Opening to Present Moment Awareness

Xinalani Cove
Preparing, perfecting, learning, improving, planning,
rehearsing, reviewing, remembering, practicing…

This is the voice of my habitual inner landscape when I get quiet and listen. The voice of my ego personality.

It’s amazing, isn’t it, that in the midst of such wild beauty,
my mind continues this chatter?

My Enneagram One ego is constantly trying to make sure I do things right, aligned, good. If I do, then all will be OK—I’ll say the right things, support my clients and students in the right way, do my spiritual practice in the right way so that I develop in the right way…I think you get the drift!

I had the chance to witness this nearly constant stream of thoughts during the silent SHE Retreat led by Sara Avant Stover at a beautiful ocean/jungle resort the first week of November. Being in silence from after opening circle on the first night until after closing circle 6 days later really highlighted the chatter in my mind.

Journaling at barI knew my mind was busy. I’ve been meditating daily for about 10 years. And I’ve been to shorter silent retreats before. I knew, intellectually, that my thoughts were keeping my ego personality going. I had been told this many times. I have studied it. I have inquired about it. I have taught it. I thought I understood it—and I did, on a certain level…

But this was different.

Keep Reading!

letting go

practice makes perfectA couple of weeks ago I was having a really HARD time letting go.

We were innsitting for the first time in a year, so I was feeling a bit rusty on all the procedures and protocols necessary to run the Inn.

This new website was supposed to be live, but it wasn’t yet.

And I was under deadline—that’s always creates the most pressure—or my old website would quietly slide into oblivion without a new one to take its place…Ugh.

And it was my birthday, but the restaurant I wanted to eat at was unexpectedly closed and I had no bandwidth to enjoy it even if it had been open…I had been working all day. On. My. Birthday. I couldn’t let go. I had to work, to get the site done. Even on my birthday.

This created the most stressful experience I have had in a really long time.

I was doing everything right—working hard to get all the myriad details needed to get my site live. And I kept running into roadblocks. Unexpected outcomes. New things to learn. More support to ask for…and support people not as readily available as needed—at the same time that I was managing guests checking in and out, cleaning guest rooms, feeding guests, and trying to have a relationship with myself and my husband…

It all came to a head the night I was planning to make my site live, when the software I was using to build the site became really glitchy.

I was going over the last details to make sure all the pages were really ready, and I found I needed to add a period—one small period.

I opened the page, added the period, updated, and took a look.

And ALL of the paragraph breaks were gone on the whole page! Even in sections that I had not opened! ALL of them!!! My page was one huge chunk of text, unreadable, and certainly not going-live ready…

Over the next hour, I patiently added the spaces back. And each time, while one space would be there, another would disappear. It was a nightmare! It literally took an hour to fix all the mess that adding one period created!!

And then I had to go on to other pages and the same thing kept happening…

I was using all my mindfulness practice tools. Sensing my tense body, noticing my thoughts, feeling my anger and frustration…I even got up and jumped up and down yelling out my anger, shaking, punching, and letting it course through me. Dave held space and witnessed this for me. (Thank you, honey!)

By the time I got to the last page, there were still a few spacing problems, but most of it was OK. It was late and Dave was headed to bed. I told him I had to stay up and finish it. I had to fix this page. It had to be perfect…No matter how tired I was, no matter how tense my body felt, no matter…

And he challenged me on this. This is the beauty of conscious relationship!

Dave knew that I have a completion compulsion. It’s part of my Enneagram type One personality, I’m afraid…It serves me well in many ways, but following it in search of the ever-elusive perfection of this page was potentially opening up a huge can of worms, perhaps even another hour of fixing (and jumping up and down)…

My ego personality SCREAMED internally that I HAD to stay up and fix this before making my site live. I couldn’t make it live if it weren’t perfect!!

And instead of listening to this habitual message, I took a deep breath and agreed with Dave. I could live with that imperfect spacing. I could let go of needing the site to be PERFECT before making it live.

I made it live. I did not announce it quite yet, but making it live and imperfect gave me a chance to let go even a little more. I could breathe more deeply. I could get more rest. I could stop filling every moment inbetween guests with computer work.

I. Let. Go.

Of something that felt so familiar, so seductive, so comforting in its own way.

