follow the flow
a travel journal and photography journey
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
I’m in Bali for two weeks taking a training called Embodied Dance Temple Keepers!
This is the first training of its kind, since the movement explorations and specific dance journeys were created by a woman named Mana Mei. Today was the third day of the training, and we have already gone DEEP. The explorations are so simple in their direction, but so incredibly vast in what can be felt, and discovered.
At the core of these movements is the feminine essence. Softening, Sensitivity, Creativity, Releasing, Curiosity, Sensuality, Flow, Allowing, Vulnerability... With our senses heightened by the amount of Opening we're doing each day, myself and each of the women in the training are becoming more aware of just how much the body is able to feel in simplicity, and how our bodies can truly be an alchemical space for moving and processing emotions and stories. And above all, that expansion and growth need never be forced.
To give some context: embodied dance, to me, is allowing the body to be moved by the truth of the present moment. There’s no need to worry about what it looks like, if it’s too weird or too big or too anything. All that matters is that the dance is an authentic expression of that moment, and that it feels good for the mover. I started exploring dance like this about five years ago, and it has become an essential part of how I come home to myself and how I approach my art. Spaces that can hold this kind of movement have drastically shifted the ways I relate to my body and the ways that I take ownership of my internal life. Spaces like ecstatic dance or contact improvisation jams. These spaces are safe and accepting and powerful. Temple Keepers, are those that hold and facilitate these kinds of spaces. ⠀⠀
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I’ve been pretty in love with this kind of movement ever since I started. I used to dance when I was younger, but didn't stick with technical dance because there were aspects that felt too rigid for me, and too focused on getting it "right." And when I absolutely embraced free-form embodied movement as a part of my personal practice, I didn’t imagine myself facilitating one day. Until that day came. And it felt so natural and fluid and amazing. I facilitated workshops focused on embodied movement for actors and performers a few times when I was still living in LA—I even did a kids class! My main focus was on how this movement can deeply assist performers in their ability to be fully present with what is happening in each moment, and to connect authentically with the other players without trying to “make something happen.” And then I led a few workshops focused specifically on embodied movement for self love and primal voice work while I was at Burning Man... and that was the final confirmation for me that this path was calling me to step in further.
This work is important, and needed, and transformational, and incredibly therapeutic while still being so gentle and intuitive. It invites the mover to be so loving and kind to their body, and to allow their body and emotions to move them.
It's both awesome and scary to witness myself breathing life into the facilitator part of me. Mainly because—as was discovered in the training today—there can of course be pain and discomfort when we resist our growth, and there can also be pain and discomfort when we embrace it. Because no matter what, we are letting go of something. I think it takes both courage and curiosity to follow our natural transformation, from our caterpillar selves to our butterfly selves, and however many forms we take in-between.
Terence and I just moved into an Airbnb for the next 3 days in Pāhoa, HI. We found the place at the very last minute and just said, yeah looks good, and it’s cheap, lets just do it.
But this place is a fucking paradise.
We are on this property of land that is lush and green and grows limes and avocados and cherries and plenty of other fruits. The host greeted us with her adorable baby on her hip, probably about 7-8 months old, and explained that they harvest rain water and we are free to walk the grounds and pick whatever fruit we want. The houses on this property are simple, as is their lifestyle.
There is this essence here of ease….
Of bare feet and wet grass…
Of ripe fruit and happy bellies…
Of the rhythms of bodies swaying with the branches of trees…
I like it here.
As soon as Terence and I got in, we both audibly went ahhhhhh... and he looked at me at one point and said I could see you and I living somewhere like this.
And I could too.
He and I have been learning a lot through our travels this year. And one thing that is becoming clearer with each place that we visit is the kind of home we would love to make for ourselves.
Land… nature… grass… trees… water… fruit trees and a vegetable garden… no visible neighbors so we can freely be naked outdoors… quiet, except for the birds and the crickets, the wind and the rain… far enough away from a major city that when we collapse onto the bed or the dirt, we are reminded in our bones that we are from this earth. We are not our phones or computers, we are not our jobs, we are not our reputations or what successes or failures we made that day… our home is the place where we are reminded that our natural selves are enough.
