Alight here and let the darkness go

I have been living for some time in an intensity or fullness of living that - to me - is very similar to the process that I associate with the ‘journey’ of a Mayflower Camp - or from any similar commitment to sharing and learning life with others in truth.

In Camp - or perhaps I will now say in a commitment to shared be-ing in relationship, the fruits of taking the journey that it offers are a profound sense of connectedness within that is extended and reflected without. A spontaneous capacity for joy. A very present appreciation of being alive. Freedom from compulsive thinking. A natural generosity of spirit.

To open the door isn't actually complex or difficult. But when such a spirit is in us we are forced into new responsibilities or to shut down.
From now on I will just speak in terms of my own experience.

The liability of such awakened relationship is that I suffer acutely if I ‘lose it’ by trying to impose the control or mindset of separative mind upon experience.

This would sometimes occur via a sort of unguarded curiosity where I don't realize that what I am attempting does not work until I get feedback that reveals to me that I am actually being obstructive. Then I tend to drop it and re-member myself in the present flow of relationship. This sort of thing is like seeing immediately how life flows or constipates according to the consciousness we hold. It is possible to set myself up in this way by trying to script what the world or others should be and then getting upset when they are not or do not. But that too is part of staying awake and being present with myself with the world.

Loss of joy mostly occurs when fear and guilt from my past are activated and experienced as if re-occurring - or about to re-occur. This often seems to be other people or experience impinging on me or others. I dont see that I have set myself up. I may see others as behaving badly or things not going how I want them to - and project my own shadow intentions onto the situation. At such times - if I take the bait - I cannot then of myself discern the true from the false; the real from the remembered past and the imagined or anticipated future.  I am caught in a trap. I will believe I am present and justified in my perceptions, but it is a painful and problematic experience from which I seek remedy because it is intolerable.

I am already in a conscious intention to learn and live from a self-discovered-in-relationship rather than a self-getting-from-relationships, I do open into relationship. There cannot be a loss of joy if one hasnt first experienced joy. None of what I say will make any sense to one who only sees relationship as something to exploit for private or indeed mutual private gain. If people were to come to a camp without letting life in then they can not experience anything other than their judgements and definitions from the past because only opening into relationship presently connects directly with reality at all. This of course is about human mentality at any time or place.

In the camps I have held or attended, or in any commitment to relationship in being, I have always had at least some times where I felt gutted, excluded, cut off from joy, utterly bereft, or an empty meaninglessness or deeply felt fear. Heavy stuff. All these compelling realities become meditations because they were held within relationship - which is present by faith and at times by the present extension of love or attention from others or indeed from serendipitous events. But the living of it is experiential - not theoretical - and is often messy in ways that our closet self abhors and resists. I might add here that extending love is largely unconscious or spontaneous automaticity. Anyone inspired by joy extends love. "Love" has been remade in man's image but that is merely a concept and a construct. The reality of love has not altered in any way as a result of man's imagination. Your direct experience can find its own words if it needs to.

In life, we can often spend days, months or even years in grievances or feeling hard done by or just lost. This is largely because the culture is predominantly one of suppression of symptoms and we inhibit the movement of love. The intensity or rawness that I opened this writing with is the seemingly accelerated process wherein coming through grievance into miracle of clean and renewed joy may occurs in moments or hours.

Here is the journey-process of healing. A journey within myself that I have to make if I am to regain joy instead of a disposition that is tending to shut down into judgement, exclusion and blame. The temptation to guilt is sometimes terribly strong, but the immediate cost is loss of living relationship within myself as well as without. When hitting difficulty I may attempt anything that seems plausible - depending on the nature of the experiences I am having. But I would often find myself going off into nature and in essence, attempting to face, enquire and empty myself at a radical level. Often in wordless prayer that seeks but one thing; to regain a living peace. But such a prayer may not come until I have exhausted all other ‘options’ - and myself in the process. The fruit of such a journey is to discover the absence or undoing of the problem-bound self in the regained clean and clear joy of inner-connectedness and outer innocence.

There is no process to receiving but recognising and undoing the blocks that are obstructing present joy often needs some process in time. Joy is a spontaneous felt wholeness of be-ing that is not dependent on externals but on alignment of mind with Mind.

Such a journey cannot be learned, conflicted “I” always has to make it afresh. This is because it isnt so much a doing as a surrender of doing. Not so much a strategy or formula for solving problems; but a recognition of inherent futility in the problem’s perspective.

The essential dimension to this journey is “joining with” - into living relationship. The need for it is my conflicted state of mind in which I suffer not only loss of awareness and communion with this very living reality, but the usurpation of this by a falsity that actively seeks to protect itself and sees all things in it’s imagination such that nothing is accorded relevance unless it fits pre-set problematic criteria, and nothing will be allowed to reach it that would be seen as threat.

The one thing that seems to block this journey of healing is the belief or acceptance of (anyone’s) guilt as reality. In this is private judgement of blame or unworthiness solidified and made Reality. Capital R Reality. When such temptations are yielded to, I become powerless to invite or initiate change and indeed will fight to maintain and impose my conviction. Though I may feel vindicated and justified, I will not regain well being because I am unconsciously but actively excluding my wholeness. Until and unless I become willing to look within with fresh eyes and open my mind to change.

