Are you ready for a weekend of wild movement and voice liberation? Here is our next gathering!
I have been meditating for years and have explored many realms within Buddhism, Hinduism, Mystic Christianity, and Zen.
But now, I’m ready to hone into a personal daily practice that feels authentic and accessible. When I heard about The Radiant Heart Meditation (RHM) created by Shelley Poovey, founder of BodyAttune Wellness, my intuition signed me up. RHM is a simple yet profound practice of intentional breathing that feels expansive on many levels—mental, physical, emotional, energetic, and environmental. The seminar consists of weekly group meditations/healing sessions and daily emails. Practicing RHM daily brought me back to my capacity to tap into a deeper source: my intuition. The word intuition comes from Latin verb intueri, which is usually translated as to look inside or to contemplate. I have always craved an intimate connection with this real lucidity, this deeper knowing. I went into seminar asking how my intuition can guide me throughout my daily life. How can I connect more clearly to my intuition?
The seminar was a perfect place to open up to the mysteries of metaphysics and dive deeper into my capacity to connect to “it”. Shelley explains the seminar like this: In this series, we begin with the basic idea that we are already whole, but cannot access the experience some or most of the time. From a spiritual and energetic perspective, who are we, and how much wisdom is there just waiting to be accessed that we are not aware of? This series works at healing from the inside out. We start from the moment of conception, where negative and self-limiting patterns are already developing. Through meditation and group healing with BodyTalk, we start to help the body unwind these patterns in a safe and supported way.
Shelley guides meditations like a wise sage, writes like a genius scientist, and facilitates group healing like an experienced psychic. One of her tools is BodyTalk, a system of energy medicine that addresses physical, mental, emotional and health issues. It relies on the body’s own innate wisdom as a source of direction and prioritization. It jumpstarts and strengthens the body’s own restorative powers and helps integrate the entire body/mind/spirit system.
At first, I was skeptical. How can one woman in New York City help synchronize my soul’s deepest desires and help me manifest my dreams through meditation alone? How can a conference call help heal such intimate situations and understandings in my personal life? The answer, I realized, lies in the subtle body, an energetic vortex that acknowledges the universal oneness of all people. We connected on the phone, and each of our personal energy systems were able to “entrain”, or synchronize. That means one healing session designed for a specific person of the group inherently benefited us all. This series really enlightened me to the healing power of subtle-body connection.
I entered into some of the most profound meditation experiences of my life, and my physical body reacted strongly to the seminar. Two weeks into the seminar, I got very sick—five days with a cold/flu forced me into bed. I had to clear my schedule, stop, and plunge deep into physical, emotional, and psychological shadows. This was particularly unusual because I haven’t been this sick in years. Luckily, I emerged from the illness with a new energy and clarity.
The March series starts this Monday, March 10. It will explore in-depth how we can use our body-field as a tool for manifesting intentions. You may have heard of “the secret” or “law of attraction” but this work is different – it engages us at the heart level around what we desire and provides tools of engagement through meditation, observation, implementation, and refinement. When working with manifesting intentions we call into alignment our inner and outer world so that all obstacles that are blocking our experience of success are more easily worked with and either released or integrated. It is in this process that we engage our intentions as a spiritual practice, not only to create a desired outcome “out there” but also to create a more harmonious relationship with the past, present, and future as a reflection of our creative potential, innermost desires, and intellectual capacity to understand and integrate that into our conscious awareness.
Read more and SIGN UP here: http://bodyattunewellness.com/developingintuition/
These images by Sabrina Asch Photography were taken on previous Awakening the Spirit Altaer Retreats in the Wilderness of the Uncompagre Wilderness on the Western Slope of Colorado where we take our annual Altaer retreat. I made a little slideshow and music project for Conscious Dancer.
If you cannot view click here: http://vimeo.com/70436771
with featured teachers Allison English, Tias Little, and Karl Straub
We are getting pumped for this summer’s festival on July 11-14th. You are all internationally acclaimed teachers and have taught all over the world. What makes this festival different from others where you’ve taught?
