Let me take you on a journey of how working with spoken word evolved for me over time as an inspiration for your own process of discovery.
Just be aware that the invitation here is not to copy ‘my’ style, or the way how reality embodies through ‘my’ embodied expression, but to gain an understanding of the core principles of how language aligns to the reality of no-separation. Your own unique expression of the oneness of all there is will then begin to reveal itself.
How English language supports the belief in separation
The English language is based on the idea that we are separate. For instance I had to say that reality embodies ´through my embodied expression’, and I had to speak of ‘your unique expression’ to make any grammatical sense. If I could skip the conventions of language I would say:
endless unique expressions
moving as is
But this powerful way of writing doesn`t work in a descriptive and explanatory text, so paradoxically I have to speak of the I and the other, to describe what is beyond!
A sentence requires subjects, objects and actions. We see ourselves ‘over here’ and something else ‘over there’. ‘Someone’ does’something’ to a ‘something’, or a ‘someone’. The identification with this type of interpretation of ‘events’ alone can stop us from feeling beyond the boundaries of our bodies. We may presume that an entity of a separate ‘I’ lives inside it.
I am inviting you to search for the separate I in your body. Can you identify it anywhere? I remember presuming at some point that it lives behind the skin in my face, but enquiring into it I couldn’t find it.
In my dissertation for my degree at Brighton University I asked the question how we would identify differently if we had chosen the letter “O” as the symbol referring to ourselves rather than the capital letter “I” that tends to just read as a straight line and visually connects identity with ‘linear’ thinking. There is such a different energy in the letter ‘O’, associating us with a circle, Mystery, Wholeness, Oneness, Being. I often use circles in my digital photo montages, as you can see in the image above.
My invitation now is to feel into associating ‘yourself’ with the letter ‘O’, or a circle and what that does to the way you view this image. It could also be a fun experiment to speak to yourself in the mirror, saying “I am beautiful” for instance and then “O am beautiful”. Does something shift for you, when you play with these two phrases, and if yes, what is it that changes?
Becoming aware that the idea of ‘entity’ is nothing more but an idea
When I studied Fine Arts I quickly discovered the video editing room as my favorite playground, as I could intermingle the power of spoken word, moving image and precise timing to achieve powerful effects. Here is an experimental video I created at Brighton University as an example. This video has been created in a S-VHS linear editing suite. There is no special effects or flipping images on their head or anything similar going on. I had to edit in a completely linear way at the time, because once the edit was recorded, that was that. There was no moving film clips around or adding something in the middle later…! Please watch it first before you read below how it was made.
As you can probably tell I was playing with a confusing physical location that was hard to define fully. This film was made in the home I shared with a lovely family in Brighton, while I was a student. This house had an exceptionally long and thin bathroom, it was literally just about one meter wide with a toilet right at the end. So the stool is actually placed against the wall and I am wedging myself sideways between the two walls to create the illusion that the wall is the floor. I occupied this bathroom for many hours with camera and lighting equipment and my dear landlord and his son happily agreed to peeing into a bottle for that time. They were very supportive. Now let’s have a look at the text in this video. I didn’t write it myself. I found an advertisement for a washing machine and took out every word that related to what was described. What did that do to the text?
It took out the subject, the entity washing machine. What does that to the whole experience of the short film? The invitation is to feel into that. The term entity is a crucial consideration in “Embodiment as the One Heart”. Habitually we presume that there are subjects and objects all the time, as I mentioned before. This implies as a given that we identify as separate entities. We see ourselves as an individual entity struggling with the entity of world. So we go about and label life. We name things, put them in a box and then we believe we know. But how much do we really know? And do these boxes serve us? How would you look at life if you literally saw it as one organism of aliveness, all of it. No boxes. At best just one person. The one person of life itself. How would your life change if you took the word ‘you’ out of it?
When the idea that we are a separate entity begins to loosen, we can bring humor to the consideration of separation. And we can become energetically aware of the process of that idea of entity taking form and what it feels like. The video piece below plays on the absurdity of the idea of separation. It was my first assessment in dance at Brighton University. My friend Tabitha and I were the only dance students who explored choreographic principles with spoken word, and with movements that were anything but ‘beautiful dancing’ in the conventional sense. I borrowed the large wellington boots from my lovely landlord. As usually, things around the house inspire me. This piece is from 1996:
Well may be one could call this video a quite comical rendering of identifying with a separate self. It brings out how being separate brings up competition and entitlement. But also in a rather hilarious way it demonstrates how diving into the idea of separation fully yields nothing of substance, at best an empty sock! Playing with these energies of separation and embodied wisdom and enacting them physically with lightness and humor is also an important element of practice in ‘Embodiment as the One Heart’.
