I wonder.

I am reading an online article about Helen Duncan who was convicted of witchcraft in 1944 in Britain and sentenced to 7 months in prison. She was one of the last women to be convicted of witchcraft under Britain’s archaic Witchcraft Act of 1735.

Bemused by what I am reading, I raise my head for a moment and look outside. I gasp.

The river runs red reflecting the rose-red and golden hues of the morning sky.

I stop reading, grab my phone and run to the deck. I have to capture this beauty.

Back at my desk, I laugh at myself. I became so busy taking photos I forgot to just be with the beauty.

I go back out on the deck, without my phone, and breathe into the sunrise. I listen to the river flowing, the hum of traffic crossing the bridge, the dry leaves rustling in the morning breeze.  In the distance, a train rumbles along the tracks aligning the river. A bird caws as it flies over.

I fill my senses with all that is around me. Morning has broken and I am one with its beauty, mystery and magic.

The pink-streaked sky has vanished. Dull grey-blue clouds blanket the horizon.

The river runs steely-grey.

The day continues on.

I am grateful.

While I was able to capture the photo above, I am even more grateful I remembered to let go of ‘doing’. In choosing to go back out onto the deck, I was reminded to breathe and let myself be with the feelings and sensations of standing in the chill of morning, allowing the beauty of a dawn-streaked morning to enter my awareness and imbue my body with its brilliance.

I am grateful I let go of capturing the moment to simply be present in its beauty and awe.

And I wonder… how often do I let go of being present to ‘get ‘er done‘ or to capture some one-dimensional impression of what is, rather than being in felt relationship with all that is?

I wonder.

 

Give Thanks. Everyday.

 

Thanksgiving has come and passed. The turkey, pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce have been consumed. The table is cleared. The extra chairs put away and the table once again collapsed to everyday size.

The accoutrements of the festival have been put away for another year.

What doesn’t get put away is gratitude.

Gratitude is an everyday affair.

This morning, as I sit at my desk and watch the river flow past and the lights of cars travelling east to west towards downtown cross the bridge, I say a quiet prayer of thankfulness.

For the time spent with family and friends. The laughter and memories.
For the quiet of this morning.
My mug of warm coffee.
The music of Hildegard von Bingen playing softly in the background.
The lights from under the bridge dancing on the water as it flows past.
The wind rustling the leaves on the branches of the trees outside my window.
The gentle swaying of the branches.
The gift of Autumn leaves falling. As each leaf falls the branches become barer and the river becomes more visible.

I give thanks for my fingers’ capacity to sense the words forming within me and play them out on my keyboard so they appear on my screen.
For my body’s ability to sit upright in my chair.
My breath.
My body.
My life.

I give thanks for the sound of Beaumont the Sheepadoodle’s paws as he crosses the hardwood floor to come and sit beside me and nudge my elbow so I will give him a pet.
For the night becoming light as the sun rises behind me in the eastern sky.
For the candle burning on the desk beside me casting a beautiful golden halo of light.
For the talent of the potter who crafted my heart adorned mug that holds my coffee so beautifully and warms my hands when I hold it and makes my heart smile when I look at it.

I give thanks.
Everyday.

And as I stop and look outside, the wind picks up and it is raining golden leaves fluttering down to the ground.
I give thanks for the seasons that turn with such beautiful grace reminding me always of the sacredness and mystery of life.

I give thanks.
Everyday.

Namaste.

I am the sea. The sea is me.

I am the sea. The sea is me. Mixed media on canvas paper. 11 x 14″ ©2019 Louise Gallagher

I am the sea. The sea is me. I am the seaweed. The seaweed is me.

The exercise is called Wakame,  the Japenese word for Seaweed.  Its focus is to move into felt relationship with our awareness settled deep within our bodies, feeling into presence and receptivity.

At first alone and then with a partner.

Let go of the desire to assist or resist. Be present.

it was one of the first exercises we did on the second day of the Radical Wholeness workshop I attended in Banff this week. The invitation was to allow our bodies to ground into the earth and breathe into being the sea and the seaweed. A wave would hit us and we would bend, effortlessly, fluid like water, bending first at the knees and then allowing our bodies to simply flow with the waves.

We did it alone. And then with a partner. Each person taking turns being the sea, touching the other like a wave and then, being the seaweed, being touched and moving, not in response to, but with the movement of the waves.

It was peaceful. Exceptionally so.

To simply be part of the waves. To yield and to stand in strength, one with the motion, moving in harmony while maintaining our groundedness through our feet touching the earth, our consciousness deeply resting in the stillness of our core.

“We struggle with bringing our minds to rest by trying to out-think our thoughts,” Philip Shepherd, the founder of Radical Wholeness and workshop facilitator said as we debriefed our experiences of the Wakame exercise. “Let your body be like the water in a bottle. Settled fluidity.”

I breathed into my core. Moved with my awareness as it journeyed down from where it held court in the centre of my head brain, deep into my pelvic bowl. I felt its invitation to enter into felt relationship. I breathed deeply and felt awareness melt away inside me as I settled deeply into the stillness.

There is no hunger so profound it cannot be nourished by the stillness within.

There is no yearning so deep it cannot be met through intimate relationship with all of life.

The words rose up from my belly. Filling my body with peace, harmony, Love.

Namaste

The Radical Wholeness of Felt Relationship

Being in Banff,  surrounded by mountains, I felt myself in relationship with their majesty; inspired, lifted, illuminated within their presence. The mountains fill the sky. They soar above and all-round, piercing the cerulean ceiling with their sharp peaks and edges. There is no sense of separation from the mountains. You are in them, of them, part of their presence just as you are part of the rarefied air all around.

Here in the city, the mountains can be seen in the distance, their jagged ridges resembling a sleeping dragon lying along the horizon. There is a clear sense of the separation between ‘this side’, the depths of the valleys and peaks in the distance and the ‘other side’ we cannot see from here.

On my desk as I write, a candle burns. Viewed from the separateness of me sitting at my desk, I see the candle as lighting the darkness. Its light is separate from me, separated by the darkness between us.

In the Radical Wholeness workshop I just experienced with Philip Shepherd in Banff, there is no separation. When I stop seeing what I know of the mountains or candlelight and move instead into experiencing them from the core of my being, I enter into felt relationship with the world around me. In that space, there is no distance separating us, no darkness. We are one in felt relationship.

Diving into what it means to be in ‘felt relationship’ was what the workshop offered. There was no doing. It was all about being part of and with the experience of embodying the path from head brain thinking and doing, to belly brain being of and in the world where I experience a felt relationship with everything in my world.

A felt relationship with all things can only be experienced when I release myself from the knowing of who I tell myself I am in the concreteness of a separated world. Moving from head brain to belly brain I move deeper and deeper into a responsive presence where I become illuminated by the world.

It sounds weird, scary even. In fact, there were moments over the two days where my head brain wanted me to believe this was all just gobbly-gook. That there is no ‘belly brain’.

The science proves otherwise. It’s just we’ve spent millennia separating our head brains from our bodies to the point where we believe our intelligence lives only within our heads and the body is just the behicle that carries this wealth of knowledge and doing around.

The body knows better. It’s just, we’ve been taught that ‘listening to our bodies’ means putting our ear up against the wall dividing our head from the rest of our being and simply tuning into some ethereal voice telling us how our body is feeling.

In my experience of Radical Wholeness, there is no separation, no putting my ear up against a divisive line that makes my head brain the keeper of all wisdom and the knower of all and my body its subordinate.

In Radical Wholeness, the body is all of it. Head to toe, toe to head, fingertips, skin, skeleton, muscle, cells — and all the world around me. And within all of me, there lives an expansive capacity and essential sensitivity at my core to be in felt relationship with all of the world.

Relationship with all of life that defies my thinking minds need to reason its way into living through order and judgement, process and meaning-making. Radical Wholeness opens me up to experiencing deep, intimate relationship with all of life as I become fully alive with all of life.

As I sit at my desk and watch the mist rise from the river flowing by, I breathe deeply into my core and move into felt relationship with the river, the mist, the stillness of the trees, the golden leaves hanging in suspended motion from the branches, the sky soaring into infinity.

In the spaciousness of our felt relationship, there is no separation. There is only life.

Namaste.

 

Held In The Stillness

Integration
Watercolour
©2019 Louise Gallagher

 

I had a plan. An idea of what I’d do when I got to my hotel after the workshop yesterday.

“Ideas are frozen energy,” Philip Shepherd, our workshop leader had said earlier in the day.

What would happen, I wondered, if I breathed into the font of my being, instead of relying on my ‘knowing’?

I breathed deeply into my pelvic bowl, grounded myself in my belly brain and let myself simply feel the presence of all the world in and around me. I breathed deeper and let myself feel my presence as part of the whole of all the world.

My plan changed.

I struck a match and lit the wood that was ready and waiting for me in the fireplace in my room. I sat and watched the flames flicker. Listened to the crackle of the wood as it burned.

I sat and rested. In silence. In the quiet of the evening falling. In the softness of the snow drifting down.

I rested and breathed. Deeply. And felt the world turning into me and me turning into the world. I felt my being tune into the silence within and all around me and felt my entire being held by the stillness of the present.

So this is peace.

This is rest.

Grateful, I pulled out the watercolour paints I’d brought with me and started to play.

Pure, simple, blissful play.

So this is play, my mind whispered.

Shhh, my belly braind responded. Breathe. Be present. Be held in the stillness. Just play.

I am heading off in a little while for day 2 of the Radical Wholeness workshop I’m attending in Banff.

This morning, I stood on the patio outside my room and felt the silence of the forest. The slow dawning light of morning shimmered on the snow-laden branches of the fir trees, the air was cool and crisp. In the distance, a train whistle echoed eerily.

My mind drifted to the unseen train travelling tracks leading east to west, west to east. Goods on the move. Life moving.

I breathed in. And out. In. And out.

I let my breath draw me down, out of my mind, deep into my body.

I breathe in. And out. In. And out.

I stood in the silence and felt the presence of all that is, my body  becoming the air around me, the air around me becoming my body.

I closed my eyes and a tear gently trickled down my face.

I breathed in. And out. In. And out.

Present within this moment right now, I feel the tear’s path slipping down my skin. North to south. South to north.

Tears fall, drawing me down into the crucible of my being present.

Wisdom rises from my belly. I feel myself moving deeper into my being, my core. I feel the welcoming stillness of its deep, abiding presence.

My mind becomes quiet as I slip effortlessly into the beauty, wonder and awe of this moment right now resting peacefully in my belly.

Namaste.

 

 

Radical Wholeness

The view from my room.

I left the house at 7:30am and by 7:50 was seriously considering turning back.

Snow covered the highway. There was low visibility in many areas. The driving was slow – except for the semis who seemed to be impervious to the winter driving conditions that blew in with the storm over-night.

I kept going, slowly. But I kept going.

I’m grateful I did. Travelling 30km below the speed limit felt safe, or at least as safe as I could feel in snowy, sometimes foggy conditions.

At least the wind wasn’t blowing and the highway was visible, especially if I kept behind another vehicle and could see its taillights.

An hour and 40 minutes later I arrived in Banff. At 10, the Radical Wholeness workshop with Philip Shepherd began and I was immersed in the science, exquisite mystery and beautiful practice of breathing with my whole body. It was a day to ground myself in the stillness within and to deepen my understanding of what it means to integrate energy and be accepting of what is.

What a blessing. What a gift.

I am always in awe of how learning something new can open me up to awareness of old patterns that do not serve me well. Today did not disappoint.

In Philip’s teaching of Radical Wholeness we are invited to breathe into the body and to be present to all life energy from the ‘Brain in the Belly’ versus our cultural bias to believe the brain in the head has all the answers and always knows best.

The Brain Belly yearns for felt relationships while the Head Brain knows relationships and measures all things against what it knows. Learning to move from the head into listening and being present from the belly is both art and science (and for me a whole lot of mystical experiences that opened me up to deep and refreshing presence.

It is powerful. Refreshing and so very calming.

I’m spending two days in Banff connecting to my body. It is a journey to live fully alive.

Feeling blessed.

Feeling grateful.

Feeling calm.

Saturday Morning. Light.

I sit at my desk beneath the glow of incandescent light cast upon my hands resting on the keyboard. The night is slowly retreating beyond the reach of the sun’s advances. The sky scans dark to light. The horizon stretches east to west, its vast expanse kissed pink and golden beneath a lone dark grey cloud hanging low.

The river flows unending, a silver ribbon of movement rushing eastward to greet the growing lightness of day dawning like a virginal bride blushing in her lover’s embrace.

Steam rises from my coffee mug. I wrap my hands around the warm pottery, tracing the shape of a heart etched into its surface. The scent of cinnamon fills my nostrils.

And I remember you. Long ago. You were like cinnamon on buttered toast. Sweet, scented memories drift through my mind, reminding me of how you were the question mark I could never straighten out. The exclamation I never dared to live up to.

I breathe deeply into memory stirring at the edge of night. Softly, lovingly I relinquish its hold on the landscape of my mind. Deftly, the rising sun erases the punctuation marks held fast in the imprints of your touch in nights long past. Memory falls as gently as the autumn leaves scattered on the ground outside my window.

Breathing deeply into the growing light, I fall with grace into the sights and scents of this Saturday morning opening  vividly into day.

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This post was inspired by the Saturday Morning offerings David Kanigan shared on his blog, “Saturday Morning” and this gem, “Riding Metro North. Stones, truths and time.”

Thank you David for the inspiration. I love when one sentence or image or words I read somewhere else, inspires me to write just for the sake of writing. Just for the fun of it.