Voicing Our Freedom

This week I participated in a totally beautiful, heart-opening, playful and joyful journey into the world of voice improvisation, led by the exquisitely creative Uran Apak. The workshop was called ‘The Playful Voice’ and is part of a series of events called Voice DNA. This workshop is part of a 6 session series.

Uran UpakI met Uran at a 5Rythms (a form of movement meditation) dance event, a space and practice I am much more used to and comfortable with. In this new terrain of voice work, I felt slightly out of my depth and awkward. I felt like a real beginner even though I love to sing for enjoyment, especially to my 21-month-old daughter who I make up silly songs for. But Uran created a very open and safe space that was very welcoming and put everyone at ease.  This was even more significant considering it was his biggest group for this kind of workshop (at least 20 people filled his place from wall to wall) and he expressed afterward that it had made him quite nervous, to begin with. Of course, he showed no signs of this and held the group with amazing care and grace!

The space and tone Uran created allowed the group to let go straight into this process with almost instant openness and abandon. I’m not sure how much voice work is associated with mindfulness practices, in the same way, that maybe something like 5Rhythms is, but this workshop definitely supported and encouraged me to let go and really opened me up. I think that was in large part due to how Uran approaches this work and also who is as a person; he not only creates supportive conditions through instruction but also embodies the very thing he is trying to evoke: a deep ease and openness. This really created the conditions for people to drop deeply into themselves and find their authentic voice.

In one of the exercises we were asked to improvise with our voice over a subtle drum rhythm, and then everyone would repeat this short improvisation. We passed these improvisations around the group and it was striking to see how different and unique each person was. The free expression of voice somehow allows for such a delicate and soul-sourced part of us to be released; the freedom, beauty, humour, and natural self-expression was deeply unarming and helped and supported me to find even deeper ways to let go myself.

When it was my turn to improvise I had something in mind; something beautiful and obviously amazing, at least that’s how I had pictured it! When it came out it sounded strange and felt inauthentic. I tried again and dropped my initial direction finding something more natural to me. Each time I went again I was able drop even deeper into a more natural self-expression. I could see this happening throughout the group. Each individual was able to be more and more themselves, creating a kind of natural chain reaction, a beautiful dance between the induvial and the collective. It was a kind of subtle sharing of ourselves free from our usual mask. First just peeping out to say hello, but then realising that it’s really ok to stand in front of others without these masks, to say yes this is me, I am here, and it’s awesome!

People really are amazing and it’s times like this that you get to see this reality in its full expression; the sheer beautify of a human being free from the restrictions we place on ourselves and each other, is deeply unarming, liberating and inspiring. As Uran said at the end about what happened in the session, “it gives you faith in humanity”.

This current Voice DNA series will be continuing for the following 5 Tuesday’s, exploring different themes each week. Check out the Voice DNA Facebook page for upcoming events, I would highly recommend it!

 

An Open Container

The Freedom Lab is an open container to explore our natural passions, in a creative and supportive collaborative space

This forum is, in essence, open, but of course to create anything there has to be some degree of form and structure. I see any structure we use like stabilizers on a bike, or the rocket which takes the space shuttle to space; once the goal is reached it disappears.

Here is an outline of what a structure might look like, although of course this is open and only an initial thought – once we start we can really explore what it would look like in real time.


One: Our space

Our circleWe start with an opening circle.

This is our container. It is where we are one, where we begin on the same page and where we are all equal; but there is also the space for our radically unique individuality. We begin here.

In this space we start and we explore freely what this container actually is. We stand together in mutual trust and support, in freedom and inspiration, together in this challenging experience we call life.

We stay here as long as we need to so we can establish ourselves and each other in this ground.

We have sat in circles together for what seems like an eternity and so we return here, to start again.

Two: Our passion

Once we are ready we open our hearts to each other, as much as feels right. We take turns to share our passion and what we feel called to in this moment: natural, free, authentic, awkward; whatever it is, let it be heard, in this moment it is true.

