Monday, January 30, 2012

A Crush(ing) Journey

A Crush(ing) Journey
A crush… you remember the kind – In middle school when you’d moved beyond boys and girls having cooties, or in high school, where you scrawled the name of your obsession countless times in your spiral bound notebook perhaps hyphenating the name of your beloved with your own. By adult standards, sheer silliness. I remember middle school, perhaps it’s because my heart was so open or perhaps I just had an affinity for life, but when my best friend at the time asked me who I had a crush on, my reply was - the entire seventh grade. What was there not to love? Everyone had something beautiful about them, attractive even in the awkward preteen years where hormones were raging. When hormones rage there’s very little discernment. I see it at Tantra pujas, all of a sudden the fat guy across the room who’s balding looks pretty good when you’re eye gazing with him and seeing into the very depths of his soul… heavy set and balding seem to give way to something bigger, deeper, more vast, the universal place that is loveable in all humans, the ecstasy of one-ness, our connection to Source.
Taking people into this state often in session work and facilitating groups has become common place. Yes, I see the divine in you. No I don’t want to be your girlfriend/move-in/leave my husband for you. Well, every once in a while something throws a curve ball and the universe cracks me wide open to a place of love that feels just like those days of having a crush on the entire seventh grade. Dzieci. Dzieci an experimental theatre ensemble, a shamanic tribe of artists, my Beloveds. Dzieci, my crush. Dzieci… I rolled the sound around in my mouth and even now feel the faint flutterings in my belly and I instantly feel like I’m twelve years old again.
While I suppose based on my preteen history, it’s not uncommon for me to have a crush on an entire class of people, it hasn’t happened in a while. I recall the vast memories of awakening that have been this large in my system – beginning my work with Suzanne d’Corsey the Celtic Priestess I apprenticed with for five years, attending my first Daka/Dakini Conference in Sedona and meeting my tribe and awakening to my calling to build a Holy Body temple on the Earth, and the first time I saw Dzieci’s production of Makbet and witnessing a form of what could be when theatre and the sacred are woven together in support of group transformation. Now it’s official. I have a crush, a crush on an entire group of artists who are deeply committed to their own process of transformation and to transforming the world.
Dzieci had been in my dreamscapes for weeks, see the previous blog post below this one. There was an awakening opening up in me once again, just when I was getting all cozy and comfortable in my life and feeling like I knew my shit and where I was going. Just when I was feeling like the fat cat, everything changed. Now I’m making my plans around Dzieci. I ran out before Naked Church this Sunday so I could play with Dzieci for an hour and fifteen minutes before sprinting back in a cab home to greet people for service, and oh trust me I thought of canceling Service all together – thank Source Rev. Goddess holds me accountable every month to be there, as I had already moved Service once already to attend Dzieci’s Maraton.
When you have a crush, things become unreasonable. You become super human. You go places you would never go, your wardrobe changes, you’re dressing up more, paying attention to details, plucking hairs you normally let grow wild. It’s in you, like the universe has a hyper witnessing state of existence where all eyes are on you and you must look your best.
Another thing about a crush, you normally know where they are and structure your plans around being with them. Well, being a shaman and having my psychic perceptions open amplify that ten times more. I know what the group is feeling because they’re so intimately linked. I know each time I am getting an email from them before it arrives because I can feel it being composed. Last night I semi-slept, semi tossed and turned with my stomach doing side stretches and back-flips with nervous crush energy. I’m consumed with a feeling of flying and vomiting at the same time, like being on a rollercoaster and feeling the jump in the stomach as you tip over the fulcrum of the first climb and whoosh down, screaming, arms above your head, stomach in your heart. Yeah – that whoosh-stomach-heart-screaming thing has been happening twenty to thirty times a day for a week and a half right now and quite frankly my body is exhausted from the joy ride.
I remember the Zingo Roller Coaster at Bells Amusement Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was in the third grade and was cleared through height specifications to take my first run on the Zingo. I was feeling queasy towards the end of the ride after all the excitement and just as the coaster pulled in to finish the ride, the operator overshot the stopping point and took us around again. Nearing the end of the second run it happened, I turned my head sideways and vomited over the railing and probably on everyone behind me and below. Even in the third grade this moment was profound - I had waited my entire eight year old life to ride on the Zingo, and then got to go round twice!... and then puked. The agony of ecstasy.
Last night was a bit of a tipping point. I writhed in bed all night with infinite energy. My soul was dying to stay up, write, study, vision fueled by all the energy and awakenings my soul was going through and the agonizing crush energy that kept sputtering through my nervous system, but my body was helplessly beyond exhaustion from being on the Zingo for an entire week and a half going round and round. I’d lost and found myself several times in the deep Shamanic process of the past week and a half, riding off adrenaline, feeling like I would lose my lunch a few times, getting off and climbing back on. Even in the space of deep exhaustion, however, there was a childlike excitement of gratitude. Even in my body’s state of passionate exhaustion, I would rather ride the Zingo and puke than never take the ride at all.
Great paper written on Dzieci

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dzieci's Maraton

Dzieci had mixed in with my dreamtime and meditation for weeks.

