embracing and comfortable in her own shadow. She can be seen as a negative force to those who do not understand the essence of her power. She allows us to see parts of ourselves that are less socially acceptable. In her immature form she represents the unhealthy abuse of power through manipulation, addiction and obsession with darkness. In her maturity she has the ability root herself into the darkness and feed on its pure energy, allowing alchemy to occur within her and the darkness to be born into wisdom. She can make ritual out of the parts of ourselves that we fear and keep hidden and, thus, birth them into the light.

This quote speaks to me of this archetype and others like her:

‘The wrathful dakini’s laugh and dance as they feast on the raw negativity that the unenlightened take to be demons.’ Miranda Shaw

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The divine hag is the crone. She is the decrepit, hunched over, ageing mother of death who can be somewhat harder to embody if there is over identification with the lover or the mother or the typically more ‘status quo’ feminine archetypes we have been conditioned to accept. She is the turning over from one cycle to the next and I feel her very powerfully, usually on my first day of bleeding. She has the power to take anything that is no longer serving us and release it into the arms of death, which is really the only way that a new cycle can begin. When we give ourselves away to the earth, to life, when we surrender fully, then and only then can life flow through us and we can be rejuvenated with fresh energy and the cycle can appear to begin again. I embrace the hag in me and all she brings forth, the wisdom within her piercing exterior.

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These are just a few of the archetypes that I notice play their way through me. My ability to ‘play’ back with them as they dance their dance through my being determines the quality of my relationship with life.

When we resist the different forms energy can embody, we create separation between who we are in that moment and who we think we should be. When we identify with them, we stagnate and the energy can not flow through us. When we embody them in their immature form, the pure essence of their energy becomes diluted with our judgements, beliefs, shame, blame, addiction and craving and we can enact them in unhealthy and, perhaps harmful, ways.

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And when we embody them in their maturity the pure essence of potent energy that they behold can live through us. We can speak our truth, honour our needs and take full responsibility for all that we are. We can stand in our power, that is not a manipulative kind of power but a power that is attentive to and perceptive of the reality of the moment and can respond with grace, compassion and unabashed authenticity.

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This, I feel, is the potential power of connecting deeply with our cycles, of showing up authentically through all the many masks we can consciously fashion. They are just masks after all. And, imagine, if we could be truly embody the wild array of life’s energetic forms in their mature expression, how integrated we can be! There lies the potential to feel the divine within everything, above and below, within as out with, in lightness and the depths of darkness.

May it be SO.

sacred tree

We are Stardust

I was inspired by this video this morning and a poem popped out

We are Stardust.

 Inseparable from
The largest of the large,
The smallest of the small.
Made of the memories
Of galaxies,
Of wild rivers,
Of the Space between the walls
We sometimes build around ourselves… 

I am in the Universe and
The Universe is in me.
It is WE
It is You and Me,
Together: We

 It’s in all we see,
In all we smell,
In all we taste and touch

 In every vibration
That brings music to our ears
In every oscillation
In laughter, as in tears.

 There is nothing we are not.
There is no box by which
We can define

 The limitlessness of
our hearts
And of our minds.

 We. Are. Already. Free.

 And still, here I am
(A me amidst the We).

My own star amongst stars
Weaving threads
Through eternity.

 We are all made of each other,
Yet we also each behold,
Our own unique light,
Our own colour,
Our own story to be told.

 And like a choir
We come together,
And offer all we bring.
Uniting One to the Other
Through all the songs we each sing.

 In a moment of eternal silence,
I turn to meet your gaze,
Once more I am in awe
And my heart is set ablaze.

 For when we truly meet each other
Show up naked as we came
We can celebrate our differences
No need for judgement, blame or shame.

 And if you are not ready
I will meet you as you are,
For there is nothing you need to be,
For me,
You are your own perfect,
Bright and Shining Star.

 The walls around me crumble
As you see me as I am
And in seeing me
I see you…. 

