Desire as Catalyst: 2nd Chakra Dance

Orange Rose

What does true desire feel like to you? Can you feel the difference between something you truly want and something you think you should want? I was playing with this inquiry all day yesterday since this week, in a teleclass I am leading with my sister, Gabriela Masala, we are focusing on the Second Chakra.

Our first time around doing the teleclass, we focused on the nourishment aspect of the 2nd Chakra. How do we discern whether what we are taking in is nourishing us or poisoning us? One way (ala Martha Beck) that we invited people to explore the 2nd chakra is to notice how foods make you feel. How does it feel when you think about eating it, when you put it in your mouth, when you chew it, after the digestion process has begun and onwards.

During that time, I shared that for me true nourishment radar has been so colored by years of dieting and gathering sometimes contradictory nutritional education telling me what is “good” and “bad” for me… food or poison. My radar had been warped so that I have defaulted to my mind or the google machine to ask – is this good for me? During that 2nd chakra week, I let go of my mind as a gauge and began exploring with my taste buds, my sensations and my “gut”.

What I was choosing to eat did not change so much, I love food and eat in a way that I know nourishes me because I feel good, sleep well and rarely get sick. However, what changed for me is that I began to really enjoy my food and find pleasure in eating. Playing with internal discernment invited me to eat slower, to savor and to appreciate the alchemical aspect of this chakra. How taking in something that is not me becomes me, how hunger is a call for satisfying a need that is physical and also emotional, how nourishment is not just about the actual food, but also about the gratitude for its manifestation.

This time around, Gabriela and I wanted to bring pleasure forward as another aspect of the 2nd chakra to explore. With pleasure, comes desire. Having a desire satisfied, truly deeply satisfied can be deeply pleasurable. Sensing pleasure itself can be deeply nourishing.  And in exploring this, I had to ask myself, what is the sensation of desire? Again, as with food, how much of my understanding of desire is about what I actually want and how much of it is about what I think I should want? What a good girl should want? Or what a bad girl should want? Versus, what do I want? How do I tune into my true desires? My true yes and no?

I was asking myself this in the sauna yesterday. My husband had brought up a bucket of water with tea tree oil and it was lovely up there. And there I was asking myself, is this what I want? I like saunas, I should want to be up there. Yet, I was feeling a pull, literally from my belly towards something else. When I tuned in, I knew that I really wanted to be in the house working on this project that has me so turned on (2nd chakra). Instead of leaving right away, I sat with the wanting and the desire. I wanted it so much that I could feel my body leaping out of itself. I was also aware of my mind talking to me, telling me to relax and enjoy the sauna – even though I really wanted something else. And it all felt so familiar to me, all the times I have talked myself out of my desire, invited it to settle back down. Denied it. Especially when I had a choice.

Yesterday, I did not deny it or talk it down. Instead, I just felt it, felt the emotional intensity of it. I let my wanting get bigger and bigger. And this desire to work on my project felt like a move towards a lover. I tuned into the pleasure that desire itself was offering. And then I got it. I got the place where I could choose to satisfy my desire by getting up and leaving the sauna and also that I did not have to. At that moment, I knew what true desire felt like. It was more about knowing that than the fulfillment.

I know there have been times in my life that although I felt a desire for something, for whatever reason, I felt like I could not have it. And instead of feeling the desire all the way through, I have talked myself out of it. All this in service of my emotions, to avoid disappointment, rejection, unsatisfied longing. And yet, was this really of service to my 2nd chakra. I believe I shut it down. I think this lurks at the bottom of my sometimes having a hard time say no. Not wanting to thwart another’s desires at the expense of my own.

My point, not every desire will be or must be fulfilled. And yet, I want to feel it, the impulse, the reaching out. I believe that simply the awareness of it, the acceptance of it and the way it moves me is part of what feeds my soul. In order to know my 2nd chakra, I need to feel my desires. And I cannot fulfill a desire if I do not know it, if I am not in relationship to it… to me.

