Wednesday, 25 July 2012

the art of alchemy

 'tears to prayers'...print and cards available from my new etsy shop :-)

'alchemy' is one of my favourite 'serendipity', 'ethereal' (which inspired my hardly ever heard guitar song about ethel real!!), and 'sumptuous', its a word that offers a whole world of whirlwind wonderings...a portal into a new layer of meaning.

traditionally alchemists were the magicians, wizards and witches of olde, their quests for turning one object into another, filled with ritual and scientific speculation, filled their days n nights with endless experimentation...the search for the elusive philosopher's stone the key anchor to their explorations...the philosopher's stone is a legendary substance said to be capable of turning base metals e.g. lead, into gold or was also sometimes believed to be an elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and possibly for achieving immortality...for many centuries, it was the most sought-after goal in western alchemy...the philosopher's stone was the central symbol of the mystical terminology of alchemy, symbolizing perfection at its finest, enlightenment, and heavenly bliss. 

for me, the philosopher's stone is a metaphor for the potent potentiality contained within every living cell, of every living thing, be that vegetable, animal or mineral, or, that excruciatingly exquisite human creature that is you or me!

with the power of intention, the furnace of the heart, the key ingredients of authenticity, the feeling body and commitment to the process, each one of us can step into our own finely (or crudely, if that floats ya boat!) laboratory and perform, with a flourish if you prefer, a little bit of magic of our own :-)

each time we step on our mat...every moment we come to sit, open and delightfully human in meditation...with the conscious desire to embody our breath and bones on the dance floor in a dance as meditation practice...and by staying engaged and willing to follow the daimons direction as we put paint to paper, or mould clay by the gentle pulsing of our warm and alive hands...all of these practices, if the 'temperature' of that particular moment in time, and the 'key ingredients' artfully measured are in place, can connect us to the power of the alchemical process.

i had an experience of this only a few hours ago....after teaching my morning class, belly satiated and my fire fuelled with lunch, i came to my cushions to sit...simply sit...i knew i had to, you see, as lately i realise that as soon as i feel slightly 'odd', or 'not quite with it', to use some fine technical terms!, i know that i have somehow know, become unplugged from the source somehow, as if my wiring has gone a little, without a plan of action, i sat, breathed, and, when i use the word 'prayer', i have to say, that its all very low key... in fact, my version of prayer, is simply, talking out loud!...there i said it...we all do it, talk to ourselves...some of us even take this private conversing out onto the streets...though they might be the kind of folk to avoid looking direct into their eyes, or on second glance, they might be talking into one of those fancy phone any case they look kinda strange!

something amazing happens when i talk out loud (or to give it its fancy name, pray!)...i hear my words, and as i hear them, and receive them, i connect with their resonance...what i mean by that, is that i can feel whether i am telling the truth about my experience, or am talking a load of baloney!! words touch me, with their energy and their, i talked about my yearnings at my heart...tears fell and as i softened into them, and offered up all i was feeling, the tenderness of my human self, something began to heart began to open, to feel expansive, and as a few more big tears emptied from the well within my heart space, and as i cleared out a little more space, i relaxed into a feeling of restfulness, of a sweet joy, and i felt a voice within repeating ''all is well''.

riding on this wave of expansion, i now sit, at a life filled coffee house, and write these words...i feel clearer, more settled, and most importantly, more alive!...something happened this afternoon, something that occurs quite frequently when i come to my practices, whether with enthusiasm and excitement, or having to pull my weary and resistant body and mind into beginning...this something? a little dose of alchemy :-)

so... i would like to offer you a little list of, what i see as, magical, alchemical moments in the life we live...enjoy!

''tears to prayers
runny egg to hardboiled
dancing, yoga, moving the body
pale skin to tanned in the sun
a walk in nature
an orgasm
scissors,glue gun, fabric and glitter
a warm hand on your back
blank canvas to a soul stirring painting
some strings, a wooden instrument and fingers
ice to water to steam
the words 'i love you'
the words 'its over'
faces of loved ones
spanish sherry
saying 'yes'
saying 'no'
make up
egg sperm cell baby
day to night and back again
seeds, sun, water and love
a magic wand
ideas, inspiration, intention, n action 
a new choice
daring to risk
letting go
gorgeous food into fuel and shit
communicating from the heart
polaroid film



