Inner Dance and Emergence Convergence

We entered a room created with the intention of holding those who enter the way a child is held in the mother’s womb. It did feel like a womb—a space of protection and nurturance. That where there is no fear of judgement and where there is no concept of danger. 

“Why was I born,” I asked. I was not compelled to answer—at least not in this space of re-connection with the moment of my birth. “What is my authentic dream?” I was not compelled to answer—at least not in this moment of stillness and profound peace. “What is it that I am supposed to give birth to?”

These questions floated, suspended, somewhere in that space between me and a pure everythingness around me. In that space where there was no concept of time and space and so I never felt compelled to answer. 

This was my first Inner Dance.

What I feel profound about the experience is the fact that I entered a space where I could ask myself questions that can be provoking in any other space. Provoking, when you had been thinking that what you have been doing is what you are supposed to be doing. Or when you had been thinking that you know and the questions reveal themselves to you and show you what you do not really know. 

I believe that we can all engage in a similar process consciously—not to say you are not conscious during Inner Dance because you are, although dreamlike, at the same time—when we have trained the mind and the heart to engage in a process where a dialogue happens between the self and the universe. But the gift of sound, in its simplicity and complexity, to open our chakras wide, or wider, and take us into the ebb and flow of our consciousness is something that we should honor and celebrate. Where does consciousness reside? Are consciousness and the cosmos one and the same? Inner Dance to me was more like a dialogue with an infinite consciousness. 

Does consciousness actually imprint a memory in our body? I could clearly recall the sensation that I was feeling the morning after my second Inner Dance so that it would allow me to process better what was happening exactly. I realized I judged myself so quickly when I kept repeating to myself “why are you so scared?” during the session and right after. In this writing, I recall how a man had told me repeatedly in the past that I am a scaredy-cat. I thought that I had severed energetic ties with the man. And, perhaps, I had, indeed, but that the memory is going to stay.

This was my first time engaging my energetic body in processing an experience, and I am deeply in awe of the gradual realization that my body holds so much memory. Has it been waiting for me to speak to it? It is a silent, sacred memory. I have never really understood my body. Or I have not been present enough.

I said I went to the Emergence Convergence to discover how we can possibly integrate the different modalities of healing, of being, and ways in which we can co-create sustainable communities. I knew that something in me had shifted by the second day and it allowed me to honor the gifts of others and to trust that we have been brought together to create something we have been trying to create but that which has been wanting to express itself in another form, in different forms, in many forms. Perhaps, it will never end wanting and finding new ways of expression. Perhaps, this is what it means to evolve. Perhaps, this is how we ride the spiral to the end. We spiral out. We keep going. Like that in Tool’s Lateralus.

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Into the Heart of Mexico II

The essence of knowing a place is beyond what our camera lenses and words can capture. It is beyond that famous tourist spot. Beyond the sights and sounds we easily remember. But we are lucky that we feel and that our hearts remember so that when we recall memories, we find out that the feelings from the experience are alive. They are the ones that really stay with us.

Whether it is a short trip out of town, a retreat by the mountains or a surrender at the beach or a rare opportunity to be in another country, I try to remember the sensations and write down my reflections or realizations. Sometimes, I don’t get to write them until after weeks, or a month, or months, or a year. Like this writing comes thirty-three days after I arrived.

Reflections and realizations are what makes traveling a learning, to some, life-changing. But they are also the ones that make you realize that wherever you go, you carry your home with you. Perhaps, because our home is inside. So, maybe, traveling, as a process most would describe as getting lost, is just about finding ourselves again. Or seeing what we have been failing to see. Or realize what we have been missing back home.

When I saw the Monument of the Revolution in Mexico City, I remembered what a friend said about how we could have immortalized the lessons of martial law but that we failed to do so. It seems difficult for the youth these days to see and believe that martial law during the Marcos regime was a dark time in history. But it is not difficult to believe the horrors of the holocaust because they have been immortalized in journals and museums. Perhaps, one reason why almost each one of us has a level of fascination with histories is because it is how we connect to our past and they are our mirrors—a reminder of how our present and future can be. They help us move into the direction that we want and evolve or regress.

