Monday, May 31, 2010

rainbow rod

But mostly I just stand in the dark field,
in the middle of the world, breathing
in and out. Life so far doesn't have any other name
but breath and light, wind and rain.
If there's a temple, I haven't found it yet,
I simply go on drifting, in the heaven of the grass
and the weeds.

Mary Oliver - from 'What is There Beyond Knowing'

I spent most of the day yesterday with my butoh mentor, Momo. She was performing in a Memorial Day service organized by the Veteran's Resource Center on Whidbey Island. I was there to assist in the preparations in any way I could, but what I didn't realize was how much the service was going to crack my heart open.

Journal entries and poems were read from veterans of past and current wars that moved everyone present at the service so deeply and in such a way that made the experience of war come home into the souls of all of us... Momo's dance brought the veteran's words and poetry alive in a way that touched the soul even more deeply... I am incredibly inspired by the work the Veteran's Resource Center on Whidbey Island is doing to assist in the challenges current veterans of war are dealing with.

It was so devastating to hear that suicide has claimed more US military men and women than the war in Afghanistan itself (last year, 334 versus 319 killed see article here). I was particularly moved by another reading by a veteran who commented on the diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) questioning why this would be called a 'disorder' - and then saying that it should be a disorder if someone came back from a war and was not severely emotionally and spiritually affected from the experience...

All day I thought I would get my dance practice in at some point, but as I left Whidbey Island in the evening to drive 3 hours north, it started to downpour with rain... I gave up on the idea of doing a dance at all today, until just as the sun began to set - suddenly, the sky opened and the sun appeared through a sliver in the clouds creating such a dramatic vista beside the highway. I had to veer into a grange parking lot to dance with the falling sun.

Even though I was beside the highway, it felt so nourishing to watch and feel the long fingers of the sun reach out across the field, dancing with them until they disappeared... I was feeling so much compassion for all the war's veterans of the past and for all those who are wearing a uniform and for all those that are currently in places of conflict living in a world so many of us struggle even to imagine... the setting sun felt like such a perfect mirror to my inner feeling tone...

sometimes i love life for no reason other than its ethereal impermanence
and perfect, beautiful, incredible

Orrin McClellan, age 21 - Veteran of War who took his own life - from his journal while on duty in Afghanistan, 2006

Momo wrote a touching blog post on Orrin's life and his passing last week which you can view: here.

When Momo and I were walking in the woods after the service we saw two natural 'poles' created by small de-limbed trees - the first one was covered in a bright yellow lichen and Momo called it "golden-rod"... and then we saw another that had been charred and we called it "black-rod." As I was finishing this dance, there in the sky was a "rainbow-rod" - a beam of rainbow light in a vertical alignment from the sky...

This afternoon I learned that Momo's sensei, Kazuo Ohno, passed away at the precise time we were at the memorial service where she was dancing. The master of ceremonies had talked about him in the service, describing how his dance flowed from him after he returned to Japan from being a prisoner of war, a veteran of war himself... Momo had also brought some beautiful photos and books of him that were on display at the information table that added to the feeling of his presence in attendance.

So many times when I see Momo perform I feel she is such an amazing transmission of his dance essence with the ability to express so eloquently what it means to be human - the dark side, but also the fragility, the tenderness and the joy. It is not only the ability to express the all-humanness, but also, the ability to express the non-human - the flower, an animal, spirit... In retrospect, not only was her dance at the service a tribute to the veterans, but, it felt like Momo's dance was such a beautiful tribute honoring Kazuo's life...

Feeling grateful for Kazuo Ohno, who I didn't meet, but feel his presence in my life through the teachings of Momo. May his spirit continue to dance freely...
I look forward to sharing a link to Momo's dance from the service if there is an opportunity to do so in the future...

Lokaha Samastaha Sukhino Bhavantu

May all beings everywhere be happy and free from suffering and may our thoughts and actions contribute to the happiness and freedom from suffering for all beings. May we remember that we are also within that circle of all beings...

Thank you for reading this blog - I hope it may inspire in some way...

If you double-click the photo above and below you can view on you-tube and the right side will not be cut-off :~)
Music: Philip Glass
See my butoh mentor's inspiring blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Sunday, May 30, 2010

spirit washing

Give away the things you don't need
Let it all go and you'll soon see
And you'll wash your spirit clean
Wash your spirit clean
Go and pray upon a mountain
Go and pray beside the ocean
And you'll wash your spirit clean
Wash Your spirit clean
Be grateful for the struggle
Be thankful for the lessons
And you'll wash your spirit clean

From "Walela" - Rita Coolidge, Priscilla Coolidge, Laura Satterfield.

