Here

Here, in this place of sweet sensing,
Of all that is and ever was
And will be,

I am.

I do not know the future,
And the past…
A near and distant
Dream.

And, still,
I am.

An uncapturable moment
In and out of time…

Life’s eternal river
Flowing through my veins.
All that she births into
This body heart mind
To be felt.
To be beheld.
To be loved.

All that she takes with her
Into the dark shadows of death
To be recycled.
To be reborn.
To be integrated.

She flows endlessly.
All the many faces
Of myself,
She offers me
As medicine.

And, still,
Here
I am.

Amidst the oscillation
Of thought, of feeling, of impulse,
I turn towards my heart
With treasurable tenderness.

Life is so precious, so intimate
So close….

Continue reading “Here”

Whale Medicine

Since September last year, whales have been visiting me through dreams and journeys, moments of stillness and swimming within bodyheartmind. I’ve been singing to them while playing in the waves and listening to the songs they sing to me in various ways, the wisdom they carry.

Yesterday, after I danced a sunset dancespeak with mama ocean, I knelt down and touched the sand, felt her waters, received her power. I sighed a sigh of awe at her unyielding depths and beauty, and the thought drifted through my mind…

‘When will I see whale?’

I stood up and, as I looked towards the horizon, as the sun was setting, there she was. She flew out from the waters, about 30 metres out from the shore. She stayed there, playing in the water, breaching many times, before swimming off (quite literally) into the sunset.

I stayed, quite speechless, heart full, feeling so intricately part of that moment, part of the waters, part of the sunset sky, inseparable from life’s fertile body and infinite potential, for some time.

This Hafiz quote came to mind as I stood blowing kisses toward whale, toward the ocean, toward all within and around me… Thank you Great Spirit.

‘One regret dear world, that I am determined not to have when I am lying on my deathbed is that I did not kiss you enough’ (Hafiz)

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Here is a link to some information about Whale Medicine for anyone interested.

http://scottfoglesong.printandwebdesign.com/41-whale.pdf

What’s it all about?… For you….

Yo YoYo Yogi’s!

This is a good article reminding that yoga is not about being bendy.
There are as many different ways of practicing yoga as there are people.
Listen to yourself.
Trust the wisdom of your body.
Please take care of your joints.
Get to know your bodyheartmindspirit with the greatest intimacy.
Work with a teacher who appreciates your uniqueness over striving to get you to fit a mold.
You are you.
That’s what you have to work with.
You may as well love it and start from where you are, as you are…
What else?
Xxxxx LOVE xxxxxx

http://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/mobility-s-dark-side-why-being-super-bendy-isnt-all-that

mermaid meditation by Sofia

Mermaid meditation painting by Sofia Dabalsa
http://society6.com/sofiadabalsa/Mermaid-Meditation_Print#1=45

May I See, truly See, with clear, open eyes and a loving heart

I love this quote below. It is so beautiful.

‘Study me as much as you like,you will never know me, for I differ  a hundred ways from what you see me to be. Put yourself behind my eyes,  and see me as I see myself, for I have chosen to dwell in a place you cannot see’ 

Rumi

So often our perception can be based around ideas we have about what others are thinking / feeling. Our relationships can be so much built upon projection through fear if facing what is really there. We can fall into pretending, trying to please others by living up to who we think they want us to be instead of being ourselves. In doing this we override our intuition and inner truth at the same time as denying the other the choice to be truly with us as we are.

When we choose to shine as our authentic self, we offer freedom to the relationship. Freedom for growth, movement and choice.living in this way can brung up fear at first. Living in this way, we courageously step into the unknown in each moment. We open ourselves up to rejection, loneliness and fear of abandonment

However, at the same time, through our radical and compassionate honesty, we open ourselves up to attracting relationships into our lives that thrive through clear and open communication, that are willing to see things as they are with a mutual dedication towards personal growth, embodiment and unfolding. We open ourselves up for greater intimacy and deeper connections with each other in all forms of our relationships. We can’t expect this from others but we can develop these qualities in ourselves and choose relationships that support and nurture and reflect our own inner dedication to presence.

