Monday, August 3, 2015

Leaning Into What Aches So We Can Be Saved...

I read haiku aloud to the group of seekers who have gathered here; they are the group that has assembled for my first creative writing workshop in the Vail Valley. They are perfect, and they are gracious, each of them strong in his/her own way, each of them vulnerable, me. Like every one of us who opens their mouth to speak, lifts their pen to write.

I want to keep them for another hour, but of course I must honor their time, and this is the last exercise we have time to complete. I have told them they can start writing as soon as they are ready, and for now a single haiku drifts to their ear at intervals of about 30 seconds. It's a beginner meditation, a beginner visualization...from a beginner human. If I had lives before this one, I don't remember them, so yes, I am a beginner at being human, and I assume the appropriate humility (now that I am 44 and have spent more than half a lifetime being fairly egocentric). Hey, at least I know what I know (even if it isn't very much).

What I do know is that what we are doing here is important. With time ticking (like always I have tried to cram too much into this small collection of means so much, after all), each of them continues to listen, lips lifting up almost imperceptibly at the edges, soft foreheads and smooth, gentle breath. I love that they are present. That they are receiving each tiny poem as it comes, lands like a sparrow on their gently rising and falling breastbone, lifts off again. Finally, as gently as I can, I tell them it is time to come to the page.

We all begin writing, keeping in mind the word, the abstraction we have each drawn from a miniature deck of cards. My word is HEALING, and I re-enter this space, the yoga studio at Dogma--where I have used that word more times than I am able to count. I have talked about "creating the optimal conditions for healing" in the body, in the mind. I say it as we sink into Savasana, having breathed, moved, balanced and stretched into spaces we didn't know existed.

"Rest," I say. This is how we heal ourselves, and like in asana, we lean, mindfully, into what aches, what makes us afraid, what challenges us completely. We just lean into it, try to love it. Breathe it. Ardha Chandrasana, Utthita Trikonasana, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. Oh. We soften into these ways of moving or being still, try to claim them as our own.

This we can also do with disease. Heartache. Fear. Lean into it, receive it, acknowledge it. How can we begin to send it light, to heal it, if we simply deny and reject it? These are my cells, these are my tears, this is my hurt, and by softening into them, I can begin to attend to them, to heal myself.

In the same way, I bring what aches out of darkness and onto the page. Lean into it by giving it voice, letting it be the truth that it is, here, in front of me. Where I can see it and where others may also see it. Perhaps only in this way, in daring to allow what is to fully BE, as I give it language and expression, can I begin to address it. Send it the loving, healing energy that it needs. Rest. Softness. Acknowledgment. Healing. Om.

I look around the circle and some of us are beginning to wind down, letting the pen lift from the paper across which it has been busily moving. Eyes begin to lift, too, and there is a softness there, as well. I am overcome with the importance of this work, which requires no special gift on my part, but rather a holding of sacred space for each of these who would come here and lean into their own stories, their own impressions and memories. Those who would "give voice to what is inner," so that indeed, they may "survive what is outer" (Nepo).

I know that I will continue to do this work, with anyone who wishes to "dive into the wreck" of memory, to explore their "dreaming place" and to learn what it is they think or believe or wish--by seeing what they have to say.

When we close the circle, gratitude hangs in the air, and wonder--at our own authentic voices, more beautiful than we could have imagined them, simply because they are our own. We lean into our stories, into the sensations and memories that grew them, and we know that what aches can also save us, if we can only soften into it, acknowledge it as our own.