I kept hearing these lyrics today as I stood in the pouring rain by the pond during my dance practice... yes, after the tragedy in the Gulf Of Mexico and carrying so much inner grief, it was time to wash my spirit clean...

A dance prayer for WATER... remembering that the amount of water on our planet remains constant from the time of the creation of this planet until this moment - not one drop more or one drop less... The water here at the pond could have originated around the other side of the planet... offering a blessing to this water here, blessing to water everywhere... especially for the Gulf of Mexico...

May the hemorrhaging of Mother Earth stop so the healing may begin...

I loved how a mallard duck swooped into the lake catching me by surprise - it seemed to drop in vertically from the sky...

Lokaha Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

May all beings everywhere be happy and free from suffering and may our thoughts and actions contribute to that happiness and freedom from suffering for all beings...May we also remember we are within that circle of all beings...
Music: Rain
Filmed by Brooke
Visit my butoh mentor's inspiring blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Saturday, May 29, 2010

castle in the sand and otter

The earth says where you live wear the 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 - from "In Response to a Question"

I wasn't going to dance today as I have been working on editing a blog I want to share from a dance I did in Mexico 6 weeks ago. It was a very profound experience for me and it has been a challenge to write about it... Also, I wasn't sure I had it in me to do another 'prayer dance' - my heart has been aching so much today after finding out BP's 'top kill' procedure was unsuccessful.

However, at the last minute I decided to bring the camera, just in case. After walking through the spring green foliaged trees, we came out onto the beach where the scene was so strikingly grey, and the water so smooth and silken looking. Suddenly, two otters surfaced and I tried to capture them on film, but not too successfully :~) Their sleek grey appearance led me to feel so grateful for the relatively clean ocean we have here in the Pacific North West...

I am watching otter, how he
plays in the water, how he
displays brave underside to the
wave-washings, how he

breathes in descent trailing sudden
strings of pearls that tell
almost, but not quite, where he is
apt to rise - how he is

gone, gone, so long I despair of him, then he
trims, wetly, up the far shore and if he
looks back he is surely laughing....

Mary Oliver - from "Swimming with Otter"

I couldn't resist this opportunity to let my despair flow through me on the forgiving surface of the sandy beach. It felt so cathartic to sink into and fall upon the sand. As opposed to a previous dance I had done here inspired by my mentor, Momo, where I was using my hat to capture the sun (see the photos and film here: "out of the blue"), today I felt like I was capturing the rain and the tears and grief of so many of us that are in pain regarding the disaster in the gulf....

So thankful to be able to empty the hat-full into the sand, into Mother earth, to be transmuted for the highest good...

Today's spontaneous dance practice was one of gratitude for the beauty and bounty of Mother Earth and all the magnificent beings we share the planet with...

Okay - the below photo of the otter is kind of like the grey whale photo I posted awhile back in a blog (see the photos and film here: "into the green"), but I couldn't resist sharing this with you :~)

I loved finding the sand castle on the beach... with a 'top shell hat' - couldn't help but think of the 'top kill' capping of the hemorrhaging oil into the Gulf of Mexico... if only it could be done so easily....

Lokaha Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

May all beings everywhere be happy and free from suffering and may our thoughts and actions contribute to that happiness and freedom from suffering for all beings...May we also remember WE are within that circle of all beings...

Thank you so much for viewing my blog - it means a lot to me and I hope it may inspire you in some way... I always love to hear comments if you feel inspired to do that:~)

If you double click the photo below you can view the film without it being cut off on the right-side... turn the film off here so you won't here the music from both places :~)
Music: Philip Glass
Filmed by Brooke
Visit my butoh mentors inspiring blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Thursday, May 27, 2010

top kill prayer dance

"What we must do,
I suppose,
is to hope the world keeps its balance;
what we are to do, however,
with our hearts
waiting and watching - truly
I do not know."

Mary Oliver

This is NOT yesterdays dance... which would have been an expression of my anger and rage over the Gulf of Mexico disaster... Yesterday, when I got in my car it beeped at me with the message on my dashboard saying 'please refuel.' As I stood by my car controlling the oil gushing, not into the sea, but into my car, I couldn't help feel that my daily actions are also responsible for the disaster in the Gulf... Yesterday, my camera malfunctioned...

