This weekend I led the workshop, The Art of Collapse: Building Strength and Acceptance in Difficult Times. For three hours I guided thirteen willing, daring folks to lie on the floor and listen. Oh, I did a few other things with them to make it seem like they were getting their money’s worth, but the basic practice was to come down to where the earth would support us and let rest every one of our muscles, bones, and organs—and in this place of rest to meet our fears, our resistance, our hesitation and hurt and gave all of this space and presence and tenderness to be as it is.
This is important work. This is the work that most of the time most of us are too scared to do and so we fill our lives with responsibilities and tasks that we deem of greater importance and dismiss and deny ourselves the opportunity to STOP.
Stop running for the story.
Stop running for the glory.
Stop running from the gory.
Just STOP. Don’t run. Lie down. Don’t wait. Listen. Now.
Okay, now that I’ve made my demands I have some thing else I’d like to say. For those of us who have found our way to the floor, who have accepted we aren’t in control of our lives, who’ve let our demons have a voice, and been present with our great grief, and lingered with the sensation of the silence on the inside of our lungs—don’t think this is it. Don’t get lulled into the idea that coming over and over again to the hard part, the pain, the introspective moment, the acceptance of collapse is the whole truth.
When we actually open ourselves to listen to our inner and outer experience we begin to hear its call. And often the call might be to stop, to slow down, to give this listening time to be learned, but it also might be—and don’t miss this from deep inside—the call of the moment might be:
I had to fight so hard to trust in the lying down, trust in the giving myself over to collapse, to the slow healing of my inner organs that had been being pushed around for too long, I had to keep surrendering again and again as I listened and opened and heard with greater and greater clarity: rest. Rest as if your life depended on rest, because it does.
And still today a lot of rest wants and needs to happen—and I will honor this, but another line of music is beginning to rise up from my belly and this one is all about moving. This one doesn’t want to sit in meditation in the morning (or not for more than about ten minutes) she wants to play like a backwards movie: the broken tea cup lying shattered on the floor now brings all its pieces back together and reassembles itself before lifting off the ground and flying back up to the table. She wants to shake and shimmy and shout.
This girl has lungs. She wants to live not only in the deep way, she wants to live in the BIG way. She wants to spread her body wide across the landscape and shake them trees. She wants to bang the pavement, knock on doors, meet new people, jump up and build her beautiful body out of the quiet collapse. She wants to be tall as a skyscraper and clear as a bell.
I am going to take what I learn on the floor and apply it to the sky. I’m going to go where the listening takes me: up or down or out of town.
I don’t know where, but I’ll meet you there.
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photo by Mike Baird.