What's in the gallery?

We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.

What's in the gallery?

We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.

DEDICATION / ILLUMINATION / MYSTERY

Twelve days

Hi sweet friends,
I am taking twelve days to
learn what I want from this new incoming year

To listen-explore-play and call in (hear the call of!) my word for the year,
to receive a compass of qualities to guide me,
and make space for any wishes, projects or visions for the year
to reveal themselves,
and meet the Incoming Me who knows what to do with all this new intel!

A shape/form, and what it looks like

December 18-29

This time period covers hannukah, solstice and christmas,
and I’m letting these three points-of-light on the calendar
form a constellation, take shape and meaning
each star-point glowing qualities that can be beacons:
Dedication / Illumination / Mystery

Passage

This is how I want to passage towards the new year,
with intention, curiosity, receptivity,
and whatever else is needed,
breathing into my heart

Calling in qualities like sparks of light,
surrounding myself with them,
glowing them inward and outward,
dedicating myself to illuminating the mysteries,
and my relationship with these qualities

DEDICATION / ILLUMINATION / MYSTERY

Taking a moment to connect these dots,
illuminate the connection points:

dedicated to illuminating the mysteries,
dedicated to the mysteries of illumination,
illuminating my dedication to these mysteries,
illuminating my mysterious dedication,
the mystery of how to illuminate dedication,
the Mystery in my dedication illuminated

First spark: DEDICATION

Hannukah literally means Dedication, and I am dedicating myself to
this intentional time, dedicating myself to
my relationship with myself

Dedicating myself to drawing inward
— in yoga we call this pratyahara: withdrawal of senses,
to receive clarity on important things like
who I am, what I need, how to best care for myself,
and this is a form of contemplation and self-study, svadhyayaya.

Hannukah is also about Reclaiming (space and time and holiness!),
it is about restoring what needs to be restored,
which means I am also rededicating myself to boundaries and
all related practices of Crown On.

And, Hannukah is about Courage and Justice, not to mention
Surprise Last Minute Miracles and Celebrating Light, and
oh wow do I ever need all of this right now

Second spark: ILLUMINATION.

Winter solstice, at least here in this hemisphere
is the door of [hello, darkest moment] and [trust that ease is coming] and[this is the turning point, we made it, transition time, more light!]

It is the day I dedicate myself to the transformative question of
what needs to be eliminated and what needs to be illuminated?

For me, right now, Illumination is about revealing the light that already is,
glowing towards clarity, easing into releasing

For me, right now, Illumination is full and wild, lighting up everything,
I whisper “illuminate”, and suddenly I am back beneath that
wild magnificence of Idaho sky at midnight,
a vastness of stars

Third spark: MYSTERY

I don’t celebrate Christmas, but, much like American Thanksgiving,
it is a time when I often feel intensely lonely and disconnected,
craving [love, community, companionship] as well as
needing some sort of mysterious project to keep me
present and engaged
while the world around me is
doing its thing that I am not a part of

When I still had the retreat center, we’d sometimes host a last-minute x-mas hide-out,
always the coziest best thing ever, and we called this event X Marks The Spot

X is a treasure map and X is kisses and X stands for all the mysteries,
and solving for X is also a way to
celebrate Mystery, in the sense of
Awe and Wonder, Treasure and Delight

I am HERE FOR THIS, and also I have lots of mysteries in my life right now, so: perfect timing

What these twelve days will look like.

I’m going to skip stones (journal on questions),
channel a compass (this is magic)
play with capers (this is my word for exercises, because exercise stresses me out),
and meet Incoming Me
aka the-me-who-has-already-embodied-these-qualities
and find out what this version of me knows and wants to share with me!

And I’m going to breathe-breathe-breathe
and light candles and take exquisite care of myself

I am going to welcome the new year and also release,
with sweetness and presence and grace
— though possibly also with some smashing,
what was and has been,

And I don’t know what else is going to happen
because it is a beautiful mystery!

Also I have a lot of mysteries that currently need my attention, haha, so many mysteries, and mystery is a word I like better than “challenge” or “problem”, I like the mindset, the patient and curious approach, undoing assumptions, because in this unhurried intentional exploration all the treasure is revealed

YOU ARE INVITED

I loved the Hermitsgiving experiment
(and received so many revelatory insights through our shared process!)
and I want to spend these twelve days in companionship,
closing out this challenging year and this beautiful Month of Ease together

Let’s ease this time, together,
and bring ease to this time, together,
and find what treasure awaits us
or is already inside of us,
glowing like stars

I feel sparks of anticipation for this (!)
and looking forward to what will be illuminated in
the light of these qualities
and all of our light combined

Offering: private intentional communal space for exploration and passage

For me this is time and space for Dedication / Illumination / Mystery,
revealing my word and compass for the year, getting to know Incoming Me,
calling in what I want, naming projects, wishes and mysteries,
following a trail of sparks

For you this can be for what you need, wish for, desire
or feel drawn to explore in your own passage into the new year,
or for easing this complicated time of year if it is complicated for you too,
or really for whatever you need this to be

I will be using this space to write and process and explore,
you invited to join me, share in companionship and play!

If the holiday season is packed and bonkers for you,
then you might prefer use this more as a refuge, a place to
pause, breathe, gather your powers, plant seeds,
or maybe you will be able to join me in some deeper explorations into
wishes and desires for the new year,
either way there will be enough treasure for all of us

the fractal flowers will be working under the surface,
whatever insights and healing emerge from this space will benefit us all, I can feel it!

What this will look like!
I have put together lovely safe space (private hidden page on the site) for people who want to hang out online December 18-29 and play and explore

in this space I will also be sharing various capers, with some new ones, this is my code word for “exercises” since exercises do not sound fun to me, these capers are self-fluency techniques or approaches we can apply to help us with whatever we are working on during this time

who this is for: anyone who wants company or companionship in the passage of closing out this intense year and intentionally entering 2018, in space where we can
a) practice extreme self-care and wild self-treasuring
b) give ourselves what we need (which might be making it through the next two weeks!)
c) lovingly invite/initiate shifts in awareness, mood, body, internal and external space

cost: Early bird $45 / $65 day of entry

I hope we get to play here, however if now is not the right time for this, I am breathing love for you + trust in all is well!

Invitation for this post!

There is a lot here (because this year was a doozy, wasn’t it), I would love to think out loud on these qualities some more and together, whether you are coming to play with me or not, feel welcome to share anything sparked for you while reading…

For example, anything about the beautiful qualities or constellation points of Dedication, Illumination and Mystery, or the process and practice of creative intentional approach, and of course you can also share this post with anyone who might need this.

You are also invited to use the comments space here to seed superpowers and wishes for the end of year!

We can begin our entry for the new year here, or notice whatever we want to notice about the year-end as well, practicing [exit as we wish to continue]…

Here’s how we meet each other here: with great kindness, appreciation and love

Ease into light

Door of Ease

Begin with the breaking

There are so many stories I want to share with you, where do we begin?

