It’s all about space…

Have you ever felt completely overwhelmed and stuck? Like you have all this stuff you want to do, but you can’t seem to get there?

That was me two weeks ago. It kind of felt like I was drowning in my to-do list. I was feeling increasingly frantic.

So I decided to do something about it.

On August 12 I announced that I was going on a blog-holiday. Two weeks post-free to rest and dream and work on other things.

I had three goals:

1. to unplug and relax and catch my breath
2. to take care of the MANY things on my to-do list that kept getting bumped by post-writing
3. to get the kind of perspective on my blog and business that only time away can provide, and to come back with new ideas and dreams and insights

And you know what? It totally worked.

Here’s a summary:
The first weekend, we took a road trip to PEI and stayed with some friends.

Photo of giant-ass Confederation Bridge not-by-me

It was fabulous! I left my laptop at home, we drove over the bridge under a spectacular full moon, and we had a glorious day-and-a-half in the sun on the Island. We played games, we went to a beach, we ate supper at the Churchill Arms (SO GOOD), and we went for an evening walk in downtown Charlottetown. It was short, exhausting, but good (even though we didn’t get to visit everyone we wanted to).

The next week was the perfect mix of work and play. I checked about a dozen non-blog-related things off my list. I scanned some photos and paintings. I collected some quotes to tweet. I journalled. I came up with ideas for not one, but three e-books. I watched all of the new episodes of Torchwood. And that weekend, we went swimming at Dollar Lake. We drove out late Sunday afternoon, and the water was perfect.

Last week I ended up doing a bunch of website-related stuff sort of by accident. I changed the blog theme, and accidentally wiped out a bunch of my settings. Oops. But somewhere in there, while I was rebuilding my sidebar from scratch, I realized that I actually liked the change (this, I believe, is typical Mercury Retrograde stuff).

...at least this didn't happen...

Somehow that “oops” launched a whole series of blog-related techy things that I had been procrastinating on for months because I didn’t know how to do them. (I maintain that this doesn’t count as cheating because I didn’t actually engage in blogging activities…just techy ones). I’m not done with the changes yet…there are big things —including a change in URLs— coming very soon.

And then we wound things up by spending a day at a friend’s house in the country and making a bonfire at the top of a hill covered in blueberry bushes.

Rest, check.
Work, check.

I’m still working on the third goal of the vacation, the blog-and-business perspective. But I do have some insight on the vacation itself:

This vacation was all about space. Creating space for change to flow in.

I made some space in my schedule by eliminating blog-posting for 2 weeks. I cleared some space in my to-do list (and my brain) by completing nagging tasks. I changed things around, and in the process I ended up shifting massive blocks and moving forward in ways I didn’t expect. I needed to clear the space for this to happen.

And now I feel like a snowball at the top of a hill, just edging toward the slope…things are moving! I like this feeling. Now I’m wondering what else I can do to make space for change in my life…I can’t be on vacation all the time (that would sort of defeat the purpose!)

What about making some physical space?

…if you read yesterday’s Inspiration Tuesday post, you’ll notice that the Internet presented me with this post: Andrea Schroeder, in the throes of pre-moving stuff-elimination writes,

I’m doing a full-on all-out clearing.
Everything that no longer serves me – gone.
Blocks: dismantled and their components taken away to the thrift shop where someone else can build something beautiful out of them.
Obstacles: thrown into the recycling bin like they should have been long ago.
As I’m doing this with my stuff I’m also doing this with my stuff.
It’s a huge job.  It’s tiring physically and it’s exhausting emotionally.
Creating space for the next stage.
More creativity.  More freedom.  More possibility.  More flow.  More space.  More sparkle.

That’s starting to sound pretty damn good to me.

After all, right now it’s all about space.

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5Rhythms Friday: We have come to be danced

My favourite poem in the entire world begins with this stanza:

We have come to be danced
Not the pretty dance
Not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance
But the claw our way back into the belly
Of the sacred, sensual animal dance
The unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box dance
The holding the precious moment in the palms
Of our hands and feet dance.

I’ve always loved the poem (the entirety of which you can find here), especially the first line, which is repeated throughout. The words “We have come to be danced” have always made me want to shout “YES!” with my voice, my body and my soul.

I thought I understood how it felt to “be danced,” to feel my thoughts melt away and let my body move on its own. But in hindsight…I see that I didn’t. Not really. Until now.

Two weeks ago, I posted about the 5Rhythms and why I had stopped dancing them, and I made a commitment to explore them in a new way.

I said that I would show up on the dance floor, tune into my body, and let it speak to me. Nothing more, nothing less.

There was a reason for this: I finally understood that this preliminary tuning-in process was the most important part of the entire practice. It was also the thing I had forgotten about in previous attempts. Somehow I never realized how vital it was.

I guess the whole “5Rhythms” part distracted me…I treated the bit that came before the Rhythms like just any old warm-up. But it’s so much more than that. Tuning-in is what separates dance steps from ecstatic release, what turns exercise into meditation. It’s the heart and soul of the entire practice. And I skipped it. And it showed.

Even in the 5Rhythms sessions where I totally kicked ass, I was going through the motions:

Warm up part by part, check. Flow, check, dance Staccato, check, Chaos-time, done, Lyrical, OK, Stillness -time to stretch.

