Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Not just another dance or yoga class, please

Here's the thing. I don't really want to teach yet another dance or yoga class, not the way we've always structured those classes. Because I don't want to teach people just how to dance or how to pose. Or breathe, for that matter. Or lie still and think of the moment and nothing beyond.
All valuable things, but I've taught that, and there are many, many people teaching that now, and many more on their heels training to teach that.
I want a gathering. Fairly small, with some regularity. I'm calling out (in my head, from my heart, trying not to sound like "Is there anyone out there???") to women and those who identify as feminine. Come show up, for yourselves and for this new group as yet unformed.
We would move, yes, and there would be resistance at first, frustration even, if the joints protest or the coordination isn't there. But laughter would carry us along. The surprise and delight at what it feels like to be in our bodies, to be part of this collective body, would be the point of the evening. We're setting aside the need to achieve—that's for our daytime selves.
The music would be curated as much for the message as for the rhythmic sound. The stretching and lying still at the end would be a time to reflect. I can't wait to share nuggets of philosophy from my favorite contemporary female writers. Maybe they'll want to bring an excerpt to read next time.
And then! at the very end, when everyone is loosey-goosey gooey from the feels, we'll have a thing, which I'm not talking about here, which will give them something personal and memorable to treasure and share if they wish.
So it's a book club that dances, a support group that dissects societal expectations, a dance group that dares its members to get saucier by the minute. Can we really be all that, let alone in an hour and 15? Are there people in my vicinity who want more than a dance or yoga class?
Here's the other thing: there's no clear way to promote this thing. That became painfully clear to me after my first promo, from someone who wanted to know just one thing: what kind of dance do I teach?
And in the meantime, I feel a little guilty that I'm abandoning my one loyal yoga student who came faithfully week after week. I've put my yoga teaching on hold indefinitely. I am neither called nor trained to heal with restorative yoga. If you hurt now, you'll likely hurt even more after your first few classes with me, because that's what it means to demand more of your body if you haven't been moving much, if you haven't been questioning your sedentary life. You will need to commit to pushing past the initial protest from muscles you didn't know you had. You will need to trust that on the other side you'll find a powerful understanding of the new you.
Why am I doing it this way? For me. It's what I need at this point. I need people willing to come alongside, suspend entitlement, discard inhibition, and when I say, "Jump!" or "Shimmy," not collapse in a wussy heap. If I can't find people for the kind of class I want to teach now, I won't teach.
That's the truth.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Pleasure is not a bad word

Women are wired to do for others before we take care of ourselves. Even asking God for something for ourselves may bring on guilt for being "selfish." But what if we ask for it so that WE might be in a better position to serve, to spread joy?
"Pleasure" as a word has taken on seedy connotations. (Thank you, adult toy industry, etc.) "Sensuality," same thing. It's way more than having sex! In her essay below, Danielle LaPorte takes us a step beyond the clinical-sounding "self care" to encourage us to give ourselves permission to experience pleasure. She suggests three exercises using our imagination, unlimited by constraints on time and finances.
Prioritize Pleasure
By Danielle LaPorte
"Pleasure brings you into your body—and you cannot CREATE unless you are in your body.
A lot of us leave our bodies. Definitely in traumatic situations, and also in overwhelm. We're all familiar with the phrase, "You just check out." Your mind wanders. You're not attending to your breath. You are not in your sensuality. You can't have full connection when you're not embodied… so you cannot make things that will last.
When you’re more fully here, when you are BEing… human… then you can bring in the holy. And THAT’S creativity. You’re here in your pleasure, in your body, on Earth—and that’s when you bring heaven down.
Pleasure is a doorway to the divine, via your Joy. Knock, knock.
The idea is to begin shifting your pleasure priorities, so you start doing less of what you don’t like to do, and more of what you love. Start by visualizing three ideal days (based on an exercise by Abraham-Hicks): a perfect at-home day, a fantastical away day, and a day where you just love on and save the world.
Vision 1: Your Home Day Ideal 12 hours.
In everyday life, where would you be, what would you be doing, who would you be with, what would you be eating, how would you be earning, helping, creating, living, loving in a span of twelve hours? Walk through everything that would go into the waking hours of blissdom for you. Focus on ideal and don’t worry about how you’re going to make it happen. If bliss would be “I’m working in my jammies from home” and presently you’re commuting three hours to the office, write it down anyway.
Keep your vision within the confines of space and time. Let your imagination and idealism unfurl, but… save the really impractical things like, “I wake up in Athens, lunch in Manhattan, and smoke a bedtime hookah in Rajasthan” for your Away Day fantasy. Don't worry about how it's gonna happen, okay? Just feel into the ideal.
Vision 2: Your Fantastical Away Day for 12 hours!
The next step is extravagant, fantastical, time-bending, like, if your ideal 12 would be you're lounging in Morocco, smoking a hookah, you can do that. If you want go spend the day meditating on Venus, or you want to be making love in Bali, you can be doing that. Your fantasies will tell you so much about your current reality. And in that place, what would you be eating? How would you be earning? Would you not be working at all? Would you be a nun? Would you have your own talk show? Yes. How would you be helping? I love that layer of question in both your practical and your fantastical.
Vision 3: You love on the world for 12 hours!
What would give you pleasure in terms of being of service to the world? Meditate and pray in the morning, change laws, clean up beaches, donate, chant, cheers, work in a soup kitchen, invent a global water purifier, get everyone to come together in peace and design programs for climate restoration and children adoration? Go there!"