Living through such experiences over most of a lifetime has brought me to recognise and accept the difference between the false and the true in myself by virtue of not living as if a separate and unjoined mind. From this comes the next step; to let go of the false and embrace the true. This step is not without fear and like the first step is not achieved by self-will but by a willingness to be given the means as they are needed.

Now must I be as vigilant in protecting my peace as before I was in protecting my judgement. Such that judgement cannot find a welcome in my mind as a weapon but only as a mapping of my own private internal mindset.

The intent to maintain privately held separative judgemental reality can take any and many forms. It can adopt perfectly socially normal behaviour - because most of us are mostly engaged in trying to protect a split mind by projecting a split or conflicted world. So we have consensus judgements according to our various family, cultural and human perspectives. While we may be more of less unconscious of this activity of our mind, it remains actively obstructive of well be-ing in ourselves and our community.

I have simply come to point where I have had to separate from that which separates. To not do so costs me more than I am willing to pay. In making this choice I have seemingly lost my marriage and livelihood, the community in which I have lived in faith and fellowship for many years, and indeed my capacity to live from and as a compartmentalized self. I say seemingly because I am regaining an unconflicted presence in being alive that offers a true foundation for sharing and living life. I am in a new classroom here and learning by living with. In the very way this writing describes.

To hold to the embrace of the living universe - the gift and communion of life in which and of which we have our actual being - is in many ways to step off of the map. Such a presence is anathema to any who actively will to hide in darkness - or private-self judgemental realities. For it does not share the foundation from which their thought systems stem.

Though they may make much noise or more, they cannot make such a self real, and I will not forego the quiet loving extension of love’s recognition in order to conform to demands that are expressions of an unwillingness to look within this very moment - with eyes released from the past and a willingness to let vision in.

Humanity sleeps. In dreams are victors and heroes born, adversity engaged and challenges overcome. But none who dream but have fear stalk them in shadows and hope turns to despair. The odds are actually invincible because human mind is split against itself. The experience of being ground down or devastated by loss or undone in fear, maddened by guilt, can ripen us to question the entire basis of our experience.

None will look within who fear judgement upon themselves unless they have some cause to bring to question the case they hold against themselves or their brother. In any moment of experience where you do have light and share it - you have such a cause. Though it may seem lost when you get lost, every witness in your life to love's presence is part of your dawning sanity.

There is no case against the truth of you or I - whatever we may have seemed to have been or done. Can this be true? In the shared reality of Love's creation is this Truth. It isnt information to be applied within the framework of private realities. Only by taking the hand of another in rejoining in shared be-ing will we regain the perspective that is vision. Only with a present and grounded vision will we be able to respond to the call for healing with true help. For the absence of actual and direct connection with reality is the inevitable recycling of insanity. "Stop the world, I want to get off", expresses a truth felt in many in our world today - but expressed with humour. To make it also a practical statement of release say "I stop making my world in the image of my past all by myself, I want to come back into the giving and receiving of love's reality for I am not at home in what I have made and am willing to learn what love would have me be and do".


Camps as spiritual resource

I have in fact been a well adjusted individual to the world that I have grown up in. From earliest self awareness I felt it expressed less than what life is and what I can be. It seemed to demand that I be what I am not. In one way or another I met unlove. In reaction I grew a false independence that was essentially a form of complaint and feeling hard done by, whereby I avoided addressing my own failure of relationship. I thus become less than what I am and actively undermined my own unfoldment in life. A false presentation. A social identity.
Recognising this came about only via extremely painful change, but also because there is in me (as in everyone) an innate or God given capacity to recognise truth. I could not invest in falsity once I became aware that it wasnt true. Even though my world collapsed and I was terrified without the buffer of a false self to hide in or be.
I then began to grow from a sense of responsibility that before would have been inconceivable and therefore invisible. Unlike societal responsibilities, living responsibly does not carry the sense of ‘should’ or ‘ought’ but rather expresses one’s own intelligence as an expression of desire or free will. Albeit that life brought such crisis where I was not able to evade or delay such choices. Such has been - and remains the ongoing responsiblity of consciousness. Without this responsibility we reenact the past as a program of which we are unaware.
Camps offer temporary but periodic occasions of living in which we are much more communal and communicative that we normally are in daily life, and more immersed in the natural world and its living qualities. The camp offers renewal in the capacity for relationship.
New relationships will either grow on a new basis and call forth new behaviour and experience, or replicate the old set patterns. For the latter, the honeymoon period is soon replaced by a more obviously contractual ‘relationship’ where each participant holds ongoing private judgments which become associated with ‘no go areas’. The ‘trouble’ that surfaces over time in relationship will either tend to become ‘mapped out’ and avoided or the relationship is abandoned. Attempts to force solutions fail because the nature of human conflict expresses unconscious private histories we each carry and this is only recognised in freedom and not at all likely when righteously energising conflict.
A kind of peace can be maintained by those willing to obey the rules of non engagement that the group’s atmospheric carries. But it covers hidden conflict and is superficial. This is largely a picture of humanity at large - the human condition.
Camps - if they are to offer spiritual resource, need to discover the basis for relationship where we find enough willingness to remain in the experience of conflict and release our convictions of rightness or wrongness enough to let the presence of life come in.

