Sunday, January 31, 2010

a natural light

"Your life you live by the light you find
and follow it on as well as you can,
carrying through darkness wherever you go
your one little fire that will start again."
William Stafford

Today I was once again in an inspiring all day workshop with my medicine woman mentor. I loved the ideas that were discussed in regards to living a life with meaning - to do that which gives you courage, allows you to stand by your core, being true to yourself in thought, word and action, while following your heart.

As part of my dance practice is dancing wherever you find yourself in your day, wherever you are (very challenging at times), during our break I found an unused hallway in the college that had only one light source - a window at the end of the hall. My dance was inspired by the topics we were discussing - realizing that dancing for me is a spiritual practice (that which feeds the soul), a path with heart and is something that gives me courage to face the challenges of living a life of integrity.

In Momo's mentoring sessions in the past she has had me remain in stillness until movement arose from the inside. Today, I was practicing allowing myself stillness in the dance for reflection in the natural light from the window, and then getting in touch with the life force energy that emanates all things was then moved from the inside by that.

Grateful for my courageous life's mentors who inspire courage in me...

"And a spirit stirs and fills
the room, all space, all things...
And the hand, the wall, the voice
are gone, but The Spirit is everywhere.
The story ends inside the book, but outside, wherever you are -
It goes on."
William Stafford
Music: Philip Glass
Visit my butoh mentor's beautiful blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Saturday, January 30, 2010

shiatsu afoot

Today's dance practice was inspired by this shiatsu path at Bastyr Naturopathic College. Such a beautiful piece of art work, the path is embedded with various size stones and sacred symbols. My butoh mentor often speaks of the importance of tuning into the body by becoming aware of the senses of the body and creating a dance from that awareness - view her blog on textures here.

While taking a leadership workshop today there was so much potent information being given by my medicine woman mentor, I felt disconnected to my body and very much in my head - full to capacity with information. A perfect opportunity to get out of my head and reconnect with body was found on the property, in the rain, in the herb garden on this shiatsu path...

At first the pressure of the stones on the soles of the feed felt wonderful, but the farther I walked the trail the more painful the experience - awakening me more deeply to sensation and the sense of touch. Finally, unable to walk on the stones any longer my whole body wanted to experience the texture of the stones beneath it, which also took the discomfort away from the feet :~)

Feeling grateful for the opportunity to connect to mama earth via the various textures on this great path and the healing energy of water via rain - a reconnection to the body and a washing of the spirit.

16 million tons of rain are falling every second
on the planet
an ocean
perpetually falling
and every drop is your body
every motion, every feather, every thought
is your body...
let our lives be incense
like a sacred hymn to the universe
my religion is rain
my religion is stone...
every leaf, every river,
every animal,
your body...

Drew Dellinger from "Love Letter to the Milky Way"
Visit my butoh mentor's beautiful blog here: Maureen Momo Freehill

Friday, January 29, 2010

grey inside and out

"The earth says have a place,
be what that place requires...
The earth says where you live wear that kind
of color that your life is (gray shirt for me)
and by listening with the same bowed head that sings
draw all into one song, join
the sparrow on the lawn, and row that easy way,
the rage without met by the wings within that guide
you anywhere the wind blows.
Listening, I think that's what the earth says."

William Stafford

The skies were grey today in a heavy, full way - as they are just before rain. I was overwhelmed by the feeling of the immensity of the grey bower and felt inspired to dance with that feeling of grey on the inside, that is, what would a dance look like if one 'held grey' on the inside? While dancing I was aware of a feeling of inner space and the external movements were a reflection of that. Part of the dance was also inspired by feeling a connection to the energy of grand mama earth, upward rising, and being a conduit for that energy...

"The sky will come home one day." William Stafford
Music: Satowa
Filmed by Brooke
Visit my butoh mentor's beautiful blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

a walkin'

Walking today in the park, this large expansive field inspired me to practice what Momo called 'butoh 101.' The wide open space seemed perfect to practice walking with no destination, trusting the feet to go in any unspecified direction not created by the mind - letting go into the experience of the sense of touch and textures of the grass on the feet while looking with a soft, open gaze. My challenge was to let go of the 'idea' of where I thought I should go and just let my feet explore and feel.
While practicing butoh, I often close my eyes so as to be able to turn my awareness inward more easily and let external movement come from the inner experience. However, during one of my first mentorship sessions with Momo, she had me practice 'seeing' where the gaze is straight ahead while at the same time taking in all you can from the periphery. My challenge in my regular practice is to try and keep the eyes open while tuning into the internal experience. Part of my practice today also included walking a straight line connecting to the soles of my feet while maintaining the soft gaze, keeping the windows of the soul open.

"Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." Mary Oliver
Music: Paul Horn
View my butoh mentor's beautiful blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Thursday, January 28, 2010

sailing upside down

Today's practice with the still sea and air was one of exploring sense perception. The log reaching into the sky from the beach sculpture was an invitation to dangle and view the world from a new perspective. It caught me by surprise to see the sailboats in the doldrums seemingly sailing with the sky below and the sea overhead. My challenge was to observe with a soft gaze while the world was turned upside down. I wanted to share the perspective with you in the above photo :~)

Over the years of practicing yoga and now butoh, I have also noticed that positioning our bodies in ways in which we can literally see our surroundings from a way that we do not normally see them from, can also open the possibilities in day to day life to look at things in new ways. I love how this body process can influence the mind - more of a willingness to look at things in life from different vantage points.
Connecting with textures and smells in the tall grasses inspired a feeling of inner joy that took me to the shore to dance the inner body weather that was bubbling from the inside.

"Meet me here
where silence roars
where stillness is dancing
where the eternal is living and dying. "
Music: Satowa
Visit my butoh mentor's beautiful blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The pull is so strong we will not believe
the drawing tide is meant for us,
I mean the gift, the sea,
the place where all the rivers meet.

Easy to forget,
how the great receiving depth
untamed by what we need
needs only what will flow its way...

But what would that be like
feeling the tide rise
out of the numbness inside
toward the place to which we go
washing over our worries of money,
the illusion of being ahead,
the grief of being behind, our limbs young
rising from such a depth?

David Whyte
After a busy morning, walking to the beach today was a healing salve. Right away, I felt my breath slow and a deepening inner serenity when I found both the ocean and the wind calm. Looking to the north, the ice-y blue sea and sky seemed to blend into one, like a infinite ocean extending into the heavens.
I was first drawn to a driftwood's roots that had grown around two large stones and I thought how interesting the 'vehicles' that will drive us to move from one place to another, often a job opportunity, a relationship, or a calling from a particular place itself. .. And I thought of these two stones who were hugged by the roots of this tree and found themselves on the journey of their lives... who knows where the journey of this log and two stones began? The stones surrendering to their destiny...

And I thought of my own life and the lives of human beings... how beautiful the times are when we feel like something larger than ourselves is 'hugging us' and taking us to unexpected places of beauty and wonder.

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” Joseph Campbell

For my dance practice, initially I wanted to connect to the stones and the driftwood but soon was drawn to the oceans edge, and the gentle rhythm of the silver blue waves that lulled my being into inner quietude and a deeper connection to inner spaciousness and expansiveness. Grateful for my butoh mentor and for this dance practice that feels like poetry... so nourishing to the soul... Grateful for the beauty of our grand mama earth...

It is time now, I said,
for the deepening and quieting of the spirit
among the flux of happenings...

I went down in the afternoon
to the sea
which held me, until I grew easy.

About tomorrow, who knows anything.
Except that it will be time, again,
For the deepening and quieting of the spirit.

Mary Oliver
Music: Satowa
Filmed by Brooke
Visit my butoh mentor's beautiful blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Monday, January 25, 2010

on hearing of the coyote killing

"Willows never forget how it feels
to be young.

Do you remember where you came from?
Gravel remembers.

Even the upper end of the river
believes in the ocean.

Exactly at midnight
yesterday sighs away.

What I believe is,
that all animals have one soul.

Over the land they love
they crisscross forever."

William Stafford
All day I have been grappling with the grief I am feeling after hearing from one of my yoga students that the coyote in the 650 acre park across the street from where we live was killed a few days ago by those that believed it was becoming a threat to our neighborhood.

Recently, en-route to one of Momo's butoh workshops I had a conversation with a dancer friend (whose main dance form is contact improvisation) and we talked about how when you are in a dance class or workshop and are in contact with another human being there is an intimacy that is shared between you, an unspoken language that seems to surface that is beyond any ideas of what our minds may project or construct as to who that other person is... It is beautiful, like two (or more) souls coming together expressing themselves openly through dance...

I have also felt this intimacy when dancing with other beings both animate and inanimate, as inspired by Momo's teachings. And so, much anger and sadness is surfacing today in regards to how such a beautiful being ("It was a healthy, 45 pound male", my student said as I was choking back my grief) could have been killed. I do not want to know the details of how it was killed or how it was justified to do so. I'm sure it was just as justified as the killing of the last wolf in England in 1500, or in Ireland in 1770, or in Scotland by a man said to be named MacQueen in 1743.

