“And thus you will dance to your death here, on this hilltop, at the end of the day. An din your last dance you will tell of your struggle, of the battles you have won and of those you have lost; you will tell of your joys and bewilderments upon encountering personal power. Your dance will tell about the secrets and about the marvels you have stored. And your death will sit here and watch you.”
Carlos Castaneda

Journey to Ixtlan

Searching

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I was a guest in Shahar’s studio this week. I attended a performance practice session – students prepared for short performances. I believe that for most of them it was a first time – and they all chose to do solo performances. After the performances, as we were sitting in a circle talking about the experiences, this image came to me. I sensed that during most of the performances there were two recurring themes: (1) there was content – a flow of creative information; (2) there was a lot of searching.

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It was interesting that both of these qualities were present regardless of the quality or quantity of creative content. Searching was happening both when there was a little/specific content and much/diverse content.

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There is something about searching that seems to distract from the present. It seems to be an action of looking away – diverting attention from what is present to what may soon come, or what we wish was there. In the performances it manifested as fleeting moments in which there was a connection – as if the searching movement was dancing around and only occasionally meeting what was present.

This sent me back to an idea of “Grazing” that came up during the first Orchard Labs project. The idea of Grazing offers a different perspective on searching – it makes searching an event & material in it’s own right. Grazing is finding searching! Grazing collects and focuses movement and brings it into the present – it establishes a connection to the creative flow of materials that is always there.

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Maybe this is one aspect of practice? Slipping in and out of this connection which changes and evolves over time? Recalling my diverse experiences in working with Shahar (as a participant and an observer) – I have a feeling that there is another magical aspect of this dynamic process. It seems that when a connection is formed, the field of creative materials actually expands. When this happens the quality of searching transforms into a quality of choosing. Where there was once a trickle that was hard to find there is now an overwhelming flood.

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I have felt this with the camera in hand:

  • I have experienced resistance to raising the camera when witnessing a performer searching.
  • I have experienced curiosity emerging inside me when witnessing a performer’s searching turn into grazing and specific materials begin to appear. For me these are special moments – they are almost prophetic – there is a buzz in the air that tells me that magic is about to happen.
  • I have experienced peace when witnessing a performer completely immersed in a creative flow. These moments are so special to witness – that I have much less interest in seeing the resulting images then experiencing them.
  • I have experienced bliss – when partaking in this process and feeling that it is not me that is taking the images – that I am an instrument in the hands of a higher force. That I am no longer searching for or connected to this creative flow, but rather that I exist in it and it is guiding me, moving my body, changing focus and releasing the shutter.
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Randy

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My name is Ronen Hirsch – I don’t often feel a need to cite it – but it is a key element of this recollection.

About 10 years ago I went to visit Los Angeles, I lived there for 5 years as a child and hadn’t been to visit for almost 15 years. I went for two weeks and stayed with my aunt and uncle (and also attended Lauren’s marriage ceremony). I was in the midst of a transition (seems to be the story of my life) and taking a step back before making a change.

During the visit my aunt took me on a day trip which included a stop at Ojai – a charming little town north of LA. She (my aunt) wanted to take me to some kind of “spiritual” experience – a healing treatment or something like that. At the time I was not as open and in tune as I am today – and though I wasn’t against it, I also wasn’t looking forward to it.

When we arrived at Ojai we wondered around what looked like the town center. We drifted into one of those “spiritual product shops” – with oils, candles, soaps – a place with a definite and intense presence – and smells. I walked around minding my own business and I noticed that my aunt struck up a conversation with the woman at the counter.

It wasn’t long until my Aunt came up to me and asked if I would like to get some kind of massage/healing treatment here. My head started hurting… and I turned down the offer. We then headed out and drove up to a nearby mountain to a place of meditation. My headache got worst and lasted two hours.

The name of the woman at the counter was Randy Hirsch. I am looking for her – I’d like to speak to her. If you are reading this and know someone from Ojai, please send them a link to this post. If you are from Ojai and know Randy Hirsch – please ask her to contact me.

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Daphna Dor Upcoming Exhibition

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Meeting and working with Daphna Dor is another one of the graceful gifts that arrived in my life through Shahar. A couple of her works adorn the walls of my office, as a constant reminder to me of wonder. I have seen her dip a small wooden branch in ink,touch it to a paper (that she herself created), and then gently watch and guide the ink as it finds its way through the fibers and settle into a divine presence.

A few weeks ago Daphna and I spent a day together to document some of her new work as part of the preparations for her upcoming exhibition. While most people will see a sample of her work hanging on gallery walls, I got to meet her recent work strewn across the floor of my house while we prepared to photograph it.

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A small room which usually has a yoga mat on the floor became an improvised studio. We had great natural light that day.

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Working with Daphna is a provoking process. Her works, small and large, are filled with subtle details and random occurrences. I could spend entire days with some of her images with a macro-lens, traveling through endless winding paths. She also allows the images I create to penetrate her awareness and inform her own perception of her work, which is a rewarding gesture for me as a photographer.

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Her exhibition opens on Thursday Dec 10th at 19:30 – at the Artists House in Tel-Aviv and will be on display until Jan 4th. I intend to be there, so please drop to see Daphna’s work and say hello.

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Yoga Asana: Urdhva Prasr(i)ta

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The focus of this posture is stretching of the legs upward. The starting point is lying on the back, arms alongside the body and the knees folded over the chest. As you inhale brings the arms up and over the head while stretching the legs up. As you exhale bring the arms back alongside the body and the knees back to a folded position over the chest.

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As always, respect your limits. You may find that you cannot brings you legs in a straight position all the way up to a 90 degree angle to the body. This is fine. You should try to reach and go no further then a 90 degree angle between your upper-leg/thighs and torso – doing this will insure you that no unnecessary effort is placed on your abdominal muscles. To do this you may need to keep the knees slightly bent.

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As with previous postures we’ve visited – please continue to pay attention to correct placement of the arms and the neck.

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Breakfast

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I went outside to drink a cup of coffee in the company of Tree (our cat) and take in some fresh air. I removed the rain cover from the chairs and table, pulled out a chair and found this guy on it having his breakfast. He seemed cool with me moving the chair into the sunlight and sticking a macro lens in his face… and well… I’ll let the images tell the rest of the story.

[slidepress gallery=’breakfast’]

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