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So much conflict and tension can arise internally and in relationships because of presumptions we make about each other based on our personal history and past traumas. Truly, we cannot presume to know what another is thinking or feeling.

What we can do is trust fully what we know to be true for ourselves, own it, and then share our experiences with others in open, conscious, compassionate communication. Sharing without blaming or shaming, but taking responsibility for ourselves and allowing others to take responsibility for themselves.

Through acknowledging what is there and being brave enough to fully feel and BE with it, the judgement, the concept can drop away and we can become present. And, from the space of presence, the energy is freed up and can move and take shape. Then we can dance together, free from our limiting ideas. Yet, we cannot truly dance together until we have recognised and truly seen the concepts that contain us in the light of compassionate, unconditional awareness. As the old saying goes;

‘You cannot heal what you cannon feel.’

It takes courage. It takes dedication. It takes allowing ourselves to feel into our vulnerabilities and allow them to be seen, truly seen. It takes the willingness to love and accept all parts of ourselves, and others, all the ways that the infinite potential of life can move through us – which isn’t always pretty.

Embracing all of it, then the energy that is free from conditions can be experienced to its core. It is no different from anything else. It is only the preference for one feeling over another at the surface level that sets these feelings apart. This is not to say that we should deliberately walk head first into our own destruction because it is no different from the constructive aspects of ourselves.  But it is to say that when difficult feelings or situations arise, internally or in relationship, if we can feel it to it’s core, then there is great potential in everything.  Inner alchemy can occur and the energy move and can become useful rather than overwhelming and  defeating.

We can dot it! Let’s practice together, with each other. Let’s cultivate an abundance of compassion, patience, space holding skills, integrity, understanding and authentic relating.

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Here is my personal prayer in relation to this…

May I be aware of judgemental thoughts towards myself and others. May I embrace them with the love and understanding of choiceless wisdom.

May I turn towards and not run away.

May I communicate kindly and compassionately.

May I understand that it is never personal.

May I always remember that this too shall pass. That this, too, is another form of the infinite passing through me. That this, too, shall offer me a deeper understanding, shall bring me to a greater space of intimacy with myself and others, shall, in essence, bring me closer to YOU.

It’s all part of the dance.

Will you dance with me?

tree hug

Beyond belief

Dear all,

I can’t seem to write much at the moment apart for poems about dancing!!!

Having committed myself to 365 days of dancing this year, it feels appropriate. 🙂

I’m now 17 days in and loving it! Whether I move for a minute, an hour or become immersed in the dance for undefinable periods of time, I am loving being danced alive by all aspects of life.

Allowing my body to move , whether with music , to spoken word, or in intimate connection with the deep inner silence of my heart, I am emptied out and fuelled with inspiration, connection and clarity.

Alongside this free form movement, I am grounded through my daily yoga and meditation practice and am finding time to sing to the stars, planets, earth and sky (alongside everyone who walks past my house!!). I am loving the moments of sharing yoga therapy with others here, too, and am grateful for the beautiful spaces I have the opportunity to teach in.

These are a few of the things that bring me to life in the most intimate ways.

And I wonder, what brings you to life? And are you allowing yourself time to give those things to yourself, perhaps even share them with others? How could you shuffle things around a little to offer yourself that important soul food time?

If these questions bring up a sense of haplessness, I wonder if you can gently place your hands on your heart, your body, and lovingly breathe with those feelings for a moment. Allow yourself to ground and to, just for a moment, drop into a remembering of that which brings a smile, a feeling of inner strength, empowerment and peace… It could be a place in nature, an activity like painting, music, science… We all contain a deep inner knowing of our joys and our gifts…They are the things that come most naturally to us when we are connected to ourselves.

Once you have found this place, this feeling, notice the change in your bodymindheart. How do you feel now? Offer a simple, genuine, compassionate smile. It’s likely you are now back in this moment. 🙂

I know what it feels like to feel disconnected. I have felt the anguish of isolation, loneliness, fear and grief. And I have come to know that there is immense creativity available, even in those moments.

For me, the door to that creativity opens when I surrender. This does not mean becoming despondent, but truly surrendering into the experience.