Begin with the breaking

A story about a bottle

I have been crying for six months straight,
riding the rage waves of this painful breakup, the betrayal-and-loss,
crashing with the grief tide,
sometimes shattered, sometimes barely holding on through
heart-breath heart-breath heart-breath,
and, at some point on the six week solo road trip voyage of[Into These Big Feelings / Get Out And Be Hard To Find],
not sure where exactly, some hippie grocery, in Madison or maybe Lexington,
I picked up a bottle, a grief-release tincture,
you can spray it around you or place some under your tongue,
according to the label it is supposed to bring ease

perceptions of

Except I didn’t care for the taste or the smell,
so mostly it sits in the car next to me, a reminder to keep breathing into my heart,
now and then I spray a little when the tears blur my path beyond seeing,
until this morning when I took my sweet star car back to the mechanic
(haha, yes, lots of things are broken)
(not just in my heart, in my perception)
and hastily transferred the contents of the front seat into my bag,
walked maybe half a block, pulled out my scarf, you’ve already guessed what comes next,
the grief bottle took this opportunity to dramatically fling itself on the sidewalk,
breaking in half

Timing (1)

Yesterday morning my grief finally broke,
in a miracle of easing,
and exactly twenty four hours later my grief bottle followed suit,
as if to say, hey you don’t need this anymore,
breathe easy without me
breathe ease, breathe ease

Timing (2)

The day before the grief broke, I was listening to
one of the best (sorry, it’s in hebrew) angry-hurting-heart songs there is,
a song that rages its way into sweetness,
thinking about this line:
“just me and the bottle, I’ve got no one /
drinking my soul out, I dive into the bottom of the glass but it’s broken”
and now the glass is broken, it’s just a different glass,
a better kind of broken,
who even knew there was a good kind,
hello, sweet miracle

A story about chance

I was thinking about someone and how I haven’t texted them,
because I don’t know what to say or how to connect,
then I walked into the cafe where I’ve been writing (and crying) every day
for the past few weeks, and no one knows about this secret writing spot,
but this person was there, very mysteriously,
and, even more mysteriously, behind the counter,
because this is their new job,
surprise!

So that brought ease to the mystery of [how do I approach] because hey there I was,
so I said the thing I wanted to say, and it was easy,
and later I cried some more but this time not about heartbreak or any other
mysteries of humans (and communicating),
because now I get to cry about other things like everything else that is broken,
but now I have a friend who works in the place where I cry,
they brought me napkins and hugs,
and listened, without trying to fix,
this was also a gift of ease,
thank you for this unexpected treasure
in the Month of Ease

A story of A Fortuitous Misremembering

A fellow secret agent told me they’d had in their mind that December was
the month of RELEASE, which turned out to be a doozy of a quality,
just like this month,
and somehow I hadn’t even realized
that EASE is inside of RELEASE, hiding in plain sight,
but yes, the Easing in my heart was in fact a Releasing,
an undoing unwinding unbinding,
also a champagne cork,
but more on that later!

included

The month of Ease comes with the superpowers of effortless release
and relaxed positivity,
easing into the releasing,
many things this month have been surprisingly fortuitous for me,
surprising and fortuitous,
including all the breaking

Here’s to the superpower of Fortuitous Misremembering,
may this turn out to be related to
all other forms of fortuitous realizations,
may it be revealed that the obstacles were not obstacles,
that the breaking was necessary and important and healing,
and that yes, there is treasure both in easing my way through the hard
and also in having found
the hardest way into ease…

The hard parts of ease (ha!)

Yes, it is the month of Ease, and the month of Ease been quite possibly
the hardest month,
one piece of seemingly-terrible unwelcome news after another,
in every category, from
the $2500 car repair, not covered by insurance,
which was already not fun but then a dozen other
impossible-to-anticipate and increasingly terrifying[mysteries, expenses and other forms of upheaval],
showing up both out of nowhere and all at once,
so many, and in such quick succession that it seemed like,
I don’t know, contrived somehow, engineered, clearly a redirection,
like the road blocks that appear on every road in The Truman Show,
when he finally gathers his courage to leave town

Then other blocks and obstacles, more and more,
a virus that knocked me out for four days except it wasn’t a virus at all,
every possible thing going wrong / seemingly-wrong,
all of it directing me to the place I was when the grief broke

Taking it / taking it to heart

Okay, I will take the Redirection,
because it is there,
and because sometimes the path of ease is the path of least resistance,
but also, and this is important, I will pay attention and question the Redirection,
because I am tripping over things so hard,
and because it is said that Ganesh, the god of removing obstacles
sometimes puts them directly in your path in order to get you off the path,
because that path was not yours or because there is a better path,
and so I will listen and notice and keep breathing love
into my heart
and all around me,
easing my way

Easing

As you know, I love cover stories and proxies, and
working on things by intentionally going around them,
pretending I’m working on something else,
for December I have been deep undercover in Operation Corkscrew,
it is so completely undercover that even I don’t know what it’s about,
or what it stands for, or what “corkscrew” might mean.

It is a stand-in for [how do I solve all the mysteries] and[what do I do when everything is breaking all around me] and
for my wishes related to Ease.

A story about being a bell

I go see K’s show,
because blues is the medicine for the blues,
and because Lisa is playing too, and she is made of magic,
and because dance is my salvation

During the last song K comes off stage and puts his guitar around me,
placing it on my back, holding me close, playing guitar on me and
singing the rest of the song in my ear,
the music is REVERBERATING IN MY SPINE,
and for the first time in my life, I understood what it means
to be a bell, which is a funny thing for someone
whose middle name is bell

All of me

All I want in life
is to be a bell in a bell-tower,
powerful-and-peaceful, resonant, always at home in myself,
echoing and reverberating,
ringing out qualities in sweet concentric circles,
but this was the first time I understood what it means to
vibrate sound with all of me,
to be vibrating sound, all of me

More

I wanted more of this
so I invited K, as both musician and fellow broken-hearted friend,
to accompany me to some singing bowl sound meditation thing,
which sounded like it could be weird and cool and possibly healing, as well as
a way to focus on something other than
how much everything hurts

During the sounds I had a vision,
and after the sounds, I was flat on my back for four days,
which was incredibly frustrating and felt like the opposite of the vision,
but I think what was actually happening was a sort of
{integration / incubation / chrysalis}
as if my body was trying to be very clear with me:

you are to do absolutely nothing other than sit
with the information you are receiving,
and really receive it,
everything needs to pause
while you listen

Easing

I know I said the month of Ease has been the hardest month
but it has also contained more moments of ease than
the past year combined

It has delivered unexpected solutions,
and it has brought peace,
and we still have most of the month to go,
I am looking forward to seeing what else might ease

Noticing

Once I could walk again, I went to yoga,
where I had three massive heart-healing breakthroughs,
one after the next

I am not going to describe them,
because I can’t,
but I can tell you what happened after

Ringing

Drawing to the end of shavasana, T asked,
what are you noticing?

And, ringing like a bell inside me,
was my beautiful heart,
and the three missing qualities,[Joy and Hope and Ease] circulating through my bloodstream,glowing and alive

After an agonizing day of grief and sorrow,
after six months (sure, okay, it’s been a year) of sobbing my eyes out,
I noticed joy

and I saw a butterfly (it wasn’t real, but I saw it)

Unbottled

In yoga T said press down to go up,
and suddenly I understood what “corkscrew” means

Wings

We used our hands and arms to imitate the motion of breath,
with the inhale the diaphragm drops down
while the ribs expand out,
with the exhale the ribs narrow,
the diaphragm lifts,
do you see,
it’s a corkscrew,
the breath itself works like opening a wine bottle
with one of those bottle openers where the sides open out like
unfolding wings
and then you press down
the cork pops up and out,
an ease of releasing

A key

A wine key,
made of wings and ease,
angel breath,
easing the passage,
making room for Clarity and Sweetness,
and whatever other treasure is on its way

This is what it feels like to be unbottled,
decanted, released

A song

This is what happens with each breath,
an easing of ease:
wings spread,
a key opens something,
and then we get to do it again,
life force reverberating through us
like music

(a breath of awe for this)
(what if everything can be easier, even this?)