Three: Our theme

Openness is the ground of our exploration but the theme is our trajectory. From our sharing of passion and exploration natural threads emerge; themes and topics common to us present themselves as possible avenues to explore more deeply.

If you pay close attention we are often exploring common and connected themes in our lives. These usually feel personal to us, but then when we speak with others we often find they have been exploring similar issues, sometimes exactly the same ones!

This is not something we force, we just give voice to what is already being explored, and to allow that to be our arc; the arc we sail together on, the arc we dance and explore through co-creation.

Four: Our arc

We build, from the ground of our circle, with the sparks of our passions, the session we want to create, together. It’s fine if we’ve planned something, or if we show up with nothing. We bring whatever we have, and create the session, the arc, we want. We can trust the organic intelligence of our interwoven connectedness, the truth of our deep and raw natural passions: this is what we’re here for!

Whether we want to dance, sing, play music, explore consciousness or shadow elements, this is a space to do this and to do it directly. Our arc can be anything, there aren’t any limits. One person may lead the whole session, this may feel right. Or maybe there are multiple mini-explorations led by multiple people. There is no right answer.

We are open and fluid, but at the same time, we are structured. We set times and are clear who is leading and what our plan is. We follow the structure, because we chose it together. We surrender to it and explore it with our hearts. But if something really isn’t right we speak out, we are all co-leaders, we are all co-creators, together.

Five: Our reflection

Once the arc has finished we return to the circle for reflection.

Being in a circle is not always easy. Some people love it, some people hate it. Unfortunately, for better or worse, our world is structured within very rigid hierarchies. We have all been hardwired to fit into these hierarchies and unconsciously compare ourselves to others. When we sit together in a circle none of this goes anywhere, however many Ommmmms we chant, or however much sage we burn. We are essentially quite primitive beings and when we sit together we compare ourselves to each other, positioning ourselves against each other.

Some of us love being in circles, always with something to say, always confident. Others are terrified by these spaces, feeling pressured to speak, scared to speak, annoyed that others seem to be effortlessly expounding with seemingly no self-consciousness. All of this is actually okay. Our varied experiences come from all the different ways we have grown into this life; all the different experiences, backgrounds, conditioning et cetera.

There is nothing wrong with any of this, not in terms of our personal experience of this or the fact that this is the way we have evolved. This is a space that includes all of that, but it is also a space to try to look beyond it, to create a level of safety where we all feel comfortable to share; where the motor mouth, like myself, actually shuts up for a while and only speaks when it is sincere; where the usually shy person feels comfortable enough to share whatever it is that is going on for them.

We all affect each other, and the more people who feel free to be themselves the more everyone benefits; in terms of individual freedom and personal expression, and because as a result of this the magic web of our mysterious collective nature is given life and wakes up, invigorating everyone.

The whole purpose of being able to share and explore freely, unselfconsciously, is to be able to deepen together, to integrate more, to understand more of what we have explored – and most importantly to practice what it means to be ourselves freely, together.

The subtle threads of inspiration

I was ‘inspired’ to write this blog by my good friend Matt Jelfs who is a wizz with a photographic camera. He just posted some beautiful photo’s (above picture as an example!) on Facebook with an explanation that he is “not that inspired with the camera of late.” No inspiration?!  Maybe they just appeared spontaneously out of the ether!

It got me thinking about inspiration and what it means to me personally. Last week I wrote a blog about my own struggles around being a dad, which was spurned out of a moment of pure frustration. What I was feeling when I wrote the blog had nothing to do with what I usually consider to be inspiration, I just wrote about what was happening in my experience at the time. I was surprised I even wrote it at all. In that moment I felt totally awful and not only uninspired, but uninspiring. I just felt like a useless sack of ‘you know what’ who had nothing of value to share; an embarrassing failure. But an unknown avenue opened up in my mind and said: “just write about it, you’ve got nothing to lose”. I was able to channel the frustration into writing the blog, and it flowed right out of me, like pure inspiration tends to do. It was a kind of cathartic self-revealing of something that I generally wouldn’t want people to know about. For me personally it’s one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever written, because of a few different aspects: the process itself was liberating, it has been by far my most popular blog in terms of people reading it and the people really seemed to connect to it and responded very directly to me with comments. Not what I had expected…although if I think back I was definitely inspired, but not in the way I usually relate to inspiration.

