Taken by Dancers Ways
After forty-five minute drive to the mountains, I follow Gerard Marsal’s car to the venue. The road to the place was not found by the GPS. I feel a mix of excitement and familiarity. Excitement to get to know this unique tribe of teachers, dancers, musicians and free souls that have coalesced at Dancers Ways. Familiarity as my grandmother was born in Alcover, right at the bottom of the mountain where we are.
As I step down of the car a big dog greets me as if we were old friends. I feel welcomed. The air is moist and the forest that surrounds us has a grounding effect on me. As I’m guided around by Gerard, I notice an air of gravity around the work that’s happening. Patricia García, teacher and one of the Dancer’s Ways founders as well as Alhazar, further elaborates on it, as we sit down to drink a cup of hot tea. The retreat just started today, and she guided the group on a meditation to see their whole life path up to this moment. She said, its an amazing group. They opened up, right on. They are doing the work, just as it’s meant to be: to find yourself through dance.
The group, composed by mostly women from ages 18 to 50 from all over the world, has gathered in this retreat center for four days. Their intention: to explore and grow through dance.
The first thing that impresses me is the number of people holding the container. What I mean by this is all the visible and invisible organizing and preparation so that participants can do the work they’ve come to do. Starting by the place, following by the live music led by Gerard, to the lightning, sound, photography, recording, translation, and a myriad of small details that ensure this experience will be unique.
I share with Patricia my idea for the after dinner workshop, and we go to the yurt where the last coreography-improvisation workshop of the day is happening. We enter the room, and all the sudden I’m left without words. I see a man. I see dancers. Then a group. The consciousness of the group starts speaking as a man whispers, listens and dances: Illan Riviere is teaching.
His sharp playful presence fills the room. I get a sense that he’s working with clay. His body are his hands, and the dancers, the group are the clay. The hands are prompting clay: Change the state! Change again, what’s your quality now? Change! He is massing it, shaping it, molding it. Clay gets more and more elastic, and free-forming. Now listen to the space, listen to the inner space, listen to the space in between, listen to the space of the group…Illan circles the members of the group, encourages them, challenges them. Let yourself be changed! Find a new quality! Change the space, be changed! The hands, Ilan’s body, shows what he wants clay to do, and clay gets inspired, playful, fluid. It answers back.
The first time I saw Illan dance, it was eight years ago I was struck by how gifted he was. That time he was on stage. Now in his teacher role, many years later, I feel privileged to see him transmitting his “One move” method. Now his hands shift from working with clay to sculpting stone. As a master at sculpting, his body-soul sculpts the space with his movements, with dance. Just as Michelangelo moves when he sculpting David, Illan’s moves are precise, elegant and grounded. With his moves, the group continues to evolve. It takes one shape, and another, and another. I sense pleasure, pain, efforting, flowing…a delicious dance of opposites, that participants seem to rejoice too. We are going to dance forever he utters, and they do embrace the challenge…
Why are you here?
After dinner I head back to the yurt to prepare the space and ground myself. I sit in a circle with cushions for every participant. The first participant arrives, we connect and start sharing. Then the next one until a full circle is completed. I lead a meditation about our unique purpose and how to evoke it through our intention, again and again. We travel, we come back. After it I invite shares and a rich inquiry is ignited. Insights emerge like the fact that sometimes our unique purpose is tied to healing our past. At other times, what may seem obstacles to our purpose they are our best allies. Often we don’t have articulate answers to why are we here, but we know it when it feels right. Our body knows, and so does our soul.
Anything can happen
As Illan said when teaching just try,…nothing can happen….it’s just dancing. And yet, because of that, by giving your body and soul to yourself through dance, anything can happen: you may heal, you may discover unknown aspects of yourself, or even if you are ready you might have the most fierce dialogue with life on your unique purpose.
We close and I find myself changed forever. My soul elevated, deeply inspired by this group of courageous souls that have boldly joined together these four days to deepen their aliveness and uniqueness.
This article was posted on Dancers Ways blog on the 8th of February of 2018.