Karl Straub: I have taught in many countries over the past 8 years, and I can report that the Telluride Yoga Festival experience is truly one of the best in the world. Definitely part of that is the stunning environment, but it`s more than that, too. The festival organizers make the participants as well as the instructors feel entirely supported, and so everyone feels a great sense of camaraderie and fun. Not all festivals are so lucky.
Allison English: Yes, it’s an intimate setting. The teachers connect with one another more deeply than at other festivals and because TYF takes over the town, everyone ends up hanging around together and making friends.
As returning teachers, what keeps you coming back?
Tias Little: Teaching in the midst of the grand granite peaks and riding the gondola with dear students and colleagues.
AE: Speaking of gondola rides, last year during my first ride up the gondola there was a GIANT bear below us. The gondola stopped for a few moments as it does from time to time and I got to see my first real lumbering bear from high above. It was magical and fascinating and that bear was BIG!
KS: Expect to have some epic adventures during the festival. Last year, I was hiking the Bear Creek trail with a few friends. It was a warm sunny day, and when we reached the impressive cascade of Bear Creek Falls, the cool mist felt inviting, so after some preliminary toe testing, a couple of us waded out to a boulder which sat directly under the cascade. We plunged into the rush of icy snow-melt. I guess the water was just a few degrees above freezing. This has a peculiar stimulating effect that yogis will appreciate.
First, holding involuntary pranayama: (gasp!) then holding…the….breathe…in….um…yes…still…in…not…by…choice…just…can’t….seem… to….move…ribs…diaphram…frozen…, then an involuntary exhale, AH-HA-HA-HAhhhhhh, then inhale (gasp!)…. holding…holding… and exhale, YAAAAAAAAh-Haa! Inhale (gasp!) … WHOOOOOOOO-HA! I distinctly felt the blood temperature shift hit my brain, and it gave me a physical sense of merging with the river. For maybe three magical minutes I heard and felt only the Cascade. No thoughts, just the sense, the experience newly carved in my breath and blood and skin. Invigorating! Then I became an amphibian after the first thaw, and creakily climbed out of Bear Creek Falls, directly into immediate luxury: embracing the biggest dry sun-heated boulder I could find.
Haha, yes, Colorado does have a power that transforms us radically. I take it that even if you weren’t teaching, you would make the pilgrimage to the festival and be a student?
TL: Definitely. The mountains, valleys, and rivers of Telluride really stoke the pranic fires within.
KS: It is the perfect place to meet new and old friends, recharge on clear mountain air and sunshine, and catch a few classes with renowned yoga teachers from around the world.
AE: Yup, its like a yoga retreat and world-class yoga conference all wrapped up in one: physical beauty, incredible teachers, outdoor activities, great food.
Obviously, people come here to gear up their asana practices, being that the festival offers up to 8 hours of daily practice. But what’s there to do in Telluride when you are not on the mat?
AE: Honestly, my favorite thing to do is get gluten-free pizza from Brown Dog Pizza or watching for the eagles down by the river that flows right through town.
KS: Hiking, chilling by the river, or gondola cruising!
TL: One image: Doing pranayama at 11,000 feet!
AE: Speaking of doing pranayama at high altitudes, here’s my memorable TYF story: The first time I came to Telluride I was really nervous. I have never taught at high elevation – heck I’d never even been at high elevation! I didn’t know anyone except the students who came with me. As I was practicing one afternoon to prep for my session the next day, an eagle came flying by and was in view from my hotel window the whole time I practiced. I came up out of savasana and the eagle dove and was gone. Eagles are powerful medicine in my tradition – keepers of wisdom and the power of seeing the bigger picture in our life. Its message brought a great deal of Beauty to what I taught the next day.
We are pumped for this summer’s festival. Any last words of encouragement for yogi who are still considering taking the journey?
KS: Now is the time!