There are many people that channel their pain and suffering into art, but it’s never been the way for me. I get excited by electric inspiration, by the winds of spiritual insight and energetic expression, like dance or inspired conversation. I’ve never really thought about how inspiration is so different for each and every one of us before, but it seems to be totally dependent on our particular make up as a human being, and the philosophy that drives us. But is there maybe also something more primary, that we all share. I’m starting to see that in some way inspiration is always there, it just doesn’t appear in the guise I am used to recognising it. It seems to take more subtle eyes, a curios mind and an open heart. Every time I sincerely follow a thread of inspiration, in whatever form it comes, it leads me somewhere I hadn’t planned to go…this blog included!

The ‘Co-creative Crucible’

So what is The Freedom Lab…what does it actually look like? Well, as I mentioned before, I’m not actually sure yet. I want to co-create it with others, which means it will grow and get input based on interactions with others. But a direction, or at least a way to start, has begun to form in my mind and I would like to get something started soon!

Basically, to start with anyway, it’s an event. I want it to be in the spirit of the conscious dance community, and also the overwhelming diversity of creativity, that is in London. There are so many incredibly beautiful and deeply creative human beings in this crazy city, and I’m hoping to be able to co-create with some of you awesomers!

The event itself would focus around something I will call the Co-creative Crucible (that name just popped into my head while I was in the shower today, so will probably change into something less dorky at some point). This would be the main focus of the event and everything else we do would be to support that. In the Co-creative Crucible we would be free to create, for it’s duration, spontaneously together, everyone using their own independent creative skills and passions. So let’s imagine, for example, that 20 people showed up to this event. Within that group of 20 people you might have 3 musicians, 2 singers, 1 visual artist, a 5Rhythms facilitator (or some other kind of facilitator), and the rest dancers. Now that’s a very vague and rough way to make an example, but whenever you have a group of people together there are always going to be amazing and beautiful combinations of artists and creative passions. What I’m really interested in is creating a forum, a crucible, for everyone to be able to express their own passion fully in an open, improvised, co-creative dynamic. No set agenda. Nothing pre-planned. Just an open space for us to be truly free and ourselves, together. To begin this process there would probably need to be some light form of a structure, both in terms of the event itself, and also having a few people that would be able to guide it a little bit in the beginning, a kind of launching off point. But the point is to launch away from individual guidance, from our old model of leadership, into a natural dynamic of relating, where we all get to be ourselves free from the confines of hierarchy that is so strong in the world we live in. It’s a challenging thing to do but I know it’s possible and I know so many of us yearn to relate together in this way, and many of us are already exploring this in our own ways.

Like any event that involves movement, and any kind of engaged creative activity, it really helps to have some kind of a warm-up. So as people start to enter the event space someone can lead a very open warm up to bring us into the space, and into ourselves. The purpose being really to set a trustful and relaxed space, a welcoming space of openness. Then before the crucible begins someone, probably myself at this point, would explain what the process is. Now explaining what a spontaneous and co-creative process is is a total oxymoron, but it’s just a way to launch off into actually doing it together. We would all gather around the edges of the space, with the centre of the room being the focus of the crucible. We are now ready.

There would not be any set timing to this process, but as it is based in the form of a wave (like a 5Rhythms class or any other movement meditation/ecstatic dance practice) it would have it’s own life-course. We can trust in this and follow it’s natural course. We would set the room up in such a way that all creative participants have what they need to create. DJ’s, musicians, singers, visual artists etc. would have the desired equipment, amplification, etc., and of course us dancers have floor SPACE!

