Learning how to resource & relax

I first met Rupda in Corfu in Greece this summer. I attended a Awakening of Love workshop that she was leading with Simon Matthews who I will be speaking with tomorrow for Part II of our chat together. Rupda is an amazing woman who has spent the greater part of her life devoted to self enquiry and providing support to others. She leads workshops across the world (you can find out more about her work here). With Rupda I see someone who is brave and deep and wise and well, a lot of fun too. I am really grateful that she agreed to be the first to chat brave soul to chat with me on Throwing The Net Open - where we spoke about a technique called 'resourcing' which I have been using in my own life to help me with everything from insomnia to moments when I feel like I need some support (meetings, parties, if you're ever feeling out of your depth). I've even been using it before I meditate to help bring me more into my body and relax me. (Though as Rupda said you gotta be careful about how resourced you allow yourself to get as it's such an effective little tool you can end up wanting to fall asleep. Something that happened to me once when I did some resourcing before I meditated. I ended up feeling so tranquil I just curled up on the floor and snoozed instead!)

So please check the video out below and if it is of value to you, please share with your friends and family via the sharing tabs below. You can also sign up to follow Throwing The Net Open's youtube channel here.

And lastly, techniques like resourcing are so easy to learn and can become helpful tools in managing stress, tension and anxiety. Or just becoming a little bit more comfortable in trusting our ability to cope with whatever situations life brings to us. And I'd love to hear how it's worked for you, in the comments below!

Laura x


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhtK1tzlCfY

The first website - how it came to be

Some years ago I was mooching around in a quagmire wondering if I would ever 'do anything' with some children's stories I had written. Ben had mentioned a writing coach Julia McCutchen to me a couple of times and suggested I meet up with her. But because I am a stubborn mule and because he is basically family, I ignored this tibbit of gold and continued gazolloping about, feeling blue about these stories I had written and wasn't doing anything about. Eventually or maybe it's just that the timing was right, I got in touch with Julia and we met in January 2013. We ended up speaking about many things, children's stories being but one of them.

We spoke about getting published and the importance of cultivating a network around you and terrifying things like blogs were mentioned. And then Julia said something that is perhaps one of the most empowering statements that anyone has ever said to me: you are a creative woman Laura and I invite you to throw the net open on your life and see the yoga teaching, your events and the writing and being a mother as parts of you that are not separate to each other, but connected through their connection to you.

Because truth is, at least as far as I can see, we are all phenomenally creative. But what limits that creativity is partly our acknowledgment of it but also our limited exploration of it. How many of us are encouraged (really) to explore our creativity?

Over the next year I worked with Julia as my writing coach. Rather then focus on the children’s stories Julia encouraged me to throw the net open and include the other things in my life that I am passionate about and write about those in whatever way or style that came.

After a period where there were long gaps in my writing and normally during a moment snatched where I'd scrabble some things on the back of a book in an aeroplane, it felt exquisite to be writing so much. Not since I was a child have I allowed myself to write write and write.

During this process Julia encouraged me to step away from the results orientated part of me that wanted to know where I am going and trust the more expansive inclusive part of me, for which the end goal was not a priority. And so it was that writing coaching became life coaching. For in many ways Julia was asking me to step into my femininity. To say yes to the flow and expansiveness of life and say hey not now wait a bit, to the order and direction that I had come to favour.

This was excruciating at times. Not only where there parts of me that were chaffing at the bit to know where all of this was going, not just for me, but so that I could give a answer to friends and family who were asking with increasing concern what was it exactly that I was doing.

"Hey Lau, what you working on at the moment?"

"Um I'm working on my flow and trust in life.... Urr, I mean I'm working on some projects right now."

"Ah right, gotcha..."

As uncomfortable as it felt at times, it also felt intense and confusing. Not only with the lack of direction with the writing but all over my life as a first time mother, in therapy where I went once a week to see a woman (this was a period when I have definitely been guided by a lot of women in my life, a blog to follow!) to work on my dreams and then as a partner to Ben as we struggled to make our relationship work. I was being asked to throw the net open on my ability to be comfortable with where I was going in my life, even if it didn’t make sense to others. Or even to me.