When I was at Centro Historico, the seat of the Aztec ruins, where you can find the metropolitan cathedral and the national palace, where Aztec artists bang the drums and dance to the beat, while hundreds of people, probably, thousands, come and go to hear a mass, while tourists revel in the beauty of this expansive main square, I asked my Mexican friend, “what does this mean to Mexicans?” “Do you think this means something?” I added. “I doubt,” he said. It is possible that he is in a way disconnected or distant to the history of his city, but it is also possible that historical or archaeological or cultural centers like this have lost relevance to the lives of its people and that it will stay like that until they help us correct mistakes in our history—or until such time they serve to actually make our countries, the lives of the people, better. Look at the EDSA People Power Revolution in the Philippines and how the country has not really changed twenty to thirty years after.

Truly, Centro Historico was beautiful. I could almost cry with joy when we were approaching the main square, because it reminds you of the glories of ancient civilization and they make you see the beauty of human creations. It is in the air. I could taste it.

Some three-to-four hours away from Mexico City by bus is San Miguel de Allende in the state of Guanajuato. It is a charming place. The culture is so vibrant you see it in the streets—the music, the food, the souvenirs, the celebrations. I was in the city of Guanajuato in the same state of the same name sometime in May last year. Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende have almost the same features—the long and winding roads of cobblestone, the vibrant colors of houses sitting on the slopes of a hill, the awe-inspiring architecture of different churches and shops—including a Starbucks coffee shop that seemed to have no choice but to blend into the features of San Miguel. The difference, I would say, is that I would liken San Miguel de Allende to a woman and Guanajuato to a man. It has a softer, more feminine features. It is probably the tunnels when entering and when in Guanajuato that makes me think it is more masculine, plus the mummies and El Pipila and the riding of the funicular to get there. San Miguel is more relaxed and graceful, like a woman walking, her dress flowing, swaying with the wind.

When my bus to Mexico City was leaving San Miguel, we saw a rainbow, and it stayed for a while. I knew then that the time that I was in Mexico was a crack to let a whole new light in, to a new way of seeing, thinking, feeling and willing. And I wasn’t wrong. Those angel-winged hearts at the souvenir shop were trying to tell me something.

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Hearts and Jacarandas in Mexico

Something in my heart bloomed with the jacarandas in Mexico. I didn’t realize until a little after the start of spring that the universe has prepared to align events according to the decision that I have made to pursue a path many months ago. I didn’t expect it, but I had a feeling that I knew that this was going to come. I just didn’t know when. And so I am reminded by what my favorite travel writer realized when he was traveling in Japan where he met the woman he would want to spend the next chapters of his life with. “None of the things in life—like love or faith—was arrived at by thinking; indeed, one could almost define the things that mattered as the ones that came as suddenly as thunder,” he said.

I just finished my HeartMath certification training in Phoenix when I flew to Mexico City. When I was fine-tuning my travel plan earlier this year, I knew that the ensuing weeks or months after Phoenix should be a time to let the learnings percolate—through my heart, through my being. So all these weeks that had passed had been part of what I call my incubation period in this heart-fullness practice. This practice of connecting to and listening to my heart.

When I was in Mexico City, the universe has given me opportunities to make choices from a more peaceful place. That place where you are able to quiet down the noise, to calm the turbulence, to become more accepting, to become more loving, that is, to graciously receive and wholeheartedly give. When we quiet down the voice of expectations, in giving and loving, and consciously replace the forming feeling of disappointment with joy and appreciation, we open our hearts and we connect and radiate that quality of the heart. It creates a space that allows others to be what they are—the best that they can be. It is a sacred space where we connect through our hearts, trusting and believing, intuitively knowing that you will be received. I had been bad at receiving in the past. This time has taught me that receiving is a joyful thing just as giving is.

The universe has mastered the art of timing. There wouldn’t have been a better time to meet somebody in my life than now when I have committed to a path of perpetually learning self-awareness, of less attachments, of recognizing the ego, of overcoming the shadow, heartfulness and spiritual communion.

