the earth: my pelvis

with its mountains, lakes and forests

with the stars rejoicing and the moon

shining softly on the water,

and you walking through the valley.

your breath moves me from

the heart of what we call our planet,

we hold each other dear, so gently

in the warm house of – I dare say –  love,

trembling in the great winds with the walls.

you calm me, say, there is

enough wood for the fire

to keep burning night and day,

fire of being human, do I say, which is

so exposed in the gales of love.

Yesterday, a whole row of tall poplars near our house was cut. Watching this happen made me fall into a state of deep pain and powerlessness. Felling these amazing giants let me feel depleted of my own power to join in creating beauty and abundance. Do you know what helped me later that day? Cooking.

Holding the vegetables in my hand that grew in and out of the ground, I touch the love of the earth. Breaking the eggs our chicken lay every day, I feel the fertility, the wealth of life. I take a pot from the shelf, full of emptiness that is at the core of our being and ready to receive the fullness of life. Pouring in water, I realize this is the same water our ancestors have been using thousands of years ago. I regulate the flame that heats and transforms the food. Amazed how this is enough to feel deeply empowered again.

Cooking is not just a chore. It is not a degradation in the shadow of other, more meaningful work. Cooking is sustaining life itself. As physicist and thinker Vandana Shiva puts it, the reason we are still alive is that someone cooked food for us.

Be proud of cooking, love it. Cooking is a healing practice when you are caught in existential fears, when you feel down, unclear or disconnected. Cooking for yourself, for your family, for friends. Make cooking simple, nourishing even before you have eaten. Let it be friendly for yourself, adjusted to your energy and available time. Touch, smell, taste. Have a good meal!

Listen to Vandana Shiva’s touching, powerful talk here:

Vandana Shiva

We are at war with our own stupidity.

Geplaatst door PlayGround + op zaterdag 3 februari 2018

Waning, nearly dark moon on a “Blue Monday”: this can be an invitation to let yourself fall, to rest in the vastness of life. To rest in the void. Not to shoot into action permanently, but to stop from time to time, waiting when feeling an impulse to do something.

When you rest while feeling an urge to act, this can allow an explosion of space in your body, in your life. This space may include waves of sadness, of melancholy, when you let go of your agenda and the felt sense of the moment presents itself. In and beyond your emotions, the Great Mother receives you and feeds you when pausing.

Read the poem below for inspiration on a blue day:

 

 

Blue January

 

In the perfume of the moist green moss

I fall softly.

Hearing the wind in the dry grass

A smile comes unto my face.

When the bird takes wing out of the heath

Freedom remains.

When the moon wanes

My body becomes night blue.

The earth is dotted with countless stars,

Buds singing in silence.

When we moved to our new home this summer, I took Maria inside. She had been standing outside for six decades, in an altar in the wall, common in traditional Brabant country houses. She had become eroded and gray. I put her on the mantelpiece above our wood stove, together with a bird’s nest one of my daughters had found.

When I am sitting by the fire, Maria keeps drawing my eyes towards her, she calls me to let her take place inside of me, inside of my body. Welcoming Maria inside lets the cultural concepts and forms melt in the fire of the heart. She has always been there, in all cultures, there is no need to search for her, no need to name her. She is the one who builds the nest, the one who warms the eggs, the one who feeds the baby birds and the one who, at a certain moment, pushes them out of the nest so they realize they can fly.

Maria is the one who moves my blood, the one who breathes me. She is the one who makes my body absorb nourishment, the one who lets the peaceful beat of the earth enter me and relax me when I’m overwhelmed. With her, I feel at ease, warm and fulfilled. She lets me take place in the nest of my body. And she teaches me to fly through the dark blue, starlit sky.

I wish you a nourishing Christmas time in Maria’s nest, with starlit flying dreams at night!

