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.

Dancing Freedom – Chapter 1

“Imagine then a dancer who… has attained such a degree of understanding that his body is simply the luminous manifestation of his soul; whose body dances in accordance with a music heard inwardly, in an expression of something out of another, profounder world. This is the truly creative dancer; natural but not imitative, speaking in movement out of himself and out of something greater than all selves.”
Isadora Duncan – The Philosopher’s Stone of Dancing, 1920

Photo by Wes Carson

Photo by Wes Carson

Creation Dances. The universe dances. When existence was born out of the great, undifferentiated field of the One, the dance was born. Since the beginning of time and the beginning of existence, being has been dancing with essence. Our souls are dancing the space where our spirit and our bodies meet.

The dance is the great unifier. Dance invites us into union with the masculine and feminine, seen and unseen, being and doing, spiritual and physical aspects of ourselves. Gently, fiercely moving us in the tides of our own bodies and emotions, it brings us right to the center of soul. To dance is to celebrate being human – being a spirit in the body living on this miraculous planet called Gaia.

Dancing Freedom is my spiritual practice. It is not a religion. It has no dogmas, no boundaries. It welcomes all bodies, all gestures, all gods. It invites diversity, and through embrace of the wild multiplicity of expression, teaches the truths of Unity. Dancing is spiritual because it is a way of joy. Joy means saying a divine yes to life – to the movement that IS life – all of IT – and, to our divine creatorship. When we move and just keep moving, we become one with all parts of ourselves and with the great cosmic dance.

I believe the dance can set us free. Freedom means that we are at home in our bodies and in our spirits. It means that we have fluidity between our inner connectivity and outer expressivity. When these two parts of ourselves are in dynamic flow, we live with soul. WE dance in the fire of love that is at the center of hearts. Freedom means embracing that fire – being ok with the full spectrum of our experience, at home in all of our stuff AND in our exaltation. I call this divine OK-ness. It is a place where there is no separation between the sacred and the mundane – a place where we KNOW that THIS is the true essence of sacredness. When we live here, we are free. Incredible magic happens. The world opens before us as a place of wonder, color, authenticity and beauty. Our instinctive, intuitive and worldly aspects reconnect. We stop going through the motions of life, and instead really feel the vibrancy and joy of existence pulsing through us.

No true freedom can emerge from resistance. What we resist persists. We are learning how to really love what is, how to embrace. The path of liberation asks us to surrender everything while we simultaneously hold the mother wisdom of creating safe space. What does this look like in the dance? It looks like working within a clear container of practice where we can really let go to explore. It means developing the clarity of our own sense of yes and no. It means exploring how our physical and emotional experiences are holographic reflections of all dimensions of our experience. Our skin is a sacred boundary. Our hearts have boundaries and borders that can be contained, entered, held, opened, surrendered. It is through naked dialogue with the bounded aspect of experience that we come to the blissful experience of boundlessness. It is through the existence of a contained self and a distinct other that we give and receive. When the flow is open in both directions, we can open to the infinity loop of creation.

Freedom does not mean being without boundaries. It means choosing boundaries, keeping agreements with our self and other and communicating clearly and cleanly. It means giving and receiving. It means knowing that we create our realities through choice. The dance teaches the total creativity of the moment. We be, do and act from an inner creative impulse that is always our own, always available for us to claim. It teaches us ownership of this creative impulse, and how to share that impulse without giving away all our energy. The dance teaches us healthy, heart-full ways to be authentic. This is freedom.

Dancing takes me home. This is my practice. My cells speak many languages: jazz, rock, samba, techno, dub, trance, silence. My body knows many paths in time and space: slow, fast, chaotic, graceful, high, low, lazy, energized, linear, circular, sweeping. I connect to the filaments of consciousness that flow through all things, all time and space. And, I surf the textures of dimensions far greater than this one. I ignite in the downward spiral of Love, Light and Energy: the core frequencies of embodiment. I release into the upward spiral of Love, wisdom and power – in action and in essence. Immanence and Transcendence. I return, again and again, to stillness.

I have seven sacred agreements I keep with myself:
1.) I will show up.
2.) I will pay attention.
3.) I will love.
4.) I will be myself.
5.) I will breathe.
6.) I take responsibility.
7.) I honor my body, my emotions, my mind and my spirit.

I keep these agreements …ask others to keep these agreements with me as we re-birth a culture of spirit in the body. As we return to these fundamental ground rules for spiritual practice, we create a powerful field for transformation and a safe space for all souls to dance.

Open Heart Empowerment Ceremony, Mount Shasta

Open Heart Empowerment Ceremony, Mount Shasta

So. You say you don’t dance…. It is a gift of life and right of passage to dance. Once upon a time, everyone danced. The world was born dancing. Mother god seduced father god with her great beauty, and thus, the universe was born. Original peoples everywhere on the planet have danced communion since the beginning of time. It is in your blood. We have danced the cycles of the seasons, the hunt, the harvests, the birth, marriage and death portals of life. We have danced to recognize the girl becoming the woman and the boy becoming man. We have danced for praise, gratitude, forgiveness, harmonization, re-genesis, and transformation. We have danced to become one with the elements, the directions and the devas. The Sufis swirl, the Quakers shake, the bushmen of the Kalahari jump, the Hawaiians hula. South Indian Kathak dancers tell the great Hindu epics in the exquisite detailing of fingers and eyes, while aboriginals, Tibetan Buddhists and Cuban Santeros invite divine energies to take over the body in states of trance.
Our dances reflect our connection to the earth, our beliefs, and the ways in which we relate with each other. They are the backbone of culture.

In this now time, we are coming together to dance a revolution of dancing evolution. We are bridging the mind and the body to create a culture of heart. Dancing is a path of truth. We come to truth through authentic connection and expression. We are not here to seek the truth, we are here to live it. We remember how to do this when we dance. If you feel this call, Dancing Freedom is your tradition. Certainly, it is my tradition. It is a choice. It is my choice. It is a re-birthing of cultural backbone and a celebration of peace. We create Oneness as we dance. WE re-weave the wholeness of the world and the coherence of community. We remember that being human is ok, and that, in this humanness, we can be ONE.

We are luminous bodies. We are light. We know this mentally as a truth of Quantum Mechanics. But, let us dance it – as Truth. Let us touch the knowing that true stillness is moving and that true movement holds all stillness. Let us dance to know our selves, and that which is greater than the self. Let us dance and come home. Let us dance and be Freedom.