From this place of holding that which is in loving embrace, I give myself full permission to feel it (not always easy!). Then it can move through me, like the dance, like the music, like life, and I am far more likely to respond consciously by giving my bodymindheart what it needs in that moment.

Free form dancing is, for me, not about trying to get somewhere, or to ‘bliss out’ (although it’s nice when that happens too), rather, to show up, as I am and to let my body move, as it is. Neither holding onto that experience, nor pushing it away.

In this way, the dance dances itself. The body flows effortlessly without over identifying with the experience. The mind embodies the body… And energy shifts shape, and flows, and opens, and changes as energy tends to like to do 🙂

So it doesn’t have to be about putting on a show, living up to what we believe others expect of us and, more likely, what we expect of ourselves. It’s simply about showing up and being real. It can be surprising how giving loving permission to ourselves to show up authentically tends to give others an unsaid permission to do the same.

Respecting, embracing and kindly communicating our boundaries and limitations, in the moments they arise, are part of being authentic. It’s not all about being completely ‘wide open’ all the time.

Perhaps we could explore redefining this spiritual idea of being ‘open’ as the ability to be genuine in every given moment whether the experience is one of expansion or contraction. And, furthermore, to be willing enough to bring that into relationship; with ourselves, with others, with life – whatever is appropriate in that moment.

Life is not always convenient, but it does always, and in all ways, bring us what we need and offer us fertile ground for loving what is and unfolding from there. All we have to do is turn towards it, embrace it and then let it move us… Like music, like the dance…

I’ll leave you with a poem I wrote this evening. Inspired by the contact improvisation jam I attended this afternoon.

Beyond Belief

I dance and
My body
My heart
My breath
Become inspired beyond belief.

The music moves through me,
And as it does,
It moves me.
I would be foolish to believe
I have control,

This dance
That dances me
From my soul,
To my hips, to
My finger tips

I empty out of all
I think I know,
And Stand there, naked,
Nowhere to go, but
Into myself and
Into You…

And there you are, again,
My sweet dancing friend.
Your eyes catch hold of mine and,
Together, we meet,
To surrender time.

To pulse, to flow, to glide, to fly,
To offer ourselves to
Ground and
Sky and to
Each other

You fall into me, and I
Melt into you.
And there, right there,
I need not know
The stories
That have woven you
To me

And nor need you know
The many paths
I have tread upon
To bring me
Here
To You.

This is a conversation
Beyond words,
Beyond stories,
Beyond beliefs…

We meet here,
Together in the dance,
As pure, raw,
Vulnerable beauty.

Breath of your breath,
My breath.
Beat of your heart,
My . Heart . Beating .

So completely interwoven
There Is no you,
Nor I.
So close, I cannot tell
Where you end
And I begin

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Painting by Alex Grey http://alexgrey.com/art/

Inspiration comes through movement, pour moi!

So, my computer has officially died it’s day. This is my first attempt at updating my blog through my iPhone… Let’s see how it goes!!

Years back, when I spent some time living at the Bihar School of Yoga in India, I realised something that proved incredibly helpful… i discovered that I learn Through movement, sound and rhythm. 

During the years I spent at school, I would frequently become stressed during exams and assignments, trying to take in information through reading. My head would swirl, the words would jump out at me and I would often feel defeated internally.

Despite this, I managed to do pretty well at school. I must have had some intuitive sense of how i absorb information because, when studying for my exams, I would learn all the potential essay answers to song from my favourite musicals at the time (yes, I loved musicals!!!), and I studied for the more fact based exams by rhythmically jumping and skipping round the house, sometimes clapping along, while reciting mathematical equations, anatomical information, musical theory and historical fact.

I hope some good (perhaps giggle worthy) imagery is coming up for you here! 😉

Through doing this I was able to retain enough information to pass my exams with good grades. And I wonder if this kind of learning had been greater promoted with greater consistency while I was at school, if my experience there would have been less stressful and more fluid, playful and fun! Wow, just imagine if learning were fun!!!

And indeed it is for many children, and indeed adults, who attend educational institutions who focus on serving the creative unfolding of each being… Whether that be through scientific, numerological, movement or arts based learning. Creativity is certainly not limited to the arts. Life itself is an art!

