Thursday, April 29, 2010

Movement, Dance, and A New Life

I thought after I got done with the last major segment of my life that I'd be putting roots down in my home area. You know. Hiking around, getting involved in a couple of community events and goings-on, that type of stuff. Apparently, my soul has all the energy of a hyper ten year old on Red Bull after Halloween. Since last Wednesday, I've been up to Reno, then to Mountain View, and then back home. Today, I'm headed to Santa Cruz. Friday, I'll be somewhere out in Sacramento, and on Saturday, I expect to be in Berkeley. Seriously, my soul just wants to move.

Soul Dancing
A friend of mine loves to use dance as meditation. I have to admit after all the hours perched on my butt with my eyes closed that moving meditation is very appealing to me right now. I checked out a class that she likes, and I can see why it resonates for her. There's a wonderful community around the dance practice (It's called 5Rhythms), and they do a nice job of creating a safe environment for personal exploration in movement. It's a fundamentally different type of dance. A lot of spaces where dance is involved in Western culture are clubs and bars, and there's nothing particularly free, clean, or safe about those places. They're usually dominated by desire, lust, judgment, and plenty of other icky stuff that keep people away from exploring movement and dance. But with this style, it's much more about exploring your body's inner space as well as how you move through the space around you. There's the opportunity to dance with others, which I've used in a more spontaneous way to see who gravitates to me and to whom I gravitate. It makes for an interesting new experience that I'm beginning to explore.

A New Life
I've some times told people in this past year that I feel like I've just come into a new life. I suppose that's what a "rebirth" is really. It still feels that way. I feel like I'm finding my feet in this new life and am not entirely sure about what's going on around me. It's another practice in vulnerability, but I feel like I'm working with it with more curiosity and wonder than before. I also find myself being very particular about who I spend time with again, but at the same time, it seems like everyone is reaching out to me again. People who I haven't heard from in months are suddenly looking me up. Moments like this always seem to tell me that something has shifted, and it's always nice to have the attention of so many great people.

Moving, Shifting, Living in the Moment
However, there's a real sense of unsustainability in my life. I have the sense that everything is particularly temporary in this part of my life as well as in the grander scheme of what's going on with the world. Lots of structures are falling apart, and the more people try to hold onto them, the harder it will be for those people. It's a tough thing though. If a marriage of 20 years disintegrates, that's just hard. If your job of 10 years implodes, that's hard too. But these are the types of movements going on in the world, and in my life, I have that deeper understanding that I can't hold onto anything right now. I'm not using this phrase in the sense of "you can never hold onto anything" in life. I really am using it in the sense that right now structure just won't hold up, so relationships of any sort have to be held really lightly and with no expectation. I find myself very much drawn to established relationships as I move through this time period. I'm not sure what all will shake out during it, but I intend to keep moving and shifting as different people enter, embrace, and leave this dance with me.


New. Fresh. Alive. Growing, vibrant. That's life. That's always life. Once again, that's my life.

How fun. How exciting. How relaxing. How all-encompassing. These are some of the feelings that suddenly are tickling me. Making me laugh.

I still wonder how I can bring this stuff into a career. I know that I can bring a lot to a work environment, but I think that I need more of a work environment committed to doing the same to feel really at peace with a space. I'm not sure how many places are creating these intentions; I may be creating my own workspace to pioneer some of this.

Doing the Work
When I talk with my friends, we talk a lot about doing the work. Clearing stuff internally. When you do the work, things can open up and come into your life. If you don't, it doesn't matter how much spiritual energy gets shot into your system, you won't be able to hold it for very long. Old grudges with family, past griefs with lost lovers, and wishful thinking for days gone past all have to be cleared out. Working on yourself is like a big rummage sale...or a bonfire. Just don't torch your house in the process.

I'm not very grounded with these words right now, so I guess I'm floating a little bit. Working out and walking and hiking are always important pieces to my path. They bring me back down out of my head into the world around me.

Fresh Air, Breathing
I feel like I have space expand. I've been pretty well-confined in what I could do for some time, and a lot of that was intentional. My system was soooo out of whack after I'd moved out of San Francisco. I was struggling on a lot of fronts; I don't think I'd ever been so emotionally out of sorts before. In this last year, I've fought back to my center. Living where I live really helped. I've learned just how important one's environment is in all this. I continue to have a greater and greater appreciation for why people retire from the world during a spiritual awakening process. I really flung the doors wide open, and then it's like I had a stampede through my soul. Not fun. I had to learn just how important ego and closing doors really is after all.

Keep Going

This feels so new. This part of my life. I don't really have a framework for it anymore, and I find myself in the deliciously vulnerable space of not knowing what's coming next. This "deliciousness" is an acquired taste; it was not something that I'd ever appreciated or wanted before. But as my illusions around being able to plan and control my life have fallen away, I've come to appreciate this growing, evolving, ever-shifting part of life. And no more than now is that feeling present. Because I've finished a job, my lease is up, and I can literally go anywhere.

However, I like where I am right now. I am excited about exploring new meditation groups and other spiritual communities around here. But who knows what door will open or what person will walk through that open door. It's all just too new to say.


There are these breathless moments of anticipation on this path when you know that you're about to kick the doors down ninja-style and go "BWAH! Here I am!" I feel like I'm touching one of those moments, licking around the edges of it as I wait for a large block in my life to clear out. It's a delicious moment, as delicious as any can get when you're waiting for the gun to fire and that initial burst to come out of the blocks. Then finally, FINALLY, getting up to speed in a way that only I can do and that I was meant to do.

I feel like I've been playing small again. It happens. Expansions and contractions happen. You grow out as far as you can grow, and then you fall back into your issues and the lowest level that you can hold. Then you do your chores; you get to work cleaning so that you can be more clear and brighter and more full of Beauty than you ever could before.

