The power of WE: the good, the bad and the awesome.

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I am interdependent with everything.  The dance of my small self and my individual life is an empathic dance with All of Life.  I experience myself as a fractal of the whole.  Maybe you are like this, too?  My feelings are both personal and transpersonal.  If you relate to this, you are an empath.  Empathy is the capacity to have feelings connected with collective consciousness, the earth and other life forms.

Being empathic means being a very human Human.   It means that your human capacity to feel functions as a mirror and a measure not only of your individualized life experience, but for collectivity, as well.  For me, this manifests as being really sensitive and sometimes not knowing why I feel so much, but just needing to feel it all.

Just like everyone, have good days and bad days.  Just like you, I don’t always feel clear.  I don’t always have the answers.  I sometimes feel lost, confused, frustrated or just plain lost and lousy.  My heart and body feel it all.  And, I have come to know that my small self journey is a fractal of the whole of humanity.  And, because of this, I need your mirroring, your healthy reflection of the process of embracing life with love.  I need to grok (meaning: to empathically receive) the good, the bad and the awesome THROUGH THE LOVE OF OTHERS.  I CAN NOT DO MY LIFE ALONE.  I need you in order to fully know myself.

So, really, I am writing this blog to to THANK YOU.

I thank you for the way you embrace and embody the good, the bad and the AWESOME in life – every day.  It’s a practice.  It takes commitment.  And, I know you are worthy of this thanks.  After all, you wouldn’t be reading this blog if you didn’t give a sh** about love, life and the planet.  So, thank you.

Here’s the reality:  I can not do my life without your love. I can not hold my small self in coherence with my collectivity without your touch, your mirroring, the solace and the HOME you offer me, and the courage each of you embody on our shared path. I am a being of collective intelligence. My heart is part of the Earth’s heart, part of humanity’s soul. My little life is a reflection of the whole. The pain I feel is often larger than me… and it is the pain I continue to know as the opportunity for our deepest thriving.

Together…. WE are the healing of this pain. WE are the return and the remembrance and the dance and the desire of All of Life to know itself in a circle – a circle of wholeness that honors all. ‘

I woke this morning singing with the earth, singing her loss and our cost – the cost of all that we have forgotten in the race to have more, to transcend our animal nature, to remove ourselves from the dirt of life.  Humbly, radiantly, I am embracing it all.  Comm-passion: passion in communion.  We HAVE IT ALL NOW.  Today, I return to AWEbundance.  Today, as every day, we are the one’s we have been waiting for… and that means living INTERDEPEN-DANCE wholly, in every aspect of our lives.

Thank you. I love you.

~s.s.

Wanna Really Love?

To Your Independence

ImageThe people I love the deepest and the truest all have something in common:  a fierce independence that finds its center in god and the soul. 

They all hold in common that the arbiter of their actions is not located out in the world, but in a deep and personal connection to inner guidance and listening to a greater intelligence navigating their lives.  Of course, this means that there is absolutely nothing I can do to control them.  It’s impossible for such people to be fully themselves in the context of control.  They navigate by an authority that is divine, human and entirely emergent through their own listening.  It’s terrifying to love such a person – because one never knows what they will decide or what God will decide for them.  But, it is this kind of love that shows us what love really is, not on romantic human terms, but on the terms the universe offers us to understand what life and love and consciousness really are.

To love such a person is to really love, to love unconditionally, to love as an art of setting another free.

In my experience, this unconditionality is both a prerequisite to and an ongoing foundational practice within any relationship that “works”.  It’s not easy.  It’s the hardest thing, and the most beautiful thing.  The pleasure it offers is it’s own reward.  But, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  It’s just that, if you want a  relationship that is really honest and true, courageous and surrendered, and authentic to your soul, it’s the only way to go.  It’s the only path to soul level, sustained intimacy, whether with a lover, a friend, a child, a parent or a colleague.  Unconditional love empowers each person to be wholly themselves.  It supports each person to engage the other and the relationship itself (which  is a third intelligence) from what is truly present rather than from what is past or what is projected into the future.

