Freedom and fierceness

For years I’ve followed freedom
As my true north
A compass in my core-
Yet something also gets lost if we don’t commit to showing up day after day. Form can bring phenomenal things. A practice is a potent way to change our lives.
Forever freedom has a shadow- if we always get what we want and follow this whimsical thing or that one, then we never get to work with the trickier places in our own lives.
There is fierceness that gets cultivated when we must knuckle down and sustain showing up. A warrior is not a bad thing- it’s simply a way of moving through the world in service of an aim. It’s a badass way of being. Sure sometimes we must surrender and at other times we must set our sights on some target and push through every.single.thing.that.blocks.us – be that a barrage of words inside our internal world or a some substantial barrier in the outer world. Seen or unseen, internal or external blockages sometimes we need to hustle a little in service of our heart.
Politeness is perfectly important. Yet sometimes directness is important too- our nervous systems may feel more safe if all of the subtexts are on the surface.
We may need to fight- and by that I mean fighting for ourselves, rather than aiming to be against anything else as a psychological standpoint.
These days more and more, I want to be the belle with the balls more than the belle of the ball….

The regalness of wrestling

We get made by the things that break us. I know, I know, it sound like some pathetic platitude for when times are tough. But really, we so get made by the things that we just can’t  seem to find our way through at the time.

Sometimes we will  seem to be locked inside of ourselves unable to get out. Sort of stuck, floating  in some murky swampy soul-soup. Sometimes we will be distant and disassociated even from ourselves, struggling to get back in touch with ourselves. Sometimes we will need to work hard at the qualities that will sustain us and see us through-the grief, the fear, the furious what-the-actul-fuckness.

I know some of you will have the kind of nice nervous systems, or good parenting, or privilege that means you don’t  get to go to these places. If that is so then good for you!!!! Keep doing what you are doing!

And yet others will need to work at balance, they may have histories or biochemistries that means the dark swings by from time to time.

Yet there’s good in the dark. I know my dears it doesn’t feel good. It feels shitty and hard to sustain yourself through. It feel bleak and barren sometimes there. These are the places that you don’t want to touch. These are the times that  you simultaneously long for someone to walk beside you. And it may  also be the times when your shame my come calling for you, stopping you reaching your to the near and dear ones whom would be with you. That culturally-conditioned inner voice that says  “I don’t want to be seen in this state…Society says I must feel fine all the time or else it means I’m really fucked up…” Don’t listen to those voices my darlings.  Their names are doubt and despair. Yup- they are part of this human experience too.

Yet the dark is where things grow. It is where the seeds germinate. It is where the baby gestates. It is where the big-bang of existence comes from and goes back to -inside the big black hole of space-time. After all, we too are the mystery of matter materialising and de-materialising.

Theres is doorway in this a darkness. a threshold. A radical rite of passage. A way though that maybe isn’t one that we are particularly pleased to see!!! Nonetheless it is the path underneath our feet when the moments come.

A rite of passage traditionally had some element of near death experience in it -something in us dies. Something that wasn’t working – be that on a personal level – or some part of global society that was a shambles held up by  the monumental momentum of consumerism and capitalism. Maybe this is what these Covid times are teaching us.   At times life will touch us terribly. It will take it’s toll. We will get humbled by our own humanity, both personally and as a global society and economic system.

Sometimes we get to be on top. We learn things, work thorough them, work them out. At other times life throws us down, mounts us and forces us to surrender to being there in the dust, face down amidst a chaos that we can’t control!

Maybe what gets made in these moments is that we get super skilful at surrender- at ways of finding good grace with the things that don’t go our way.

It’s like aikido- if you soften with the blows then you can use that energy of attack coming towards you to turn things around for your own good.  We just have to get super skilful at working with energy- our own and that of life coming towards us.

Maybe what we wrestle with is just what is needed for building our metaphorical mental-muscle mass.   Our soul-strength. Our capacity to hold and contain the multitudes within us.

The key to the things we believe we can’t handle and the things that we think we can, is generally the resources that we have available- internal, external. Our perception of potency matters often more than our abilities or intellect (think of certain world leaders that have reached the top with a lack of either it seems!!!)

In these times we may have to work harder at trusting, at finding faith. If we take the fairy story of the children that find their way home via the trail of  breadcrumbs back through the woods that glistening under the full moon and guide them safely him again. It begs the question what is our personal bag of breadcrumbs? What thread can we follow when we feel lost and like we don’t know how to get out of it?

Find that thread and follow it my loves… Relish in building your  inner-resources. Call in the qualities of the heart that will sustain you.

So why not place your trust in trust my dears. Have fierce faith in faith. Hope for more hopefulness.

I say this not as some glib exercise in semantics- but as the mental muscles that we can exercise when there’s nothing else left to “do” in the material world. Qualities of the heart get grown in these times.

Fear has a voice that generally says “I can’t”.

Resilience builds up a tool belt that says “you so can…”

Cultivate your “can” in those times when it’s all that you can do. Believe in your being bigger than whatever fear or doubt is wandering through you.

Trust in trust my dears. Have faith in having faith. Hope for more hopefulness….

-Copyright Tess Howell 2020

“Last night a DJ saved my life…” why movement matters

“Last night a DJ saved my life…”- a catchy little line conveying a common experience (hopefully an over-exaggeration)- yet all too often the dance does so substantially enhance my experience of reality. The real joy of going for refuge in something of substance- which in the case of both of the dance and the dharma is no physical thing that can be held on to. yet I’m pretty certain both will help hold us through a helluva lot more than some other options..

So maybe let’s skip the i-need it now electronic emoti-conned; stay buying some more sh*t, stuffing it all down inside, shopping on high street; just shoving all that innate intelligence way down under, fawning over flat screen TVs and imbibing taco-bellshit…. let’s cut back on the “consume, conform and don’t even consider what might actually matter to you” media weapons of mass induction, let’s not even go there…

Here listen, lean in together, come home within you. We got this. Stay still with it, the grace, the grief, the glory, the guts of this thing. Hold it all in heart, hear it, here we can find a good way through… face it. Feel in to it, find out what you want, what actually means something, how we might show up in life and somehow serve each other.

For me the dance floor remains this space for grace to come through. A crucible for community and coming to greater consciousness. Space to be bold, brilliant, broken, fierce, furious, feisty, jaded, joyfilled, sober, surrendered , soulful, sassy and sweet.

To roll with whatever rocks us.

The dancefloor, dharma hall, dojo- s’all same, same different. I’m pretty clear I will continue to devote my life to being on this dancing path … Perhaps we can all be bodhisattvas in some small way just by being in the body and being together. Show up, sink in, stay with it. together we got this…

Allowing Aliveness

There is a mystery that moves us, literally that unseen thing that animates us -the breath that is so involuntary and so necessary. That first in breath at birth and that out-breath at death, and sure we can slow it down or speed it up or get more mindful of it in between – but ultimately while that mystery keeps moving through us we are still here. …. involuntarily breathing – how beautiful and how bizarre! it is the unseen that sustains us – surely so with qualities like soul , or silence, or nature – they are the things that for many of us recharge and re-inspire us…

That spark of life that we are born with may take some tending to. As children we naturally shine and as teenagers we may seek to burn bright. As adults we are solid coals that can be used to start other fires. All of that is age appropriate – we will all go back to ashes and dust when the time comes.

And yet at times we pull be wise to seek to fan our own flames, to dare to burn bright, to show upon and serve something outside of ourselves.

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to the future generations.”― George Bernard Shaw

Don’t seek you aliveness some second rate priority my darlings. Don’t seek your passions and artistry as a way to make a living, use it as a way to make a life. Shine as way to make life brighter, dare to be here, to reach others to reach into yourself and to reach out.
Dare to show you beautiful beating burning heart to the world.

I know, I know, I know, you have a gazzlion things too do, the laundry, the emails, the this and the that; the endless to do’s…

Yet please prioritise your aliveness my loves.
Please don’t leave it for later.
Take the time today to savour something
To speak something
Tend to the spark of your aliveness my dears.

Let us let life in whilst we still can. Let us lean in. Let us reach out and tell those that we love that we love them whilst we can. Let our lives matter, let us burn bright and dare to do something that will make a difference. Let us rise bravely above the small stuff that bothers us so we can keep the focus on what matters.
Keep taking away that doesn’t serve. Get passionate about dropping the bullshit.
You may need to get fierce about finding faith amidst the mess of it all sometimes – you may need to delve deep into doubt. let it be utterly, immeasurable just as it is. the tears, the fury, the brilliance, the creativity, the generosity, the truth-telling. Let those impulses of life occurs through you when they come. This too will pass….

Tend to your own aliveness. take up space, step out, step in… show up. become who you are my darlings. Our aliveness and noticing what is needed will matter, our ability to forsake apathy for aliveness is an aptitude this planet needs plenty of right now.
have you seen the news lately?(!) This world is a terrible and wonderful place…. our own personal contribution can count….you are needed here…