Grrrreeting the Day

Some moons ago I was in a yoga teacher training in which one of our “home work assignments” was to linger in bed and wake slowly, allowing time for wriggling and stretching and languid breathing, gliding in and out of consciousness, snuggling if your bed happened to be shared with another being, savoring the first moments of bodily awareness, all before going about the busy activity of one’s day.

This simple and sensuous practice was, at that time, surprisingly difficult to do — to allow — in practice.   Upon waking, my thoughts would begin to churn and I would feel the urgency, real or imagined, of all the stuff requiring my attention and energy in the hours to come.  My mind would start to herd me toward “getting going” with the day, toward doing at the expense of being, planning at the expense of pleasure.  Of course, waking in a zestful manner, launched with ebullience into the day, can also be pleasurable,  provided one’s motion is embodied and sourced in purposeful happiness.  Prioritizing this kind of sensuous waking, I discovered a tendency to greet, engage and conduct the activity of my day from a more embodied, more grounded, more present and connected sourcefulness.

Over time the practice became intermittent.  Sometimes I would remember and sometimes I just didn’t take the time to linger, even though in general I still endeavor to launch myself from that source-full place of breath and awareness  I have to say that changing the alarm to something less jabbing makes the practice much easier.  Many alarms are utterly anti-sensuous methods for being roused. If one has to use an alarm, I highly recommend ditching those that thrust one roughly into the now moment — definitely not conducive to pleasure!

Now, I have a new spiritual teacher and alarm system sharing the bed.  Macy, our 9+ month old puppy, has been inviting us into a new level of sensuous waking that is deliciously irresistible.  She begins the process somewhere between 5:30 and 7:00 a.m., depending on the previous night’s activities.  First, she wriggles onto her back, her legs reaching skyward and waggling, paws dangling in the space above her.  My eyes peek open to see her happy eyes waiting for me to notice her, wide doggy smile inches from my own face, nose pressed against me.  When she notices me noticing her, her whole body comes alive with wriggling happiness, little  sounds of pleasure accompanying her motions, drawing my hand like a magnet to rub her belly, which magnifies  her pleasurable wriggling. Then, I start wriggling and stretching and making sounds with her which again magnifies her happiness which in turn, magnifies mine.

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We fall back asleep for some moments, her head in my hand or tucked into the covers, paws still dangling above us, belly exposed to the growing light.  Then one of us stirs or I stop rubbing her belly, causing Macy to shift positions and begin the process again.  More wriggling and sweet squirming, paws reaching and then pushing against the body of my lover as she twists so that her body is pressed tightly against mine, or draping and leaning weightily across the curves of our blanketed bodies, mouth open and whole body smiling. We roll and wriggle and snuggle in this way until I know it is time to slide out of bed and begin the activities of our day.

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Waking alongside this dog-being has been a wonderful reminder to begin the day emphasizing pleasure: the pleasure of warm snuggly companionship, the pleasure of the morning sounds of birds and rain and wind in the chimes, the pleasure of opening the sleep-stagnation of the body with lavish, voluptuous movements, accompanied by pleasurable vocalizations and a smile.

Whether or not you have a puppy in your bed, try allowing some time for waking a little more slowly and sensuously.  If you find your mind beginning to spin about the events of the day, try turning your feeling-attention the simple rhythm and sensations of your breath, filling and emptying.  Move each limb and appendage slowly, honoring the body’s own process of becoming wakeful and mobilized for what the day holds.

To amplify the effects of this practice you can always get a puppy. : )

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Life & Death — A Memorial

I got in trouble the other day. Took me by surprise actually.

When I tell you what I was chastised for, you may also find you want to chastise me.  What can I say? I have never tried to pass myself off as conventional.  Just devotional.

Macy and I were walking in one of my favorite places that morning: a lovely neighborhood cemetery that I have been traipsing through for 11 years now. This park-like piece of land has long been a sanctuary where I savor natural beauty through the seasons, free from traffic and urbanization. Rustling with birds and squirrels and the occasional raccoon, well-tended but not sterile or manicured. With grave markers from the late 1800’s to present day and of all shapes and sizes, the landscape is deliciously textured. I wander through the meadow-like curving expanses of grass, breathing in the beauty and birdsong.  Sometimes I sing or skip or sit on the grass.  I admire the special touches that people bring to some of the grave sites, honoring memories with careful tending.