It takes a lot of maturity, softness and courage to create a relationship that lives in the present moment – a lot – because you don’t get to lean on future guarantees or projections based in past experience.  You don’t get to create contracts to control each other or keep the other safe from experiences projected into the relationship from the past or onto the future because the past was scary. Rather, you operate from a primary contract to protect and uphold each others’ liberation.  You get to gather yourselves into the present moment continuously as you do the healing work that inevitably comes up around the past and around what shows up on the path of your relating in the present.

This is the only true union –  a moment by moment dissolution into love, honesty, co-creation, trust, presence, vulnerability and all the pleasure, pain, wonder, stillness, inspiration, awareness and responsibility that arises when we give ourselves totally. 

Why would we do this?  Simply because we can.  Simply because we are given to do so.  Simply because we need each other in order to truly know what it is to be free.

Are You Overwhelmed?

Are You Overwhelmed?

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Some thoughts on information overload and the path of non-violence.  

Lately, I’ve been present to how information overwhelm is a subtle form of violence – a stressor on the nervous system that prevents me from actually embodying peace. 

Have you noticed the way your body feels when you are working to take in all the information coming at you – to answer the phone, the SMS’s, the Skype, the IM’s, to read all the emails, to stay up to date on the latest breakthroughs, to track the emotions of your friends and partners, to maintain political participation, etc, etc, etc…???

There is a subtle and very important distinction between working in a curious and disciplined way to expand your capacity to assimilate new information, connections and experiences, and the place where it becomes an overwhelm to your system and thus inhibits optimal presence, assimilation, integration and action. 

PEACE means navigating a healthy boundary between expanding your capacity and weeding your garden.  It means breathing into the more to find flow.

Elegant, implicate presence and action arise in the space of “nothing extra” – a less-is-more simplicity that includes the full spectrum – from extreme momentum to doing nothing.  This supports an inner experience of non-violence that cannot arise from over-pushing; it can only arise in flow.  Listening for and acting from the “nothing extra” supports you to navigate this this post-2012, post-information, neo-time era, when the fields of time, space and information are nearing singularity, in a graceful way.  It supports you to BE the zero point in action and in essence.

Questions: 

  • How can you ground your nervous system in the context of immense amounts of information while staying open, alert and curious to new and important information and patterns?
  • How can pattern recognition create a filter for information?
  • How can you be ok with what you can’t attend to while vibrantly offering your presence and attention to what you can?
  • How are expansion and containment related?

Regenerate Yourself

Unleash the light withinRegenerate Yourself

Has it ever occurred to you that nothing ever repeats itself in the universe?   Nothing.  Every moment is literally a new moment.  Therefore, you are regenerating yourself in every moment.  Literally, you cannot repeat, re-do or recreate ANYTHING… EVER.

This means that habit is an illusion, or an attachment.  We are way more free than we think we are.  The most useful habit to drop is the habit of habit.  This empowers us to live in the present moment and to truly enjoy the vibrancy and potency of life.

I’ve been hanging out with my friend Dr. Joe Marshalla, PhD. philosopher, physicist, neuroscientist  and discoverer of the Law of Repeatlessness.  I’ve been learning a lot about the biological mechanisms through which the brain creates and attaches to habit and takes us out of the present moment.  I’ve been learning about how to unplug from these mechanisms (and habits!) and thus become more fully awake and liberated in every moment.  IT ROCKS!  Thank you, Joe, for these tools and for being in my life!

The implications of The Law of Repeatlessness for healing addiction, rage, despair, depression, trauma and sabotage patterns of all kinds are literally mindblowing. Further, the possibility for lasting peace that it represents is utterly compelling.  For me, this work fills in spaces in a great prayer I’ve been holding for my whole life- to co-create a regenerative culture of embodied oneness and peace.  I’m SO excited to dance and share more of this work with you over the coming year and beyond.