Until one day I could take it no longer...

...I felt frustrated at the lack of any clear direction and that I couldn’t show anyone anything a bit more concrete. So on my last monthly call with Julia I said I can't take this anymore! I need to know, what’s happening here? And she said stop trying to be perfect Laura, just do it, do the blog. This was the Thursday before Easter Friday. 3 days later on Easter Sunday www.throwingthenetopen.com went live with An Unfortunate Predicament.

"The path is the goal." Chogyam Trungpa.

The original goal was to write with no clear focus of what I was writing. Don't limit yourself Laura, Julia advised. So I gave the blog the tag line - 'Stories for the child in every adult & the adult in every child,' which had originally been an introduction to the story about Sid and his unfortunate predicament but became a kind of reference point for me to write a variety of different pieces from short stories like The Habit of Remembering to more personal pieces like Being Deaf. I posted once a week, every Sunday for 6 months (with the exception of one when I went on holiday with Ben and Eve and decided to use it to really unwind).

And then the time came summer was moving into autumn (way to early this year) and it was time to harvest what was sown in the depths of Spring that fine Easter Sunday morning. In other words what was throwing the net open? Great that I was writing every week, but what was the focus? Why would anyone want to read these stories?

And so there has been more enquiring and head down and asking and doubts and humphs and hmmm's and then finally Throwing The Net Open, the vision of it and the why of it is clearer. Or at least a little less smudged. Hooray!

What Throwing The Net Open means to me

The Buddhists have a saying - "Don’t mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon.” It is one I often forget. You see throwing the net open is something that I have a changing relationship to. It is something that has gone from being an invitation, then an inspiration, and now a tangible way of life. The net is the boundary I set around my life in order to feel safe. This can be helpful at times. And at others, it can be a hindrance. Because as far as I can see I am my own jailor. Not my parents, nor my friends, or even the greater good. Just me with this one great big ol'barnacled humdinger of a net that I try every now and again to wrap around me, least life goes on a changing reminding me of something a part of me would rather I forget: this life - it just ain't up for controlling.

 

Why death is life-affirming (& why we need to talk about it more)

“The art of dying graciously is nowhere advertised, in spite of the fact that its market potential is great.” Milton Mayer It’s a funny thing death, isn’t it? And yet how we ignore it. Which is a shame because death is an extraordinary subject and one I wish we would talk about more.

So here are my 3 reasons why death doesn't have to be seen as morbid, but instead something that is as life-affirming as we could wish.

1. Death inspires us to live deeply & lightly

Many years ago a friend was struggling with alcohol and had decided to stop drinking. After a year or so I asked him if he missed it and he replied, “I miss oblivion.”

Oblivion - is there a better way to describe what happens to us when we die? And I don't mean this in a necessarily bleak way, oblivion can be expansive. If we work with it with awareness, otherwise it is just oblivion.

Often the tendency to be extreme in our lives is simply a desperate urge to know and be known by oblivion. Because this elephant in the room: death, the thing we try and ignore, is also the very thing by which we are most fascinated. The fact that one day we will totally completely disappear and the terror that we can do  nothing about it. So we cling onto this life 'our' friends and 'our' jobs and 'our' homes as if they were 'our' life rafters. Instead of other travelers just travelling thru, till the day comes when our hearts stop beating and this life as we know it ceases to be.

But maybe if we started contemplating death more we would experience our lives more fully. Or at least be more grateful for them. For it is something precious that we are here and that our lives are such mysteries. That life really and truly and is best lived as a mystery. I see this in Eve, in the unfolding mystery of who she is. And how even as her mother, every morning is to meet her again. This young girl, no longer a baby. To witness all the changes – none of which I am in control of, but rather am simply a witness to. This kind of explodes my heart. And I wish I could just live it more.