This can be a simple as letting an uncomfortable silence be just that - uncomfortable. By not trying to lubricate or fix something that seems to be ‘out there’ we can just be with it and feel it ‘in here’. Being with anything without fretting and thinking and defining is to become actually present. The moment that we allow the presence of what is actually alive in us to connect, we are transformed. Now, instead of looking outside for conditions to be met and finding disappointment, we are unselfconsciously expressing our own sense of self inclusion. If the previous discomfort was related to issues in the camp, then one is awake and responsive rather than restless and reactive. There is now a relational basis on which one can act by discerning what is appropriate to the whole situation.

To value a relationship enough to stay in when issues arise that embody loss of trust requires a faith in oneself and life whereby one is willing to forgo investing in conflict and remain in relationship - ( As described in the above paragraph). However we are not obliged to submit ourselves to actual abuse or indeed abuse ourselves or others by futile attempts to enforce our wills. Withdrawal or restraint is appropriate as an expression of love toward ongoing willful violence at any level. If a mutual channel of relationship does not exist it cannot be forced into existence. To deny access to that which refuses to look within and only attacks is sanity - but only if we remain open to their essential worth beyond the costume and posture they are currently identifying as.

There is something in human conditioning that always tries to usurp and do what in fact is not its responsibility - and thus we obstruct our own good. To bring ourselves present is to be in an ongoing relationship with others and the world, just as we are, but not in conclusion or judgement as to where we (or they) are. Compulsion to fix, grasp and control is an expression of insecurity that always represents an avoidance of looking within. Life is intelligent, we do not persist in what doesnt serve any purpose, once we are awake enough to see.

To be in the messiness of involvement is not comfortable in human terms. But to regain recognition of your and your brother or sister’s innate worth is to have found the way to live in and from your own. Learning to live is to a very large degree learning how to not get in the way; how to let in and join with the life that arises.
Joy arises from within. It cannot be bought or made. All pleasures are external and their ‘joy’ will pass. Yet joy can fully drink pleasure’s essence without grasping at the forms. Joy is the call to live that we will have no peace unless we respond.
By becoming present we become receptive and life will reveal itself as we allow it. To be in joy is far too simple and requires no preparation - though it may require patience as old habits diminish.

What better than a relationship in which you can let be yourself as is, for your own joy to show you an alternate to the ways the past would dictate, that seem safe but lead nowhere; that wear us down and out of joy? Therefore the camp is an opportunity for you to offer that freedom to others once you have realised it is yours to receive.

Everyone expects spiritual life to demand sacrifice of himself herself. Everyone expects that looking within or being revealed is to encounter judgement against oneself. Until the attempt to go it alone as a self made man or woman becomes untenable, there will be the tendency to defend against love and to protect fear. But if there is any willingness in the day we live now toward change from conflictedness to wholeness then that is enough to take one step. To embrace the step we are inspired to take is not only enough - it is all we will ever need to live.

Brian Steere


Living Circle Camp - unused draft copy

Living Circle Camp - this was my first draft for the invitation for the camp which I didnt end up using so I put it here as it has some alternate points that may serve your attention.

I have always invited a spiritual intent without exoteric trappings to the camps I hold. This doesnt require or espouse overt ‘spirituality’. But it does require a willingness to join with the invitation that IS the camp’s inspiration or you are at the wrong camp.

Living Circle runs as a single circle gathering of people; meeting, camping, cooking, sharing silence, music and dance together.

I invite Living Circle as an act of worship and renewal in which we step out of thinking-mind into relationship with the Living world. Such reality we do not make or control but in and of this we presently and always Are, whether we are aware of this or not. Living experience is indescribable and direct, (whatever words may be used to point to it), because it is not filtered or distorted by thinking. Such can be uncovered by opening into presence - this moment - without using the lens of the past.

A journey into simple presence in which time-bound thinking falls away is easy if we simply do NOT do the things that keep us distracted into elsewhere and elsewhen, unconsciously acting out a past that is not actually here - but whose imposition upon the present ensures that the future merely extends the past. The present is a gap between memory and imagination. They are not continuous. We have a choice in the way we see the present and a different world arises from a different choice.

Until one has a real experience of the living present as a unique expression of a shared joy, an unbounded peace, a recognition of love’s radiance, then it is hard to realise just what it costs us to live as if we actually are what we think we are. Yet even a moment of such experience is enough to witness that there is vastly more to what we are and what life is - than what we have come to accept (and suffer) as ‘the human condition’.

Becoming present as a living practice is the essence and is an allowing or letting into what is already here. It simply cannot be ‘done’ but only accepted and shared. This is profoundly different from most of our previous learning which tends to promote a time based ‘becoming this’ or ‘getting that’ which is aimed at some other moment than that which we are living right now.

Our adaptions to coping as a time-separated mind fall away when not serving any useful function and we may feel threatened or uneasy when anything that we identify with is open to change. Learning not to react to fear with that which promotes fear is a worthy endeavour whose fruit many hope for in our larger world, not realising that it is this which we need to give.

Whatever the forms of the camp, they are expressions of where we are coming from: our intent and invitation. How could it be otherwise? I do not seek music and dance as the content of the camp but we will use it as a common structure or vehicle through which we live and express our life together - just as we do with morning meeting and shared circle cooking.

