“Then what do you depend on? My own internal reactions. I read myself, not the person in front of me. I always know a lie because I want to turn my back on the liar.”
Frank Herbert

Chapter House Dune

The Morphic Field of Hallelujah

n

What touches me? The eternally spacious words of Leonard Cohen? Jeff Buckley’s poignant and guitar colored delivery? Or is it Lindsey’s voice as she pulls away to conjure up a sharp, powerful energy launched like a penetrating arrow into my heart? Can the elements be separated? Where does the song Hallelujah begin and where does it end? It is OH SO CLEARLY there … a living, changing, growing field … so specific and yet so infinite … a morphic field!

.. this post brought to you by the morphic field of morphic fields … probably instantiated by Michael Pollan’s objection to it (How To Change Your Mind) and by mentioning Rupert Sheldrake …

Posted in Enjoy, Expanding, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

Quick Unification

n

“What we are trying to develop to bring about unification will, if we move too quickly, divide us into pieces”

TKV Desikacahar – Religiousness in Yoga

The context of this quote is the many subtle details that make up Pranayama (breathing) practices. It is not possible to take them on at once, it takes years of practice to gradually take on one detail at a time, assimilate it and move on to the next (in the right order!).

But reading this echoed deeper inside me … reflecting on attempts (from which I have mostly retired) to achieve unification in the social sphere. In most of the social contexts I encountered in recent years I felt there was over-reach. Maybe this says something about the division that is manifesting?

For varying reasons we seem to expect fast & clear outcomes. It seems we like to reference ideas like “10,000 hours to achieve mastery” but are rarely interested in, or able to put in the hours. Deep experiential learning is mostly monotonous and unexciting … small, sometimes barely noticeable iterations that, over time and mostly in retrospect accumulate into (surprisingly!) substantial change. Maybe some experiential unlearning is a prerequisite for this to happen: a shedding of excitement, importance, achievement, drama and passion. When these are peeled off what are we left with? Maybe a slow and  curious engagement, a kind of mature playfulness where the reward shifts from winning the game to simply playing it, from mighty goals to small, stable steps?

I have lost interest in the “making the world a better place” narrative and, at least for now, have settled on something like “better inhabiting the world” … gradually finding ways to introduce quality on a small day-to-day scale. I am grateful that I was taught this skill on-the-mat (requiring much unlearning!) and it applies well off-the-mat.

 

Posted in Expanding, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

Lonely is Better

n

I have been in Israel for a few days and will be here for a few more. I came because my father injured his spine, went through surgery and is now embarking on a journey of recovery. I came to offer what help and support I can.

Before coming here I was in a long continuous period of retreat. I hadn’t left Bhudeva for almost three months, had spoken to very few people other then Iulia and was quite happy to continue that way. Coming out of retreat into this reality is jarring. I feel a bit like I imagine the Buddha felt in the story where he, a prince, left the confines of the castle and encountered suffering in the world.

Here, now, around me, at ground level, I see an ugly world with so much unmanifest potential. I see people divided, animalistic politics, primitive “reality” on TV, and people moving around like zombies … hardly aware of each other, hardly aware of themselves. My father’s physiotherapy sessions take place on the 5th  floor of a 6 story building that towers over the center area of this small city. I got to see this part of the city, I know so well, from this slightly higher perspective … and it is so ugly. I wonder: if the building was much taller, would the ugliness fade out and be replaced by something better? how high would I need to go for that to happen?

When my father is intellectually engaged with intellectually engaging to “gain a sense of control over an abusive world” he seems vital and distracted from his pains and limitation. At other times he seems to tired and broken, slouching in his seat. I remember a picture of his father, having fallen to sickness, sitting slouched on a his couch … and now I see my father … and a shiver passes through me.

Yesterday the circumstances were right for his broken spirit to come through and express itself. He shared a feeling of emptiness. He says most people their age are busy helping with the grandchildren. They have no grandchildren. He has nothing to do, no purpose to pursue and guide him. When I said briefly that I feel the same, he explained to me that he doesn’t have long to live, I still have plenty of time to figure it out.

… I am getting, for the first time in my adult life, reading-glasses … I felt my eyes get weaker this past year … a clear slightly fuzzy sign that I have plenty of time!

… and here Sunni … at 4:30am … after listening to a rainfall … here is where I meet your words “welcoming … there in lies your work.”

I feel like my consciousness has been lifted in this lifetime … maybe not much … just a bit  … the 5th story feels like a suitable metaphor. High enough to see the numbness and zombieness. High enough to discern that there is so much potential … and so many good intentions. High enough to discern that good intentions do not obviously translate into good actions … that correct effort is not yet a common skill.

I managed to escaped the zombies and the numbness. They would have been content hypnotizing me into believing that I am depressed … that there is something wrong with me … and that THEY can help me, THEY can fix it. They would have filled my body with chemicals that would have numbed me … enough to not feel depressed … enough to not feel me … enough to not feel. And that would have been a lucky outcome … because in the not too distant past they may have tried to “reboot” me by electrocuting my brain or to actually cut a part of it out.