AE: Honestly, this gathering of kind, brilliant and inspiring teachers combined with the power of the mountain environment is truly special. You will leave feeling recharged, refreshed and revitalized. As a teacher, communing with others at this festival in this locale leaves me feeling uniquely stronger and more connected to my true self than any other festival out there. See you there!
The Chinese Zodiac tells me that 2013 is the year of the snake.
I’ve been searching for a snake charming yoga guru all over the frozen tundra of my hometown in the high country of the Colorado Rockies. Freezing outside my studio, teeth chattering against the arctic windshield, I resign to the fact that there are banshees and bobcats in these mountains, but no guru here who can serve me the Kundalini bliss I’ve been craving.
So I do what any stumped and frustrated yogini does: head west. Now I’m flying into the warmth of California’s Central Coast, a city that even the locals boast as the happiest city in the whole USA.
San Luis Obispo. Ahhhhh.
A hidden village surrounded by lush hills that at this time of year are so intensely green they practically sparkle. A refreshing breeze wafts in from the Pacific. There’s no need for a car; the downtown is easily walkable.
This place is an American Brigadoon—the legendary Scottish village that appears once every hundred years. Immediately, I become a character of the legend, plopped right onto set of the musical. Salty sea air tickles my chin, the eucalyptus-infused breeze whips my hair, I picture myself barefoot and skipping through the airport.
Unlike some of the big name yoga teachers who all have PR agents, legend has it that Peter Sterios is the real deal. He offers what most culturally popular teachers can’t—unique, personal and most importantly, one-on-one instruction.
When I meet Peter for the first time, I balk a little. This dude is my long-awaited yoga guru? He’s supposed to look like a 5,000-year-old Hindu Sage, but instead he looks trapped in the body of a middle-aged soccer dad.
I stay calm, however, knowing that this mysterious non-guru has indeed lived many lives: a groupie for Shadow-yoga guru Shandor Remete, an Iyengar teacher who lived with BKS Iyengar, a gypsy in India for five years, and a competitive Rugby player in New Zealand for eight years.
I hold a vague memory of Peter from when he gave his first workshop in my hometown of Durango, Colorado a few years earlier. After his classes I felt unhinged, like all my joints—jaw, hips, shoulders, and toes—had been scooped right out of their sockets, and set out to rehydrate.
Peter’s guidance unhooked my nervous system from hypertension and rebooted it into silence.
I see this kind of yoga as an awkward, yet subtly powerful, version of snake charming. Before I can hypnotize the serpent that is my spine, I must first rattle the basket and shake loose the locks that keep it encaged.
The opening sequence—designed to stimulate “marma” pressure points and all of the joints—is our daily encounter with the power of gravity.
We breathe slowly, tilling into the soil of our muscles; we release constantly, breaking up the chunks around the joints. We balance on our toenails—which feels like a direct form of torture at first—smash our noses into the floor in mayurasanam, wring out our wrists, and do shoulder openers that bring even my double-jointed body to shame.
Never in a yoga class have I felt so humbled. Apparently, my joints and the floor have needed to talk.
I realize how all those years of fancy yoga was just, in a subtle way, another practice to perpetuate my hyperactive nervous system.
Stephan Rechtschaffen, founder of the Omega Institute, describes Peter’s approach as an antidote to the body beautiful culture. He says, “Instead of constantly stretching and pushing the body beyond its limitations, Peter’s approach encourages the body back to its natural rhythms. It’s about allowing gravity to align with the body’s more natural wisdom.”
I guess it’s time to learn to trust the earth below me. It’s right here—I can lay down with my sorrow, allow my wounds to bleed, and my bones to moan.
Peter is not interested in trying to heal peoples’ symptoms. “I’m trying to turn them towards their reactions, their relationships with the symptoms,” he says.
Instead of feeding us a formula or complex technique, he urges us to empty enough so we can “let the master who is in us come out.”
Every class, we crack ourselves open onto the earth, and we learn how to listen anew. We use the same ground upon which we have fallen in order to stand up again. If gravity is the attraction of two physical bodies—earth and body, for example—then grace is the attraction of two non-physical—spiritual seems like the appropriate name—bodies.
