March 30th

Yesterday I scrubbed away the thick black line of goo (sneaky, deep-crack goo) that was making the dishwasher (and the inside of the wine glasses which should smell purely like waiting-for-wine and the steam that should smell foggy-clean when it rises into your face as you open the door) smell like old fish. As I did not meditate yesterday, this was my first morning activity: unload dishwasher; remove bottom rack; scrub goo.

A section of bath-accompaniment then ensued, in which I ate a sourdough english muffin with peanut butter on it while also “eating” several kinds of “sushi” made out of wet pieces of fabric. Clara’s body in the bath has been, now, a delight of seven years. My heart breaks a bit on the rocks of how repetition and ease can transform what is most precious into a sort of side job. I mean, I was pretty full, but I ate that sushi anyway.

For an hour I jumped around to pop music and touched my elbow to my knee a lot. I assume there were a lot of other people in their dining rooms with their tables pushed to their walls doing the same thing at the same time, because it was Dance Church.

Lunch was a bowl of tomato soup adapted from this recipe. I put a sweet potato in because the tomatoes we canned this year are especially tangy.

And then I walked to The Peoples Yoga to teach. First, for Suniti’s ongoing teacher training, Treasures of Engagement (great name, right?), I offered a couple hour walk through of a process I’m in most of the time. Pray, Breathe, Sense, Resource, Discern, Reach. I was teaching this particular material – a weaving of so many threads in my body and awareness – for the first time, and I’m deeply grateful to Suniti for openly inviting me to bring what is current for me. I have benefitted from her collaborations with others in the past, and I see how she brings the power of trust to help the between-ness grow rich.

Two and a half hours on Zoom later, I ate half of a large chocolate bar and took a short sunny-windy walk. This delight is new to me: the reality that one can have more than a square or two of chocolate at a time. I started figuring it out because I was keeping chocolate in my car to help me get home on the freeway from work. Over a year and a half, I have tried a lot of different things to help me get home on the freeway after work. Podcasts, loud music, changing my pants, rolling the windows all the way down even when it is cold and rainy, making videos of myself… Turns out eating more chocolate than I think I am allowed is the best thing yet. Try it. Specifically good chocolate that I like. Junk chocolate doesn’t work for me but it might work for you. The trick is to have a lot though, so you want it to be not too dark, but also not too sugary. For me it is good if there is something salty and snacky in it, like pretzels or nuts.

Teaching embodiment through a screen is also relatively new to me, and about as easeful as the freeway, in the trapped sympathetic nervous system sense. So I tried chocolate as a snack/recovery item between strange, dislocating, hopeful sessions of trying to connect and connecting and also not connecting – stretching my sense of the meaning of connecting, or stretching my willing suspension of disbelief, at least. It helped, and the little walk helped, and talking with Suniti helped. In the sense that those things helped me feel real and slightly more whole, which is my running definition of help, right now.

And finally I taught my regular Sunday class, 5pm, called Grounding Practice, in which we lay on the floor. Or lie. Whichever feels more real.

And before we did that, I read this wonderful piece by Ross Gay, from his Book of Delights which really is the inspiration that got me to write this journal entry in this public “place” at all:

60. “Joy is Such a Human Madness”: The Duff Between Us

Or, like this: In healthy forests, which we might imagine to exist mostly above ground, and be wrong in our imagining, given that the bulk of the tree, the roots, are reaching through the earth below, there exists a constant communication between those roots and mycelium, where often the ill or weak or stressed are supported by the strong and surplused.

By which I mean a tree over there needs nitrogen, and nearby tree has extra, so the hyphae (so close to hyphen, the handshake of the punctuation world), the fungal ambulances, ferry it over. Constantly. This tree to that. That to this. And that in a tablespoon of rich fungal duff (a delight: the phrase fungal duff, meaning a healthy forest soil, swirling with the living the dead make) are miles and miles of hyphae, handshakes, who get a little sugar for their work. The pronoun who turned the mushrooms into people, yes it did. Evolved the people into mushrooms.

Because in trying to articulate what, perhaps, joy is, it has occurred to me that among other things – the trees and the mushrooms have shown me this – joy is the mostly invisible, the underground union between us, you and me, which is, among other things, the great fact of our life and the lives of everyone and thing we love going away. If we sink a spoon into that fact, into the duff between us, we will find it teeming. It will look like all the books ever written. It will look like all the nerves in a body. We might call it sorrow, but we might call it a union, one that, once we notice it, once we bring it into the light, might become flower and food. Might be joy.

(Apr. 7)

I wanted to share this piece because of how it helps me feel my place as I offer a practice, an online class, some notes about my day… as one piece of a union, one little handshake, opening up for transmission, letting something through.

Along with chocolate – even quite a lot of chocolate! – and walks – even very short walks! –  I’ve been helped this last week by other people who are sharing their practices online.

I know from experience: these practices just want to move. They want to get into bodies and wrap them up and make them move and settle them down and open them up. The people are letting it all through, and that is what is most inspiring and encouraging to me  as I sit here trying to just let this one darn blog post get out of my body!

Renee Sills has so so many mystical, accessible, creative somatic meditations available

My partner and I bounced our booties with BootyLuv and it was sweaty and even the 11 year old could do it if she could stop falling on the floor and giggling

My childhood friend Brooke is the fittest person I know and also so cheerful about doing very painful abdominal exercises

It’s a Fucking Miracle!

My teacher Caverly Morgan is teaching through Sangha Live this week

I have some new (to me) stuff on my schedule for this week. I’ll let you know!




Published by Devon Riley

lately: youth work, parenting, sorcery, books, walks in the woods

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