The Physiology Of Awakening, and Two New Class Offerings

A note from Carl

A couple weeks ago, when we arrived at the airport in Bangkok, I was moved by the presence of these giant, bad-ass protector statues that lined the terminal.

In the few moments that I stood at their ginormous feet, they became a teacher for me. I felt a fiery presence in my belly, a lengthening in my spine, and a kind of power- like Gandalf driving his staff into the earth and declaring, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”

I thought to myself, “This is something that I aspire to embody in this new year.“Last month, Erin wrote about the great line from Hafiz:

“Fear is the cheapest room in the house, I’d like to see you living in better conditions.”

Our body always offers reliable, honest feedback as to which room we are currently inhabiting, and it also provides a gateway through which we can find our way toward living in better conditions. 

Is my jaw clenched? Do my eyes harden in judgement when I look at another? Is my pelvic floor contracted? Is my chest shorted with my head pulled forward? Are my fingers gripped? Is my breath shallow and restricted? Am I so lost in thought that I am completely unaware of my body? These are indicators of being caught in a kind of chronic startle response, the cheapest room in the house, and they are remarkably common. I’ve certainly experienced all of these at some point over the past month.

When we learn to become aware of these somatic indicators of fear, then we have the option of making a different choice and moving to better conditions.  Could there be a softness and a receptive quality to my eyes? Length and freedom in my spine? Could my breath be spontaneous, full and free? Can I have a sense of support and connection with the ground? Could there be a vital presence in my lower belly? Can my chest be open, and my shoulders relaxed?

The shift of organizing from a place of fear to one of love has long been a central distinction for me on the path of awakening. It seems, in these times, when I look at news headlines and see so much vitriol, so much of what I value being threatened, and, truthfully, so much to be afraid of – that shift to love needs some extra juice, some additional umph; it needs something to help me stand strongly, with an open heart, for what I value. The gesture of the airport protector statue was a great reminder for  me.

I’ve loved Van Jones’ title of a “Love Army.”  How do I stand and act and engage in the world, with warrior-like presence, in support of love, in support of life?  It seems more important now than ever, when it can be so easy to slip into fear, distraction, cynicism, hopelessness, spite or another of the many cheap rooms in the house.

So, in considering what I wanted to teach this winter, I have decided to offer two courses around topics that I find most helpful in supporting a vital, embodied presence, and a somatic experience of the movement from fear to love as we enter into this very interesting New Year.

The first is Hara: A Return To Center and the second is The Physiology of Awakening. 

These are shorter (5 week) courses that I see as essential tool kits for refreshing our embodied presence and movement into love. Kind of like a basic training for a love army:) See details and registration below.

On this theme, I offer a beautiful poem from the late, great Stephen Levine:

Half life

We walk through half our life
as if it were a fever dream

barely touching the ground

our eyes half open
our heart half closed.

Not half knowing who we are
we watch the ghost of us drift
from room to room
through friends and lovers
never quite as real as advertised.

Not saying half we mean
or meaning half we say
we dream ourselves
from birth to birth
seeking some true self.

Until the fever breaks
and the heart can not abide
a moment longer
as the rest of us awakens,
summoned from the dream,
not half caring for anything but love.

Wishing you the best,

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By training and profession, I am a somatic educator. Over the past 25+ years I have trained in and taught modern dance, tai chi, Indian and Tibetan yoga, yoga therapy (specializing in back pain). I completed a 4-year professional Feldenkrais training in 2007 and a 3-year Embodied Life training in 2014. I also study and work with somatic meditation and the profound practice of embodied inner listening known as Focusing.

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