I perceive a lot of interest buzzing in our collective community about how trauma and the subconscious are stored up in the body. It's practically a national conversation, what, with the unveiling of a pervasive rape culture in almost every layer of society. Serendipitously, there are several of us who seem to be reading this book called The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk.
I'd heard about this concept for years but first had direct experience with it after my first Vipassana retreat in 2011 and it came to me in an unexpected form. After that first 10-day, it was the weirdest thing, I noticed that I was no longer scared of spiders, bugs, scorpions, snakes or roaches. Not that I was actually ever frightened in a logical sense but what I noticed was that my uncontrollable reaction to the bugs was gone. I no longer jumped. Or make a yipping noise. It was more like “Oh, lookie there’s a spider…” and then I’d want to lean in for a curious examination instead of hollering for Paul to come squash it. Somehow, my reactionary “fear” of bugs had vanished. I realized that (for me) gravity had somehow reorganized and reprogrammed some of that ancient, limbic muscle memory that before would cause me to jump and be startled. Through the process of meditating for 12 hours a day for 10 days straight, those tendencies (and others I might never be able to articulate) simply melted away. I didn't even realize it until after I'd seen a few bugs and didn't react in my "normal" way. It’s probably more complicated than that, but there are other examples of re-programming from attending a few of these 10-days that tell me that’s at least one of the ways Vipassana works to re-wire stuff deeply buried in the body.
The New Moon Adept Magic thing on Saturday was uh-mazing and we worked with this body-stored trauma throughout the course of our night together. We stretched, meditated and danced on the very edge of our comfort zones to shake stuff loose instead of simply letting gravity pull it out of us. Maybe we’ll do another one of those gatherings in the future, I mean, who knows. We don’t begin planning our New Moon Ceremonies until the prior Full Moon. So we’ll see.
In the meantime, there is another little experiment brewing. For three Sundays in December (3, 10 and 17), we will gather at Arts Mission Oak Cliff at 9:15am (sharp!) and do Dynamic Meditation. What’s that you say? It’s a simple exercise to shake loose a bunch of stored up shit in a systematic way that’s ideally suited to the busy, neurotic, Western mind. It unfolds in five parts to a pre-recorded soundtrack:
Formal disclaimer - I’m NOT an expert at Dynamic Meditation and I don’t pretend to be. I know there are other places to do it in town, but this is intense stuff folks, and maybe you don't want to do this vulnerable practice with just anyone. I’ve done it exactly twice and both times were exhilarating, freeing and utterly transformative. Be open to potentially big changes! For example, I quit a well-paying job I was miserable at the very next business day after the first time I did Dynamic. I can’t wait to see what happens when I do it for three weeks in a row. Oh and I’m also NOT an expert on Osho, the controversial guy who developed this particular system. I just know that the Dynamic Meditation is a yogic technology that friggin' works. I tend to be practical and discerning like that.
So we’re going to do it and see what happens, kindof like an experiment. Once we’re done with the three week series, we will have a group book discussion on The Body Keeps the Score to see what we think about a Dynamic Meditation practice in the context of van der Kolk’s ideas in the book. It just seems obvious. So pick up the book! The one and only Cole Suttle of Helping Friendly Book Club has agreed to facilitate our conversation. He explains 'positive trauma' better than anyone I know. He claims there's a sweet spot between boredom and anxiety where you can consciously inflict trauma for the purpose of healing. I'm game!
Want to join us? Here’s information about Dynamic Meditation at Arts Mission Oak Cliff. Blindfolds will be provided or you can bring your own. Be sure to bring a meditation cushion and a water bottle. You're gunna need it. Book discussion details forthcoming. That event will be the week of December 18, exact time and location TBD.
All this, just in time to go see the family for the holidays. You can thank me later for the divine timing.
May it be so.
And just like that, it’s one year later. Let’s see, one year ago was the presidential election with a breathtakingly unexpected result for our country. One year ago my work situation was a completely different reality, also with a very unexpected result. And, one year ago I was sitting at the feet of the same exact swami in my very same living room. The more things change, the more things stay the same. Which is why I choose to study the moon.
Allow me to explain.
First of all, if you’re reading this, you’re invited to an evening of New Moon Adept Magic on November 18 at a former church-turned-arts-space. This website gets very few hits so I kinda already know anyone reading it has already been invited. All I ask is that you formally RSVP. My birthday next weekend coincides with the New Moon, which is my latest course of study. See, at heart I’m really just a mad scientist and I love data. Lots of it. Experiences allow me to collect data to examine for trends and patterns alongside my personal evolution and all that I am perceiving. I first began studying the moon because I desire to align with and understand a higher, mysterious cosmological order. The Full Moon Salon was an invitation-only salon for women that I hosted at my home for a full year from June 2016 to June 2017. We explored birth, death, sex, dreams, pilgrimages and so much more over the course of that year. Upon its completion I whacked off my hair (on the July Full Moon) and began a study of the New Moon. I started with vassa, or Buddhist lent, this past July New Moon while backpacking Burma with my son. The August New Moon was the eclipse (remember that?) and the September and October gatherings were private with my sisters Aujah and Audah. So for me to expand the moon-study circle out of my living room and into something more public on my birthday is thrilling to say the least!
And if I’m honest, I’m terrified.
There will be yoga on this looming New Moon Adept Magic gathering. That’s easy though – I’ve been doing that for seventeen years and I am currently one of Audah’s devotees in her Sunday 2pm class. She's leading the yoga on Saturday night. And… there will be dancing. That seems easy given all those Burning Mans I've attended and danced for days straight in the Nevada desert... It's when I put the word ‘ecstatic’ in front of ‘dance’ and know that a giant candle-lit church sanctuary awaits on my birthday and in Dallas? Dear Goddess I can’t breathe. And so, with that observation, I can’t think of anything more wonderful to do on my 42nd birthday than breathe through that terror and transmute it into expansive joy for the coming year. Yay for living up to my Scorpio label! See you there?
May it be so!
Periodic updates from Aurah in the Field.