And it created space. Space for me to experience more life, more ease, more joy. More, not less.

It’s like instead of continuing to toil around the outside, I quickly jumped into the center of the collage. (If you click on it, it will expand so you can see the details.) All that perfecting and perfecting wasn’t getting me there, even though I was efforting like crazy. Letting go dropped me there. In that openness. In that bounty. In that ease.

How do we let go?

I have often argued that we can’t do it with the will alone, which is why it can feel a bit crazy-making when someone tells us to just let go…If we could, we would have already! But realizing it would be healthy to let go and actually being able to are totally different things.

I love what my Diamond Approach teacher says about this—we practice so that we can be available to grace. I think it’s grace that allows us to be able to let go, not will.

I have been practicing for many years to open to grace. In this case seeing my perfection pattern over and over again, allowing more imperfection in small ways, feeling the pain of the perfection push, feeling the ego distress of not perfecting something, feeling healthier and happier when I don’t let perfection rule my life…

These years of practice allowed me to be open to the grace that Dave reminded me of in that moment—to relax my ego’s grip and drop the perfection pattern, to let go.

Fall is a season for practicing letting go. As we look back at what we’ve grown since the Spring, and consider what we want to bring with us, we also discern when it’s time to let go. For me, it’s a long-held habit, a way of knowing myself that needed to go. What is it for you?

If you’d like to practice letting go with me, I have a few beautiful opportunities for you:


Nourish your Brain, Nourish your Life!

hidden wholenessDid you know it takes more than studying, memory games, and mental gymnastics to have a happy, healthy brain—and a healthy life?

We need nourishment in our lives and mental practice is only one form.

Do you think more clearly after a good night’s sleep?

Are you less reactive after your meditation, Qigong, or yoga practice?

Do you have more insights and awareness during or after a relaxing vacation?

Or perhaps you notice more clarity and concentration if you avoid that sugary dessert or snack?

Have you ever noticed that your memory is better for the times you were present in the experience you are remembering?

Everything we put into our bodies, consciously or unconsciously, affects the functioning of our brain. This includes your thoughts, the information you take in, the food you eat, the air you breathe, the well-being your bodysoul feels…they all affect the blood flow needed to keep your brain happy and healthy.

Here are five simple tips taken from Dr. Amen’s Brain research:

  1. Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle—8 hours or more of sleep per night, no or limited caffeine and alcohol, regular exercise and regular relaxation, reduce stress, avoid toxins, drugs & smoking…
  2. Eat a Healthy Diet—No refined flours and sugars, limited additional sugar, lots of veggies, enough water, protein, healthy fats, and regular meals. Your brain uses 25% of all the nourishment you take in—give it the nutrients it needs to function well! In addition, all diseases lower blood flow to the brain.
  3. Manage Your Weight—As weight goes up, brain function goes down. Obesity is linked to Alzheimer’s.
  4. Engage in Personal Growth Work—Whatever works for you to untangle the stories and beliefs that keep you limited. You can start with a simple practice of accepting all of your feelings with compassion. Depression is linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s, and lack of emotional well-being affects our brain’s ability to think clearly.
  5. Engage in Spiritual Practice—Prayer, meditation, yoga, qigong, gratitude lists…anything that brings you a deeper sense of meaning, purpose, and connection. Research shows that we can’t sustain our mental health without this.

In my understanding, all of this is important because we need to nourish our whole bodysoul, not just one part. Your body, heart, and mind are all completely interwined with your soul. Your soul is in them and they are in your soul. Read more.

Nourishing your body, heart, and mind nourishes your soul and nourishing your soul nourishes your body, heart, and mind. So, these tips are not just for your brain—they are for your overall well-being, for the nourishment of your life.

The good news is that Dr. Amen emphasizes that we can change the trajectory our brain is on at any time. Work with the tips above that need support in your life, surround yourself with others who are living the lifestyle you want to live, and support each other. You can find more free tips and practices on my site.

Nourish your brain, Nourish your life!

If you find yourself needing support to work with any of these 5 ways of nourishing your brain, I’d be happy to offer you a free Discovery Session.

You might also be interested in finding out ways to work with your sugar cravings by attending my Sugar Blues workshop on October 17th.