It’s been three weeks since I was back in Cebu, and I feel deep joy and appreciation for meeting this man in this lifetime. Each time I tune into my heart and send its essence to his, I feel its fullness and wholeness. There are moments when I sit still, in deep awe of knowing that another being on the other side of the planet feels it when I tend to and communicate through my heart. The heart has the capacity to connect beyond space, or physical presence. Non-locality is a real experience and we only need to cultivate the qualities of our hearts.

We have our circumstances, and we may not be physically together, but my joy and appreciation keep vibrating because once upon a time, when the jacarandas bloomed at the start of spring in Mexico, I met my twin flame. He who says it feels like this isn’t the first time we’ve ever met. I know.

Hale Manna and Novembers

These are photos from November 2015 when I hopped on a bus, alone, to seek refuge at Hale Manna, for the second year. Life in the city gets harsh, and although ours is a time when we are learning that we can stay in one place to be still and rest from the constant motion of things—or events—the process of leaving and arriving from one place to another facilitates the same process of leaving and arriving from one state to another. The feeling of getting used to some things, or getting comfortable with situations we’re in, needs to be shaken lest we fall deeper into our complacencies and familiarities. Because feelings like this do atrophy and we hardly notice when we are no longer moving towards the direction of our dreams—or our truths.

This particular time I went to Hale Manna was different from the usual times we go to the beach where the sun is high and burning bright and the water sparkles at its reflection. Clouds hovered above, the sea was blue gray, not a tinge of the pink and orange glory at sunrise and at sunset. But, see, the charm of Hale Manna never ceases when the sun is gone. The lush gardens, the stillness of the sea, the palpable dew that is in the air, the calm in colors and the energy that wrapped around me were reassuring of a presence in the absence of shine, of sparkle, of glitter.

November has been associated with darkness and the dead. Or with grief and anguish, cold and chilling like the proverbial Guns N’ Roses’ November Rain.

But  isn’t it that it is in the darkest that we find our most enduring light? And isn’t it that we feel most alive when we have gone through dying? November for me is a time of rebirth, and so I welcome tomorrow with a boldness of the heart.

 

 

 

  

 

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Into the Heart of Mexico – May 2016

I wanted to start with the trees in León. Because I fall in love with cities of lush trees, and decent sidewalks, and bike lanes, and wide, open spaces to add to that. Somebody tells me that Guadalajara actually has more trees, but I still love the fact that even non-major roads in León have trees. It tells me that the vision to have preserved them goes beyond superficial beautification and a main thoroughfare showoff. Being from a city—and a country—where it’s mostly bad sidewalks and dangerous roads for bikers, I get fascinated with places that offer the opposite. I like bringing home the good news that it can be done.

There is also something about a church next to a church, that is next to another, and plazas next to them, that feel very much like home. Although gatherings at plazas, in some cultures like ours, have been stereotyped as uncool or “baduy” in the Filipino language, I think that the practice is part of a heritage that societies need not be ashamed of. The plazas represent a central activity for genuine human interaction—conversations, stories, music, dances, crafts, or the arts, in general. It has ties to something of historical significance that has been passed on through generations.

As almost everyone realizes, the culinary heritage of Mexico is one of the best, and it has raised my standards for good food. One doesn’t have to be a connoisseur to know good food, I think. And, yes, appreciation is subjective, but the creative, or intuitive, ways in which Mexicans cook or prepare food and the delightful blend of flavours in most dishes that I have tried is heaven. The combinations of different salsas and guacamole, dishes stuffed with cheese, or with chipotle sauce, the hint of smokey sweetness and the blend of flavours they create together is something I will probably not find outside of Mexico. I hope yes. The variations in the softness or the hardness of the tortilla depending on the dish, I think, is also cunning. I love chilaquiles paired with fajitas de arrachera and fried banana. It’s my kind of perfect gastronomic combo.

I love having seen the city of Guanajuato within the state of the same name. León is also in Guanajuato. While León is more of a commercial center and industrialized, at that, Guanajuato is a colonial city—a picturesque setting of bright-colored houses sitting atop the hill and the valley below, baroque architecture, cobbled pathways, alleyways and underground passages that bring you from one place to another.