Please do not bring ‘social’ drugs or alcohol to Living Circle. If such is your preference please be willing to explore living without for a few days. We are inviting the renewal of a simple clear awareness rather than its distortion. Boredom, doubt and discomfort can be the catalyst for either growing beyond one’s unrealised mindset or addressing inappropriate behaviour in others. This takes trust and support to stay with and come through. We can grow such a trust within our self and in our community. Everyone is both a teacher and a student to themselves and each other.

Living Circle is experiential and while we trust that we each and all welcome and include, our fundamental responsibility is self inclusion. Our perceptions shift as our state of mind calms. The essential learnings are of a highly personal relationship within one’s living self. The fruits of this process share in the community in terms of the light and quality of our presence. There is no private enlightenment to be gotten. We have it by seeing others in recognition of their worth - especially when it is not apparent.

In our human conditioning we all carry shit or guilt which we at times get stuck in or sticks to us if we try to throw it out. If we are to come into a shared presence that heals and enlivens it will only be through being straight and grounded within ourselves. The ego or time-bound mindset is an ingenious defence mechanism that can easily be set off, take us unawares and insinuate itself as if it were ‘I’. But it is dependent upon being fed with attention and I trust we can find better things to do with our minds.

The willingness to live with others is where the treasure is. It is also where the stuff comes up. There is no need to look for trouble but, if obstructions to your joy and essential peace of being seem to turn up in ambush, then trust it is coming up to be undone. Either over a process of years - or in a moment. But never by force of will imposed by self or another. The freedom to say no is essential to having the capacity at another time to say yes. I do not invite coercion as a valid expression of being at Living Circle. We are not here to fix the world or others - but to regain a grounded and clear sense of being ourselves in the shared life of the camp and take this into our lives. Such sanity is often lacking in the larger world in which we live. Fear will react but only love can respond; for to respond we must respond TO something that we receive by listening, in relationship, beyond the confines of chattering mind and pictures from our past.

Brian Steere


Full article which I abridged for the back of the flyer for Chelmsford

Living Circle Dance ; Live Music with Brian Steere

My adult life has been inspired toward the process of awakening. I find guidance and support through many forms and am not subscribed to any one teaching. But I resonate with and recommend ‘The Power of Now’ by Ekhart Tolle as a good example of what I mean by awakening.

I have been teaching and sharing dance since the late 80’s. During the 90’s I was a co organiser of Dance Camp East and co-founded the Mayflower Camps where the dance became a living focus of our camping communities as well as growing in live musicmaking.

Circle dance is a kind of folk dancing where we mostly join in lines or a circle and the dance has a form that we all share. Yet it holds the dimension of stillness and feeling awareness. Many of the dances are slow and simple and invite participation rather than competition or attainment. Though a few dances have a partner element, most do not. You do not need to bring a partner to come.

Circle dance draws music and dance from many cultures past and present. This helps to raise an appreciation of our common humanity. I see circle dance as a tool for peace on an individual and collective level.

Living music is the gift of the spirit of inspiration which calls us in the innate language of our own being. Rather than focusing on perfecting the forms we use the forms to open through into inspiration. Music and dance may thus serve as a vehicle or doorway to our true selves.

My approach to dance is simple and yet profound. I join with and facilitate the dancer that you are, (whether you know it yet or not), rather than engage the mind that thinks it needs to be in control, (and which then generally gets in the way of joy). I share dances in a musical relationship that is easy to pick up and does not require more than some willingness to join with the group and move with the music.

I share dancing as a practice to invite and participate in a present state of Be-ing.

We live in a world that is increasingly time driven - and fear dominated. Be-ing is the dimension of Sanity. We don’t make it - it encompasses and infuses us. To come back into this simplicity is freedom.

A shared experience of music, dance and stillness help to calm us and bring us to the present - especially when we are feeling disconnected from our joy or peace.
Experiencing of a sense of self that is ‘part of’ rather ‘than apart from’, simply by moving with music that moves us.

In this respect, our dance is a meditation, bringing attention present through simple means, yet dynamic in its range of qualities and relational in that our sense of each other and the atmosphere we share is transformed as we relax into the dance. But it is also wholesome creative fun, and often deeply moving and yet held without sentimentality.

The times we live in are such that music is now considered to be a canned commodity, dance is either a competitive sport or something done privately in the dark while drugged. The mindset of the individual ‘getter’ is largely promoted as a norm. This is a poor shadow of a life. I offer Living Dance as a way of reconnecting with a present and energetic sense of being alive - and sharing it by receiving it.

Brian Steere
Friday, August 4, 2006


Live in South London - July 2006

One of the hottest days this year. Driving down the M11 and M25 round to Collier's Wood - near Wimbledon. The roads were almost empty as England were in the process of being knocked out of the World cup. We were booked to hold a dance in a little community hall that we have visited a few months previously. The bookings were low - to be honest we were not even sure that there were any bookings but Kate thought there were a few people who had said they were coming. But the nature of what I seem to be doing is a lot about trust and a willingness to give where there is an invitation and willingness to share. We left a bit late and didnt have much time to spare - but I felt well aligned for it - whether in fact people turned up or not. But they did. I think we were about a dozen all told though i didnt count. Barry and Andy joined on guitar and Steve joined on percussion on some songs.
Initially there was a reserve and perhaps a reluctance on some level - it was so hot that to touch was to sweat - let alone to move.
I started with a circle just to be connected, to arrive and set an intention.
Then began with Shalom Aleichem. I had only recently found the vocal recording of this and learned the song, so although it is a classic circle dance it was its live debut for me. A lovely cool peaceful melody and a gentle and easy start. Its wonderful for me how such 'old' and much danced dances are brought freshly alive with singing live. Its like a new relationship from being set free of a recorded fixity. We danced this again later in the evening.