Everyone will be set, knowing their focus of creative self expression, but there would be no plan, no script. Now to begin with, it would probably make sense to have a few people, for example a DJ, a few dancers, maybe a 5Rhythms facilitator who are ready to lead very lightly, as a jumping off point. But this might not even be needed, and the whole point is to free up everyone’s dynamic spontaneous creative contributions. There really is nothing like that open space of energy and positive expectation to guide one’s creative expression.

For the duration of the crucible whatever emerges comes from truly natural and inspired co-creative impulses. If you feel the impulse to sing, you sing. If you feel you want to dance, you dance. It’s really that simple. One aspect of the format is that we allow the paradox of performer and audience to merge into one. In this situation you are both performer and audience, as one. There is no ego in this, you are not there to show off or be seen…but in being seen the light of immediacy is brought to you, that energy that wakes you up and allows you to be even more free, is there. We dance together, we dance on our own. There is no agenda. If collective dances happen, if they emerge, just let it, enjoy it, give to it, be it. Whatever you need. Whatever we need. If we respect the space, each other, ourselves, this crucible, then whatever happens will be trustworthy, and we can really let go to it. Of course many parts of this are not new, it’s really like a jam session, but we are setting it up in such a way where we can all be involved, and we get to do it consciously with each other. We get to see each other, to learn and get involved…just like we do with all the amazing practices that are around today..

So how do we get this started? Like I said I am likely to start with a few people that can provide some kind of basic structure: DJ, facilitator, anyone that wants to be involved really. Then it will be a case of inviting people to this event and asking people who want come to share what their passion is on the event pages on Facebook or in a Facebook group. This would then build the event as we get closer to it. If someone says the are a painter and they want to hang their work at the event, then we can do that. Or they are a singer then we can figure out if they need amplification etc. The event would grow and build and when we get to the event there will be a natural collective energy that would help guide us all.

In terms of the financial side of things I would want these events to be as cheap as possible to start with so that they would be open to people and we can really experiment. It would be great to be able to cover costs to start with. Then in the future, if it ever became successful, it would be up to those involved to figure out what made sense. While I would love for this to eventually become some form of a financial income, to start with I really just want to explore it and see where it can go.

Daddy is sorry for freaking out!

So far there’s been a lot of positive stuff on this blog. Lots of creative, energetic and uplifting ideas. But not everything is love and light and right now I’m not feeling any of that, just angry and frustrated. Well, also a bit relieved. Why? Because I just managed to get my beautiful little daughter Joy off to sleep after a half-hour screaming session. I’m talking full-tilt, soul torturing screams, for thirty minutes. Now that might not sound like a long time, but even just a few seconds of a little baby screaming their head off is enough to tear your heart out.

I felt utterly helpless. The more stressed I got the worse she screamed. And then came the anger. At the point where I felt like there was absolutely nothing I could do to console my little daughter, who sounded like she was screaming for her life, on some level I basically lost it. It’s happened a couple of times before, and today’s little adventure into the darker part of my soul has resulted in a broken light switch. Yup, I really did just punch a light switch, and I smashed it real good. Of course straight after I felt like a complete loser, and it obviously didn’t help to console my daughter. In these moments the stark contrast between this raw, deeply aggressive and very dark force and the pure, sweet and true innocence of my daughter is really intense.

I’ve really struggled with becoming a dad, in ways I could never have imagined. It’s really, really hard! It brings up so much of our easily hidden patterns. In a sense it’s like having a really strong mirror that can reflect all of your shit. There’s been, and of course continues to be, some hard lessons. But I can honestly say I am making progress! Even this little incident that just happened; as painful as it was to experience this, and also to let one of my demons out of it’s cage momentarily, I can see how much progress I have made. In the beginning I would get locked into a cycle of feeling like an awful dad. Something would happen where I felt like I wasn’t dadding it right and I would feel shit about it. I felt like running away from it all on some level and I emotional withdrew myself from the situation, which in turn makes things worse and again makes you feel like a terrible father. Just keep hitting repeat and you get the picture. But after some beautiful, loving and direct reflection from my wife, coupled with my desire to really be a good father, things have really changed!

