Category Archives: Radical Wholeness

Are you willing to give up control to have what you want in life?

Early morning. Lying in my bed. Comfy. Warm. Cozy.

I listen to the sounds of the house. The gentle breathing of my beloved. Beaumont snuffling in his sleep where he lies on the floor at the side of the bed. The hum of the furnace. The faint, distant thrum of a train rolling westward out of the city. The air feels fluid, soft.

I feel enveloped in a womblike glow of peace, calm, graciousness.

Morning has not yet broken. The day is slow in its awakening.

Sitting at my desk.

Music plays softly in the background. Piano. C, Eb, G, Bb. My desk light casts a warm glow on my fingers. Lights of cars travelling across the bridge sparkle in the early light. The surface of the river shimmers in the light shining on the pathway under the bridge.

Yesterday, there was an ice island forming at the base of the middle abutment. In the warmth of yesterday’s temperature, the ice has disappeared. The river flows freely, moving in harmony with nature’s grace.

Life is like the river. We flow gracefully, effortlessly in its never-ending harmony and then, something happens. A hurt. A loss. A sadness.

We stiffen up. Freeze. And ice begins to clog the flow. Sometimes, in our pain, we isolate. Stand still. Run faster. Resist. Push back against life’s constant flow.

Sometimes, we’ll do it all repeatedly, trying anything everything we can think of in a desperate attempt to stop whatever pain is damning up the flow.

Slowly, like ice forming on the river as winter approaches, we begin to move more labouriously, our hearts become heavy. Our limbs stiffen. Our minds circle again and again, like water in an eddy, around and around we swirl, trying to dislodge whatever is holding us in place, pulling us down. We struggle to control life, forgetting life is not to be controlled. It must be experienced.

And then, spring arrives and we begin to feel the first promising breaths of hope teasing our aching hearts and limbs into motion. Frightened it will not last, we cling a bit more to whatever pattern we’ve developed to keep ourselves safe from feeling the pain of hurts, loss, sadness.

The river flows freely this morning. Moving with the grace of nature. It will freeze again before winter is done, and always, it will thaw in nature’s continuous flowing of the seasons.

My heart is light this morning. Flowing freely in the beauty of nature awakening to the day.

There will be hurts to come (there always are), losses, sadness to experience. And always, when I immerse myself in the flow of life, when I release my resistance, my belief I can control life’s happenings, I am free to flow effortlessly and with grace in life’s unending river dancing in the light of each new day.

Are you willing to release the need to control life and be with the flow?

Let’s flow together!

Namaste.

Dance child, dance.

Perhaps it is the soft glow of the candle burning on the desk beside me as I type.

Or, perhaps the steady stream of lights passing over the bridge, east to west, towards the busyness of the downtown core.

Or maybe the light from under the bridge dancing on the waters of the river flowing inexorably to some far and distant unseen sea.

Or maybe, it is simply the mystical, magical nature of morning.

I awoke this morning, and as happens most days when I sit down to write, I am unaware of the words that will appear, until they appear. My eyes peering into the soft morning glow of dawn easing its way across the sky, I watch the traffic flow, the river dance in the light, the trees stand silent in the lightening dark, and I breathe.

And with each breath, I sink into this moment becoming each moment passing by in one gentle, soothing continuous stream. Time fades away and life flows effortlessly into the gap creating a beautiful song of awakening.

I awoke to poetry this morning. To the dance of words calling me to let go and fall daringly into the mystical grace of nature dancing in wild beauty all around me.

“Dance child, dance,” the music of morning exhorts. And so, I let go and dance.

I hope you join me.

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About the title:  Each week, David Kanigan of Live & Learn shares a post titled “Lightly child, lightly,” in homage to Aldous Huxley’s words from his last novel, Island,

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling…”

“Lightly child, lightly”. I love that phrase and co-opted it this morning in the gentle hues of dawn and memory and nature’s beauty awakening to the light.

About the photo:  Every day Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I walk to the off-leash park just around the bend, under the bridge along the river’s edge and wander its woods and trails. Every day, if I remember to take my phone, I take a photo of something that entrances me in the nature of our walk. This photo is what delighted my senses yesterday.

The Perfect Beauty of Imperfection

It can be hard sometimes to see that the life we’re living is the perfect life for us.

We tell ourselves, “Life is not a perfect journey,” and then list the reasons that defend our position.