We had some that had never or hardly danced this way before and I saw that the level of danceability in the group as a whole was at a fairly beginner level.
We went on to dance:
Thalassa - such a delight to sing. A greek love song full of longing and loss. Choregraphed by a late German teacher ‘Dimo’, this has a very simple part that I always love to dance where the dancers come into the center (we usually hug) and side close around, come out again and side close to the starting place. The other part has a grapevine, then turning into chekassias where the nature of the longing invites a unique movement - even though the ‘step’ is ‘a grapevine followed by a turn’.

Dro Retourne - this is fun and an icebreaker and a mindstopper too with arms and feet at once and a lighthearted nonsensical rendition. We danced this again later in the evening.

One Love (Lets get together) is a Bob Marley song with a simple dance from June Watts. This was requested in error (it was actually Faith that the dancer wanted). But it is bright, positive and is one of the few with English lyrics and some lovely lines. I invited free dance as a paralell option but this doesnt often happen yet (though I forsee that it will).

Faith is a Toots song calling for peace and love in our community. I always acknowledge that this came - like Bob Marley’s music - out of a context of music as a message of peace in a divided and strife torn Jamaica. Also in English and a sort of raggaefied gospel song. Very inspiring. Always too short no matter how long.

Lioube : It is still an amazement that such a lovely song and dance could not only come to me but come through me. The dancers werent quite sure of the sequence but we repeated this later in the evening and it really came through. Sometimes I feel we could dance this all night.

Hora Medura. Well before our break I suggested that we go into the heat and be free of having anything left to try to keep cool. The bonfire or campfore dance is a rowsing uplifting Israeli dance with a lovely moment of stillness amidst the otherwise fast movement.

Karev Yom is one of the simplest dances and I felt it would be good to come out of the break with as well as being a vehicle of coming present without moving a lot and getting hot straight away. Many dancers didnt just join but sat and watched. I know if I had called the circle first and then shared it they would have all danced but I like to try and invite some freedom and spontanaity too.

Erev Shel Shoshanim (‘Evening of roses’ from Israel) is a summery evening dance. I wish I could sing it like Nana Maskouri!

Daronee holds a deeply heartfelt call. I wont bring more words into trying to describe this song but there is both a brokenness and a rapture. A simple ritual dance with a strong presence.

Ivoushki is one of the most recent new songs in my repertoire and this was its live debut. Gypsy passion in a slow earthy plaintif cry of love. Andy Bettis choregraphed a simple but lovely pattern of sways and side together sides that fit this perfectly. The dancers were not needing to learn anything demanding at this stage and Ivoushki was a perfect finale.

To list the songs and dances and try to say anything in words is makes for poor reading I would think. There is nothing that can begin to speak in words what the experience is of sharing these dances in a growing mutual delight. For indeed the dancers were uninhibitedly glowing and in my remarking on this part way through thye evening it was apparent that I was no less bright with joy.

Three and a half hours on motorways disappeared from my mind and body - as did the mind that measures in terms of profit and loss. I will need to attract more dancers to pay the costs involved if this is to be an ongoing event, but there is a desire in me to keep this alive and sharing itself and not let a lack of affordability stifle its coming into being as a vehicle for such a presence of felt and living participation.

There is a lovely blessing in discovering that our dance has been an initiatory awakening for new dancers.
I am as keen to say 'thank you' as they are. For only that which you have given and has been received do you get to keep. And such is the fruit of our lives. Heaven is not somewhere else. Sometimes vision breaks through and perception aligns with essence rather than the distortions of egocenrtic thinking. When we let it.


An introduction to spiritual awakening

I thought I was writing a letter to introduce where I was coming from with my approach to circle dance. But instead I found myself writing an introduction to spiritual awakening. I will doubtless try again to write the livingcircle dance introduction. But I am aware that something of what I write below is a necessary foundation for letting ourselves become available or open as receiver/giver rather than attempting to fit life into our preconceived definitions as getter/controller.
Though no theory is ever required to join the dance and be transported, some responsibility for the use to which we put our mind will go a long way in helping us to recognise, value and maintain the benefit of a sense of connected well being in our daily relationships as well as in our music and dance.

••• ••• •••

For all of my adult life I have been active in a process of living that is in effect learning how to address and move beyond the blocks to love's recognition and extension. Not because it is a good idea to do so, but because the blocks manifest as symptoms of limitation that become intolerable or interrupt the enjoyment of the movement of life. I don't enjoy suffering. I do like to appreciate the experience of being alive. To be inspired.

When fears are put aside or moved through, love of itself restores sanity and vision in forms that are relevant and recognisable. This is nothing new but fears by their nature relate to that which is hidden and unshared.

Overwhelming effort is directed at problem solving on personal or political levels; but without vision it is not surprising that much of the attempt actually reinforces the essential problem. It would seem to be extremely difficult if not impossible to become free of fear's tyranny in our hearts and minds.
Perhaps few of us actually want to be so free?