Blessed Be!

Samantha

Let The Circle Lead

 

“You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round.” ~ Black Elk

A circle has no leader.  It shows us what we must follow.

Listening to the Center ~ Photo: Darren Miller

A circle is a primal wholeness.  The social and spiritual architecture of the circle is simple, non-hierarchical and natural.  It replicates an eternity that flows through the arc of time, and the web of connections that hold all of life.  A circle is a fractal of the totality of life expressing all of the directions, and all the phases and faces of existence: birthing, growth, maturation and death.  To pray and listen in a circle repeatedly, regularly over the arc of time is to recognize the eternal and transpersonal aspects of every person’s struggles, joys, growth, and desires.  It is to come to know and feel the mirror that each person’s experience offers for my own, and to receive these sacred mirrors as a continuous invitation to more coherent participation in the life of my tribe.  It is to feel myself in others and others in me and so to move with greater empathy, respect and compassion.  The circle is life speaking with life – a feedback loop for living harmony.

When I sit in circle, I am a member, a listener, a co-equal part of the Collective prayer.   When I sit in circle, before the altar of All of My Relations, I am witnessed by my community, my elders and by spirit.  I am seen, and I see.  If I am falling apart, I am held.  If I am strong, I am part of the collective strength.  If I have courage, it is because I am reflected by my tribe as one who is willing to show up, both in pleasure and in pain, in struggle and in grace.  If I soften and open, it is because I am reminded that the heart is home, and that the path of embrace is the one that leads us all to greatest grace.  My life is elevated because I experience it through the mirror of the whole.  My life makes sense, not because I am “special”, but because the particular ways in which I feel, give, grieve, create, and gather serves to the One Great Life.

The Perfect Logic of Life

About two years ago, I started going to a Chanupa (Pipe) and Wachuma (Sacred Andean Plant Medicine) Ceremonies with George Grey Eagle Bertelstien, an elder living in Berkeley, CA who has held pipe ceremonies and medicine ceremonies for over 25 years.  George is the steward and space holder for our circle, he does not lead in the way we commonly think of leadership in the West.  He would not call himself “a leader.”  Rather, he is a dedicated follower of the ways of ceremony, a listener to the medicine who has given everything in the calling and the vision to steward life in this way.  He is a servant.  As one who has given everything, we trust him.  We take his lead.  We follow.  And, we, too, show up to serve the circle.  As elder, he defines the space, sets the boundaries, shares the teachings, opens the heart.  His stewardship is clear, unwavering, intensely loving and immensely disciplined, yet it arises though a deeply feminine surrender to his own prayer.  He is in dialogue with all of life as the medicine.  His eldership is the closest model I have to the way I now choose to live and lead in the world.  I am choosing to lead through a deepening listening to life, to my creator and to the circle, the sacred hoop of all of my relations.

In the circle, I pray to my creator – not the impersonal god of books and institutions, but my personal creator who I can talk to, who listens, and who “speaks” with me through everything – through my body, my emotions, my friends, my family, my community, the water, the buffalo skull, the eagle feather, the song of the rising sun – everything.  With the sacrament of tobacco and the power of my voice, I pray.  Through the prayer, I meet the unknown, I open my heart, and I set a clear trajectory of intent for my life.  Through the prayer, I gain clarity beyond words that I carry daily into work and relationships.  In this way, the prayer continues to unfold as my life, and again, I meet my life and continue the prayer.  It is a circle.

Dynamic Equilibrium

In Pipe Ceremony, we pray in this way:  we give gratitude; we ask for what we most want; we ask for help.  Then we get quiet and listen.  Our listening to each other makes us transparent as it amplifies and harmonizes the prayer.  Then we smoke the prayer, passing the sacred pipe from heart to heart, surrendering outcomes to the divine intelligence that governs All.

