Falling Into Place

September 2017, Truro, MA

Falling Into Place

 

You don’t intend to but you just do. You fall in love. You fall deeply, but not madly, in love. Loving a PLACE produces no madness. Falling in love with a PLACE is blissful, exquisitely somatic and “holy shit” humbling. PLACES don’t court you; they grab you without sizing you up. There is little room for mind, will or volition to get too full of itself; instead you contract (into your smallness) and expand (into your vastness) while being sung to by a muse named Wonder.

Place can root you down into direct sensation so quickly, so thoroughly that before you have time to step back into the world of concept you are deep inside the pink/gold/tangerine sky and seal heads surfacing sunset over Race Point.

There is little lens and (even less if your phone is put down) and there is no desire to relay the stun of it all. You give up on hoarding the experience because beauty, wonder and nature’s multitudes won’t be hoarded. There is just the melting into PLACE and any wistfulness that sneaks through the membrane of the raw moment fades as soon as you own it, name it and see if for what it is. Desire and the desire to grasp.

Waves loosen grasping. Dunes shift it and the light that plays with cloud, sea, sun, and refraction whispers, “You don’t stand a chance; you are not solid,  so let this love you.”

What? Let it love me?

Human to human love is astoundingly strong and complicated. Personality, desire, projection and expectation can’t help but mix to make relationships, of all sorts, fraught.

Love of PLACE is not necessarily fraught with the sword wielding “I, Me, Mine”. Love of PLACE is complex, multi-textured,  layered with both solid and frothy memories but it is not complicated. Complexity and complication are different.

Letting a PLACE love you turns you into a steward. Stewardship is not just doing the right thing by caring for a PLACE; stewardship is the result of being loved by a PLACE. 

‘What, you might say, the ocean, rivers, beach, forest and lake do not- and cannot- love you! What an idiotic human- centric thing to say! “

And my response to this might be:

“Stop thinking like an idiotic, human-centric human and let a PLACE infuse your being! Be still. Don’t utter a word. Without trying too hard, allow yourself to empty out of yourself. You might tell yourself that you are loving a PLACE but the truth is that the PLACE is loving you.

Do the tidal flats hold any awareness of Donna? No. Do the banks of the Hudson feel my presence? No. Do the elks feeding up on the alpine plains in Rocky Mountain National Park care about me? No.   But the fact is, this all exists and because I am receiving this wondrous beauty, I am experiencing unfettered love. The permeable membrane of this here Donna woman is being embraced in PLACE and it won’t let  me go. And I want to hold it with something that feels less like grasping and more like miles- deep gratitude and protectiveness.

Is Stewardship the result of loving a PLACE or being loved by a PLACE?

What PLACES have held, or hold you? If you want to share a photo or a few words about a PLACE that nourishes you, please contact me. Stay tuned as I move my new project   Sparks In Action Network from inspiration to execution. Want to be involved? Contact me here.

Until next time,

Donna

 

 

 

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Your Freedom Zone

Dear Yoga Students,

Trauma can show up in many forms. One need not have lived in a war zone to know the reality of a traumatized brain and body. Small hardships can morph into full-blown stress reactions and, conversely, full blown stress reactions, can, with time and practice, weaken and be replaced with greater equanimity. The word here is plasticity -neuroplasticity- the brains ability to form new neural connections and rewire itself.

The yogi’s of the past- who were sophisticated psychologists without the benefit of tools such as fmri (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and other brain mapping techniques- understood a great deal about human emotion and the inextricable relationship between emotional states, physiological/somatic reactions and the nature of mind.

Sam- to join together

Kara- action

The yogis, through inward based inquiry, understood how thought, action, word, experience and behavior could join together and cause psychological conditioning. If the brain’s executive function is not able to discern a past trauma from the reality of the present moment, the body moves into a hyper aroused state where danger is over- perceived. Hyper arousal causes  dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system and increases our suffering.

Neuroscientists act on the proof of the Hebbs principle that neurons that “fire together, wire together”. If fear gets activated over and over again, neural circuitry links together and the fear stimulus will gain traction. Sounds a lot like samskara to me.

Yogis cultivated a refined understanding of the reality of human software; and, modern science is giving us the gift of more precise insights into the working of the hardware. Call it what you will, I find it wondrous.

Fact: 30 minutes of daily meditation for only 8 weeks showed a reduction in gray matter (neural connectivity) in the threat detection areas of the brain including the amygdala and hippocampus.

The good news is that the innate neuroplasticity of a healthy brain is ready, and willing, to get rewired. Yoga practice, pranayama, meditation, yoga nidra and other attention/awareness practices will help you build a more supple brain.

In class, as we move through asanas we are literally creating breathing room in our bodies and brains. We are encouraging our nimble and supple selves to grow stronger.  When life puts the squeeze on us (which it will until the end of our days) we can rail against it or learn to live with it.

A warrior does not necessarily need to fight or freeze when a foe shows up. A warrior can try widening into the difficulty, act with suppleness, maneuver with practiced skill and in doing just that, she just might find that she can dance her way through the mud.

We have within us what I have come to call a “Freedom Zone”. This is the sweet spot where insight and action meet and we decide that we don’t have to give credence to the old samskaras. This freedom zone is waiting for us to notice it and walk through its doors. Bodies are resilient. Brains are resilient. When brains and bodies are not blindly following the wayward directions of old, tired patterns they find the place where the refresh button is waiting to be pressed.

The yogis knew it. The neuroscientists in the labs know it. When you are practicing genuine yoga, you know it.

Yours in practice,

Donna