The power of embodied oneness as a practice is such that it is going to bring up patterns of separation in reaction to feeling ‘out of control’. It takes time to be comfortable and fully drawn to that reality of full aliveness, that is completely unknowable. Part of the consideration of ‘Embodiment as the One Heart’ is the learning of recognizing these patterns when they come up, instead of identifying with them. We explore how to embrace them as doorways to deeper seeing of beliefs we may hold that we may not be aware of yet. The exploration of oneness and separation in this course will go hand in hand, because the conscious understanding of both is very important. If we can not fully identify the aliveness of oneness, then we will not be able to feel when separateness is attempting to take over the process. And also a deepening of understanding and an ability to recognize these different frequencies is crucial to safely navigate the creative exploration which can become intensely challenging at times. Our use of language plays a key role in this process too. We will go much deeper into this consideration at a later stage in this course, but let’s just throw some examples of the use of language into this space, that promote saparateness and cleary defines entities:
I am here and you are over there.
I am right and you are wrong.
You are a good boy or girl.
I have my personal opinion.
That is ridiculous.
I hate my thoughts.
I shouldn’t get angry.
Our relationship is toxic.
What is wrong with you.
I am a bad person.
I am a fraud.
He is so grandiose.
I am not good enough.
Look at these thugs that throw their garbage on the field.
Feel your heart. Feel the Love.
Just let go of this now.
I am special, either especially amazing or especially awful.
Let’s just feel into the vibrational frequency of such phrases for now, and what they are actually doing. Even the ones that are apparently liberating and empowering, are ultimately just ordering certain behavior. You may remember typical phrases that come up for you, when you are convincing yourself of your separate disposition. The use of phrases like the ones above indicate that we are putting a ‘someone’ into ‘a box’, be that who we see as ourselves or who we see as an other. In my personal experience these are attempts to engage in an activity that we believe keeps us safe from harm, dissappointment, failure etc. The invitation is to read the phrases aloud and to feel them with the whole body. Then you can take this consideration into your own life and wonder with warmth and curiosity how use of language that defines you and others as separate has been passed down through your ancestry, and how it has shown up in your life, and how it has defined you. I am bringing awareness to this now, as the process of study of this course may already bring up thoughts and feelings that protect the sense of separate self. At a later stage in the course, we will go into a much deeper enquiry into this matter. But you are of course also free to jump between the chapters as you feel moved.
Aligning language to support the transmission of the reality of no separation
At Brighton University, a friend told me about the spiritual teacher Adi Da Samraj. She was so excited about discovering his existence, that I felt the urge to find out what it was, she was so massively happy about. The more I started studying his books, the more intrigued I became about reading texts, that drew me into no-separation. I saw that Adi Da wasn’t speaking about adopting any particular belief, but literally about transcending every possible point of view, or every idea of any kind of separation, no matter how subtle. That consideration attracted and intrigued me massively.
I found that when I read some of his texts, the way he used language would give me an entrance to inseparable reality, by simply melting away all ideas of I and other. There is no reader, no writer, no object of study, no belief to follow, there is just Light and Transmission of Light and the recognition of that as that.
During the time of my life where I was a formal devotee of Adi Da, I began to feel very moved to dance some of his poetry which spoke particularily powerfully to me as these poems were so alive with the transmission of no separation, and I began to feel the power of allowing this transmission into the body. The consideration of the poetry started with exploring the difference of:
– reading a poem in silence,
– reading it aloud,
– speaking it knowing it by heart and then finally
– allowing the body to feelingly flow with and eventually as the words.
The intensity with how the words impacted on me increased with every version of exploration. Especially the poem I found that supported the integration of the profundity of Adi Da’s darshan (an occasion of meeting him in a silent sitting). The sound file below is an experiment to merge the transmission, the poem and process around it into one communication of no-separation:
Ultimately I primarily danced two poems for many years. They never got boring as their aliveness was always present, nurturing, deepening, widening and bringing new insights. Below is a recording of the other one. I have chosen a play-time recording… meaning I was just playing and filming and exploring by myself. This brief experimental video is an invitation to you to also play and experiment.