It feels darker around me, now that I am looking at the laptop screen … but the bird-song tells me morning is coming … and that the birds feel refreshed by the rain.

There have been many times that it seemed that a baby would have “made things right” for others around me … and through them maybe even to the “totality” of my life experience. There have even been times where I felt swallowed by a deep, powerful, loving, demanding presence that “surrendered” me to it. I have many times felt a deep capacity to love. But, there have not been times where I felt able to be sincerely welcoming.

Welcoming to what? I feel like I can barely make my own way in this world. I feel profound hurts and pains as I write those words … tears coming to my eyes. I also feel peacefully able to be with and in those hurts and pains. But the sum of those two movements, the hurting and the being, adds up to a delicate emptiness … a stillness. It doesn’t add up to “welcoming”. It doesn’t add up to feeling adventurous. It doesn’t add up to feeling like I have a capacity to nourish and provide for and protect a baby. For that it seems that AT LEAST I would need to feel welcomed and nourished and protected.

But, for whatever reasons, that hasn’t been my life experience. I do not say that as an excuse and I carry no sense of blame towards anyone in my past. And I recognize the love and caring that has been and is present in my life. I simply want to acknowledge that is where I am. I do not have a time machine to go back and re-do / un-do what has been done. I am grateful that I’ve found my teachers and the teachings that pass through them that make it possible for me to peacefully inhabit what I am. Being present in your meditative space makes me feel connected … as if I am looking across the town center to another building that is also slightly higher than its surroundings … and there in a window I see you … and you too are looking around … and our eyes connect … and we connect … and in our eyes I see that you have seen what I have seen. But those words “welcoming … There in lies your work” … feel like a punch to the gut.

It seems like there are plenty of narratives which could explain how my life journey is devolving, how I’ve given up, how I’m stuck, how I’ve lost. There are moments where I am vulnerable enough to be effected by such narratives. But for me the loneliness I’ve arrived at in life represents a journey of clearing, healing and strength. Peaceful, clear & lonely is, for me, better then “depressed” and medicated into a numbed and comfortably socialized life.

… welcoming … not there (yet!?)
… and I don’t know if there is space enough in this lifetime for me to get there
… and I don’t even know if “welcoming” is at all on the trajectory that I am on … is it ahead of me or have I passed it?
… I do feel that I am open to receiving clear guidance that I can assimilate, hold and act on
… and I do feel that I am open to receiving guidance that I may not even recognize as guidance and that will move in me despite my conscious rambling
… I do know that that one word leaves my exposed heart feeling alienated and alone.
… I do know that I increasingly … feel like an ending
… and it is a difficult notion to hold peacefully

… and dawn has come and gone .. and morning is here and I want to close my eyes a bit more.

 

 

 

 

Posted in About, Myself | You are welcome to add your comment

The Isolation of Science

n

This is a good example of intellect-run-amok … how to heal science from its isolation and to bring it back into context? is there a more pertinent and fascinating science question? how deeply has this systemic flaw held us back from developing as individuals and societies? how much effort will it take to repair the damages we have incurred because of this arrested development?

“Over the next decade, Osmond and Hoffer tested this hypothesis on more than seven hundred alcoholics, and in roughly half the cases, they reported, the treatment worked: the volunteers got sober and remained so for at least several months … ‘we considered not the chemical, but the experience as a key factor in therapy’

… Osmond and Hoffer were learning from their volunteers that the environment in which the LSD session took place exerted a powerful effect on the kinds of experiences people had and that one of the best ways to avoid a bad session was th presence of an engaged and empathetic therapist, ideally someone who had had his or her own LSD experience … Though the terms ‘set’ and ‘setting’ would not be used in this context for several more years … Osmond and Hoffer were already coming to appreciate the supreme importance of those factors in the success of their treatment.

… Based on this success the Saskatchewan provincial government helped developed policies making LSD therapy a standard treatment for alcoholics in the province. Yet not everyone in the Canadian medical establishment found the … results credible … In the early 960s, the Addiction Research Foundation in Toronto … set out to replicate the … trials using better controls. Hoping to isolate the effects of the drug from all other variables, clinicians administered LSD to alcoholics in neutral rooms and under instructions not to engage with them during their trips, except to administer an extensive questionnaire. The volunteers were then put in constraints or blindfolded, or both. Not surprisingly, the results failed to match those obtained by Osmond and Hoffer. Worse still, more than a few of the volunteers endured terrifying experiences – bad trips, as they would come to be called.”

Michael Pollan – How to Change Your Mind , The New Science of Psychedelics

Posted in Intellect Run Amok, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Overtone

n

This is the most discerning demonstration I’ve heard of overtone singing!

Feels like I needed to hear this now … two tones: sometimes one is still and the other moving, sometimes the other way around, sometimes moving together … sometimes moving apart … always relating.

… works for me as a sound that sends me in … doesn’t work for me in the context of western music.

Posted in Enjoy, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

Yoga Practice – Winter 2018/19

n

I am again nearing a review with my teacher and so decided to take note of where I am in practice.

