I got back last night from a trip to Greece, after spending a week participating in a transformative painting workshop on the island of Paros ( yes I know, I know … I’m blessed…) and then working in a community high up on Mount Pelion, for another week. Home of Chiron, the wounded healer, the mountain experience was in stark contrast to the island Paradise, but very valuable nevertheless.
I’m in a bit of a travel-weary fog, feeling really sensitized and touched by the experiences I’ve had, amazing people I’ve met and all I’ve learnt. I’m still contextualizing it all, so please forgive me if this month’s newsletter is a bit rambling.
The month starts with a full moon on the 2nd June in Sagittarius opposite the Sun, Mars and Mercury (retrograde) in Gemini, both squaring Neptune. This can make for some foggy, unclear, scrambled, communication – so do your best to converse with yourself and other with as much clarity as possible. We all want to reach our highest potential, to understand the truth about ourselves and our roles here on earth, but it seems a bit unclear. There may also be a cupful of jadedness, weariness or even a bit of blue thrown into the soup, but… Neptune opens the creative, intuitive gates, so find some time to be quiet, go within and let some inspiration drift up to the surface. Mercury turns direct on 13th June.
This full moon asks that we really notice what and how we’re thinking, feeling and communicating with ourselves and others.
Every single day on my trip, I was reminded of the importance of real conversation, which often goes way beyond words.
In the workshop I participated in, much of the conversation was completely non verbal – eyes meeting eyes, hands touching, bodies dancing – rendering words completely unnecessary. Most of us processed deeply and our facilitator, the magical Meera was often heard to say “No talking” , which allowed the real truth kernels and understanding to emerge, without interruption or going into the drama and the story.
It is always a special privilege to be part of a group of people, who start off as complete strangers from all over the world and end up moving closer and closer together, in softening and acceptance. Sometimes not understanding each others languages actually helps to foster a deeper, unspoken understanding. Even outside of the workshops, travelling around and working in a country where a lot of people don’t speak English, prompted me to find ways of communicating, other than talking.
And then there are the words… harsh ones, gentle ones, wise ones…
One of the highlights at Pelion was spending a couple of days with David Whyte – (no… I’m afraid not in the flesh…) As I yanked deep roots out of the garden, I listened to (and wept at) his incredible words in a series called – the Five forms of Female Courage. A million thanks to my new and lovely friends Sue and Pete for knowing what it would mean to me and for lending me your Ipod. I laughed and cried and released, as his words reached deep into my heart and soul.
And friendship does the same … what a treasure it is. I am so grateful that I got to travel with my dear friend and soul sister Theresa – sharing the experience with you made it all the richer. And to all my friends – you know who you are – life would be very pale without you…. I did warn you that I was going to ramble.
Circles touch and mend hearts and souls too! Each day in Paros and Pelion, our group would meet in a circle and check in with where we were. I’ve written about checking in many times before, but never really about the power of the circle. I start all my workshops in this way and have grown to value it hugely.
In the community on Mount Pelion, apart from it being situated in the most exquisite mountain rain forests, we were getting the place ready to receive guests, so there was a lot of hard work to be done, combined with a fair amount of stresses, strains, shrieking landlords, leaking pipes and cold, rainy weather for the last few days.
Without doubt for me, the most beautiful and sacred part of each day was the morning circle. A candle was lit and each person had a turn with the talking stick. Despite the work that had to be done, the differences that existed between people, the pressures and anxieties, this time was sacred and really necessary. This was where we could all be real and human, where we could address how we were feeling, without being cut off or minimised. By verbalizing where each of us were, we were able to check in with ourselves and each other in an authentic way.
It’s one thing to see somebody as grumpy or obnoxious or closed off and to judge them as such – it’s another to look into their eyes and understand where their behaviour comes from, to see the pain or worry there and understand what’s really going on for them.
The process made me realize again, how often I judge or assume that I know what someone is thinking or feeling and how wrong I usually am. I truly believe that if we were able to check in, in this way… often… with our loved ones and in our workplaces, the world would change
I really think being listened to is one of the most of the most fundamental needs we have as human beings. To listen to somebody without interrupting, judging, fixing or defending is simply one of the greatest gifts we can give to anyone. When we are truly interested in another human being, we put ourselves aside and listen to what they have to say, only speaking when we need clarification and only if something is unclear. I reckon the art of listening is a learned skill. It requires concentration, dedication and discipline to just keep quiet for a while and let the other person have their say.
At Pellion, we were encouraged to communicate to the centre of the circle (neutral point), rather than to address people specifically, to keep our conversation “I” centred, and to keep our sharing deep and brief! All really good suggestions, which really work.
What was very apparent to me too was the time that the local Greek people take to talk to each other – be it over a morning cup of coffee, a leisurely meal mezze style (no hurried gobbling and going) or a drink after work. Most of the time when people were having a meal, there was a wonderful absence of cell phones. Haallleluliah!
So… this month, lets communicate from a heart-centred, authentic place. Lets keep it real, deep and brief. Lets look into each others eyes and find the recognition and understanding there. Lets make time to switch off the phones, break bread together and actually converse with each other.