Praying in this way has shown me that we human beings all want the same things, all feel the same pains, all struggle in the same ways.  We all suffer pain and loss, we all revel in victory, abundance and success, we all want a good life for our selves and the people we love, we all crave intimacy, connection, direction and meaning.  We are all deepening our capacity to be with the unknown and the difficult, and to soften and open to life, even as we get clearer and stronger in creating our deepest heart desires.  We all fall down, and are ever growing in courage, strength, surrender and discernment.  Sitting in circle teaches all of this.  It invites immense compassion and empathy.  And, it supports participation because everyone has a unique place and everyone is the same.  We see again and again the mirror that no one is perfect, yet our commitment and right effort bring great gifts into our own lives and to the world.  We say, “Bless your life.”  These words elevate both the sacred and the profane – the “life-y-ness” of our lives.

The Sacred Altar ~ Thank You George Grey Eagle Bertelstien & Barrett Eagle Bear!

The circle has taught me to get humble.  “Getting humble” means setting down indignance, entitlement, judgment, importance and smallness.  It means surrendering ego defenses, taking ideas, opinions and preferences less personally, and literally becoming more naked to what Spirit asks.  “Getting humble” means to cease the endless human vanity of thinking that I have all the answers.  It means setting down rage or frustration at life or at God and instead practicing trusting, asking and allowing.  “Getting humble” means to take the corrections that life offers, in the form of suffering or disharmony, and to find a new prayer for greater grace.  “Getting humble” means not rejecting what is.  The prayer is always to embrace what is and to thank it.  This gratitude is the gateway to transformation.  It is through this authentic “thank you” that I am empowered to stand in the blessing, the bigness and the beauty of my life.

Getting to humility is not always easy.  In August, I was hosting the VISION Soul Quest Ceremony I do in Mount Shasta every summer.  For the first time, George and many of my medicine family had come to support the ceremony.   I felt intensely honored and humbled by their presence, willingness and collective wisdom.  But, I was a mess – completely stressed out, feeling terrified of doing the wrong thing, of mis-stepping, or of in any way dishonoring or upsetting my medicine family or any of the participants in the quest itself.  I felt like I was going to do “it” wrong – meaning everything and anything.  My inner perfectionist was literally wreaking havoc on my inner compass.  The whole situation was a perfect storm of triggers for my deepest control patterns and ego defenses.  The people I most love and respect had showed up to support me and to learn from me, and I could not bring myself to surrender to the circle of our co-creation.  George, of course, noticed this, and jokingly said to me, “honey, you just try to make a bad prayer.”  My inner spin continued.

Once the questers were on the mountain, those of us holding space entered into a second cycle of medicine ceremony.  When my turn came to pray, I said to George, “I don’t know what to pray for. It’s not that I need to be right, I just want to stop making myself wrong.”  He chuckled and said, “Oh, that’s a good prayer.  That’s the prayer to not be an ass-hole.”  What he meant was that, the more you try to do it right, the more you generally do it wrong.  There is no “right,” there is just the profound and total act of showing up.  When we show up to create big ceremony, a big prayer, part of us is convinced that it is “us” leading the ceremony.  This part competes with the part that is actually surrendered to the ceremony, so we make ourselves and others crazy.  “Not being an ass-hole” means letting go of thinking we are (or need to be) in charge.

Then he said, “Let me show you a trick.  Get down on your knees.”  He had me kneel on the ground and place my hands behind my head.  Then he put a cup of medicine in my hands and told me to carry it over my head without spilling a drop – a simple, total gesture.  “The only way you can do that is to be a human being.  Breathe.  Be a human being.” I followed, crying, breathing, praying with every aspect of my being to release, to let go of the tyrant of my own perfectionist.  I prayed to surrender my striving to be enough or to “get it right.”  I asked for the simple poise and trust to relax and be a human being.  Then I drank the medicine, letting it fill me, letting all of my emotions release, and trusting the prayer.