 I am here with you.
I am here with you.
I am here with you.

 I am in the Universe and
The Universe is in me.
It is our diversity

 It is the way we sing
In and out of tune

 It is the way we flit
In and out of time

 It is the way we speak
In and out of Rhyme.

 It is in you and
It is in me.
It is We.
As we weave
Our threads
Through and into
Eternity.

http://soulspottv.com/blog/he-most-astounding-fact-about-you-a-video-that-will-open-your-mind-in-under-4-minutes/

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Artwork: Lover, by Alex Grey

Relationship to practice – an ongoing inquiry

Very interesting and great this is being talked about.
Love your body, take care of it.
This is why I believe in a ‘mind with matter’ approach over a ‘mind over matter’ approach.
‘Mind over matter’ practices, which tend to be goal orientated and about pushing through what you feel, encourage a disengagement with the body which I do not believe to be so healthy in terms of embodying presence, yoga.
‘Mind with matter’ practices, which are focussed on allowing the awareness to inhabit whatever is present in the body, encourage a fluent and dynamic relationship with life in which we learn to respond consciously and kindly instead of cut off from what we feel and push push push through.
To me, this is more aligned with the notion of Self Inquiry, which holds no specific form or sequence (especially not one that glorifies injury as righteousness). Rather, it is an ever adapting relationship with and inquiry into life and all it entails.
When we can bring this into the way we move, we are not only kinder to ourselves and release false expectations and ideals, we learn to invite open consciousness into our bodies so that every cell of our being is alive and glowing with embodied presence. From this space we can consciously respond to whatever medicine life offers, moment to moment, without being bound to a particular framework that may not serve every situation.
How is your relationship with your practice ( i.e., with life – is the way you are practicing perpetuating a particular relationship with life that keeps you in patterns that don’t serve you or your body?) ?
How can you soften your edges in order to allow presence to enter your body? How can you come to love and respect yourself fully, and so to, love this experience of life? ❤

WAWADIA update #6 /// “I Was Addicted to Practice”: A Senior Teacher Changes Her Path

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Return

Ah, I see. You are here too. It doesn’t matter where I am. You are within me.

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These words came to me as I stood, looking at a notice board, appreciating the wild array of creative potential that is available in this very place. The words came out of the silent space I was spending the day within. I spent the day in silent retreat with Marlies Cocheret. It was a wonderful way to come to ground in the stillness of my own being when all around me had changed.

These words landed in me, just as I had landed back in the UK a few days earlier. And, as I landed, physically, something else landed in me too. Something I can’t quite explain; like a deep, rooted, feet on the ground feeling, a welcome home embrace from the land through my feet.

I arrived early Thursday morning and spent my first day back at my brother’s house in London. In a complete DAZE. I wasn’t quite sure if the last year had been a dream or not. I feel as though I have slow motion closed my eyes to blink and then opened them again to the place I began. Yet, something feels different. And there is this deep recollection of a beautiful dream I just had. You know, those dreams you wake up from and the dream stays with you. It’s in your cells. It’s a memory of something that touched you deeply and will stay with you in your heart every time you go there in your mind.

That is what it feels like to me. My heart is so full. So full of appreciation for this waking dream I just had. It was full of everything; laughter, tears, joy, sorrow, pain, complete pleasure, deep, lasting connections and brief encounters that flew in and out. There were lucid moments of intimacy through dance, music and movement.

There were times of feeling lonely, mouldy and trapped in a Jungle with a giant scorpion and about 10 bats as room mates! And there were times of feeling complete freedom through my voice in both communication and allowing it to soar in song.

I saw some experiences through to their completion, and stayed with them where, in the past, I may have sought distraction from an uncomfortable feeling. I got to work through some deeply uncomfortable conflicts, inner and outer, and break down some core belief systems that were perfectly distorting my perception.