I've done my chores. I'm ready to go out and play.

A shift of tone. A subtle dance of the fingers on keyboards. Now I move into a more prose-ey, writery space where I draw pictures and places. It's green where I live. After years of Nevada and a year of San Francisco, green dazzles me. Even after a year out here (although I've worked so much that I haven't really been out here a year). The flowers and white pollen of trees billow out across Highway 24; they dance and curl around my Toyota Corolla today as I head to Ricky's Bar to talk life, dharma, male empowerment, sex, and basketball with a good friend. Then. Stop. Traffic. Back-up to the Caldecott Tunnel. Always something making me stop. I've gone too fast. Too fast.

It's citified after the Tunnel: always a little bit of a hit in the chest as the hard energy intensifies until it hits like a hammer going over the Bay Bridge. But I don't head that way. I'm heading south.

A lot of this current movement is a rebirth of personal power, of authentic ego, of being a man in a whole new way that integrates a lot of what I've learned over the crash and burn, ah the burn, of the last three years. It's been a subtle torture; much of it wouldn't have looked painful from the outside, but it's been an inside job. It's been looking at people, cities, and jobs from the inside and interacting on that level--and taking the hits for the pains people haven't addressed. This is what happens when you the most conscious one in the room; the pain comes to you; it comes to be healed by you even if you don't know that and a lot of times it doesn't know that.

Perhaps, I've even become more than a little scary as people know that I see them...all of them. At first, some people are delighted, but then the reality that all their stored darkness and issues are being just as seen by me as their light.

I know so much now, although I still feel a little new, a little unprepared, a little green if you will. Because each day, especially this coming Wednesday, is like a new day, and I have to find out who I am again and who this authentic ego chooses to be on that day.

Beware the Spiritual Ego

Ego is important. It has a role to play in our lives. It gives us a way to sort through millions of big and tiny experiences, sensations, ideas, and feelings to make some semblance of it all.

What is that I am feeling? Ah, that is hunger. When I feel this, I should eat. What should I eat? This kind of hunger usually means that I need to eat a salad.

Just in that very basic situation, you were deluged with a variety of information to review and decisions to make. This is the power of the ego to help us make sense of this crazy experience of being human

Authentic, But It's Still an Ego
So while the spiritual awakening will tend to detonate a small bomb inside our current egos, there's a tendency to think that we've transcended all the ego nonsense. But that's just not true. Typically almost immediately after clearing out all that junk, we immediately start building a new ego. While I don't consider this a bad thing if consciously done, many people keep playing the same game only it's got new packaging around it. Instead of getting high-paying jobs, fancy cars, fancy clothes, culturally sexy girlfriends/boyfriends (I say culturally because social standards on beauty and sex appeal are seriously messed up), the spiritual ego desires and obtains high-state experiences, connection, gurus, etc.

Game Number 1: High Falutin Language
There's a whole kind of new agey, spiritual-type language that's sprung up. Used too much, it's just another empty vessel that obscures how we feel in the moment. Nonetheless, I hear people using a lot of these "spiritual" type words, and it comes off as false. It's just a new ego trying to hide itself behind these words. It's not all bad, and sometimes, I know that people are practicing these concepts and words, bringing them into a deeper knowing. It's one thing to say, "Everything is Beauty," but it's a whole other thing to know this in a full-body, gut-feeling, in-the-marrow-of-your-bones way.

Spiritual lexicon can even be used to obscure issues when the whole point of things is to be able to better deal with old wounds and open yourself in new ways. Consider that whenever you are sharing your experiences. Be sure that others understand what you mean (and also be sure that you truly understand what you mean). That's how you can stay in integrity with whatever words you so choose to use.

Game Number 2: The Spiritual Experience

So you're all awakened, eh? And now you just want spiritual experiences? Well, what is it that is wanting that? Your spiritual ego. Seriously, this is okay just as long as you know that this is a new game you're playing. Go run around and connect with people, sit with spiritual teachers, be a spiritual teacher, heal people, donate to charity, volunteer, and do all these beautiful practices. I'd love to see tons more people doing this. But don't forget that this is still an ego desire. Remember that it is all about "how" you are and how you come from a deep space of awakened love in your being.

The more you naturally move from that space, the more it doesn't matter quite as much what you are doing. The love and intention are already at work shifting things in remarkable ways that none of us can fully intellectually know or see. This truth is a real challenge for the ego which needs external validation, merit badges, and benchmarks to know if it is making a difference in your experiences or in others' lives. So let these go, and trust a little more that how you are is the perfect awakened experience to be experiencing right now in this moment.

Letting Go of Spiritual Ego
The deeper you doesn't need a "spiritual" context. The deeper part of you moves to do things in a much subtler way. One day you may be in a bar drinking a beer, swearing like a sailor; the next, you may be on a plane to Uganda. There's much less planning...or at least much less definition. Life without attachment to an ego is without boundaries. It allows you to be anyway that you want. And that's the real gift of life; you can be anyway you want.

In many ways, the spiritual ego (the ego that thinks it is spiritual, but still looks to validate itself in some way) becomes its own trap. Any time you think you need to be a certain way, you're falling away from the truth. Initially, it's scary to be so free of ego that you can't tell what you'll want or who'll you be from one day to the next. In many ways our ego controls us with that fear of the unknown.

The Ego Is Just a Tool
But the truly spiritual ego understands that the ego is just a tool. It understands that the ego is temporary and meant to be used in service to spirit. Like a tool, it can be brought out of the shed for a little while for a specific purpose (like the hunger example above). After that, it can be retired and put away, and it's not such a big deal to do so.

Today's picture comes from Becky Stiller. You can see more of her beautiful photography on this Flickr link.
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