What arises once we have surrendered to gravity? We connect with the ache of our hearts that reminds us how desperately we yearn to be back in balance with the natural order of life.
After a few days of living like a (spoiled Westernized) monk (5 a.m. rise, skin and tongue brushing, sugar-free diet and many hours of silent meditation), during the first segment of the 10-day teacher training, I notice that Peter speaks from his spine rather than his mind. He listens to his students and responds with a sincerity that resonates in my bones. He is, like any creative genius, full of paradoxes. He’s reverent but radical, centered but constantly leaning into the abyss. He reminds us not to pass the limit of where our bodies allow us to go safely but at the same time, warns us to never be satisfied with resting into the comfortable zone of a posture.
“What I teach is not about advanced poses. It’s about cultivating heightened awareness in simple poses. The integrity of a pose starts with the very first inhale and ends with the very last exhale.”
This philosophy challenges me to cultivate beginners mind once again.
Again!? Again and again, I stand in tadasana with the simple task of balance. It’s hard to ignore my inner Iyengar wiz-kid who orders me to stretch my spine, pull my kneecaps up, brighten my body and broaden my shoulders.
Instead of cuing us to open our hearts or do anything with our muscles though, he urges us to soften the top of the lungs and release the collar bones. Who knew releasing actually requires more attention than all the other tasks put together.
Little by little, we refine the breath, make it subtler. We do not strengthen by engaging the muscles with our minds; we find strength when we let muscles in our joints release and bring us to a more authentic, softened connection with the floor and gravity.
Peter confirms my intuition about yoga really being just a dance.
It’s a dance of transitions, the entrances and exits. Any great performer knows it’s not about the tricks you pull off, but its about the spaces in between, the way you move through the challenging moments. He also confirms my intuition that circus folk really are the truest yogis.
So is Philippe Petit, a crazy, French high-wire tightrope walker who dared his routine between The World Trade Towers in 1974. One night after lecture, a few of us go and watch the documentary about him, Man on Wire.
Petit’s philosophy is this: “Life should be lived on the edge. You have to exercise rebellion: to refuse to tape yourself to rules, to refuse your own success, to refuse to repeat yourself, to see every day, every year, every idea as a true challenge—and then you are going to live your life on a tightrope.”
Me: This dude is definitely part of our tribe.
Peter: This guy is my guru.
Silence. Petit sways on the line, 1,800 feet high, and then dips down into a single-leg lunge.
Peter: Do you think he’s thinking about pulling up his knee-cap right there?
During one of our classes, at dawn, we are lying on the floor with tennis balls under our necks. I can’t hear Peter’s cues very well. I can only focus on this dull rage that surges as the ball digs deeper towards into my jaw.
We’re at the moment of transformation in our daily ritual. This moment with the tennis ball lodged into my jaw feels as painful as birthing.
I remember Jungian psychologist Robert Johnson’s quote, “When the unstoppable bullet hits the impenetrable wall, we find the religious experience.”
Here goes nothing. Instead of rolling out of the pain, I whimper, surrender a little more, give up the struggle and let myself drop into the sensation of the pain body.
Peter guides us through it: “Follow the subtle expansion of the inhale into your discomfort and touch it as lightly as you can. On the exhalation cycle, create softness and the feeling of spaciousness. Let gravity pull that sensation down into the earth and simultaneously feel the lightness responding through your spine upward through the back of your skull.”
If you’ve ever really watched the way a snake sheds its skin, you will notice that it’s a slow dance, a primal pulsation that allows the snake to wriggle free of the old layer.During the process, the snake pushes out from its deepest core, bulging its entire body into the old skin. It makes space by expanding itself from the inside out.
Then its trunk shrinks, releases its volume away from the layer, until, at the very end of that compression, it’s able to undulate forward and caterpillar itself one millimeter out of the sheath, allowing the scales to fall away completely.