2. Thinking of death makes us nicer people.

There is a wonderful story of a man who had been given 6 months to live. Before his prognosis he was hell to live with. Cantankerous and controlling. But when the doctors told him “the bad news” and he realised he didn’t have much time left, his priorities shifted. So rather then pulling down the people in his life, he celebrated them. So much so that his relationship bloomed and he really allowed himself to fall in love with his girlfriend and then he went to the doctors and they said, hey “good news, your disease has retreated, you are going to live!” And he was so miserable and sad and shut himself off. And finally after much asking and nudging from friends and family, who were so confused: "Why are you so unhappy? You’re going to live?”

“Because," he said, "I am so scared that I will once again live, forgetting that I am going to die."

3. Memento Mori & get complete with those you love

Telling someone you love them may be hard, but the regret you feel when they die on not saying it, is far greater then any fear you may have of looking a fool.

My grand-father died 12 days ago. He had gone into hospital on the Saturday and died on the Thursday. On the Sunday I flew out to Norway where he’d been on holiday with his wife with my mother and daughter Eve. When we went to see him the next morning it wasn’t certain which way he would go.

“How long do you think I am going to take to get over this?” My grand-father asked me as I sat with him that Monday afternoon.

It wasn’t till the end of Tuesday that we knew that he was dying. My mother and I spoke then about how we talk to grand-pa about this. Do we acknowledge it or not? In the end all I did say was “Don’t hold on grand-pa, you don’t need to hold on for anyone, we love you, this isn’t going to last forever. The worse is over.” Trying to ease his suffering was about as much as I could do. Stroking his head like I stroke my daughters and just repeating myself, desperately wishing I could be of more service to him as I told him I loved him.

I had this thought about 2 months before my grand-father died that I was keeping him at a distance. When I looked at this, I realised it was out of some bizarre self-protection policy I was running in my life. If I don't let my heart love my grand-father as much as it does then I won't hurt so much when he dies. He was 90, it would be soon. And then of course I am standing by his bed as he is dying and all I can feel is love for this man, and yes regret for not every time I saw him really seeing him. Really being with him. My only grand-parent left.

But to have that time with my grand-father as he was dying was precious. To be able to say I love you and thank you and for me I see how your spirit of naughtiness lives on in your great-grand-daughter. Something got complete and though there are tears and I miss him now and I feel him now so much that I wonder if I am just in denial about him not being around at least I got to say good-bye. Because people have died in the past who I didn’t say goodbye to because I was scared and couldn’t face the fact that they were about to go and so I smiled and said goodbye, as if I would see them the next morning. But of course I didn’t. And I carry that loss of a stolen good-bye in my heart. For in not saying goodbye when I had the chance, I wasn't able to honour my grand-mother and acknowledge the life that she lived and the incredible abundance of love that she gave me. For that I am sorry, so sorry and I wish if I could that I could go back to that moment and simply say "good-bye."

“It’s not that I am afraid of dying; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Woody Allen

Now if you are reading this you are probably assuming or hoping that the author is at peace with the prospect of their own death. Unfortunately you would be wrong.

Let me tell you a little story.

Some years ago a friend over lunch initiated one of those psychological games where you’re asked something terribly simple and the answers you give reflect something incredibly profound.

One of the scenarios we were given was that on waking we find ourselves in a room. The room is white. There are no windows, no door, no exit. We are alone. We were then asked to give 3 words to describe how we felt.

Try it. Give 3 words for how you would feel if you woke in this totally white room, alone and with no possible exit. Our answers, my friend told me, reflect how we relate to death. My 3 words? “Curious, relaxed & convinced that there is a way out.”

Christ… Such is my denial about death that I couldn’t even do the game! I couldn’t give a word; I had to give a whole sentence.

Because well there’s just got to be a way out of this death thing. Because otherwise, well otherwise, I might just have to look a little closer at this idea that I have control of my life and that I am the captain of this ship. I might have to own up to being more vulnerable then I feel comfortable to do so. Because when we acknowledge that we are not in control and have no idea what's going to happen to us in life, or how it's all going to work out, we must admit to the fragility of human existence. And I think nothing terrifies us more.

