Thursday, August 25, 2011

Suffering II

the suffering,
when allowed to move,
colors the mind,

...and it flows into life...

and the pain spreads
in waves
through contortions, twists and turns...

once the fear is accepted
and the scaffolding removed,
the soul is finally freed
to move
and be moved...

while the inner witness, the impersonal self, oversees the happening...
with care and steady calm, it guides the soul's inner suffering,
reminding it to allow all feelings
and let them flow as they must.

until the soul wakes up
and realizes

that perhaps the suffering does not belong to it alone.

perhaps this suffering is just something that comes,
larger than the very small story of one small being,
something that cannot be owned, trapped, or specifically named.

perhaps this suffering really belongs to another--
and another, and another...

in time, without hurry, the soul realizes
that this is truly the universal suffering of humanity itself,
which belongs to no one at all,
for this is the suffering that exists only because it must...

...and is only released once clearly seen in all its grandeur...

and with this realization, the breath comes
and the suffering is given space to live
and to move onwards
and outwards
through the body, mind, and soul.

this is how
the pain leads us home

when we choose to stop
and follow.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Suffering I

Today, the father of one of my closest friends is dying, and she has gone to be with him.  This has made me think of death and suffering.  When we have compassion, we feel the suffering of others.  To have compassion is human; to suffer is also human.  Yet, one of our strongest habits is to avoid feeling our suffering out of fear.

Here are some helpful thoughts to tell ourselves during times of suffering:

Don't worry, me, I am here with you, within you--I am you, not separate from you.
I understand everything that you are going through, everything that you think, everything that you do.

Yes, you have suffered enough. But you will suffer more, despite that, because this is your lot.  Because you are human and you are surrounded by an imperfect world and imperfect human beings, just like you.

But you can suffer less than you do.  You can stay strong and centered and detached.  You can listen to others and have compassion.  You can feel their sorrow and sadness, and your own painful feelings.

But let those feelings live in you and MOVE!  

Don't hold onto them.  Don't try to get rid of them. Don't tighten in response.  Don't run away from them.  Don't deny them.  Don't minimize them.  Don't exaggerate them.  Don't ignore them. Don't fight them.

Above all, don't fear them!!!!!

Do not fear those feelings, my dear self.  Those feelings are a gateway to your True Self, just as pleasant ones are, as well.  Do not fear your feelings, for they are all a necessary part of who you are.  Pay attention to them, and let them be what they are.

Allow all feelings.
Allow them to move through you.
Feel them deeply, and let them  move you.
Feel the sadness, the sorrow, the compassion, the depth of humanity, the suffering.
Just make sure that you let it all move!

BREATHE with the feelings, and let them move you.

Movement is LIFE.

Breath is LIFE.

This is the way to open yourself and know yourself, so do not be afraid.

You fear yourself--which is necessary at first--but then come closer.
Do not let the fear stop you from coming closer and closer to who you really are, beyond those feelings.

Overcome your fear!!!
Open yourself to this fear, to all feelings, and risk knowing and loving yourself fully, just as you are.

I am here.
I am here for you, with open arms.
Here to embrace you and keep you safe.
Open your arms to yourself, and open your heart.

Surrender to the fear and open yourself up anyway, despite the fear, despite the pain.
Find me in your breath, as you let the feelings move inside.
I am here, I am here, I am here.

I am you.

Look no further than inside your own being.
I am your very own Self.
So open up to me and breathe and move, and LIVE.

Dare to be your WHOLE, TRUE SELF.

The only way to real happiness is to accept and move through whatever comes...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Embracing Life

"Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive -- the risk to be alive and express what we really are." - Miguel Angel Ruiz

We all want to live, or else we would no longer be alive.  But much of the time, people seem as if suspended somewhere between life and death, neither fully alive nor fully dead.  Why not decide today to risk being fully alive and expressing the fullness of life that we really are?  [Some AT suggestions for practicing this are at the bottom of this post.]

We speak of "embracing life."  But embracing life can be very difficult if a person does not first feel safely embraced by life.  To sincerely embrace something or someone involves opening up and making oneself vulnerable by expressing the truth of what is deep inside of us.  It can feel like a terrible risk if we think that something/someone we wish to embrace may not return our embrace; that could feel like the very essence of our being is being denied.