I have been told that it was once a mining city, why the tunnels. One thing about being in Guanajuato that takes you on a dreamy experience is the celebration at almost every turn—not material, but rather ethereal, from the singing and dancing, or musings at paintings and monuments and the sight of remembrances of the present past.

Cultural heritage dictates how we live and defines what is important to us and, therefore, what we preserve—or, at least, what our societies try to preserve.

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I have seen lovely sights and tasted heavenly good food. I met wonderful and warm people and said I would like to come back. But what I find most intimate and sacred about the time I spent in Mexico is having participated in a Temazcal ceremony. We sit in two concentric circles, around a pit filled with a pile of hot rocks, inside an igloo-shaped mudhouse. It is pitch black darkness inside when the door is closed and only tiny sparks of light are given off when the temazcalero swirls water on the smoldering rocks, infused with different kinds of herbs, that give off different scents—one, pungent, and the other, breezy. The rocks give off hot vapors, or steam, each time the water hits it. And we sweat, moderately, in the beginning; profusely, as the heat intensifies. The temazcalero says a prayer, another tells a story, invoking the spirit of grandmothers from ancient past to allow our healing and purification. They pray, and chant, and sing in a Spanish that I could only barely understand but at the same time understand in a language that speaks to me without words. In the beginning, I feel fear from the fact that the door is closed, and that the lodge is an unfamiliar territory. But as I listen intently, and feel the reverberating sound of the drum, of the singing female voice, and then more voices, my fear subsides, my body sways from left to right, eyes closed, sometimes wide open, feeling home, feeling that I have been here before, grateful that we remember and that we offer our intentions.

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They say that the ritual has been passed on from ancient Mayans and that it is performed to do physical, emotional, mental and spiritual cleansing. Out of a few reasons I’d like to go back to Mexico, Temazcal is one.

Back when I used to sing Soul to Squeeze a lot, I would sing my heart out and sing it loud when I say “where I go, I just don’t know, I might end up somewhere in Mexico.” And I did

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A Sister’s Birthday Wish

I am not a mother. I am a sister. But my birthday wish for my sister is the wish every mother has for her daughter—or the wish every father has for his son: a better world for her to live in. One that is just, fair, peaceful and full of life. I didn’t know the words sustainable societies five years ago. I didn’t use the word livable back then.

I lamented the apathy of my generation back then. I felt that the youth had been sleeping—or that we have been sedated. When I talked to people my age about issues that I think mattered, they say that is how things are. That it is sad but it is reality. And I used to be hurt. When I talked about injustices, big and small—or is there even such a scale—I could hardly find anyone who felt strongly about them. Some called me idealistic. Others, aggressive.

The journey that my sister is going through is the same journey that I have gone through—except she’s been more courageous.

I want a better world so she doesn’t have to want to take it to the streets anymore. That she may again write songs other than about the struggles of our time. Many of us say it doesn’t work anymore. That we have grown tired of it not being able to make a dent to the system that we’ve been trying to change. And so we learned to create things. Better things—despite of and in spite of businesses, of governments, of a zombified nation. But some of these better things include hundreds of activists taking it to the Arctic to stop Shell’s oil drilling. It includes thousands of protesters occupying Wall Street in the United States so we wake up to the evils of the banking institutions.

In the Philippines, better things include the EDSA Revolution, the fall of Estrada—and of Arroyo—the anti-pork barrel march, the climate pilgrimage, the Lakbayan ng Lumad, and many other protests that took different forms, that had been called different names like prayer rallies or vigils. There was nothing wrong with the EDSA Revolution. It is the things that we did and did not do after EDSA that has been keeping us in the shadows. There was nothing wrong with taking to the streets to topple the governments of Estrada and Arroyo or the anti-pork barrel march. It is the things that we allowed to continue to happen after the march. It is our ningas-kugon and our lack of will to continue to do the work beyond our indignation rallies.

Protests have a role to play in our fight for every cause and they take many forms. The noise we make has a role to play in our collective awakening. There was a Stop Cebu Flyovers Movement protest before the moratorium on flyovers. There were anti-GMO protests before the Philippine Supreme Court banned GMO field trials.

When our children rise up and question what is happening around them, we do not stop them—because we can’t. The world asks of us to be wise enough to lead them and show them that we are doing something. When they have been awakened, they can never go back to sleep. Because that is our nature as human beings. We don’t want to be the generation that didn’t do anything while nature was being abused and the planet was on the brink of collapse, while technology trumped humanity and we had forgotten what it means to be a human being, while we had forgotten where we came from and why we exist—or did we ever find out?

For my sister, who is my blood sister and soul sister, who celebrated her birthday yesterday, I pray that you may always have peace in your heart, no matter the chaos or disorder around you. That you may always feel love, no matter what. That you may always breathe life, no matter what.

Happy Birthday, Pepang! 🙂 I love you.

Heneral Luna and Liwanag

I am probably not the only one who cried watching Heneral Luna, pained by the reality that the predicament of our present time is deeply-rooted in our history as a nation, as Filipinos. Some of the wars that our country has been through have been necessary for our national consciousness to grow. And the stories about our heroes have been necessary to awaken that consciousness and ignite the flame of love for our country deep within. The story of Heneral Luna is one.

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I’d like to think that it was intuition, not plain brilliance, that was driving Luna’s resolve that the then newly-established Philippine Government must never sleep with the Americans. “Para kayong birhen na naniniwala sa pag-ibig ng puta,” he said. It was something deeply connected to a future he believed we deserved and were capable of making happen—a true independence.

I prefer not to re-tell the story as I think that every Filipino should go, watch the movie. Every Sibika at Kultura class from Elementary to High School must connect the revolutions and the life of our heroes to our current predicaments. Our educational system must instill in the minds and hearts of every Filipino student the nationalism that was alive in men like Luna. Similarly, if every mall had a real role in nation-building, it must help raise awareness, and campaign to draw more people to watch films like Luna instead of immediately closing its doors because turnout is low on the first few days of screening. Looking at the bright side of things, it mobilized the youth to call, if not demand, for putting back Heneral Luna in theaters. It was a triumph. The movie will be in both SM and Ayala cinemas in Cebu until September 22.

The movie is very timely. Four days from now, Liwanag World Festival, is going to happen in Cebu City. Liwanag, which means light in the Filipino language, draws its name from the Philippine Revolution, where in the process, our heroes understood the role of self-transformation in creating a new nation. We have been told that during the Philippine Revolution, Andres Bonifacio confronted Aguinaldo and the rest of the men of Katipunan with the question: what do we want—is it Ningning or Liwanag? Ningning is a flicker, or a glitter—something that is flashy but quickly dies—while Liwanag is a deep glow from within that burns in our hearts and drives us to pursue our envisioned future.

But we are our own enemies, said Luna—an even greater enemy than our American invaders. Pilipino sa Pilipino. Tayo-tayo ang naglalaban.

The murder of Luna isn’t only painful because a real patriot and hero was murdered. It is painful because it symbolizes the murder of our only hope, of our own dream, of our country. And this is manifested in the many different facets of our society today.

The conflicts from within the Cabinet of President Emilio Aguinaldo, as depicted in the movie, extending to the army, is an archetype of the conflicts that we continue to face—from exclusive systems, short-sighted views of development, especially economic, social divide, selfish politics, turfing, regionalistic mentality, and at the same time colonial mentality, and a constrictive view of our individual and collective roles in nation-building. They carry with them questions that we would like to sit upon and grow out of at Liwanag.

Sapagkat hindi pa tapos ang rebolusyon.

*Photo courtesy of http://henerallunathemovie.com

Camotes Island, Cebu – 2015

The first time I went to Camotes was in 2005. I remember how I was suspended in awe of the beauty that had been waiting for us. As the motorized banca that we rented was about to dock, approaching where the receding sea waves that reached the shore come back and join the body of water again, I thought we found a paradise. I went back a year after, and went again last month—8 or 9 years after.

I often describe Camotes as “guapa” when I talk to my friends about it. Cebu has several white-sand beaches. Some are powdery fine while the others, a little more coarse. Camotes’ is powdery fine. But it’s not just the quality of sand that gives it a feminine feature. Santiago Bay, where we were exactly in Camotes, has a mass of elevated land with lush trees, mostly, coconut, extending to the sea on both sides of the bay. I liken it to a sense of boundary which women, in general, have. The shoreline is not very long so one can definitely walk the entire stretch of the bay. Some who stay at the beachfront by the bay go walk to check Santiago Bay Garden and Resort, a more high-end resort that sits atop the elevated land to your right if you are facing the sea.

That the water is crystal clear—in varying shades of blue, deep blue and green, if you look from the shore—is not anything new about most beaches in Cebu. But, yes, Camotes has it. The first time I went there, we stayed at a resort called Payag, literally a nipa hut, right at the beachfront by the bay. The sea view was totally unobstructed, which is still the case now. For this recent visit, I stayed at Masamayor, with my friend Carla, where we did in 2006 or 2007. More concrete structures have now been erected a few meters from the shore which makes it less unadulterated than it was years ago. But the beach is still glorious in its beauty.

We woke up very early on our second day, around 4:30, and went out for a walk around 5 am or a little past that. It was low tide. The morning was peaceful. The breeze, light and touchy. The air was cool. It was perfect for deep breathing and for emptying the mind with the worries of the city, allowing the self to get drawn to the details of the sea—like the bare beach sand, moist from the water that had just receded and the rustic colors that were starting to infuse the low sky as the sun was starting to rise. We picked up some trash on the beach: a foil pack of junk food, which, obviously, had just been dropped, or thrown, rather, within the hour we went walking and taking photos as well as a few pieces of thin plastic that had lodged in the moist shore.

Santiago Bay is a public beach. I say, the best way for locals to appreciate what they have and enjoy. You see them resting in cottages or waiting for customers who’d like to pay for their services to cook for them or to take them to a tour around Camotes Islands.

Santiago Bay is just a piece of Camotes. There is more to explore and discover. But the beauty and charm of Camotes can only be preserved for as long as the locals help protect the sea from garbage and pollution and as long as the visiting tourists and travelers do the same.

Mt. Kanlaon Coffee and The Fight Against GMOs

I’ve been trying to find good quality beans to replace my used-to-be-favorites Guatemala and Colombia from Starbucks. I love Figaro but the beans I’ve tried are not good for pressed coffee so I only buy their coffee black when either brewed or the usual americano. Being very particular with the quality of my coffee, I had to repeatedly ask Carlo who sells Mt. Kanlaon coffee at Cebu Farmers Market in Handuraw whether it’s good for a French press. He promised to either return my money if I didn’t like it or lend me his brewer if pressed does not turn out satisfying.

Well, I’m proud I bought this and I love it because it’s local and organic. It has a full flavour but doesn’t have an unpleasant after taste. Plus I need lesser-than-usual amount of coffee to make a tall cup and I put just a little amount of sugar to make it more delightful (sometimes, I go for no sugar).

Some time last year, I joined the boycott of Starbucks after word was out that they have partnered with or supported Monsanto and other GMO companies in blocking efforts to GMO-labeling. It wasn’t absolute boycott as I couldn’t find the right beans to replace what I have been using. A few times, less than five, I went to the store and bought coffee to-go when I had no choice but, hey, I’m trying my best and products like Mt. Kanlaon coffee and the people who grown and sell them help in the advocacy.

Mt. Kanlaon is an active volcano in Negros Island in the Philippines. Negros is one of the few provinces that banned the entry and propagation of genetically-modified organisms  or GMOs and is known for developing organic farming communities including the ones growing coffee trees by the mountain ranges of Mt. Kanlaon. Cebu Farmers Market is an initiative of GMO-Free Cebu, an anti-GMO campaign being ran by volunteers who are farmers and consumers (I will tell you more about the market and the campaign in a separate blogpost).

Bothmer – How You Move Is How You Are

Some people used to tell me that I am intimidating which contradicts the fact that most of those who I become friends with say they pick up from my aura a message that I am friendly and welcoming. I couldn’t reconcile the two, but it didn’t really bother me because they often said it in the context of why I am not in a romantic relationship with men.

My recent experience with Bothmer Movement International, however, made me look into how the subtleties in the way I move are connected to how some people perceive me in the context of authority. I have started examining these subtleties because I think that they create the illusion that one is “separate.” Separation builds walls and this separation effect tells people you cannot be friends, that you will not understand and that you don’t feel. I still believe that you shouldn’t be drinking buddies with your employees but it is important for people to see the interest that you have in them, their learnings and their development. Generative conversations develop this trust over time and I have learned to trust in the process. But learning from Bothmer, I now think that it doesn’t have to take that long for people to get you right—or for you to send your well-meaning intentions across.

After Bothmer, I said, I won’t walk the same way again. In some of our exercises, we were made to open our palms as an act of giving, to scan the charged air with our fingertips as an act of sensing and to open our ribcages as an act of offering ourselves—eyes, always at a level with the horizon as we move when standing straight. It made me think about how my chin is slightly lifted when I walk, my eyes a little over and, therefore, looking down at the horizon. This is not how it was explained at the workshop—this is my realization thinking about how the movements are incorporated or not incorporated in my everyday life. I used to think that how I walk is how we must walk—properly. Did I get it from a magazine that I’ve read when I was much younger, or saw it on the television, or was this what I was taught at school and I took it seriously? The subtle raising of the chin, it seems, projects a different message I didn’t mean to because the movement is unnatural.

Bothmer also invited me to think about why I hardly subjected myself to conventional body language rules. Somebody must have told you, at least once, that folding your arms in front of you is a defensive gesture. I couldn’t make sense of it and decided some years ago that it is crap. You know how it is when you believe in something and you cannot explain it, you sometimes tend to believe less—or it erodes some of its believable qualities. I think that it is the function of science to help us see and understand so that we can become more conscious and aware of the realities around us. Bothmer is the science of movement. As I put more thought into it, I realize that folding my arms in front of me is an act of hiding or protecting the ribcage from something—it’s a gesture of closing and it is definitely not welcoming. Martin Baker, Founding Director of Bothmer Movement International, our teacher and facilitator, recounted that when we see a child and we want the child to come to us, we open our ribcages; then the child comes running and puts himself into our chest and we put our palms on the child’s back to embrace. We do the same with adults. And I recall those times when greeting somebody is awkward, cheek-to-cheek, with minimal body contact, whereas when we are fond of someone and we missed him, we hug tightly. We do not expect ourselves to immediately offer ourselves to others. I think that this is important in times of misunderstandings and when there is tension between people—when we do not want to rub it the wrong way and not want to push people away. When we’re sorry, we use our palm, not our fingers or a fist, to touch the other person, Martin reminds us.

We have been processing—silently in our thoughts—as we do the exercises and I think that it is powerful in helping re-wire our brains, grounding our ideas and putting them into action. In one of the exercises, we start with the hands on our sides, feet together. Then we start extending our arms on the sides, up to the level of the horizon, palms facing upward. Then we turn the arms inward so the palms also face inward. We start sliding one foot towards the back, while, using the arms, we form an arc, which becomes a circle, in front of us, head bowed down. From the arc to the circle, the palms have closed to fists.

Sometimes, in life, we just keep on giving, never receiving, and we get tired of it. Then we close our palms and hide our ribcages until we have processed the experience. But it is important to rise above it. We bring the circle above our head as the foot slides back to its original position, then we put one foot forward as we release the closed fists into the air, opening our hands back into our vertical, ribcages open. We must learn the lesson.

That is just one of the many realizations that I had from the different movement exercises at the workshop. It is a very rich experience. And the awareness that it brings to our bodies and minds is powerful it trickles down and sinks into our everyday lives. There is wisdom in movement and the space we use or not use around us is alive. Alive is a word best understood when experienced. I wish you could participate in this workshop. I can only tell you that when I closed my eyes, I felt that the space was growing—something of a quality we do not feel when our eyes are open. I moved and continued moving because the space was asking me to just move.

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(Photo courtesy of Shaping Sophia. For more information about Bothmer workshops, you may contact http://www.facebook.com/shapingsophia.)

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