The 2nd chakra is about polarity.  What happens to desire once it has been satisfied? What happens to hunger once we have eaten? This leads me right back to quality of nourishment.  If what I ate nourished me, I will feel satisfied and no longer hungry. For me, working on this project is so nourishing. And when I came in from the sauna and gave myself to it, the pleasure I felt was an extension of that desire. Fulfilled & satisfied. Alchemically transformed. This is what fulfilling a true desire will do.

 

Over or Under, you choose.

Sam on the beach

You are standing where the water meets the land.  A wave comes at you; you can jump over it, dive under it, or let it crash on you. I guess trying to outrun it is also an option. The jump over option lives in the realm or “getting over it” &  “getting above it” which usually requires accessing my higher self, my more mature self, being better than I believe I can be. The outrun or the let it crash on you options … both really depend on the wave and where in the process I am making the decision. Letting it crash on me could be fun, and also deadly. Outrunning it, again, how big is the wave, how fast is it going. Sometimes the outrun option is impossible.  Then there is going under. Going deeper into the emotional world, trusting that I can let the wave wash over me in the calm space underneath the turbulence. This option for me always requires trust in that place where I am submerged and I am in the unknown.

A while back I wrote about a conversation I had with one my colleagues, Alayne, about how to deal when the shit hits the fan…  You can read about it here.  All this still applies and so much water has gone under the bridge that I felt it needed an update.

I wonder sometimes why so many of us play on the shore in this way. I must have spent hours equaling months and months playing at the edge of an ocean. Always so exciting to figure out how I was going to be with each wave. Lately I have been using this as a living metaphor about how to navigate what comes at me as I play in the ocean of life.

How do you play with the waves that come at you?

Spiraling as an Unfolding

What is unfolding in you today? What are the thoughts, feelings and longings that are reaching out into the world from deep inside you today like the spiraling tendrils of a passionflower?  Take a moment to quiet the outer and inner noise and listen.  Listen as if you are listening to the voice of a lover. What do you hear?

This is it, this is the unwinding, the unfolding of the inner life wanting to come to meet the air and sky. No matter how crazy the world feels, how much noise surrounds us or how little we are listening, the inner life persists… getting louder and louder in its call. What if we could learn to hear it at the point of a whisper rather than the shout of discord that it can become when it is repeatedly ignored?

This had been one of my favorite inquiries this year, a question I ask myself over and over again. Can I make the choice to listen and respond before the crisis? Way before the crisis. In exploring this, I learned that my nervous system was not accustomed to acting on the whispers with much urgency. I would wait until it I felt pain in my body or heart before I took it seriously. And shifting to feel  and heed the soft voice has helped me cultivate patience, endurance and humility.

What is unfolding in me today is a desire to uplift my experience of love; love in the way I express it, in the way I receive it, and in the way I allow it to move me. I literally had the sensation of green tender hesitant tendrils reaching out from my heart. If I had not been listening it could have been any other moment.  The movement was so quiet and not what I expected when I asked the question “What is unfolding in you today?”

Listen.

 

Inquiry to Dissolve You

Throw this one around for a couple of days: What happens when you stop trying to become something other than you?

What happens when YOU

STOP

Trying to become something other than

YOU?

I’ll tell you what happened to me. When I first heard this, many other questions arose to meet this one.  Am I trying to be something other than me? How do I stop? Who am I? What if I can’t stop? What if I die?

And here is what happened in my body. I found one of the deepest breaths ever and my heart blossomed up into my throat. And then the tears came.

I am literally exhausted with trying to be something other than what I am.  And I am ready to dissolve that illusion that I can be anything more than what I am. I am not saying I cannot grow and expand and become a more aware person. What I am saying is that I am done “trying” to change and mold myself for the benefit of anyone or anything as a condition of my worth.

I have been exploring this theme in my BeSoul classes. Inviting students to dance without trying to get a workout, without trying to condition their bodies, without trying to release tension, without trying to do it right, without trying to change a state of mind or heart.  What I invite them to do is to simply be to present to sensation and whatever emotions arise.  The relationship between the movement and the music becomes a way to get to know ourselves.