It was quite hard to swallow this kind of reflection initially, but the more I let in the whole situation and started to digest it, the more things started to naturally change. Of course it takes effort, but I think the deeper point is letting in as much of the situation as one can, and that’s with anything in life, especially things we find challenging. I haven’t really found a technique, practice or method that consistently works with this. But there continues to be a mysterious quality to being able to be open and interested in your experience is, is and being really willing to let it all in; to feel it, to let it move you. Sometimes that means taking a good old fashioned look in the mirror, or it could mean getting help, whatever works for you, or is right in that moment. But what you don’t want is stagnation. We all know what that is. It’s when a problem that has come up in life, usually between people, stays unresolved, and essentially stagnates. This is where so many of our problems that we experience between people get stuck. It’s part of the hard rub of being a human being; we exist in relationship, where we experience all the pain of conflict and separation, and all the beauty of love, connection and intimacy…oh how wonderfully complex we are!

So yeah, life can be really tough sometimes, but it’s really worth it! And with my daughter, along with the obvious challenges, has come something really incredible; endless love and joy! There is nothing quite like it. Not only is it unique in it’s purity and innocence, but it is helping me grow, shining light on parts of myself that are stuck in such a way that I can see how to grow, and am inspired to do so. I used to think this whole thing about my child is my teacher was bullshit, but I see it now. This isn’t about whether one has kids or not, or will have them or not, because that is between you and you, you and life, and no one should ever judge that. But I just wanted to share my own experience of this because it’s whats going on for me now. And in some way the birth of my daughter, and the growing love that we share, is probably the biggest inspiration behind me doing The Freedom Lab project, because she is inspiring me to the best me I can be. I hope to one day be someone she can truly look up to, and to give her the ground, love and understanding so she can truly be her own self in the best possible way. Dear Joy, I love you. Daddy is sorry for his occasional freak outs!

I think I just came Home!

Wow what a beautiful and totally uplifting evening! I just danced my ass off at an incredible 5Rhythms class called Home taught by a fabulous teacher, Liz Baron Cohen.

I haven’t danced like that for a very long time! It was like being transported to another dimension where life has not limits, swept into a vortex of infinite energy and creativity! Sorry for the hyperbole but my head has just been blown right off! I used to dance in this way in my clubbing days, and reached heights of surrender through dance that opened parts of myself I could never have imagined, but I’m getting a little old for all that now!

So in that respect 5Rhythms is perfect. In London you can basically go out any day of the week and totally lose it on the dance-floor, and still be home by bedtime. I’ve been going to 5Rhythms for a couple of years and in that whole time tonight was by far one of the best classes I’ve been to. It was my first time at this specific class and for some reason it pushed me over that edge into that unknown place of free and unleashed movement, ahhhhhhhhh, thank you Liz!

My life has been pretty mental for a while now, and  a combination of life responsibilities, work, and some pesky physical ailments (including a pretty bad fall where I landed on my head), have meant I’ve been approaching the dance with a certain caution and some hesitancy. I’ve felt like I couldn’t really let go and trust in my body to support me. But tonight, booom! I guess it was a combination of a certain readiness in myself, and the brilliant, spacious and beautifully clear guidance from Liz, who brought us all into a powerful and focused dance, a natural unfolding into the mysterious joy of free movement. But last and by no means least there was the music. Oh, the music! Thank you, thank you, thank you! We all have different musical tastes, a kind of vibrational resonance with styles and types of music based on our history.  The playlist, and the way it was elegantly blended together, played the perfect notes to unlock my resonance code.