Throwing the net open…

I remember going back to school after my father had died when I was 7. Apart from a friend, who made a comment about “difficult times,” no one mentioned it. Not even the teachers after class. My fathers death was this weird thing that had happened and the subtext was that no one was to mention 'it' - lets just get on. Which is such a heavy lesson for young people to carry forth into their lives. Because we are so impressionable when we are young and in this instance my peers were being told to blot death out, and for heavens sake don’t mention it lest you make her cry.

And so we all lost the opportunity to learn a few things: how to communicate with someone when death happens; how to provide support to people who are experiencing the loss of loved ones and how to express a need for support when you loose someone whose existence brought meaning to your world.

What valuable lessons they would have been.

But maybe if we reflect a little more on the sheer awesomeness of being alive, of what it is to be living in this galaxy of exploded stars and inhospitable planets we might just be able to live a little more graciously, a little more filled christ we are lucky, what can I do to share that around? And that rather then death being seen as an ending of, it becomes more of a returning - for just as Mark Twain said, "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.” I wonder if we can remember that now.

 

 

Let It Go: Advice From My Daughter

I spend a lot of time either listening to or watching Disney's Frozen - most of the time along with my daughter Eve. I actually love this film and have been learning a bit about letting go and throwing the net open on the roles we take on in our lives and here is my post about that... Let It Go

I have just watched Disney’s Frozen for the 48th, possible 58th time.

Eve adores it.

“Let it go!” She sings, her arms out wide as she runs around in the park.

“Let it go!” She sings as she runs up to me as I sit at my computer stressing out about my to do list.

“Let it go!” She sings as she sits in her pram and we toddle along the streets to wherever we may be going.

And then when not singing or actually watching Frozen she seems to have abandoned anything she was interested in before to develop her skills as a highly dedicated and committed grafitti artist. Her canvas? Every orifice of our home. As well as the sandpit, dirt patches in the park and if we’re lucky, the occasional piece of paper.

These Roles Were Made For Dissolving

I tried showing Eve The Little Mermaid this week but that got quickly vetoed – “let it go” Eve said. And so I did and on went Princess Elsa.

But watching just those few moments of Little Mermaid before it got vetoed, it was so interesting to see the difference in the two films. Not in graphics but in the nature of the characters.

Back in the 20th century Disney films were all about the baddies and the goodies. With Frozen the real challenge comes not from some wicked evil character but from Elsa herself. Will she be the “the monster” everyone expects her to be once her powers are unwittingly revealed? Or will she find a way to integrate her powers, ones that she was born with, without having to lock them away and be the good girl she “always has to be?”

 

Lobbing The Gold Away

And then I saw another version of sisterly dynamics at The Tricycle Theatre this week when a beautiful friend took me to see The Colby Sisters in Kilburn. Five sisters all thrashing out their existence on this planet within the confines of the roles that each of them have foisted on the other. Whether that be the good girl, the strong girl, the slutty girl, the girl who always needs help girl. Or it could go the other way, the wonderful girl who has everything together and everything she wants girl. But then I bet if someone were to ask Beyonce or Nigella - hey did you enjoy everyone thinking your life was perfect before stories in the press started hinting otherwise, just a tiny part of them might be able to feel if not say, you know what it's a frickin' relief not having to play the perfect role anymore.

These roles we play. What a load of baloney. They are so restricting! And the thing about life is that it may be many things - but in its essence it just ain't restricting. It's us humans who do the restricting. Because life in its essence is wild and unfolding and dynamic. And until we can we trust ourselves to be wild and unfolding and dynamic we are forever going to be trying to make what is dynamic static, what is liberating wrong.

Just yesterday Ben and I were struggling with some fears we both have about getting married and chatting with a friend over Skype who we had asked to speak to for some help navigating some dark and stormy waters. Turns out we don’t have to be that dark!

"Can you be courageous and aware enough to introduce humour and lightness to the situation?" our friend asked us. What a game changing comment! Ben and I looked at each other and relaxed.

"Yes, we'd like that."

Anyway, this is a song we're singing at home.

