I do not want to allow challenges from the past to negatively define how I envision my potential moving forward. I want to utilize the perspective and wisdom I learn through all my experiences to inspire me to be adaptive and resilient, to inform me of ways I can continue to grow with discernment, empathy and grace.
How we perceive things is greatly dependent upon the frame we see it through.
Every experience relevant, a springboard for the alchemy of transformation.
Planting seeds, observing how they grow, refining as I go.
Unifier Transformational Healing & Expressive Arts Festival
Camp Timber Trails, Tolland, MA
June 17-20, 2016
In this workshop we will utilize guided meditative yoga, mindfulness movement exercises and spontaneous freeform dance meditation as experiential metaphor for resetting unconscious yet familiar patterns; in the way we approach our yoga practice, in the way we move when we dance and in how we relate to the unique circumstances of our lives. Noticing how the forces of momentum, conditioned habits, preconceptions, our own will, each other, the environment around us and even the music direct our movement, we will experiment with consciously unhooking ourselves from following this momentum. In the space of the pause we can potentially tap into the experiencing witness state of turiya, pure aware consciousness underlying all other states of consciousness – the silence ever-present behind the sound, the spaciousness inside our form and the stillness of each moment within the movement – and allow fresh insight and creative possibilities to arise. Instead of repeating pattern or even identifying as the “dancer” and moving by our own will alone, the dance takes form through us. Informed yet not defined, limited or controlled by everything we have experienced so far in our lives.
All levels welcome, no prior experience necessary. I will offer variations to suit every body.
Accompanied with live improvisational sound and music by Kālidāsa Joseph Getter.
Denise Porter Kemp makes yoga practice accessible to the uniqueness of every body while expressing the deeper teachings of yoga through the experiential practice of the physical form. Based in the forests of New Hampshire, she brings her traveling yoga school ~ Turiya Yoga ~ to private homes, offices at lunchtime, ski mountains, addiction recovery centers, yoga studios and music festivals all along the east coast. Certified at the 500 hour level in the Shakti Flow Vinyasa style of yoga by Asa Dustin of At OM Yoga, Level 1 in Thai Yoga by Shai Plonski of Still Light Center and initiated into the Kaula lineage of Kashmir Shaivism by Parvathi Nanda Nath Saraswati, Denise has studied with many teachers and learns from everyone who comes her way. She has been teaching yoga since 2005 and offering Thai Yoga since 2011.
Kālidāsa Joseph Getter is a creative world musician whose transcendent sounds awaken the mind and open the heart. He leads kirtan sessions, composes and performs for dance and theater, crafts soundscapes for yoga, and plays experimental and free improvisation music. Kālidāsa is a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, specializing in the bamboo flute of South India and gamelan music of Java. He is on the faculty of several music schools, leads the Wesleyan Youth Gamelan program, and is music director for ArtFarm theater of Middletown, Connecticut.
One of my favorite physical aspects of practicing yoga is that there is nowhere on my back I cannot scratch (I am not suggesting this is true for everyone who practices yoga :-) ). One of my favorite mental aspects is the possibility that even when I feel an itch, I can feel it and not have to scratch.
I can, but I don’t have to.
This becomes more true all the time.
When I say that I am not “strict” in a cleanse, what I mean is that I don’t tell myself I “can’t” have anything. Or that I “have” to do things a certain way. Instead I become really sensitive and notice the effects of my choices. And let myself resonate with what I gain by not eating the whole block of cheese just because I want it, rather than that I can’t. Because I can eat it, I’m just choosing not to, for now. And seeing what that is like. For now.
It is an interesting freedom to feel desire and not have to react. As the tantric adage says – nothing is forbidden, nothing is advised. However we act has consequences…it is up to us to discern through time and practice which way we choose to go in any circumstance. And that may vary according to the situation.
For me, snowboarding is physical yoga practice, asana ~ moving meditation, becoming comfortable and articulate in my body and in relation with the physical world. As I ride I gradually tune in to the subtleties of my movement, awakening presence in my entire body. I don’t have to try so much anymore, it just starts to happen. The movement becomes efficient, somewhat effortless. Grounded in my body, I become aware not only of my body, but with my body ~ my movement responding to the contours of the mountain, the crisp scent of the air and the temperature on my skin, the sounds of my board against the texture of the snow and the wind all around me. Everything becomes more vibrant. There’s nowhere to go and nothing else to do but to be right here, completely open to the moment. It refreshes me, brings me back to center.
I used to get pretty sad at the end of the season, as I thought I depended on this activity to do all this for me. Without it I would feel flat, empty, dull…or so I feared. Through time I realize that these activities that have the potential to revitalize us and bring us spontaneously into the moment remind us that this is possible. We don’t have to become attached to the catalyst, there are many ways to do it. Breathe in, feel yourself in your entire body. Hear the sounds. Right now.