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Webinar recording: D&I as catalyst for the evolution of organizations
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Free webinar: Diversity and Inclusion, a catalyst for the evolution of organizations
Celebrating with Pluribus
On the occasion of the 10 years of Pluribus, consultant of which I am part of, its founder Isabelle Pujol promoted the celebration of this milestone through the publication of the book “Inclusion Around the Clock”. As a writer of the chapter “Diversity and Inclusion key catalysts for the evolution of the organizations” I will facilitate the next May 26 from 14:30 to 15:30 CET, a webinar on this topic.
Come, join me in this exploration!
For more details about the webinar visit this link.
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Can you listen to the whispers before they turn into screams?
I started this year in quite good physical shape. That was what I thought, until I started coughing. A dry cough I didn’t know where it was coming from. Days passed, I did’t pay much attention to it. Then weakness. And a cold followed. Then sinusitis. After that, extreme exhaustion. What was going on, I asked myself? I’ve never had a coughing attacks. I’ve never had sinusitis before. I felt somehow outraged. Almost as if something was being delivered to me that was not in the contract I had signed. Hey life, that’s not what we had agreed! see. Our contract was about keeping me healthy,…Really? Then feelings of surrender came. Alright,…. I’m supposed to get ill, let’s do this.
Before you continue reading, I would like to share with you that I don’t convey the idea that illnesses have a reason for existing. I’ve had much experience in my family of no-sense illnesses, and I think this view can be very damaging to people suffering them as it might create guilt. And yet, I believe that we can learn something when illness visits us, goes away or stays with us. As we can learn from anything that we encounter in life.
So I tried to ease into it, and decided I would not take any easy route such as antibiotics or pills that would clear the condition quickly and unconsciously. As I did it, I took the opportunity to examine some of my relationships. Among others, my relationship to food. I realized that during the time of not feeling well, I had been eating without appetite. I was simply eating food out of habit. But if I listened to my body, it was not hungry at all. Another nuance about my way of eating was a presence of a low level compulsivity in how I ate, not paying attention to what I was ingesting. Inside this realization, there was the special chocolate chapter. My relationship to chocolate has always been an intense one, but since I became a mum a little more than a year ago, chocolate became something I couldn’t pass by. Yes, like an addiction. Not that I would eat huge amounts of it, but it was more about how I ate it. I would eat it in a compulsive way, trying to fill an anxiety, a void within me.
What was I afraid of? Everything and nothing. The answer I found closest to truth, is that while some of the fears had some reason to exist, with time, my body had grown accustomed to this way of eating and to a certain amount of cocoa and sugar, and not having it, was triggering what it seemed deeply engrained pattern.
Listening to whispers
Listen to the whispers before they become screams said my beloved teachers Joel and Michelle from Wisdom at Work while in a recent retreat with them. This resonated with me so deeply. In a way, it had been in the back of my consciousness for a while, “this way of eating is not right”. Now I could clearly see, that I was not taking the time to see the food I ate. Let alone express any sense of gratitude towards it.
So I started to listen to my body. And my gut needed to rest. I fasted for almost two days, with no signs of hunger, until the end of the second day. During this time, I got the felt sense, that something bigger and more powerful than food was holding me. It felt liberating.
Point of despair
After the fast, and starting to eat more consciously as well as taking herbal medicines, I assumed I would immediately feel better. Well, I didn’t. My condition persisted and even seemed to worsen. I connected with the mental construct of “I’m doing all the right things and I still will not heal”. Well, that’s the nature of things, I realized. We don’t have control, and life was showing it to me once again. I felt sad, frustrated and a bit desperate. Not easy to be around.
The moment I was about to throw the towel and take the pill route, I realized I felt slightly better. I got a little relief. I thought that some biological processes are slow. And decided to give myself some time. I’m currently still recovering. Grateful for how this mundane journey has given me an opportunity to learn about myself and transform some of my usual ways of being and relating. Now I’ve recommitted to listen to my body for what it needs. I’m considering food as a part of the earth that’s becoming part of us- what a sacred process! – and I commit I do it in a mindful way, feeling grateful for it. I’m also determined to continue to look anxiety in the eye as it emerges, and let it be as it dissolves away.