So, I listen more deeply.
I sense into the old skin around my heart, the clenching in my hips. I do the dance of the molting snake. From my core, I slither through old barriers, and then let the breath move me beyond. I release a little more into the sensation, and sense a flicker, a poised thread of light spiraling through my spine. It’s in this moment, with my body curled up over the floor, this thread moving simultaneously through the floor and into the sky, that I get a taste of grace.
It may seem odd, but clearly the best gift a teacher can give their student is to become irrelevant.
It’s to give the tools, open the road map, and watch as we crawl back into ourselves. They empower us to be courageous to find our own intimate journeys into the ever-ascending and descending snake of our spines.
Katie Clancy is a certified Body Mechanic and founder of Altaer Education. Her tools: Radical Yoga, Renegade Journalism, Ritualistic Performance Art. She uses her Vaudeville blood and Gonzo roots to forge a path along Zero Point—the Silent and Narrow Path—where all the chaos and order, sin and redemption, passion and piety come together. She teaches and builds altars across the Americas, acting as a translator between verbal and non-verbal languages. Her upcoming book, My Own Private Gonzo, is non-fiction with a splash of magical realism. Find her here.
published by Elephant Journal 4/22/13:
I’ve been commuting across the equator for almost five years, but my recent return from Chile really broke me. Granted, I had been living barefoot on an eco-village at the base of the Andes for seven months; but the shock of landing in Dallas suffocated my heart in a sticky sheet of cellophane. As much as I blinked, drank water, and stumbled through the self-help books, I just couldn’t penetrate the hard, plastic sense of doom that lingered on North American soil. Trying to pick up my “American-ness” was like trying to slide into an old jacket that now felt musty, awkward, irrelevant.
If you’ve traveled abroad, you probably understand how it is to find coins, trinkets, and wadded up memories of the former versions of ourselves hidden away in the pockets of those suits. Yes, living abroad gives us a chance to air ourselves out, hang up our souls on some new hangers, but coming home–can be a tattered chaos. Even Hunter Thompson used to say about traveling that “back was the worst”.
But wait, don’t slap on the ex-pat patch yet. After some trials and conversations with “recovering” Americans, we’ve found some cures for the culture hangover:
Be Prepared. If you’ve spent more than 3 months abroad (or even just flown from NYC to LA for the weekend for that matter), just know you will probably live some version of a bad science-fiction film upon your return. It won’t last forever. Instead of fighting it, embrace it as part of the journey. Expect to meet people who will pretend to be experts about the country you just came from–even if they’ve never visited. Try to hold off on the judgements, and remember, we Americans think we know it all–until we leave.
Find the Quiet. Lay down on the grass. Sleep a lot. Don’t expect to jump right back on the gringo treadmill. Didn’t you just get into a way more chill pace anyways? Be quiet, walk slow, observe.
Dance yourself into a Trance. When the brain starts to overact and feel sick for a vague, unidentifiable sense of nostalgia, lose your mind. Biking, running, swimming, radical dancing–all help the body to arrive, be present, and forget the drama. After you’ve sweat make sure to stretch, breathe, and allow yourself to catch up with all the traveling.
Food as medicine. Let’s face it: the croissant you buy at home will NEVER taste as good as it did in Paris. That goes for the fruit juices, steaks, and platanos. Instead, eat dark greens if possible and other seasonal veggies/fruits. Boost up on Superfoods like Solay Foods (see ad on the right) Green Blend and other nutrient-packed nutrients like Goji Berries, Spirulina, Wheatgrass, and Macaroot (just pretend these aren’t imported). Traveling tends to freak out our adrenals, too, so herbs such as Ashwaganda, Holy Basil, and Siberian Ginseng help to calm and neutralize.
Laugh and Celebrate. You survived the journey! You have stories to tell, songs to sing, and friends who will listen–and hopefully make you laugh. Find them. Give them gifts. Exaggerate your tall tales.