Wishes at the threshold

Last month I wished for Solace, and
An Undoing that is a Returning,
and I Am A Bell

I received all of these and am crying again now,
but tears of thank-you this time

Invocation for Easing Into Ease

Asking for:
Ease-Filled Solutions (that benefit everyone involved!),
Sweet Simplicity, Wild Miracles, Joyful Timing,
Heart Overflowing Gratitude,
I Am The Luckiest / This Worked Out Perfectly / It Is So Very Clear,
Powerful & Peaceful, My True Bell Self,
LIGHT-HEARTED
Welcoming All The Right Allies, Playmates & Dance Partners,
I Trust More / I Trust Love More / I Trust-Love More,
Excited For This New Path, Wind In My Sails
I am Fierce & Fearless, Powerful & Striking,
Of The Earth & Wild, Glowing & Alive,
Triumphant in movement and in stillness,
riding-striding-sailing-embarking,
at home in this beautiful heart full of light, yes to life,
may it be so

Invitation: Communal wish/processing space! Come play with me…

You are invited to share this post and to share many !!!!!! about what is here,

You can share appreciation or anything sparked for you while reading or deposit any wishes of your own.

Safe space for creative exploration asks us to let go of care-taking and advice-giving.

It’s always okay to comment under a made-up name, for play and delight, or in the interest of Safety First.

People vary and my process doesn’t have to be yours, this is a good thing.

Here’s how we meet each other: with warmth and appreciation, whispering oh, wow what beautiful wishes!

empress

eyes open

I think a lot about how culture changes or how it can change, and what we can do to more actively initiate/expand/support/quicken the process of the good kinds of change, how we can be conscious participants in bringing about these cultural shifts, how we change the air we breathe.

Sometimes, often, I think about this with the eyes and mind of a historian, because that is my training, looking at external culture, what does the historiography reveal, delving into the how and why of [once people thought or did X but slowly over time everyone gets on board with Y!], this process is endlessly fascinating to me.

inward

And of course I spend most of my time focusing on internal culture, because this is my actual job, playing with fellow secret agents and gathering here, with you, so that we can explore our internal landscapes, get to know who-and-how we are, and lovingly shift habit-patterns of mind and body and heart, that we can feel more at home in ourselves…

We explore the world (worlds) inside us, with love and curiosity, with intention and with light, for we are the Illustrious Travelers, and through this work-and-play (mostly play, around here), we learn more about how we interact with both internal and external, the relationship between internal and external, we come closer to ourselves.

This internal investigation and this conscious loving approach is (for me) the essence of yoga, or at least the yoga I have been living by, living with, for the past twenty two years.

in relationship

For me this work is not separate.

We change our internal state, draw closer to truth-love, and we are more grounded and centered, clearer channels, more able to act in accordance with what we think is right. We advocate for external change because we are clear on what we believe in, and we take better care of ourselves, so that we can keep showing up for that work.

Self-fluency and the art-and-science of pattern-changing is not separate from tikun, the work of social justice and healing for the world. A bringing-back-together of fragments of our broken pieces, a reflecting of our light.

We heal inward, we spark healing outward, repeat, repeat.
We are of service and this heals something in us too, repeat, repeat.

I also see everything we do to a) learn more about how we function, and b) take exquisite care of ourselves as part of this work, not taking away from this work.

A moment of self-treasuring or compassion-directed-inward is a tiny revolution, it changes something in us and around us, echoing out into the world, and imbuing us with more strength for doing what is needed.

stones

These are the questions I ask, the stones I skip, throughout the month of December, these are the solstice stones:

What needs to be eliminated? What needs to be illuminated?

I ask and turn inward, letting the act of asking reverberate through me, into the internal, revealing what it is time to let go of, where to bring more light.

And, because internal and external are in relationship, I also glow these questions outward, what is asking for attention, what needs eliminating/illuminating in the world, this reminds me of another favorite question, loosely inspired by a line from a Wallace Stevens poem, what would I do if I were the Empress of Ice Cream…

In other words, if I get to design culture, where do I begin, how do I approach, what do I know (historian mind) about how other changes have come to pass?

Notes about this. Sometimes this takes the form of “if I got to make the rules”, this can be a very fun and useful creative exploration! At the same time, rules aren’t always a relevant metaphor, and I don’t believe law is necessarily always the most effective form for social change, sometimes law reflects what has already shifted from the bottom up, other times law can be a top-down initiating of what needs to change across the board, this might be another theme for another time!

[Haha wait we need more explanatory notes!]

This is messy territory for me, I am noticing my Fear of Being Miusnderstood.

I made an intentional choice while writing to steer clear of the big topics — oh, you know, the ongoing PTSD of this presidency, how do we get police to stop killing black people, end the muslim ban, what if the world wasn’t full of sexual predators, what if there were real-time consequences for this like oh, I don’t know, not getting to be in the senate or the actual President of the United States, and oh good lord what will change with mass shootings?

My stepping-around these should not be read to mean that they are not of vital importance, either to me or in general. Just the opposite. It’s this: the most basic precept of self-fluency is Safety First, and in this moment there is no way I can delve into these themes here without whooshing off into intense anxiety/fury, which will not help me stay clear and grounded, and is not where the solutions will emerge.

Safety first means that to engage with those topics when I am ready, I will probably need a compass and a cover story proxy to investigate the things I feel so intensely about, maybe some negotiators. Safety First means I’ll do what needs to be done to ease my way in from Clarity and Steady Heart, or when the words ask to be said.

fractal!

Luckily though, I believe hard in the power of fractal flowers, the idea that everything is interconnected, working together under the surface, all the work we do investigating one mystery will shed light on the others and yield solutions or idea-sparks.

Anyway, this section is my Fear of Being Misunderstood wanting to make clear that when I play with What Needs To Be Eliminated/Illuminated in the world outside, the topics I’m engaging with are not even close to a comprehensive list of current pressing social justice themes, these are some (maybe safer, slightly less wobbly to work with) themes sparking for me in this moment, which means they’re probably related to the service that I need to be engaged in, these are the explorations that are mine right now.

Ahhhh. Exhale. I see you, well-meaning monsters, and appreciate how you want to keep me safe from bad things.

what comes up today for eliminated and illuminated

Let’s listen and write and see.

eliminated!

Single-use plastic anything both as a thing, and as an idea of something that is acceptable.

Does this happen through incentivizing (e.g. coffee costs less if you drink it in a mug)?

Does this happen in language? We adjusted to the question “paper or plastic?”, in California and Oregon we got used to plastic not being available at all, we could also live in a world where the question at a cafe is, “Did you bring a mug or are you drinking this here?”

Maybe plastic is only available as an added-cost option: sure, people can ask for a straw if they didn’t bring their own, however they will pay a symbolic sum for landfill rent.

Does this happen within culture in the way that public opinion shifts over time about littering or smoking or hemline length?