One of the most beautiful elements of the 5Rhythms practice, and dance in general, is dancing with others. This can happen in groups, with partners and other creative combinations. Tonight was particularly inspiring in that respect. The energy in the group was so full, excited and completely released. There were so many beautiful, free and creative dancers there and I was lucky enough to dance with a few of these amazing creatures. Some of the dances were just wow! Undulations of co-creative back and forths. Freedom roars and spontaneous rhythm steps. In these dances the edge of where you begin and the other person ends blurs and you get to experience such a profound freedom in your movement. Where is the inspiration to move coming from? Movement flows through you both; at times you are completely just yourself, doing your own thing in it’s purist form, and at other times you are just one with the other. The dance becomes a natural organic play between these two seeming polarities and allows you to feel into the reality that these are not two separate things; we are both profoundly independent, and totally interdependent. We exist as unique souls in a network of relatedness. That’s us. Human beings, being oursleves, with others.

This is what the ground of this crazy project is about; understanding and exploring the space where we are not separate. Working with this dynamic where we can be completely ourselves, fully letting our passions out without limiting them it any way, but doing this with others, directly co-creating and seeing what emerges through our a collective symphony of passion, giving ourselves completely and letting synergy be our guide.

Sorry to keep repeating myself, but thank you Liz! And thank you to all the amazing dancers that made it such an electric and inspiring night..I’ll be back!

Oh creativity you wicked beast!

There really is an art to writing blogs, and of course writing in general. I’ve only ever really dabbled with it. I’ve enjoyed deeply inspired moments where I’ve been able to express real depth and poetic words writing about my own experiences, especially those from the spiritual domain. I’ve dabbled with poetry and even tried to write rap songs, but I’ve never really committed myself to learning this amazing art form, which is such a profoundly important dimension to this world and the reality we are living in today, whatever that may be!

It’s never been the most immediate creative love for me, there’s always been something else. First art, when I was young, and then dance. Oooooooh dance! My lover, my friend. That fire that engulfed me during those self-conscious teenage years and helped me grow up. I felt like super-man, but instead of a phone booth I walked through the nightclub doors and onto the dance-floor and poooooof, magic would happen, I felt untouchable! Dance was not only a deeply creative process for me, it was also like some kind of spiritual practice I was engaging in, that I had no idea I was doing, or where it was taking me. It led me to very deep states of surrender, it changed my life.

I’ve never thrown myself into writing with the same consistent abandon as I have done with dance, but right now I feel like I’m beginning to. It’s the eighth day in a row that I have written a blog and the consistency is both challenging and exciting. I’ve had blogs that have almost written themselves, and then others, like this one, that have gone through many twists and turns, and multiple re-writes. The creative process is a wild son of a bitch. It can be your best friend and your worst enemy. In one second you can go from feeling on top of the world to a worthless piece of shit. Aaaaaaaaaaaargh I hate this! WOWOWOW I love it! Creativity is ruthless. It takes you by the balls and says “do something!” It’s that impulse that wants to be expressed through you and it doesn’t really care how you feel about it. Like right now in this moment. I’ve just spent the last couple of hours flailing about in the dark, trying to write this piece, then BANG! and all of a sudden inspiration hits. My hands fingers can’t keep up with speed at which the words are streaming through me. I’m trying to express how this is all happening, trying to figure it out, but you can’t! I guess that’s why we need to practice. To get ourselves ready so we can let go, whenever that creative force comes knocking. Or maybe with all the practice we knock on the door and creativity opens, with a BANG!

With writing I’ve always just tried to be spontaneous and never really put the time and energy into developing the craft, like I did with dance. Actually I’ve always had more of a bias towards the more spontaneous side of creativity, it comes natural to me, and is also what I am passionate about developing The Freedom Lab project; creating a forum for natural spontaneous creativity to be expressed and explored  between people. But there is also a fundamental aspect to creativity being able to express itself, spontaneous or not, where it needs a strong ground in order to come through. This is where practice comes in. Commitment, development, struggle. Our passion, our skills and art, need to be developed over time so the creative energy come inside and have it’s wicked way with us!

