You ask me, why do I dance…

Dance is not something that I do.

It is something that is done through me.

when I feel the sand pushing up between my toes on the shore, and see the radiance of the moon rippling on the tidal push-pull of ocean,

when I touch the softness of my young grandson’s hair against my cheek, and close my eyes, inhaling his sweetness,

when I listen to the creaking of forest trees swaying in the autumn wind, and look up into their branched etching on blue,     

I root into an energy that impels me to run, to sway, to reach out and draw it all in.

In that moment dance finds me and I fall into dance…

Ecstatic Movement - Prafulla - Workshop - Osho Miasto Institute

love in, love out

These were the words of a very sweet and inspiring young homesteader that I was privileged to meet yesterday. He was referring to growing plants, although the application of the principle is universal. When he carries composted fertilizer to his plants, he tries to so with an attitude of love. Otherwise, he said, if you feed your plants frustration-laced compost, they will take that on and you’ll end up taking that in again when you consume their fruits.

So – love in, love out!

When we arrived on his land we were offered a tour. We were shown the shelter where he and his partner currently sleep: a sturdy structure with a roof and tarps that closed it in on three sides. They will stay here until the tiny home they are constructing is ready, hopefully by Thanksgiving. There was another roofed-but-partially-open structure where food was prepared and enjoyed. Also a composting outdoor toilet. Little walking paths snake through the land where he has planted fruit trees, chestnuts, and a vegetable garden among the previously established green nations in this corner of the planet.

This young visionary embodies a deep understanding of the interdependence of all life. He plants for generations that will inhabit the land long after he has finished his earthwalk.

May his vision of reality gradually take root in our collective consciousness. Our survival depends upon it.

How Connections Create Interdependent Relationships
photo from kathleenallen.net

(t)here

When there becomes here…

My husband and I have recently been transported to Victoria, BC, to spend some time with family established here. Notably, we have been able to hug our 13 month old grandson for the first time! Our first grandbaby… one of the special sweetnesses of life…!

I have fallen into a time warp of sorts here, oblivious of what day it is, or even the precise time of the day… When there is a little one, everything naturally starts to organize around his/her rhythm. It’s been a delight. After breakfast and a bit of yogāsana practice, I have been taking my grandson to a nearby park/playground. As I push his stroller to the park, I sing him two French folksongs. And sometimes he seems to hum along. I shadow him on the play structures and marvel at the things he learns to do every day. There have been some lovely, if brief, moments of connection with other grandparents grandparenting. I watch him closely for signs of fatigue so that I can offer him a snack and a ride home before he gets too strung out. On the way home he invariably falls asleep. Once home I park his stroller near the kitchen door and tuck my sweater around him. Then I brew some tea and keep an ear open for the sounds of him awakening.

It is such magic to be welcomed into our grandson’s home. My son and daughter-in-law have created something so beautiful here. Love and creativity overflow everywhere! There are apple trees, a big garden, four ducks, a stand of evergreens, fresh flower arrangements… apple crisp, spicy milky black tea… and love.

So much love.

North Saanich – British Columbia Travel and Adventure Vacations

how can we know the dancer from the dance?

O chestnut tree, great rooted blossomer,

Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?

O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,

How can we know the dancer from the dance?

(W.B.Yeats  Among School Children)

Today’s Bharatnatyam class with Supratimji tapped into the mystery of embodiment.

It started innocently enough, with me showing him a step we had worked on previously. He wasn’t satisfied. He gave me cue after cue in an attempt to get me to truly inhabit the movement.

He had me sit down and find an internal focus. Once I felt established in that, I was to initiate the arm and eye movements. I slowly began to move. I experienced the feeling that it was the surrounding space that lifted my arm. Not me, moving, but just movement. The sweep of the arm, the drishti or gaze: no longer just graceful movements that I was doing. The dancer, and the dance coalescing…

After this he had me move on to explore the asamyukta hasta mudras – the single hand gestures – from this same consciousness.

Supratim: When you take the hand position of, for example, triśula – you must feel the energy coursing through the three raised fingers. If you do not, then it’s not right. When the energy finds its path, the gesture will be right. You must feel this.

