Writing a book…

I had never thought of myself as a writer. I sing for people’s inner explorations, I dance with the earth’s rhythms, I garden for my heart and soul… But writing seemed so foreign and ‘heady”. Then, as I started to articulate my knowledge (and hopefully ) wisdom for my CIIS students,since I had to…! , I realized there was SO MUCH to say, to share, to be “out there” with.

Thank God for my assistant and friend and student Kristina who organized that project!

As the writing gets more and more sorted out, I see how my inner swirl of ideas can actually be formulated and set in chapters. It is almost like applying feng shui in my thoughts-drawers.

It’s been over a year now and even though life is a bit too busy and multi dimensional for dedicating enough time to this project the way it could, I can feel the art of it, the depth of it, the healing and empowering through it.

As we say, “it’s never too late to try new things”!!

 

 

MY DISCOVERY OF ETHIOPIA

Erta Ale Caldera

I just came back from a 3 weeks trip to Ethiopia…which was altogether fabulous. I want to share this one special image and moment with you…

Erta Ale is the only open alive crater on the planet, located in the Afar territories, near the Eritrean border. My husband and I hiked 3 and a half hours in the night, armed guards ahead of us, camel behind us, in 110 degrees temperature, sand flying around us. We could see the glow in the night and a lightning storm illuminated the Eastern skies. We walked silently, stopping to drink much water every 20 minutes.

Then we got there.

Nothing prepared me for this. It took my breath away. The sheer intensity of that moment made me weep. I stared inside the Earth Herself. I watched the magma boil and rumble. I heard the sound of it. I felt the heat of it.

I could have spent hours there. Time faded. It was archaic, mighty, raw, pure power. Even trying to put words on this now feels a bit lame. But when I was there, I found myself wishing for all beings to witness this tremendous force.
Knowing that the crust of our planet floats on top of this moving hot blood became mind boggling, and viscerally understanding that this kind of heat lives underneath us felt deeply reassuring, somehow.

I will go back.

Thanksgiving is upon us already!

Rainbow

It seems like yesterday that I was gathering with my old friends at my home. The tribe coming together for this remembering of deep connection, gratitude and life unfolding in all its ebbs and flows.

The children are growing into adults, couples dissolve and new ones form. As elders in our communities, our offerings to the world deepen and our skills become sharp tolls for Consciousness.

I see this  upcoming year as a wonderfully abundant one, filled with exciting collaborations. My public talks and teachings are multiplying and I am grateful for the opportunity to share what I have immersed myself in for so many years. My books are creating themselves in grace and inspiration.

And the garden grows, I am ever expanding the areas I plant and hazelnut and walnut trees have been ordered. The bounty of the land keeps on feeding my body and my soul.

My hands in the soil teach me silently the ways of the Earth, which I can then do my best to communicate outwardly.

My gratitude goes all the way to France for the beautiful tribe I am proud to be part of. It also goes to my family here; my husband and children and to the joyful bond we can’t help sharing despite the waves of life sometimes rocking that boat. It also reaches my community of colleagues, clients, friends on the path of healing and growth, for whom the “digging” continues forever and  for whom the precious gems found are worth all the sweat and tears.

So, as Thanksgiving approaches, what are grateful for? What wishes will you offer to the ones you love? What place in your heart will you let open up for the gratitude of others to love you?

It is my deepest wish to you all that this month my be one of grace, receptivity and gifting

Teaching in Tel Aviv University

A couple of weeks ago I was at the Tel Aviv University teaching a 2 days seminar on “Altered States of Consciousness”. It was nothing short of a revolutionary moment, considering that this University is known and respected for being conservative and traditional. The friend who invited me is a head of a department there and thought such topic would be innovative and worth introducing to the campus.

Since I was intending to lead the participants into some experiences and meditations, I had asked to have a maximum of 50 people maximum.
But the interest was such that 100 people registered and I was given an amphitheater to teach.

The topic itself was attractive, the seminar went very well. Altered Sates of Consciousness have been fascinating to humanity for millennia and ways to touch these inner spaces are varied, creative; some are gentle and some are radical. In any case, as much as there is a fear of them, the attraction is there and information about them is sorely needed in our virtual, mechanical and somewhat isolated lives. Many people want to know more about them, understand them, include them in their lives in safe ways.