Does this happen through spreading information (hey, airlines dispose of a million plastic cups every six hours just in the United States) leading to changing habits (of course we bring an empty bottle and fill it at the water fountain, of course we remember our collapsible metal cup with on a long flight), or does it change at the top (airlines don’t offer plastic cups, you can buy a metal cup if you didn’t bring one?), or do we all say “ENOUGH WITH PLASTIC!” (or “ENOUGH WITH AIRLINES!”, for that matter), or do we need a new line of questioning.

illuminated!

Solutions and idea-sparks, better than the ones I named above.

And, to be clear, I am not offering solutions in this post, nor am I am casting my vote towards any of the above, everything I named is potentially problematic in its own way. I am just trying to consider the avenues through which change generally happens, and wondering what it might look like with this particular situation.

Historian brain activated, curiosity activated, wondering activated.

eliminated!

The word PROCRASTINATION, and the way people use this word/concept to finger-wag and make themselves or others feel terrible about themselves either for Not Doing A Thing, or for Doing Other Things That Are Not The Thing We Think Is The Important Thing.

illuminated!

Self-fluency, and what we already know about this:

  • Procrastination is not a useful word for not-doing-a-thing, it is an unhelpful judgment about not doing the thing or not doing the thing right now.
  • Not Doing in and of itself has value, postponing has value. It is percolating, a vital part of creative process. Let us trust in right timing, let us learn how to make space for things to form and re-form.
  • Whatever we might be doing instead of the thing is also a fractal flower, it is assisting the percolating. Cleaning the refrigerator instead of writing the email is a form of symbolically clearing space, internal and external, it is a form of Entry and Readying, and should be applauded.
  • The word Procrastination is a tool of capitalism, it is puritan nonsense that needs to urgently die in a fire, and we can neutralize the guilt-shame patterns of culture that live in this word by choosing to a) not use it, and b) lovingly investigate our relationship with both doing and being (!)
  • When we remove guilt, shame and judgment from Not-Doing (or Doing-Something-Else), we get to CLARITY!

what do I mean by CLARITY?

Clarity means:

Possibly we genuinely don’t want to do the thing and it turns out it doesn’t have to be done, or now now, or not by us, or not in the form we thought was the form.

Possibly we don’t want to do the thing but we come to the conclusion that we going to have to (choose to) do it anyway. Good intel. We can now give ourselves permission to Not Want to do it, aka Acknowledgment & Legitimacy. And then we can find a new and more playful approach, from a mindset of Safety First.

Possibly we do want to do the thing, except we feel so passionately and intensely about it that we are afraid to begin. Very reasonable. Passion is vulnerable! Creative process is vulnerable! Pursuing a yes is vulnerable! We can apply Acknowledgment & Legitimacy, combined with playful approach to shift this, we can channel our wise selves who know how do the thing.

Possibly we want to do the thing and maybe we don’t know how yet, but doing these other things first helps fill a different need and lets us clear some physical/mental/emotional space to approach the thing. Good work!

here’s the most important thing about this though:

None of these situations require guilt or shame.

so let’s eliminate those too

Guilt or shame are not generally effective motivating techniques, certainly not sustainable ones.

They make everything sticky, and then we definitely can’t do the thing, or even think about doing the thing, because we just feel awful about ourselves.

I have written about this here and here, and feel so strongly about this.

What does the empress know?

I feel so passionately about so many things.

Sometimes I feel so passionately about them that I can’t talk about them, or not yet, or I can’t find the words, or my monster crew worries that if I talk about them, I will be misunderstood and then [Resulting Doom Forever!].

Sometimes I want to make the rules and sometimes I want to undo the rules, and mostly I just want people to question the words we use, the things we take for granted (yes, straws, that too), to bring attention to the unnoticed, to let things move and unwind.

And to do this with curiosity and love.

Resulting Doom Forever is coincidentally my Fake Band Of The Week!

what do I want to say today?

I knew this post might be messy, my thoughts are unstructured, I feel so strongly.

I don’t need you to passionately care about the exact things I care about — ie no more straws, no more with the words that rhyme with crofrastination or flaweductivity, they only inflict self-recrimination and mire us in more guilt/pain!

Instead I hope that you also want to join me in being someone who meets the world (and your world) with love and curiosity, to investigate the things you want to eliminate and illuminate, both inside of you and around you.

I hope you are also thinking about the relationship between internal and external, how we can approach or influence one through changing something in the other.

I hope you will take sixteen breaths with me as a way of shifting internal space, and maybe that will bring us to more loving clarity about possible next steps with all the rest.

I hope we can keep talking about cultural change, in our cultures internal and out in the world around us.

These are my wishes, wished with great love, and vulnerability and intensity.

And with so much appreciation for you, for being in my world.

Invitation: Communal wish space! Come play with me…

You are invited to share this post and to share many !!!!!! about what is here,

Or share appreciation or anything sparked for you while reading, or play with eliminate/illuminate, or wish wishes.

Safe space for creative exploration asks us to let go of care-taking and advice-giving.

Everyone belongs. We let people have their own experience. We’re supportive and welcoming. We lovingly refrain from giving advice.

And of course it’s always okay to comment under a made-up name, whether for play and delight, or in the interest of Safety First.

We remember that people vary and my process doesn’t have to be yours, and this is a good thing.

Here’s how we meet each other: with great kindness and appreciation and awe, whispering (and sometimes shouting) oh, wow what beautiful wishes!

To The Illustrious Travelers

[A breath before beginning]

Our culture places an obscene amount of value on facing fears, confronting what is terrifying.

In fact, we often act as though the only breakthroughs of understanding and healing that are meaningful (hello, month of meaning) are the ones that come from these hard, painful, deeply uncomfortable moments of LOOKING THE SCARY THING IN THE FACE.

I have a lot to say about how this is nonsense, extremely dangerous nonsense.

And I am going to talk about this by intentionally not-talking about it, or at least not directly, and riffing on an 18th century toast instead. Toast!

To ease and play.

We are doing this because it will bring ease and allow us to be playful, we can explore potentially difficult moments with light hearts, and I am a big believer in doing things in whatever way is easier and more fun.

This is because I have witnessed and experienced the powerful healing that comes from applying [Ease + Play] to the scary, or, even better, around the Scary.

Or — even better than that! — we can maintain a very reasonable and comfortable distance from the Scary, playing at the margins, instead of either forcing ourselves to march right into it, or feeling terrible about ourselves when we can’t bear to go near it.

This healing that comes from play goes deeper, and it ripples outward in ways that are mysterious and beautiful, like fractal flowers.

A few quick explanations first

  1. To be clear, I am not saying do not ever face fears. That would be silly. Of course there is tremendous value in looking at what is, making room for it to be as it is. We talked about this last week.
  2. No, I am saying this: Sure, that’s one possible way to deal with a scary thing but not necessarily the best one, at least not for a lot of us a lot of the time.
  3. And I am saying that our culture puts unnecessary weight on the value of fear-facing as THE ONE RIGHT WAY when in fact it is at best one possible way, but really not a particularly fun one, and guess what, we have other approaches available to us that are not only more fun but also safer, which is important, and we might even be more likely to use them because they aren’t so terrifying!
Okay haha I do actually more to say about this and will say it at the end, maybe you can channel some extra [Trust + Patience] to play with me a bit with this 18th century toast thing for a bit, or you could skip to the end and read that part first, whatever is right for you because People Vary and we need different things at different times!