It is a lovely feeling to be touched by someone or something so powerfully that you “want them”: this man, this dress, this dog. It mostly becomes more problematic when you “have them”. They become an object in your collection. The world of objects is dense and weighty and suffers from a lack of oxygen. The flame of passion becomes suffocated very fast – as soon as the object of desire is incorporated into what you are calling “my world”. “My world” is a tough place: it takes a lot of effort to maintain it and there is even more fear to lose it.

Does freedom mean chosing objects?

It is quite funny that, often, we consider ourselves “free” when we think we can chose the objects of “my world” by ourselves. Just look at it, isn’t it a prison, this “world of mine”? It gives you the feeling to be stuck, it tends to be boring and heavy at the same time. Your sensations become less vivid, joy fades away, you feel somewhat alienated. Of course, a growing desire arises for more passion in your life. And mostly, you then run after a new object in order to feel passion again, a new lover or project. Know this? Also been there so many times?

Passion is closer than you imagine

I find it fascinating how passion is much closer than we imagine. Just look at “my world” and observe how you create it. At the very moment you realize that “my world” exists only in your mind, that it is your own fantasy, the heavy burden of having to manage a world falls from you. Space arises and fills your lungs with fresh air, and its breeze touches your heart so intimately, with a sweet shivering, that you sigh. It feels like you are falling in love. A wave of panic takes you: what is happening? I am losing myself! Yes. You are losing your world, and yourself as the central object of your world.

The captivating perfume of reality

Mostly this panic doesn’t win totally, there’s just too much dazzling beauty and wonder around. The perfume of reality changes something in your cellular structure, you feel a bit dizzy, your body vibrates… the captivating perfume of your new lover, genuineness, makes you lose orientation and you let go. You become the adoration of this perfume, of this light on the skin, of this movement, of this voice, you’re part of the adoration, you can’t split yourself from what you adore.

The freedom of passion can’t be stopped

Perhaps you are back in “my world” a few seconds later and your new lover is gone. Panic again, but no problem. The flame in your heart has been ignited. Nobody can stop it. It is a free, an anarchic flame, it doesn’t follow a system and it can’t be hindered by a system. Joyfully, it blazes in any gap in “my world” and sets your objects on fire. You begin to lose one object after another. With every object falling to ashes, freedom takes it over. The freedom of passion to take you wherever it wants. Your freedom to let passion follow its own ways. Freedom to fall in love with the world that happens to appear at this very moment.

I am turning up the lawn, preparing my vegetable garden for next year. After a while, my hands and shoulders begin to ache. I am not used to this kind of work. I feel the heaviness, the density of the earth. This heaviness triggers resistance in me: I can’t do it. I can’t create a garden.

The earth has no resistance

Time to pause. I gaze at the piece of lawn I have just cut off horizontally with my spade, roots and all, and thrown it into a hole in the earth. The grass does not resist being thrown into the dark. It’s lying there peacefully, ready to be covered with a thick layer of soil. Ready to become soil itself. The earth is dense, but it has no story about its density. It lets itself be moved without a struggle, surrendering to cosmic and human creation.

In the dark of the earth, there are no stories

It’s me telling stories when confronted with earth’s density. Stories about my own inability “to do it”: I’m too weak, life is too heavy, it’s overwhelming. I’m always afraid of running out of energy, yet busy with small and big projects. Learning, achieving, transforming.

But when I really tune into the density, the darkness of the earth, there are no stories. There is no beginning and no end, no “why” and “in order to”. There is not even “transformation”. In the darkness of the soil, there are no beliefs, no projects I could cling to.

Becoming the garden

I realize that any moment in my life when I feel at a loss, when something feels “too heavy”, is an invitation to become soil. When something is too heavy to do, it’s a sign that I want to do too much. My ideas, in this case my ideas about the garden, then are not in line with reality. When I let go of my ideas, I am ready to be moved by creation instead of wanting to shape it myself. Now I become the garden. Returning my ideas back to the earth, I face the unknown, the darkness of the earth in myself. Becoming soil, I give life the chance to create something new and fresh.