So, as you can imagine, yoga worked for me. When I was living in the ashram we hardly read any books. The emphasis was on experiential absorption of the teachings that were relevant to each of us. Through being there, drinking the experience in, I somehow walked away from it with a whole load of knowledge that I wasn’t quite sure where it had come from!!

It helped that this particular ashram has an incredibly holistic approach to yoga. The emphasis was not at all on stretching, although that was a small part of it. We turned towards seeing yoga from many angles and this appealed to me a lot since I grater resinate with yoga as a deep, authentic and intimate relationship with life more than I do so with it being solely about the improvement of physical finesse (although, feeling happy and healthy in the body is important. It’s just that there isn’t any ‘one way’ that that looks or feels – as can seem to be propagated by many modern approaches to yoga asana. It can be much like how beauty is portrayed on magazine covers – air brushed – and this unattainable idea of ‘perfection’ can become a subtle and aggressive goal in our physical practice – and this creates separation and subtle waves of inner tension, an outward portrayal of balance, finesse and detachment while the inner world is crumbling. Setting these two polarities apart, inwardly and outwardly, it can become harder to appreciate and embrace the whole that contains them both). 

so, I was talking about learning! 

It was a great relief to realise there were other ways of taking in knowledge. For me, I like to feel it. In my cells. Ok so it’s not like that for everything. Scientific, fact based learning is a little less cellular for me. But learning it with rhythm and with movement are good ways to help me remember. And this applied to learning that involves meaning, well this lands in my cells with a much greater felt sense. For me, it makes like rich. To feel life as I walk through it. To continuously enhance my relationship with my body through this connection to life brings great discernment and clarity in decision making (when I apply it!!! Sometimes I forget 🙂 ).

And what I really wanted to share with you is this great talk I listened to while practicing yoga this morning.  I find that, during my practice, because I am applying the receptivity skills that I know work for me, inspiration such as appears in this talk really lands in the cells of my body, becomes embodied.

I love what Tim Freke says about the ‘both and’ approach and about embracing paradox. If you have time to listen to this talk, I highly recommend!

http://youtu.be/JnSCLMgCI1Y 

And here’s an open invitation to fully embrace the way that you learn so that it can be fun and playful for you too!

Enjoy!

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Yo Yo Yo Yoga! ;)

Yoga is Movement in Stillness

And Stillness in Motion

A calm mountain lake,

The crashing waves of the Ocean

 

It’s extravagance, simplicity,

It is Ice and Fire.

It is a new born babe

And the funeral Pyre.

 

It’s the belly’s hearty laughter

And a serious pout.

It is seeing all our layers

From the inside to the out.

 

Yoga is within and all around us

In its essence and its form

It is shape and it is shapeless

Vast empty sky and wild storm.

 

And where is yoga not?…

It is nowhere not here.

It can be found in every crevice,

In feeling Love through all our fears.

 

It is diving into LIFE and

Meeting every situation.

It is holding ourselves kindly

Through each habituation.

 

And awake to every moment

Exactly as it is

The concept drops away

And there is only

THIS

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(poem by Hayley Price, December 2013 (c) )

A deep bow to you all, in thanks!

I am sitting on my bed at the Gecko Verde Hotel in Samara, Costa Rica. My mum and, her partner, Tim are sitting outside reading. My view is out onto the veranda and, beyond that, of my belongings, strewn over rocks and hanging off trees, catching the rays of the sun with a prayer whispered from me across the soft breeze that the stench of jungle mould will pleeeeaaaassssse blow away and that they will be dry before it’s time to leave here on Friday morning!

The last month here has been what I can only describe as ‘interesting.’ I arrived in Costa Rica from California, having just sat an illuminating 10 day retreat with Jack Kornfield at Spirit Rock Meditation Centre.

Here’s a pic of the retreat centre from the hills I climbed daily

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For me, this retreat, amongst many things, was one about permission. Being given permission by the teachers and, most importantly, giving permission to myself to fully let go and follow my own inner wisdom and creativity.