But life is not a person.  Life never denies us; it is only we who deny life.

I had a wonderful and significant dream just before waking this morning, which taught me some very important things.  It might sound strange to someone else, but please bear with me--I think it's worth sharing.


I was about to participate in an Alexander workshop (as a student), and just before it began, the teacher approached me.  He didn't recognize me, but he gave me a friendly hug.  It didn't matter at all who I was, and the hug was completely impersonal.  Yet, the touch-quality of the hug was so warm, reassuring, calm, and safe--the real touch of a great Alexander teacher's hands, but offered with the upper body.*
In my dream, even though the contact of the hug was full and frontal, this was a completely non-sexual, non-emotional, non-personal hug. This was the most accepting, whole-person, peaceful embrace of life that I could imagine.  It felt odd to accept this embrace in front of other people (what must they be thinking?!), but I chose to be the student and let the teacher lead, releasing into the safety of this innocent, natural human contact.  I distinctly remember the breath becoming free, full and synchronized.  Others were waiting to begin the workshop, but for me, the workshop had already begun, and the most important thing for me was being taught and learned.

Upon waking, I realized several things:
  • Our best teacher is life itself--the present moment--NOW, not a person outside of the Self.  People can help us realize this, but we really need to surrender to letting life be our teacher.
  • We need to take the risk to let life embrace us, so that we can then feel safe to embrace life.
  • Even when we seem to be alone, the life-teacher is always present, always right in front of us, always here, always embracing us, just waiting for us to return the embrace.
  • We will be happiest when we let ourselves be embraced by life--even in front of other people, even when it feels odd, even when we worry about what other people might think of us when we are in the midst of that embrace.
  • What is important, for each one of us, is to take the opportunity that stands before us NOW, to accept the embrace that is being offered to us individually.  We can let the rest of the world wait, trusting that it can take care of itself while we are experiencing the embrace of life for ourselves.  
  • Being individually embraced by life doesn't mean that we're any more special or important than anyone else.  Everyone in the world receives his/her own special embrace from life. 

Some AT directions to put this into practice:

  • The next time you feel like something is missing in your life, give yourself a moment to stop what you're doing.
  • Become aware of the space in front of you.  Without necessarily moving your body (you can remain passive), let yourself feel the space in front of you with the whole front of your body.  Feel how the air quietly and gently touches your hands, arms, torso, legs, neck, face.  If you're outside, turn towards the breeze and feel it caress the front of your body.
  • Let yourself feel this frontal space softly embracing you.  Let yourself be nourished and comforted by this space.  Be aware of drawing it in, towards and through your torso, letting it fill your chest and abdomen so that you can rest into your back.
  • Lying down on your stomach with a long pillow under your torso, forehead on the ground, with lower legs and ankles supported by another pillow if necessary, is also a nice way to feel supported from the front of you.
I find that there is a lot of focus on the back of the body in Alexander lessons.  We speak a lot about the spine lengthening, and about the back lengthening and widening to support us.  Let's make sure we are also aware of receiving support for and from the front, allowing life to embrace us from all sides, inside and out, as we return that embrace at every moment.  Let's take the risk to be ourselves.  We are made to embrace life with all our being.

*For those readers unfamiliar with Alexander Technique: the front middle of the torso and abdomen are rarely touched in a lesson, if at all, and the teacher uses only his/her hands to lightly contact a student's body in a completely non-invasive, detached way, such as on head, neck, back, and limbs. Greater emphasis is usually placed on the spine and support coming from the back rather than the front, as this area is much more vulnerable.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Opening to Grace, part II

Having been out of the country for many weeks, I've only taught a handful of lessons since the end of June.  Today, as I went to put hands on my student, my last blogpost came to mind, and I had a new experience when I contacted her, which I'd like to write about in case it might be useful to others.

In my last post, I spoke about having open, empty hands, unfurling to receive grace-fullness as they touch each other.  As my hands approached my student today, I noticed the emptiness of my hands, and as they made contact, connecting with her through her body, I had that same sense of my hands being filled with grace.

The human body is full of life.  And what is life if not grace--that elusive, indescribable, miraculous Essence of existence?

