Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Heartbeat of Life

The other day I was chatting with a friend about watching people in their flow, and the great pleasure one gets from really seeing someone utterly connected to what they're doing. This actually arose when discussing DJ's and turntablists and observing that when the DJ is connecting with their craft, whether that be with vinyl, Traktor, a mic, or other; when you see a person loving what they're doing, the expression of their craft becomes a pure extension of them. It becomes the language they use to express themselves. It is their heartbeat made manifest.

One of my teachers Rita Hraiz says all great DJs are shamans of the dance floor. I love this! Who can say that when they've been to the best gigs, the best music nights, they haven't come out truly moved. I'm not here talking about the kind of energy that requires drugs to create it or to uplift it, but the kind of energy born of contagious passion; contagious heartbeat. 

I got to thinking about how we express ourselves in life. For me, it can be about when I'm holding sacred ceremony, or when I'm juicing in my shop, in a bodywork session, a kiss or simply in a conversation that inspires or excites me, challenges or touches me somehow. My expression, the essence of me, permeates my being, enters my words, my actions and my presence in any given moment. I think it's the same for others, only here's the problem - we are human beings and we forget. 

My shamanic teacher Chris Luttichau says "We are born remembering who we are; the first enemy is forgetfulness."

I love this saying. It reminds me that in essence, we are perfect and we are born knowing all we need to know in order to be who we're supposed to be, but we become conditioned by society, by our parents, by our friends, by our teachers, and most of all by fear. Fear is a 'contracting' emotion - it shrinks us, and in my opinion, it's the opposite of love. It's not hate but fear that's the opposite of love, for when we're in fear that's the only place that 'hate' can survive. When we're in 'love' it's not possible for hate to exist. 

Over time, fear becomes our teacher. A cruel teacher, it sits punishing us over and over for our 'stupidity' and our naiveté. It laughs at our mistakes and taunts us with its petty and limited responses of sarcasm, criticism and malice, where love supports us through compassion, curiosity and transformation. We need to banish fear in order to find our heartbeat again, and everything has a heartbeat….the universe is pulsing all the time and we are indeed truly connected. We hear this a lot: "Everything is connected; we are all one", but what does it really mean?

For me, it means that ignorance cannot live in the midst of that realisation. When we hurt others, we are hurting ourselves, when we judge others, we are judging ourselves. We are all capable of great love and great fear. We are all capable of acting out through our conditioning or choosing instead to make other, new and healthy choices. We are all accountable! The good news is that becoming accountable opens the doorway to love, to genuine love born of that compassion I mentioned above, and of wisdom and inner knowing. That doesn't mean we have to like everyone we meet, but we can certainly try to love them! 

I've been watching a film called Earthlings this week. It's really distressing. It's about our relationship with animals, and how we use them (pets, food, zoos etc). It's an important film to watch despite the upsetting images. It doesn't mean of course that the world will go vegan overnight, but what if it just opens the gateway a little more to our understanding of the action/reaction chain, the cause/effect chain, the need/response chain? What if we could find ways to really begin to understand that our actions have power and consequence? Surely this would be as liberating as it would seem limiting? 

Ultimately, when we begin to recognise our true connectedness to all things, to all actions, we begin to live in the present moment so much more fully. We start to inhabit ourselves properly and this inevitably means we have to look at our places of discomfort in order to live in the moment without trying to run from it, disown it or project it. I love projections! They are such powerful messengers of where our inner work lies. So let's soften into our beating hearts and find the things that connect us over the things that separate us. Let's find our pulsating, beautiful, strong and loving heartbeats and express that beauty in our conscious waking lives. And above all remember….

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Eating The Wild

I read a quote this morning, written by a man named Stephen Buhner. Stephen's quote went as follows:

"One of our greatest fears is to eat the wildness of the world. If we eat the wild, it begins to work inside us, altering us, changing us. Soon, if we eat too much, we will no longer fit the suit that has been made for us. Our hair will begin to grow long and ragged. Our gait and how we hold our body will change. A wild light begins to gleam in our eyes. Our words start to sound strange, non-linear, emotional. Unpractical. Poetic. Once we have tasted this wildness, we begin to hunger for a food long denied us, and the more we eat of it, the more we will awaken"

This quote really struck a chord in me in a week where I have been giving much thought about what it is to literally 'eat our wildness'.

In shamanism, the totem animal who walks with us teaching us how to embrace the unknown, the shadow, the night, the darkness, is panther. Panther treads softly stalking her prey, assessing her terrain. She knows when it is time to act, time to hunt, time to rest, time to be still. Panther is lithe and untamed. He does not question his instinctive nature. Where does your wildness live inside of you? Do you recognise its call or do you literally 'eat your wildness' and refuse to give it a voice through fear?

Now, imagine this - if we begin to eat the wild rather than our wild, we begin to discover what it truly means to be free and to unlock our potential for expansion. Nutritionally, living food contains a light force that many of us don't even recognise as our diets and lifestyles have become so processed and contained, controlled and packaged, and delivered to us as lifeless addictions. We don't even know how to distinguish between an addiction and a real physical need any more. Our wildness has been sold back to us as extreme sport, long holidays (a break from our 'reality'), or romance that doesn't have any relevance to truth.  Our wildness is sleeping the long sleep of an eternal winter; Sleeping Beauty awaiting her kiss.

