Blog

December 2019: Approaching with reverence

What you encounter, recognize or discover depends to a large degree on the quality of your approach. Many of the ancient cultures practiced careful rituals of approach... When we approach with reverence, great things decide to approach us. Our real life comes to the surface and its light awakens the concealed beauty in things. When we walk on the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us. The rushed heart and arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience to enter that embrace.

(John O'Donohue)

 

Earlier this year, I found myself in a most beautiful encounter with wild baboons in the Cape Point Nature Reserve. As my friends and I sat quietly, the baboons chose to approach us with both curiosity and gentleness. It felt like they were approaching us in the way we would approach them. Respectfully, careful not to spook us. Perhaps they were surprised to have some quiet humans around who were simply happy to hang out with them rather than chase them and shout. What ensued were incredible moments of what I can only describe as intimacy with the wild that touched me deeply-  hard to put into words. And it connected me to the above passage from one of my favourite writers and poets, John O'Donohue.

It made me ponder this notion of reverence and what is needed to cultivate this kind of approach to the world, to myself, to others. How would it be to approach the shy, wild or wounded parts of ourselves with reverence rather than judgement? What would happen if we looked at each other more often from the place of openeness, curiosity and awe that reverence seems to hint at? And whilst being aware that this will be an ongoing dance between forgetting and remembering, how can I embody more often my reverence for life in what or who I encounter? I only need to spend a few hours with family to realize that this all but easy.

Like many other important things in life, for me  increasing the possibilitity of experiencing this reverent approach requires a slowing down and quietening so that I have space to notice what is in front of me and space for choice to see it afresh. Without that space, I see and react to things from a place of habit and jump into the all too familiar, comfortable and well worn groove of the stories I have about myself, others and the world. Comfortable because I know them so well and thus feel in control.  As O'Donohue says, the mind can be 'arrogant' in assuming it knows everything there is to know about what's in front of us! This is hard-wired into our neurobiology for survival and it takes a lot to  continuously challenge our own perception and to realize that things are not as they are but as we are. All that we have experienced, and, as epigentics show us, all that our ancestors experienced, shapes the lens through which we perceive the world around us.

So reverence requires some 'unknowing', a widening our perception, of allowing for the mystery of the present moment. I am reminded of moments in the dance when I have caught a glimpse of my own sacredness or beauty and the miracle of being alive in a body. When I've looked at my moving hand in awe and seen it for the miracle of life it is, when I have seen the billions of years of evolution that went into its making, when I felt the connection to all the ancestors who are part of this hand, when I realized anew that this hand will one day not be anymore.

And then there are the moments of grace when I catch sight of others and see them as more than the person I know, more than a mix of appealing and annoying traits, more than the particular behaviour they engage in. Of course, all too often, I am swept up by the busyness of my thoughts and the perfectly and strategically arranged pathways to the known they lead me on. No space for reverence or unexpected beauty there.

It's no accident that these moments of opening to reverence happen most often when I am moving or in nature. There, my mind is quieter, I am more connected to my other ways of knowing, my senses, my imagination. And the more I learn about how the brain works (neuroscience deeply informs our way of working with Movement Medicine practice), the more I recognise how much practice, commitment and dedication it takes to continuously see beyond our own biases, stories and assumptions. It's not for no reason that John O'Donohue mentions the 'careful rituals of approach'.

For me, the practices and processes of Movement Medicine offer such rituals. In my practice and in the workshops, trainings and groups I have been part of, there are always reminders, challenges and inspirations to keep seeing and approaching myself, others and the world afresh. Movement Medicine is (amongst many things) an invitation to keep asking 'what is real for me right now', 'is this really how it is?' or 'why is it that I see what is happening in this way'? In this way, we make space for going beyond what we think we know and enter into connection with the big mystery. We open up to the possibility of a different story and meaning. And this, I would say, is part of creating space for reverence and for practicing an approach that allows 'great things to approach us'.

-----------------

 

August 2019: Take residence in yourself!

 

"One thing is necessary here in this hard world

of homeless and outcast people.

Taking residence in yourself.

Walk into the darkness

And clean the soot from the lamp

so that people on the road

can glimpse a light

in your inhabited eyes. “

(Hans Børli)

 

When I was assisting my teachers on an intensive called Initiation this June, a participant shared this poem. In so few words it shares so much about what it means to be alive and to be human at this time on planet Earth. Read more

-----------------

May 2019: Connecting to our own aliveness

"When I was moving, I could feel" (Pina Bausch)

Once, on a barefoot forest walk, a young girl asked me about meditation – how you meditate and what kinds of meditation there are. So, of course I added movement meditation to the list and we spoke about really paying attention to the sensations in our feet as we navigated the path which was at times rocky and dotted with prickly bark and sticks, at other times delightfully squishy cold and wet mud. And it made me think of how good and at the same time how challenging it can be to practice this simple meditation of paying attention to what is there, to what our body communicates to us through our senses, to what the heart is whispering… how easily we get distracted, in no small part of course due to all the stimuli constantly around us and to the time we spend engaging with computers, cellphones, etc where much is about immediacy without presence and where only a very limited part of our senses is being stimulated and asked to engage. Read more

-----------------

April 2019: The heart that breaks open...

"The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe" (Joanna Macy)

The above lines by Joanna Macy have been with me for many years. And over the years my understanding and experience of this has grown and changed particularly through the dance.

I have been in Europe since mid-February, assisting and working with my teachers Ya'Acov and Susannah Darling Khan at the School of Movement Medicine. On this trip (this particular journey now and this particular trip of life in this world at this time) my heart has been and continues to be stretched, broken and expanded over and over again. Unexpected news and changes, witnessing the illness of a family member, listening to a friend going through a challenging time, feeling humanity struggling to comprehend and take action about the state of the planet, ... the list of things to touch, grip, squeeze the heart never ends... I suspect you know what I am talking about. Read more

-----------------

January 2019: The ordinary and the extraordinary

For a few months now, I have been pondering the relationship between the ordinary and the extraordinary. This arose partly out of an experience on the dance floor or rather many experiences in the dance over many years. One of my stories that arises very powerfully in some dances is the sense that I am ‘not quite getting “it”’- it being something I feel I am meant to be getting out of the process we are in, or a specific experience, feeling, ‘download’ I expect to be having because it seems everyone else around me is having a special kind of experience/feeling/download, judging by the looks, sounds, gestures around me. Do you know this story: everyone is in something and you are standing on the sidelines wondering what you are doing ‘wrong’ or how to ‘get in’? Read more

Blog
Blog