I dropped in deeply with my natural surroundings; I saw Whales – lots of them! I hiked through redwoods that I had seen in my dreams two years before. I got to sing on the main stage at Shaktifest in Joshua Tree National Park with Masood Ali Khan. I tasted Cacao in a whole new light with Kieth, the Cacao Shaman, in Guatemala and had the pleasure of working with him for two whole months.

I have bathed in splendiferous hot springs and made many friends who, when asked how we met, we look at each other, smile and say ‘naked in a hot tub.’ I swam in the untamable ocean with a dear loved one, chilled to my bones, taking refuge on the rocks, knowing I had to swim further and then back!

I allowed love in and I let it flow from me so many times in so many different ways. I feel so touched by all those who I met along the way, the deep medicine they brought me with the gift of their presence. I will be ever grateful for this and I will ever cherish them ( yes YOU ) in my heart.

Yes, this waking dream of a year has touched me immeasurably. It’s in my bones, flowing through my veins as a memory very much alive in me.

I was afraid to let go. I was afraid to return. I was dreaming of staying longer, of coming back just so I could return there, to that waking dream. I fantasised about ways I could do this; that I would fall in love and marry over there; I would find a course of study that was applicable for a visa; oh hell, I would throw my pass port away and simply stay!!! None of these transpired ( especially not the last one which I would unlikely ever have done! 😉 ).

Throughout all of my dreaming was a small, still voice within me. Something more like a feeling that whispered ‘not right now.’ Whenever I weighed up my options, I was struck by the deep grounded feeling my body responded with when I thought of returning to the UK. It was interesting. My mind telling me one thing; the story it liked about living in California. And my body was gently nudging me in another direction. Of course, with all the work I have been doing in the last few years, at the end of the day I will listen to my body of wisdom – it knows!!

And, naturally, this is not definitive. It does not mean forever. Nothing ever does. It simply means that, for now, for as long as ‘now’ lasts, that I will listen to what is right for me and live it. I still dream of returning to California and hope to in the not too far future. How could I not go back when I know all these amazing people over there?!

It was, nonetheless, true for me, that when I landed back in the UK, I landed. There was resistance in me. And it is still coming and going in waves. The sweet pain of letting go so that something new can be born. I am here with it all. I slept 1 1/2 hours last night and spent the rest of the night in deep commitment to myself not to abandon myself as a wave of restlessness, panic and ‘holy crap what am I doing with my life??!!’ washed over me.

I am here with it all and, surprisingly, I feel rested. The sweet letting go so that something new can be born. It needs to work its way through my body in the loving presence of awareness. I will dance it tonight, that pain, that gratitude, that deep love that cuts me open and bears my spirit to the world in such sweet abandon. I will dance it and I will sing it and I will stay with it stay here, through it all. I will let it be and let it move and transform in its own sweet way, in its own sweet time. The inner alchemy of the Spirit is perfect despite what the mind makes of it.

Here, with my own experience, I invite you to be here with yours. We can stand together. Me in my experience and you in yours with the resonance of what we share weaving itself in the space between us.

All of you who I am yet to see and reconnect with, I so much look forward to meeting again. To meeting each other where we are, as we are. In that vulnerable and naked space of presence where whatever arises is exactly what is meant to arise. Whether laughter or tears, we each have the opportunity to look in side and ask; What medicine does this bring? How shall I respond? How can I embrace this experience in loving kindness?

And to all those who have touched me in this last year. A deep bow of gratitude. I am forever yours.

Come away into the forest with me. Out amongst the trees we can become faeries and elves. We can weave magic and speak songs of peace for all beings. We can dance amongst the pines, all our wildest desires. Stomp our feet upon the earth, our hearts in our feet.
Come away into the forest with me. Out amongst the trees we can become faeries, elves and creatures of myth and magic. We can weave blessings and speak songs for the peace, love and integrity of all beings. We can dance amongst the pines, all our wildest desires, our deepest fears and ecstasy. We can stomp our feet upon the earth, our prayers in our hearts, our hearts in our feet.