A TOAST!

During the week leading up to American Thanksgiving, I read a wonderful thread on Twitter by someone who had the excellent idea of bringing 18th century toasts to a dinner party so everyone could toast old-timey but extremely relevant and appropriate toasts, like “The United States of America, may they never be subject to foreign influence!”

My favorite toast on the list was TO THE ILLUSTRIOUS TRAVELERS, and I decided to make this my [mantra/theme/filter] for the week, a container to hold everything else I’m working on.

I like to use a phrase, image, story or clue as a theme, investigating that instead of the Scary Things.

Not only do I receive all the intel I need from the stand-in, it invariably applies beautifully to everything in my life, not just the particular Scary Thing I didn’t want to deal with.

A toast to this, the magic of play and proxies!

Want to play?

Here is the form my glorious toast-investigation took last week, yes, I am a Toast Investigator and an Illustrious Traveler…

To The Illustrious Travelers

Setting a stone-path for today, what do I know about being one of the Illustrious Travelers, what do I know about being someone who toasts TO THE ILLUSTRIOUS TRAVELERS?

Illustrious contains [lustre] which shines, like a star, and my current secret identity is Stella who Stars.

Question: Am I starring in the video game illusion (maya) of the Illustrious Travelers? Or is Illustrious Traveler the truth of what it means to be, as they say, a spiritual being having a human experience. In other words, is illustrious travel or shining while traveling, is this the work of soul?

As always, I can choose the most light-hearted proxy to play with, and almost immediately it goes deep, fast. Okay, I can live with this.

If I am someone who a) SHINES and b) TRAVELS, how can I bring more shining to my travels? Or what happens if we reverse the question to ask how I can bring more travel (trajectory, power, circulation, movement) to my glow?

Clues via the dictionary

Illustrious:
+ notably or brilliantly outstanding because of dignity or achievements or actions,
+ shining brightly with light
+ clearly evident

Traveler:
+ one that goes on a trip or journey
+ an iron ring sliding along a rope, bar, or rod of a ship (!!!)
+ any of various devices for handling something that is being transported laterally –> WAIT, WHAT ARE THE SUPERPOWERS OF TRANSPORTED LATERALLY / AM I BEING TRANSPORTED LATERALLY AND IF SO WHEN AND WHAT ARE MY DEVICES!

Giving it time.

I took a break to have some yoga, and received so many clues about Illustrious Travel and Illustrious Travelers and what this might mean!

  1. ILLUSTRATE / BE LUSTROUS / ILLUSTRATE WITH LIGHT / BRING INTO LIGHT
    (in Hebrew to bring something into light is the word for publish, so just this is like ten different clues…)
  2. my body said I NEED YOU TO BE LIGHTER, and this one hundred percent was not about size/weight bullshit, this was light like lighthearted + agile + glowing + flexible, moving with instead of against, portable, have way less stuff — in the physical but also oh wow a lot to drain out and let go of in terms of emotional/energy stuff as well
  3. communication and connection are about LISTENING + TOUCH, which are about taking time for presence!

This is also basically a summary of my breakup heartbreak situation and why it is so painful, to have loved someone who would not make time to talk with me about what broke or how, because they never have time for life, I perceive this as disrespectful to me and to the love we loved, which I know is a misunderstanding but is also still painful.

And! I want to prioritize taking time for love! And I want to expect that from the people I am in connection with, new Illustrious Travelers, may we find each other in right timing.

Also when I listened to my body, my ears told me that they are in pain, I am listening, we can investigate this more.

Listening.

I took time to wait for a delicious meal, and time to listen to C’s stories from his recent visit home, and time for a real conversation with the guy working at the co-op, and time to smile a lot with someone else’s baby, because I am an Illustrious Traveler, illustriously traveling through this day.

I brought leftovers to Jenny and practiced feeling like an Illustrious Traveler, perching on her couch and drinking wine while she got ready to go to a party.

Can I be an Illustrious Traveler by being someone who brings light but is also headed towards a point of light (a beacon?) and doesn’t really need anything, someone who is here for this moment of Companionship but doesn’t necessarily need to be involved in the future plans?

Jenny and I are both currently in the illustrious travels of healing broken hearts and taking care of our bodies and undoing culture, which means she is my fellow (illustrious) traveler and I am not alone, in this or in anything.

Receiving/Hearing Decisions.

I was walking down the alley and met a group of people listening to music, one was the barista at my cafe, he just moved into the basement of my former neighbor, the life of an Illustrious Traveler is full of coincidences just like this, I am sure of it, and he invited me to their thanksgiving festivities.

It is interesting that I am being invited to festivities even though I am not a festive person, this seems like something that might happen to an actual Illustrious Traveler!

So maybe I really am one, maybe I am Stella who stars.

But also I want to introvert and hide.

Illustrious Traveler, tell me what is next please!

Illustrious Traveler me says:
Clear out the extraneous
for new beginnings (all beginnings begin new)
say yes to full yes
know what is important (purpose and intent, why are you here, how are you here)
be okay with being temporary
breathe peaceful breaths
trust in this wild life
everything has both more and less meaning than you think it does
so go easy but also pay attention!

(We talk it out some more!)

Me: I am having some fear of missing out etc
Illustrious Traveler: Whatever we do is the most awesome thing obviously, we don’t ever miss out because we are LIVING LIFE
Me: okay but [noticing that I want someone to solve this for me, etc] Illustrious Traveler: What do you want?
Me: Someone who thinks snuggling with me is THE BEST THING IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, hmmm I maybe know people in this category but none of them are in the same state, haha, literally and otherwise! Why are my snuggling companions far away? Where are Illustrious Travelers who are also in close proximity?
Illustrious Traveler: Truly an excellent wish. What are the qualities you crave in this? What is the essence?
Me: WARM & WANTED
Illustrious Traveler: Can you get some of those things from a slightly different experience?
Me: I worry that no matter what I choose, I will either feel Bored & Overwhelmed, or I will Do Nothing & Be Sad.
Illustrious Traveler: What if these are not the only options?
Me: Tell me more?!
Illustrious Traveler: Do you want to experience things? Can we summon an adventurous mindset of Maybe One Beautiful Thing Leads To Another Beautiful Thing and if it does not we get to triumphantly retire back to cozy bed with all the points for having explored a spark of tiny adventure? Really, whatever you do is filled with Lustre, because you are me.

Reflecting.

I did crash the neighbor’s thanksgiving deal briefly and they were warm and welcoming but it was not the right source of Warm & Wanted, more like a reminder of Warm & Wanted, but then I was able to give myself a different form of those feelings under the stars.

And I received some more clues about [Illustrious + Travel] as well as letting light move, so I am going to take that to yoga and breathe it and see what comes.

Let it.

Oh, and here is another clue from my friend Jenny, my fellow Illustrious Traveler in the lands of heart-healing after betrayal:

What if LET IT GO can morph into LET IT COME?

Even more clues!

Ohmygod yoga was nothing but clues about Illustrious plus Travel and letting light move.

The teacher was a substitute and she is anatomy-obsessed. We spent the entire hour feeling for our actual heart and noticing when/where it travels because apparently the heart travels a lot more than you’d think. Are you with me?

THE HEART ITSELF IS AN ILLUSTRIOUS TRAVELER! MY HEART IS A TRAVELING LIGHT SOURCE!