The week before Maraton was the most powerful. Each night as a slept, I was greeted by a sacred coven beckoning me to play, cry, dance, sing, heal. Upon meeting Matt Mitler and the Dzieci tribe outside of their repertory performances of Makbet and Fool’s Mass my body and soul shook. I had stepped into their dream and them into mine. Matt sat with each person who came in simply being with her/him before collecting donations for the weekend. I knelt, gazed and embraced Matt and offered my donation. My body shook with a gentle tremor as I felt the largeness of the space and the intensity of the journey that was to follow.

For years I’ve been disenchanted with theatre having acted professionally. I found my experience of the world of professional theatre deeply dehumanizing. If someone tells me they’re an actor of course I’m excited for them, but there’s also a place in my soul that stings with the pain I know caused by a life devoted to the craft in a professional context.

I remember the audition that turned me, I was waiting at one cattle call for a New York audition for Lysistrata. There were 200 women there to read ~ beautiful women, resumes in hand, immaculately dressed to sell themselves. We were waiting in line like horses being inspected to be purchased, having our teeth checked, inspecting our hooves, go for a trot around the room. I remember waiting, looking up and down the hall when something shifted in me. There was nothing sacred here. My soul made a decision that day to leave theatre. I threw out my headshots and buried my resume in the deep dark files of my computer. I went on a quest to discover my own voice and what it had to say. I wrote and performed poetry, I created a One- Woman Show with the support of Carlo Altomare & Orietta Crispin at the Theatre Lab. I co-created a and traveled with a spoken word play with New Street Poets. I created performance pieces around my relationship to orgasmic energy in the elements, but there was still a piece of my soul that felt like it was missing. That I had surrendered the day I trashed my headshots.

Years later and well on my spiritual path, I met and facilitated a few healing sessions for a fellow shaman. She mentioned she had participated in Dzieci’s Para-Theatrical Workshop Maraton and that it had changed her life. I felt a deep soul resonance with this woman and took her recommendation and filed it back in my mental rolodex to pull out again when I was ready to meet them. A few years later, I received an email from Ripley Grier Studios, having rented space from them for a naked yoga class a few years back. They mentioned they were hosting Dzieci’s Makbet. The card I had filed back in my brain flipped open and I decided to go check out the ritual performance. Witnessing Dzieci’s Makbet and the ecstatic and organic and deeply ceremonialized process of the play unlocked places in me that I had been longing to find in the theatre but didn’t know how to create. Dzieci had found the sacred and were weaving it into everything they did. As an audience member, when you see their work, you are not simply a witness. You are on the journey with them, invited into the tribe and embraced as community. After this production, I signed up for their newsletter and went on their website several times just to keep up with what they were offering. When I saw their repertory production of Fool’s Mass and was greeted with an equally profound response, I signed up for Maraton.

Maraton is a 24-hour journey into the very depths of your soul. My relationship with the theatre had been very fractured and wounded. I went in with the simple intention – to heal and realign myself with my highest purpose in relationship to theatre and performance. Maraton beings at 7am on a Saturday and ends at 7am on a Sunday. During that time, you are taken through a journey, sometimes silent, mostly non-verbal, into the very depths of your being. There’s no hiding. You meet yourself including the parts you don’t want to meet over and over, again and again. The company members and participants of Maraton create a matrix of energy. Each person in the room is a piece, a wisdom holder, part of the universal constellation. Who’s in the room is meant to be in the room. There’s a piece and place for everyone. After we sign in, we are silent. In silence, the deep impulse of movement, connection and creation unfolds. The process works with perhaps a loose form and is mostly created through transmission. There may be a plan and the plan may also instantly transform. During a particularly powerful physical exercise one participant received a painful injury to his eye. The group transformed and simply was with the participant who was injured. We sang to him, held space for him. He was rocked and cradled and a deep container of intimacy and compassion were created among the other participants. We all healed in this moment. The journey for those 24 hours is pure soul transformation. I saw how many places I had hidden in myself. I felt every archetype in my system awaken including some I hated, and in those places of hate and rejection a tremendous place of love and acceptance was allowed to open. By no coincidence, Maraton took place in the Dark of the moon, a time mostly easily accessible to dance in the shadowland of the soul. I soared in my strong suits and fell flat on my face in my personal places of disempowerment and in both of these extreme spaces magic and healing unfolded within the full spectrum. Walking dazed into the rising sun the next morning, I went home and wept and laughed spontaneously for the next 24 hours when I was caught with the recollection of a gaze into someone eyes, a song of awakening, a dance through the body's very limits of exhaustion and a return into the portal we all come from and to which we all ultimately return.

Dear perspective participant - You have to be ready. You have to want this with your whole soul. You will want to quit. You will want to fall back asleep. But you will want more to awaken to the eternal magic of the universe and your highest potential that is present within this powerful matrix. You find Dzieci when you are ready to find them. May you hear the call when ‘dzieci’ is ready to awaken in you.