I always imagine that the spirits of those who have passed welcome my presence; that in bringing the celebration of life into this place, I also honor death. Mind you, I do modulate my behavior when there are others in the cemetery, aware that my conduct might be misunderstood or offend. I also avoid any recent burials, allowing space for the energy of fresh grief to shimmer and settle with time.

But early that morning the cemetery was deserted; there was no one else about but Macy, myself and the Soul of the land.  The beauty of this place and the joyful gratitude I was feeling for my life and this moment erupted into frolic. Macy and I were running and jumping and laughing as we traversed the lovely property, having veered off the gravel road that winds through the cemetery and onto the rolling grassy expanses, generously endowed with clusters of gorgeous mature trees and shrubs. I am playing training games with Macy as we race and romp and galavant, playing hide-n-seek and winding among the gardens of graven stones.

A car came driving down the road to the back of the cemetery where Macy and I were, at that point, walking together on the grass.  A man who must be one of the caretakers got out of the car and started talking loudly to me where I was about 50 feet away with Macy.   I told him I would come closer to speak with him.  He wanted to know if I was a property holder.  No, just a long time visitor. He went on to explain that, apparently, they get angry complaints from  property holders of the cemetery when they see people walking (let alone running!) across the land where the graves lay.

The caretaker seemed a little ruffled at first, perhaps expecting pushback or defensiveness from me. With a light heart, I assured him that I meant no disrespect — in fact, quite the opposite.  In order to continue enjoying the privilege of walking in this beautiful place, I agreed to remain on the road and paths.  Seems a shame that the dead are relegated to a sedate and lonely afterlife in a place where people rarely visit, and when they do, they must remain somber and stay off the grass.  Don’t you think the spirits of the dead might like it if we had a picnic or rolled around or danced when we visited?

I was reminded that not everyone feels comfortable celebrating life in the face of death, and that to some people, cavorting jubilantly with my dog cross a meadow planted with the graves of loved ones is a sacrilege.  I think when you live as if everything (or as much as possible!) is sacred, one becomes less susceptible to feeling profaned. In general, we humans seem much more comfortable with beginnings.  Endings tend make us edgy and awkward.  I understand, of course, that there is multi-layered process of grief involved when metabolizing the loss of a loved one.  Sorrow is as sacred as joy.

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A few days ago I learned that a woman friend I hadn’t seen in a several years died suddenly, unexpectedly, leaving behind a bereft husband and wave of shock and grief in her community of friends and family.  Her wish was to be cremated, but I know if she were buried she would want us to belly dance and sing and make-out passionately on her grave, celebrating the life she loved and lived fully.  I dedicate my irreverence in the cemetery to Stasi, who understood that sacred doesn’t have to be somber and that death is a part of life, not the just the end of the party.

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Tis been many a moon since my last post on this blog.  Although I have posted often in my head, somehow the transition to keyboard and actually expressing my wild and wooly thoughts never quite happens.  The last few years have been tumultuous, tempestuous and tantalizing; full of grace and grappling. More

Waxing Toward Fullness

In honor of the Solstice, myself and a group of Sisters created a sweet and soulful gathering to honor the birthing of the light from darkness as the Sun makes its long journey back toward fullness as the Seasons of the Wheel turn.  We honored the elements, purified in the fire that which we are “done with” and releasing, and acknowledged the seeds of new life and expression we are nurturing to give birth to.

We adored the moon in her ripe fullness and reveled in the mystery of the lunar eclipse  and kept the fires burning all night long – within and without — to greet the rising sun.

This is the season to consider what you are longing to give birth to in your life, in your family, in your community, in the world.

As the light begins its journey back to fullness after the Solstice, ponder for yourself the ways and places and people and manner in which you would like to offer your light to the world in the coming months.

What is your life longing for you to live more fully?

What quality or flavor of your light –playfulness, sexiness, fierceness, nurturing, devotion — could you express more of?  Where?  When?  With Whom?  What do you long to give birth to in yourself, in your relationships, in the world? How can your energy, talents, gifts and uniqueness be offered to serve that which you are committed to living, expressing, experiencing, evoking and sharing?  These are broad questions, but I believe if you tickle your awareness and feel into heart-full belly, you will find an earthy yearning for some flavor of evolution toward a fullness that ignites ecstasy.