Here is the definition of KNOW that I am using in these classes:  to have developed a relationship with (someone) through meeting and spending time with them; be familiar  or friendly with (in this case yourself).

“Spending time” seems to be a key here. How much time do you spend getting to know yourself versus trying to change yourself?  I expand this out to my time spent with friends and family. How much time do I spend getting to know them (simply receiving them as they are) vs trying to change or help them improve? Not that one is wrong, sometimes I need help, sometime people ask for help. And then the mind and its problem solving genius come into play.  As someone who identifies with “teacher” and “healer”, it comes natural to me to want to both try to be “better” and help others be “better” too.

When I first posed this inquiry to myself I was fascinated by how much better it felt to STOP trying to become something other than me.  My mind got a little freaked out,  yet my body… and my heart… felt so good.  And when I brought this same energy to my relationships, I felt like I began seeing people in ways I never had. Expectations and judgment dropped away and I felt like I was seeing them for the first time. Free the people! Free yourself!

Not that I am trying to change you…

 

Gabz

 

 

 

Dancing with the Shadow (part 3… no…no… yes, just deal with it)

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What embarrasses you? What are the things that you do, feel and think that you hide from others and maybe even from yourself? What are the things you definitely do not want others to know about you?  I have no interesting in having you out yourself. Unless, of course you want to, and in that case, I am 100% with you.  I am primarily asking these  questions to help identify the shadowy self.

I have become curious about these parts of me that are ashamed, shy and obscured behind all kinds of false faces. I have become curious because I realize that around these parts of me, I do not feel my power. I feel vulnerable and weak and like a phony for wanting to keep them hidden. I am not going to share details with you, and yet I know you can tune into these places in yourself too. I do not feel the exposure to the collective light is sometimes the best way to deal with these parts. I feel we need to get to know these aspects of ourselves before we subject them to the scrutiny of those not devoted to seeing themselves in all that is.  Initially,  the most important thing is to admit the truth of it to ourselves. Self-declaration.  And from there a step closer to freedom. What if it is okay to tell yourself? And what if, it you felt like sharing, it is okay to tell another? And what if it is okay to have the other not receive it?

All the layers of acceptance and belonging, all the ways in which we abuse and control ourselves and others, all the parts of us that are immature and impulsive… they can have a strong grip on us, especially if we deny them or project them and disown them.  And that strong grip is the antithesis of freedom to me.  I can feel my need to belong, a natural survival instinct and what I am willing to suppress myself to have it.  I can feel my need for acceptance and what I am willing to say to be accepted. I can see how I abuse my body and my heart in order to stay safe. How I have abused others to keep the upper hand. How I behave like a baby sometimes and can’t control my urge to lash out.  I do not like admitting this to myself and that is okay,  I do not have to like it and I find that feeling uncomfortable can be exciting.  My personal truth and reconciliation  process is I hear it, I feel the way it lives in my body and then I dance it. Instead of pushing it back down and diminishing (oh, that is not so bad, everybody feels that way) or going to self-loathing and forfeiting my choice, I blow it up. I make it bigger. I feel the biggest version of the feeling and sensation I can access and I dance it. Yes, that is what I do. I move it and dance with it, literally partner with it, hold it in my awareness, feel it in my body, play with it in my mind.  I find that bringing it into relationship in this way makes the power of it “out there” less and less.  This is the great experiment I have undertaken.  Try it.  Any dance will do. It might help free up some of your shadow’s grip.  And the more free you can be, the more free everyone around you can be. Letting everything and everybody off the hook one dance at a time. Goddess knows we need that on this planet.

 

 

Dancing with the Shadow (part 2)

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You know those times when you get really mad and judgmental  about something somebody else is doing?  So mad that it throws you off your game,  even and especially when it is someone you do not even know well… or at all… like a politician.  I hate to break to to you, chances are that the quality you are hating on is one you yourself need to embody… often in its whole form, not in the shadowy form we meet it out there.