Wednesday, 11 July 2012

the art of presence

 (photo from one of my camera artist dates)

julia cameron would be so proud of me this week :-)....for those of you left with a blank stare of non recognition, ms cameron was responsible for perhaps one of the most seminal and important books on creativity over the last few decades ('the artists way')...alongside, daily journal writing, which i take to also include the click click clicking of keys forming the words of my mind on these pages; she also suggested a weekly 'artist date'...some time set aside for yourself, that didnt involve cleaning, sorting, or any other kind of distraction, but did involve a healthy dollop of creative stimulation to feed one's soul :-)

living in a city, the variety of date like solo stylee venturings is a little like being a child in, erm, willy wonka's chocolate factory! galleries, book stores, thrift shops, and outings with a camera have all seen my creative inbox a swelling...but this week, my medium of choice was film...2 to be precise...ahhh i can almost hear my creative muse purring in delight of being spoilt treated in such a way!

the first was a trip into the workings of the late dance choroegrapher pina bausch. With her unique style, a blend of movements, sounds and prominent stage sets, and with her elaborate cooperation with performers during the composition of a piece (a style now known as Tanztheatre), she became a leading influence since the 1970s in the world of modern dance....the movie showed a section of her creations, performed and recreated by her loyal and dedicated troupe of dancers...beautiful, strong, deep, vital, powerful and emotive pieces...

the second movie, requiring a trip down the road to the local art house cinema, was entitled 'the artist is present', and was a documentary on the great living, perhaps some might say grandmother, of performance art, marina abromavic...having offered herself in service to her art for over 40 years, this was a fascinating portrayal inside the mind of this, once again, strong, powerful and incredible brave and magnetic woman...

though inspiring in bucketloads by themselves, i have been struck by several themes that seem to resonate at the heart, not only of living a creative life as an artist, but also living a life that is creative...there is a difference dear fact i recall how last summer, attending a workshop on being a 'holy artist' with a grand tribe of like minded dancing souls, i had arrived with the question ''how do i live as an ARTIST??'' rolling around the crevices of my mind...through the power of the dance, energetic work, laughter, friendship, and a huge amount of risk taking later, i flew out the other side of the week, that question dissolved into a new one, that rattled deep within my bones, ''how do i LIVE as an artist??" it happened, at that time, and for many months later, the answer felt as solid, real and ridiculously simple as if i had always known it! forwards a year later, and the art of remembrance carries me through....the answer?


yep...i told you it was easy peasy...a small word, yet one that contains the whole wide world within it...what is presence? well, i certainly know when i am around someone who has it....they seem to 'be' right down to their belly, every word evoked an evocation of truth, of fullness, of gravitas, and of embodiment....observing students, when suddenly becoming present in a part of their body they hadnt, as such, visited before, a light comes on behind their eyes, and though this might seem odd, there is a sense of being filled up from the inside...their bodies become more solid, more sculptural, their very being pulses with a sense of vitality....there is a definite knowing that they are 'home'!

when i am present, i am here...yes yes i know thats obvious, but....most of the time i am thinking of the past, or fretting/ planning/ procrastinating about the future (anyone else with me on that one??)....when present, its as if no time exists..only now...and in that i am aware of every sensation in my body, almost as if the dial of amplification has been volted to full force...i feel my energy moving..i am clear, and can speak my truth, as well as recognise if something i am about to announce does not ring a ring ring right down to my gut...when present i am with the folk i am hanging with, with my breath and arms as i stretch my arms in palm tree pose, with the feelings of loss when saying goodbye to an old friend, or the feelings of joy as i step into what feels the next step of service to spirit...

how can we not live as whole as we can? is that not the practice and ultimately the purpose of yoga?

so, returning back to the two dazzlingly inspiring creative souls i have had the pleasure of getting to know a teeny bit more this week...what they both had in common, besides vision, courage to create, an ambitiously hungry palate for their work, and the neccessity of delving deeper and deeper into the realm of human emotion and relationship, was, the importance and significance of presence....pina acknowledged at one point how having her eyes lowered helped her to 'be' in her body to express an echoingly yearning character through dance; marina created a 3 month long ode to presence in her MOMA retrospective, one that moved me to tears...

if you have reached the end of this piece with me, then thank you, and i will leave you with a musing from the marina film (probably not verbatim as it was dark in the movie theatre!)

''it does not matter what kind of art we create, its your state of mind that matters''