As I put my hands on a living person, the life in me makes contact with the life inside another.  This is miraculous to me and fills me with awe.  Every body is full of the grace of life.  Every cell is grace-full.

As my hands rest on this living being, what could there possibly be to change?  What could there be to fix?  What could be missing for this person?  What is lacking?  My hands feel the warm miracle of life, and I am in awe of its simple, innocent perfection.  Perhaps the only thing missing is an awareness and deep appreciation of this wholeness, this grace-full perfection of Life's Wonder that lives within.

Perhaps, if I can be present to my student's essential wholeness/perfection as I teach (as well as my own, for the life in us is not different), my student will wake up to it a bit more, too.  Deep down, I think this is what everyone who walks through the studio door is really seeking.  This awareness is what heals.  For what is health, but wholeness?

  • After becoming aware of your hands as in the previous post, practice placing your empty hands on different parts of your own body, and sense the life within your body, meeting your hands.
  • The next time you touch someone, take a moment to appreciate the emptiness of your hands first, and then appreciate their Grace-fullness as they make contact with the life in the other person.
  • Let your hands transmit appreciation from your heart.
  • Be aware of the innocent perfection of life, and know that this life cannot be added to, fixed, changed, or diminished.  It simply IS.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Opening to Grace, part I

Opening to being grace-full.

What is opening?
What is being?
What is grace?
What is full?

When awareness of the above are not present, nothing seems to work right.  Things don't flow, and clumsiness and suffering abound.  Coordination is off, and heaviness is predominant.

Grace, ease, joy, and lightness go hand-in-hand.
So as we wish for those, let us notice our hands.
Let hands touch one another, for the heart is expressed by the hands.
When in the womb, heart and hand were of one tissue.


  • Open the hands and observe them.  See their emptiness and how they have weathered.  
  • Let the hands unclench and soften, resting them on your lap or a table.  Let them be open and empty to receive grace-fullness.  
  • Now let the hands slowly come together, meeting each other in a natural way, and feel that now they are full.
  • As you go about your day, if you feel that you "have your hands full" with too much to do, try just stopping for a moment to appreciate your hands.  Let your hands open slowly, reflecting an opening heart.  
  • Experience their emptiness, and then let them hold each other gently, letting each hand fill the other with the grace of your own being.  Let this grace-fullness spread to your heart, and feel gratitude for your Self. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Moving Forward, Giving Back

I saw a sign as I was out walking yesterday.  Literally.
Although, the sign did announce that it was divine..."Divine Realty," to be precise.
"Divine Realty.  Moving forward.  Giving back."
Divine or not, it really made me stop and think.  And I'm still thinking about it!

"Realty" + "I" = Reality

A sign about homes.  My home, your home...
The body is our home, our real realty--our everyday reality while in this world.
A home which we carry around with us wherever we go.

"Moving forward, giving back."

Yes.  It is surely good to move forward and give back.  But how, exactly, does the body move forward and give back at the same time?  The image of the Buddha comes to mind.  The Buddha is often depicted as walking forward, leaving a trail of lotuses instead of footprints behind him, a trail of beauty for us to follow.  The Buddha is certainly a universal example of a human being moving forward while giving back.


  • While walking forward, are you moving forward into the future, while staying aware of the past behind you, giving beauty to those who come after you, or to those who were important in your past?
  • Are you able to move forward and give back, without looking back or clinging to the past?
  • Can you stay centered in the middle (present), while accepting forward (future) and back (past)?
  • Can you be aware of what is in front of you and behind you at the same time?
  • How can you "give back" to yourself and others, even as you move forward in life?
  • Is turning your back to something or someone necessarily a negative thing?  What if you are actually giving back by turning your back to it/them, so that you can move forward to the next present moment, the next steps in your life?  What if by doing so, you are offering lotus flowers of beauty and goodness, a trail blessed by your continued presence beyond space and time?
  • If you use a variation of the standard Alexander Technique directions (let the neck be free, to let the head move forward and up, to let the back lengthen and widen, to let the knees go forward and away), can you include a sense of generosity as you give your back lengthening and widening?  
  • Can you give neck free, give head forward & up, give back lengthening & widening, give knees, etc.?
  • What are other ways you can "give back" as you move forward and up, both literally and figuratively?