But what if the kiss we await is the kiss of our own wild nature trying to touch us? What if that wildness was given breath and held in the reverence it surely deserves? What if we stopped self censoring, judging and projecting and instead became fearless warriors of the heart?

I'm summoned to thinking about this in a week of synchronicity, change and finding my way back to centre over and over. I WILL EAT THE WILD! I will eat the fruits of life and my clarion call is to radical honesty.

I desire that my suit no longer fits because guess what…I did not employ the tailor!

I desire that the wild light enters my eyes, that my gait changes and that my words become poetic. Not the poetry born of self indulgence, but that born of truth. Is it so hard to find that?

Why do people squash themselves into small boxes, somehow being less than they know they are? How much courage does it require to start to release the wildness in us? Gabrielle Roth, founder of Five Rhythms was once quoted as saying - "It takes a lot of discipline to be a free spirit" and I couldn't agree more. Self awareness is key, and courage is our main weapon.

I ask for Radical Honesty in all my relations, for all our relations. The Native Americans can be heard referring to something called 'The Children's Fire'. Sitting around the fire in Sacred Circle, any decision thats's made in this Council comes from a place cognisant of the seven generations to come. How does this action affect my children, their children, their children's children? Imagine that for a mind bend! But basically it's about honour and integrity. It's about taking responsibility. For me, truth telling can be a challenge as I'm sure it can for many; not having clarity, not wanting to hurt others, or not yet knowing how I actually feel about something, all of these factors influence to greater or lesser degree my ability to be radically honest, and yet, as long as that's my intention, then I'm doing ok.

No more sleeping beauties. No more to lack of nourishment coming from dead food, dead parts of ourselves. No more unmet hungers that can be fed by truth telling. ONLY truth telling. No more passions locked away. But let it all be done in the name of LOVE. Self love first and foremost for without that, our wildness cannot even recognise itself. And I love you all. Aho!

Monday, 10 November 2014

When I Get This Feeling…I Want…Sexual Healing.

"Most western sex is necrophilia; one dead body having sex with another dead body" - Joseph Kramer.

When I read this quote today, I was in absolute agreement with it. No brainer. Sex is dead. Long live intimacy! 

Many years ago now, I came across a book by a female performance artist and former sex worker Annie Sprinkle. At the time, I'd never heard of Annie nor come across her work, but this book, entitled "Annie Sprinkle's Post Porn Modernist" changed my life. Annie spoke to me about her sexual evolution in ways that were heartfelt, humorous and sometimes heart-breaking too, but then such is life. Her vivid descriptions of her up-bringing, adolescence and her journey (or perhaps deep dive) into the explorations of what it is to be a liberated sexual being were so incredibly inspiring. Annie seemed to have banished shame! This intrigued me. 

I have been fortunate enough to meet Annie, and at this meeting I was rapidly introduced to the magic that is Ms Sprinkle as a room full of people were taken into energy orgasm streaming right next door to a room of policemen and women, policy makers and officials deep into bone dry conversations of the cerebral type. The orgasmic noises filtering through the thin walls with increasing volume were just so delicious, and I can tell you now I sincerely wished I'd attended 'the other' break out session at that conference! 

From this meeting, this conference, a litter of ideas were birthed, giving rise to the Sex Work Re-Assessed Conference here in the UK in 1998. This joint project led by myself and two colleagues from The University of East London (Dr's Wendy Rickards and Merl Storr), came about after that trip to Los Angeles, where seeing so many create and change so much by giving a massive platform to that which is often unsaid was utterly inspiring. Perhaps in those days, funding was internationally more available, people were talking more about this stuff and there was a real buzz around sexuality, not a 'dry' buzz but more of a wet slippery one! Sex workers were speaking loud and proud and this is what they were saying…

But what is sex? what is sexual expression? Who gets to decide, and who gets to legislate? Personally speaking I don't ever want to witness a repeat of 'Operation Spanner' where in December of 1990, 16 gay men were given custodial sentences for consenting BDSM activity. Key word there = CONSENTING! So, the issue with sexuality for me lies in the distortions around it, and the value judgments which are seemingly inextricably tied to it. A bondage of a different kind! 

For me, it doesn't really matter what you do in bed, it's more about how you do it. As Joseph Kramer so succinctly puts it above, many of us are dead or dying from the waist down when it comes to the fine and exquisite art of truly 'love' making. Neither the hearts and flowers Mills and Boon kind, nor the opposite kind of the style you may find in a fetish club, for both can be equally besieged with a lack of true connection to the self and the other in my view. No, Joseph has nailed it (no pun intended!). 