And then in shavasana cocoon she asked us to talk to our hearts and ask what the heart craves, what its burdens are, and what would fill it with joy about life.

My heart told me that it craves more writing time (this was surprising), it’s burdens are all my burdens but mainly its burden is worrying about me, and what fills it with joy is when I DANCE AND AM MY ANIMAL SELF.

I can do this. I can give myself time for writing and righting, I can be my animal self, I can release worry. Thank you, beautiful heart. You are the most illustrious of all the travelers I have known, you are my light as I travel.

You are my traveling companion, heart.

You are my traveling companion, heart.

So how can I be heart-broken when my heart is always with me?

Answer: I am not, it is an illusion. My lustre is real. The pain will pass, my glow will stay.

What are (some of) the superpowers of being an Illustrious Traveler?

  • Glowing Fire Boundaries aka edges`that act as gatekeepers, receptive to what is yes and not even visible to anything no, if it’s not yes it gets burned as it approaches
  • My Glow Is A Beacon / My Glow Lights My Way / My Glow Is Blinding When It Needs To Be Because Sometimes I Need To Not Be Seen / My Glow Just Is / My Glow Travels As Does My Heart But I Am Always Held In Love
  • I respect my space and so does everyone else
  • I fill my space (internal and external) with love, while staying rooted and agile in my steady grounded power
  • Follow What Is Inspiring
  • Change Your Place Change Your Luck
  • Blank Space Has Power!
  • Haha happy Fill In The Blanks Giving to me!

    And that was my thanksgiving of being an Illustrious Traveler,

    It all came from a toast that was not a toast, and I learned about my broken heart and my healing heart without spending the day working through the breakup, because I was playing with light and travel and toasting instead.

    Yes? Can we feel how and why this is powerful, valuable, and a more loving, compassionate non-violent approach to working through our stuff (our pain/fear/anxiety/hurt/distress) than direct confrontation?

    Okay back to talking about the thing.

    I could have been dealing directly with all the big scary life things, the heartbreak and loss, the fear of being alone and the fear of fear. But I had more fun learning about what it means to be an Illustrious Traveler.

    The work was still being done UNDER THE SURFACE, and in a way that is curious and receptive, loving and intentional.

    And, this is important, I was able to receive all this cool intel without tightening up at the thought of approaching the pain because it was just play. I was just playing with a toast, looking up the origins of words, trying on the identity of a traveler who is illustrious and possibly also light-filled.

    This kind of play is powerful and meaningful, but also it is a much safer way to learn about ourselves, and I feel so strongly about Safety First when it comes to self-inquiry, because we all carry trauma, and being able to tread gently with or around our pain is a very loving way to be human.

    Okay, I am going to try not to get too ranty here, I have some strong feelings about our cultural obsession with Facing The Fear, here we go.

    Here is the problem with our cultural obsession with facing the fear.

    I think about the secret agents I play with*, these wise, thoughtful, creative, loving-hearted people, and my heart hurts because they get so stuck so fast each time they force themselves face something that did not need to be directly faced.

    * I believe in the outside world, the term is clients or students or whatever, but I play with people as equals, and so I like to imagine that we are all secret agents in the agency of Agency!

    I see these people I love and admire trying to dive into the fear to come out on the other side because they have been told that this is how it works, that this is supposedly the only way it works, and guess what, they are not having fun, and all this fear-facing just ends up being traumatic and generating more fear, more pain in need of healing.

    For example.

    Maybe they saw a video with an author who thinks vulnerability is the best thing in the world, and they’re like YEAH I AM GOING TO BE VULNERABLE AND LOOK RIGHT AT ALL MY SHAME RIGHT NOW, which lasts maybe a minute before they are, quite reasonably, overcome by hordes of monsters, then depression paralysis for months.

    Or they had a massive epiphany in therapy but thinking about it scares them so much that they’re panicking about exploring it.

    Maybe they read a book by some dude who thinks the best metaphor for making art is war, so they fight their resistance and internal criticism every day, which (surprise!) is super exhausting, because when we fight with something, there is always a possibility that it might win, and also resistance is strengthened by resistance, that is the nature of resisting, what you fight gets stronger.

    [Side note: PEOPLE VARY! So if war metaphors work well for you, rock on, or if putting your shame under a lens is a good and non-traumatizing technique for you, I am happy for you and happy that you know this about yourself!]

    Clarity.

    I am not saying we have to set these techniques on fire or stop going to therapy.

    Vulnerability is a beautiful spiritual quality. Warrior mode can be transformational. I am only pointing out that there are less violent/confrontational/terrifying ways available to us that let us work on our stuff without being in our stuff.

    And even work on the stuff we don’t yet know is our stuff!

    I have seen too many people I love go into complete shutdown from fear-confronting techniques. And yet this approach is consistently rewarded in culture/media, even though it mostly dredges up more fear and pain.

    This is so painful and so unnecessary and I am tired of it.

    There are other ways and there are better ways.

    This is what self-fluency is about.

    Look how much I learned about my heart and what it needs from me, what if fears and what it desires, all through exploring an 18th century toast.

    Can we bring more kindness into our healing process, can we make it a refuge instead of a place to confront demons? Can we turn self-study and self-work into play?

    And yes, I feel so strongly about this! This is what I have been doing here since 2005, this is why I get up in the morning, this is what I care about. Also good lord, can we find a metaphor that doesn’t involve demons? Let’s do that.

    Some brief final points to end this!

    Point! Self-fluency is a creative, compassionate, curious exploration of who we are, what we need and how to best take care of ourselves. We solve mysteries and challenges through this loving approach of exploration, without trying to force the solutions. And yes, we play.

    Point! People Vary, and some people (and I am willing to bet that the art-is-war dude and examine-your-shame lady fall into this category) get a thrill or a high from doing things that scare them, which means that some part of the methodology they sell is joyful for them. Facing the fear at some level gives them pleasure.

    But then they tell everyone else to push through fear and face the scary things, except maybe it is not joyful for you, there is no high in it, just more fear. And that’s where we get this nonsense culture of forcing and pushing. Not everyone is high sensation seeking!

    And even those of us who are (hi, I’m high sensation seeking and highly sensitive!) can still benefit from more metaphor, more play, more dancing at the edges.

    Point! Play Is Magic. And yes, definitely tell your therapist or other allies about proxies! You can do all the same work investigating a story or a metaphor (even and maybe even especially) without knowing what it is a stand-in for, and without the intensity of being in anxiety and pain while exploring whatever needs to be explored.

    Point! The expectation that we have to face our fear in order to heal it is violent and also not true.

    I have written about this before (hello, 2008), facing fear is not necessarily the most helpful approach to fear and the value of a good comfort zone.

    Point! We can train ourselves to be way less impressed by the Scary Things. but there are lots of ways to do this and diving into the scary is not actually required.

    Point! Safety First. Let’s take care of ourselves.

    Come play with me, here.

    With a toast, with a story, with a superpower, with a new identity you’d like to try on. We are here. Safe space.

    Also, welcome to the month of Ease. Everything we did in the month of Meaning just seeded more Ease. So let’s play with Ease.

    Yes, ha, let’s play with ease. Let’s play, with Ease.

    Let’s add [Ease + Play] to everything because this is how we subvert culture and rewrite our patterns, finding better air to breathe.

    I have so much love for you.

    Invitation for companionship and play, come be an Illustrious Traveler with me.