And this is me, throwing the net open... x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream Seeping

Earlier this year I came face to face with a dream. We were celebrating the birthday of my daughter's grand-mother at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond. After the lunch I walked around the shop and saw a painting that was so reminiscient of the dream I had had the previous evening, that I bought the painting (painting included in the image).The dream had been so vivid that at first it felt incredibly uncomfortable to look at the picture. I felt slightly bewitched by it.  As I began to work with the dream over the following days my relationship to the picture changed. What at first felt foreboding to look at it, gradually began to shift to relaxation and finally inspiration. Slowly I began to see the beauty of the painting. The way that the different elements of nature intermingle with each other. The glory of the blue Krishna sitting in the middle with the darkest of snakes wrapped around his neck looking nothing but serene. Everyone was at peace and harmony with one another. Was this possible for me?

Alhough I originally posted this piece about 5 months ago, the meaning of this dream still speaks to me. Can I #throwthenetopen on what scares me, on what I want to run from - within myself? I am also posting this piece specifically for #throwbackthursday in light of the piece I posted yesterday, which you can read here.

I must warn you that the piece of writing below is a mixture of fantasy and fiction. I cannot say which is the greater. This is my latest post...

A Surprise

As I came near the water I noticed an area where the grass had been burnt away by the sun and all that was left was some rocks and dry earth. This is where I saw her. Moving through the grass about 10metres away from where I was standing. She was huge, jet black and incredibly long and her eyes set on me. I wanted to disappear but I couldn't and so I stood for a moment my heart pumping, my focus as total as hers. Then thinking that there was enough space between us I slowly started backing away and that was when she leapt. This long black snake launched her body through the air and wrapped herself around my neck.

The weird thing was that once she was there the fear went. The fear was in seeing her and in guessing and thinking and imagining all that I thought she could do. Once she had done what she did, everything was alright. Or rather nothing was not alright. The birds were still singing in the air, the river still flowed and my heart still pumped.

Realising that I could still breathe and hadn’t been bitten, my muscles relaxed and as I relaxed the snake relaxed and I unwrapped her and she dropped to the floor and slithered over the earth towards the water and swam away.

And then I looked up and saw that all around me in the grass were lime green grass snakes. And they looked at me and I looked at them and there was something enormously friendly and docile about them. And I watched as their bodies formed into coils and they rested their heads on their bodies like cats curling up by the fire.

I stood for a moment exhausted and drained by the adrenalin pumping through my body and then made my way over to the river and sat down on a rock, my feet in the water, my body shaking. Then I remembered the snakes and looked back at them.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hi,” the one closest to me said.

I waited, feeling my breath. The inhale, the exhale, the pumping of my heart. The race of my pulse, the feeling of my bottom on the stone and the ends of my dress slathered against my ankles, made wet by the splash of the river against the rock.

"I'm scared," I said.

“We know,” the snake replied and I swear the other snakes nodded in agreement. And then I closed my eyes and exhaled and when I opened them I looked down the river and I saw the black snake getting out further down and making her way back up.

Fear shot up to my throat and punched me in the solar plexus. And I looked at the others and they looked at me and I realised in that moment that the black snake could be my friend or my foe, what was it to be? And as she slithered forward and came back into the water she stopped as she neared me and reared up slightly and looked at me everything in her looking as if she had translated the moment to be my foe and I said no be my friend and she softened and smiled. I mean it, I swear that the black snake smiled and she swam towards me and wrapped herself around the bottom of the rock and then rested her head on my knee with such gentleness and tenderness it’s a wonder I didn’t feel this part of her when we met. And she closed her eyes and sighed and I began to stroke her head with the fingers of my left hand with the right resting on the rock to steady myself. I watched as the water flowed by and the other snakes slipped away and the black snake slept until she woke whilst I stayed sitting on that rock. Wondering and waiting for nothing particular at all.

And then the snake sighed and slipped away. No goodbye, nothing really, just that sigh, which really is something when I think about it, because I still think about it, that sigh of the snake who slept on my knee, my friend not my foe and I’m sorry I got it so wrong.