Imagine... the LAST one...

In a recent National Geographic Publication about species facing extinction on our planet there is a photograph of the LAST 'dusky seaside sparrow' in a jar in some museum (view here)... the LAST one to be on this planet.

And I wonder if anyone else thinks about, where does the soul of the last being of a species go? I like William Stafford's view - it crisscrosses forever over the land it loves... like a beautiful web or matrix of soul-light energy...

Not that coyotes are facing extinction, but it is our shortsighted views that are so deeply challenging for me, that we are the superior species, and another species is 'threatening' and must be killed - like the last wolves in the British Isles.
"Because the heart beats under a covering
of hair, of fur, feathers, or wings, it is, for
that reason, to be of no account?"
Jean Paul Richter

There are no words really to describe how touched I was to be able to dance in the dark of night last week with the coyote, within whispering distance at times. My post of that dance is here.

This dance today is one of sadness for the killing of the coyote, and also one of forgiveness as inspired by the theme of Momo's upcoming performance.

Sacred coyote, we honor you. Please forgive our species for not seeing the value of your life and the lives of other species, even though I am unable to forgive those that took your life at this time.

It was an honor to have danced in your presence, to have looked into your ancient soul eyes, to have seen your steamy breath in the cool, dark of the night, to have been the recipient of your playful, trickster spirit as you ran off for a short time with my mitten...

Sacred coyote, I dance in honor of your wildness and your calm, curious nature as you witnessed my dancing... today, once again, I dance in honor of you...

Music: Lisa Gerrard
Filmed by Brooke
See my butoh mentor's beautiful blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Sunday, January 24, 2010


like the butterflies
wafting kimono sleeves

Colette Inez
(from a Japanese legend)

Today I was preparing for the upcoming evening of film and butoh with The MomoButoh company on February 19th in Port Townsend. Part of the presentation / performance includes a dance with Momo and I while a film of a dance we did together last year for 'Daily Dance YearOfButoh' will be simultaneously playing.

It was a dance we shared right after she returned from Japan. After receiving a kimono as a gift we headed to the park for an outdoor dance. The essence of the dance for me was one of feeling so touched to receive such a precious gift.

As preparation for the upcoming performance, I have been working on creating a relationship with the kimono - wearing it, dancing with it, exploring it sensually - the richness of the contrasting shades of red with black, the way it smells, the textures of the silks and cottons, the swishing sound it makes when danced with. Most importantly, when I put it on, I feel like another being - as if the kimono spirit has come to life and I am dancing the kimono's dance, not mine.

Todays practice was one of feeling connection with other - the spirit of the kimono...
Visit my butoh mentor's beautiful blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Saturday, January 23, 2010

soup / time

"The only constant is change." Heraclitus

Some days I am overwhelmed with so much gratitude for life just as it is that I want the experience of each moment to last indefinitely...

I have often watched the magnificence of the sun setting over the horizon and thought - "Wouldn't it be amazing if the colors in the sky could remain, even for just a few minutes more?" And yet know the inevitable, that the only constant in our lives is change and it doesn't matter how desperately we may want otherwise, the sun sets without hesitation and darkness spreads itself over the landscape.

Today was one of those days that I wanted to last and last... From my meditation practice over the years I have come to experience how time can slow down when we are present moment to moment with our experience. Not thinking about future or past events enables there to be a step into timelessness...

My intention and challenge is to become more present with the mundane, so to speak, activities of life and from connecting with them more deeply through dance, to be astonished by them. My daily dance practice was one of presence with the soup (spicy black bean :~), the steam, the pot, and the spoon. What drew me to the practice initially was observing the dance of the steam, then the dance of the soup bubbling, which moved me to become partners in this dance of the soup!
music: Philip Glass
Visit my butoh mentor's beautiful blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Friday, January 22, 2010

big sky field

"And consider, always, every day, the determination of the grass to grow despite the unending obstacles." Mary Oliver

Big sky overhead and open fields more often than not inspire a dance of gratitude for so much beauty in the expansiveness of the natural world. Often I feel simultaneously like my spirit is equally expansive as it is infinitely small.

I did not even notice until right near the end of this dance, that the moon had appeared from behind the hazy clouds and felt so honored to feel the presence of that wonder shining overhead, over all of us, even when we don't notice it's presence.

Some days more than one dance surfaces from feeling so inspired and energized by the beauty that surrounds and abounds, as it did today...
Music: Satowa
Visit my butoh mentor's beautiful blog here: Maureen 'momo' Freehill