Too often, our expectations of how life ‘should be’ mar our vision of the beauty in the life that is ours. We grade our path as ‘difficult’ and judge it against the ease of another’s. We compare our foothold on planet earth as filled with hard rock stories and bemoan the bounty we see in someone’s soft landing spot. And then, we tell ourselves we’re not ‘the fortunate’. We’re less than, other than, somehow unworthy of a beautiful life. We’re not like ‘those people’ who seem to breeze through life as if they were born to it.

We are all born to live. We are all born to shine.

It’s just sometimes, we peer so long into the darkness, we forget to turn on the lights. Sometimes, the darkness is so deep, we don’t ever remember there being any light.

At my studio table. Works in progress.

Yesterday, immersed in creative exploration, judging, comparing, bemoaning life’s woes fell away.

Carried in the flow of creative expression, time lost its grip. Beginnings and ends of this moment to the next vanished. I was cut loose from Father Time ticking away the minutes and lost myself to floating on the drift of being in the now.

It was bliss.

All that was present was paint flowing and glitter falling wherever it desired — and if you could see my worktable and studio, you’d appreciate how glitter has its own design, crafting its destiny of sparkling up life with joyful élan!

For ten hours I was in the flow, full of contentment, joy, ease. Alive in the present moment, I felt grace infuse each breath with its delicious beauty.

There was no worry. No fear. No anxiety about the outcome. There was just the pure joy of creating and the exhilaration of letting it happen without thinking about where it was all leading.

Sure, I had an idea. A starting point — in this case, 24 clear glass Christmas balls.

And I had some tools — alcohol inks, glue gun, glitter.

And most importantly, I had the open space of time to experiment, to ask myself, “I wonder what would happen if I did…?” and then, the freedom to follow my wonderment.

I had such a day yesterday. A day where all things felt possible because I was in the flow of life, savouring the journey which, rather than perceiving it as separated into distinct moments, felt unseparated from the moment before and the next to come.

And then….

Well, sometimes, the ease and contentment of that long, continuous, blissful moment can feel so fleeting.

This morning, I awakened and realized I needed to do some touch-ups to what I’d created if… and here’s the catch… if I wanted them to ‘look perfect’.

What if I accept they look unique, a perfect reflection of my creative expression in the moment? Because, quite frankly, to see the imperfections you have to compare this morning’s product against last night’s. (Some of the inks flowed down to the bottom of the balls — the glitter’s still in place though!)

Well… here’s my chance to practice what I preach!

What if, I gave up comparison, judgement, expectations of perfection and breathed into the possibility that there is nothing left to be done to create better. There is only this moment to live in the better of all that is possible when I let go of… you got it… comparison, judgement, expectations.

What if… indeed.

Now that would be bliss. That would be life lit up like glitter on a Christmas ball shimmering in the ordinary grace of the present moment.

This morning, I’m going with acceptance.

How blissful!

The Beautiful Oops!

Good Morning Pear
Mixed media on canvas paper.
9 x 12″
©2019 Louise Gallagher

Artist and teacher Bob Ross calls them, “Happy Little Accidents”. I prefer the name Barney Saltzberg uses in his delightful children’s book, Beautiful Oops!

Sometimes, beautiful oops’es create moments where all we want to do is quit. Or throw away whatever we’re working on and start again.

And then, something happens to change our perspective, to open the doors of our limited thinking and suddenly, that “Oh Gawd, what was I thinking?” becomes a heartfelt “Thank you,” to whatever spiritual being, divinity, energy, or absence of, we believe in.

There were so many times while working on the piece pictured above that my thinking mind wanted me to quit. To give up. To say, “Nah. I’ll just move on to something else, or perhaps, I’ll just paint over the whole thing and begin again.”

It’s always a good thing to expect the unexpected when in the creative flow. It seldom disappoints.

Yesterday, as I was deep into my need to organize myself and my art-making into some semblance of orderly process where I was in control and the creative process was under my domain, a voice deep within me whispered, “You’re stuck. Go change the music.”

Walking over to my studio desk, I opened my laptop and thought, “Well, as I’m here I’ll just check my emails.”

And that’s when the magic happened.

At the top of my Inbox was an email from a lovely man I met while at  The Embodied Present Process (TEPP) retreat in October. His email contained a link to a song and its beautiful invitation to “Loosen. Loosen and let go of the weight of the world”.

