FINDING YOUR WAY BACK

“This morning, I opened two gifts. They were my eyes.” Unknown

Sometimes, I wake into a sleepy state of forgetfulness. Do you know that feeling? It has a bass note of anxiety and a through line of not good enough. It’s vaporous and shadowy and hard to pin down. An aged ring of insidious discomfort that quietly wriggles its way into those opening moments of daybreak. 

It tends to happen if I’ve been traveling or thrown out of rhythm. Adapting to new hotel rooms, cities, landscapes, languages, food, air quality, space. My particles take their time to catch up after flying too many miles in too short a time. And so the old cloak drapes itself over my sensitive head.

One of my dear friends recently shared about how her self-care practices had slipped since Christmas. How work had taken over and how easy it can be to breathe the morning shadows bigger with cruel whispers of disappointment. When, really, our practice is to simply pause, listen and tune into what is alive inside us. To listen to what our being is truly calling for. We get fooled into thinking it’s chocolate or beer or distraction but, if we look a little closer, it’s often rest, nourishment, touch, connection or the edges of an emotion that hasn’t been traced.  

And this is the practice. To strip away the stories and dissolve old patterns so we can move closer to what is really happening in each moment. To get closer to truth. To what is referred to as first order reality. Reality before you have a thought about it.

“The presence of stillness opens the body and soaks into you like a sponge, if you allow it. A silent understanding happens that is not in words but is the direct experience of what is.” Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing

There are many portals into presence and ‘what is’: stillness, touch, art, music, movement. I’m always looking for new ones and this is a small selection that might help you find your way back home:

  1. FOLLOW THE INNER PROMPTING

If you’re feeling heavy when you wake up, break your routine and let yourself be guided to your journal, your mat, your lemon water, your shower. Mix it up. Don’t do what you always do. Let your inner voice take the lead and see where you end up. I always give myself 90 minutes in the morning to get ready, eat and allow for whatever is needed – writing, moving, dancing, meditating, breathing, sitting, sipping some warm elixir. 

  1. DO ONE THING

Whatever it is, focus entirely on just one thing. Maybe its walking outside your front door with bare feet and breathing the morning air. Maybe it’s five minutes of meditation. Maybe its being completely present while you polish every tooth. Maybe you grab your journal straight away and let the pen move across the page in words or pictures. Which leads me on to tip two.

  1. WRITE

I did this today. I sat up in bed, pulled out my laptop and started to write about the shadows. It turned into a poem. Which turned into this blog. Let life move through you and see where you end up. And then take that principle into the rest of your day. When you go into a story, feel your feet, breathe, listen, then follow the inner prompting again.

  1. BE A CREATURE

Because you are one. This really goes out to my friends in the UK and Northern hemisphere. Sleep, rest, snuggle, eat warm soups and stews, do less and be more. Go to bed earlier and catch the quiet of the winter mornings.

  1. MICRO MEDITATE

If sitting to meditate has fallen away or feels out of reach then do micro meditations throughout the day. Close your eyes and tune in to the contents of the moment. Use your senses to anchor you into presence and sit quietly for a few minutes. Ask yourself, ‘what is the quality of this moment before I have a thought about it?’ Or put your earphones in and enjoy a guided meditation for ten minutes at lunchtime. It will make all the difference.

You can practice presence in each and every moment. The portals are always there and meditation allows us to abide there more fully but you can step in at any time.

How do you find your way back to yourself when the shadows creep in? What are your ways ‘in’ when practice is out of reach? Please add to this little list and guide us all into your own magic doorways by leaving a comment ❤

MORNING SHADOWS

Still, sometimes, 

there are mornings 

where that yawning

shadow hangs

a papery lace,

yellowed and stained,

like my mothers nicotine walls.

It suffocates my deeper knowing,

rivering so freely below. 

A heavy widow’s cloak

blocks out the light and

that part that knows 

this new day is complete.

But I am sleeping

and the edges of not enough 

are sharp and ragged.

Lodged in old grooves,

achy wheels that get stuck,

carrying the ghost of uncertainty

so she can sit lightly on my chest,

almost imperceptible,

her heavy layers 

tremble with short breaths

until I let her pass through.