I will miss you, my beloved mountain, my mermaid~tail serpentine snow dance. Another season has come and is passing and I have again learned so much from you.
Until the next time we meet dear friend, the love I tap into when I’m with you lives inside of me.
(yeah, yeah I know kinda sappy. And I mean it 🙂 )
I have a potted plant living in my living room that is at least 30 years old. It belonged to my mother-in-law Mary Atala and to her mother Atala Mary before her. It came to me when my son was around two, so about 11 years ago.
When I lived in Salisbury, New Hampshire, it sat in a big window overlooking forests, mountains, fields and the Blackwater River, where we would swim in the summer and build extreme snow tube tracks and cross country ski in the winter. In front of this plant and this window is where I practiced yoga passionately and dedicatedly as often as possible when I first started teaching. The plant grew a really long tendril that spanned the length of the window that ran the length of the long room that used to be the top level of a chicken coop barn at some point in its incarnation.
The tendril across my window in Salisbury
When we moved from that room and that valley into Concord, I repotted the plant and it became huge, several tendrils winding their way across three of the four yellow walls that are my current living room.
In this video, the second long tendril winds across the backdrop…
Not too long ago, most of the leaves along the original tendril from Salisbury began to yellow and wither and die. All except the leaves at the very end. I pulled the dead leaves off, which left an empty tendril all across the main wall of the room where my son Philip and I hang out together, and where I practice and teach yoga now. I wanted to cut it and put the living end in a jar of water to grow new roots, and then replant it so the part that was alive could still grow. Yet I was having trouble letting go of the stem, and that the leaves that looked like they were still living beautifully graced the bay window of the room. So there it sat, dying stem plastered across my wall, me too attached to let go of it.
Philip likes to play indoor mini basketball in this room, and yesterday while he was playing I heard an, “Uh oh” and then silence. I called from my bedroom, “Are you okay?” And he responded, “I broke the plant.” I could hear he was sorry, and afraid I was going to be angry. For a brief second I was. And then I felt a rush of such relief.
He said, “The ball hit the stem and it was like a dried branch. Mom, it was already dead. It just broke off.”
Which was true. By not letting go of this that was obviously passing, the part that was still alive and hanging in my front window looking vibrant and beautiful was slowly dying too. I just hadn’t noticed it yet ~ because I didn’t want to. Partially because I was afraid of the change. And so the vine was inadvertently severed for me.
We cut the rest loose, untangled the dead stem and made it into a cat toy. I put the part that was still living into a jar of water where it will make new roots, and twisted the tip of the tendril that was left across the doorway where it currently hangs. For now.
I love just watching it grow, witnessing what might happen next.
Mahamrityunjaya mantra, a prayer of protection and surrender, to remind us when we are trying to hold onto something that is passing…
What it means to me…may we be released from our attachments, when we are ready, like the cucumber is released from the vine, without scar, when it is ripe.
The protection – may we be held by what nourishes us until it is our time to be let go.
The surrender – once we are let go there is no reattaching. When it is our time, may we have the grace and courage to let go.
One thing transforms into the next.
I took a botany class a long time ago, and a class on growing orchids. I loved the classes and was doing well. The orchids lived under grow lights in my living room and were beautiful. I pampered them constantly. I fancied myself an aspiring botanist.
There was a local scholarship contest, and everyone in the class wrote proposals on what we would do with the money if we won. Looking back, I have no idea what I wrote. But I won. Then those of us who were chosen had to go before a committee to speak about our ideas, and the committee would decide how much each of us would receive.
I was super nervous. I could write but I was scared of people. That they wouldn’t like me. What I had written was authentically me, yet when I went before the committee I tried to be what I thought they wanted. I wore makeup and a skirt from my mom. I wore small heels which I never wore and probably walked funny. For a botany scholarship in San Francisco. None of these women were like that, they were more like me. Yet I bumbled and was awkward. And was not awarded any scholarship funds.
I felt humiliated. The orchids became covered in spiderwebs. I quit botany. Just like that. I felt it was obvious that this was not meant to be.
This past Mother’s Day, last year, I was gifted an orchid in full bloom. It was beautiful and I was grateful. It reminded me of that girl who loved orchids, and botany. Yet I was busy and forgot to water it for the most part. Even so, the flowers stayed for a long time. I never pruned the stems after the flowers passed, which I think I was supposed to do. It has been sitting in my windowsill, and I water it from time to time. I figured it wouldn’t make it.
The other day, when I remembered to water my oh-so-resilient plants, I noticed there was a small bud on one of the orchid stems. I wondered if it was left over from before and I hadn’t noticed it? I watered it by taking it out of its pot and letting warmish water run through the roots. Then put it back on the windowsill.
This morning I happened to look over at the orchid…
Don’t give up. Seeds are being planted your whole life through. Sometimes it takes awhile for them to grow. And often they unfold differently than you imagined, and at the most unsuspecting of times.