'Dzieci' is Polish for 'Children'

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Divine Mother of 2012

My first two guest teaching opportunities of 2012 at Bija Yoga and Yoga Sole have been prenatal focused and I can't help but think the universe is giving me a spiritual nudge in some way ;)

Here is a guest blog that I wanted to share with you that has a beautiful Divine Feminine core and that celebrates the universal mother energy within us all. It was written by a colleague and friend, Lloyd. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Wishing all a very Happy and Love-Filled New Year!


Over the holidays I stumbled upon a four-year-long discussion of an article on Naked Yoga blogged on the Internet in 2007 ( The author dismissed it as “too racy” for her. She asked her readers whether they would try such a thing. The almost one hundred responses over four years were fascinating.
First, the responses were universally – and often virulently – negative. They were also made by people who, like the author, had never experienced nude yoga in a group. Cries of disgust gushed: screaming capitals, barking multiple exclamation points, long strings of drawn out “EEEEWWWW” and “YUCK!!!!!”

The article and the responses, at least the early ones, were rife with sexual innuendo. Naked yoga is all about sex – especially gay sex – practiced by perverts and leads to sexual abuse and dangerous things. Yoga is pure and spiritual and shouldn’t be sullied with something so base as nudity. Adoration of and pleasure in the human body has no place in yoga. We must hide ourselves (in form-fitting, expensive clothing) so as not to distract others. Especially men, who couldn’t possibly do yoga for any other reason than as a substitute for pornography.

The theme of Downward-facing Dog recurred (sometimes with nauseating detail), and all from people who practice yoga clothed, never nude. Maybe I learned wrong, but isn’t your gaze supposed to be turned toward your center in Down Dog? In my experience with crowded classes, even clothed participants shift politely to avoid face-ass proximity.

So what we have here is a pretext contrived to mask personal phobia. Where does the absurd aversion we as a species have to our own flesh come from? Children are not born with it. Other societies live in comfort with nudity. This phenomenon must come from our culture.

It isn’t hard to see what anchors our exaggerated disgust for ourselves – our ancient sky religion. And Christianity doesn’t hold the monopoly. The Islamic world, if anything, exceeds us in body hatred. (This would be a tempting place to digress about the parallel development of animal husbandry, slavery and marriage as a contract between two men to buy a daughter. And about fear of all things feminine. I know the fear of rape and the drive to attract a mate affect women in ways they don’t affect men, but we men also suffer the consequences. I’m hurt when a woman behaves in such a way as to indicate she thinks me dangerous or shallow.)

I found myself wondering about why grown adults feel obligated to display disgust for all things pelvic? And fear the imagined judgment of others? And neurotically resort to buying expensive, sexy clothing to both hide and entice at the same time.

As often happens in life, insight came through a small child. During breaks from my laptop, I did a few asanas, Downward-facing Dog among them. My almost-two-year-old grandson, running about diaper-free, attempted an imitation to the delight of my wife and three adult daughters. He had no qualms about pointing his bare bottom up in the air. None of us found it disgusting in the least. But at some point, that child with his cute little butt in the air will become the image that disgusts so many self-admitted devotees to yoga. He will not only become disgusting to others, he will develop an arresting self-consciousness and desperately cover himself. When does that happen? At ten? Fifteen? Certainly before adulthood.

When do we stop being the Child? When do we stop seeing the Child?

Long before I entered the practice of medicine, I was a massage therapist. One client changed my outlook forever. He was an old man, brought in by his elderly wife. I’d say they were in their eighties. He had a slow, shuffling gate, fixed gaze, and expressionless face which I took for early Parkinsonism. Most strikingly, his body was covered with lesions of at least five distinct kinds. He hadn’t been washed properly in days, maybe weeks.

I was apprenticing in the practice of a kindly old Norwegian therapist, Connie Haldorson. She was getting on in years and needed someone to help. I did most of the massage while she sat at the feet of her clients doing reflexology. Connie was also an herbalist.

She had prepared special lotion just for this man. (I wish I had paid more attention, but I remember it had comfrey and aloe vera in it.) I massaged the goo into his tough, leathery skin from head to toe and rubbed it off with a rough towel. Several towels, actually. Dead layers of skin and crusty lesions came off in scoops. What emerged was pink, new, clean skin – still tough, but softer. When he got off the table, he felt renewed. Most importantly, he no longer felt filthy and disgusting. We dressed him in clean clothes. He came out of the room to greet his wife with a little hop and a “Come on, Ma! Let’s go dancin’!” I had to excuse myself to weep.

I have never looked at a person the same way since. Underneath all that disgusts us – the hair, the fat, the sweat, the filth – lies that child, that cute little kid with his bottom in the air.

Herbs can do wonders in knowledgeable hands. But the miracle that day was due to nothing more than Connie’s motherly compassion for a child. An eighty-year-old child. (Excuse me. Did I just modify the most powerful force in the universe – motherly love – with the words “nothing more than?”)

If naked yoga means anything to me, it means motherly love – that compassionate protection of the child in each of us. It means seeing each other the way mothers view children. And wouldn’t that be a nice change from seeing people as objects of lust or disgust.