In Trust I Trust

As the days pass and I post more blogs I’ve become aware of a growing commitment to actually really doing this project. It’s a little scary to be honest as it means I have to follow through, instead of just day dreaming about it!

Although I’ve been experiencing moments of fear I’ve also become aware of a deepening trust in this process. Whenever the fears come up, saying stuff like “ahhh you know it’s not going to work” or “you’re just arrogant, who are you to think your idea makes any sense at all”, I’ve looked at them, noticed what I’ve been doing I just let them melt away and move on. The fears are becoming more and more transparent and are losing their grip on me. In these moments, and in general, I feel there is nothing in the way, and I really trust I will find my way.

I’m also quite relaxed about it. In the past I would get over-excited and wrapped up in the buzz of it all, which usually wears off pretty quickly and your left searching for inspiration. I’m not sure why but there is a deep resolve in me and I know I am going to follow through, which hasn’t really been there in the past. It’s probably a combination of things: getting older (40 next year!), getting married, having a baby (that really changes how you relate to being here!) and also I’ve been struggling with my health which has pointed back to stress from my day job and I really need to change this. At the same time I also feel very deeply that there is something more mysterious to this whole process of life and how change happens. It’s a beautiful process really. You walk through life with your best intentions, trying to do this thing or that thing, and the next thing you know you’ve tripped and ended up in ditch. While you’re laying there you look up and you can see the stars… and there it is: ‘Oh it’s the simple reality of being here!’ OK so that’s just a metaphor but I can honestly say that all the beauty that has come to me over the last few years has been a surprise, and for me a real miracle.

I have a lot of faith in life, even with all it’s pain, suffering and total craziness. Sometimes we just have to trust, and right now I’m really feeling that lesson. I’ve trusted deeply at different times throughout my life, and it’s always worked out, although maybe in the way I had hoped or imagined. But right now it’s my only real guide, because at the end of day, none of us has a clue where this wild ride called life is heading. Time to dive!

Stillness Moves

Busy times

I feel drawn to stillness right now. My life has become very busy recently. I got married last year and I now have an 11 week old daughter who has upended my life in ways I could never have imagined. Her name is Joy and wow does she bring Joy! But also frustration, fear, the insecurity of not knowing how to be a parent, and much more! It has been more challenging than I could ever have expected, but I’m really starting to love it! I work full-time in a very stressful environment and on top of all this I’ve started this project, which although is something I am deeply passionate about, has it’s own pressures too. Last night I sat and watched some tennis and just relaxed for a couple of hours. I battled with my mind at first, which kept telling me I should be working on this project, but my body was saying ‘rest’, be still. Now I know tennis isn’t exactly a renowned meditation practice, and to be honest I often find it stressful, especially when Andy Murray (I’m a big fan!) is playing Novak Djokovic! But last night it was the space I needed, and I dropped into myself and rested, not just physically, but in the deeper space of my soul.

Stillness inspires

This morning I woke up with stillness on my mind and in my experience, and it got me thinking about how this is one of my main inspirations for, and ways of, creating performance work together with others. For many years I worked together with my good friend, and fellow co-creator, David Leckenby. David is a brilliant electronic musician and deeply inspired soul who has a lot of love and space in his heart for others. In a way the experience I had working with David is possibly the strongest influence for this project, even though the inspiration has come in many forms throughout my life.