Write it out. The alchemy of words help us remember who we are, how we’ve transformed and integrated, and what parts of the other world we will carry with us. Journaling helps us find our centers no matter where we are and look at our transitions without judgement or grief. Write letters in long-hand to friends in the other country, and love letters to your future self.
What else? We want to know! Send us your comments and ideas.
This is the beginning of an epic column, so please read and let me know your insights! More to come next week!
We were thirty minutes into the ceremony when the medicine began to take hold like a fever, washing my blood in a hot, nauseatingly ticklish wave. A distant sound: water rushing through metal pipes? I turned to monitor the young man beside me, hoping to perhaps get an assessment since we were similar in the time-dose continum, but he sat perfectly still in his mccaw-feather necklaces, his knees delicately folded in lotus.
One of the two Colombian “curanderos” (Spanish for healer) whistled a high-pitched incantation (referred to as an Icaro, a song that channels the spirits) through the dark room. His voice reached in and clutched my racing heart. The room began to buzz, but nobody seemed to notice. From the twisted chambers of my skull, I heard the faint, familiar mumbling of cackling voices.
Enter the Lords of Gonzo.
“WHAT the HELL is going on HERE?” The two cronies — Hunter Thompson and my father, John G. Clancy himself — cajoled, peering at the scene through my third eye. Circling my eyes crazily, I watched the candle-lit altar in the middle of the room dissolve into a pixilated mandala. Things were getting weirder by the minute, and of course my Gonzo comrades were on time to crash the party.
“What are all these FREAKS doing here, swaying in their seats like drunk autistic sailors?! DON’T JUST SIT THERE! DOOOO something, goddamnit!” Dizziness hit and I had the urge to stand up and dance. That’s when I knew it was really them, my Gonzo comrades—they never missed an opportunity to dance. As much as I wanted to stand, toast to the strange underworld we were entering, though, I felt an invisible cape hanging heavily over my shoulders, causing me to slouch like the Good Doctor. In an attempt to delay my impulse to make a scene and lash-out wildly, I gathered up my strength and slithered with wobbly knees and crooked ankles out of the room and into the harvest moonlit night.
BIRTH AS GONZO
There’s a moment in a taped phone call from 1969 where, conspiring new tactics to win the upcoming Sheriff election, my father shouts to Hunter: Do you think I CHOSE to be Radicalized like this?! Don’t you think we would have been happy as a plumbers, car salesmen for Christsake?!” Listening carefully now, I can relate to the desperate, seething glory in his voice. Because its true. Gonzo isn’t something you aspire to become. It’s something your soul chooses before it’s born, an odd tick that leads you towards revolution and uprisings and, if your not careful, complete madness.
It’s a rote story in my family: My father and Dr. Thompson were cronies and roommates in NYC when Hunter worked as a copy boy for Time Magazine. They raised hell together in San Francisco, sat together on the “council of the Aquarius”, and, despite their different paths, stayed friends until their death. Before I fell in love Hunter’s writing, I knew him as a strange uncle, someone with whom my father used to drink absinthe on frigid winter nights, share a cot on Perry Street, climb the Brooklyn Bridge on Fridays at dusk, light mangy couches on fire, join forces to elect as sheriff (“just 500 votes short, my father would mumble, “he should have taken my advice and cozied up more to the ranchers.”) Growing up, I associated Hunter with our peacocks (who we would often drive over to Woody Creek) and my father with plastic cigarette holders, Gonzo tales, and one helluva fiery soul.
When Hunter died, my family drove to Woody Creek for his last bash: the cannon blastoff. It was a deliciously eerie blend of Hollywood and home-town country: Colorado natives chuckled over memories of playing horseshoe and romping the jeep with the Good Doctor while buzzing production assistants rearranged giant Styrofoam boulders underneath the throbbing fifty-foot altar. Lyle Lovett crooned onstage and Bill Murray dipped a girl wearing a cowboy hat in a waltz on the dance floor; Josh Hartnett leaned on the bar aside Senator McGovern and waited for a drink.