Take a moment to recall one of these judgmental times and then we can do a fun Dance Spell to bring awareness and hopefully integrate that shadowy part. Like magic, the more we integrate, the less we meet it out there and the less it affects us when we do.

Yesterday, I was flying back from Orlando. I stood on my seat to get my blackberries out of the overhead compartment and I must have leaned on the seat in front of me because when I was climbing down the woman in front of me was giving my a really dirty look.  And I felt it in my gut, that she hated me. I was taken aback… hit with this feeling that I had done something wrong unawares and then questioning myself… I was careful not to lean on her seat, but had I? Maybe she was just in a bad mood or maybe she was just a bitch.  Yes, that word came into my head. And then I began feeling a mix of shame and anger and like I had been misunderstood without recourse because I felt I let that moment go, that moment when I could have apologized… but was there any reason to apologize?  And then I felt mad, like, this woman does not know me, I would never do something on purpose to  antagonize or disturb anyone. And why was I getting so upset about this? Why could I not hold on to my good vibe… aren’t I more enlightened than that?  All this happened in like, a minute.  Ultimately, in minute #2,  I was able to laugh at myself, to find the hilarity in it. Here are the shadowy parts what I teased out of the experience.

  1. Being a person who can make a mistake
  2. The Bitch
  3. The Reprimanded One
  4. The Unaware One

Here is  I how I work with these.

I  tune into each one of these shadowy selves and feel into them, acknowledging that because I felt them, they are part of me. What is the feeling that I feel when I am in each one, what is the part I projected onto this woman, what other times do/have I feel this way?

Let’s take The Bitch. When I felt she was being a bitch, I felt ashamed and afraid that I would get yelled at. What about me, what does it feel when I am being a bitch? What is the sensation there? I feel self-righteous and my jaw is set and uncompromising. And other times I have felt this way… me as a little girl and having my parents mad at me  when I had misbehaved without meaning to.  Trembling lip, breath held, eyes filing with tears.

Next, I put my ipod on shuffle and let it pick me a song and I literally dance those emotions. I feel them as I move, I exaggerate them with gesture and sound, sometimes, I even cry. I look for the full and real expression.  And then as I dance I feel my way to the other side. Often what is on the other side of everything is compassion. For myself, for The Bitch, for the woman in the seat in front of me, for my parents…

Each one of the shadowy selves above gets its own song. The nature of the Shadow is that there is always more, always something I do not see, always blind spots. However, doing this practice has helped me spend less time in the loops around the shadow.  It also often makes me laugh and nothing is better for the disowned parts than gentle humor. When the shadow arises, I have a reference point in my body, I sometimes can recall a time I danced that particular part. I am humbled when I find the me I am refusing to see.  And I get to feel more whole.

 

Dancing with the Shadow (your shadow). Part 1

Have you ever wondered what your shadow is? How to find your shadow? What it means to even be aware of it? This has been a recurring conversation within myself lately. As I look out into the world and experience what seems like extreme polarization, I have been wondering how to find the balance within myself. That which I definitely perceive as being NOT ME and that which I am willing to own as MINE. How do I reconcile this in my exploration of the ONE?

As always, I bring this to my body and find a way to dance it out. Here is what I have to come to. Feel free to play with your version of it, in fact, please do. The more each person owns their stuff, the less it gets warped out into the Uni-verse (the ONE song).  My shadow, as far as I can tell,  is comprised of parts of me I cannot see,  parts of me I am not willing to see, and parts of me I project onto others.  The first one, the parts I cannot see, I will leave for last.  Clearly, what is not shadow is who I think I am, who I aspire to be, and all those parts of me I feel cool with. My ego likes these.  The easiest of the shadow for me to see, and often the most infuriating and humbling, is the parts I project onto others.  The stronger I feel about these, the more I know it is my shadow appearing to me as the other. When I get triggered, when I really hate or really love, I know I am looking at another myself.  The ones I am not willing to see are not as easy to identify, this requires some self-inquiry and yet, I know I meet these when I vehemently assert that I am NOT those things.  The parts I cannot see are the ones I offer to God/dess and pray for willingness to embrace the mystery. The wholeness of the unknown.