Current Practice

My current practice routine fills my morning and is about 120-150 minutes:

Part 1: Entering Practice (~ 5 minutes)

  1. Samasthithi – hands on my heart space, allowing the mind to settle and come to body and breath + transition to Ujjayi breathing.
  2. Short chant (currently: ma aham)
  3. Kapalabhati 3×40 breaths

Part 2: Asana (~75 minutes / ~ 140 breaths)

the asana sequence is still very close to what it has been (<- link includes stick figures diagram of very similar practice) for some time now, with the addition of shoulder-stand and a continuous evolution of breath within the practice.

(the sequence below does not include counter-postures and rests).

Standing TOTAL: 34 breaths
tadasana R4 10.2.0.2 4 breaths
uttanasana R2+S2 10.4.12.4 6 breaths
parsva uttanasana R2+S2 / – 12.4.12.6 12 breaths
trikonasana (uddhita + parivrti) ALT4 + [ALT4 + S1] 8.2.10.2 12 breaths
utkatasana R6 8.2.10.2 6 breaths
Kneeling TOTAL: 6 breaths
adhomukha svanasana S6 8.0.10.0 6 breaths
Lying TOTAL: 18 breaths
raised leg variations 10.2.10.2 8 breaths
dvipada pitham R4 – S0/1/2/3 10.2.12.2 10 breaths
Inverted TOTAL: 10 breaths
sarvangasana S10 8.0.8.0 10 breaths
Backbending TOTAL: 20 breaths
bhujangasana R4 8.0.8.0 4 breaths
bhujangasana + bent knees R4 8.0.8.0 4 breaths
ardha salabhasana R4 + S1 8.0.8.0 8 breaths
salabhasana (incremental) R4 8.0.8.0 4 breaths
Seated TOTAL: 52 breaths
dandasana R2+S2 10.2.12.2 4 breaths
janusirsasana R2+S2 (midrange + micro) 10.4.12.4 12 breaths
matsyendrasana R6 8.0.10.0 12 breaths
mahamudra R12 / – 4×12.2.12.2

4×12.2.12.4

4×12.4.12.4

24 breaths

Part 3: Sitting (~30-60 minutes)

  1. Resting: a couple of minutes
  2. Pranayama – 36 breaths: ~ 15 minutes. I am comfortable with all the variations I’ve been exploring (for over two years now?), recently I’ve worked with variation 3 and before that 1.
  3. Sitting:
    1. Bringing my attention to the space between each thumb and index finger … if that works
    2. Seeing which hands calls for attention first
    3. Very slowly (butoh style) bringing the thumb and index finger together until they touch (cit mudra) on that hand
    4. Very slowly bringing the thumb and index finger together until they touch on the other hand
    5. Placing my attention on the two points of contact
    6. Staying …
    7. Gently disconnecting the two contact points – first one hand then the other
  4. Closing ritual
  5. Counterpostures

Part4: Chanting (~10 minutes)

  1. Yoga Sutra verses 1-11 incremental

Questions for my teacher

  1. In what direction to evolve pranayama? I have had quite some days where I felt my channels open enough to support nadi-sodhana (quite a milestone after years of practice) … but I am not sure that there is enough stability for such a transition.
  2. How to continue my chanting practice and exploration? I like the YS chanting because it has body … depth enough for me to experience immersion … I don’t get that feeling from short chants.
  3. Overall balance of practice.
  4. Psychedelics

 

Posted in Pranayama Journal, Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Indra Adnan On New Politics, Soft Power and the Feminine

n

I am increasingly feeling disconnected from podcasts (and other materials) about subjects I care about (or think I care about!). I mostly feel that ideas are not well grounded and talk about (what strikes me as) disassociated fantasies. The latest wave of disappointment comes from this list from Richard Bartlett (whose work and person I admire very much!). But then I came across this podcast with Indra Adnan who talks about politics from a practical and actionable feminine perspective – a nourishing and soothing listening experience.

There were quite a few shimmering thoughts in the interview, but what stood out and stuck in my mind was an invitation to explicitly re-ask what politics is about – what are we coming together to do when we “do politics” … do we automatically inherit the (seemingly default) work of keeping the economic-growth machine running, or do we want something else … maybe the well-being of our society?

I also felt softly and intimately “seen” when she talked about people who have stepped outside of society and who have acquired tools and offerings that society needs. That also triggered some sadness in me as I don’t feel hopeful about that happening for me.

I am not currently engaged in anything political, but I did want to make a note of this so I can share with a few relevant people.