Past the bodyguards and chandeliers, hundreds of fans lined the street on the outskirts of the property holding glow sticks, cardboard signs of the Gonzo fist, and blow-up dolls.
My father’s memory that night floats through me like a ghost. He and I shared a lot in common: writing, debating, laughing like lunatics with our necks craned up to the night sky. The thing we both loved the most though was dancing. At one point during a particularly fantastic bluegrass jig, my father turned to me on the dance floor, grinning madly. Thick grey hairs shot out of his ears and two long fang teeth dropped down from his smile, giving him a Warewolf look. “If you remember anything about us, just remember: we are warriors. It’s in your blood, it’s in your celtic genes. We are fighters.” With that, he raised his fists in the air and pumped his arms, twirling and kicking joyfully around the crowd. Not knowing it then, it would be the last real conversation I would ever share with him.
We kept dancing, and Hunter’s ashes were duly shot into a Colorado sky with low-hanging clouds that reflected the iconic fist like it was the Bat Signal. His ashes-and-gunpowder mix showered over the party like confetti. Exactly 40 days later, my father went out in his own blaze of glory. Driving past Ghost Ranch in New Mexico (Georgia Okeefe’s old stomping ground), he flipped his shiny black Mercedes at sunset. They said he died instantly. Being that my father acted as Hunter’s lawyer for many big deals, we nearly joked that HST really needed strong representation at The Pearly Gates and called his lawyer up for good council.
It’s really no surprise they chose to go out in a poof of ashes, my father and Hunter. After all, Football season had ended, as Hunter ominously wrote on a napkin as his suicide note, in a lot more ways than one. At that point in 2005, George W was two years strong into office and burning holes in history. Things didn’t look good. From the looks of the 2012 republican candidates, I don’t think they would have had it any other way. No, they bowed out with style, retired their masks just in time.
Let’s just imagine this IS the last year of our lives. How do we want to live it?!!
This, my dear friends and family, is how I will live this prophetic 2012. Even if the core of the Earth doesn’t explode, Jesus doesn’t descend upon us in a Wall-Mart parking lot, or Dec 21 comes and goes without ecstatic revolution–we will still only live this year once. So let’s make it a year of creative manifestations, fearless communication, and graceful, honest dancing…..
Yesterday my partner-in-crime, Nikola, and I moved into a tent for the summer. We packed up our mattresses, clothing, camping chairs, dreamcatchers, and sunscreen from our paradisiacal house near Santiago, Chile and headed south. We left our peaceful house, surrounded by shady avocado and almond trees, for a two-room tent on a dry, agricultural plot with tall dry grass and prickly trees. Welcome to La Bella Eco-Aldea (“the Beauty” eco-village)–a budding community on 135 acres, located at the base of the Andes deep in a valley known for it’s witchcraft. In order to arrive to La Bella, you have to pass through a tiny village called “Rari”, famous for its horse-tail-hair artesania and swiss chocolates.
We didn’t leave to escape electricity and traffic. We’re following an artistic “mirage”, a dream of creating a dance piece in residency here. For those of you who don’t already know, we’ve already won one international grant to produce this grand work of art. It’s called UMA, which means WATER in the indigenous language Aymara. Through dance and theatre, we will create an ode to the magic, consciousness, and reality of water. What is our relationship to our Life Source? What happens when our water sources run out? Who owns water? How can we conserve and honor water in the most efficient way? We will dance all these questions. So far, we have 11 dancers from USA (me!), Australia (a sacred clown!), Argentina (an actor!), Colombia (a mystery!), and Chile (the rest). We’ve hired Leo Yanez, the son and prodegy of the most famous living Chilean folklorist, and have a Greek audiovisual engineer with his wife who will work as the visual designer. WOW!