The handstand tree

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Beyond the threshold of our handmade kitchen lies a small garden, and all I can see is the swing and the handstand tree. The sun warms the earth each morning, and calls me to rise up and meet the day. Walking over the cool pebbles, I find myself delighting in the dirt, seated upon a sheepskin rug and draped in a peat coloured blanket. Right hand to heart, left fingertips to panchamama, I sit beneath the open-armed tree and close my eyes while the birds sing me in and the sun melts through sleepy thought-form-fragments of the dream world.

When I open my eyes again, the swing is perfectly still and silently beckons with the promise of flight. I love a good swing and so I go, to-and-fro, under the canopy, before hopping off and clawing my hands into the earth, kicking my legs and turning myself upside down. Its not everyday I let my inner child consciously lead but when you have a swing and a handstand tree, it’s easy to play.

Play.

What if it was all play? What if all of ‘this’ was the universe expressing itself? A cosmic dance that was all for the taking, whether it felt good or shitty or ecstatic or terrifying. What if those moments of sheer frustration and uncertainty could all be seen as part of the play? “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself,” said the great Carl Sagan and that idea gets me, every time. The Universe isn’t just a pretty place filled with twinkling stars, silvery moons and planets that rain diamonds. It’s fiery and full on and those pretty stars are raging balls of gas and flame. There’s been a tornado on Jupiter that has been stirring its storm for 300 years. The sun, our great star, is both nourishing and destructive. The universe is ever expanding and full of contraction. Our existence is a result of perfect alignment and sheer chance. Space exploded in a cosmic fire and emerged from a point smaller than a single atom. One single atom of potential infinitude. One single atom of endless potential. And there are as many atoms in a single molecule of your DNA as there are stars in a whole galaxy. Now that is a whole lot of potential. Right there. In you.

Life is full of seeming paradoxes but what if we could live inside the whole of it? What if we affirmed all of life and took each and every experience for what it was? Could we allow ourselves to feel our feelings? To wrap our arms around all the parts of ourselves, whether we liked them or not. Could you see the potential that is inside each and every one of those seven billion billion billion atoms that make up the whole of you? You are literally made of potential and at the heart of that potential is the possibility for great joy. To find something that fills you up and helps you taste the nectar of your own being.

In a recent handstand workshop, the playful Hanuman and co-founder of Acroyoga, Jason Nemer, offered up a piece of wisdom that will always stay with me. He said, “fear is, more often than not, unlocked joy.” The fear to dance, sing, play, love, to stand on your hands, peer behind the mask, open your heart, fulfill your potential. Behind that fear is a whole load of joy, just waiting to happen. Behind that fear is endless potentiality. As Neil de Grasse Tyson says in the brilliant Cosmos, “we are, each of us, a living universe”.

There is a swing inside of you that silently beckons, with the promise of full flight. If we can come to delight in the dirt and turn ourselves upside down, we can move beyond our fears to taste the whole of life, in all its nebulous beauty.

everything in relationship

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I’m sat in Pete’s bedroom with the door closed. Everything is white. The strong silence is ringing and I close my eyes to begin the descent. Travelling through tense tissue and frozen flesh, along boiling rivers of muddy blood, accessing the inner reaches of my body until I am fully submerged and come to learn that the tube of my entire torso is on fire. I’ve tasted this experience once before and now know that this is the flavor of fear and anger. Acidic foam. Caustic and surging. I sink into the flames and discover that I feel sick but not in a way that disturbs me. I’m curious. Fear and anger manifest as sickness in my body and as I track the embers to the pit of my stomach I’m strangely pleased with this affirmation. I fuse out and my head takes over. I’m inventing a conversation and fuelling a reverie before I realize and send myself back to sit beneath the acid tree. The journey is cooling and it calms me to travel through these rivers and streams and move into the experience. I ask my body what it needs … breath. Deepest breath. I breathe into the coals, offering more ease, helping the sensation to soften by stroking the inside of my heart. How can I create more space with this breath and how can I bring myself to a place that honours my feelings but clears my head?

My head wants my voice to be heard. I have so much to say … but my body wants to me listen. So I sit a little longer.