Time to rot

In the spring, a new plant will grow out of the soil. A plant that can feed, a plant that can enchant with its beauty. The seeds are already there, waiting to sprout when the winter has ended. They need fertile soil to grow in. This soil comes to being by the plants of this year rotting, becoming soil again. What a chance to let go and rot in the earth with the grass. To become one with the earth, become soil myself. Not to resist heaviness anymore, which takes so much energy. Just let myself fall.

It begins as a vague happiness, feeling somewhat more alive. After a second, I realize that I am seeing shadows, now, and that I didn’t see them before. The shadow of the lamp, of the glass. These shadows lead my awareness to seeing the light. First the light next to the shadows. And gradually, letting myself been moved by amazement, the light all around me. Everything becomes shiny, even if the sky is overcast: the table, the curtain, the leaves of the trees outside, the grass.

Suddenly, there is this relief

I had been sitting in front of my computer, not knowing what to write, staring out of the window, drinking some water. And then, something had stopped me in a split second, had kept me from managing my life. It just happened, suddenly there was this relief.

The world is singing

I do have a desire for letting go. A sense that life is too tight, too sad, not true, when I want to “lead it”. Often, this very desire makes me push even harder, struggling for freedom and becoming totally entangled. Now, the unknown touches me unexpectedly, invades me in a tiny gap between my attempts to break through the wall. The play of light and shadow I see around me is being enhanced by vibration, by aliveness in my body. Suddenly the world is singing. There’s an overall sense of joy, of creativity. An intensity without pushing and pulling. For a moment I am this intensity, this joy of creation, there is no “me” and “mine”. And then I’m back in front of the wall of my computer.

Can you really see the shadow?

There I am sitting on my chair, marveling. It all begun with seeing the shadows. Now, back in the shadow world, I feel stuck. Yet, observing the shadows had just been the opening to sensing the light. When I move in my own shadow zone, when I feel trapped, I struggle. This keeps me from really seeing the shadow. If I can see the shadow, there must be light somewhere, otherwise there would be no view.

Be still, I say, and look at the shadow. This does not guarantee the spreading of the light, but already by observing the shadow I feel a bit less tense. And then, light trickles through my cells and moves me gently from inside. The shadow and the light are playing. Without defeating the shadow, without struggling, space arises in me. I am precisely the sculpture life wants to create in this very moment. I couldn’t even exist without the shadow: there would be no play, no creativity, no life. What a freedom.

A sigh, mind lays down
In the body. Sun
Bursts out of a blue hole
In the cloudy sky
And dances on the water.
Fish sparkle and the waves
Of my lake of lust
Move gently between
The rolling hills
Of the pelvis.

 

 

The last two years, I have been searching for a new home together with my family. It was quite a journey, through several countries, through paradise and hell. At last our new home showed up, just 75 kilometers from where we live presently. My quest for this place was driven by the desire for more space and nature around me, for a life connected to the earth and lived with simplicity.

 

We had to face many restrictions, in finances, energy and distances. We had to let go of cherished images, and the limits we met sometimes seemed to suffocate the dream. The feeling of being stuck made me turn inside. I asked myself, what is this desire for nature really about, a desire so strong that it fills my eyes with tears?

Tuning into my desire for nature, I realized that I felt split from the earth, from my true nature. What else could I be searching for in nature than for who I really am? This separation from my essence let the desire for a home surrounded by nature become painful.

How could nature not be ‘good enough’?

I had always enjoyed being in nature immensely, but still its beauty often seemed to be something outside myself. I did not feel that it is my own essence that I rejoice in when being in nature, that I am nature. The moment I touched this separation, the limits in myself and in my quest exploded. There is no good reason why I should deprive myself from wholeness, from joy. Just because of some vague, imprinted idea of ‘not being good enough’, of having to become better and working hard, which lifts the breath from its basis in the body, from its home on earth. This idea is the root of the ego, of the part of ourselves that has learned that it is NOT nature. But how could something so breathtaking, amazing, beautiful as nature, as your own nature, possibly not be ‘good enough’?