**Collage is an exploration of Enneagram type Five. Read more.

spacious passion

2014 spacious passion3-crpdthis is my intention for the 2014 New Year: Spacious Passion. in my life, i have often not allowed one or the other of these words, and certainly not both together, holding each other…

i have tended to get involved in too many things, leaving very little room for Spaciousness of any kind in my life—my thoughts full of too many things to do/plan/sort out, my feelings all mixed up or set aside in a closed box, and my body moving too quickly, living a too-structured and bounded life…

and Passion? on the outside it may look like i have been following my passion, but mostly i have lived my life not really in touch with my true passion, making attempts to follow it in small ways that feel better than nothing, but don’t completely resonate or awaken and enliven me. i think in some ways, that has felt safer…not having to give up something that’s supporting me to follow a deeper, more anarchic pull that is unknown and might not work out… i have used the energy of passion as fuel for focusing my attention on something. i’m actually really good at that, so good that i have been accused of being fanatic over the years…i’ve also channeled it into my Oneish* obligations—the shoulds, duties, responsibilities that i must take care of—so that my true desires (passion) are strangled, suffocated, and stuffed down. all the naturalness of this energy, all the power, all the fuel has been harnessed for being a “good” person.


  • spaciousness holds and allows all things—it is the container of openness within which all things arise
  • open space, lack of boundaries and structures and rules around my life
  • openness to BE any way that is arising in the moment, space/room for all of me, nothing too big
  • invitation to expand, to open, to be unbounded, unlimited in my expression, my attention, my life
  • Sacred Masculine quality that includes stillness, silence, vastness, unknownness


  • life force energy that fuels, directs, and creates all life
  • a combination of the belly’s instinctual energy and the heart’s calling—heart-force
  • desire, “want life,” pleasure, heart-force, flame
  • leads/draws/invites us toward our dreams, towards what will fulfill and satisfy us deeply
  • Sacred Feminine energy of life surging/emerging/dancing into existence

Spacious Passion: putting the two together is where the magic resides! in 2014, this is about following my passion for health and wellbeing, for food and cooking, for embodiment and women’s work, for learning to deeply love  my life, myself, my man, my friends, this world… and at the same time allowing each of these passions to unfold in their own way, staying open to the experience, not rushing or forcing or pushing to get anywhere i think i should be. the spaciousness and the passion support each other in an ever- balancing, sacred union.

The Collage. holding the phrase Spacious Passion in my bodysoul, i chose images that attracted me, and then laid them out to find deeper meaning. the colorful pictures all represent forms of passion necessary in my life—from passion for my spiritual practice in the Tibetan Goddess Tara, in the person with prayer hands, and in the robed Buddhist monk Pema Chodron, to the passion of the uninhibited, delighted and innocent Magickal Child, to the passion of owning and shaking my sexy booty, to the passion of loving and reaching for my dreams, to the passion of living my life with no time to lose…and there is open space holding the pictures—open vistas, black space—each picture has some contact with an unknown support and holding, with the void out of which all form arises—spaciousness. there is a great freedom to BE—no restraints, no constraints…the mystery of manifestation in so many forms, no one right form—child, sexy woman, prayer, practice, goddess, love…all necessary, all good, all unfolding…

another theme arose: there are many hands—hands, the extension of the heart, that can physically manifest passion in the world. Tara’s hands offering protection and receptivity, the woman reaching for her desires, the sexy woman flinging her hands out in devotion to the expression of her life- and heart-force, the Magickal Child holding lightly to her pinwheel of delight, Pema’s hand holding her robes, symbol of her devotion to awakening in her body, praying hands, acknowledging the True Nature in us all.