Yet anyone who has ever shared love knows what it is to be innocent of fear - even if just for a moment. To see in light is not so much an answer to a problem as the undoing of problem based mentality. To see 'through a glass darkly' is to have distorted vision; to misperceive reality.

Our thinking mind tends to be employed as part of an impeccably constructed defence system - whenever we believe we are what we think we are. For there is always maximal vigilance for what is held to be self protection. The innate power of your actual mind (You) is choosing it - but this has become unconscious amidst an attempt to make real a separateness that simply isn't.
So it is often very difficult to uncover the essentially simple errors that underlie the complicated conundrums that essentially express as conflicted realities.

The last phrase is a clue because conflicted wishes pull in different directions, and a sense of self in conflict with one's innate being will be felt as dissonant and is likely to promote fearful perceptions without, if one does not address the issue within. To self-wilfully impose upon life generates an equal and opposite sense of resistance such that the conflict must be maintained for the 'self-acting-separatively' to 'survive' in its own image. Its a negative loop.

Stillness - or the cessation of wilfulness, is a letting be. Life in all its dynamic wonder simply and already is, and seems to return to our mind anew when we let ourselves into life presently and move with it's felt qualities.
Such intimate being is expressed as the peace of unconflicted wholeness, the joy in the felt experience of being alive, the love that recognises itself in all things as one.

If that last statement seems a bit BIG well it sort of is and it sort of isnt, because life really is what it Really is and doesn't fit into our concepts at all. The attempt to do so and then believe it into reality is a folly. And yet it isnt BIG in that every single moment of life in which peace, joy or love is shared is a direct expression of the living truth in a language that you are willing and able to accept, right now.

Ego-self will always make a future goal and give itself a role. It is the self appointed saviour that will always try to come on your journey with you until you really have seen through it no matter what forms it takes. Then you dont invest in it, react to it, or deal in it. To do so always costs your awareness of your own inclusion.

The way isnt really a way to get somewhere but a way to BE somewhere. This is an excellent way to travel, whatever paths we take. Yet we each have particular aspects of life with which we associate joy and to which we are drawn. Thus there are infinite ways that invite and call for joy and wholeness. If we are awake enough to remember that we actually DESIRE to hear the call to wake then be sure it is never withheld, and can reach you or I in a language that we each can understand and accept.

So rather than thinking in terms of health and safety, wealth and happiness, or enlightenment and wisdom, as somewhere else to be got or attained, we come to realize that it is by our own action that we deny or allow this experience to ourselves right now.
This is not at all obvious when the light switch is off. But if there is any truth in what I say then it is worth pausing and considering, because the attempt to solve the conflict in your mind by projecting it outside will fail.

To let oneself into life is in essence a conscious non action that allows the movement of your being to express more fully. In the flow this is effortless, yet to hang in with your Self over and against the pull of acquired habits and distractions takes cannot be faked or partially done. Your desire is the fundamental force that invites and allows real change. Becoming free of fear and sharing life again is a real change and not a part of the endless vacillations of trying to serve two masters.

Courage may seem to be in short supply. The 'problems' may seem to be deep rooted and insurmountable. To even consider that there might in fact be a way in which your life be restored to innocence and wholeness and delight could be stretching your mind too far to remain comfortable.
Yet what is it that you protect and sacrifice to, that is so worthy of your allegiance, if it commits you to a tiny little piece or You, fenced with fear and locked into judgements, cut off and blind to the love that lives and holds you and yet seeking a little fix in the passing show of forms that ever change and cannot be grasped. This is not a worthy picture of you or your brother/sister. Come home.

Every step, no matter how small, is real. Grows your awareness of your reality to you and in this you do live. It is hardly surprising that we lose our way so easily and often, when we discover how conditioned we have become to identify with a separative sense of self. Be patient but persistent. Minimise time spent in negativity by recognising that you do not want it and you do want to find the way to be at peace even if it seems humiliating or against the flow of your conditioning.

The ego mind thinks in terms of achievements, targets and future goals. It always sets you up to fail, because the ego doesn't want anything except its own continuance and will protect itself at your expense while you give it the job of being your teacher.

It is worth noting here that we never, ever deal with the ego in another. We only uproot the habit of it in ourselves. We cannot see it in another but through our own. Therefore to see a brother or sister or the world in love's vision IS the way to undo it in ourselves. To do so requires willingness to forgo the justifications you think you have to judge. To let the past go, and simply, be with.

The ego-self withers from neglect. It has no existence apart from your attention and endorsement. Any scenario where you seem to be a winner or loser is in ego's frame of reference. It isnt that the ego is 'bad' over against some sense of 'good', its that it always entirely misses the point and leads to suffering and confusion. It takes some time to loosen the grip we held so long.
When we are willing to persist no matter how long it takes for the externals to change then we will be able to enjoy the moment at hand and not be rushing off somewhere else.

Vision also inspires goals, but these are felt presently and the work is in the nurturing and the revealing and unfolding of something that carries love's work. In such work it is necessary that we only do our part - and no more, or we get in the way instead of holding open a way.

How can it be, in a world of no abiding safety in which we are compelled to fight and compete with each other, with the world and with life itself to survive, that we can experience love, joy and peace?
It can not. And such undeniable experience is the witness to that such a world is a false perception. No matter how many subscribe to it.