I have sat many retreats over the last ten years and many of them have placed emphasis on meticulously following rules, sitting for long hours and overcoming matter with mind. Alongside providing me with a discipline that has taught me so much, something has never felt quite right about the sense of a divide between that within me which is creative, spontaneous, intuitive and wise and that voice which says ‘should.’ Guidelines can be helpful but, when they become fixed, there is a danger of rigidity in body, heart and mind.

I love this quote from H.H the Dalai Lama: ‘Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.’

I realised a number of years ago that I had been using ‘Spiritual Guidelines’ as a means to stay safe and creating an illusion of control (Aren’t we all control freaks in our own unique ways?!? Hehehe). Over the last five years or so, I have been allowing this misunderstanding to fall away. As a result, life has become increasingly playful and full of delight.

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I now see the way much less as ‘mind over matter’ as mind with matter. As Ken Wilber states, it is that which ‘transcends and includes all in a genuine embrace.’  I let go of a lot of my preconceptions about what it means to be ‘Spiritual,’ to practice yoga, of living a ‘right livelihood’ as the Buddhists would say. I have been dropping away the layers, letting concepts dissolve, and looking deeply into my own inner wisdom for the answers moment to moment. And life continues to live itself through me with increasing juiciness!

As Rumi says; “I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.”

And, in truth, it is this that has never led me astray. In fact, when I am in touch with this innate part of myself, which exists within all of us, then I am even free to make ‘mistakes.’ Because, in truth, ‘mistakes,’ can be the very things that help us to learn and grow…

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Saint Teresa of Avila says: ‘To experience something good it is very useful to have gone astray, and thus acquire experience.’

If we consistently base our lives on what those we have exalted to some ‘higher’ level tell us and fail to reach wisdom through our own experience, then this experience, this wisdom, is never truly our own. We can seek and receive wise guidance and listen to it as long as it resonates but, at the end of the day, it is us that must live our own lives and be committed to and responsible for our own growth, whatever that means to each of us. It is important to see when we are truly living our truth or when we are blindly following what another has told us due to some inner lack of self-worth and a need to feel righteous.

I feel that guidance from a teacher is helpful when it comes from a place in which the teacher encourages us to know ourselves with greater depth, fullness and compassion, to wisely discern and navigate the course of our own lives and way of relating with integrity and authenticity and to empower a sense of deep inner knowing that allows us to live from moment to moment with clear discernment and deep intimacy with life. It is not so helpful when the relationship becomes co-dependent.

And sometimes this way of living, of diving into life, involves making ‘mistakes’…. Which, of course, are only ever mistakes if we see them like that, otherwise they are potent medicine! In fact, part of the magic is that we can’t really go wrong so long as we are awake to it!

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And the journey goes on…..

I spent the last month in a community, called Pachamama, in the jungle here in Costa Rica. During my time there I was working in a raw chocolate bar. I enjoyed this experience and learned how to make some really delicious treats. I did not, however, ‘click’ with the community there as I had hoped to. I don’t want to go into too much detail about this as everyone has their own unique experience of a place.

I realised at some point that I could feel inwardly defeated through being there and that this wasn’t helpful for me. At one point I almost left, but I decided to stay and explore what was going on inside of me. I allowed all that I was feeling, which wasn’t so comfortable, to penetrate me deeply, to ripple through my veins and permeate my being.

Through this, a sense of clarity and excitement dawned on me for all that is and is to come. Through diving into the apparent pain of separation I was feeling, I discovered a multitude of feelings and sensations that were as sweet and fluid as any other. I focused on holding and loving them like I would hold the one I love the most. And from this my heart began to swell with a deep appreciation for all that is LIFE and a renewed commitment to listening to and trusting my own inner guidance.

Toward the end of my stay there, I began to journal and write about all the things that I value and would like to encourage and move towards in my life. I became increasingly clear about what is important to me, how much I value open and compassionate communication, creativity and deep intimacy through relationship and life.

Rumi 5

I feel so grateful for being able to share what I love with people from all walks of life. I realised I do not want to ‘remove’ myself from society, but to live in a place where I have access to it. I wish to create an environment for living in which I have available the activities and people that nourish my being and, at the same time, be not too far away form a space where I can share all that my being has absorbed.