Nature’s creativity is my own creativity

When I grew up, I learned to be somewhat ashamed when I marveled at flowers. I thought this was petty, when there are so many huge problems on this planet. A few decades later, I realize that with this shame I cut myself from my very roots. I feel that for me there’s nothing more important to do than rejoicing in the magnolia’s and the peony’s coming out every year. By allowing all the amazement and joy in the ever-changing play of nature, I become aligned to the cosmic creativity, which is also my own.

Creativity is deep communication

Creativity is nothing else than deep communication with everything: my feet receive the freshness of the wet grass in the morning. The chick waggling out of her shed moves her head and neck, and I nod back, receiving the light with her. A glimpse of blue sky between the clouds lets me burst into space. The grasses in the wind wave at me and the bark of a tree opens its eyes and pores to let me in. The bees resonate in the warm humming of my own being. I feel part of an immense, crazy creation I will never understand but which I am. I feel utterly creative even if I do nothing at all. And I don’t have to fight my ego in this moment, there’s no reason for shame. My personality with its qualities and defaults is as the foam on the waves of the ocean of life. Not bad, also nothing special, just part of the playing of life with its unique beauty.

Trust and resilience

At this moment I am back at home, feeling the heart-beat of my mother, the earth. And right now my trust is reconnected, trust that everything that is really necessary will be provided at the right moment. Joy fills me, without any special reason, with the light of the day rising and falling, with every plant I meet, with the playfulness of the wind. Something like resilience arises: when being a home, I can allow to feel a bit more of the trouble the planet is in.

‘Tender’ is a word I loved when I was a young child living in England. It makes a beautiful curve that feels like a caress, it touches without grasping, its ending is open. It’s all feeling. 

When tenderness is felt and expressed there are two, touching and being touched delicately.  Delicately and with so much presence that the two may melt into ONE life being lived. Tenderness is a celebration of the amazing beauty being created by the ONE. By allowing and expressing tenderness our world is endowed with depth, with mystery. We desire tenderness so much because it brings us back to our own heart, to the core of BEING.

Mostly, there is a painful lack of tenderness in our lives, from the very moment we were born. We endure a lot of hardness, of roughness, and later we can’t help passing these on to others. Most of our problems raise from this lack. When we receive enough tenderness, this gives us the reassurance, the confirmation of BEING we need so we can trust and surrender to life, care for life.

‘Happily, being very common, tenderness is never unavailable and far away.’

I learned that when I desire more tenderness in my life, the foremost thing to do is to see how violently I handle myself. I use myself as an object that has to function in order to obtain something, to be someone. And if I don’t function I punish myself by pushing even harder. Every moment I can see and feel my own violence, every moment I dare to stop where it’s painful and uncomfortable, space arises for the tenderness of life to touch me. Tenderness needs space and presence, it can’t breathe in a hasted field.

Happily, being very common, tenderness is never unavailable and far away. It is present in the middle of our everyday lives. Immersing in a warm bath, drinking fresh water, feeling the wind in your hair or enjoying the softness and reliability of the bed you lay on – this all can caress you deeply.

Of course, we also long to be touched tenderly by others, but we can’t control when and how this happens. Often, we are touched with an intention: the other wants something from us. This feels uncomfortable and our body and heart remain closed. Sometimes, we are touched tenderly, but our body is too rigid and our mind too busy to receive the caress.

‘A tender approach to yourself lets care come to any place that needs it.’

It is not always easy to allow and express tenderness. I assume this has something to do with the possibility of being ashamed and rejected by another. When being tender, we have to live with our vulnerability. That’s scary. Tenderness takes a lot of courage. It aligns our heart with what living in a body means, with how breakable life is.

‘Tenderness’ sounds really soft and it is. Yet, allowing and expressing tenderness is definitely not naïve or romantic. It takes a fierce commitment to face your fears so you can open to the touch of life. You don’t look at your fears and deficiencies in order to judge yourself or to struggle to be ‘better’. No, a tender approach to yourself sees the aching and struggling and lets care come to any place that needs it. And I believe this really is the only thing to be done. Everything else happens by itself.