It worked.  Something huge and subtle shifted in me that day.  When the questers returned, I was able to receive them with an open heart and a quite mind.  I was able to carry out the rest of the ceremony as listener, a leader yet an equal member.  I was more able to simply be a human doing her part for the life of the tribe.

And, if any of us wanted or needed any kind of affirmation that we had genuinely given our prayer in service to the one great life, we received it from the spirits of the land in the form of an extraordinary omen.  At the completion of the ceremony, an Eagle and a Condor soared together, magically, over our heads.  It felt as though they were showing us, doubtlessly, that we had married our hearts, bodies and minds through our prayers, that our prayer were heard, and that we had genuinely surrendered ourselves to spirit.

The Fire of Life

The shifts continue to deepen.  I am now more able notice the part of me that generates answers (so that I can feel safe) and to restrain that part so that I can listen more fully to how to serve the situation at hand.  I have learned to pause and ask for help with every situation in my life: big, little and in between.  In doing this, I have discovered a well of connection, surrender and of faith where I can flow with the changes and also rest.  Rather than immediately seeking an answer or solution in any situation, I tend to exhale into trust first, then ask what is in highest good.

I am experiencing renewed collaboration and passionate co-creation in my work.  I have initiated a community-wide conversation with all 60 Dancing Freedom Facilitators about how we can collectively create our brand to reflect each person’s unique leadership contribution, thus shaping a unified circle of embodied change-agents all serving the same purpose of embodied awakening within an immense diversity of communities.  We are literally creating Dancing Freedom as a reflection of the whole circle of teachers.  It is an experiment where leadership is emergent through the shared heart, mind and practice of my community, not through me as the founder of the school.  This fluidity is being supported by an increasing coherence in the way I hold the role of founder (elder) with lightness and clear authority.  It is trustworthy because I trust myself.  I hold the anchor, and I welcome true participation from everyone.   This is the wisdom of the circle in action in my life.

George’s guidance and these traditional ceremonies and ways of prayer have changed everything.  I live in the circle of life.  I have learned how to be in a daily conversation with My Creator and with all things – animals, elements, directions… everything – as animate, power-filled Relations that I am here to serve. I have learned to engage every aspect of my life as prayer.  And, I am beginning to see the world with medicine eyes, hear the world with a medicine heart and act in the world as “a medicine person” – one who lives transparently and who navigates from a constant dialogue with spirit and with the life principle itself.  These ceremonies are teaching me how to lead through listening, to be authentic and simple in all of my relationships, and to love and serve with a humble and grateful heart.  They reveal to me again and again that the Power of the World flows in a circle, and that the best I can do to “lead” is to shape myself as a servant to that Power.

Living Questions #1: Intimacy

Living Questions Part 1:

Somatic Sensing and The Real Conditions Of Intimacy

Think of yourself as an experiential scientist.  You are the researcher.  Your life and your experience is the laboratory.  The dance is the experiment.

In this laboratory called LIVING, what you can see, sense, feel, test out and replicate for yourself is proof, it is the evidence, the verification, of what works.  It reveals an experiential (or phenomonological) condition of reality.  It reveals the true conditions through which consciousness arises.  So, If it is true for the body & heart… it is probably TRUE.  If we can embrace this in mindfullness, we can actually start to live non-dually – in body and spirit, in transcendence and immanence, AT THE SAME TIME.

Here’s a collection of questions about INTIMACY that I use when teaching Movement Genius, Dancing Freedom, Contact Improv and Partner Yoga.  They are sourced from a lifetime of work in embodied leadership & practice, and from my coaching & healing practice.  The basic premise:  What is true somatically is true holographically.  We can test things out for ourselves through real experiences and integrate what we learn on a CORE LEVEL through somatic awareness and mindfullness.

If we can feel and know it through the body, we can learn how to apply it to life.  If some way of being is out of alignment with the body or heart’s well being, it is probably out of harmony with the universe, as well.