 

Posted in AltEco, Community, Intake, Oameni, outside | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Yoga Practice – Closing Ritual

n

I have an instinctual distrust of ritual behavior. Though I can understand that rituals can act as anchors for desired attention and action, my impression is that they can easily default into a training of absence – blind repetition devoid of attention or context. So it was interesting for me to witness over the last year or so, a ritual form at the end of my practice. It is a living ritual that has been changing, growing and refining and may continue to do so. It comes at the end of my sitting practice and before my chanting practice. This is its current state:

  1. Inhale opening and raising my palms up in front of me.
  2. Exhale covering my eyes (still closed from the sitting practice) with my palms.
  3. Stay for a breath or two.
  4. Inhale moving my palms away from my eyes back to an open and raised position.
  5. Exhale placing my hands on my heart space.
  6. Staying here at least for a few breaths … though this is growing and becoming a place I can inhabit for quite some time. It starts by bringing my attention to my own heart, offering softness and inviting healing. If there is something in my body that calls for healing, I spend some time there. After settling in my heart, if I feel called to do so, I open my heart and send it outwards. Sometimes I connect with one specific person. Sometimes I connect with “everyone and everything”. Sometimes I invite connection with people in my life … and I let them flow freely through my consciousness … offering them, as they appear, my heart.
  7. Inhale moving my palms away from my heart space back to an open and raised position.
  8. Exhale bowing forward my head and bringing my two palms together – cupped forming a space between them – to my forehead.
  9. I stay one or two breaths to arrive at this place.
  10. I dedicate a breath to the student in me.
  11. I dedicate a breath to the teacher.
  12. I dedicate a breath to my teacher Ziva.
  13. I dedicate a breath to my teacher Paul.
  14. I dedicate a breath to Paul’s teacher Desikachar.
  15. I dedicate a breath to Desikachar’s teacher (and father) Krishnamacharya.
  16. I dedicate a breath to all of their teachers.
  17. I dedicate a breath to all their teacher’s teachers.
  18. I dedicate a breath to the teachings.
  19. I dedicate a breath to prakrti – that which is eternally changing.
  20. I dedicate a breath to purusa – that which eternally sees.
  21. I dedicate a breath or two to the wholeness held by the preceding breaths – to Yoga. I  imagine breathing that wholeness into a small ball of light cupped in the space between my palms.
  22. I inhale moving my palms away from my forehead back to an open and raised position.
  23. I exhale opening my palms wider and lowering them further down. Staying for a breath or two, I offer the fruits of practice to … all … and imagine the small ball of light growing and expanding infinitely.
  24. On the next exhale I lower my palms to my knees and turn them facing down to indicate completion of the practice.
  25. I stay for another few breaths and gently open my eyes.
Posted in Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours

We don’t stop the bad, it stops

n

“Even when some things are good, we cannot prompt ourselves to do them even by will. Some people try forcibly to restrain themselves from doing certain things. This will never work because the activity of forcing, constraining, and struggling tends to become a distraction. We become so involved in the negative action that we never progress … Someone might smoke sixty cigarettes a day, and he might understand intellectually that he should not smoke, but he cannot stop. Nobody smokes because they like the idea of inhaling tar and nicotine. There is some other reason … something must happen to such a  person that will tell him, “Look here, I can do without cigarettes.” Ideally when we move into the practice of yoga, we begin to develop a process that stops the detrimental. This stopping is not caused directly — we don’t stop the bad, it stops.”

TKV Desikachar – Religiousness in Yoga

Posted in Uncategorized | You are welcome to add your comment

Deeper & Discerning Perception

n

This scientific article was not written for me to read, but the essense of it does resonate with me: there is value in learning to better discern between how things appear and what they are, to learn to perceive deeper, beyond surface phenomena to deeper underlying dynamics:

Posted in Uncategorized | You are welcome to add your comment

Emotions & Feelings

n

A few days this thought seeded in me:

emotions are a scent from the past, feelings are aromas from the future

I feel a need to discern, at least for myself, between emotions and feelings (I can think of reasons why, but that may become more clear in the future). The question this seed left in me was: how can I tell the difference between emotions and feelings?

Emotions are intense and demanding. They are extreme – they can suddenly lift me very high or drop me very low. They tend to fill me up and overwhelm me. They want to occupy me completely. They demand attention and they demand it now. They reject reflection and demand immediate action. It is as if they block me out: I become the emotion. They activate mind and make it bounce around considering options, leaving a trail of doubt.

Feelings are soft and subtle. They can be penetrating but not overwhelming … somehow they appear, in a just right intensity, at the edge of my peripheral vision as if to inquire if I am ready for them. If I’m not ready, they go away, they don’t hold a grudge, and if the circumstances are right they appear again. They are not imperative, they generate peace, presence and contentment. They settle in heart, leaving a sense of sweet, clear, vague knowing with a scent of soft confidence.

Emotions erupt from the inside out, consume and burn out wildly. Feelings move gently from the outside in and light a delicate candle that burns slowly and gives good light.

Emotions are social, they seek others, they want to be spoken out, shared, acknowledged and celebrated. Feelings are private and shy, they seek a quiet, undisturbed presence in heart.

The purpose of of emotions seems to be conservation through inhbition. They are an established past meeting an unknown present. They sense change and ask for re-consideration. They ask that what is established not be blindy rejected for an unknown promise. If possible (depending on both past and present) they speak moderately. If unheard they speak louder.

The purpose of feelings seems to be to navigate gracefully into an unknown future. They are stepping stones that appear just in time, forming a path that has not yet been traveled. They are like magical breadcrumbs that show not the way back to a familiar shelter, but a way forward to a new potential.

