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#movingmidnfully

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Shed a skin and make a fisherman friend

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Shed a skin and make a fisherman's friend

Descending the causeway that declines steeply to the pebbled beach, I encounter the remains of Beer’s fishing fleet that still braces the sea every day. Past charming Lillie May, bearing the same name as my grandmother and about the same age too I imagine, I admire her colourful beach garden.  

I’m in Dorset here for a weekend of Sumara meditation and dance-movement in the landscape.  The plan is to spend the mornings in the studio awakening our bodies and preparing them to move outdoors in less familiar terrains.  We round off the day seated in meditation.

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 I'm now toggled up in outdoor clothing expecting to roll, glide, slither, crawl over damp rocks revealed by the rapidly retreating shoreline.  The sun has already broken through the patchy clouds and the temperature is rising.  I reach for the zip of my jacket that’s sealed around my neckline and find it won’t budge an inch.  I’m trapped inside this waterproof, windproof skin and I've already broken into a sweat on the inside.  If this continues I’ll be throwing myself into the cold sea.

And then I remembered the fisherman … sitting outside his stone hut selling the catch of the day.  Surely he’d have a knife to cut me loose! 

As so it was Alan, captain of the fleet, who came to my rescue but using a large pair of scissors.  Quite an intimate operation it was.  And thankfully I was saved the large knife that removes the heads and tails of fishes and splits their guts open.  In all his years Alan admitted he'd never had to perform this procedure before and alas my jacket didn’t survive the surgery.

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Once liberated I join the rest of the group to crunch across the pebbled beach.  I gaze longingly at the tea drinkers sitting sedately under umbrellas in the afternoon sun, past Barbara Ann who’s hanging out with the bad boys having clearly thrown in her lot with the pirate boats.  Arriving at the far side of the beach, under cliffs strewn with fallen rocks worn smooth as a baby’s bottom, I drapes myself over a sugar loaf mountain wait for the moment when the urge to move arises from within, led by my body and not my head.

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At the tail end of the afternoon I wind through a verdant valley of wild flowers towards neighbouring Branscombe.  This village is enchanting and quintessentially English.  It would seem that thatched roof cottages be-speckled with flowers aren't just reserved for chocolate box covers.

I round off the day with Sumara, the Javanese meditation.  Nothing special about how I should to sit in the chair or on the floor - just not lying down.  Giving my body plenty of time to settle and come to stillness, feeling my weight drop down through my bones, supported by the chair.  I feel like I'm shedding a little more of life's debris. 

No need to follow my breath, a sound, or a mantra.  Thoughts and feelings come and go as I sit here like this for 45 minutes.  If I need to move, cough, mutter, shift position I do so.   My mind wants to dance me around but I reign it back in to where I am seated on the chair with my friends around me, accompanied by birdsong.  The ordinariness of this is completely luxurious. 

On the drive back to Beer I track a deer slowly down the lane until he finds a suitable gap in the hedge.  I then  encounter an out-of-control bonfire threatening to take the hedgerow with it. I summon a rather drunken homeowner from his deck chair and hope he'll succeed in extinguishing it with his pitchfork without falling into the firey inferno.  

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If you’ve yet to discover the rural delights of Jurassic East Devon I highly recommend you do so.  It’s the perfect place to make a fisherman friend and shed a skin or too.

 

 

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What everyone needs to know about the value of "NO!"

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What everyone needs to  know about the value of "NO!"

Have there been times in your life when you’re doing too many things out of a sense of duty only to find yourself over-burdened by the complexity of the juggling act you are performing?  Or perhaps someone else you know springs to mind?

Rather than be able to take these responsibilities in your stride and gain some fulfilment from them, there's a point where it all becomes too much.  Big chunks of life are consumed in this way if you’re not careful.  Don't I just know it!

Tangled up in blue
I went through a period like this once that lasted for five years.  I became very adept at putting my significant other's needs ahead of my own in order to maintain the status quo while my owns lay languishing. Why? Because I was afraid of the uproar that would ensue if I didn’t - and the consequences of it.  It’s a weak reason I know but I didn’t know any better at the time and I was enslaved to the situation.  I kept myself busy so I didn’t have to face up to the fact I was being emotionally bullied and manipulated, trapped in a classically co-dependent relationship.  This realisation had not escaped my body however.

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I suffered from insomnia.  I got run down and regularly picked up colds, verrucae, fungal toe infection – all signs that my immune system was depleted. As I became increasingly dis-empowered by the situation, my confidence sank to an all-time low and my self-esteem plummeted; I no longer had a sense of who I was or where my real strengths lay. 

Why illness is the consequence not the cause
Medical studies have shown that when we suppress a “no” in favour of a “yes”, we go against ourselves and this is a form of self-attack.

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One of my teachers, Anna Halprin, an experimental dance-movement pioneer, discovered this while working with HIV/AIDS patients.

With their immune system compromised by HIV, their body was not able to defend itself sufficiently from infection and she found how difficult it was for them to say “no” in other areas of their life. 

She worked with patients using therapeutic dance-movement to strengthen their boundaries and help them express a clear “NO” and a convincing “YES”, with every fibre of their being.

This helped them to manage and sometimes reduce the number of infections they caught.

Stepping of the merry-go-round
That’s why I enjoy so much to help people find their genuine “YES” – their real passions, desires and motivations. 

When I was caught up in the web of co-dependence, the biggest obstacle was my logical left-brain.  It controlled my thinking and provided me with all the rationalisation and justification I needed for sticking with the status quo.
 
I needed to find a way to by-pass this voice and create space in my body-mind so that a deeper, more wholesome wisdom could get through. This proved difficult when my constant immersion in the detrimental situation prevented me from having access to an alternative viewpoint - so I kept going around in circles.  Now I'm able to recommend people find a moment to step off this merry-go-round by attending one of my workshops or retreats, which would have helped me greatly had I been able to do so.

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Taking downtime
When you take time for yourself along with a suitable guide what it is you need for your sanity and vitality comes sharply into focus.  I use reflective, creative enquiry to help you identify the people, places, and activities for you to welcome in with a resounding “YES”.  With this awareness it will become even clearer when you need to say “NO” as well. 

You won’t find this clarity while you continue to drill away at the coalface.  You’re much more likely to keep on drilling as I did and end up dead on your feet - and we don't want that.  

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