What excites me the most is to communicate that even though these states are certainly unusual, they are accessible to all of us and can be woven in the tapestry of our lives in ways that enrich and balance our overall functioning through the influx of spiritual dimension they bring on.
They do require mindful context and the manners of careful preparation and integration ought to be taught. For many years my work has been to introduce the value of these states, to prepare people for them, to guide them through the experience, and finally to support the integrative process in which the material gathered can be put to use in everyday life.

Here are some contemplation questions for you; in what ways do you surrender your ego-based functioning in order to tap into another dimension?
Are you intentional about it? Are you safe in it? Do you identify what you learned? Do you write or draw these inner spaces? How do you apply the teachings into your life?

The world of spiritual dimension is a powerful source of guidance and inspiration.
It speaks to us. Let’s treat it with careful listening.

TAU

In The Last Frontier

Sela and I

Sela and I

I never imagined the low sun on the white mountain range, the calling of the dogs in the night echoing in the vastness of the Alaskan winter, the 20 below zero quality of the air, the rush of adrenaline as the dog team rushes forward in utter excitement…
Sela led the team steady, Atai shook his bushy rust foxtail, small Pula and huge Squawl looked like an odd couple behind as they all pulled my sled forward across the icy lake and through the pine forest.
It was a discovery; another world opening its mystery to my astonished eyes and heart.
It did not matter that lunch was a poet bar, that watering 25 dogs after dark got my hands cold,that water was a block of melted ice.
The night sky hovered above like an ark of stars and then,the Northern light appeared, floated, danced, draped and made waves above our heads.We were mesmerized.
The wonderment filled my soul, nourished my heart and made me feel, for just a week, like an explorer of the last frontier I will never forget.
In fact, I am going back.
The silence and stillness are calling me.
And the dogs too.

Home sweet home…

I am in France. Language, food, rhythm. All is so familiar, like a return to a nest I have left such a long time ago. Each time is a reminder of my roots, my connection to this land and its history, its weather patterns, its customs.
The way people laugh loudly, dress fashionably, sit at the dinner table for hours, eat sandwiches while walking in the streets, sit a sidewalk cafe just because…
Something in my visceral body lands. I feel like a young girl again. Yet, I am now arriving here with my adult self, shaped by my American life and all that I have learned there and become. I have gone through a lot in the US and I have created a career and a family, these last 30 years.
So, it is always funny how I almost have to “remember” who I am here in Paris, lest I fall into an old trance which would not be the “me” I am now. Who am I inside, now? What is true to me now? What are my values ?
This contrast and this invitation to the present moment reminds me that being always truly myself is constantly reaffirming my truth and keeps me “current”.

So, while I do that, I will have another bite of my croissant and go meet my sister at the cafe!
A bientôt!

Contemplating Thanksgiving

I was born in France; we did not have Thanksgiving there. When I moved to the US, my roommates were French, Italian, Roumanian. Somehow, this time of year passed un-noticed. Then, things changed; American friends  became  more part of my life, and voila!; Thanksgiving arrived with them! Turkey, sweet potatoes, strange cranberry sauce…Coming from a French culinary tradition…well… that did not cut it. Then, I became vegetarian anyway so the matter of the “bird” was at least out of the way.

Now, 30 years later and many Thanksgivings under my belt, I don’t even care about the food anymore; I am just left with the beauty of the shared emotions which are spoken on this special evening. What am I grateful for? What did this past year offered my life? People tear up saying “Thank you” to each other when they rarely do all year long, fathers look at their grown up child and reflect how beautifully they are moving into their adult lives; the grown up child revels in this (sometimes) rare and clearly spoken acknowledgment.

So tomorrow, as I host my community friends (some of whom I only see each Thanksgiving!), I will ask myself what this past year has brought to my life;  the love in my family, my mother still vibrant at 92,  the beautiful land which holds everything I become and learn, the professional opportunities that have shown up as I have asked them to. And I will tear up too, as most everyone will. When the heart speaks, that generally happens.

What are you grateful for ? What loving person touched your heart? What did you receive from life that felt good, tender, challenging even yet empowering somehow.

The good, the painful, the loving, the angry…  Everything is a gift, yet for some reason we sometimes fail to embrace what life offers us.

I am sure glad my friends will be here; we will hold each other with whatever shows up. That will be Thanksgiving here. A good day.

Dance in my life; the tale of my teachers’s gifts

at the end of our weekend together

Dancing has been in my life  since I was 14 as I babysat my way into my first modern dance classes while I lived near Paris. I was lucky to have great teachers such as Laurette Fouquet and  Joseph Russillo. I soon entered a modern dance company and performed in a style which gave room for my improvisation. I was taught that movement was a free expression of my inner self, even when I was following forms.