In need of the distraction, I hit PLAY and suddenly found myself moving and swaying throughout my studio.

Several songs later I had danced my ‘stuckedness out’ and came back to my work table feeling centered and present in the moment.

Present in the moment that is all that is, I loosened my hold on wanting to organize my life and everything in it and let the muse flow freely.

I am grateful.

I kind of like the Good Morning Pear. 🙂 She pleases my heart and calls me deeper into the mystery of the present moment and the magic of creative expression.

Namaste.

 

 

Let Your Dreams Run Away With Your Heart

As I continue to work on developing the materials for the art journaling course I am teaching tomorrow evening at Kensington Art Supply, I am in awe of how the muse, and life, open up full of possibility when I move out of my headspace and into being present with my whole body, mind and spirit and the world around me.

See, being present doesn’t mean we cut off the head to give our bodies control. It means being connected within our whole body and with the world around us, honouring our head brain’s ability to organize and analyze while giving the body, which includes all the senses, and organs, bones, tissues, muscles joints (and the heart) permission to feel into the ‘what is’ of the ‘right now’ and as we expand into being present where ever we’re at.

As I finished working on the piece I created yesterday for the workshop — it is the essence of what we will be working on in the workshop, with participants being guided and encouraged to create their own imagery and words — I didn’t quite know what the quote that underpinned the essence of the painting.

I started to write and thought the quote was, “Let your dreams run away with your heart”.

Nice, my little ole’ head brain thought. Short. Simple. To the point.

And then, I began to write it out. Oh. Oh. The ‘your’ was right under the bottom tip of the painted heart, and the word ‘heart’ had to move up along its right edge.

Oh dear, my facile mind thought. You messed up.

My body expanded into presence. It felt the truth and kept on writing because it knew, the quote wasn’t quite finished writing itself out.

Released from thinking I would have to figure out how to erase/cover up my mistake, suddenly, all the words flowed how they wanted to flow. In this case, up the righthand side of the heart and then back down to the bottom of the page with words that resonated throughout my being.

I didn’t ‘think’ the words into being present. They brought themselves into the moment.

When I looked at the words I was enchanted by the way they flowed up and around and down. Up and around and down again. (In spite of my head brain’s chatter that the words should be facing into the heart, yada yada yada, the symmetry made ‘sense’. The heart is simply the metaphor for being in the flow of creativity, passion, dreaming, living, being. The words are the gateway into possibility – they are not concrete. They are an invitation to let go so that I don’t stay trapped within the head space of thinking my way through living my dreams.)

The flow of the words is also a metaphor. Life is constantly expanding and contracting, in every direction.

Up and down. In and out. Out and In.

Like breath. Like the tides. Like curtains flowing in and out with the breeze blowing in through an open window. Like life.

Ebbing and flowing. Always in motion. Never contracted into this moment right now. Always releasing into the breath carrying us into the next.

Like endings and beginnings. Each ending opening up to the next moment where the beginning meets the ending in a continuous flow of life.

We all have dreams. Ideas. Visions of what we want to create in our world.

To set them free, to release them into action we must let go of thinking we can make it all happen if we just do A. B. C. We must get out of the way of our thinking and release our entire being into the flow of life. In its flow, all things are possible in ways we cannot imagine when we stay trapped in our thinking.

Namaste.

 

 

 

Breathe In Life’s Sacred Nature

Breathe In Life’s Sacred Nature

We dance breathlessly through life praying silently that the meaning of our dance will not be forgotten in the breathtaking beauty of eternity’s endless embrace.

It is not the memory of our dance that makes it unforgettable. It is the wholeness of each breath we give and take that inspires our dance to flow joyfully in eternity’s endless embrace.

Left side of journal page – Life’s Sacred Nature

Embraced in the flow, we let go of having to make meaning of our dance with life and fall with grace into the beauty of our body’s deep awareness that this moment is ours to live with every breath, every step, every cell of our being present attuned to the sacred nature of life.

For our lives to have ‘meaning’, we must accept life has no purpose other than to be life itself. It cannot be anything else. Just as we cannot be a tree, or a bird flying on high. What we can be is in awe of the tree and the bird, honouring their presence by letting go of the thoughts that separate us from experiencing the groundedness of the tree and the flight of the bird.

Right side of journal Page
Life’s Sacred Nature

When we sink from our thinking brains deep into our bellies and all our being to be in felt relationship with the tree and the bird, we become one with the tree and the bird, connected, interdependent, irrevocably threaded into the weave and warp of life flowing all around us. Life where our presence is as integral to life itself as the presence of everyone and everything on this planet.

We humans struggle with this. We imagine ourselves as ‘separate from’ everything and everyone, as we search for ways to make our lives ‘have meaning’, as if there is some magical scroll high up in the cosmos upon which our purpose is inscribed waiting to be divined by some human act of will. Searching for answers, we tell ourselves we have to elevate our awareness high enough to rise into the sea of consciousness all around us as if our thinking is enough to take us into the divine mysteries of life where common sense will prevail and the unknown will become known and our lives will make sense.

Our lives are full of sense and beauty when we live with our whole body attuned to the wonder of the world flowing through us and with us and in us and of us in this moment, right now. Because right now is all we have.

The past is just a memory. It no longer exists and the future has not yet arrived.  We are in the here and now where our purpose is to be fully present in the self of where we are in this moment, letting go of leaning away from living in the past and vainly trying to peer into the future.  We are here to feel our entire being grounded in the deep, dark mysterious beauty of this moment, right now, even in the face of humanity’s often inexplicable nature. We are here to be fully alive in the moment, deeply knowing with all our senses, the mystery, magic and miracle of this life we are living right now.

We are not here to make meaning of life, life is its own meaning. We are here to live the gift of this moment, fully immersed in life’s sacred, majestic and mysterious nature. In this moment, how we dance nor eternity matters. All that matters is that we dance with our whole being flowing with the world around us.

 

 

Why I didn’t quit.

Open Windows. Limitless Possibilities.
Art Journal Pages. Nov 7

I almost did. Quit.

At the midway point of creating yesterday’s spread in the art journal I’m creating for the course I’m leading at Kensington Art on November 19, I got stuck in the “Yuck. What a mess.” and wanted to give up.

I had a vision in mind when I began. A series of window panes that represent the theme of the page — Perspective.

Yuck. I Can’t Feel You.
The point of wanting to quit.

I’d carefully cut out papers I’d mono-printed designs on and then, realizing the perspective was too ‘colour same’ I’d cut out a few squares from a book.

Yes!  That works.

But, once I’d glued down the squares, it didn’t. Work. In fact, it looked discordant. Messy. It wasn’t calling to me. There was no harmony within me or on the page.

I was too close to ‘my idea’ and unable to see beyond what I’d wanted to achieve in my mind, versus what the muse was calling for me to release from deep within me.

I took Beaumont the Sheepadoodle for a walk and as I stood in the woods, listening to the sounds, feeling the warm(ish) November air against my face and watching Beaumont race through the snow, I felt better. Less agitated. More centered.

Left page spread

As we walked the trails along the river, I practiced a process I’d learned at the week-long The Embodied Present Process workshop I attended in Ontario two weeks ago. To release the breath within my pelvic bowl, to bring my awareness out of my ‘head brain’ down into my belly and then, to walk, stop and where ever I stood, look around me and say, “I am here.”

Occasionally I incorporated another process and said to Beaumont, the trees, the grasses, “I am another you.”

It was magical and mystical.

I was present to and within what Philip Shepherd, the facilitator and author of Radical Wholeness calls, ‘felt relationship’ with the world around me.

Right Page Spread

Regenerated, I came back to my studio not so much knowing what to do to fix my messy page spread, but feeling at one with its chaos and willing to move through continued creation to resolution.

I’m grateful I persisted. I’m grateful I remembered to bring my awareness back to my pelvic bowl so that I could feel, rather than think my way into being present. Fact is, thinking my way into anything has never worked that well for me anyway so why keep doing it? 🙂

Feeling my way, being present to the moment, creates space for me to experience being with the world and the world flowing through me in new and life-giving ways.

In the end, a bird flew in through one of the windows on my page and landed on a branch of a tree bringing me back to the present moment of creation.

What in my head had appeared as a chaotic and frustrating experience transformed itself into a totally delightful and divine afternoon in my studio.

From ‘I’m quitting’ to ‘I am here’ opened up all the windows of my page, creating possibilities I couldn’t imagine until I let go of my thinking and dropped down into the font of my creativity deep within my belly. In that space, all my senses opened up to the beauty and wonder of the moment, and everything shifted.

Magical and mystical indeed!

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