It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. A new job and a break-up in the same week. News that she's pregnant and news that he is terminally ill. Someone is off for a magical vacation while someone else is foreclosing on their home. All our lives are filled with this dance of blessings and challenges and the more that I get to travel and meet people from all over the world, I am inspired at the ways in which I can be a witness to how the human soul can heal, release and come back to love. My most recent blog about my pilgrimage to reclaim the Divine Feminine in Israel is up on the Huffington Post this week. The gist is, "I didn't see the Goddess honored in the Holy Land of Jerusalem, but I did feel her in the Holy Land. I felt her swimming in the sea, in the clouds at sunset, with the flow of the river that goes through Tel-Aviv, in the peaceful quiet of the desert, and in the salt of the Dead Sea, and while I didn't initially see Her at the Western Wall, I felt Her in the stone." The piece highlights the take away message I received from my time in Israel, about nature being one of the most powerful ways to connect with the divine feminine, but it isn't the full story. This trip was one of the most confronting I have ever taken with a mix of many blessings and beauty, along challenges and complexities.
For example, the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was right in the living room of my friends and hosts. It started last fall when I hiked the Annapurna Circuit, which is a two week trek through the Himalayas in Nepal where you walk 6-8 hours a day and stay in a different Nepalese village every night. Strangers quickly become friends as you and a hundred or so other people walk the path together, share meals and have lots of time to take about life (and don't have phone or internet service). Three of the people I met there live in Israel, but not all of them would consider themselves Israeli. Two of the women I met, Talya and Rima, are a lesbian couple where one is Israeli and the other is Palestinian. On many levels, their commitment is an inspiring illustration of the power of love to transcend and unite despite old paradigms that would have previously kept them apart. A question they get asked often and was asked by me, is "if you were in charge, what would you do to bring peace to the Middle East?" In six years of their relationship and countless conversations about this, they explain that even they can't come up with a solution that seems fair and would be agreeable to both sides. The complexity runs so deep and yet, they wake up each morning and align themselves with the love they have for themselves, each other and the world.
I am often inspired to be in a culture fueled by devotion to God or Spirit. The first time I experienced this passion for God was at a Ganesh temple in Kerala, India, where people lined up for the temple with the enthusiasm of going to see a rock concert. Before entering the temple, you would throw a coconut against the wall as hard as you can to symbolize the breaking of one's ego or anything that kept one from being able to fully experience God. I was looking forward to visiting the Holy Land of Jerusalem, where so much of our world's religious history has taken place, but, instead of being inspired, it was the first time I really experienced the danger of claiming something as sacred. When one places the idea of God outside of oneself, in a particular place or in a book, I saw how one can lose sight of the spark of divinity that lives in ourselves, in one other and in every living thing. My idea of God is in oneness, in unity consciousness, in seeing the other person as you, so seeing the separation consciousness in the Old City that has it divided into four quarters and knowing it's history of being destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times, attacked an additional 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times, I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with the awareness that there has got to be a better way to bring us back to love.
On my last night in Israel, I went to see an amazing world music group called the Idan Raichel Project. Songs of hope, peace and love filled the air in half a dozen different languages and yet, I couldn't help be aware that next to the fence where we parked my girlfriends pointed out that that fence was the border of Syria, with a stretch of a couple hundred meters filled with land mines and where massacres and an impending genocide is currently taking place on the other side. The temptation to lose hope, be in fear or go numb were all on offer.
And so my trip to Israel, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times. To be in such close physical proximity to all this turmoil and strife, felt like the physical out picturing of the inner human conflict. At the same time, the devotional and religious culture can also be seen as expressing the yearning of a pure heart wanting to recognize the divine inside. It was balanced duality- on opposite sides of the spectrum- the agony and the ecstasy.
On my last day there, I woke up with a view of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus walked on water, where miracles filled the air and I danced. I danced with my bare feet on the grass, with my iPhone and headphones on their loudest volume and with my heart open enough to just honor it all. I think it's our best plan. There's the famous Albert Einstein quote about "you can't solve a problem on the level it was created." To raise our consciousness up above our problems, we can dance to remember our deepest truth and to start to let that guide us. Qoya is based on this idea that through movement, we remember. We remember that our essence as women is wise, wild and free. And that we can do better.
The move I see women making all over the world is rising from the binds of victim consciousness and expanding their minds, hearts and awareness large enough to hold the full spectrum of life in love. Beyond the duality of us and them, right and wrong, sacred and heresy, good times and bad times, there is a way to experience life by embracing the dance of it all. It's not paradise lost or paradise found, it's just paradise as is. Most importantly, it's not a thought that is conveyed by words. It's an experience. And it's most easily experienced for me through Qoya. Through a sacred circle of conscious women, through authenticity and intention, through opening the heart and liberating the hips (physically and energetically), through movement as prayer by dancing your yoga, through joy from learning communal dances from bollywood, to bellydance, to the electric slide. Through shaking each part of the body to release what no longer serves our highest good and when initiated back into our essence- to dance fully present. We dance like our ancestors around a fire. We dance for the dreams of our children's children. We dance courageously embodying the power and privilege to experience all of life. And mostly, we dance because we can no longer not dance.
For those who can no longer not dance, I invite you to join me for 5 minutes or for a whole week (or for a whole life!)
5 minute free video to shake what no longer serves you! on EmbodyQoya.com (an online Qoya studio).
Oh the places you'll go,