Confusion seems to live amongst emotions. There is an abundance of not-knowing in feelings, but since they live in heart, they seem to be relatively immune to confusion (which seems to be a capacity of mind). Clarity, not specific, seems to live amongst feelings.

There is a shifting, living relationship between emotions & feelings, (confusion & clarity). An excess of emotions creates an imbalance that leans towards excessive and ineffective action – doing much of little consequence. An excess of feelings creates an immobilizing stillness. Excess emotions create instability outside, excesss feeling create instability inside.

These features are indicators of what is manifesting. I want to be able to recognize when I am emoting from the past and when I am sensing from the future. I want to be able to experience both clearly and know which is which. I want to be held by both: supported by the familiar ground of emotions, levitated by the flickering invitation of feelings.


Posted in Expanding, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

Yoga of Groups

n

Yoga is a solitary practice, it focuses inwards … my body, my breath, my attention. Maybe that is one of the reasons it appealed to me. When I researched Yoga, I also considered martial arts where there seems to me to be more potential for interaction with at least one other human being. But I settled on Yoga.

The deeper I ventured into Yoga practice the more I experienced meditative qualities in action. I became convinced that such qualities are key to good outcomes. Yet in business meetings I felt these qualities were, for the most part, absent. I wondered what could be done to improve the business environment? My naive conclusion was that everyone needs to practice Yoga before we get on with business. That conclusion did not lead me to profound discoveries but, ultimately, away from work and deeper into practice.

Fast-forward 8 years and I had a chance meeting with Sociocracy in Cluj with Andrei Iuroaia. Annelieke and Iulia “convinced” me to go despite my skepticism. It was a one day workshop and I was surprised and impressed (even though the work and presentation did not yet feel mature). I felt then and still feel that this is the most practical (sensible, accessible, inexpensive to adopt… ) framework I’ve encountered for good group decision making.

I haven’t gone deeper because there are currently no social contexts in my life where these tools can be applied. However, I’ve been watching it from the sidelines (and occassionally sharing it where I felt it may be relevant). Fast-forward another 4 ot 5 years and this video is published. In it James Priest demonstrates, in a facilitator role, decision making guided by Sociocracy 3.0:

I am grateful and relieved that this modality of being, discussing and deciding together exists and that it is penetrating into organizational bubbles. It confirms that better group decisions are possible and it softly (yet undeniably) illuminates the flaws and limitations of current modalities. Our current hierarchical societies, on so many levels, seem to take for granted the capacity of a group to come together and make informed, good, safe, gradual decisions. I felt sad that this was not around when I was engaged and working. It feels that this approach would have greatly altered my experience of working with others and my potential to contribute.

From where I am now though, this work shimmers as an expression of Yogic qualities in group settings. I see parallels to my experience of personal Yoga practice. I see a practice space where a group, as a cohesive entity, can explore and discover itself in action and that the exploration itself is the technique through which subtle change is introduced. I sense a clear path of invigorating (awakening ideas – asana), containing (giving the awakened ideas coherent flow – pranayama) and focusing energy (directing ideas toward specific outcomes – dhyana).

Beautiful and inspiring work.

Posted in AltEco, Business, Community, Design, Intake, Oameni, outside | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Hilma af Klint

n

A few months ago an article appeared in my twitter feed (I believe via Michael Pollan) about the Hilma af Klint exhibition at the Guggenheim museum. I do not consider myself at all associated or in touch with the world of art so I hesitated to engage, but because if came from Michael Pollan (who’s context at this time is psychedelics) I did … and, like many other tabs, it stayed open until I had an opportunity to look into it.

When I finally got around to it … I was going to use the expression “it took my breath away” but the opposite happened … I experienced a long and relaxing exhale into these incredible drawings and into myself. I did an image search to see more and the search result itself felt like a mesmerizing work of art.

I spent quite some time with these images and then did some more searching and reading … until I discovered an article that had an image like this, where the physical scale of her work (especially the series of ten images titled “The Ten Largest”) became clear … and I can only imagine what it is to take these works in at full scale

Discovering Hilma af Klint’s work was an experience similar to meeting Shahar. It cut through layers of intellectual inhibition and pretense. It reminded me that art does not require intellectualized understanding, that it is a felt experience. It reminded me to trust myself, to trust in my own felt experience. It penetrated my heart. It sat there and resonated clearly, softly and intensely inside me. It shattered through alienation and made me feel a belonging.

A book of her work now lives next to me. Actually it came with another book, but that is for another sharing. The context of her life, in which her work was created is as touching as her work … a woman, 120 years ago!, within a small group of 5 women exploring the occult, inviting and acting on spiritual guidance … birthing abstract expression when the very notion of such work was still on the horizon of imagination. Then asking that her work be kept private until the time was right for it to meet the world (long after she departed her body) … which took almost a century. So much of that story resonates with me and gives me a sense of … distant, lonely and intimate companionship.