*Oneish refers to type One on the Enneagram, a psycho-spiritual map of the soul.

how does Spacious Passion express in your life? do you make room for it? how do you recognize it?

fresh living

fresh life vision

about a month ago, i was wandering around in my kitchen–
bringing fresh veggies in from the garden for my lunch,
fermented veggies in jars on the counter,
experimenting with new recipes for eating a raw diet,
doing some dishes,
planning a nutritious meal
–and loving every minute of it!

all of a sudden i realized–this is my PASSION! this is what i LOVE!
maybe i could actually earn my living doing what i love!

so i started looking around and immediately found
the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
one of my girlfriends back East is an IIN-trained health coach.
we always share recipes and excitement about healthy eating
and play in the kitchen together,
and quite a few other friends had been through or were in the program.

then one day, after calling IIN to get my questions answered,
i was consulting with a client, and the subject of food and cooking
wove itself so seamlessly into the Enneagram
and embodiment teachings we were exploring,
that i had no doubt that i could follow
what i really wanted to do with my life,
that it really was my own sacred choice–
that i could free myself from my own limited beliefs
and actually choose to live what i love!!

so, i am!

in a year i’ll officially be a practicing holistic health and wellness coach,
helping others make nourishing choices
to live a happier and more whole life.
looking back, i see that this is what my entire life has been about,
and i’m so excited to deepen my knowledge and be able to share it!

this is how i live brightly.
this is how i am awakening to love.
this is mindful, pleasurable, fresh living.


my ancestors surround me
like walls of a canyon
stone hard
their ideas drift over me
like breezes at sunset

we gather sticks
and make settlements
what we do is only partly
our own
and partly continuation
down through the chromosomes

my daughter
my baby sleeps behind me
stirring in the night
for the touch
that lets her continue

she is arranging
in her small form the furniture
and windows of her home

it will be a lot like mine
it will be a lot like theirs

– “Ancestors” poem by Harvey Ellis (edited to be a female baby)

I’ve been working with a book called The Path of Practice by Bri. Maya Tiwari to help myself align more to the natural rhythms of myself as a woman, connected to the earth and moon, to the seasons, and to the cosmos. One of the practices Tiwari recommends is to explore your ancestral heritage and learn about yourself and your relationship to those who went before. Since I feel most connected to my matrilineal line, I thought I would start there, with my mom’s mom, “Gammy.”

There are some interesting synchronicities that lead to a deeper exploration of this material now. My husband’s mom just passed away, and as an Interfaith Minister, I offered to help them put a Memorial Service together. I started with my Minister’s Manual and the Memorial Service I wrote as part of my seminary training, and found the service I had written for Gammy! It brought back many memories just as I was reading Tiwari’s book. As I was reading and making notes for myself, I remembered that not only did I have this collage, but also a beautiful photo album filled with stories about Gammy’s life that mom had given me for a recent birthday, almost as if I had been being prepared for this exploration.

* * *

I grew up hearing that I resembled my mom’s side of the family, and my sister resembled my dad’s. I never minded resembling the Tuck side in looks, as I always thought mom was pretty, but I wasn’t so sure I wanted to carry forth the opinionated and intense—some would say fanatic—energy that Gammy embodied. Turns out mom later found out that she was the wild, extreme one in her family, a role that then passed down to me in the matrilineal lineage…

As the collage portrays, Gammy’s bloodline included some percentage Native American (Cherokee or maybe Sioux), so I may have as much as 1/16 Native American blood in me, or much less…no-one seems to know for sure how far back that union took place. I like the idea of having some heritage that is much more deeply connected to the earth and her rhythms than the culture I grew up in. I like to think that connection is guiding me on this exploration as I deepen my awareness of my place within the natural rhythms of the earth.

As I reflect on the relationship between Gammy, mom and me, I see the many similarities as well as the ways my individual soul may be trying to bring my matrilineal line back into balance.

* * *

I come from a line of women who love to eat sweet things—Gammy ate so many that she ended up with diabetes in her old age, I had a binge eating disorder for many years, and mom has always tried to be careful not to overeat sweets. I remember how surprised I was to find out that mom and I both had the same taboo sweet treat: Oreos! Nowadays, sweet food isn’t calling me as much, but it makes me wonder what ancestral pattern was carried through to me that made us need to try to find the sweetness of life through treats instead of in our daily living?

What occurs immediately is the legacy I carry of being overly busy—until recently, too busy to savor and enjoy my life, which is where I am now finding that sweetness in abundance. This is a problem mom has complained about for years, commenting that I follow in her footsteps. Having learned more about Gammy’s life with nine children on a farm during the Great Depression, with very few amenities, I realize that she, too, must have been very busy.