And that is what I feel here. On this land. In this surprising, last minute, Airbnb in Pāhoa. That my natural self is enough.
So just a bit ago, I took a walk down the property, picked a lime and some cherries, found a space where the grass was squishy, and I shook my tail feather. I danced with flow and sensuality and passion and silliness and felt so incredibly alive. Felt so incredibly me.
The first couple of days in Hawaii were actually pretty internally chaotic for me.
The joy I was feeling in my skin and feet from being on this lush tropical land was somewhat overwhelmed by feelings of being in a completely new place, being very tired from full days of travel, and just being a bit emotionally ungrounded. Sometimes arriving in a new place can be liberating, and sometimes it can be very confusing for my system.
After spending a few days in Honolulu, Terence and I arrived in Kona two days ago. It’s IronMan week in Kona—the race is on Saturday—so there is a lot of bustling excitement in the air. Terence’s sister and her husband are racing, so it’s a big week for them as well as they prepare. There are big signs and a lot of people and so many runners and bikers and swimmers and an expo with ALL the fancy stuff that pro-athletes love. There were interviews and mini-kids races and signings and time spent connecting with T’s family again—the last time I saw them was in February. And it was all amazing and fun and fascinating...and it totally wiped me out, too.
I’m reminded of the truth that I know of myself, and suspect of many: that I can’t fully connect with others unless I’m fully connected to myself first. So while a percentage of me can be present and listen and explore my relationships with these lovely humans, a percentage of me is simultaneously quivering with the yearning for some me-time. It's kind of like being on the edge of tears—you know, you can ignore it and push it down relatively easily, but ultimately there is an energetic distraction from every interaction saying pay attention to me dammit!—except in this case the "tears" are a big sigh once I'm alone on the floor of a room where nobody can hear me and I have no obligations to anyone else anytime soon. And once I get that, even if it's only for a few minutes, so many things become so much more easeful.
So today, I woke up, and I devoted some extended time to my self connection practice—I stretched and did a few warrior 2’s and massaged my body and did some squats, because my legs were calling for some attention. (I plan to share an updated writing soon about my practice and how it's become one of the most important additions to my life...stay tuned.) And oh my god did it feel so good. To just remind myself of the delight and joy I feel when I’m in active communication with my body and spirit. Sometimes, my practice is quite short, with just a little meditation or rub of my head and face and belly and breasts. But when it’s extended, when I give myself the time and space to get weird, expressive, creative, sensual, honest...that’s where the trust between me, myself and I is built and nurtured. That’s where I find the element of Earth within me.
After that, the day just opened up to a whole world of magic I hadn’t expected. Terence and I got our own rental car—we got a convertible (cuz Terence loves the wind in his cheeky smile) for an amazing price too! And we decided to just start driving around the island.
Our first thought was, let's go see a volcano! But what ended up happening instead of making a plan, we got into this groove of exploring, this flow of simply following Curiosity and Desire. It tends to lead to amazing places...
Our curiosity about following this random road led us to a seemingly never ending row of ripe guavas! We took a whole bag of them home with us. As we followed this road it led us to the lava fields, which we had been wanting to see, and spontaneously found without using a map! The extraordinary swirls and ripples of the dried lava going for miles and miles, creating waves of grey, with patches of bright green where plants were pushing through...had me in awe. Our desire for food led us to a nearby town where, again, without a map, we found an organic food store with a little buffet AND a delightful selection of chocolate...because chocolate is life. And then as we decided to head back towards our Airbnb, we found one last magical spot...a public garden with statues and bridges over glistening still waters and soft grasses to squish my feet into before our ride back.
It was an absolutely magical day. Magic, I say, because I have no explanation for how we found all these special places other than the trust in a subtle pull inside ourselves. And that's what magic is isn't it, the unexplainable. The stars that twinkle in our eyes when we are reminded of what it feels like to be stricken with wonder... I’ve trained myself to trust this pull over many years. This pull that comes from my belly, or more specifically, my womb. This pull that has always, yes, always, led me to exactly where I need to be. If I trust it.
It can be scary sometimes to just say yes to life without knowing what the outcome is going to be. But this essence of Curiosity, of Desire for life, hasn’t led me astray in my 26+ years of living. So I think not knowing is gonna be alright.