Here is a simple story of a shadow interaction I have almost every day walking my dogs. We have two dogs, Duke and Flash. (As I talk about my dogs, imagine I am actually telling you about myself). Duke is super sweet and will roll over for a belly rub in a second. He is a world class hunting dog most days and is also a little bit of a scardy cat. He is scared of thunder and rain. He is also a coffee addict and sometimes forgoes a belly rub to run to the nearest half empty coffee cup on the table and get some licks in before we shout him down. Flash is a force of nature. He is a dog’s dog and is bonded to my husband only. Only has eyes for him.  He pulls on the leash as if the leash was an inconvenience, he’s got places to go and things to eat. He still gets so excited about a dish of dog food, even though it is the same thing we fed him last night and yesterday morning. These two dogs love each other as only dogs can.  I am often the one who gets to walk them in the morning. As I let them out of the kennel that they sleep in (in our kitchen), they  pour out of it like Niagara Falls. Duke runs to see if we dropped any food under the counters. Flash checks the food bowl. I am frantically trying to get leashes on them. Finally the leashes are on and the tug of war begins. Back door open and Flash begins the pull, Duke hangs back… he does not like me upset.  However he is also really controlling the urge to bolt. I can feel it. This happens every day, and yet every day, I have this idea that today I will control them. Every day, I am deeply disappointed. Somehow I get the back door closed and am propelled onto the back lawn where they get to have their first pee. This requires a lot of adjusting and readjusting that usually ends up with Duke peeing on Flash’s head to make sure he is marking right in the same place.  And somehow the leashes are wrapped around my legs in a way that leave me doing gymnastics in order to get free before they are done peeing and bolting down the driveway.  Okay, enough! Suffice to say that by the time I get back from the walk and am feeding them I am feeling not so much love for them and really frustrated at my inability to keep them under control, remorse for the mean thoughts I am having, and the way the walk has exposed my inner peace for the raging volcano that it actually is . And yet, all I am doing is walking the dogs.

That there is my shadow, full blown for me to explore. Are the dogs doing all that to me or am I doing it to myself?  Humbling. Illuminating.

Dog enjoying the day

I have been developing a practice around these morning walks where, instead of imagining that I will not feel what I feel, I imagine the dog walk as my time to be of service to the dogs and to my inner dogs as well. I allow all that emerges, all that I feel to bubble up and I meet is as if I were meeting disavowed parts of myself. All the things I feel on this morning dog walk are things I feel all the time. Sometimes I get to laughing out loud about this. The hubris that I can actually control my animal nature, the frustration when things pull me in ways I do not want to go, my impatience with the parts of me that want to stop and smell the moment, the way I feel other’s needs infringe on my time… I am showing you parts of me I am more than a little ashamed of.

The shadow is not all bad… or rather, stuff  I would rather hide away. What I also find on these walks is a deep admiration for the boundless energy each of the dogs expresses. The way they are so excited to smell things and eat things and meet the wind. I love the way Flash can make a poop and then turn towards the house wherever we are on the walk as if to say… okay, I am done, now lets go eat. He knows what he wants and he goes for it. I admire that. It falls to me to redirect him until we get a poop out of Duke too. That does not keep Flash from repeating his reorienting over and over. Imagine me walking down the road and doing a 360 as I bring the leash over my head pulling back in the direction I want to go. (Tell me you have never done this with a mental loop.)  I admire that in him.  Duke will lift his nose sometimes in the graceful way only and English Setter can and grab something out of the air that makes me wish I had his nose! What is it? Turkeys? Woodcock? Turtles? Deer? Bacon? I don’t know, I don’t smell it. And with that momentary gesture, he becomes part of my senses, an extension of me,  showing me things my humanl body cannot perceive.

Next week (Full Moon), I will share how I  explore my shadow through dancing.  But now, I need to go walk the dogs.