This is my dance from today... BP started the 'Top Kill' procedure yesterday and today, we were told, we should know if the procedure is successful (what exactly are they KILLING in this process of filling the hole?). My anger has not subsided, but there is an inner feeling of hopefulness... hopeful that the hemorrhaging of our precious Mother Earth will subside, so that the healing of our waters may begin....

"Thirst drove me down to the water where I drank the moon's reflection." Rumi

On this day of the full moon I was inspired to dance by the ocean to do a dance prayer... I was feeling full of images of the blood-like oil hemorrhaging out into the sea for days, until last night when the images that were being shown from the live web-cams 1000's of feet beneath the sea were ones that depicted a lighter shade of 'fluid'... has the oil stopped pluming? Was this the 'mud?' Was the 'Top Kill' process working?
Still feeling so helpless, I feel grateful to have this dance practice as taught by my mentor, Momo, that enables me to embody my inner body weather, and express it in a dance expression...

I grabbed a spray of red rhodedendrons from our yard and headed to the seashore... Dancing with the shawl felt like an embodiment of the images of the relentless beige fluid pouring into the sea today... then I was visualizing the ending of the oil / mud gushing and the closing of the gaping hole - visualizing the hemorrhaging of the Earth's wound stopping so the next phase of dealing with this disaster can begin....
The red flowers reminded me so much of the bleeding of the Earth, and the Earth herself as our 1st chakra is related to the color red and the element earth. And as I held the flower spray up to my belly, it connected me to the ocean within my own body, within the basin of my pelvis...

The embodiment of the oil gushing from the earth into the sea also felt like it cracked me open - for the first time since hearing of this disaster, I wept... Tonight I wept while watching the news - T Boone Pickens on Anderson Cooper saying he did not feel hopeful that 'Top Kill' would be successful and professor of physics, Michio Kaku on Keith Olbermann saying that there is enough oil in this reserve under the sea to keep gushing at this rate for years and that if this process does not work, the situation could get worse, with a new rupture, or ruptures that could be created by 'Top Kill'. I wept seeing the coverage of today's hearings into the Gulf oil spill by the U.S. House's Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment when Rep. Charlie Melancon of Louisiana tried unsuccessfully to fight back tears when he shared that "the scale and the scope of this disaster is larger than one can imagine." He described constituents "watching this slow-motion tragedy unfolding in front of them... Our culture is threatened, our coastal economy is threatened, everything I know and love is at risk..." I wept when I heard President Obama speak of his daughter, Mailia, 11 years old, asking him - "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?" I wept with images of the emergency teams cleaning the oil slicked birds and after hearing that over 200 dead sea turtles have washed up on the beaches in the gulf and this is only the beginning...

My whole being feels devastated. How do we live with this tragedy, this uncertainty, right now, this moment?

A dance prayer for the hemorrhaging to stop so the healing can begin...

Thank you for viewing my blog... I hope it may inspire you in some way, perhaps to dance your own prayers, or in whatever other way you feel resonates with you, for the healing of the Gulf of Mexico...

If you double-click the film below you can view the film without the right-side being cut off. You can turn the film off here so you don't hear the music from both films :~)
Music: Claude Debussey
Visit my butoh mento's inspiring blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

rabbits and wombs

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” John Muir

I just heard from a friend today that she was having a hysterectomy next week as she was just diagnosed with cancer in the lining of her uterus... After having lived and shared the experience of my sister's recent cancer diagnosis, I felt spiritually stronger to hear of my friend's news, but, was still overtaken by emotion as I headed out for my walk tonight.

I had attended a weekend women's retreat awhile back led by Jade Sherer entitled "Nature Moving Women" where we did a guided meditation holding within our awareness the question: "Where is your home?" I was surprised with the answer that came to me from this process - my home was my womb, not a place in the world but a place deep within my own body...

While walking I was thinking about my sister and friend and their loss of their wombs... My dance practice began as a response to those thoughts and what felt like was bubbling up for me was a connecting to the energy of Mama Earth, a pulling in of her energy into my being and into my womb / home... a dance honoring of the energy exchange we give and receive with the Earth...
Part way through the dance, in the light of dusk, several rabbits and baby bunnies appeared and began grazing in the grass nearby. I couldn't help see the irony of my dance honoring the loss of wombs and the reproductive potentiality, and then being witnessed by the creatures that are so well known for their fertility and rapid reproductivity...