HIlma af Klint

I’ve been playing around with painting for some time. The current iteration of paint-play was triggered by Christopher Alexander mentioning gouache in The Nature of Order (book 4 goes into color). It took me some time to pronounce the word gouache out-loud and recognize it as something I’d already met it in my childhood. It took me some more time to experiment with it again and then to find and experience the qualities of good paint. I was curious and amused to discover that “The Ten Largest” were painted with tempera (a water color similar in quality to gouache).

I felt and continue to feel that something came loose inside me when absorbing Hilma af Klint’s work. It is inviting me to explore something in my own painting. I’m curious to see over time what that may look like.

Posted in Expanding, inside | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Leonard Cohen on Foundations of Gratitude | Soil & Soul

n
Posted in Expanding, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

Flowes in the Guns – Reloaded

n

A couple of days ago Iulia came back from the village postoffice with a letter for me … mail … the snail kind. I, who only receive SMS notifications from Iulia or from Orange remiding me to ask Iulia to recharge my phone with credit, received a writte letter that physically traveled half way around the planet to get to me!

It came from Australia, from Stu. Years ago, around the time we moved to the village, Stu connected with me and now after more than 7 years, there is finally a video-clip that makes it easier to share Flowers in the Guns by The Lovebombs off their album Love & Peace:

Thank you Stu, for remembering me and for writing on a piece of paper, putting it in an envelope with a good old-fashioned stamp and sending it to me 🙂

Posted in Enjoy, inside, Uncategorized | You are welcome to add your comment

Cande Buasso and Paulo Carrizo

n

I have a thing for women base players, and this … well … delicious … and the angelic masculine presence that surrounds and holds her:

 

 

Posted in Enjoy, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

Stop, pause and look around you at everything you see

n

 

Posted in Expanding, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

Dear Sweet Child of Mine

n

There’s a mulberry tree here at Bhudeva
It has taught me both abundance and harshness
There have been years during which it overflowed with sweet fruit
There have been years during which young fruits were met with an early harsh frost that with one cold breath consumed the promise of sweetness of the year
I used to think that my life, this time of life, is like the life of the tree, cycling through the years, some sweet, some harsh
I am starting to think that my life, this lifetime, is more like the life of a single mulberry
That maybe, my season of potential sweetness has come and gone

When I was a tree, you were a promise of sweet fruit
And though many of my winters felt cold and frosty
If I look back honestly, I have to admit that your sweet potential has been around me for so long now
There were a few times when I felt your presence directly
Today, looking back, I recognize your constant, soft and clear presence
I recognize it in the mother-lovers you sent into my life
Women who came to me, endured storms with me and presenced you
But the winters were harsh

I’ve watched many mulberries, some grow, some die, some eaten
I’ve not encountered a mulberry that seemed to carry a burden of responsibility
I’ve not encountered a mulberry that seemed to carry guilt
Yet for a long time, long before I met mulberries, I felt guilty
Guilty for not being strong enough to withstand the cold biting winds
Guilty for not being smart enough to find a way to avoid the cold
I’ve not felt guilty for not meeting you

I’ve grown a bit older and I’ve been & seen a bit further
I’ve learned that my feelings carry not just me but also some truth
It seems that the world-winds didn’t just feel harsh
They were harsh and they are getting harsher
Harshness was teaching me to struggle but I wasn’t a good student
My body and soul resisted struggle
My heart hardened to shelter a delicate light that burns inside it

Now the storms are not just inside me, many others have seen and felt them
I’ve arrived at a valley that has a small cave that offers some protection from the stormy climate
There is more peace in me now that I am sheltered here
There is more aloneness in me now that I am sheltered here
There is more sadness in me as I witness the storms grow stronger and fiercer and crash into the lives of many others
There is more surrender in me and less struggle
I haven’t given up
I am giving in

This cave is small, I wanted and want to give you more
I feel that a spirit like yours requires more to live a purposeful and fulfilled life
I fear that I will not be able to give you the space and range I want to give you
I fear that you will become struggle … an enemy

So, I am digging and etching in stone … it is slow work … it requires and builds patience
I am trying to make the cave more beautiful, more spacious, more warm, more illuminated
I am curious to see if there is a chamber somewhere in here with a hopeful light
If at some point the spirit of this cave appeals to you, please make your feelings known to me
I do not know, I do not wonder, I do not pray, I do not hope
I wake up every day and look at the chisel and hammer and listen to sense if I feel invited to dig some more
When I feel invited, I try to move with grace
… and the winds blow and the chisel etches

No, I’ve not felt guilty for not meeting you
I have felt sad that our eyes have not met and our fingers have not touched
I have felt awe and fear from the intense passion with which your mother-lovers wanted to bring you forth
I have felt crushed by their disappointment, loss and their pain
I feel deep appreciation and love for your mother-lovers for finding, joining, trusting, tolerating and opening to me … and you
I feel trust in Great Mother Lover who sends her winds flowing around the planet trying to tune and hold everything together
I feel joy knowing you are out there
I feel peaceful knowing this is all so much bigger than you and I
and also … sad that we may have missed each other this time around

 

 

Posted in About, Myself | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Wrapped Around Your Finger

n

I used to love Sting … but we’ve grown apart over the past 10 or 15 years. I couldn’t listen to his last album from start to finish once. He doesn’t feel as present and hungry as he was when I was into him. And I’ve changed too …

Rufus Wainwright has been gravitating in and out my field of perception for some years (maybe the same time frame during which Stin ghas been gravitating out) … Today I caught a glimpse of him again.