I have mentioned this in a separate blog but essentially what we were doing was ‘jamming’ together. David would play live electronic music, mostly improvising, and I would freestyle dance to this music. During these ‘jam’ sessions we would often return to a place of stillness. Of course we weren’t physically still, I would dance and he would play music, but we would in essence move from and as the essence of stillness. The more we did this the more it would take on a life of it’s own and we would be drawn deeper into it. In it’s purist form, and in many enlightenment traditions, emptiness is not something that could ever be seen, known, and definitely not expressed as movement, because it would not be empty or still, or whatever definition you are familiar with. But for us it was very real and also very instructive. It became a reference point and we would usually start in this space when beginning our sessions together. We would build a co-creative dynamic that was pregnant with energy and depth, but there would often come a point we would move away from this space and everything felt flat and empty, empty in the wrong way. As we continued this work we consciously made the effort to not move away from that depth and instead let it guide our work together. What started to happen after this was often surprising and inspiring; we would move into deep states of co-creative energy with a depth and beauty to sound and movement that was an expression of the power of stillness, in action. We then created performances based on these dynamics, setting them up in such a way that they had a general arch/timeline but had the space to be free and spontaneous, following the deeper flows and impulses that come from stillness. When we did these shows live they would have a very deep impact and drew the audience into the very space we were performing from. In fact you could say we were just accessing that the ground we all stand on, and the performers and audience were not separate anymore.

Although these experiences, and the understand that I got from them, are very real to me, I am also aware that there seem to be conditions to this process, a kind of strategy in some way. With this project I want to remove conditions so that we are free to be ourselves and create together. But with any process where you are trying to figure something out it’s a case of just throwing yourself into the unknown and seeing what works, I guess that’s the point!

Moving forwards, from stillness

I started this project because I want to express a creative impulse that has been burning in me throughout my life, and also hopefully find a different way to earn a living, and support my family. A part of this is to get away from the stress that is caused from my current work, but last night I became aware that I was relating to doing this project in the same way; that it is something that I must do, that I have to do, and not the natural passion which is just a part of who I am. Although doing this project is activating and freeing up a deeper more natural part of myself, it’s also more important where I am moving from into life, and of course into this project. Is it a place of fear and tension, or from my own natural passion and freedom. Lots to learn and find out about, lots to share and discover.

 

To lead, or not to lead – that is the question!

I’m starting to love and appreciate the weekends more these days because I get to spend time with my wife Gyöngyi (that’s a Hungarian name and it took me ages to be able to pronounce!) and my beautiful little daughter Joy, who is now 11 weeks old! I work full time so these moments are very precious.

This morning Gyöngyi and I had a rare breakfast together, not something that happens very often with a young baby, but Joy had a little nap. We got onto the topic of leadership, especially in relationship to this project I want to create. My dream is to have a forum that is literally not led by any one person, but the flows and directions would be guided by the natural impulses that emerge from the individual’s passions, in natural unison together. Gyongyi said, and I am paraphrasing here, “we always need a leader otherwise when you come together people will just be doing there own thing… so a leader can guide people to work together harmoniously and create the space for others to grow and bring out their talent”. In principle I agree, but I really believe that it is possible for us to let go of this model and work together in what I have started to called dynamic relationship. If you think of any group, class, company etc you are, or have been, a part of the it usually has a very rigid hierarchical structure, in terms of the social order and dynamic. Even in situations that are more informal, with our friends, things we are interested in like sports, we unconsciously assume positions in relationship to each other. This is just how things are and the idea of working together without any one person leading is quite alien, although of course people have been experimenting with this idea for a while, with mixed results.

I was involved for many years in a spiritual community that was deeply hierarchical and overtly rigid in its obedience to this, which was in stark contrast to the message that it we were supposed to be living from the principal that we are One. But when the community dissolved, and maybe because it was so explicitly hierarchical, I started to see a space in myself for a different way of relating. I see this possibility not as a living reality but as a spark of something possible that I would love to explore with other people. Especially as people are really interested in this possibility and are exploring it in their own way.

As these ideas start to form more clearly, or should I say I am forming these ideas in a way I can share with others, I feel called to make this impulse concrete and start this forum. But I really don’t know how! How can I start something myself that I don’t want to be led by one person, without me leading it in some way, at least to begin with! I guess the only way to find out is to give it a go and move into it with an open mind and open heart, working together and finding out with others. Even though it’s a scary time we are living it’s also such a beautiful and creative one where we get to ask these questions and explore things together.

Now I think I better go and do the dishes! My daughter has woken up and I’m not sure if wife appreciates me sitting on the laptop all morning day! 🙂