This post is … not really a post.

And it’s very much not the sort of thing I would normally put here. It’s a bit messy. A bit complex. A lot more yoga-ey than anything I might say if it were just us.

(Translation: Jon, don’t read this one.)

But it’s here. Because there is usefulness in this.

I’m teaching all week at Jennifer Louden’s Writer’s Retreat. What follows is a (very) loose transcript of what I said at the beginning of our Shiva Nata class yesterday.

Making space.

Creating space is one of the things we do when we are on retreat.

We create the space for the experience itself, by choosing it. And through everything we do to set the container.

We create spaces during the experience of retreat — through rituals, transitions, entry points and exit points.

We create space in our bodies, through moving, stretching, breathing.

We create space in ourselves for wacky, beautiful, transformational things to happen.

We create space in our hearts, to breathe. To come back to ourselves.

We create space when we interact with ourselves.

Every time we acknowledge our pain, engage our monsters in conversation, ask questions about what we want and need … space is created.

Every time we consciously choose to do that with genuine curiosity and compassion, standing in our own power … we make space for wholeness.


We intentionally create separations. We open up gaps and spaces.

In our breath. Inside of our patterns. Between ourselves and the familiar stories we tell and retell about our experience.

We create these spaces in order to get closer to ourselves. To be in wholeness.

Look at all the beautiful space we create in our writing:

The physical space for writing to happen. The time. The energy container (that’s the force field exercise we’ve been practicing all week).

The emotional space that gets bigger and bigger each time we talk to the parts of ourselves who criticize us out of a desire to keep us safe.

Mental space. Spiritual space. Internal and external space.

And all this space is what allows us to get closer to ourselves.

To get closer to that voice.

To get closer to what we have to say.

Space and spaciousness.

It is space and spaciousness that bring us to closeness and intimacy.

It is separations that — paradoxically, maybe — bring us to wholeness.

Separations are arbitrary constructs, yes. They serve a purpose though. Because each time we consciously step back to interact with part of ourselves (say, when we talk to walls), we become more intimate with our internal landscape.

We become more whole.

Separation and coming together.

In the Jewish tradition, this idea of separation is a hugely important concept.

On the surface, this seems … a bit odd, since, like with most religious and spiritual traditions, you’d expect the focus to be where it usually is: wholeness and unity and connection.

But the idea (or one of the ideas) is more like this:

When we mark out these spaces in life, we bring elements of ritual and specialness and holiness into each thing being separated.

We separate so that we can see the beauty of that particular space, and that is what brings us deeper into wholeness.

Spaces and the Dance of Shiva.

In our retreat, we create spaces.

Spaces and spaciousness that allow us to get closer to our writing, closer to our voice, and closer to ourselves.

And we use Shiva Nata in order to intentionally create spaces in our patterns, openings and passages, spaciousness in our consciousness.

We open up these gaps in our patterns because it gives us the power to move the pieces around. To deconstruct and rebuild.

To find the spaces that are waiting for us, and to bring in more of ourselves.

But we don’t actually create these spaces.

We just find them.

Because they’re already there.

We contain all of this space already.

The passages are there. And then we use Shiva Nata — body poetry, liquid math — to take apart the patterns. Taking apart. Rebuilding. Deconstructing. Reconstructing.

Making space for these spaces to reveal themselves.

That’s it.

I mean, that’s not even slightly it.

And anyway, there is always more. Because then we danced to the Sexy Robot song. And we used words and numbers and patterns to do astonishing things.

And it was freaking transcendent.

And then we wrote and had epiphanies and I went out and ate green chile stew, and all in all it was one crazy, beautiful day.

So we are not done. Never done. Just experimenting.

And comment zen for today.

Being this … sincere … is hard on me. It’s especially hard for Pirate Me. Let’s tread gently.

You can offer me a hot mulled beverage. That would be nice.

The Fluent Self