I moved my body, but I never let my body move me. I couldn’t figure out how to let my body dance on its own. My head was always in there, telling me what to do, or evaluating how “flowing” or “staccato” my movement was, seeing patterns, or mentally writing blog posts about the movements as I was doing them.

I find it comforting that I’m not the only person who’s struggled with this. Gabrielle Roth herself writes,

It takes discipline to develop attention and awareness. For me, this discipline is part of my dance. One of the biggest challenges is to keep my awareness in my body, not in my head where it can distract me in a million ways.
(Sweat Your Prayers, 29)

I’ve read this passage several times over the years, but I never truly understood it. When she talks about keeping her awareness in her body, she doesn’t just mean paying attention to the body, she means inhabiting it with her consciousness. That’s a big difference. If you do the former, your head is still the puppet master, pulling the strings and orchestrating the dance. If you can manage the latter, then it’s as if your body has a life of its own, and the entire game changes.

Want to see what I mean? Give this a try:

Move your hand. Just do whatever you feel like. Wiggle your fingers or flex them or tap them or wave them slowly…whatever.

There. You just danced with your hand.

OK. Now close your eyes and mentally place your awareness into your palm. Imagine that you’re no longer thinking with your brain, but with your hand. If it helps, imagine looking out of your hand with your eyes, as if your entire consciousness has been transplanted there.

Now…let your hand move. It might take a couple of tries, but see if you can let go of the brain-work and fully inhabit your hand. Let it move. You’ll know when you’ve managed it —it feels different.

See? Your hand just danced you.

Try it with another body part: your head, shoulders, spine, elbows, hips, knees, or feet. See if you can feel the difference.

Ever since I wrote that 5Rhythms post, this has been the sum total of my practice: I show up, I close my eyes, and I mentally slide my awareness into each body part one after the other, starting with my head. I see how that part wants to move in that moment. I let myself be danced. You can do this too.

I’m starting to be able to tell when my body’s moving me, as opposed to the usual “me moving my body.” My movement patterns, my “home moves” are disturbingly absent. The movements change completely from day to day. It feels so foreign to allow my body to have control, to feel my awareness down inside instead of up in my head. I’m pretty sure this is the entire point of the practice.

One day last week I was tuning in, and I suddenly found myself folding down into a forward bend. I was genuinely surprised —I hadn’t consciously planned it! It was a revelation.

There are moments in every practice when I lose focus and feel my head kicking in. But that’s OK. I take a deep breath, I close my eyes again, and I consciously move my awareness back to the body part. I think that, with practice, I’ll be able to hold the awareness in my body for longer and longer periods of time. In fact, I’ve started practicing it when I’m not dancing at all.

I did get results from the Rhythms before this. But I also got frustrated and injured because I really wasn’t in my body. In spite of my best intentions and all my effort, I was still up in my head, and viewing the practice as an exercise or routine or choreography: analytically, judgmentally, and from an outside perspective. I can only imagine the effect that the 5Rhythms could have if I managed to actually go inside and let my body do its own dance through the entire wave of rhythms. That’s my goal…but I’m taking my time getting there. Tuning in is enough for now.

I can’t emphasize enough how much of a Big Deal this is. I feel like I’ve uncovered hidden treasure or discovered the key to a mystery. I’m jumping-up-and-down excited about it. The words of my favourite poem have new meaning for me. More than ever, they express my deepest desire:

We have come to be danced
Where the kingdoms collide
In the cathedral of flesh
To burn back into the light
To unravel, to play, to fly, to pray
To root in skin sanctuary
We have come to be danced
We have come.

…YES. This is how I want to move. And now I know how to get there

Inspiration Tuesday: Money, Listening, Tools for Stuckness, and Beauty Everywhere

Happy Tuesday!

I’m currently on a blog-holiday, but I put this together ahead of time! I had some links saved up for you and I wanted to share (through the magic of post-scheduling). Enjoy!

Andrea from ABC Creativity shared a deeply insightful post about her own relationship with money…that basically has me convinced that when she does offer a course about being Creative With Money, I must do EVERYTHING HUMANLY POSSIBLE to join in so I can learn from her.

Dear Headologist:

What’s the deal with “hearing” and “listening”? I keep seeing them both all over the place, but they seem like they’re supposed to mean different things.  Aren’t they synonyms? When you’re paying attention to what someone says, that could be described with either word, right?

Listening In

Ellie Di, The Headologist posted an article about the difference between hearing and listening that I found truly helpful. I’ve heard an awful lot about witnessing and conscious listening, but no one ever gave me the “Ah ha! I’ve got it!” feeling that I got from Ellie’s post.

Michelle at Meditative Arts re-posted an article about being stuck that she wrote 6 months ago, and it is definitely going in my “HELP!” folder for use in bad times.

In a similar vein, Goddess Leonie shared an older post via Twitter that is also going into my folder: 10 Ways to Fly Beyond Creative Dream Frustrations and Fears

Two more beautiful posts by Goddess Leonie round out this week’s post:
A true story of beauty (and a free poster!)

and

Beauty is Everywhere

Have a beautiful week!

xox

Meg

P.S. A reminder: I’ve scheduled one more post for this week, on Friday, and then the blog and I will be back on August 30.