With this, here’s my invitation to a self-reflection for a whole week:
- What whispers (things you know but you don’t wan to hear) do you hear?
- How could you listen to them before they become screams?
- Where are the whispers pointing at that might benefit from more balance (your body, relationships, your work, family,…)? How can you take action to make this happen?
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From Cinderella to Dakini, the story we live by
It was one of these weeks, where things went downhill. Or so it seemed. My partner was away for work. Puca, my dog, got diarrea. My daughter got the flu. My network of support was away…. and so on. I could see myself looking outside trying to identify the perpetrator of such a lousy plan. And I looked in all directions but me.
Looking at the projector
When I decided to look at the projector, me, I realized that if there was a perpetrator, the story I was telling myself was that I was the victim. There we go. Pulling this slippery thread I got deeper into the story. It was something like “hard work was kind of unfair, and that at some point this had to end as I deserved something better”. The more I got in touch with it, the question I asked myself was, where the hell did I get this…crap?! So the usual places. Culture, society, family….I immediately could spot some similar patterns in my family of origin, let alone in mainstream culture. Indeed, it was Cinderella’s tale, not surprising it was so familiar!
One painful thing about noticing this, is that I have consciously been inspired by the idea of dying feeling fully used by my community, having fully contributed to it. But unconscious stories play a stronger effect until… they become conscious.
Including and transcending our stories
And yet, knowing my story did not allow me to get rid of that story completely. I’m still working on it. Stories, as a form of mental patterns or personal complexes are attached to our bodies, bones and skins as sticky coats with a particular shape. Gaining awareness of them, allows us to disidentify from them by starting to relate to it. But how can we include and transcend them?
There are two ways we use at Integral Coaching to achieve this. The first one by inviting a new narrative. What narrative could I tell myself. Here’s one that served me well. The story of a Dakini, an empowering Buddhist feminine archetype.
The second way to transcend and include our stories is by bringing awareness to our bodies. Our bodies become the repositories of our unconscious, and by bringing awareness and letting go of tensions that hold these patterns we loosen the power of them and create space for something new. For this, Hatha yoga has been the path that has opened me the most, as well as embodied meditation from the Shambhala tradition.
To end this article, I would like to offer you a daily self-reflection for a whole week.
At the end of your day ask yourself: What narrative have I lived by today? How could I tell? How did it feel? What did this narrative create? Is there a different story I could live by? What could this make possible?
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Can you be in moment without an agenda?
The more I embrace being in the present moment, the more I realize when I am not.
The nature of the mind is subtle and tricky. After years of meditation in community and on my own, my biggest step in this practice happened when learning intersubjective meditation or circling. This is meditation in relationship. For me it has always been easy to quiet my mind when I am alone or I can surround myself with the right environment. What was challenging was to hold a similar quality of being, while being in relationship, let alone groups.
The other day, as I was putting my daughter to sleep, she started crying for no obvious reason. Holding her in my arms, I noticed how I was closing to the experience, as my desire for her to stop crying was growing more and more stronger. As I realized what was going on in myself, I noticed, the subtly aggressive quality of my attitude with what was happening. I wanted to change it. And while doing it, I simply was blocking the unfoldment of the moment as it was, by trying to avoid my discomfort. As I realized that, I could relax and I started noticing other aspects of my experience: the smell of her hair, the touch of her skin in contact with my neck, the tenderness of her whole being, an awareness of the fleeting nature of that very moment. With this, my whole perception changed, and I could ease and melt in the moment without projecting any desire in it. And in a short while she stopped crying. And fell asleep.
I gained a new perspective to an embodied knowing to what it is to be mindful every moment. And it meant to me, to care for every moment in its full rawness, without projecting any desire in it. To became intimate with the present moment, so it can melt and transform in the next moment, and the next. And the next.