As you recognize how your light wants to grow, evolve and bless the world, consider what you need to embody to liberate this expression of the light in and through you.  Do you need to dance every day or light candles at sunset or rub sensual oil into your skin every morning while blessing the curves of your body? Do you need to reach out more to share quality time celebrating life with your sisters or create more a sensually nourishing environment to feed your soul?  Do you need to pull out the art & craft supplies and give form to the images and dreams that sway and swirl into your consciousness?  Do you need to sing your heart out as you drive to work every morning?  Do you need to saturate yourself in a steamy, candle lit, aromatic bath once a week to hydrate your soul?  KISS: Keep it simple sisters.

And remember to celebrate!  Admire your triumphs.  Share your insights.  Express your gratitude for the mundane and the magnificent.   Savor every morsel of beauty with reverence and delight. Dance your ecstasy surrendered and uncensored.

Live. Breathe. Love.

with radiant devotion

Deborah

PostScript:

I apologize for the lengthy gap since my last musing.  I have been immersed in a wave of transformation that required I let go of everything for a while, except for obedience to the rhythm guiding my journey.  Like the returning light, I am being reborn, rediscovering how the Source wants to live through me, speak through me, dance through me.  I am slowly gaining momentum and honoring the diverse ways Shakti wants to create through me.  I look forward to connecting along the spiral path. . .

Om Prana Shakti!

Curving Toward Infinity

Tasting the coolness in the air, drinking in the waning flaxen quality of the light, my soul undulates with the sweet melancholy of ripeness slowly withering, fullness cresting into the next wave, the next Season.

Feel the wheel turning, infinite spiral dance, seductively eternal and beckoning. . .

Autumn’s tendrils entangle with Summer’s lazy limbs, passion’s fire lingering and shimmering now like sprawling coals and flecks of heat.

Feel into what is be-coming, what is unfolding, the voice of my soul says, bank the coals for stoking again and again, and savor the simmering Source of heat and motion.

Now is the time, Sisters, to imbibe the be-coming Season.  Harvest all the warmth and nourishment from the golden time and stoke this fire, your fire, to warm your spiritual toes in the shadowy times to come.

Tis a fine time to tend to your home altars and sacred spaces.  Attend to both the seasonal change and the way those changes are reflected in the rhythms of your life, in your longings and devotions.

What would you love to create in your life over the next few months? What have you been yearning for or craving?   Are you facing any obstacles or creative challenges right now in living the life you want to be living or being the woman you want to be being?  This is a good time to prepare the way for releasing what is dying anyway and to nurture new seeds in the quiet darkness of germination.

Share the spiral dance in sisterhood when ever possible, for this is how it was always done and those ancient rhythms still live in the matrix of being.

Begin now to create opportunities to spend time in sisterhood in the waning months of summer becoming autumn becoming winter.  Celebrate the harvest and stoke each other’s fires in the fallow times. . . in the darkening toward winter’s embrace.

Sit in circle, sip hot beverages, dance love’s motion and share your hearts and your stories, your triumphs and travails.  Spend time in the company of nourishing women whose embodied living inspires your own depth and devotion and delight.

Remember the cauldron, Sisters, the cauldron of creation and destruction, birth and death, endings and beginnings. . .  the Source of all Cauldrons. . . trust that Source and follow the spiral inward and again outward, curving toward infinity. . .

Source-Full Pleasure is Vitamin “P”

Source-full pleasure is one of the essential nutrients for the feminine soul.  I call her Vitamin P.

The busyness of our lives frequently requires we maintain a constant driving pace and over time that pace can dehydrate the soul of a feminine being.  Any parched deserts out there?

The aching desire to escape the relentless and seemingly never ending stream of tasks and responsibilities has created a generation of people who habitually use pleasure as an escape from the mediocrity or relief from the bruising life they are living.  And so you (or someone you know!) find yourself needing a vacation to “vacate”  life, rather than a holiday to enjoy it.

Those of us with a Feminine sexual essence almost always rediscover the true nature of pleasure, both offered and received, as both a connection to Source and as spiritual nourishment and fuel to perpetuate the magnification of love.

Create Source-ful Pleasure in your own environment to inspire and ignite your mission and gifts to be offered and serve those in your realm.  Take 15 minutes to sit in the sun or to appreciate your garden.  Take 30 minutes to walk around the neighborhood.  Enjoy a homemade glass of iced tea or the process of preparing a meal.  Enjoy a hot bath with all your favorite trimmings or a cool shower to enliven your spirit in the heat of summer.  Saturate your senses with a taste, smell, texture, sound or sight that you love.