When I moved to California in 1981, I immediately joined 24th St dance studio in the Mission district in San Francisco. I and some friends worked the front desk, hung out with the teachers, spent days at the studio, took three or four classes each day; it was a whole lifestyle. We all studied with Alonzo King, Luis Gonzalez, Leslie Watanabe; we were all bonded with the same passion for movement, forms, rhythms, creations.

Alonzo went on to a fabulous career, Luis passed away from AIDS, Leslie moved, friends went away. When I went on to study bodywork then somatic psychology there was dance again with Authentic Movement. Studying with Tina Stromsted, I discovered the subtleties of inner listening and the emergence of impulses.

When I met Rosa Montoya few years later, I went diving  head first into Flamenco. The  passion for this fire in the belly was intoxicating. The wildness, the rawness, the grace;  the stage; it was an all encompassing whirlpool. It “had” me, completely. Yet,  after some years of that immersion and unable to pursue a full “company life” and the daily rehearsals it required with my busy family and work life, I stopped. Just like that.

Last weekend, after many years of knowing of her and her post modern dance experiments, I went to spend a weekend with Anna Halprin. It was like coming home. Home to myself, my movements, the ongoing creation of what emerges at each instant. We walked, we followed each other, we moved our self portrait with sounds, we looked at trees and the light through the branches and brought them in our compositions. We became one with Nature and  with each other. We laughed and cried. We played and danced wildly. We saw one another in what is most vulnerable; the emergence of a movement, of grace made visible, of life itself carrying our bodies into states of trance and rapture. When Anna walked through the two lines the group formed on the deck, I was not sure if to smile or weep in the presence of such embodied creation.

Today, I feel  again in my bones and flesh the dancer in  me who never left, who is in an ongoing discovery of herself and of what movement can become. Like a meandering life’s pathway, dancing has shaped my life in ways that fill me with wonderment. It keeps being the one creation that keeps on lifting me through the many aspects of my existence, of my emotions.

I want to ask everyone; what is YOUR passion? What is true to you? What would you wake up at night for? What is your creative voice ? What sustains you through life like a eternal link to your soul?

The artist is in all of us. It is in what we do with full heart and complete surrender. It is what happens when we just let the creative force express itself through us, one step, one paintbrush, one sound at a time.

 

Poetry book in the making

Overtime, I have collected poems which have appeared in my imagination ; moments of poignant human transformations, graceful instants of nature teaching Her mystery to my astonished heart. Finally, I have decided to make a book out of this collection of witnessings. And I have gathered images to dialogue with the words, a dance of words and colors, shapes and emotions. The people who are collaborating on this creation are remarkable, imaginative and skilled. It is another reminder of how community functions; a mutual giving and receiving of talents for the sake of a creation that is gestating and unfolding before our eyes. I could not have taken on this project by myself. But now, it is growing like a plant. Its blossoming promises a delicate beauty and the touching of hearts.

As a preview, here is one creation. A moment in time. I am honored to have been present for it. Even though someone else was shedding an old skin, I felt mine moving away too…

It is time to feel our resonance with each other. It is time we allow ourselves to receive the gifts of supporting friends while they are growing through fears. Because we too, shed our fears the same way.

 

a battle passes through your flesh

 

horrid losses

that no tears can shed

 

muffled sounds

maceration in your blood

the heat on your skin

matted hair

 

you lie here now

your face peaceful

 

breath ripples your body to rest

a steady calm carves

a possibility of ease

returns you to what was always there

 

renewal weaves itself

throughout your body

all over your heart

 

why I love teaching

A few weeks ago I started teaching a class at CIIS  called “Shamanic Counseling”.  It has been fascinating to concretize so many years of experience in an official course. The students are  immersed in learning, the graduate program is fascinating and challenging. I am  reminded of other times when I was listening to new ideas, sharing  dialogues with my fellow students, being in a community focused on psychology, the body, and the shaping of my own path and work. Now, as I sit  in my chair and they are listening to me, I do my best in both sharing what I know so well, and being an eternal student myself. Their writings impress me. I can see their minds dealing to ideas and thoughts and experiences in intelligent and explorative ways.

I am reminded how much I still have to learn, and how much I enjoy the expolorative process.

How curious do we allow ourselves to be? Are we open enough to think in new ways? Can we let ourselves be surprised by someone’s response or question?

I hope that no matter how much I know, I may remain forever curious.