Finding Tagore…

Sixty one winters, sinking into our third lockdown in the pandemic, and I finally found Tagore. Or perhaps, Tagore finally found me.

His novella Chaturanga was profoundly disorienting. It both shook and lifted me up. The unexpected twisting and turning plot seems to me to echo the organic unwinding of life itself.

The novel Yogayog pulled me deep into a world simultaneously foreign and extremely familiar. And then left me floating in mid-air at its abrupt and totally unexpected ending. Again, like life itself.

I have started a journey from a foreign literary name to the intimacy of inhabiting the worlds the name created…

Improvisation!

Lesson # 3 with my new Bharatanatyam teacher, Supratim Talukder.

Interesting territory today. He asked me to use my own movement vocabulary to explore the theme of birthing.

Deep breath.

This takes me into some pretty deep waters. My own experiences birthing my four children, of course. And… the birth of my first grandchild! – and the rebirth of the light at the imminent solstice – and a friend’s story of a woman pregnant and on the road during the first months of the lockdown in India, giving birth – and the Christ, born into poverty in a stable –

– and the Earth Mother groaning to birth our world.

And the ways we’ve systematically destroyed Her creation…

It will be interesting to see where this takes me.

Abhyāsa

“Keep practising!”

That was the last message from my new Bharatanatyam teacher. And I’m spun back into the Patanjala Yoga Darshana, 1.12:

[The vritti states of mind] are stilled by PRACTICE and dispassion.

The ordering of the two requirements to still the mind is significant: first, PRACTICE. After much practice, the ability to remain dispassionate ( Bryant) , or, in other words, to embody surrender.

This translates perfectly into the world of dance. Learning to dance within a specific tradition requires enormous discipline and constant practice. At a certain point of mastery, the possibility of dissolving into the flow of the Holy Mystery in which our particular bodies are embedded, arises.

This surrender allows the individual dance to merge into the Universal Dance – into the wild and whirling dance of Lord Śiva’s great Tāndava…

Shiva Tandava Stotram by Cristiane Lopes
cover of Shiva Tandava Stotram by Cristiane Lopes

R is for rethinking; S is for sweetness; T is for truth…

This summer I made a first trip to the west coast, where two of my sons currently live. Along with a wonderful chance to drink in the verdant beauty of Victoria, BC, the trip also afforded me some precious time to rethink how I am called to “mother” now.

When my children were small, so much energy went into loving them and making sure they were safe and happy. As they’ve become independent and moved on and away, there have been little moments of panic – how can I keep them safe now? They’re so far away…!

The realization crept upon me that it was always only an illusion that I was ever keeping them safe. The universe flowed through me to nurture and protect them… and the universe still does this, not only through me, but through other channels as well.

There is a sweetness in this truth. Love is infinitely creative, constantly manifesting in new and unimagined ways.

The universe truly has “got our back”!

Hari Om.

 

Dark

It’s that time of year.

Right now, it’s 4 in the afternoon and the sun is already low on the horizon. At 7 in the morning it’s still dark and I curl up, pull the covers protectively over my ear, and dissolve into one more dream sequence.

The deepening darkness awakens a thirst for the light.  I have unpacked my crêches and put them on display, surrounded by candles. Advent is a celebration of the birth of the Light into a world of shadow.

I hold a warm cup of tea, sip, and savour this season and the perspective it invites.

 

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just shut up… and LISTEN – !

Some years ago I had a vocational flash, you might call it, to be a healer. There is so much suffering in the world. If only I had the “power” to wave it away and give people release from their suffering.

Well, life has been offering me a few teachings about just what it might mean to be a healing presence in the world. It’s not just about acquiring healing techniques – yoga, pranayama, massage – and handing them out, like Santa Claus.

For one thing, if I want to be a healer, I have to get deeply in touch with my own brokenness.  And once I have really understood how this connects me with the rest of humanity, I must want, more than anything else, to hang out with the broken.

Not to fix them.

To listen.

To shut up and listen.

To be open to the other, and not so full of my own foregone conclusions about what they might or might not, need.

This dawning realization has been considerably humbling.

Hari Om.

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