Friday, November 11, 2011

inner dance, india

Pi facilitating my inner dance last March
at Bahay Kalipay, Puerto Princessa, Philippines.

I can barely call it dancing, my right hand slowly grazing air above my brow line until the constant barrage of thoughts (the usual mental assault we get used to day to day) melt away. When my mind quiets, my hand floats downwards, swirling the dark matter hovering subtly over my heart center. My left arm eventually joins in, both hands conducting invisible energy.

I am conscious and at the same time totally unconscious. With my eyes closed, I am observing the strange willfulness of my own extremities, my arms, hands, legs seem to be working--quite coordinated I might add--all on their own.

And I? Somehow, I understand what they are doing. They are intent on healing my subtle body, they want to hush my mind, they want to unclog my heart, they want to ease the seat of my feminine power, which has, out of stress, somehow gone into hiding.

(Does this sound totally weird to you?! To be honest, all this is strange for me too. Its something I have learned to accept because despite its peculiarity, it really works.)

Today is 11-11-11. I wish I could say it was 11:11pm as well, but I should well be fast asleep before then considering my alarm is on for 3am--led class at the shala tomorrow is at 4:30am. Its an auspicious date, regardless of the time. My roommates (Claudia and Chit) and I have done our little part to observe it by having an Inner Dance session here in our apartment in Gokulam, Mysore.

Inner Dance is hard to explain. Its best experienced. Its main exponent is our friend and inner dance teacher Pi Villaraza who is based in Bahay Kalipay in Puerto Princessa, Palawan, Philippines. Last March, he introduced us to this amazing moving meditation that is all about the movement of energy. Its special to be practicing it tonight in India--which, one might say, is one of the oldest sources of this energy. In yogic terms, it can be identified as kundalini energy.

Claudia, Chit and I were last in Bahay Kalipay again just this June, where Pi worked with each of us individually. Inner Dance is different for everyone, so I can only speak for myself. For me, it is extraordinary process for self-exploration and healing. My experiences have mostly been deeply emotional. Like yoga, to dance is to discover, to dig deeper, to remove things that are in the way--which is why I've been frustrated with it recently because I have been so caught up in my own stories that I couldn't get any results from the last couple of times I tried inner dancing. Things would not move. I was emotionally constipated.

Tonight was a breakthrough, however. I would not give up on myself. At least my hands would not as they worked relentlessly shaking (literally too, I must have looked a sight!) what might seem like an unseen energy force field connecting my head, heart, and root chakras. My entire body rattled until I exhaled deeply, sobbing. I purged negative energy from deep within myself. After this release, just as the last song came on, I lay down embracing my own shoulders, my inner voice saying--rather loudly, I might add: "I love you. I will never abandon you. I love you unconditionally. You are perfect for me. I am your true love."

I have often written about surrendering to love, but this particular one is the hardest to accept. Its so difficult to grasp this inconceivable notion of loving ourselves. And I have to admit--quite ashamedly--that I still don't entirely buy it. Part of me wants to roll my eyes and go, "Seriously, dear inner voice, you are so cheesy!" But then there's a part of me--wiser, more open minded--that's ready to invest my life-savings on it, because I know, in the end, this is the love that will unite all loves, this is the love that will save my life.

For more information on Inner Dance/Pi/Bahay Kalipay, check out:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

paying attention

Bird Sanctuary, outside Mysore City, Karnataka.

"Writing about attention, I see that I have written a good deal about pain. This is no coincidence. It may be different for others, but pain is what it took me to pay attention. In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past too painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to the right now." --Julia Cameron, Artist's Way.

I marked the passage above last week when reading Artist's Way. It resonated then I moved on from it. Now I understand why.

On the weekend I received a Tui Na massage from my friend Joycee. I'd expected it to be intense as so many of my fellow yoga practitioners around Gokulam who have signed up quite willingly to be kneaded by Joycee's deft fingers, knuckles, elbows and rather small but effectively lethal massage stick have come out with serious bruises--along with glowing success stories of alleviated aches, of course. So I was prepared for discomfort, bruising, and soreness.

Joycee identified right away the culprits to my neck troubles and went to work on my lower back and shoulders. She poked and prodded, "tightness is there," as she pointed out where I was having difficulty in my asana practice. Then she got to he underside of my left leg, where she laid it down: this was where I had stored my emotions. She asked me to think, what have I been running away from that my defenses would try to bury it deep within my own body? What hurt and pain had I trapped within myself so adeptly that I did not notice it?

After my massage, Joycee tucked me into bed to rest, as she worked her rolling pin of a massage on Claudia, where I fell into a deep rest. I was exhausted. Physically relieved, but emotionally restless. Something deep within was stirred up. When I came to, I was instructed to shower then to sit and have tea, chocolate and hugs from Joycee and Claudia. Somewhere in between, I uncovered a well of sadness and hurt which then overflowed for the next few hours.

Hmph, I thought I was over all this. In many ways I am. I've moved on, literally, half way across the planet.

All things considered, the drama that caused all this was not so long ago. And in truth, I am still dealing with the fall out. A loss is a loss, no matter whether it makes sense or not. An injury is an injury even when you didn't do anything to deserve it. It shook me, it shook my belief in others, it shook my belief in myself.

So here I am in India, working on my yoga practice, my key tool being my physical body. And yet, here I am using it as a repository for my sad little story. Joycee reminds me of what I am doing here in Mysore and that I need to remove this blockage. She can get my blood circulating again, she can point out this thing that is stuck, but only I can exorcise my own demons. All I can do is feel it, feel the hurt and the pain that is so beyond my physical body but hurts a great deal more than the grinding roll of knuckles against connective tissue.

And the moment I do, I start to feel better because I'm unblocking the flow of my emotional body. I mean, the hurt doesn't go away exactly, but I feel more myself. Everything feels clearer. I see how much I've been avoiding things, whether its sitting still with myself or writing this blog. I sadly realize how I've been dodging myself for the last couple of weeks, I've not been myself, I've not been wholly present, which brings me back to what Julia Cameron wrote. Now, being honest about the pain, accepting it for what it is, and how certain things are not, in fact, ok, I can be more present. Veils are being lifted. My vision clears.

Hopefully, I can now get to the crucial work of releasing, of letting go.

Thank you, dear Deva. Again, you seem to be behind many of my crucial discoveries here in Mysore. And thank you, Joycee, you have a gift!