    You are invited to share !!!!!! about what is here, or anything sparked for you while reading.

    You are welcome to explore any exploration (a toast, or something else), to travel illustriously with me, to play with these concepts or techniques as you like.

    Safe space for creative exploration asks us to let go of care-taking and advice-giving. We meet each other with kindness and appreciation and awe.

    And of course it’s always okay to comment under a made-up name, whether for play and delight, or in the interest of Safety First.

    I hope you can feel all the love here, because there is a lot of it.

    p.s. If you want me to write more on this and related topics, I do too! Come join Operation Follow The Clues and I will write all the things that are asking to be written. You also get to drop in suggestions and I’m extending the November bonus which is the amazing Book of Salves which I am currently editing and it is so good and I want everyone to have it. All the details here!

The rebel alliance of sixteen breaths / how to be your own compass / come breathe sixteen breaths with me

Hi friend, do you want to breathe sixteen breaths together?

I am here for this right now, to breathe sixteen breaths together, a tiny but meaningful mission, just right for the month of meaning.

Yes, I can already sense how much better I will feel when we devote sixteen breaths to the experience of [sixteen breaths].

Yes, my ribs and back feel more expansive just thinking about this.

I stretch my arms overhead with no agenda other than feeling how it feels. I brush away imaginary dust from between my ribs using my fingertips, I wiggle a bit because I am alive.

Come breathe with me these sixteen breaths, knowing-trusting-remembering that this practice of presence with our sixteen breaths is itself a living-out and reclaiming of the qualities and superpowers of self-treasuring:

Curiosity. Exploration. Play. Wonder.
Trust. Embodiment. Loving-Kindness. Glow.

A question.

What does it mean (hello again, month of meaning) to take this time?

Especially when we don’t have the time to take time? Or when we perceive that there is no time for taking time?

A response.

Sometimes, often, the monster collective whispers that there is no time for sixteen breaths, so let’s talk about that for a paragraph, and maybe someday I will expand on this, because I feel so strongly about this:

Taking this time for sixteen breaths is a small but vital act of Resistance, because it interrupts the external and internalized culture of go-go-go and do-do-do.

Interrupting patterns is how we subvert them, interrupting culture is how we subvert culture.

Taking sixteen breaths (or any time at all) to reconnect to ourselves is how we train our awareness and strengthen our light to illuminate all the patterns that need us to interrupt them and rewrite them.

Not only is there time for sixteen breaths, everything that happens after these sixteen breaths will be different and new because of how we have reconfigured our internal state, altering how we both perceive and react to everything we encounter.

The Rebel Alliance of sixteen breaths.

The act of observing a pattern changes the pattern, interrupting the pattern forces the pattern to reconfigure, and we are the rebel alliance of pattern-changers, we rewrite our patterns, sometimes lovingly and playfully, and sometimes with powerful intensity and sometimes with whatever we have in that moment.

Let’s breathe for this. And let’s begin.

Where are we?

If we are able to orient ourselves in space, we do this first.

I am turning myself to face north. Hello, north.

I am making myself comfortable,
asking my body if it wants any adjustments,
how could this feel better?

Then I settle in to be here now in these sixteen breaths, here I am, a body oriented towards north, ready.

If I don’t happen to know where north is in this moment or that is not a good direction for me right now, no big deal, a symbolic north works just as well, directly in front of me can be my north for the purpose of this experiment.

North is just another way to say I am here.

There are plenty of ways to say I am here, we can find one that feels supportive, everything we try is an experiment.

A breath for being here. I am here.

I am now the center of my compass,
my magnet-arrow center pulses with steady power,
center is home, I know where I am,
I can explore my edges, feel into circumference, return to center,
glow outwards, return to center,
breathe and feel how breath comes/fills deep inside of me,
return to center.

Yes yes we are here, and this is our north, now breathing northward…

A beginning.

Let’s breathe these sixteen breaths,
moving our attention around us in space,
circling an imaginary compass rose,
breathing clockwise and then counter-clockwise,
always returning north,
start point and star point.

Ready?

Ready.

A breath of awareness of the space right in front of me: NORTH!

Remaining in my steady center while moving my attention a few degrees to my right,
I feel northeast and breathe there, inhaling NORTHEAST and exhaling NORTHEAST.

My head and body stay centered and grounded, awareness cycles to the space to my right,
a breath in and a breath out for this space of EAST.

Attention moves behind my right hand, as if illuminating a blind spot,
I feel you SOUTHEAST and breathe in your direction.

And here breathing to the SOUTH, the space behind me, the sun sweet at my back.

Bringing awareness slowly to the back left-hand side, a breath for this space of SOUTHWEST.

Feeling the glow immediately to my left side, I breathe to you WEST.

Shifting attention again around the compass-face, breathing NORTHWEST.

Returning to north.

We return to north,
we settle into the center of this circle,
steady and clear,
this place of stillness and reverberating,
heart-home,
and we feel what is here,
inside the compass.

Spaciousness & Containment.

Compass breaths are powerful and reassuring to me,
but what I like best is not only to orient myself in space,
but to fill my space with breath/presence,
and infuse my space with what I want,
and feel-perceive a protective layer or boundary glowing around me.

This is where I feel held in my space,
this is where I feel myself in space,
this is where I am in conscious relationship with space,
claiming a circle of it for just me.

What do I mean when I refer to my space? Two things.

My internal space, body-mind, from organs to circulating breath to imagination,
all of my internal worlds and territories,
the vastness of who I am and what I contain.

And my immediately external space, this circle that holds me,
a vibrant force field whose glowing boundaries are both
called into being and maintained
through taking time to feel this compass
noticing what changes as it takes shape around me,
nestling inside it,
this round nest of contained spaciousness
that exists just for me.

Next we can add qualities to our compass!

I call in a compass for whatever I am currently working on,
and I name the qualities of my goal-wishes.

Here are two approaches I usually use for this, described below, you might find other methods and that is wonderful.

The [draw a circle on paper] method.

Sometimes I just draw a compass on paper,
and then let its qualities come to me.
Ah, here is what I want most right now: {TRUST}
Where does it want to go? EAST. Got it.

This method feels more like a cross between a puzzle,
and being a clear channel:
I feel into what qualities want to go where,
and then if they don’t tell me where they want to go,
I put them in different directions until something clicks.

(example)

This morning I needed a compass for a secret op,
and then it just came to me, each piece landing in order:

STRENGTH
BALANCE
EASE
GRACE
POWER
ADAPTABILITY
FLOW
TRIUMPH

This compass didn’t require any adjustments, but sometimes I play with placing words at different compass points, feeling for the strongest resonance. Often I name the cardinal directions first and then fill in the ordinals.

I have found that this intuitive method of calling in a compass gets easier over time, with practice, like most things, so if it seems challenging, maybe give this experiment a while. Or maybe you will like the next method better, or maybe you will invent your own!

The [make a giant list] method.

This is the form I generally use to craft a compass when working with a group at a rally or retreat. We come up with everything we want to call in to support the mission, and just add it all to the pot:

Play! FORTITUDE! Spontaneity! Laughter! Mayhem! Wonder! Effervescence! Pleasure! Serendipity! Exuberance! Insight! Messiness! Order! Conviviality! Clarity! Discernment! Solace!
Good Surprises!

Once you’ve gathered as many as appeal, you can run your finger over the list and wait for certain qualities to sort of sparkle at you.

