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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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