The dance practice ended with a prayer to my sister and friend as they continue their life's journey post cancer diagnosis. Wishing them boundless blessings and a returning to health, wellness and inner balance...

Thank you for viewing / reading this blog... with gratitude,

If you double click the photo below you can view it full size without it being cut-off on the right side :~)
Music: Philip Glass
View my butoh mentor's inspiring blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Monday, May 24, 2010

ripples in still water

Heaven Is Here

You and I were never separate
It's just an illusion
Wrought by the magical lens of

There is only one Wholeness
Only one Mind
We are like ripples
In the vast Ocean of Consciousness

Come, let us dance
The Dance of Creation
Let us celebrate
The Joy of Life

The birds, the bees
The infinite galaxies
Rivers, Mountains
Clouds and Valleys
Are all a pulsating pattern
Living, breathing
Alive with cosmic energy

Full of Life, of Joy...

You are much more
Than you ever imagined

You are the Sun
You are the Moon
You are the wildflower in bloom
You are the Life-throb
That pulsates, dances
From a speck of dust
To the most distant star

And you and I
Were never separate
It's just an illusion
Wrought by the magical lens of

Let us celebrate
The Joy of Life
Let us dance
The Dance of Creation

Curving back within ourselves
We create
Again and again
Endless cycles come and go
We rejoice
In the infinitude of Time

There never was a time
When I was not
Or you were not
There never will be a time
When we will cease to be

Infinite -- Unbounded
In the Ocean of Consciousness
We are like ripples
In the Sea of Bliss

You and I were never separate
It's just an illusion
Wrought by the magical lens of

We are like ripples
In the Sea of Bliss

Come, let us dance
The Dance of Creation
Let us celebrate
The Joy of Life

And You and I were never separate
It's just an illusion
Wrought by the magical lens of

Heaven is Here
Right now, this moment of Eternity
Don't fool yourself
Reclaim your Bliss

Michael Jackson - from The Spiritual Poems Collection

While walking in the park today, I was attracted to this still pool / puddle on the trail reflecting the infinite sky and the sun overhead...

As I began my practice, I became aware of the ripples that I was creating initially with my dance footsteps that were disrupting the tranquility of the water, and then more deliberately, with the pebbles I was throwing into it - fascinated by the patterns and ripples that were being created, effecting the still water.

It was powerful to embody the ripples of my actions, and the feeling of expansiveness - circling out as if into the universe...

I immensely appreciate the idea of the 'ripple effect' or the 'butterfly effect' - the theory of how what we do, in words, actions, or even thoughts, has a more far reaching impact on the world around us than we can imagine.

As the effect of the words spoken to someone may seem insignificant at the time, its impact can become a source of great pain, sadness, joy or inspiration. Not only our words, and actions, but also our thoughts are like pebbles dropped into still water, creating ripples that extend and expand outward indefinitely.

As I child I learned Transcendental Meditation with my family and was inspired by the ideas of the founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who believed that even our silent meditation practice creates a ripple effect - that the more people that spend time sitting in stillness meditating will create far more peace in the world than any 'action' - the effect of their meditation ripples outward and effects the subtle vibrations, the universal consciousness, of the world.

I have been thinking about the impact we as individuals are making in regards to the choices we are making in our lives - perhaps greater than we could ever imagine... I believe that we are all interconnected with all life forms and also, with what we might think are inanimate forms, such as rocks, on this planet. I hope to remember this more regularly in the future as I make choices in my life, not only in tangible things like buying locally, but also, in-regards to the intangible, like what thoughts seem to predominate my mind throughout the day... are they positive, life affirming, for the highest good of all beings, animate and inanimate?

I hope to remember that my words, actions and thoughts are like the delicate movement of air created by the wings of a butterfly dancing, that can potentially create a tornado on the other-side of the world...
Also, I often use the analogy when I am teaching meditation of our minds being like water - the waves are our thoughts (often stormy and turbulent) and how when we meditate we are able to calm the seas of our mind...

May the ripples we send out into the world be for the highest good of all... may we remember they can expand outward indefinitely...

Thank you for viewing this blog... it means a lot to me. I hope it may inspire in some way,

If you double-click the film below you can view it full screen - you can turn off the film here so as you will not hear the music from two sources :~)
Music: Philip Glass
Filmed by Brooke
View my butoh mentor's blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill