All posts by Louise Gallagher

I believe in wonder. I believe we are all magnificent beings of divine beauty. I believe we can make a difference in this world, through every act, word, thought. I believe we create ripples with everything we do and say and want to inspire everyone to use their ripple to create a better world for everyone. I'm grateful you're here.

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.

 

Surrender to Love

Surrender to Love
Mixed media on canvas paper
11 x 14″
©2019 Louise Gallagher

The snow came. The snow left. Autumn returns, its trees a little barer, its splendor a little less vibrant. Snow riddled clouds have disappeared, the days are warmer again and winter has retreat beyond the distant horizon.

I feel content.

We had guests this week. Delightful visitors from eastern Canada where summer weather has descended the land, pushing even autumn’s hues off the calendar. For now.

And that’s the thing. Weather comes. Weather goes.

The seasons keep changing with the turning of the earth as it spins its story around the sun.

I feel joyful.

My beloved fights a cough. I am determined not to catch it. I pound back Vitamin C and other holistic remedies in an attempt to thwart off any germs that want to take hold. Thus far, I’m winning.

And that’s the thing. Germs come. Germs go.

The seasons keep changing with the turning of the earth as it spins its story around the sun.

And I feel grateful.

I sit at my desk in the soft morning light watching the sun gently kiss the sky good morning with its rosy pink hues. Cars travel across the bridge towards the city center. The river flows constantly eastward. A squirrel leaps from one tree branch to the next, hop-scotching through the forest lining the river. I watch his passage, delighting in his journey.

A leaf surrenders its hold and falls silently to the still green grass below. Piano music plays softly in the background.

And I feel at peace.

The seasons keep changing with the turning of the earth as it spins its story around the sun.

A new day is dawning. Filled with sights, smells, sounds and delights.

And I surrender to its possibilities.  I surrender to Love.

Life Refuses Nobody

The mornings are darker now. The sun seemingly slower to rise.

Nothing has changed for the sun. It is the earth that has moved. And as it moves, all things change. Like the river flowing past. Constantly moving. Constantly changing. A never ending stream of life flowing to some far away sea that will not refuse it entry when the river reaches its open waters.

Like life. The ocean refuses no river. Life refuses nobody.

Including you and me, even though sometimes, we may resist its natural force, balk at its insistence we flow with it.

Life is constantly flowing.

I breathe and give into the flow.

I breathe and release my resistance to being one with the flow, one with life, with the river.

I breathe and fear takes hold. I stand, uncommitted to the flow, leaning deep into the depths of my ego’s desire to claim my separate nature from nature.

The river keeps flowing. I resist the flow.

“Yes. Yes. Yes.” The critter mind celebrates my resistance. “You are not One with some unseen Oneness. You are separate. Singular. Alone.”

I breathe and the voice of wisdom within whispers gently, “Breathe and let be. Breathe and let be. Just as the river is made up of many drops of water flowing as one, life is made of every soul journeying together on planet earth. Let the river carry you into that place where believing you are separate is not necessary.”

I breathe and invite my ego to give up its fight for separateness.

Be your fear and let courage draw you into the flow, the voice of wisdom within whispers to me. Be your courage and let the fear fall away.

I breathe into being and become the courage of my heart’s calling me to be one in this moment, right now.

I breathe. I become all that I am. In the moment. Alive. At peace. Free. I breathe and become all that I am when I let fear fall away and surrender and fall into Love.

And like the river flows past. This moment flows with it. Fleeting. Ethereal. Beautiful. Whole.

The universe refuses no life. And in that knowing is the truth — That sacred knowing that this life, this beauty, this brilliance, this moment is mine, and yours and each of ours to live as best we can, as best we allow, in Love.

Not separate. Not alone.

As One.

No matter how small, how big, how rusty or difficult, how tired or weary, how young or old, the universe refuses no life.

The ocean refuses no river.

The open heart refuses no Love. The open mind no knowing.

And life refuses no body, not me or you or him or her or them.

Life refuses no life.

In that acceptance, in that awareness is the knowing, deep and profound and healing. We are not alone. We are one with life flowing in the ocean of Love flowing all around.

Flowers On A Snowy Day

Autumn Flowers On A Snowy Day
Mixed Media
11 x 14″ on Canvas Paper
©2019 Louise Gallagher

Snowy weekends in September, (I almost typed December) are not for the faint of heart; nor for those without a really good sense of humour!

Here in Calgary, while not an every-year occurrence, snow in September is not uncommon. Yet, every time autumn leaves falling give way to snow dumping, we Calgarians take great delight in sharing photos and our thoughts on this weather phenomena –  on social media, in grocery store line-ups, at the park, in coffee shops… you got it – everywhere.

I am no exception.

When Beaumont and I went for our walk yesterday, I not only took copious photos, I also took a video. I mean why not?  It looked like a winter wonderland and Beau was leaping for joy as he raced through the snow covered grasses. (You can read about our adventures in the snow on his blog — Sundays With Beaumont)

For me, a snowy September, Sunday afternoon was a welcoming invitation to move back into the studio and savour the joy of creating. In this case, with a lovely friend who came to share in creativity and conversation with me. (Thanks Ally!)

I didn’t spend any time creating last week. A contract to do some community engagement for an agency in the homeless serving sector along with a flu-like bug kept me focused in other areas — and because I lay in bed for a day, it also meant I got hooked on a Netflix series, The Spy. Have you watched it? It’s very powerful and based on a true story.

Netflix and Prime offer up a lot of inducement to avoid giving into studio seduction. My heart and soul are grateful I heeded the muse’s call and fell into her creativity-infused embrace.

The muse not only inspired the Autumn Flowers on a Snowy Day painting (above), she also stirred my feminist soul to create the 52nd painting in my #ShePersisted series which I began in February of 2017. That muse, she’s still got lots to say about living life free of out-dated concepts of ‘what women want’.

No 52 – #ShePersisted Series
I Want What I Have Always Deserved
11 x 14″
Mixed Media on Canvas Paper
To view the entire series please visit: https://louisegallagher.ca/shepersisted/

This morning, as I sit at my desk and look at the snow-blanketed world around me, my mind wants to grumble but finds no footing in my heart’s restful state. It’s only weather and weather can change quickly here at the eastern foot of the Rockies. Other than a romp with Beau to the park and a trip to the grocery store to stock up for visitors arriving tomorrow from Ottawa (I know, Ottawa is expecting October to open with 30 degree Celsius and they’re coming to ‘extreme winter conditions’ (the weather network’s description of our current conditions) here in the southern prairies), I have nothing on my agenda.

Ah yes! Rejuvenation is a great way to rewire my life post-retirement! No matter the weather outside, I welcome every day with a joyful heart and my creative expression burning brightly inside!