However, Gammy was also known for indulging in pleasure, something I am still learning to embrace! Mom says she belonged to five book clubs, spending their sparse money on that instead of a flush toilet! She was also always willing to stop what she was doing and have fun. She never passed up a chance to turn a jump rope for any one of her nine kids, and she enjoyed jokes, and laughed, and really enjoyed her life. The best story I remember was when a bunch of the kids were home for Thanksgiving dinner with their friends. One of the boys asked Gammy to pass the butter and she picked it up and tossed it down the table!! The kids were pretty shocked, but all went on as normal, catching the butter, and not saying anything!

Gammy was also ahead of her time in her thinking about sex. She felt women had the right to be pleasured and in the mood before having sex with their husbands, and I imagine she practiced this, too! I also remember mom telling me that sex between two people who love each other is a beautiful and loving connection. I’m afraid my personality type combined with my teenage years of born-again Christianity got in the way of inheriting such an easy-going, forthright approach!

Gammy also felt the pull for deeper meaning through spirituality as I do. She spoke of past-lives and had an interesting theory about the soul that is actually very similar to the Diamond Approach path I follow. She felt the soul was like a many-faceted lantern, and each facet was a window into another person. She felt this explained why we feel connected to some people as soon as we meet them, as we are sharing the same soul. In the Diamond Approach each individual soul is the part of True Nature / God / Truth / the Divine embodied in a human being. And the diamond metaphor also feels related, as the diamond represents the many different facets of True Nature (Love, Joy, Will, etc.), some of which we have easier access to than others. Gammy believed that when she died, she was going to a good place and would be reincarnated—she even viewed death as another exciting part of life to learn about and enjoy!

Like mom and me, Gammy also loved beauty. She’d cry seeing a beautiful sunset and loved the fog lying low in the valleys. She also sketched, painted, and wrote whimsical poetry that celebrated her love and enjoyment of life. Beauty is imperative in my life—from the gardens, to collage and poetry, to music and singing, to color, texture, and the way a room is laid out—beauty soothes, delights, guides, and nourishes me.

We also share a love of dogs. Gammy had many—chihuahuas, dachshunds, st. bernards, and all manner of terriers! My life, thankfully, has been blessed by the sweet companionship of dogs, too—from Heidi the dachshund when I was a baby to Moppet the cocker-poo, to Bart the airedale terrier to Jake, Gammy’s toy poodle/terrier mix, to my own dogs Finnegan, a lab mix, and Teddybear, a lhasa apso, and many other dog friends in between!

Poverty has also influenced my life through Gammy, even though I have been lucky enough not to have to live through it myself. Having nine children, whose births overlapped the Great Depression, Gammy knew how to make ends meet through such practices as scraping out the last of the eggwhite from the shell and carefully using all left-overs. Mom was careful, too, passing this along to me. I can’t stand to waste food, always using a rubber spatula to get the last bit out, trying to get the most out of any meal, avoiding expensive items, and not wasting left-overs…

I wonder about my jaw—I have Gammy’s jaw, as does mom—the wide, square look of Native American ancestry. And this is also a key place that I hold tension. Is this related to unprocessed ancestral linkages? I wonder if I incarnated as an Enneagram type One to balance out mom and Gammy as Sevens. In Gammy, the Seven energy expressed as imbalanced pleasure-seeking, playing and joking around, as well as being outspoken, uninhibited, and crass at times. In mom, while there’s always a willingness to play and experiment and follow her curiosity, it’s more a matter of having her fingers in too many pots, not wanting to miss out on anything, being overly busy, and not able to rest.

Being a rigid, constricted, nothing-is-ever-right type One, has not been a very fun or relaxing way to live! So now my task is to learn to balance this One-Seven energy. Can I be responsible, conscientious and orderly, playful and happy, and enjoy my life all at the same time? It’s about sacred balance—perhaps my role is to find this, not just for myself, but for the ancestral lineage. To learn not to reject pleasure and the desire to take in and experience life, but to balance it with discernment, devotion, and right action. As Br. Stendl Rast says: to be “playfully serious and seriously playful,” enjoying a life-affirming life.