When I do this work, I create an agreement field that we are all on a level playing field in terms of our basic equipment.  In other words, in a class filled with able-bodied people, we are all equipped with with two legs, two arms, a spine, the same sensory organs.  We all have the capacity to move, the capacity to respond and the capacity to react.  Most of us are dealing with hidden bumps, bruises or pain – either physical or emotional.   We are all mammals; we are all people.  We are all Spirits in bodies.  We all have hidden vulnerabilites, and part of compassion is to allow presence for this.

We are all the same; and, each of us is an-other alive, creative & entirely unique self.

The only RULE is YOU CAN NOT DO IT WRONG.

For the first half of class, I ask you to focus primarily on the direct body-based experience, to dive into the minutia of our sensations.  It is important to slow down and build the depth of feeling and sensing (direct perception) before asking questions that take us emotionally and imaginally beyond the our immediate awareness.  Once the field of somatic sensing is awake, the the bridge between immediate somatic insights and the capacity to mindfully apply them to your life is totally open!

~ • ~

Questions:

Photo by Sean Stutchen ~ Epic Eden Hot Springs Retreat

• How are you listening to your partner?
• How are you listening to yourself?
• How are you meeting your self and this person in a new, fresh way?
• What do you know about them right now just by how they breathe and how they hold their body?
• Can you relax into connection to invite a deeper connection and trust from them?
• How are you bringing luminous awareness and presence to your actions?
• Where are withholding your awareness and presence?
• How are you attending to your body, to your own needs, boundaries and desires?
• Are you willing to articulate boundaries and needs?  Can you do this with an open heart?
• Are you moving from INTEGRITY?  Do you compromise basic needs for the sake of “the other” or in order to “get it right”?
• Are you willing to feel all the sensations that are present?
• Where is the sense of pleasure in your body?  Be specific.  Go more deeply into it.  Breathe and move from there.
• Where do you feel deadness, dullness, pain or stiffness in your body.  Be specific.  Are you willing be present with this and to move and breathe into this place?
• Are you willing to be vulnerable?
• Are you willing to NOT KNOW?
• What new possibilities arise when you stay present and curious with not knowing?
• How do you experience your CENTER in partnership?
• What are the motives behind your actions?
– Are you trying to please your partner or the instructor?
– Are you trying to prove yourself?
– Are you trying to “do it right?”
– Are you trying to control the situation?
• CURIOSITY.  How can curiosity support you to innovate, open and thrive?
• How is power showing up for you in this exercise?  What are you learning about cooperation, feedback, balance, listening, trust & levity in relationship to power?
• Can you give and receive at the same time?
• What does “giving” mean for you?
• What does receiving mean for you?
• The way you are experiencing this exercise is a reflection of how you experience relationship in every other aspect of your life.  What do you notice?
• Is competition showing up for you in this situation? How does competition support your success & excellence?  And, how might it undermine collaboration and compassionate leadership?
• Are you willing to trust your partner?  Can you trust yourself?  What do you get when you CHOOSE this trust?  What happens when you don’t trust?
• What is the difference between supple and rigid strength?  Can you cultivate one while releasing the other?
• Are you more comfortable leading or following?  Can you balance following withleading?  What does this mean to you and your work?
• Can you balance effort with relaxation?
• Where is the “sweet spot” for you in the balance between striving and surrender?
• Do you feel more safe, present or empowered when you are giving or when you are receiving?
• What does this tell you about the ways in which you lead and build relationships?

• How do you want to apply the simple lessons you have learned from your body and your experience of your partner in this exercise to your life and your work?

• How can experiences like this support you to work and play more from your heart rather than your head (your ideas & goals about projected outcomes) or your will (the desire to maintain control over the outcome)?

• What qualities do you notice are most supportive of collaboration, shared leadership and ease?

• What did you learn about your own impulse patterns, motivations and commitments?

• Where were your growing edges?  Do you want to commit to any particular mindfulness practices as a result of your experience today?

….Well, that’s maybe enough for a lifetime.

Next post: Questions on PURPOSE.

Love,

~s.s.