The next time you find yourself in a stressful relationship situation, ask yourself: What is my agenda being right now? Can I suspend it? What do I notice when I suspend it? What happens when I do it? How do I feel? How do others react?
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Who’s going to hold you in your efforts this year?
In this post, and as new year’s purposes ask for some serious attention, I’d like to bring your attention to the containers in your life. Here’s an excerpt of my book Gatherings – available at the Contact section of this site – about this topic:
“Container is the context, physical and psychological, that offers the required conditions for our intentions and the group’s to flourish and become real. It is an energetic field where we can experiment all possibilities safely. It is a supportive space.
A container can take different shapes:
– People: could be our team, family, life partner, a friend or a mentor. A wider group of people such as a social movement. The author of a book that resonates with us, a world leader or a relative that passed away and we still feel connected to.
– Places: museums, a childhood home, mountains, the sea, airplanes or our car, old buildings… any place that makes us feel safe, calm, serene.
– Practices: prayer, physical practice or an intense hobby.
– Virtual spaces: our culture, our spirituality, our country’s history… “
Now, as you consider your containers for your intentions of this year, you can ask yourself:
What containers do you already have to hold you in this effort?
What containers do you need to create to be successful? Of what type? What conversations do you need to have to activate them?
How are you going to nurture them?
In the same vein, I also invite you to ask yourself, who are you going to hold this year? What projects, what initiatives? How?
“Having a lover/friend who regards you as a living growing criatura, being, just as much as the tree from the ground, or a ficus in the house, or a rose garden out in the side yard… having a lover and friends who look at you as a true living breathing entity, one that is human but made of very fine and moist and magical things as well… a lover and friends who support the ciatura in you… these are the people you are looking for. They will be the friends of your soul for life. Mindful choosing of friends and lovers, not to mention teachers, is critical to remaining conscious, remaining intuitive, remaining in charge of the fiery light that sees and knows.” ― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
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The unwritten rule
The unwritten rule, what you don’t know can hurt your career was the title of Catalyst’s last piece of research and the symposium that took place in Brussels, this Tuesday.
Unwritten and not surprising: an audience predominantly feminine.
Unwritten and bizarre: the venue a “SAP lounge” used to be a prison, and car GPS did not spot it at all.
Key learning points:
- Gender biases are most of the times unconscious. Therefore unveiling / writing the unwritten rules, is a way of making them conscious, and then discuss about them
- Unwritten rules impact us all in diverse manners and gender remains a key variable. For example, having the right age: some felt that companies perceived them as too young, while others it seemed they’re perceived as being too old a little while after
- The need to clarify what certain concepts mean for the companies, managers and employees, such as: Flexibility; Being proactive; Taking risks,…
- The importance of identifying mavericks in companies. Mavericks are good for companies, they get promoted and they have a life. They can have it all!
- If your company does not have a definition of the “ideal worker” then this is good news!! It means that your work environment is capable to embrace diversity
- Mind yourself about how and when is the best moment to “rock the boat”. Women’s networks, allies, and a bit of touch are needed to rock the boat while keeping your job and progressing in it.
It was a really inspiring day. Also useful to share these fascinating topics Eleanor Tabi Haller and Allyson Zimmerman from Catalyst, Jean-Michel Monnot from Sodexo, Emmanuelle Gagliardi of L-On Top and www.interdit-aux-hommes, among many others.
An enlightening day in a not so sunny Brussels.
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It’s Easy Being Green
Paul Krugman s’anticipa al proper debat calent als Estats Units, anunciant un risc de polarització similar al de la reforma de la sanitat. En aquest sentit, faccions republicanes volen utilitzar l’argument que els americans no poden assumir l’elevat cost de reduïr les emissions que augmenten l’efecte hivernacle. Amb sobrada evidència, l’article conclou que és tan absurd negar el canvi climàtic com argumentar que no es pot asumir la inversió en una economia més neta. Brillant avís a navegants per totes les economies desenvolupades.
Llegir article complert a: Op-Ed Columnist – It’s Easy Being Green – NYTimes.com.
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