The application of this is all-encompassing. Yogāsana, Bharatanatyam, holding my grandson – it touches everything in this ecstatically beautiful, embodied existence. W.B.Yeats’ final question sums it up:

O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,

How can we know the dancer from the dance?

Shiva Nataraja Stock Illustrations – 553 Shiva Nataraja Stock  Illustrations, Vectors & Clipart - Dreamstime

rain dance

I just did something I’ve never done before.

For the last week the heat and humidity have been building. The earth… so dry. And then today the clouds rolled in and Rudra let loose with a torrential downpour. Thunder. Sheets of rain. I looked at my husband and said – I want to go outside and dance in it. We looked at each other. Conspiratorially he said – I’ll record you!

So I ran outside and entered the downpour. Stood in the pelting rain reaching my arms skyward. Drank it in. Like the earth, the plants. Swayed. Stamped my feet in the puddling water finding rhythmical patterns. Cupped my hands to catch it. Pretended I was a tree, my arms its branches. Touched the water on the ground, brought its blessing up to my eyes.

Finally, full, I came back inside.

To avoid getting chilled in the A/C I ran a hot bath. Water again – but this time contained, controlled. My usual comfort zone. As I soaked, I thought back to those moments of release – of shedding boundaries. My Bharatanatyam teacher had been urging me for a while to do something like this. Nice idea, I thought.

Today I went beyond the thought.

I did something I’ve never done before.

: )

Photo from the Ottawa Citizen, August 13, 2021.

heart space

Perhaps when contemplating liminal space one cannot help being flooded with images and associations! After all, this is the in-between space, the space pregnant with possibility.

An image of Natarāja – the Cosmic Dancer – comes to mind.

In His upper right hand he holds the damaru, a small hand drum that symbolizes the pouring forth of creation. In his upper left hand he holds agni, the sacred fire representing dissolution. Creation and destruction. And where do these meet?

In the liminal heart space of the Divine Dancer.

The quiet at the centre of the maelstrom of life.

Om namah Śivaya.

25  handmade dancing Shiva Natraj statue Indoor outdoor image 0
Natarāja, the Cosmic Dancer

I want to know what love is

Love is not something waiting after the sleepless night.

Love is not the shining light at the end of the long, dark tunnel.

Love is not something that shows up once the intense, gut-wrenching struggle is over.

Love is the sleepless night.

Love is the long, dark tunnel.

Love is the gut-wrenching struggle.

Love takes it all in.

Surrender to this.

listening

Divinity:

You ask for the grace to become the “mere instrument” that enables love to flow into the world.

You ask for the grace to become “the container” through which love pours forth into the world.

Know this: you have always been My instrument.

Know this: My love dissolves the container.

Me:

. . .

The Inheritance of Loss

Yesterday I started reading this novel by Kiran Desai. She won the Man Booker Prize for it in 2006. It has been slowly tearing my heart out.

Her writing is deeply poetic. It reaches into the intimate details of lives lived, of places inhabited… I’m only 42 pages into the worlds the author describes, and I am wrenched by the penetrating violence of colonialism. I shudder to recall my Bengali dance teacher saying there were signs saying no Indians allowed – in India.

And I am thrown into a reflection on how I fit into the horror of colonialism. People in my own country are reeling from the unearthing of so many unmarked graves surrounding the residential schools. The extreme violence of ripping indigenous children away from home.

From home.

I’ve always been a homebody, given to bouts of homesickness whenever I have had to leave home. As I reach inside myself and touch this deep feeling of loss, I am overwhelmed.

It is an immense privilege to have Kiran Desai’s words draw me deeper into this dark and shameful reality.

One of the immense blessings that studying Bharatanatyam dance with my Bengali teacher affords me is the antidote to the sickening reality of racism: connection. To say that love is the answer sounds trite, but it is true. However, it needs a specific application, a specific connection between specific people. Then the transforming power of love can flow.

And transform the one world we inhabit.

Daily Recco, April 1: The Inheritance of Loss, alternating between  despondency and droll