Blue is the colour of distance. Blue is the colour that dissolves into the molecules of the atmosphere at the reaches of horizon. If I close my eyes and conjure blue, I am transported to a state in which I drift, at peace, through endlessness. Writer, traveller, luminary, Rebecca Solnit has written a meditation on the art of getting lost. A Field guide to Getting Lost is part memoir, part scientific discussion, part poetic flowering. It is an essential companion for an intrepid traveller, or day-dreamer, or misfit.
Viewing entries tagged
American writer and poet, Donald Hall, wrote a melancholic, self-reflective essay in The New Yorker late last year titled, “Between Solitude and Loneliness”. He writes about his solitary life on an isolated farm he has inherited from his late grandmother. He is in his late eighties at the time, a widower with little contact to the outside world other than through his craft, and a weekly visit from a housekeeper. He is perfectly content. He looks back on his life in this essay to unearth and then ponder over a succession of circumstances in which he has cherished and sought solitariness.
Pilgrimage may conventionally be considered a religious undertaking, yet it would seem as though in actuality we all - religious and not - make such journeys in a varied ways. Some ancient and formalised - such as the Hajj to Mecca, the mass bathing in the Ganges as part of the Kumbh Mela, and the trek of the Camino de Santiago - and some contemporary and personal - such as a visit to loved one’s grave, an annual retreat, or an endurance race. Some are years long, others may only take a few moments. All of them tend to encompass this dual directionality of moving closer to one’s inner self and leaving the structure of ones everyday world behind.
A recent special issue of the National Geographic, titled Gender Revolution, makes a fascinating study of how youths around the world are increasingly pushing the boundaries of gender and sexuality to mould a sense of self that is more fluid and non-binary. This shift can only happen in the context of generalised growing social acceptance and awareness of the limits stained male/female, girl/boy binaries. A spin off is a progression towards gender equality. Of course, some societies are better at accepting these changes than others.
Central to gagaku is the Japanese concept of ma, meaning “the space between”, or “powerful space”. To the late Takemitsu, ma was the “void that isn’t empty”, a space between things that is full of energy. This concept filters through other pillars of Japanese classical art and philosophy, such as feng shui and specifically garden landscaping. Indeed, Takemitsu, considered his music to be like walking through a garden, where your senses are lifted as you traverse towards greater peace and harmony - a tree rustles in the breeze, a bird takes flight, light falls in a dappled pattern across your path.
I am thrilled to announce that I will be hosting a stress release focused weekend getaway at Granny Mouse Country House in the KZN Midlands from 29 June - 3 July 2017!Granny Mouse Country House is a luxurious and tranquil setting for what will be an enriching weekend of 8 specialised yoga sessions. We will focus on yoga practices as a means to calm the mind and release embodied patterns of stress. Through yoga sequences and techniques accessible to all levels of yoga practice and knowledge, we will be rewiring the neural pathways that programme our minds and bodies into existing in a 'flight or flight' mode of hyper-stress and anxiety.
One of the most luminous and profound commencement addresses I have ever seen was by Parker Palmer. Palmer was being awarded the first ever honorary degree at Naropa University in Colorado in 2015. Naropa was founded in 1974 by the Tibetan Buddhist teacher and Oxford alumnus Chogyam Trungpa. The university was intended to be an experiment in the synergy of contemporaryWestern scholarship methodologies and timeless tenets of Eastern wisdom. Palmer’s speech draws on a life of experience - he is in his mid-70s - and snatches of what can only be transcendent insight to layout his six pillars of meaningful human existence.
"The high value put on every minute of time, the idea of hurry-hurry as the most important objective of living is unquestionably the most dangerous enemy of joy”
These wise and contemporarily relevant words are from Herman Hesse’s 1905 essay titled, “On Little Joys”. The German-born Swiss luminary is widely know for his novels Siddhartha and Steppenwolf. A less widely circulated treasure is My Belief: Essays on Life and Art. Hesse laments how the “aggressive haste” of his time (gosh, what would he say about our time?) has eroded our ability to enjoy leisure. This does not imply that - in the straightforward sense - there is no time for leisure, but rather, his point is more subtle.
There is this hashtag that has gained currency on Instagram: #yogaeverydanmday. I would like to argue that yoga every day is not only unnecessary but bad for you - especially so for women.The same Vedic texts that the modern practice of Hatha yoga (yoga of postures and breathing techniques) are derived from, are quite clear in their advocacy that a woman's cycle is both powerful and fragile. This is a time when you are 'full mooning'. There is incredible energy and heat in the body (the start of creation of life) at this time. In order for this process of creation and then expulsion to happen effectively, a lot of energy needs to be drawn and then coagulated in the pelvic region and lower spine.
How do we harness the power of sharing in an online global community of yoga practitioners without loosing sight of how yoga - in order to be yoga and not just exercise - is principally an internal journey?
The practice of yoga mudra is grounded upon an understanding of the five elements that comprise the universe: space (or ether), air, fire, water, and earth. It is said that each finger corresponds to an element: the thumb represents fire; the first finger represents air; the middle finger is space; and the ring finger is earth and the little finger represents water. As we are grains of sands in the great theatre of the universe we too are made up of these elements. When all five elements are working in harmony the body is balanced, optimally operational and healthy; when any one of the elements becomes too dominant, polluted or weakened, the body shifts out of balance and discomfort, illness and disease develops.
It was the opening night of the year for Brookdale and the start of the Detox yoga retreat. As the yoga instructor for the week, I was fortunate enough to be staying on site. I had planned two classes daily, each on a different and focused theme to best achieve effective detoxification and rejuvenation. I was excited.
At some point during this dark void of frustration and flagellation (that loomed over every minutae of my everyday life, just like my research and dissertation had done for 4 years prior), I came to the realisation that I never wanted to fill a conventional job profile in any case. If my ‘skills’ and title were to serve me in any way it should be to enable me to not have to have a ‘9 to 5’. But, it is very difficult to think of oneself as a cog in the economy, and not employed gainfully, whilst being in a city.
As part of the Nafs: breathing solo art exhibition at the South African National Arts Festival, I filled a separate room entitled Interior room: interscendent with a series of paintings created with a flow of acrylic, guided by palate knife on paper. I began working with the idea of representing yoga asanas about six months ago, using charcoal and pen and concentrating on body forms. Over time, I have reworked, rethought and recreated the style. In conjunction with this, I have undergone an emotive and bodily healing process linked to my yoga, and fittingly the paintings have become more bold, free and abstract.
There are these moments.
Ruptures, in the flow of life when you
reveal yourself in naked acceptance.
and a shard of certainty slices through the clotted flesh of doubt.
To observe the unhindered flow of breath within and without my body, is not just to observe the flow of energy at the nexus of being as I experience it, but it is also a moment of vital creativity. Cultivating the ability to be a silent and concentrated witness of my natural flow of breath is to allow the rhythm of life-force to author moments in my everyday life. This letting go in the presence of being is a freeing up of the boundaries and blockages that hinder my expression, my knowing, my reflection. This letting go is a practice of everyday life, when my feet touch the floor in certain silence and I am present, here – grounded within and connected by breath without.