First with this political statement:

Then with this sweet delicate cover:

Then THIS blew me away and brought me back to Sting:

And then I realized that this was part of something … and found this video (only the first half is edible because of audio/video quality) which reminded me of what I used to like about Sting:

This is another small reminder that I too am getting older!

Posted in Enjoy, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

Shumacher College Alumni Gathering

n

Disclaimer: this post is a note to myself, it may change as memories and reflections from the event continue to move in me.

That which touched me personally and deeply

  1. Jerome (from France) seeing an Israeli in me and for softly offering this insight to me with an open heart. I usually feel deeply alienated from Israel (hence living in Romania) and distance myself from being associated with it. Yet sometimes, somewhere deep inside me I can recognize a connection to and appreciation of qualities that have very little to do with what is currently manifesting on the face of the planet in the place that calls itself Israel. Jerome saw it, valued it, showed it to me and gave it a place on the earth.
  2. Manu seeing and acknowledging pain and grief in me. He saw through the superficial layers of a conversation, through my alienating words. He saw this and with a soft firmness shared what he saw with me.
  3. Feeling welcome, held and secure in Ivo & Lili’s home. On the second morning I asked Ivo’s permission to play the Shakuhachi in their home. The Shakuhachi felt open and full of resonance and brought me to tears. The resonance of the home, the shakuhachi, myself … opened the door to introducing the Shakuhachi to the group.
  4. Karsten’s (the spirit that chose Lars and Robyn as parents) soft, whole and sweet presence touched me deeply. He touched my confusion, struggle and pain around not having kids. He gave me hope. His presence complimented, illuminated and even challenged the qualities of elders that was presenced by Satish and June.
  5. Playing Shakuhachi with the group at the end of an intense mental session … arriving at a shared-silence. Thank you Ingrid for opening the door and to everyone for softly walking in together and Jerome for the spacious recording.
  6. A surprising sequence of a few eternal moments with Ingrid … when our eyes met and we connected and I felt as if we sank into each other.
  7. Dan and Tincuta’s dedication to nourishing my body and in doing so allowing me to be free to be present with others. I know Dan to be a profound person who has so much to contribute to a gathering. I am (again!) in awe of his recurring clear choice to come into service of others. I am also inspired by how he and his family have come and grown together, not just as a family (which seems to me to be a remarkable achievement in this day and age) but also in service of purpose together.
  8. Pepik’s fatherly embraces.
  9. Men – this probably deserves more than just another bullet … suffice to say that for most of my life I’ve had a less-than-positive opinion of men (with only a precious few men giving me a sense of a masculine I could embrace) … but the men I met in this weekend turned that around for me. I enjoyed being with and a part of them.

That which shimmered for me

  1. The astral paintings of Vlad, the taxi driver.
  2. A group that is willing  to step together into an unknown space. My life has made this an almost regular personal practice, but I’ve never witnessed such a move in a large group. I do not recall a single person who expressed (implicitly or explicitly) discomfort that the gathering did not have a clearly stated purpose or objective.
  3. Real feminine leadership – this gathering was made possible by a team of organizers who, as far as I could tell, were almost all women. This made it possible not only to pleasantly step into an unknown space but to continue to inhabit and respond to it.
  4. Feminine & masculine balance both within individuals and within the group. I looked around during the closing circle and got the impression that the group was close to evenly divided between men and women. It was then that I realized that also within most (possibly all!) the individuals in the group there was a pleasant combination of masculine and feminine qualities. My feelings about the men in the group were informed by feminine qualities present in them. And, the attentive and detailed organization and direction and redirection of the group spoke of masculine qualities among the women.
  5. A conversation with Collin about fermented cabbage (and its seasonal absence from our meals) that started off with friction but ended up building a bridge between cultures, and maybe even getting a better sense of culture itself.
  6. A soft, humble, wise, available and unimposing presence of Satish and June, the elders of the group present when called for, gently offering re-views.
  7. Richard’s soft spoken balanced present.
  8. Delia who, in private conversation, invited deeper (usually less spoken) aspects of Cutia Taranului to emerge.
  9. Seeing a working traditional loom … and how it echoed a simplicity I find to be typical of Romanian village culture.