How life prompts a shift – Birthing One Heart Poetry
At some point in my life I was invited to dance one of Adi Da’s poems at a Sacred Music Festival. Because of his very controversial presence on the internet, the organisers expressed concerns. At that time I was already only loosely connected to the spiritual community of Adidam, because I didn’t live near a community of devotees, when I raised my son. Also I had an increasing sense that I needed to be able to flow freely in the creative explorations that unfolded over the years, so I ended up choosing the ways I worked, and what I explored without any direct connection to the community of devotees of Adida. In hindsight this solitary process was exactly what I needed.
The Christian church where the Sacred Music Festival took place was already hesitant to allowing musicians from different spiritual paths perform in a traditional place for Christian worship. To add a dance to a poem by a controversial, contemporary spiritual teacher into the program felt a bit too risky to the organisers, even though they personally loved it. So they asked if I could possibly dance to another one, that wasn’t written by Adi Da. This situation is a perfect example of how what may look like a crisis and an obstacle, turns out to be an opportunity for creative expansion.
I fully understood the concerns of the organisers of the festival, and looked on the internet and read some Rumi, and other poems, but I couldn’t find a text that quite carried the same ‘frequency’ that I was so passionate about embodying, and that I felt through Adi Das’s poetry. So I felt that may be I need to find my own words of no-separation. As I was just a poet, a dancer and an artist, I sensed that it would feel a lot less threatening to people, if I had written my own poetry. So I went to bed that night and at five in the morning I was literally woken up by a whole poem just flushing through, that connected me with the same quality of transmission that I was used to feeling through Adi Da’s words, yet it was a very different language. I wrote it down, sent it to the organisers of the festivals and asked them if they liked it and they did:
Now what do you notice is different about this poem and the poems by Adi Da? One crucial difference is that Adi Da speaks of himself as non-separate reality as an ‘I’. His identity is ‘The Person of the Sea of Light’. To me it felt important to allow the language of the reality of non-separation to be completely universal, and not attached to a particular person without loosing that sense of intimacy and the quality of a personhood of the totality of existence. So the language had to have very particular attributes. This is because I want the words to draw people into the reality of no separation and out of ‘the slice of experience’, the realm of “I and other’ perceived as real. If I said that “I am the Person of the Sea of Light”, I felt that there would be a risk, that people in the audience would feel more separate than ever, as they may be tempted to spend their time identifying grandiosity, instead of allowing themselves to be drawn into an inseparable recognition of what is.
So the language of ‘Embodiment as the One Heart’ is very inclusive and welcoming.
Here the poem again just to read, and you may want to read it loud, and feel how the words resonate in your body:
in the light of everything
only love can be truth
only beauty can flow
there is only one
there is only one
and the wondrous and amazing and mysterious all there is
that can never be known
This poem draws us into reality as beauty and love which gives it the aspects of intimacy whilst simultaneously ‘being the totality of existence’ and ‘blissful silence’, so it allows for a rich invocation of different levels of experience whilst throwing them all into one pot of indefinable truth as your true identity.
From then on I wrote my own poems and performed them sometimes to photographic montages, until I felt the urge to improvise completely free-flow more and more. Below there are excerpts from ‘The Cycle of Life’, a collaboration with Lindsay Treen performed at the Stroud Site Festival, that I enjoyed so much. When my son was a baby, I left the theatre world for some time, and I made digital photo montages when ever I had a little bit of time. I started writing poetry for them and when I realised there was one image and poem for the birth of my son and one for the death of my father I noticed that a performance piece was emerging.
Her is the starting images with the poem for my son’s birth:
from the subtle realms of light
into the temporary arms
of human experience
the light shines ceaselessly
and this is the image and poem honouring my father’s death:
to my beloved father
the window of your face
blew wide open
to meet eternity
we are all only Light
and the light shines ceaselessly
And here some excerpts from the actual live performance:
in the collaboration with Lindsay, the order of poems and pictures were set, but the way we interpreted the poems with movement and sound was different every time. Later on I began to experiment to just be in resonance with a particular audience and to allow the words and movements to respond to different types of people in different settings in unique ways every time. I visited various open mic nights to experiment with this for during this particular period of exploration. That was a very exciting process, from which I learnt a lot.
One Heart story telling
Let’s move on to another way of playing in embodied oneness as the one heart, or in the mystery of life itself. In my experimental days of improvising at various open mic opportunities I learnt, that if an audience is not very open-hearted from the start, I need to win their trust before they open to accept an invitation into deeper realms of being. So bringing in humor and our personal life story can really help. Here is an example of free-flow story telling. It occurred in one of these occasions where I just had time to myself to play and explore.