Monday, September 2, 2019

Sometimes you really need to hear a voice

What we need is the option to post our own voices,
not just words, photos and videos. I want to hear
the love in people's voices,
the wonder and marvel,
the discouragement and heartbreak.
Our voices carry so much of who we are and how we feel. 

And this would not only open up the digital world to the sight-impaired, but give pause
to the selfie-indulgent
and freedom from self-consciousness
to the camera-shy and spelling-incapable.

If we can post in audio we might also learn
to listen better,
to use our other senses to connect.

If we can lean back at the end of a long day and listen rather than stare at a screen,
blue-light insomnia might be a thing of the past.

If we post in audio we might be more circumspect,
less trollsome, more mindful
of the admonition to only speak
if it improves upon the silence. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

If I steam my yoni will you grill your lingam?

Yoni steaming is a thing. My yogi mates and I had a detailed discussion. There might have been some guffawing, some of it from me. Later I explained what this is to Steve, complete with gestures and stepping over an imaginary pot of boiling herb-infused water. I drew my pretend sari skirt around my real-mama hips.
"You should tell them 'My husband said my yoni is already steamy,' " he said.
Next up on the agenda: Why isn't there lingam grilling? Or is there?

Understanding is extraneous to forgiveness

Turns out I don't have to understand why someone did me harm to get to the point of forgiveness. I hadn't realized I was trying to use the old route of "understand, so you can forgive" but it hasn't worked these past six months. Maybe my endless thought loops of "why, why why" were just justification for my unreadiness to forgive?
Tonight's meditation takeaway: "compassion for someone you don't understand." Thanks, Jake Murry.

Forty is old but midlife is young old age

What they don't tell you about growing older is that 40 sounds old but mid-50s is young again. In your 40s you're always comparing yourself to your past self—abilities, appearance, energy, ambition. Once you cross into your 50s you start looking around, and really seeing, the folks in their 70s, 80s, 90s...and boy are you glad you are still young. A young senior is younger in attitude and gratitude than an aging middle-ager who is too preoccupied with resisting to practice accepting the inevitable.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

When politeness will do until forgiveness kicks in

I think politeness could serve a purpose. It might be a placeholder until forgiveness is ready to take its place. There's no hypocrisy in reacting with gracious calm, even when inside we're appalled.

And after that, distance could be useful, too. It could shield us from being provoked more while we process the ugliness that's been shown us thus far. The freeing thing is this: there isn't a deadline for forgiveness. It comes when it comes. If you watch for its approach you'll only end up brooding over the slights and offenses that need forgiving. You can't really keep taking its temperature, checking for the exact moment the fever breaks and you're free of resentment.

You just go about living life and delighting in what's good and eventually something triggers the memory of when you were betrayed or some crappy thing that came out of this person's mouth, but now you can think about it without gritting your teeth or calling the person some choice invective or picturing him or her in various forms of purgatorial suffering.

No, no, when you can recall it all with detachment, like a deathbed review of your own life, that's when you know. And won't you be glad then? You'll be relieved that you carried yourself with dignity, never stooping, never taking the bait. You reined in your expectations, allowing the other person to operate within their current, somewhat limited awareness of humanity, divinity, and magnanimity of spirit. You gave them no deadline to reach your level of consciousness.

You resisted the very tempting impulse to solicit sympathy via the posting of meme after meme of pseudo-wisdom or sarcastic wit that does nothing to veil the vat of stewed bitterness that used to take up space in your heart. Yay you!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Middle age and body love are not mutually exclusive

I can TBT without regret. I didn't even realize back then that I was skinny! But I love my body more now. Having a body has become so much more than fussing over surface and visual appeal.

I have trained this body to endure grueling drills, to be resilient and pliable, to win against viruses and stress. I am a warrior. I have learned when to coddle and when to talk tough to it. I am as wise as the ancients when I mother my own body.

This body moves with assuredness when I teach a room of distracted dance students. This body melts into embrace when touch and wordless comfort are needed. This body holds still on the mat, observing in silence, awakening in wonderment, unfolding in surrender.

This body suspends the gag reflex to clean out the litter box. This body unequivocally rejects an excess of sugar -- by breaking out in hives! No mistaking that message.

This body permits, nay, compels me to experience and process my emotions. It will not stay defeated. It will lie spent for a season while my spirit licks its wounds, but it is the body that will arise and move first, to exhale in ever lengthening, growly sighs, with increasing urgency until my spirit comes alongside.

This body catalogs in sensory memory the pheromones of my beloved, the perfume of my hybrid Jackson & Perkins roses, the precious pronunciation of toddler talk, the density of my Mom's flan.

It is a single body among so many, but the only one assigned to me. It is both vitally important to preserve in good health but immediately disposable once my energy departs it. Images of it will stand in for me in recall when I myself am gone.