Feeling your feelings is shaky work. Going into your body and tracking those elusive articulations takes the skill and patience of a hunter. Sitting, waiting, watching. Returning to the battleground and scouring the landscape of your anatomy to wash and cleanse the killing fields. Observing yourself in relationship to others and looking for repeated patterns of behavior. Hungry to break old cycles and cultivate new neural pathways. Understanding what is really present at that moment in time, instead of through a distorted lens of past events or future fear. Coursing the emotion through your systems and structures to allow it to pass through. To see where you’re holding it. Where it rises. Where it burns and sears and tears from the inside out. Breathing yourself back to life by expanding from the inside so you can feel your way back in because, somehow, somewhere along the way, you forgot.

We forget that our bodies have wisdom. We forget to listen to what they have to say. We ignore their pleas at the cost of our deepest truths. And a voice that isn’t heard only gets quieter.

“A body whose wisdom

has never been honoured

does not easily trust.

An animal with a crazy trainer

learns crazy habits,

runs wild.”

Marion Woodman

If everything is in relationship then how am I in relationship to myself? My body? My thoughts, feelings and emotions? How does my perception affect my relationship to the world around me and if I shift my perception does the world shift too? Coming into deeper relationship with yourself can have a profound effect on how you communicate, how you see the world and how you interact with everything inside it. But what does that even mean? A deeper relationship with yourself?

When we get curious about why we react in a certain way, who we judge, what we believe. When we explore the different shades of red we can begin to catch ourselves before our knee jerks. Before something harmful, callous or cruel leaps from our suddenly forked tongues. When we begin to inquire we can start to observe and become the witness to our own triggers. I will never forget a class I took online with Elena Brower. It was all about automatic reaction versus conscious response and it has stayed with me and supported me in so many situations over the years. It’s such a beautiful play, so cleanly articulated, and I see myself in this dance, daily. I know when I’ve reacted badly. And when I do, I get curious. I try my best not to judge myself. I work to acknowledge my shadow, dive into my body and follow the emotion so I can taste it, drink it in and ask it to pass through. So I can release the pattern and deepen my intention to respond with greater consciousness. To move from a place of truth and to speak that truth quietly, fearlessly and with love.

To quote my soul sister, Rikke Brodin, “become so fluid that the waves of stimuli and emotion can glide through [you] unbroken and ‘untrapped’”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

take your seat

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In out-of-the-way places of the heart,

Where your thoughts never think to wander,

This beginning has been quietly forming,

Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

John O’Donohue

Do not take lightly your tentative toe steps or the whispery calls of a long hushed voice. Do not take lightly a sudden awareness of being or the experience of your whole breath. Do not take lightly the awkward sensation of not knowing and the fear of getting it wrong. And do not, for one minute, think that you are not supposed to feel this way, as you begin to gradually unfold.

Those first steps onto the yoga mat might seem inconsequential. They might seem small. They might just seem like a bit of physical juju as you foofoo around from one ‘pose’ to another. But when you step onto a yoga mat, you take your seat. The word ‘asana’ means ‘seat’ and though you might not feel like you’re doing a whole lot of sitting that is exactly what you are doing. Taking a seat inside yourself. Seat by seat, pose by pose, you come into view. You make contact with the ground of your being, landing softly and remembering that it was always already there but you somehow forgot. That this fluorescent, vital, life-force managed to somehow become dim. That the very essence of you became wispy, imperceptible … hard to reach.

Every organism on this planet is here to grow and each time we take our seat, we reaffirm our commitment to that process. Yoga is one way to take that vow and, more often than not, it takes us by surprise. It begins with the sweet remembrance of embodiment. Of what it feels like to become alive from the neck down, and not because our head is telling us that our body should exercise but because we have actually started to feel again. Droplets of awareness sink into our cells, and, before long, we can hear our bodies speak. Breathe into their message. Receive their wisdom.

I deeply wish to grow. I deeply wish to grow. I deeply wish to grow.

Our breath seems fuller, sensation more acute, our capacity to feel becomes more present and our understanding of embodiment transforms, as we wake up to ourselves. Those first steps onto the yoga mat can lead to the deepest seat you might ever take inside your own being. They can take you to unexpected realms of perception as your intuition sharpens, your awareness expands and your reality takes on a whole new level of detail. As your relationship to the world around you shifts, your relationship to yourself can truly evolve. And that is the stuff of miracles.

There is a voice that doesn’t use words.

Listen.

Rumi