Do we argue the truth to the false? No. Never. Unless you would throw your treasure to that which would undermine your capacity to discern what value is. Simply invite and allow for life in terms of peace, joy and love in your day. If you do so then you will be of yourself prompted to share or extend or include others because the very nature of life is gift, freely given and freely shared.

And if confusion should arise, listen as best you may with the honesty you can bring to bear and begin to exercise active trust. In the absence of a clear knowing, patiently persist in common sense practical ways with your feet on the ground while you persist in listening and look for any wilfulness that may be obstructing your capacity to hear and then ask or listen into that. For the only obstructions we need address and undo are the ones that are getting in the way of peace and joy and love right now.

And when the gift of life is not obstructed, then don't go looking for trouble.


Resume - a snapshot - where did it come from pt 1

When I was an emerging circle dance teacher in the late 80's I recall a spontaneous evening at Dance Camp Wales. This was catalyzed when I heard Neil McDonald playing Chkassia Kfula and ran to a neighbouring camp circle to dance . My drawstring trousers (nothing else on) fell down mid dance and somehow everyone around seemed to just be coming out of their tent or passing at that very moment! However I didn't let it stop me - (though it did enforce a variation in the dance style). It was an energetic moment. We carried on with other dances. More dancers joined and more musicians joined. When the light faded I brought over some outdoor candles and we continued into the night. I tended to remain a primary focus simply because I happened to recognise the dances first and be demonstrating them in my singing, miming way. Yet the dance wasn't being 'organised' - but rather held by the musicians playing or the dancers calling for a favourite dance. I actually left it some hours later and it was still full of life. What freedom!

That was a seed experience for me as well as a prayer answered (I had wanted to share the dance). The way of it resonated with me.

I also brought my candles to Dance Camp Wales and ran small intimate candlelit sessions in the evenings - which were more like the dance we know in our localities - yet of course magnified in the open heartedness of sharing the camp. This was an alternative to BIG live bashes that could be great but were often - for me - flat and disconnected.

I went to Dance Camp Wales a couple of times after Dance Camp East started. I was in the core group for Dance Camp East for its first seven years and also founded the Mayflower Camps which have run for the last 12 or so years.

••• ••• •••
Dance Camp East was initially set up by Madelaine Lees and largely modelled on Dance Camp Wales, except circle dance was very low in its priority. It was extremely busy with multiple workshops and events and to find the opportunity to share dance in the spirit that I love I would feel for occasions where the atmospheric - and timing lined up and initiate an event that was in the same spirit as the one around Neil's circle - except that rather than joining with a random event I would initiate it from a place of commitment yet without attachment to outcome.

Over the course of a few DCE's I soon abandoned the tape player and went out with my guitar even though by myself then I couldn't hold more than a very few tunes together unless other musicians joined. in various ways they joined. Coming out of a freedom and shared receptivity.
These events always happened in a way that expressed something of the camp energy and in ways that many felt participant even if they were only witnessing. I don't actually organise or entertain in this - its more a relationship of invitation held in a simple presence.

••• ••• •••
In the Mayflower Camps I specifically didn't want them to be circle dance camps as such or for my known 'circle dance teacher-ness' to be a flag drawing expectations that might have prevented a larger diversity and wholeness. I envisioned the circles such as we know at the larger camps to _Be_ the camp and the camp to arise out of and be the process and community of the circles. And in that context I grew circle dance as a tool and expression of community rather than the primary means of creating one. Again I mostly dropped the tape player and increasingly grew live music among the campers as well as growing my own musical and relational skills and capacities.

There have been many occasions when we have lit up our centre green (around which our open circles joined), and we also often got together to make music and dance out of the hat. One can easily make flat undanceable 'live' music but we hardly ever did - whatever our level of ability. This is largely to do with the quality of relationship and inspiration. So whatever it is is must be alive, present, and a way of sharing joy - or felt appreciation.

••• ••• •••
I have recently separated from Lynne and have been and am still in a process of radical change. I have had to come out with new life in order to find one. The old one has fallen off.

I am particularly enjoying and committed to sharing live circle dance that I am singing and playing for. I don't have a band as such but have and do play with various musicians and can serve as a catalyst around which musicians and singers can easily join with. If I say so myself the repertoire I sing is beauty filled and moving - and always growing.
If too many musicians join we can lose subtlety and spaciousness. Sometimes the need for inclusion temporarily wins over the held qualities in the music - but always I look to invite a felt participation rather than each one pushing out something separately.
I don't seek to over control in terms of the what of it but rather hold and guide and demonstrate the way of it. When the group - or at least a core in the group, are holding the culture of the circle then I can - and will - 'just' be a musician or a dancer. But meanwhile I 'just' hold for the openness that invites and allows life to come in as best I can.
I have a sense that my own renewal can also serve renewal in the world. How could it be otherwise?
I hold and demonstrate a visibility and undefendedness in my love of music and dance that is active at a fundamental level and draws any who actually love the dance into a tangible oneness. This may seem to be an exotic or fanciful claim yet I maintain that it is simply the hidden truth of us.