I have learned so much and feel so excited and inspired by the potential that lies ahead and I feel intimately connected to this moment as it unfolds! It has been wonderful to have my mum visiting me in Costa Rica. She has been an absolute angel and I feel renewed and ready to continue my journey.

In two days’ time I will travel to Guatemala where I hope to stay for a few months before I return to California. I discovered a couple of days ago that I have a place on a Work-study program at the Esalen Institute. I am delighted and excited to be returning there in March. Here is a link with some more information. I will be taking the course with Dorothy Charles beginning March 16th and then, hopefully, staying on for the ‘Body Centred Awareness’ course in April too.

http://www.esalen.org/page/upcoming-work-study-programs

And, in line with my renewed commitment to sharing all that my being absorbs, I plan to return to the UK between June and August to teach for a while. I will be integrating all the wonderful skills I have gathered on this journey into classes and workshops. I SO look forward to reconnecting, learning from, and sharing with all of you. In truth, we all learn so much from each other. You all touch me so deeply and give me such inspiration to always return to this moment and all that it illuminates.

My heart explodes with gratitude for you all. May you all be happy and well and full of Love.

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With LOVE ❤

And… Breathe!

I practiced yoga standing up this morning with my drishti fixed upon the scorpion occupying my yoga mat! I did a lot of kashta takshanasana (chopping wood) to invite my inner courage… And then, with an incense stick holder and the broom, I encouraged my new friend back into the jungle… Where, god willing, she will stay… Eeeeeeeee

scorpian

On a roll!

And here’s another quick blog from the back of the lovely Luna’s magic van on the way back from Harbin Hot Springs… feeling relaxed and inspired! (please don’t mind my grammatical errors, made up words etc… I am writing from the back of a van!)

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For me, yoga is not about a set of postures one can achieve. Rather, about my relationship to life itself, how I live and how I respond to this experience moment to moment. There is nothing that this looks like in particular, nothing solid to hold on to. There is no way this ‘should’ look either. It is completely unique to each individual that lives alive here on this planet.

Every journey holds such great medicine. All I can do is listen deeply and trust the journey I am on, at the same time as meeting each person with as much presence and authenticity as I able to in each given moment. Sometimes I am able to meet the moment with expansiveness and, at other times, due to fear and old patterns, I contract.

For me, it’s not about always being in that expansive space, rather being present through every experience, even when I contract. If I can not love through these moments too, then my Love is not inclusive, it is exclusive to an ideal state I am projecting onto myself and others.

I attended a ‘yoga psyche’ intensive last weekend in San Francisco with Mariana Caplan. She talked about saying ‘yes to the no.’ Another student at the intensive offered an example: when we hold our hand in a fist, if we try to pry it open, it tightens. If we simply hold our other hand around it softly, the grip loosens without effort. This is saying ‘yes to the no,’ this is loving through our contractive moments. And, subsequently, this approach tends to lead to a greater, more inclusive expansiveness than force does.

Life is delicate in this way. It is not helpful to Internally beat ourselves up for our moments of contraction. Knowing ourselves and lovingly tracking our habitual reactions, we can come to appreciate when we are gripping on, forcing or rigidifying a situation to maintain a platitude of control that keeps is safely in those patterns or fluidly responding to the moment with authenticity and loving attention. This often requires a little slowing down and giving space to be fully present, at least until that response becomes natural, a moment when a deep breath or two can be helpful.

So when engaging in the practices that have come to be known of as yoga, it is beneficial to cultivate such a sweet intimacy with ourselves that we can soften into and come to know our edges without forceful agenda.

Remember that more long lasting transformation in the nervous system tends to come about as a result of more subtle and gradual practice than from short bursts of intensity.

And, perhaps more importantly, when we engage with the yoga that is everything, whether we are practicing postures, dancing, singing, hiking, cycling, socialising, sitting silently, swimming or any action that involves living and breathing, the opportunity is there, right within and around us, to be in yoga, here and now in deep intimate presence with the universe and all it’s wonder.

star-formation

This is a Star formation picture from NASA 🙂