The plan: The company will live in LA BELLA for three months in residency. What was once a raw piece of agricultural terrain is now, after three months of hard labor, an inhabitable land. We have an open-air kitchen, water tower, running water, a 40-foot geodesic dome, a teepee from the north, dry toilets, and showers. We begin Feb 15th. Stay tuned for more details…
Artistic residency: check. Self-sustainable education: here we go. My dear friend from Colorado, Cuatro Kruse, arrived two days ago. He is a professional permaculture designer, natural builder, and all around bad-ass. He plays a mean bass. We organized a couple of workshops for him to come and teach people how to build a “cob” kitchen. Between now and march, he will be occupying this eco-village, teaching us how to sculpt sinks, build a living roof, create grey-water systems, and install solar energy in a 20-foot kitchen. See the “upcoming retreat” page for more info.
And to start the summer off right, tomorrow I journey to the blessed mountains near Pucon for my annual Vision Quest. Based loosely on the Lakota design and modified by the Sacred Fire of Itzachilatlan, the vision quest is a time of solitude, fasting, and contemplation. This is my second year, the year of the SOUTH, developing the WILL of the HEART, and returning to the WATER (what synchronicity!) I will be in solitude for 7 days and couldn’t be happier to take a break from the world and learn how to LISTEN more deeply.
Okay, this is all for now. I will add pictures soon. I sign off from the straw-bale summer kitchen with my new dog, Lua (a white dogo, my angel), convulsing at my feet in her dreams. Cuatro is testing the soil to find the ideal mud and dancing to reggae that blasts from his solar-powered stereo. Hey–maybe we ARE the change we’ve been waiting for!
Reflections on the Moon: In the name of Empowered Women and Voice, we welcome this new series of poems, essays, and interviews about one of our most intense rituals, our menstruation. We all know, men and women, how much we women transform over the course of a month! Instead of feeling choked and smothered, we are learning from our monthly flow about how to dance with raw passion in the face Life, Death, Life. Long live La Lobas! Please comment and continue the conversations…
DARK RED LIFE
We women bleed, and when the walls of our wombs burn so red they have to weep, we remember:
Make the best of it. The pain that weathers our bones will always be there, death is inevitable and day by day we age, we shed ourselves, we become new and old at the same time. Every month we meet our mortality, we come to face the truth that we were made to carry it all, own it all, all the sorrow and devotion. We carry the water, we carry the weight, we carry the reminders of our fragile and fleeting yet infinite existence.
Our happiness must not depend on our men. They fight their own battles towards balancing on three legs. Until we leave them be, and return to ourselves to sit and soak in our own emotions, our own intuition, then we just support their egos (and our wounded ones!) We cannot remain mute. It doesn’t serve the Goddess, Pachamama, Life. So let us nestle into own silent space and make big room for our invisible altars, the ones that burn in our intimate chambers of the heart. We deserve to be heard, consulted, honored, adored, and we know just how to satisfy that by doing it to ourselves first. The rest is just dessert.
Do not Meditate (or do anything, really!) to make yourself feel better. We practice mindfulness to remember that beyond the fields of our minds, our judgements and our stories, there is a crystal mirror that tells the truth. It is the transparent canvas where the spinning wheel of madness (aka Samsara) splashes its colors and paints its rainbow dramas, paints the ego’s inflation and destruction, resistance, and enthusiasm. Watch the art show, put your nose right up against the pane and watch it carefully, get to know all the colors. Yoga is unifying with what IS, not what we want, including the desires for peace and happiness. We move out of suffering by entering it, choosing to become allies with it, and then, letting it wash clean. We women are the living manifestation of the Cycle of Life, Death, Life, honor that cycle in all it’s hues.
Get angry. It feels good to show the fangs, to growl into the darkness, to shoot arrows at the stars like warning flares. It feels good to want to live, to want to chew on the meat of existence, to get sweaty and naughty and wild. That’s how we feed our dancing lobas. We dance to feed our inner bitches.
Long live feminine alliance. Long live the circles we create to commune about all that we learn and all that remains mysterious. Long live the sincere conversations, conspirations, consolations, cosmovisions. Long live our hands that hold each other to the Light, that hang onto the dignity that resides in that pelvic lining.