To experience the spiritual potential and maximum benefit from pleasurable activities, approach each one consciously.  Dedicate the pleasure to what you are creating or causing or celebrating; consecrate the pleasure to the health of your body, mind and spirit and all that flows from you.  Breathe deeply and fully as you enjoy the pleasurable event, circulating the energy generated by each morsel of your pleasured senses.

When the activity is complete, move on to whatever is next, consciously circulating the energy of pleasure through your body and conduct it through your body as you work or play or parent or whatever is next for you.

Have you imbibed your daily dose of Vitamin P today?

The Moment is Your Lover

How would this unfolding moment occur for you if you engaged with it as your Lover? Cultivating this quality of intimacy with the moment is a profound practice to dip into periodically throughout your day.

The phrase “being in the moment” is commonly used to represent a desired quality or state of being: be present, be in the moment, be here now.  While it isn’t difficult to understand the value of being in the moment, it does seem difficult to actually be there for any length of time or with any frequency. Modern living seems to drive us right through many moments without even noticing where we’ve been as we strive to get things done, to make a living, to meet our own crazy perfectionistic (it’s a word now!) expectations.

Notice how often you are actually thinking about the past or about the future while doing something else entirely “in the moment.”  Perhaps your mind is wandering to reexamine a conversation you had with a lover or colleague as you take a walk or a shower.  Perhaps you are lying in bed trying to sleep and imagining how you will approach a difficult task the next day.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with savoring cherished memories or flirting with the future – these activities can inspire love, gratitude, creativity. Yet, if notice I think you will find that we are forever dawdling in the past and fussing with the future in ways that are less than nourishing.  Becoming aware of where my attention goes when it is free to wander has revealed for me the great quantity of time I can spend worrying, analyzing, judging myself  -– my behavior, my thoughts, my physical form, my failures, my weaknesses. . .  Anyway. . . .

While we do need to plan, to make progress toward accomplishments and to solve problems, we also need to remind ourselves to pause in the present from time to time; to consciously dwell fully in the very moment that is arising right now.  The next time you are doing an activity of some kind – walking, doing yoga, dancing, cleaning, gardening, cooking – play with the practice of consciously and consistently bringing your attention back to the moment.  Simply notice when you have been wandering in loops of the past or the future and attune to the occurring moment.

The feminine version of approaching the moment as a lover is opening to receive the moment into you and the masculine version is entering the moment and opening it.  We all have both masculine and feminine within us, so approaching this practice from either perspective is valuable.

For those of us whose essence rests more in the feminine, consciously and creatively opening to “receive the moment”  ripens our sensuality and blooms open our radiant depth of connection to the pervasive aliveness that is right now living through and around us.

Tuning your attention to receive the moment is most directly accessed through your physical senses: sight, taste, touch, hearing, smell.  The senses are always only experiencing in the moment. Attend to the sounds and smells in the environment you are in, the temperature of the floor under your feet, the texture of your clothing against your skin, the sounds arising around you, the smell of breeze, the colors of the flowers in the bins of the floral vendor, the pleasing shapes of the clouds.

Yes, your mind will also wander to lovely memories and exciting plans and juicy ideas.  Some of my best ideas and solutions come when I am in a kind of meandering contemplative state.  Take note of the juicy ideas and then bring your awareness back to the moment where you are breathing and sensing right now.  Notice especially when your mind begins to spin and churn on some past or future event and gently bring your attention back to the feel of the wind on your skin or the feeling of your muscles working as you move the laundry from washer to dryer.

In your love affair with life, the moment is your Lover.   The most mundane moment can become one of sublime sweetness with a mere shift of your attention to the messages from your senses.  Tuning your attention to the moment can be combined with other delicious blissiplines, such as savoring and celebrating beauty or saturating your senses or consciously deepening the rhythm of your breath.

As with your lover, there are moments of intimacy and moments of distance, rich moments of intense connection and dry moments of awkward separation.   Remember, all lovers have squabbles, clashes and other messy encounters that feel like less than love.  The art, then, is in feeling into and through those moments, rather than turning away from them in rejection or shrinking away in protection.

But that, my friends, is a posting for another day. . .

With Radiant Devotion

Deborah

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