Or maybe you’d prefer to circle the ones that seem more yes, or cross out those less mission-critical, whatever works best to help you arrive at your top eight. Then assign one to each direction and see how it feels.

If you can’t choose because they are all so good (I know, right?), you might like combining qualities into double compass, for example, north can be Glowing Clarity and south Grounded Vision.

And of course we can always decide that each quality secretly holds eight others, we can trust the fractal flowers, and remember that all qualities are related to each other, all qualities contain everything we could need.

Why do we compass / what is a compass used for?

Demarcating our space.

Awareness: let us name what is meaningful to us and then fill up on it.

For a more palpable sense of our boundaries.

For play and inventiveness, establishing and maintaining a state of receptivity.

To get more grounded in an unsteady world, an unsteady moment. Naming the compass qualities, breathing each one in and glowing it outward, this helps me stay centered, unshaken by the storm.

To change the feel in our internal space and the space around us.

For navigation. A compass helps me find my way. I may not know where I am headed, but I AM NOT LOST.

For resonance, a way to experience being a bell in the belltower, a compass is round like the sound of om, this is my bell-home, this is where I reverberate.

And this is how I reverberate: these are the qualities.

Yes, these are the qualities I wish to reverberate

My compass reminds me of what is most important to me right now,
it shows me what I wish to embody more fully

Here are the qualities that are most yes to me in this moment,
the qualities that will help me in the seas I’m currently navigating.

I name them, breathe them, feel them, call them in, learn to inhabit them,
let them surround me as I go about my day,
let them bring me back to intention and presence.

Center and periphery, and a note about People Vary!

Sometimes, for some people, it can feel easier to find center and expand sensation outward.

Sometimes, for some people, it can feel easier to find a sense of periphery and then draw/gather attention inward back to center.

Some people find the sensation/perception of encompassed by qualities to be soothing and grounding, other people do not want any sensation even close to [surrounded], that’s fine. Know yourself and choose what works for you.

Someone recently told me how they like to imagine qualities radiating/rippling/reverberating outwards into a force field while staying in the center. Layer qualities by radiating/rippling/reverberating multiples of them. I do this too.

Someone else I know has trouble feeling into center and can only get there from building a safe structure or boundary of breath qualities around them. Yup, that works too!

Just like in yoga, how we can build a shape from alignment/structure and then breathe life into it, or we can breathe our way into a shape, or we can do both at the same time. Work from the inside-out or the outside-in. See what you like.

When and where do we compass?

Whenever we remember, as often as possible.

I like to breathe into my compass when I wake up.

On the bus or while driving, I will think “ah, turning towards EASE”, or “yep, now we are heading in the direction of SIMPLICITY, how lovely.”

When I had a retreat center, we labeled the walls with the compass directions. People would sit by the direction or compass quality they felt most drawn to explore.

Turning with the compass.

Sometimes I like to stand (or sit or kneel) and face each direction in turn, breathing in the new quality and breathing it out, turning myself in a full slow circle, first one direction and then back.

You can also do sun salutations in each compass direction, if that is a thing you like, breathing the quality of that direction. If you want extra brain scrambling, you can assign a compass quality to each movement within the sun salutation and cycle through your compass that way too!

Come have yoga with me some day and we can do it together if that seems fun, or we can also do a lot of resting and hiding, I am super into the yoga of resting and hiding!

You can walk figure eights inside of your compass, naming each direction as you move through space. This feels amazing in a body of water…

Endless possibilities for movement and play, these are just idea sparks, expand on these if that is joyful for you, or maybe stillness and restoring are indicated, a compass is good for this too.

Establishing a default compass.

I like having a go-to compass for when I don’t want to (or can’t) do the work of coming up with a new one, for me this comes most in handy when I get PTSD-triggered. In that moment, I need something comforting and familiar, and I have zero bandwidth to figure out what qualities I might need while I’m disassociating and hyperventilating.

Another benefit to a compass you use regularly is that it’s all charged up with remembered sensation, the good feelings already anchored in your body and nervous system.

Compass poetry (this is my favorite technique!)

We will use my default compass for this
TRUST RELEASE LOVE RECEIVE ANCHOR CROWN GLOW WILD
but of course you are welcome to substitute
whatever qualities you like if any of those don’t work for you.

Here we go.

Compassing and encompassing from north, clockwise, then counter clockwise,
then crossing the compass to combine opposite directions,
cardinals and ordinals, and so on, in whatever combinations arise,
the qualities connect and reconnect in endless new combinations of flow and form,
letting them wash over us while we remain in calm still center:

Trust the releasing, love the receiving, anchor and be crowned, glow wild.
Wildly glowing, crowned and anchored, receiving love, releasing into trust.
Trusting the love, releasing and receiving, anchoring the glow, my crown of wildness.
Wild is the crown, my glow is now anchored, I receive to release, love and trust.
Trust in the anchor, release to be crowned, love is my glow, I receive my wildness.
Wildness received, glowing love, crown of releasing, anchored trust.

You can channel endless healing poetry of combined qualities for days, and all you need is a compass.

3-D compass (wait, no, this is my favorite technique!)

It might even be my favorite technique that I have ever invented.

DO YOU WANT TO TRY IT!!!! OH GOOD. I wish we could do this in person because it is amazing, and maybe we will some day.

Breathe in and breathe out to center.

Round 1: Feel into your circle of space. Let north be in front of you (or decide that the space in front of you is north. Sixteen breaths to cycle the qualities to your right and behind you and all the way back around, and reverse.

Round 2: Now north is above your head. Cycle the qualities in front of your space and behind you back to north and reverse. Sixteen breaths.

Round 3: North is above your head. Cycle the qualities to your right, and then below you and all the way back around, and reverse.

Breathe in and breathe out to center.

Reverberate.

What else can we want to say about compassing!

So much. You can compass-tarot! You can compass with superpowers.

You can turn a labyrinth into a compass or a compass into a labyrinth.

You can take any situation in your life and put it inside of a compass, and then see what happens.

Part of the play of self-fluency is that any technique is a door, not the answer, just the beginning of a new adventure. This is a favorite door for me, let’s play and see where we go.

Sixteen breaths, in companionship.

Around the compass.

A breath of TRUST.
A breath to RELEASE.
A breath for LOVE.
A breath for RECEIVING.
A breath for ANCHORING.
A breath to my CROWN.
A breath for GLOWING.
A breath to the place where I remember that I am WILD.
{reversing direction}
A breath for my WILD self.
A breath that GLOWS.
A breath that CROWNS me.
A breath that ANCHORS me.
A breath that helps me RECEIVE.
A breath that helps me LOVE and receive love.
A breath that helps me RELEASE.
A breath that helps me TRUST.

May it be so.

Invitation for companionship and play

You are invited to share !!!!!! about what is here, or anything sparked for you while reading.

Safe space for creative exploration asks us to let go of care-taking and advice-giving. We meet each other: with kindness and appreciation and awe

And a REQUEST!

If you’ve been at a Rally or retreat with me and we made a compass (haha of course we made a compass!) and you have a story or recollection related to that, please share!

Or if you’ve played with me in an online group space like the secret star society (come join us for 2018!) and you’ve had some good compass results, that is welcome too.

Glowing love and warmth your way, may we all find comfort and [whatever we need most right now] inside of a compass or these sixteen breaths.