That which disturbed me

  1. Happy Hall – our first meeting took place in a large hall that was build by one of Ivo’s members. It was a large wooden hall and we found it in a welcoming state. Satish in his positive outlook named it “Happy Hall”. I was impressed and somewhat envious of the wooden timbers that went into making the space. I immediately thought about the many trees that were cut down to make it possible. Then, when I learned that it was built by its owner because he could not find a better place for for the marriage of his daughter (and remained mostly unused since!) … that made me sad. It takes quite some aggression and arrogance to cut down so many trees for one personal event. The name “Happy Hall” felt like insult was being added to injury. It was also interesting to note that we spent the rest of the time (except the “village celebration”) in the more intimate space of Ivo and Lily’s home!
  2. Ivo and Lily’s fireplace … which kept me warm and peaceful gazing into it … yet knowing that it is such a wasteful device … that the slow burning wood is mostly converted into carbon that is released to the atmosphere instead of heat in the room … made me wonder what keeps us from collectively doing better? It made me recall flying once over Romania and seeing the vast fields plowed into straight lines and feeling a conflict: on the one hand there was an aesthetic there that appealed to me (man made order in the world), but on the other hand I also knew that was a vision of ecological destruction. It left me wondering about my likes/dislikes, my sense of aesthetics … and how all that informs choices that I make. Is the world burning in giant corporate furnaces or billions of home fires?
  3. The evening of mingling with the villagers … though I understood and appreciated the intentions and effort to make this happen … for me it brutally broke a bubble of presence that was born of the gathering. When the “celebration” ended … I felt a need for personal and communal energetic healing. This invites, for me, more reflection on the space between stories … there are things in the world that are only beign conceived (maybe one day born) and there are things that are dying because their time is up, because they are no longer relevant (though their essence will live on deep inside us).
  4. Romantic Village – a recurring theme in our conversations (supposedly inspired by the village setting in which the gathering took place) kept coming back to what felt to me like a romanticized image of a village, far removed from the reality of village life in Romania. I recognized that may have spoken to a deep wish many of us carry to experience a true “village-life”. But it felt like a lie when it pretended to be inspired by “village life in Romania”. It felt to me like a weak foundation for a reality we may aspire to really create in our lives.
  5. Guided Meditation – guided meditations, since I first encountered them and through to this weekend, alienate me. For a person like me, who feels alone in the world, the index finger touching the thumb or that we all breathe does not act as a reminder that we are all connected. Hearing these words tramples my personal experience and feels … well … like being trampled. It does not facilitate meditative qualities in me.My understanding of meditation itself makes the very notion of “guided meditation” an oximoron. Every word of “guidance” that I hear activates my mental mind and, if I was lucky enough to experience a meditative quality, snaps me out. My personal practice experience has been that no amount of word repetition (though it can always be argued that if only I repeat them a few  more times … ) leads to change.As I see it, mind, like a falling snowflake, forms in response to life experiences and it changes in a similar way – from the feedback that comes from actions acted out in the world. I do not meditate to change my life, I change my life so that I my experience of it may become more meditative. I did not feel comfortable speaking out about this.I joined the morning sittings to share quietness and presence with the group and this was despite the “guided meditation” (and because I am usually awake at this hour and had nowhere else to be).When asked about religion and spirituality, Satish offered a generous answer – he said that religion is a doorway into spirituality but that too many people are getting stuck at the door and not walking into the space. I feel similarly about guided meditations (and most practices that I’ve encountered that are labeled as “meditation”) – they provide a taste of what meditation can be, but they are, to my understanding, as far from meditation as religion is from spirituality.

    I feel that meditative qualities are vital to gracefully inhabiting life. For this, we need to be able to recognize that we are at the door and that we have yet to walk into the room of meditation. For that to be possible we need to better discern between the door and the room, between sitting/mindfulness practices that seem to be popular and meditation itself. I feel that if we keep using the word meditation too loosely, we may forget there is a room to step into. Maybe if we spoke more of sitting (and set aside the fashionable spiritual halo of “meditation”) we could remember and grow towards dhyana.

  6. Posture – Satish was asked about the importance of posture in “meditation” and the answer he gave saddened me. As a practitioner of Yoga I believe there is so much more to be said. There did seem to be an agreement that posture is important, and yet no actions were taken for care for body and posture (neither in preparation for sitting nor after it).Consider the amount of time, attention and work that made this short gathering possible … how much preparation (by everyone: organizers, hosts, participants) was required for us to come together for three days. that I believe, can give us a good indication about the relationship between preparation and action: a recurring pattern seems that preparation is much larger (the unseen iceberg that we tend to under-estimate) in relation to action itself (the visible tip of the iceberg) . Yet when it comes to posture and placing the body in a seated position … where is the preparation? Are our thoughts and our actions aligned?

Thank you

Thank you to Satish and his co-founders for birthing and nurturing Shumacher College (whatever and wherever it is) in such a way that I, knowing very little of it, was welcome and embraced.

Thank you to Ivo & Lily and Lars & Robyn for wanting this and creating the conditions for it to happen.

Thank you to the organizers & volunteers who chose to create the gathering here (from my perspective: coming to me so that I may partake) and for providing the precious (and easy to overlook) life foundations (food, shelter, warmth) for the gathering.

Thank you to the participants who travelled and came here to be together and for together holding that shared sense of being which can’t be named.

Will I see you again?
Will there be a second date?
Will we get to come into a relationship where we act together in the world?

Posted in Intake, outside | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours