Bringing a New Paradigm to life
foLLOWING THE SPARK OF LIFE, AN INTERVIEW WITH JODY MOUNTAIN
by jeff carreira
SELF-CARE AS A SACRED ACT OF DEVOTION
by robyn LANDIS
THE SOMATIC IMPACT OF EMOTIONS, A BOOK EXCERPT
by SuSAN KuLLMAN
MY UNRAVELING OF THE MYSTERY OF DIS-EASE
A Look Inside
the Being Well Issue
THE SOMATIC IMPACT OF EMOTIONS, A BOOK EXCERPT
By Susan Kullman
this issue'S featured artist: KATHRYN EDWARDS
FOLLOWING THE SPARK OF LIFE, AN INTERVIEW WITH JODY MOUNTAIN
By Jeff Carreira
A poem by Ross Kempner
Artwork by Kathleen Leroy
Spontaneous Writing Circle Entries
by Deborah Kaplan, Bonita Winer, Radhika Malhorta, and Liesbeth de Jong
SELF-CARE AS A SACRED ACT OF DEVOTION
By Robyn Landis
'TAURUS SUGAR MOON' - art by kathryn edwards
THE SOMATIC IMPACT OF EMOTIONS
“Don't demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do happen, and you will go on well.”
membership & calls
my unraveling of the mystery of dis-ease
By Supriya Kini
SELF-CARE AS A SACRED ACT OF DEVOTION
the artist of possibility Issue#7 • 2
foLLOWING THE SPARK OF LIFE
COver image by
Kathryn Edwards, 'Moon Lite Circle'
Emergence Education Press
Liesbeth de Jong
'night blooming sirus' - art
by kathryn edwards
The editors can be reached by email at:
the artist of possibility Issue#5 • 4
3 • Issue#7 the artist of possibility
mystery school Instagram account
mystery school Facebook page
mystery school YouTube channel
A Note from the Editors
a note from the Editors
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the artist of possibility
In this issue of The Artist of Possibility, we take a holistic look at what it means to be well. The pandemic of the past year has made it crystal clear that none of us can take our health for granted. Many of us have a renewed desire to be as healthy as possible, but what does that mean? Ideas of well-being in the West are often overly simplified and compartmentalized. The articles you find here explore how we can maintain the health of our whole being, inside and out, including our physical, mental, and energetic bodies.
The issue opens with Supriya Kini’s poetic description of the Hindu breathwork practice of Pranayama. Then we travel from the wisdom tradition of India to the indigenous wisdom of Hawaii where Jody Mountain shares the worldview of Ancient Lomi Lomi bodywork. Robyn Landis shows us how self-care can become a practice of sacred devotion in which we love the divine by loving ourselves. And in our last feature article, Susan Kullman shares an excerpt from her forthcoming book to illuminate how our emotions intersect with our bodies.
In addition to these features, you will find beautiful and illuminating contributions from our members and friends. As always, it has been a joy to envision this issue for you and to offer perspectives, insights and practices with life-altering potential. And we are grateful to this month’s featured artist, Kathy Edwards. Kathy currently lives in Maine, but her paintings expand beyond any physical borders, revealing universal visions of nature and the human spirit.
For any questions or comments, feel free to contact us here.
If you want to rid yourself of unnecessary anxiety, there’s two things you can do: You can try to make sure that everything is always the way you think it should be, or you can let go of any ideas you have that things should be other than the way they are.
— jeff Carreira
art by kathryn edwards
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AN ONLINE JOURNAL:
Each issue of The Artist of Possibility
will include the voices of some of today’s most respected paradigm shifting luminaries, as well as contributions offered by our members.
The Mystery School for a New Paradigm publishes an online journal containing articles, interviews, art and poetry that express and explain the emerging possibilities of a new paradigm.
In our pages, you will find information about the ideas, people and perspectives that are catalyzing new ways of seeing, feeling and acting in the world.
the artist of possibility Issue#7 • 8
Don't miss our seventh issue, set to publish on October 15th 2021, where we will be exploring the topic of Magic, Mysticism, and the Paranormal.
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When I was approaching my mid-twenties and began to paint, I found I was entering into a very familiar space that was opening me to an inherent joy and wonder that I only knew in childhood play. Even though in the beginning I wasn’t too crazy about my results, the process was thoroughly engaging. I found a place of inner calm that was absent of the frenzy of the other excitements of my youth. It took a while to find my unique style of accentuating the harmony in nature.
By-and-large I am self taught, or you could say I created my own curriculum of learning how to paint. I majored in art in high school and took classes at the University of California Santa Cruz in Color Theory. I also worked for years in an award-winning design studio in New Orleans where I feel I cultivated a good eye for balance and design in composition. But one of the best methods for me to learn to paint was via copying two of my favorite artists, Van Gogh and Rousseau. An unlikely pairing, but they were self-taught too! During those early exploratory years, I had the exciting opportunity to spend a good amount of time in Paris. I visited the Jeu de Paume museum four times! Yes, it took more that one viewing to really see what I was looking at. While in the hallways of this incredible musee d’art, I noticed there were student easels stacked against a wall in the hallway. My learning process was confirmed! The meticulous act of seeing and copying the masters was the oldest tried and true way to learn to paint. Oh - that I could have sat in front of a real Van Gogh with brush in hand!
After years of being the frustrated artist who did not have the time to paint, I made the bold decision to accept an invitation to live in a handmade cottage in rural North Queensland. Finally, my burning desire was able to be actualized. I probably created at least two dozen paintings during that period and sold all but five. Those five were the ones I wanted to keep and are now available as high quality archival prints. I have wondered if I will ever be able to paint the way I did during those years of being surrounded within the Australian Open Forest. I feel these paintings in particular carry a special energy. I even tried to copy one of them, more than once, and was never able to capture the original energy. I found that to be quite a revelation actually.
For me, art is not so much but the perfection of techniques as it is the faithful adherence of stepping into one's soul strength in those moments when the brush moves onto the canvas. My aim is to continue to come more from inspiration for the sake of creation itself. Art is a practice of getting out of my own way, leaving the myriad of daily tasks behind, and giving myself over to another process that allows my hands to show my eyes what my heart sees. I hope that my paintings always convey a bit of childlike wonder for the harmony and grace of our natural environment.
For more of Kathryn's art, visit her website: kathrynedwardsartist.com
'eve' - art
by Kathryn Edwards
This issue's Featured artist:
My Unraveling of the Mystery of Dis-Ease
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SUPRIYA KINI is a Kundalini Yoga teacher and soon to graduate Restorative Yoga teacher. She is also completing her Feminine Power Coaching/ Facilitation certification and holds a certification from the Science of Well-Being online course from Yale University.
A storyteller at heart, she is deeply passionate about exploring how we can live our most consciously embodied spiritually awake life by looking deeper at the truth of our nature.
She believes sustainable transformation begins with the self and requires both solitude and community. She currently blogs and facilitates circles for women. In her free time, you may find her writing, meditating, reading, singing, gardening, walking, or cooking with her kids. One of her all-time favorite quotes – "When you know how to listen, everyone is the guru."
— Ram Dass.
Health is not something that was ever on my conscious mind growing up. Well-being was simply that - being well, which honestly and gratefully was a given to me from birth. Growing up in India, in a very middle-class home with a simple lifestyle, I never had to think about health until around the age of 30, wherein after my firstborn, I experienced an extended period of dissonance in my body for the first time. The diagnostics did not offer any conclusive results, and yet for me, the continued experience of ill health was as viscerally real as could be.
For the first 30 years of my life, focusing on my health was not something I felt the need to ever prioritize, much less manage. When people would share with me their difficulties with headaches, for example, I would wonder how that would feel.
Numerous personal stories then unfolded along this exploratory path that I entered in search for answers to my ill health. I researched practitioners of Western medicine, yoga, Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and Shamanism. There is no way I can cover all the details of the trail of breadcrumbs that have brought me to where I find myself today regarding the subject of health and well-being.
To be as helpful and simple as possible, I have decided to focus on how a series of (un)learnings beautifully unraveled for me through deepening stages of experiential understanding. It has been a rich and rewarding journey that I am deeply grateful for as it continues to bring me to an ever-deeper understanding of my true nature.
The Seeking - At the Level of the Mind
When our body experiences pain, the Mind, which naturally is quick to interpret and react, engages in an immediate movement toward seeking to find a way to ease the suffering. With its limited perspective, the Mind looks only at the level of our gross physical senses in its quest for relief of the symptoms. This is how Health is commonly approached, experienced, and addressed in the current world.
This fervent seeking has us scrambling, looking for solutions in any place we can find them. We examine and discuss symptoms and family health histories. We receive counsel from doctors who are experts in related fields. We seek recommendations from people who have experienced similar conditions. Then based on what we learn, we make lifestyle changes to things like diet and exercise.
As we adopt this new way of life, these practices do help us bounce back into a healthier body and perhaps even a more positive-oriented Mind. We now find ourselves better able to function in the world and life feels like it's back to normal again.
We may get through our illness this way, but something changes in us after that. The Body-Mind now recognizes the unpredictable nature of its physicality. It sees that it’s always possible for health to regress at any time without notice. At some level, we now realize that while we can control certain aspects of our health, we are never really in total control. Even after being physically healed, the Body-Mind continues feeling susceptible and uncertain.
While this knowing may not show up obviously in our conscious awareness, it runs as an undercurrent of "mild anxiety" and a sense of "not being safe" that affects our overall state of being. We always remain on alert. The Body-Mind is on overdrive, trying to regain a sense of control by looking for meaning in anything that shows up differently than expected. We are engaged in a nearly invisible and almost constant inner narrative that something is missing. The Mind is now relentlessly outwardly focused at the first hint of unrest.
This feeling of lack is overly dependent on external authorities—people who seem to know more and better than you and can therefore make better decisions on your behalf than you can. The Mind at this level does not fully see or understand your true nature, and it lives with a feeling of powerlessness. Life continues. This unease is accepted and is deemed normal which is confirmed when we see that all around us others are living this way as well.
Diving Deeper - At the Level of the Subtle Body.
What is disease? At the simplest level, it is just that - dis-ease. The longer we live in and with an underlying current of inner un-ease and resistance, the more we are likely to experience the consequent physical manifestation of it as illness. When we wake up to the truth that what we are is more than just this gross Body-Mind and its symptoms, we, bit by bit, recognize the role of the subtle energetic body in the experience of well-being.
"Well-Being Is a Reflection of Our Alignment."
When we feel at ease, the Body-Mind is aligned with the Energetic Self. Health is a natural reflected manifestation of our innate vibrant flow of Life Energy. We carry within us many different forms of resistance, whether obvious or subtle. Any thoughts, beliefs, emotions, fears that stand in opposition to the nature and flow of our core vibratory open radiating Energetic Self is felt as unease. Prolonged resistance and constriction of energy eventually manifests as mental and physical dis-ease whose root lies at the energetic level.
Energy permeates everything, so it sometimes may be nearly impossible for the Mind to discern where the misalignment is or where it began. With the discovery of our Energetic Self, we now know that nothing arises in isolation, although the Mind perceives it to be so. We are now aware that there is much that is invisible to the physical eye. The Body-Mind-Spirit is a whole interconnected unit whose workings lie beyond the understanding of the Mind, which seeks solutions in fragmented parts.
In my case, after two years of choosing a completely natural way of life and feeling relatively back to "normal" by typical standards, I came across the miraculous gift that completely changed my health and life in ways unimaginable. I found or rather accepted the yogic practice of Pranayama, and everything changed.
In the Eastern tradition of Hinduism, it is recognized that the foundation of life is the subtle mystical energy that the yogis call Prana. This vital energy animates all of life. That energy is who we are. It permeates everything from our gross physical movements to our minute cellular biochemical processes. It is responsible for regulating our body's physical and mental functions and is the very creative energy of Consciousness itself.
It took me less than a week of doing the breathing exercises of Pranayama to experience its mind-blowing transformational power. Although very little may have changed to the naked eye, everything changed in the inner world of my lived experience. Inexplicably, the Body-Mind experienced a complete natural ease that felt like a profound homecoming. It was as if I had plugged back into my source; I breathed and moved better. I saw with more clarity. There was a spring in my step, an unconditional joy in my heart, and much more. I felt the very aliveness of life that was me.
Waking Up - At the level of Awareness/Presence/True Self
While we may recognize energy as an essential part of who we are, we may still not be fully and experientially aware that IT IS the reality of US. This life force energy is aware, awake, and boundless. It is quite literally us. The realization of this is commonly known as Awakening.
Why does experientially knowing our awake and aware Self even matter?
When I recognized this awake truth for the first time, I realized that I was still functioning from and as a conditioned Body-Mind. And I saw that I had been trapped in the false belief that, to live our true nature, we had to transcend and overcome our current ways of being.
"What Is My True Identity?"
Our identity, that is, what or who we recognize ourselves to be, naturally determines how we live and experience life. And most often our True Self is obscured to us by our experience of thoughts, emotions, and inner conditions. When we are identified as the Body-Mind rather than as Awareness itself, we unwittingly carry our conditioning as our truth. Without realizing it, we embrace the very resistance that blocks us. Transformation occurs when we experience and see how Awareness is the true nature of who we are and all that is, and we choose to take a stand in that truth in every moment of our life.
This is the significant and pivotal shift in perception that transforms our life.
“The Root Cause of All Dis-Ease of Our Times Is the Lack of Presence."
The health of our Body-Mind is a natural reflection of living in alignment with and as the Presence of our True Self. Our True Self is unbounded, whole, free, and complete.
Always was, is, and will be. Living according to our conditioning leads to a constricted life. The beliefs, suppressed emotions, unaligned patterns, misperceptions, and reactive habits that we carry within work to block the energetic flow of our innate being. Eventually, we may recognize that the Mind's ways of perceiving and relating IS the sickness that manifests in the Body-Mind world.
"Sickness Is a Defense Against the Truth." – Lesson 136, A Course In Miracles
When you are in tune with your aware True Self that vibrates perfectly as YOU, you don't just survive; you thrive. Aligned as your True Self, you are one with your Body-Mind and life's wisdom. You recognize and are aligned with the dynamic aspect of who you are and with life itself. You flow with and in your unique rhythm. You no longer depend only on the Mind's conceptualization because now you live directly from Presence.
As Presence we are one with life. In presence we don't follow set diets. We allow our body's innate intelligence to lead because it knows how to bring balance back into the system. We eat what arises as nourishing in any given moment. We may find that we meditate more. We move and live in ways that allow our whole being to be in connection with all of life.
We now approach life not from fear or lack but from a deep connection and trust that all is well, and that the life that is us is benevolent and always moving on our behalf. We approach the Body-Mind, and its conditions from the stillness, peace, and the freedom that is us.
"Health Is a Reflection of Our Abidance as the Inner Peace of Our True Self."
In the Indian culture, most of our prayers and rituals end with the Shanti (Peace) Mantra.
Om, Shanti. Shanti Shanti.
I am, Peace. Peace. Peace.
It's a Mantra we grew up chanting every evening. Of course, often doing it grudgingly as kids, never understanding its depth and meaning. Today, I realize the significance of this invocation. In reminding ourselves that our nature is peace itself, we recognize how in and through peace all is possible.
Life's flow is generative and only moves in one direction - towards wholeness, fullness, and vibrancy. Health and well-being are a given. All parts of us are in a magical dance of synchronicity, constantly in communication with each other.
An invitation to deeply listen.
And are we listening?
Or is the Mind the master here? Limiting by its imprint and narrative.
From our true space, we see all of existence in the right light.
Illness ceases to be a problem that needs to be healed.
What we are is always well—every moment, perfect just the way it is. Now from this aligned space, we see a clearer picture and can attend to the things in the relative and transitory world of the Body-Mind. Even amidst our deepest struggles, we live and move from our sacred wholeness.
We now respond from our space of power rather than reacting from the illusion of fear and confusion.
Every experience, touched by grace, flows in ways that serve the highest good.
If you can't locate yourself yet as Awareness, then trust your body. Your body is always true to the present moment, unlike the Mind, which wanders into the past and future.
This body is a temple, a portal of life. A way to anchor into the consciousness of the present moment. Each cell of our body contains the whole universe. A microcosm of the macrocosm.
Yatha Pinde, Tatha Brahmande;
Yatha Brahmande, Tatha Pinde.
"As is the human body so is the cosmic body, as is the cosmic body so is the human body"
An aligned Body-Mind, when infused with Awareness, becomes a divine tool of ecstatic spontaneity. A living miracle in action.
A Well-Spring of Being – Final Thoughts
If any of the above resonated, the Mind may try to use all of this information to make you feel like you need to "do" something to get on the path! Don't be fooled.
Abide in your True Self as much as you can.
Make your life a walking meditation. In this, all the perceived suffering, bodily or otherwise, will hold the possibility to be revealed and relieved naturally.
As the True Self, you already are a wellspring of being.
The ever-abundant flow of wellness is YOU.
YOU can never be apart from it.
What we do is secondary to how we do it.
The energy with which we approach life will ultimately determine the outcome we experience.
Nothing lies outside of us.
Can you sense how life in its fullness is alive and thriving, right now?
How the cells in your body are flowing and dancing?
Always moving towards optimum expansion even as you read this?
Let go so you can allow what already is.
Health and well-being are our birthright and always will be.
I wish this for all of us.
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SPARK OF LIFE
In this conversation, I was delighted to speak with Jody Mountain. Jody is a master of Ancient Lomi Lomi and a teacher of the Ancient Hawaiian Wisdom Tradition from which it comes: Ke Ala Hõkū — The Pathway to The Stars. I have had the privilege of training with Jody during two of her residential intensives and what I experienced in working with her radically changed my understanding of well-being. In this dialogue, Jody shares a little of her story of discovering the indigenous shamanic tradition of Ancient Lomi Lomi and how that work awakens the life force within us. What we will discover is that if we open to the wisdom of the body we will find a pathway to our highest potentials.
Jeff Carreira: Hello Jody, thank you for speaking with us. I wonder if you would start by saying a little about yourself as an introduction to our readers.
Jody Mountain: Well, very briefly, I was born in Jamaica where I studied Jamaican folk dance from the age of four. So I've always been very body-oriented you could say. I went to college in Canada and ended up in Modern Dance and Choreography in Toronto.
Surrounded by sore bodies, as well as my own, I started massaging my fellow dancers. Soon, they began offering me money for massages and at that time, as a starving artist, $15 was very helpful. At the same time, I started to get deeply fascinated by the body and was starting to look into massage training when I happened to see that someone who described themselves as a student of a Kahuna (a wise man or shaman) in Hawaii was giving demonstrations and workshops in the area. That demonstration became a pivotal moment in my life. I felt a deep resonance with the work he was sharing.
I had such a deep visceral reaction to the work that I dropped everything else I was doing and started on the path that has become my life. I eventually moved to Hawaii and studied with the same Kahuna who had trained the person I met in Toronto. His name was Kahu Abraham Kawai‘i. I have been a practitioner and a teacher in the bodywork based indigenous tradition of Ancient Lomi Lomi ever since.
Jeff Carreira: Can you tell us more about your work with Kahu Abraham Kawai‘i?
Jody Mountain: Kahu only taught in immersive workshops of 14 days or more at his homestead. In this way, it was very unlike typical Western learning. In the West, we tend to emphasize intellectual learning. We exchange ideas. The learning with Kahu was deeply experiential and inclusive of much more of who we are and what we are made of.
In the West learning tends to come in through the mind and, ideally, is later integrated into the body. In this indigenous tradition, the learning comes in through the body. Kahu would always say that the body gets it first and the mind catches up later.
I believe this learning style more accurately reflects the truth of who we are. Human beings are not just mental creatures, we are an intricate and infinite amalgamation of interconnections between mind, thought, emotion, body, memory, hopes, dreams, and images. All of that and more is informing our experience right now.
We are made up of more cellular processes than we are of ideas, thoughts and memories. We're 99% flesh and blood and, most importantly, we're the spark of life that is moving through us all the time.
The spark of life, the spirit, that we are is inseparable from our physical being. We can't take it out. We can't remove it because it's not a separate part of us. It's part and parcel of all that we are. So, in the tradition of Ancient Lomi Lomi the learning is flipped so the experience of the body informs the mind.
Rather than working with ideas, we allow the life force to awaken and inform the mind. So the mind is secondary. In this way, the mind becomes the servant of the spirit, but where we find the spirit is through the body. This may seem a bit counter-intuitive, but that is the indigenous worldview and if we embrace it, it flips our perception of who we are, and how we perceive the world, upside down.
Jeff Carreira: You know, on my path I’ve often started with ideas. I hear something and it really resonates with me and I believe that it is true. After that, I might work with the idea for months or even years and then something happens and the understanding finally clicks in at a different level. It’s like it finally seeped into my body. An illumination occurs, my body relaxes and the idea rushes in.
Now hearing you I'm wondering if that initial recognition was actually a bodily recognition and then it took time for the mind to catch up.
Jody Mountain: Yes that’s how I would see it. I think most things that resonate with us deeply are actually impacting us on a visceral level in the body. The learning happens in the body first, but we’re not taught to see it that way.
We're taught that the body is just a machine that transports our mind and spirit from place to place. We’re told that we need to take care of it. You know, if you eat the right food, drink lots of water and exercise, your vehicle will last a long time. So we’re taught to take care of it, but we aren’t taught to listen to it.
There's nothing wrong with this Western way of learning. It has brought tremendous growth for many people in many ways. But we are so oversaturated with that singular way of being. The neglect of other viewpoints has huge repercussions for us personally and for the planet.
If we overly rely on mental cognition, then the brain is effectively in charge of the body, but as I said earlier, the body is actually so much more of who we are.
Jeff Carreira: If I use my experience of encountering your work, I went to you for a massage. I had no idea that you were anything but a massage therapist, so I wasn't looking for anything beyond a good massage. And then when you worked on me, I could feel that you were gently influencing the energy in my body.
Sometime later, I was reading some of your blog posts and I found myself having very powerful experiences of energetic opening. I found myself seeing and feeling a sense of light and energy spinning all around me. And that was just from a blog post. I feel that the work was somehow communicating with me. And my body was recognizing something that my mind was skeptical about.
Jody Mountain: Yeah, that's beautiful. Jeff. And I think many of us have had experiences where something doesn't really make sense, but we just are compelled to follow it anyway.
The idea that the learning is coming in through the body, or you could say that your body wakes up to something, is accurate to my experience of this work because the work is really just life meeting life.
As a practitioner and a teacher, I emphasize that what we are doing is accessing our own life force so that it can come forward in our experience. When I put my hands on another human being, I'm aware that I’m not just touching someone’s back or leg or arm, I’m actually touching their entire life. The consciousness of your body is held in your cells, and that bodily consciousness has been through every experience of every moment of your life. And it is all still there in your body now.
I know that I am touching the totality of who you are when I touch your body, but I also know that I can't possibly know all of the moments of your life and how they impacted and shaped you, and how they created your hopes and dreams.
The bodywork of Ancient Lomi Lomi is holographic or multi-dimensional in the sense that we are in contact with the past, present and even the future of who you are. That is so huge. I can't possibly know how to help you. I can’t possibly know cognitively what you need. My mind simply could never hold it all, but the life force in me and then the life force in you wake up and make contact. And that meeting of life with life is how the work gets done.
I like to use the example of a dog at a party. Everyone is chatting and enjoying dinner and the dog is sitting there with its head on its paws. And then someone walks over and pats the dog on the head and the dog starts wagging its tail and gets excited. In the same way, the life energy that is being ignored in someone because they have never been trained to pay attention to it, gets touched by the life force in me and it wakes up. That is the work that gets done. I think that is what you felt in the massage with me.
The life force in us is our connection to the infinite and that includes every potential for healing there could be. It also contains all of the ways that our system wants to express its fullest potential. If we allow it to be free, the life force energy will do all the healing.
In most of us, the life force has been inhibited by negative ideas about who we are and what we can and cannot do and how we are supposed to be. Those ideas clamp down on our life force. Our life force can only pass through whatever opening is allowed, but the rest of the time it has to remain under wraps. And that's not the path to our full potential. At best, it's a path to fulfilling our ideas about who we are.
Jeff Carreira: Would you say that the work of Ancient Lomi Lomi is ultimately about realizing our full potential?
Jody Mountain: Yes, I think you could say that. It is certainly about more than just healing the physical body. The way that I have come to think about it is that this work raises your internal speed, by which I mean the speed with which we can meet our own life force.
This work allows us to increase the speed with which we can communicate directly with our own life force. So that means that instead of always approaching life through the conscious mind, which is profoundly limited and often shaped by fear or trauma, we are able to respond to life directly from our own life force, from our spirit force, from our essence you could say.
I see this work as an embodied form of spirituality and when your spirituality becomes embodied like this, you're much more able to hold your inner alignment no matter what's happening around you. You are following the wisdom of spirit as it moves through the body. You are living inside the transformative wisdom of your own life force. That life force knows the path to your full potential and now you can follow it.
'Day and night'
art by linda luttinger
Spark of Life
An interview with jody Mountain
by Jeff Carreira
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'a view through the trees'
art by kathryn edwards
Self-Care as a
Sacred Act of Devotion
How Health, Fitness and Well-Being Are Inseparable from Spiritual Life, Service,
Creative Expression and Divinity
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ROBYN LANDIS is an ACE-
certified fitness professional, self-care coach, bestselling author, nutritionist, herbalist, and Reiki healer. She offers spiritual mentorship rooted in self-love and joyful self-nourishment as an act of service and devotion. She is passionate about helping people make choices that fuel what really matters most—gladly and with ease—so that the body and energy are aligned with highest self-expression. She is also committed to the transformation of medicine and fitness culture so that it inspires people to be good to themselves. She believes that nourished people are resilient and able to give generously and serve deeply. Robyn's books (including Herbal Defense, cowritten with one of the country’s top plant medicine experts) have been published by Warner Books in five languages with a combined 200,000 copies in print. Her third book is forthcoming. She is also an award-winning songwriter.
If you put your hands on this oar with me, they would no longer lift anything to your mouth that might wound your precious land - that sacred earth that is your body. -Rumi
Many people experience health and fitness as a chore at best, or misery at worst. Even devoted spiritual practitioners often feel challenged in making healthy choices—what you might call “getting yourself to do something you know you should do.”
For decades, one of the most common questions I’ve been asked is,“how do I get myself to [do X] or [ stop doing Y] ?”
My answer is always the same: “You can’t get yourself to, and no one else can get you to either.” Thinking in those terms is the mark of a paradigm that limits you, that obscures the possibility of easeful, joyful self-care that in turn supports your highest potential.
Thankfully, you can do something much better than wrestle yourself into “complying” with grim, lifeless health “regimens.”
You can come to care for yourself and life so much that you want to give yourself all the good things you learn about. You can cherish yourself and life so deeply that you simply wouldn't do anything but the best for it.
This may sound like an impossibly high bar. But it’s not only possible—I think it’s especially accessible for those on a spiritual path like ours. You have a head start.
The attainment of wanting healthy choices is a spiritual prospect, not just a physical one. It involves making a conscious connection between your abiding respect for and awe of life and God, and a similar reverence for yourself—in an authentic recognition that YOU ARE THAT.
This connection is sorely missing from health culture. As a result, we struggle mightily with self-care, and suffer tremendous health consequences to a needless degree.
Here’s some food for thought (so to speak) about how your devotion to spirit and what truly matters—your reverence and awe for the grace of being alive in a body—can naturally inspire self-care.
CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS VS CHANGING HABITS
One thing I’ve seen in 30 years as a self-care coach, trainer and mentor is that it actually doesn't work to externally try to change your habits—to wrench yourself into doing something different.
What works is you becoming a person who naturally does those things.
Instead of “habit change” or “behavior change,” I approach health transformation as a function of seeing and speaking differently, and focus on potential instead of problems.
The core premise is this: Don’t try to change what you DO. Shift who you’re BEING.
Become a person who nourishes your body and life with gratitude. Become a person who cares so deeply about what you’re here for that you’re compelled to do right by yourself in every way.
Become a person who gives to yourself as an act of giving to the world, knowing they’re not separate. Become a person who deeply connects your aspirations to your life choices every day.
Become that person.
It doesn't work to justtry todo different stuff…while remaining the same old person. To harangue yourself into “habits” while embedded in an old identity, or the entrenched “normal” health-fitness consciousness.
What works is shifting that consciousness and center of identity. Who we’re being and where we’re seeing from is what influences our healthy choices. That’s when they truly become choices—an extension of who we are.
So how do we facilitate that?
The way we do most everything else in our spiritual practice: by attuning. We rest and dwell in a different conversation.
With health and fitness, as with meditation, we can do that with simple attentional practices. By resting your attention in new places, new conversation and new perspectives, you “park” in a different consciousness and grow mass and density there.
There are many practices that help with this. A core one is simplygiving attention to what matters and cultivating a connection between that and your choices.
What I see most missing when people struggle with healthy things is a felt, lived connection between what really matters and the choices that you make every day. Between what you really care about—and how you care for yourself.
Thankfully, this disconnect can be healed. Sometimes just by shining light on it, awakening to the very presence of this rift. Just considering this right now could begin to shift something, to open the window a crack and illuminate what was once opaque.
The fact is that any division between "what really matters" and "how you care for yourself" is illusion. Your life/dreams/service/creative expression, and The Sacred, and how you care for yourself are inextricably melded.
Compartmentalizing them is destructive to health, personally and collectively.
Even before I was deeply embedded in spiritual life, I saw early on that working with questions like“What’s most important to you? What do you value? What do you treasure? What do you really want?” constituted a hugely overlooked “secret ingredient" in lasting change.
I see people bring all kinds of stuff to their health and fitness efforts. Concepts about discipline. And willpower. And restriction. What they usually don't bring—because in our culture, almost no one thinks about this in a health context—is a deep, cultivated, contemplated connection between health/fitness and... who they are. What they love. What life IS.
When your efforts aren’t rooted in the soil of that love and devotion, healthy living almost always remains a scattered bunch of grudging obligations.
The negative, narrow and clinical language of this paradigm (which I call “Diet Thinking”) reinforces a narrative that feeds inaction and failure. It includes unquestioned and destructive assumptions such as: healthy living is hard. It’s boring, drab, confusing, complicated, unsexy. It’s maybe even impossible.
There’s also the detachment from “real life.” It’s a thing, over there, divorced from the rest of you. You rarely just eat and move and rest and live. You don't just choose. Instead, you’re "on or off" a program. (Or a wagon. What is this “wagon?”) Your life is over here. And your health efforts are over there. Diets, exercises, plans, regimens.
(Doesn't a regimen sound awful? Many people beat themselves up for not “sticking to a regimen”— like that’s something anyone would ever want to do! Yet we don’t even question this language.)
Clinically treating healthy choices like an isolated regime that has to be wedged into life and “adhered” to—and that you can relapse from (seriously?) like it's an illness? This isn’t working—as evidenced by no more than 2.7% of Americans claiming even the most rudimentary of healthy practices. (That’s a real stat from a 2016 Mayo Clinic study1.)
CONTENT VS CONTEXT
Related to this “great divide” and its toxic vocabulary is the obsession with content over context.
You’ve probably noticed we tend to focus nearly all (if not all) our attention on the information element. Plans, tips, blueprints, hacks…our culture operates with the mistaken assumption that information alone is what’s missing, and information alone will produce results.
Yes, it’s important to know what to do too—and to be fair, there’s a good bit of confusion about that. Figuring out what you most need is vital. But it’s worthless if you’re not going to then give it to yourself. And that’s what people struggle with the most.
You may think or be told you lack “motivation”—but really it's missing context.
We’re hammered with instructions endlessly, in this void of any compelling reason to use them.
“This is the food that will do this” or “this exercise that will do that.” So what—if you aren’t connected to an inspired passion for that outcome?
It’s like seeking the best map to Ohio—when you have no reason to go to Ohio. But you keep collecting more and more maps, touting various routes…with still no real impetus to travel.
And you never get there. The maps don’t make you go. They just pile up in the car.
With the kind of spiritual context I’m describing, you have good reasons to “go.” Your doing becomes embodied, imbued with love and divinity.Then,directions and how-tos have a coherent place in your self-care. They’re literally brought to life.
It’s the difference between “sticking to your regimen” and nourishing yourself as a unique expression of the Divine.
You can hear the difference. And you can cultivate it.
HOW DO WE BEGIN TO EMBODY AND LIVE THIS?
Being spiritual folks, this should come naturally, right? Since we’re already contemplating who we truly are, what really matters, and what we want to serve?
Yes, but the paradigm is so entrenched that you might find yourself mired in it like everyone else. Even though in most ways you might be evolved far beyond convention, seeing through much of what entraps culture.
When it comes to health and fitness, you might leave all of your spiritual practice and perspective at the door. The reverence, the sense of the holy, the honoring of the miracle of life…might leave the building. You might meekly go into the small airless room of “I have to fix my body problem” and cut yourself off from all this context.
It’s understandable, because the paradigm is mightily entrenched. But what if you transcended this personal and cultural web of assumptions?
What if you gave conscious attention and energy to what matters instead of efforting at what you “should” do? If you developed a bond between how you nourish yourself—and what you want most, are here to do, ARE?
What’s possible is that generously giving yourself all the healthy things your body-mind-spirit need becomes a joyful expression of devotion and abundance, wonder, gratitude—instead of resistance and burden. Healthy choices become a self-evident affirmation of who you are and what you care about, from an authentic freedom. As an act of love, and service—not just to ourselves, but to the world, or to God. A sacred practice that feels like a privilege.
You become a person who loves yourself, others, and life too much to do anything but nurture the precious vessel that you are.
HOW WOULD YOU CARE FOR GOD OR THE DIVINE?
Another essential perspective shift that I like to point to is about puttingyour actions where your mouth is if you believe you are a portal for the Divine and you acknowledge there is no separation.
If you believe it, and include ALL of life (including your body and your health)… what does that mean about how you treat yourself? How can you exclude…you?
Do you desecrate a temple? Throw trash on its steps? If not, why not? I contend it’s not so much because it’s “bad” or “wrong” but because…you just wouldn't. You don’t want to. It’s hard to trash what you respect.
When the body is seen and felt as a sacred treasure—when we cherish it as an inseparable dimension of the miracle and mystery of being alive—self-care becomes a celebration of divinity and wholeness.
You’re so steeped in your desire to serve as a clear portal of goodness that you couldn’t bring yourself to gunk up the conduit.
At this point, all talk of "willpower" becomes obsolete. There’s no need for "getting you to" do stuff with browbeating "shoulds." No propping and pumping you up from the outside. That conversation becomes irrelevant.
The idea behind all this is hopefully familiar to you. You’re here at least in part because you care about serving, divinity, full expression. Now it’s just about bringing well-being inside that sacred circle and aligning that, too, with your deepest truth. What you love, what matters—let that live you.
YOUR NOURISHMENT serves THE highest good. It's not selfish.
When you deprive yourself of nourishing care in any way—whether it’s food, rest, moving your body, stress relief, healing practices, or anything else you need…you deprive others too. Self-care isn't selfish—self-deprivation is. When you withhold from yourself, you withhold from the world the fullest expression of you. It's our loss too.
So self-care is about you, yes, but it's not JUST about you. It’s about you as a vessel, portal, or prism in the ways we already consider in spiritual practice. It's about being fueled to live your dharma fully and express your highest potentials. It’s a dimension of that, and inseparable from that.
My experience is that if we truly recognize and embody this, most struggles with doing healthy things really can fall away. You choose through the lens of becoming the clearest, most open vessel for divinity to express itself in this world through you.
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Impact of Emotions
A book excerpt
by Susan Kullman
A book excerpt
The following excerpt was taken from Susan Kullman’s forthcoming book, Can You Feel It? Building a Revolutionary Relationship. Susan is a certified spiritual life coach, yoga therapist and lifelong dancer. Her new book explores the profound unity and awakening potential of our emotions and our body.
The Somatic Impact of Emotions & the Evolutionary Value of Relaxation
“As your feelings change, this mixture of peptides travels throughout your body and your brain. And they’re literally changing the chemistry of every cell in your body.” — Dr. Candace Pert.
The word somatic refers to the element of experience that has to do with the physical body. Often, the use of this term is also correlated with the notion of the body’s innate capacity to hold and process emotion, to harbor a certain kind of knowledge about its own needs and potentials for healing, and from that knowledge to offer us wisdom beyond that which our conscious thoughts are often able to generate.
Not only does our physiology possess the ability to impact us by delivering its own wisdom and feedback (when we listen carefully), but we also possess the ability to impact our bodies based on how we process and experience our thoughts and emotions. Often, of course, this processing and experiencing is largely unconscious and therefore beyond our immediate control, yet when we seek out, learn, and practice implementing tools for facilitating our own self-growth and self-awareness in this realm, we can then make more conscious choices about how to process and experience our emotions in a way that is not only psychologically and emotionally beneficial to us, but is also better for our physical bodies.
As highlighted in the quote above by Dr. Candace Pert, who was renowned for her work in the field of understanding how our emotions impact our bodies, all emotions release different chemical signals that impact every single one of our cells. With repeated release of the same chemical signals, and their correlative emotions, those chemical imprints on our cells become further and further engrained, making it easier for us to experience those same emotions in the future. Furthermore, when we do not allow ourselves to fully process our emotions, our bodies also experience a chemical impact that can result in a negative effect on our physical health.
Emotion Lives in the Body
In the Guiding Principles About Feelings section of Chapter 1, we learned that when we block ourselves from experiencing our emotions, the vibrations, biological chemicals, and neurological pathways created by those blocked emotions begin to deeply impact not only our minds, but also our physical bodies. Blocked emotions can cause muscle tension, dysfunctional movement patterns, and reduced neuroplasticity (the brain’s natural ability to change its neuronal connections for the purpose of healing and regeneration)—all of which are essential to our physical health and longevity, our mental stability, and our happiness. The effects of not allowing ourselves to fully feel our emotions, as they pertain to our physical bodies, is their somatic impact.
This is a concept that is now quite well-known in the fields of neurobiology and the behavioral sciences, and has also begun to be acknowledged and integrated in the field of psychology as well. However, for those outside these fields of research, the concept of the somatic impact of emotions may sometimes seem less intuitive. That is because, as we have explored, most of us tend to erroneously identify the stories behind our feelings, with the feelings themselves. As we have seen, however, it is important to learn to distinguish between the story (which often arises from something that happened in the past) and the actual vibration, or chemical flow, of the emotion that is occurring in the moment we feel it. Another reason it is important to make this distinction between our stories and our emotions has to do with understanding the process behind somatic impact.
That is, in order to move beyond our personal limitations, and achieve greater health and well-being, we must recognize that our stories always live in the mind, while our emotions live in the body. In order to reduce negative impact on our bodies, therefore, we need to renegotiate a relationship with our emotions in which we allow ourselves to fully feel them, and therefore to allow them to process through our bodies in the freest way possible.
A natural question to ask in order to understand how to change our relationship to emotions, is: why do we ever block our emotions to begin with? Of course, this is most often a completely unconscious decision, yet if it is so distressing to both the mind and the body, why would we even be unconsciously programmed to make such a choice?
The answer may vary slightly from person to person, but in general, the tendency to block our emotions comes from the early-life habit of protectively blocking experiences when certain things (or perhaps even many things, for some people) were too overwhelming for our nervous systems to fully experience. In humans, as with most other species, there is a natural tendency to brace against pain, which is an important survival mechanism. However, it also prevents us from experiencing the emotions associated with the painful or traumatic event, and while many other animal species naturally and immediately dispel the remaining vibrations of trauma from their bodies (for example, most animals allow their bodies to tremble following an overload of fear in the nervous system, even after the source of the threat has already gone away), humans have the tendency instead to remain to some degree in that state of braced protection, never fully allowing the vibrations to move through them.
When this prolonged state of bracing occurs, these vibrations then take long-term root in the body. Once they do so, their chemical imprints can create actual physiological changes at the cellular level.
Another important thing to understand about the somatic impact of suppressed emotions is that it also affects something called fascia, which is a complex network of soft tissue that is completely interconnected in one system throughout the body. So even if we experience pain in one part of the body, it can often be the result of a problem somewhere else, as energy moves somewhat like water throughout the network of the fascia. We all possess these water-like properties in the way that energy moves through our bodies; therefore, we can easily block the flow of this energy in unhealthy ways--such as when we ignore or avoid feeling our feelings―and yet, we also have the redeeming capacity to return to buoyancy and flow, especially when we fully allow our emotions to reach their natural level of vibration in the moment we experience them, instead of suppressing or blocking their movement. This is much healthier for every part of us―emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and physically.
Wisdom Lives in the Body
Just like emotions live in our bodies, so does some of our deepest unconscious wisdom. Our bodies are extremely intelligent mechanisms that are always trying to restore balance to their own ecosystems, and therefore, every single symptom we experience carries an important message with it. Our bodies can therefore be our most powerful teachers, as long as we learn to listen to and understand their language.
The language of the body, when it is in need of restoration or a return to homeostasis (balance), is communicated through its symptomology. One of the most renowned fathers of modern psychology, Carl Jung, asserted that physical symptoms carry to us from our subconscious mind important wisdom about our need for emotional restoration, stating that “there is seldom a bodily ailment that does not show psychic complications, even if it is not psychically caused.” Usually, once we resolve whatever emotional or psychological challenge lies at the root of a symptom, we may find that the symptom either dissipates, or may even disappear altogether. As we just explored in the previous section, suppressed emotion is so often the root cause of physical imbalance and “dis-ease.” Therefore, very often, whenever we experience any physical symptom, at least part of its message tends to be that we must allow ourselves to more fully feel a particular emotion, or set of emotions. The opportunity this offers us for potential growth, learning, and healing, is a new lens through which we can now view our relationship with our emotions. It is the deep recognition and integration that instead of being something to avoid or block at all costs, fully feeling our feelings is necessary for our own true healing at every level of being human―the emotional, the psychological, the spiritual, and the physical.
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'pelicans and geckos'
art by kathryn edwards
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Hugging Your Nightmares
The shadow of your positive form, stands in the corner of the mind.
when checks on the positive can not be maintained, the shadow presents themself.
Its manifestation is your golden opportunity,
to hug it.
But how do I properly hug my nightmare?
Does it want to go on a walk?
Does it like to dance?
Do you think you know what you desire?
Do you think you know what the nightmare desires?
Empty your desires to your nightmare’s desires.
Give it what it wants.
Does it want you to realize that your filtering of your negative poles hurts the two of you?
How can we hug? The positive poles of the maintenance lean in and hug, but there is no spark. How can we really get it on?
by Ross Kempner
In regards to "Health and Well Being", our roots are just as important as what we show the external world. And roots can get gnarly and entangled into knots. Part of the spiritual path for me has been unwinding those nexus knots, the roots, to clear the channel for the source to shine more brightly into the external world.
Our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health and well-being can be deeply impacted and improved by the acknowledgement of the roots in our inner domain and by exposing them and healing them. We are much more than the flowers.
I just completed the "Celebration of Abundance" program with Jeff and "Spring the Roots" is the piece of artwork that I created throughout our seven weeks together.
Spring the Roots
by Kathleen Leroy
The Spontaneous Writing Circle
A dramatic change has occurred in the year and a half, as 3 groups have written what’s present after hearing a poem or excerpt of prose.
The format has not included engaging in any way other than reading our individual writings to each other. Silence and deep listening to each reader and to what wants to be written is all that appears in the space on the surface. Yet over time, each existing, solidified, habit of relating within a group has dropped away. Care and devotion to our intention to honor the format loosened the tight reins we held on our inner world of fears and needs.
Navigating through the circle each member has described, through their writings, a profound freedom, revealing what has been hidden in all the crevices.
As each person frees deep wounds and secrets, the wellspring of unlimited compassion and relatedness is the listener. I am astounded that this is the experience of each person in all 3 groups. And the members who have recently joined dive in immediately. The writings are increasingly more profound as we sink deeper into our capacity to see ourselves as we are. Beautiful and varied.
Yet, 6 months ago, an irking and irritating sensation began to overtake my own experience of writing with each group. I saw that I was directing my attention to whatever concepts were induced by the prompts that were being read - searching my mind for a response. The question: ‘How do we respond spontaneously to any prompt without directing our attention to the concepts just expressed?’ began to loom over all the sessions. In conversation with one of the members about my irritation, we concluded …’Why include such gymnastics? Why not speak from the most relaxed we can be?’ …. In Meditation.
For 2 weeks, we have simply allowed our internal dialogue to dance with creation. We can meditate or write - listening and responding - fully attending to what’s present and accepting the invitation. I see it as a consequence of trust, care, and surrender over time.
I also see that this freedom demonstrates the equanimity that can exist in a group space. Creativity is searching for that kind of space of surrender.
Thank you and love to all the members of the Circle.
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I joined the Spontaneous Writing Circle more than a year back and it has been a journey since then by me into me. Expressing my inner thoughts without editing in midst of friends connected to your soul, without hesitation. Or fear of judgment, being in protected safe heaven of embrace of your loved ones with no agenda of their own but just to be present and to listen to the outpourings of your heart and letting them flow like a river into the vast ocean.
Thank you friends for accompanying me for it is through your love and wisdom I found courage to be myself.
There is a bird outside my window who has such a loud Song. It has made its home in the birdhouse outside my studio window for the past few days. The other day I looked outside wondering who was singing with such abandon.What I saw surprised me. The bird is a wren, only about two and a half inch long, and when it sings, its whole body sings it. The mightiness and magnificence of what I observed moved me.
When do I ever do anything with all my mightiness?
If I could do that I would be free like that bird. No inhibitions - just everything singing in me, transporting me to a different realm.
by Radhika Malhorta
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I am new to the writing circle, having joined just a month or two ago. And have found in the space sacred silence out of which words – and something more - emerges. And not just any words, but ones that surprise even the writer, and are pointers, mere iceberg tips of hidden, uncontainable depths. The space is wild and safe, free from concerns of judgment or opinion, interwoven and richer for the larger voice that speaks, like bubbles blown into being, floating for a time and then – poof – dispersed into the invisible air, a gift.
The Animate World
I don’t know where to begin or why. I am flesh and wonder and air and breath, sitting on a chair in a building built by others like me, but unknown to me, a dwelling in which others, equally invisible once lived. On a ball of stone surrounding a molten core of fire and flame, fleshed on its surface with crumbled bits of itself, blanketed with grass and trees and bees and burbling waters.
I need a breath. I stumbled to find a reading for today that hints at the magic of our animate earth, where everything -everything– is alive, everything a being only known so because of everything else, a field of inter-relativity. And in my concern to not choose too a long a passage, I split the portion of my reading in half and omitted the middle part, like the second act of a story, forgetting the part where the complexity and complications occur, the hardest part to write. The core of the journey. And in doing so, I truncated the whole of it, it lost its thread. So I apologize to the group and to dear David (Abram) who gives clear voice to the many languages of words and wordless that our Universe speaks.
The middle is the most important part, or at least equally so to how something begins and how something resolves. It is the middle journey where the challenges arise and choices are made and something is discovered. A body, a story, a way of knowing, a way of seeing, a way of speech. I speak the way I do, with words I choose - or that choose me – in a mysterious dance of being that is profound
if for no other reason than sense is made at all, that sound-shapes carry meaning between me and you,
between scribblings on a page and a mystical ability to transform these lines into spoken song.
It is all a miracle, missteps and mistakes, retakes and all, forming, reforming and forming again in the flow of now and now and now …
by Bonita Winer
Writing is allowing the story to take me on a journey into Life, Love and our human heart. I listen to the whispers of nature, feelings, images and the stories of others. And the group is so gracefully listening for the beauty in every story, whether it tells us about pain or joy.
Flipping the corners of the pages of belonging. Every time we get stuck, Life invites us to just flip a corner with ease and grace. Like we flip the pages of our life's calendar. Starting fresh every day, like a newborn that already belongs to this earth. Shapeshifting until eternity, shapeshifting and continuously letting go. Letting go of that what we believed before and what we think might happen after.
We belong to the rhythms of mother Earth and we care for her with all of our soul; while she is our soul. We live in this earth with all its wonders and all its sorrows. She calls us every day with the rising of the sun, over and over again. And it is our beloved earth that puts us to sleep at night. We belong to her and she belongs to us. Like the Earth belongs to the universe and plays with the rhythms of the Moon.
We continue flipping the corners of the pages of belonging. No one left behind, no one put aside. Until we realize that the movements of inclusion and exclusion, are nothing more than an illusion of our dancing shadows.
by Liesbeth de Jong
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Inspired by the words of someone else, this poem of hope just unfolded before my eyes.
Rooted in a deep contentment with life.
Fellow travelers of compassionate hearts
reunite into joy and laughter
for a new world is possible.
The Buffalo nation whom are carrying our children
in their soft and compassionate ears.
Opening to the regained art of forgiveness
rejoicing in the loving kindness of a cry.
Here we are again fellow travelers
of compassionate hearts.
Reunite into being one with All
Listen to the blossoming of the trees in springs
and the falling of their leaves in autumn.
Sit in the belly of the earth’s wisdom when winter comes
and listen to her sorrow and pain.
Here we are again fellow travelers
of compassionate hearts.
Reunite in joy and laughter
for you are one with All of Life.
by Liesbeth de Jong
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