I see how my involvement in Laughter Yoga is related to this attempt to find balance! After experiencing a period of openness to Joy last year, I felt drawn to try Laughter Yoga. I’ve never been much of a laugher as an adult, being a rather serious and disciplined person. I did laugh socially, but not so much pure laughter just for the enjoyment of it, so Laughter Yoga was a stretch. I found I had so much fun being silly and playing and inviting a younger, less-inhibited, less self-conscious part of me to show up, that I decided to become a Laughter Yoga leader and create a club in St. Paul! This practice is about opening up to play, pleasure, and lightness, and breaking up my Oneish patterns of being serious, disciplined, and rigid, and I see now how it’s also about allowing access to my ancestral heritage through Gammy!

And this last few months of learning to rest, savor, and relax are also related to breaking up this pattern. More and more, I find pleasure in not doing anything, in simply being with myself, in seeing the beauty around me, in appreciating life. I feel so much gratefulness for this shift in my orientation—again, imbibing the lessons of my ancestry and my line of growth in the healthier side of type Seven.

I have decided to take a new middle name to represent this heritage. Mom originally wanted to name me after Gammy’s younger sister, Khyva, but my more conventional dad nixed naming me Kimberly Khyva Taylor (Katy is my nickname). It’s too bad as it would have been very appropriate! Khyva was a performing violin player, and I have been the only one in the extended Tuck clan to actively pursue music through singing professionally. Another interesting connection is that during my seminary training, when we did a meditation on taking a spiritual name, I received the name [kiva]. Researching the meaning of the word, I found that a kiva is an underground room used for spiritual ceremonies by certain Native American tribes. I was unwittingly connecting not only to my matrilineal, but also to my Native American, heritage, in this name! It is also amazingly synchronous to be connected with this now when we are learning about the Citadel in our Diamond Approach Work. The Citadel is experienced as a solid, stone-like structure that supports and provides shelter on the Path as we learn to live in alignment with our current realization of the Truth. I never felt connected to or liked my middle name, Kay—now I know why!

This exploration helps me to understand more deeply that I am not just Kimberly, aka Katy, Taylor, an individual doing her spiritual work. I am also part of this genetic and psycho-spiritual lineage. Who I am now continues to be informed and guided by those who have gone before me. I can learn from this heritage that lives on through me. I can embrace the gifts of my ancestors and find balance in the way I embody this lineage in the world. By incorporating Khyva’s name into my own, I more formally link myself to my matrilineal line. In so doing, I feel more connected to the earth-boundedness of being a human, born of a mother who was born of a mother…as part of this earth. I, too, am part of this rhythm of birth and life and death, intimately intertwined with those who have gone before and will come after me.

When I finished this collage on Thanksgiving Day 2009, it inspired me to also finish the collage in which I was exploring my pain around not having my own child. I saw the relationship very clearly—in not having my own child, I don’t get to continue my bloodline. What came before and created me will not get passed down by me through my physical flesh and blood. It will have to be in some other form. I hope that I can be a psycho-spiritual ancestor for some other woman as she discovers her connection to herself and the earth.


How do you see yourself connected to your ancestors? Are you aware of the heritage your life is carrying forward and / or trying to heal?


I’m participating in a year-long journey of inviting contentment into my life. As part of our first practice, we were asked to find a word or phrase that fits us best for “contentment.” Jan gave us a bunch of synonyms and invited us to find explore.

I tried on a lot of words for contentment and finally landed on serenity. It’s actually really cool because this is the Virtue, or quality of awakened heart, for my Enneagram type, type One.

The dictionary definition includes “unruffled, tranquil, dignified, unclouded, bright, and fair” from the Latin: serenus meaning “bright, clear.” I really like the combination of tranquil with bright and clear. It seems to capture the lightness with the groundedness I feel when I am content.

Then I looked up the Enneagram explanation of serenity and found it really fits some of the other words I was considering like acceptance, ease, well-being, yielding, love of the truth. In Riso and Hudson’s Understanding the Enneagram (p. 63-64), the Virtue of Serenity is described as the state of accepting reality exactly as it is, being open and receptive to self and other and connected to others, trusting the moment, comfortable with self—body and feelings, relaxed, allowing the energies of life to move through without resisting or controlling, without effort or striving, flowing, calm, and balanced. YES! I am looking forward to welcoming this into my life over the next year!

taking refuge

This concept came to me first from our couple’s therapist—in our first year of living together, Bob suggested we learn to take refuge in each other. We yearned to be able to do this, but it was so hard when we were pushing each other’s buttons all the time…

(Taking refuge is also a central concept in Buddhism—one takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, a commitment to dedicate one’s practice to the Buddhist path of awakening.)

