Friday, September 5, 2014

Making Space for Your Needs rather than Sizing Your Needs to Fit Your Space

Looking over the bay toward the city
When I go on retreat to Chautauqua, I post a sign on my door that I don't need housekeeping. I do this because even that interruption and the inevitable social interaction can be too much when I am trying to dive into inner silence.

I go for walks but I don't speak to anyone. I don't stop for coffee hoping for small talk. ((UGH)) I don't drop into the bookstore with little excuses.

And one of the first things I notice is how quickly and then how clearly I can hear my inner voice.

Which reminds me of the contrast with my "regular" day to day life when I really cannot hear that voice much at all.

It can be startling to notice this -- to notice that you've not even been hearing your own self -- and then to notice how much is needing to be heard.

Paradoxically, only in deep silence can we hear our deepest voices -- and they are clamoring to be heard, for sure.

This silence space where we can hear our own voices, where we can hear the longings of our own hearts, this is the fertile space, the only space, really, in which we can grow and expand.

Otherwise, we spend most of our time simply holding on for dear life or struggling to keep our shit together, which takes up so much energy that we're almost always bone level exhausted if we take the time to feel it.

I am pretty sure I am not alone in this.

When I ask women what they really need, it's space.

As one of the people in my secret Facebook group pointed out, the "man cave" has become pretty culturally accepted/expected but what of a room for women?

This goes back to the basic, underlying sexism of our culture. "The whole house is the woman's!" men yell. Yep...the whole house is the woman' take care of.

But space to think and just breathe and just be and space to create within? Perhaps you have a small desk tucked into a corner if you are lucky.

Here's the thing: You can't wait to be given space. Women curling themselves into tiny balls that take up very little space on the bus or the plane or wherever...making space for the man to SPREAD OUT...that's what happens when you wait to be given space.

You must TAKE space. MAKE space. CLAIM space.

So many women's voices exemplify this issue. Small, breathy, high pitched -- none of that is natural. That's bullshit. Those voices are cultural. (We know this because there are indigenous cultures that are/were matrilineal and the men have/had the high voices.)

Those voices are the perfect metaphor for the larger issue -- the fear of our size and the fear of the size of our needs.

A little Thomas Merton for you to contemplate:

Now let us frankly face the fact that our culture is one which is geared in many ways to help us evade any need to face this inner, silent self. We live in a state of constant semiattention to the sound of voices, music, traffic, or the generalized noise of what goes on around us all the time. This keeps us immersed in a flood of racket and words, a diffuse medium in which our consciousness is half diluted: we are not quite "thinking," not entirely responding, but we are more or less there. We are not fully present and not entirely absent; not fully withdrawn, yet not completely available. It cannot be said that we are really participating in anything, and we may, in fact, be half conscious of our alienation and resentment. Yet we derive a certain comfort from the vague sense that we are "part of something" -- although we are not quite able to define what that something is -- and probably wouldn't want to define it even if we could. We just float along in the general noise. Resigned and indifferent, we share semiconsciously in the mindless mind...which passes for "reality."

You can now learn how to teach dance as a spiritual practice! My first teacher training is coming at the end of September! Just visit the "Teacher Training" tab at the top of this page.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.