In this piece it is interesting how the normally quite conventional process of describing an interview that we wouldn’t think twice about, changes simply by stretching and repeating the words and adding movement to give a different sense of meaning, allowing for a spring board into a deeper invocation of reality as it is.
Yet another way to explore the frequency of indivisible reality is this simple script I am reading in this video. It plays with switching between different points of view, expansion into infinity mixed in with very ordinary questions. It is creative writing without any significantly recognizable story as such. The writing in and of itself constantly shifts perspective, and is non-linear, so it is difficult to hang onto anything in particular. This can be a very effective way to drop into a deeper sense of experiencing, where the apparently ordinary suddenly doesn’t feel that ordinary anymore. You may also note, that this particular piece is not extremely strong in transmission. This is because I am part-focussed on deciphering my terrible hand-writing, obviously if I knew the script by heart, the transmission of non-separation in the spoken word would carry more powerfully.
contemplative spoken word on the dance floor
The last example of spoken word invoking the oneness of all of life is a completely different exploration. I was collaborating with a DJ Patrick Flint in Bristol creating a live event called ‘Infinite Heart Dance’. We wanted to bring the invocation of non-separate reality to a live dance night. The audio clip below is an experimental rehearsal recording, the spoken word is completely spontaneous.
So hopefully all these examples will give you ideas to play with words and their transmission.
A spoken word practice consideration
This last video is a conversation with Wazee Walks. He wanted to consider a video in the context of ‘Embodiment as the One Heart’. We ended up not just looking at the language in the brief clip in great detail, we also ended up feeling into if it was possible to give instructions from human to human without turning into an I and other.
In my personal process over the years I noticed that for sometime at the beginning I found it easier to embody separation in a humorous way, and to move into no-separation was met with a lot of resistance in the body. Later it became easier and easier to embody the quality of no-separation. At that time I began to experience being in separation as more and more painful. I really didn’t enjoy contracting into separation in life or in a performance anymore. Until I realised that I can fake the play of separation in performances, then it became great fun again. That means just we use the words of I and other it doesn’t mean we have to contract into viewing each other as separate.
Invitation to practice
After looking at all these different examples, it may be a good moment for you to feel into what you have understood on the use of language and it’s alignment to embodied oneness and how it can support that in-depth communication of no-separation.
May be you are also beginning to feel inspired to play with language and the frequency of words. May be you want to write your own poetry of indivisible life and explore other types of creative writing?
It is important to remain artful around conceptually knowing principles of language that is aligned to embodied non-separation. Ultimately this practical knowledge is useful as a guiding principle, but the manifestation of creatively expressed spoken word as embodied inseparable life will naturally begin to happen spontaneously, in unexpected ways and not strategically, the more the whole body can feel and sense and be what it simply is.
The invitation is now to consider if you feel mostly drawn to experimenting with the reality of no separation via
– story telling?
– free flow creative writing (just as an invocation without any type of recognizable story)?
-combining words and images
-creating music tracks and sound tracks with spoken or sung word of incomprehensible life?
-and do you feel more moved to writing or free flow improvisation of any of the above?
Or are you going to invent something completely different and break new grounds of possibility?
Whatever you choose to explore this summary of guiding explorations may be useful:
Summary principles of aligning spoken word to ‘Embodiment as the One Heart’:
-find creative ways to speak of oneness as oneness and avoid the ‘forming’ of an ‘I’ that addresses an ‘other’ (for instance by telling someone what to feel or do or think)
-practice the spontaneous unfolding of the wording of non- separation (it is not a thought process)
-explore if the words draw you into indivisible aliveness or if the invocation of non-separation is first and the words just describe it, both is possible
-play with paradox
-play with non-linear communication
-keep the choice of words universal and free of terminology of various belief systems
-when you read or speak or dance One Heart spoken word allow the space between the lines to transmit and invoke the same aliveness as the words
– make invitations, suggestions, ask questions
-allow for the unknown, the unknowable, the mystery of life
-allow for humor and play as well as seriousness
-deliberately play with language that creates an I and other in contrast, and feel with the whole body how that compares
– allow yourself to surprise yourself
-recognize when you become strategic and set in your ways, but also don’t feel you have to push yourself be completely ‘new’ every time.
If you have signed up for the study-only course, you are welcome to submit a piece of writing, soundtrack or video for feedback via email. You remain the owner of all copyrights and the feedback will be completely confidential.
I may potentially approach you for permission to use your work as example for other students, or the wider public, but will only do so with your explicit permission.
Please send larger fils via We-Transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org
Lots of Love, enjoy the consideration and practice!