I felt drawn to begin this collage when I saw the image of the woman so clearly taking refuge in the physical presence of her man. This is a practice we taught in a recent Enneagram Couple’s Retreat. I loved watching the participants taking refuge in each other physically. I have recently recommitted to practicing this with Dave—giving and receiving mindful, physical attention as a form of taking and offering refuge.

The rest of the collage reflects other ways that I take refuge. In the beauty, strength, solidity, and awesomeness of nature, in which nothing is asked of me except an invitation to be present. In the presence of dogs—in their curiosity, their playfulness, their love of and commitment to the now that they are in—right now and right now and right now. In the innocence and openness of children. In good, wholesome food that nourishes and sustains me. In the intimate and mysterious and ever-deepening connection I feel with my embodied Self, which reminds me that all are good and “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

I am One who knows how to take refuge in rest, in savoring, in remembering “to admire, admire, admire the things of this world” (from Mary Oliver’s Heavy). I am One who loves beauty and connection and openness. I am One who takes refuge in her own life.

In what do you take refuge?

authentic movement

I’m taking an Authentic Movement class and really loving it. In the first class, we only moved for about 15 minutes. At first, I wasn’t sure. I felt shy, afraid that I would feel nothing, no impulse to move. Afraid that my movement would be boring if I didn’t decide to DO something interesting. But deciding, as I’ve done it in the past, while it can create movement and doing, doesn’t always feel authentic to me…

Authentic. What does this mean? It’s the Virtue of the type Three, Authenticity. True to who I am, to my own inner, core expression. In order to be true to this, I have to allow it to come through. I have to take time to sense it in some way.

Even though I have been engaging in sensing practice and can feel myself interiorly these days, I was afraid that these sensations would not lead to movement. Our teacher Barbara said that was fine. That my job was to be authentic to what my body wanted to express. That could look like lying down and not moving. That could be a small, “boring” movement, or anything at all. No rules, no shoulds, no ways I am supposed to move or not move! YIKES! I’m darn good at doing what I SHOULD do. What do I do with no shoulds?

I decided to take this class to explore more with my body, but I didn’t realize until I took it that it was perfect for this unknown exploration that has been up for the last few months around death and mystery and lack of control…what happens if I’m not in control of my life, of my movement?

So, I chose a corner and found that I needed to sit down. Standing felt too exposed and too active. I sat and sensed. I felt my bubbly, life-force energy and jiggled my body every once in awhile to meet the bubbly pulsations. But I felt very, very still and interior. I lay down, I shifted, rolled a bit…Barbara later said that during this time I looked like a rock, a still mountain, something organic and contained and full. I felt this, too, and I wondered if I would feel more impulse to move. Where would it come from? Would it be related to the bubbly sensations or the groundedness?

I started to notice an impulse to move differently—to reach out an arm strongly. To flow my arms. At one point, I saw a movement of my right arm and took that as an impulse to move it like that. It felt good to move that way. When my ring tapped on the floor during a movement, I liked the sound and felt like making it in rhythm a few times. My movement ended up expanding through my chest and arms, opening up a bit, with more dynamism coming out of the stillness. But I still stayed pretty close to the floor.

Who was moving? I don’t know, but I know I wasn’t “doing” it for show—to be a good dancer, a good mover, balanced, coordinated, whatever. I was sincerely trying to follow my own body’s wisdom about what she wanted to do. That included a lot of still sensing. I was encouraged to notice some impulses that I didn’t know where came from and to follow them.

In the classes I’ve been to since this first one, each time I feel more able to trust myself and the movement that flows through me. It’s a different kind of sensing than I’m used to and it’s very exciting to follow and trust whatever arises—fast, slow, still, flowing, staccato, anything…it is an opening to the unknown within me.

This from our last class as I spent a good amount of time in contact with the wall:

not i
substance flowing melting molding shape-shifting
face wall body arm hand wall
one substance
solid moving receiving meeting holding reciprocating
not i