We (generally) have simply forgot as a result of actively remembering the past (in our own making), imposing this onto the present (which actually is NOT of our making), and projecting our past into our sense of future. This may once have seemed like fun but its a diminishing process of limitation that traps our minds into self fulfilling programs that are simply ignorant. To freely join with that which is truly alive in another is always to undermine or break the mindset that obscures the felt wonder and joy of life. Its no great secret.

Except perhaps to those intent on remaing themselves a secret. Privately maintaining their personal judgements as if that were reality itself!

It is true that human beings are generally able to immediately slip into separative habits of thought and intent at the drop of a hat - but no one can feel love of life alive in them and be unchanged by the experience. Joy is attractive and pain is actually not - no matter how it is justified. We grow.

I guess the risk of letting love in, (or letting it arise in response to life), is that this will upset your management of life, and In some sense this is the case. For there is a part of you that - once allowed - will NOT allow you to act as if you are ignorant when in fact you now are not entirely so. This dissonance will manifest as a sense of, (or possibly even actual), dis-ease on some level that prompts you to look more honestly at your life. Scary - but hey! - this is only what life is doing for you anyway. And what could be actually be more scary than to be hostage to a fearful life denying lie that deprives you of sharing the experience of your birthright?


Patricia's passing. Dance as joy's embodiment

Greetings to all

I have heard that Patricia James-Richards has recently died via Kate of Norwich who heard via Stefan and Bethan.

I think Patricia started the first ever Norwich group after David Roberts had run a workshop.

She choreographed the Soweto Earth Dance if I recall correctly, and I would like to be able to sing it and make it part of the dances I share live.

I looked on Raymonds song source database but it isnt yet included.

If anyone knows the name and artist of the original music then please let me know. I may then be able to track down lyrics.
If not I get headphoned up and use a slowdowner program to go over and over and over it until I not only have a phonetic version that prompts me to sing in as close a manner as I can get - but also a gain a deep familiarity with the source.
I will have to do this anyway but access to lyrics helps a lot!

It might be a bit challenging to get this live but I keep being surprised at how well a lot of our dance music comes through when singing as a presence of heartfelt participation, so I am willing to have a go.

Depression was mentioned in connection with the news of Patricia's passing.
Who among us don't get caught in negative loops of one kind or another from time to time?

Whilst I don't think its enough to simply believe that love transcends death (which I do) I also hold that greetings can contain the timeless and somehow are sent and received in that time when 'the post' gets remembered.

It is too easy in modern times to be distracted from what is actually of real value and thereby lose perspective and get tangled up in blue.

Our dancing has the potential to simply hold a place of depth where we can regain and Be or embody our joy. Though the world at large may seem to be less uninterested in being in joy than getting tangled up, I feel to restate the obvious to ourselves here as it is a common experience we share whatever particular emphasis we each may prefer and such a joy DOES hold a real place in this world for sanity and renewal - because we each allow joy to come in and move through us.

in Love's blessing

When man made the ego,
God placed in him the call to joy.

A Course in Miracles


In a moment

You may live here but i am just passing by.
In a moment where I check in here and sense that you who live here will skim this text.

Lynne and I are separating. after 30 years together. This has been a long, slow and difficult process.
It still is from time to time a hard place to be in.
If I am called to anything it is to live in Living reality and not fitted to definitions that ultimately are simply not so.
The world is often nothing more than a script or program running in your head.
To actually see or behold one must shut up.
And listen.
I feel a bit like a baby
emerging into a world that requires a specific focus to remain in continuity with.
The stuff that knocks me off beam is the old way that isnt where I am but still has a lot of habit if I dont stay vigilant.
Ego conditioning seems to run so deep - until I remember that I dont need to fight it to stay clear - just to join with the movement of being that is always here yet only noticed while allowing attention to become altogether present.

Dancing at Mersea. We were few but we were whole in that nothing was lacking and an unconflictedness (also known as peace) flowed through the day whatever events arose. Baby crying brought forth Morishej. Baby now with us and not interupting. What is it that is happening when we meet like this? Singing and dancing? Yes. But that is the vehicle and the vessel. In our singing and dancing we were willing to join and Be an invitation to life to join us. Best not to start filling the page with concepts because as the shop in Aylsham declares - "Concept Blinds and Curtains".

Dancing March 1st Friday
Well I started on the wrong foot though and I did find a way to relax - but I struggled (instead of relaxing). However it can often be noted that others can receive the spirit through me when I havent any sense of it myself. Thankyou dancers and fellow musicians. It is hard indeed to be accepting of oneself when one isnt!

I look forward to Kate O and Kate W. Kate O being an old circledance companion and fellow teacher who has invited live music to her Equinoxial celebration, and Kate W being a dear hearth friend who has invited me to share livingcircle in West London on 25th March if I recall right.
If I can I will join Stefan's dance on the following day. www.worldance.org/
He is looking to raise awareness of dance and music as tools for Peace. There is no doubt but that joining in a shared participatory experience can undo judgemental loops of thought and perception. I sometimes think of those old slimming product ads - cant recall the product - was it Ryvita? The bit that comes up here was the proviso phrase regarding the product helping you lose weight "as part of a calorie controlled diet" (or something like that).
Well experiences of Peace or oneness can heal and will heal. But if we then separate out and revert to old habits then not a lot has changed. How can wholeness embody if it is forsaken so soon after receiving?

This moment took perhaps an hour.
The fires gone down and I have tasks to attend to.