reshaping the ordinary

dance artist, jivamukti yogini, raw foodie, doula and lover, traveling to perform, create and share my light with the world.

Month: October, 2014

making your mind an offering

mayy eva mana adhatsva / mayi buddhim nivesaya /

nivasisyasi mayy eva / ata urdhvam na samsaya

keep your mind on me alone, your intellect on me, thus you shall dwell on me from on, there is no doubt of this.

Bhagavad Gita XII.8

Featured imagewhenever i first hear a verse of the Bhagavad Gita, i go through a 3 step process towards understanding it:

  1. first there is confusion, the verse seems bigger than me and i don’t understand what it means
  2. then, comprehension, i begin to understand philosophically what it means
  3. finally application, something in my own life happens and suddenly the verse seems to be written just for me, in my own vernacular and as clear as the sky on a summers day.

the mind is active all the time. while brushing your teeth, sitting on the subway, even while engaged in conversation, there is (or at least for me there usually is) a little part of the mind that is not present. this part of the mind is busy making a to do list, or prepping an email, or thinking about that thing that guy said that really irritated you. really this is pretty amazing, we have an incredible capability to focus on more than one thing at a time. but we get in to trouble because usually, the mind slips in to patterns of stress and “monkey mind” wanderings.  often thinking negative thoughts, this could go wrong or i can’t believe i did THAT. . .. when searching for steadiness and joy in life, having jagged thoughts surely will not aide.

i know for myself TV shows are the alluring cure all.  i can zone out, without that pesky portion of my mind reminding me of what i have to do. this, unfortunately, does not lead very far on the path to enlightenment.
if instead of numbing out that little part of our mind that is always thinking about something else, we focus that towards the divine, presto! everything will shift in our lives.

in this verse of the Gita, Krishna says to Arjuna: keep your mind on me alone.

so we are to focus solely on Krishna, the flute playing, loveable blue guy, who represents the Supreme Being, the divine, the interconnectedness of being, love, joy, bliss, as YOU define it to be.

if we commit that busy little part of our brain, that is always thinking anyways, to focus solely on the highest elevated thoughts, rather than all the other neurotic stuff we tend to think about (i do at least, i don’t know about you guys) then it puts the mind in a very sweet place. and it actually shifts, everything. it shifts the outcome and possibilities in every situation.  it shifts weaving through a crowd of people, it shifts having a conversation with another, it shifts the food that we are preparing.  just to have that little bit of the mind (which is going to be busy one way or another) centered in a sweet and uplifted place makes everything in our lives just a bit more sweet and uplifted.

this makes me think of the sanskrit term chitta prasadanam.

chitta is your mind, mindstuff.  and prasadam, means sweetness or serenity or peace, like serenity of the mind, serene intellect. but there is the other meaning of prasad, an offering. like something that you might put on an altar. a little bit of food, or a flower or a bit of water, something you would offer to the divine. so in some ways, chitta prasadam is to make your mind a sweet offering to the divine.

in Jivamukti meditation, we also have a three step process.

  1. find your seat
  2. be still
  3. focus

by keeping your mind on elevated thoughts, we can bring the meditation practice in to our daily lives. we can let go of steps 1 and 2, and bring meditation (as Seane Corn coined it) off the mat and in to the world. this reminds me of a joke Biff Mithoefer told me the other day.

there were two bhuddist monks and they both smoked ciggerattes. the first asked their master “can we smoke while we meditate” to which the master replied “no.” but the next day the second monk said they were allowed to meditate while smoking.  the first monk was baffled, “why did our master say no to me and yes to you.” the second monk said “i don’t know, i just asked if we could meditate while we are smoking”

just the slightest shifts in perception can lead to the biggest steps of growth!

as the days get colder, lets see if we can keep that little part of our mind that is going to be so tempted to wander about and think about how we would rather be holed up at home hibernating, what you have to do later today and think about what you did last night, and lets instead focus that little part of the mind towards Krishna. towards making even our thoughts a sweet offering, chitta prasadam. let me know what changes in  your life after making this change!
keep your mind on me alone, your intellect on me, thus you shall dwell on me from on, there is no doubt of this.

first and foremost i am a dance artist.

living in community, one that is not geared towards dance, it is difficult for me to (at all times) stay on track with creating dance. as i blend more and more asana in to my daily practice, while giving nearly 50 hours a week service to the Omega Institute, teaching, holding support groups and *sometimes* sleeping, recently i have felt to be in a creative, choreographic slump.

when in the studio alone (as i have been so much this past year), i find myself struggling to focus on choreography. but, ever the optimist, as with all else, when faced with a challenge rather than slumping in to it, i search for a solution. or as master Patanjali says in chapter 2 (verse 33) of the Yoga Sutras;

vitarka-badhane prati-paksha bhavanam

when disturbed by disturbing thoughts, think of the opposite.

so i have been developing more and more tools to lead towards success and satisfaction. i find, when collaborating, sharing ideas and inspiration with others, having some external reliability, suddenly i am inspired. being able to discuss ideas brings a further richness to them.  suddenly there is a fire under my feet and a push to create.  despite me feeling as though i am in a slump, when i look back over the past seven months of the Omega season, i realize i have created two new works. both have been collaborations, (my undergraduate degree was Interdisciplinary Dance Studies after all)ascendance

the first piece i created this season was

Ascendance: an exploration of the ups and downs of life and aging

this was a site specific work choreographed and performed with Julia Suave. we worked in collaboration with the terrain, a forrested hill with the theme of fighting and giving in to gravity as a metaphor for the struggles of aging and the beauty of passing on our dance lineage.  finding the time to meet and work was the only challenge with this piece, once we set our rehearsal times, the inspiration was flowing and the collaboration was delightful.

the second work of the season, which will be filmed in the coming week is;

which came first, an interdisciplinary collaboration with composer Benjamin Whitenack & filmmaker Giacobazzi Yanez.

first

this piece lives in the surreal world of Ben’s haunting hopeful and expansive sound-score and Giaco’s beautiful world of imagery. shedding light on metamorphosis, the constant change of our lives and reality and a sense of being, held, contained.

 

 

i have had many role models, mentors and teachers in the world of interdisciplinary dance arts. some of the artists who have had the greatest impact on my creative process include;

ever imaginative and reality shifting Mary Armentrout, precise, direct, clear and beautiful Molissa Fenley, gravity defying and out of the box thinking Joanna Haigood, eclectic, elegant, deep and at times goofy Claudine Naganuma and the technologically ground breaking Sheldon Smith.

recently, i have had the pleasure of working on a project with a visionary artist outside the world of dance (well, i was dancing, but working with artists from other mediums). Sarah Fimm, an endless recourse of imagination, creativity and beauty along all realms of the arts created a beautiful music video with filmmaker Heyrick Chassé. the entire experience was inspiring.

Sarah lives in an island of her own creativity. we spent a full day working on the project, long in to the night, but rarely did it feel like work. laughing, doing makeup, eating grapes. as a choreographer often rigid with rehearsal times, i learned such valuable lessons from the laid back, while organized, schedule and style Sarah & Heyrick have developed. the fruits of our work have just been released, the beautiful music video for her newest single, I AM.  here is the link to the video please take a look and let us know what you think!

Sarah Fimm I AM

so now, as the Omega season ends, i realize, i am not in an artistic slump.  things just do not look the same as they used to. my work continues to grow and develop, and as nutrition, holistic lifestyle and yogic philosophy seep deeper and deeper in to my consciousness. the opportunity to grow and expand in my own art making expands as well.