For me, the three keys are breath, communication and presence. Being brave enough to really speak about what turns you on and off, where your energy is flowing and stuck, and truly making the first forays into stopping with the acting and starting to become the key player in your own pleasure maps. Following a path of Red Tantra has led me into the body in ways I could never have previously imagined. Without having to use fantasy as a tool to get off, one becomes able to use presence as the greatest erotic aphrodisiac on the market, and the good news is that it's free! All of the add-ons can be fine of course, but even then, if we default to major fantasy without fully remaining present to who is in front of us, what we are sharing and how we share it, then it's game over. If you're lucky you get a great O-gasm, if not, a somewhat deflated feeling that you've sold yourself short somehow. 

But what if you don't sell yourself short? What if you don't make love as one 'dead' body to another? Then, does it matter if you are paid for it or not? If you're tied up or not? If it's a one off or an ongoing thing? No! The whole point is, that you are truly alive and inhabiting your body, your sexual self and your personal erotic map in absolute and utter presence, and that my dears, is where the nectar truly lies. In integrity. 

So let's hear it for all of the Sexual Pioneers, healers and adventurers out there making this world sexier one way or another. I for one am grateful for each and every one of them. 

Shakti Tantra, Sarah Rose Bright, Joseph Kramer, Barbara Carrellas, Annie Sprinkle, Betty Dodson et al. Thank you for being there sexing up the planet! 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

On Communing With Reggie Kray

Hello Sunday! This evening I'm here to chat with you about life and how we live it.

Sometimes, as my general attitude to life is positive, vibrant and full of optimism, people mistake this for naiveté. We all make assumptions about others right? What do you assume about people? Do you know their story? I saw this post on my friends Instagram a while back, I kinda liked it - it said:

This, amongst other things recently revealed got me thinking; why do we make assumptions about others? Why do we project and disown our own shadows? Why do we tell half truths, blatant lies and distort reality? My feeling is that often it's not coming from a malicious place but a fear based one. We are all scared underneath, to a greater or lesser degree, and the greatest distortions in my opinion are born from fear, the antithesis of love. We may ask ourselves, what can't I say when I feel this? Why do I feel so exposed if I speak my truth? We're all so damn scared of rejection and it goes back a long way, often to early childhood, where obviously if we feel afraid of abandonment there isn't a much greater place of terror as we're not able to take care of our own needs at that point. Children are great at forgetting stuff so deep trauma can be utterly erased, however that 'soul loss' will remain until revisited and healed, if not, it will have a nasty wee habit of resurfacing every time the wound is opened and sometimes we don't even know what opens it, only how to close it fast!

So by the age of 19, in the depths of serious addictions and fully immersed in London Gangland and all that came with that, my fears were pretty well masked. I was lost, but paradoxically thought I was super sussed and had it all under wraps. I didn't. Underneath I was a scared young woman; the problem was I didn't really know it and so there was a certain inevitability about the things I had to 'learn' before I could become aware and therefore make changes, and it seems the Universe had decided tough lessons were to be my thing.

So what do we do when we call in hard lessons? We sink, or we swim.

So, like Dorie, I just kept swimming. My Grandmother always said that I narrowly escaped death over and over. I now consider she may have been right. As a result, the woman you see today is self aware and damn grateful to be here, to be alive and to be clean and strong. I have the stamina of an ox and the balls of a rugby team and if anyone thinks my optimism is born of ignorance, its not, it's born of learning my lessons the hard way and learning them well. So why am I telling you all this? Well I think its because it hurts me to see beautiful souls locked in fear, scared of telling the world, their partners, their friends, their bosses, their families, who they really are. Scared of saying what pains them, and what uplifts them, what they truly desire and need, what they are struggling with and what they have to share. Afraid of being 'exposed' at any given moment, of upsetting others, or of losing our perceived securities, we learn to shut down those parts of us that allow us to be vulnerable and yet it is only in our vulnerability we have any chance of really becoming alive, joyful and whole again. Take me to my heart and nail it to the altar of love please!

So at age 22, it came to be that I was sitting beside Reggie Kray in Parkhurst Prison discussing his book draft for Reg Kray's Book Of Slang (not then published), his life and how he got to be there, and it all seemed perfectly normal to me. In there, he was a pretty ordinary guy believe it or not. Not very well, weakened by years in jail and the lifestyle he'd led, but quite unassuming beyond his reputation.

Once this man was young. Once he experienced distortions that shaped who he became and what became of him. Accepting responsibility for our actions is important. Not demonising a person "oh I could never do that" because who knows what we are capable of when not ourselves, when pushed, when influenced so absolutely by our peers, and our conditioning. It's not that though is it, it's what we do with what we've been given, what we choose in the moment. Blame, judgement and criticism are usually shadow projections. So I'm all for transparency and kindness these days. Communicating and allowing the vulnerability to crack me open. Everyone has a heart; look for it and don't ever stop looking.

As for me, I will allow myself to be open to criticism because of two things: One, it doesn't touch me as long as I'm comfortable in my own skin and choosing love over and over, and two, your criticism is not about me, it's about you! 

And so I call to Courage, Truth, Integrity, Love, Transparency, and Gratitude and ask that they continue to shape my life and the lives of those around me. I expect radical honesty in my primary relationships. In being brave enough to speak your truth, you gift me with the ability to speak mine in response, and that is truly a blessing. 

So, let it be beautiful. Let it be.