In And Out Of The Ground

turtle medicine

Shared without permission. The writing embedded below is from Luis Mojica‘s newsletter.  He’s a musician and somatic therapist, and an amazing being.

Yes, it happened.

Several months ago, my wife lay with a mother turtle as she laid her eggs in a hole she made in our backyard – right where the edge of the grass met the road.

For nearly 4 months we walked out to the spot in the morning, afternoon, and evening to see if the baby turtles were being birthed out of the Earth. We didn’t want them to get hit by passing cars.

For my birthday, a few weeks ago, I went to NYC to have an extensive 48 hour artist date with myself. It went horribly wrong and the entire experience was a process of letting expectations die, which was the perfect birthday gift after all.

On my way across the Rhinecliff bridge toward the train station I passed a big, ancient-looking snapper turtle that had been hit and killed on the highway. She was on her back, her limbs open to the sky, and a neon gash of red over her abdominal area.

Since I had spent nearly 4 months fathering the eggs of a turtle just like her, I experienced a grief. A sudden stab in my abdomen. A moment of relating, empathizing, and pain – all at once.

Then, from the pain, came a song from my lips
Listen here.

Turtle I have seen your eggs,
I’ve seen them fall into the ground,
I’ve seen them hatching little legs,
I’ll keep them safe in and out of the ground.

Immediately, the grief transformed from a sense of constricted pain into a rush of love and tears. Now, I didn’t see these eggs hatch. To my knowledge, they hadn’t. I was just following the sensation, sound, and story of my body.

My ego & expectation death in the city sent me home early and my daughter, my wife and I all felt compelled to gently dig up the turtle eggs for it had been way past the time for them to hatch.

One by one we retrieved emptied, soggy, eggs and celebrated. With each egg, a feeling of relief in my body. The joy of new life – until we uncovered a tiny dead turtle.

I felt a sense of guilt like “Am I allowed to be doing this? Did I kill this turtle by gently digging around this womb in the Earth?”

She was perfectly intact, so tiny and compact, and lifeless. The baby turtle must have died from not making it out of the hard clay.

I held her in my hands and this fatherly instinct came over me to protect her, and then my somatic therapist role turned on. I noticed the smallest movement in her tail and thought “she’s in a freeze response from near-death”.

So I gently took my finger and stroked her shell, hoping to create a sympathetic response and move her out of freeze. Her tail moved more, then my wife poured water over her and it was as if a seed had sprouted and came to life.

She looked all around, reoriented to the fact that she was alive, and began crawling all over my hands. She fell onto her back in my palm and right there, just like the mother I saw hit on the highway, was a raw opening. Her tiny belly button where the egg had attached to her and nourished her was so present and tender.

One dead turtle. One new turtle. One expectation dead. One new experience lived. One wound that killed over the same opening that nurtures.

This is the way of the world and the turtle taught me this. We are in a constant state of renewal and destruction, death and life, rupture and repair. The way of the turtle is slow. They take time, they take space, and they find safety within.

I was reminded by this turtle to slow down. I unfollowed everyone on Instagram, cut my client schedule in half, and began walking the mountain again every day to let my mind have more space, so that my body has more space, and then I’m able to listen and respond and relate to everything around me and within me.

I thank the turtle for this reminder and I am curious where it takes you, the reader. Where do you feel parts of my story in your body? Where are you constricted with fear or grief? Where have you not allowed something to die so it can be reborn?

What I continue learning about trauma is that it cannot metabolize until we release around it. There must be a somatic acceptance of it so that we can physiologically release our grip that we have on it.

And then it composts and turns into new life, into something else.

xo,

Luis

Baby Turtle

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The Unshakable State

Shaolin Temple Europe | 歐洲少林寺

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Tiny But Mighty!

Hannah Shaw Kitten Lady

To my surprise I won a prize! Encompass (an amazing organization for animals & equality, link here) contacted me and said that I won a gift package. And it just so happened to be a book titled, Tiny But Mighty. The latest book by the Kitten Lady, Hannah Shaw. As well as, a gorgeously wrapped soap set from Lush.

Wow, winning something caught me completely off guard. It was totally unexpected! But I had to laugh to myself when I found out I won a book about rescuing kittens. How did Encompass know that I’ve spent the last 4 months feeding feral kittens everyday?! They didn’t, but the Universe definitely knew and worked this whole thing out. I’m sure of it.

Embedded below are a few videos from the Kitten Lady. And here is a link to Tiny But Mighty. I highly recommend it. It’s a big book! Jam packed with life saving information, and really great photography.

Thank you, Encompass team, Kitten Lady, and Lush! I am so very grateful.

Kitten Lady Hannah Shaw

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The Journey Is Worth It

Hakim Tafari 1

Sharing the life and work of Hakim Tafari. Definitely someone to follow on Instagram. And catch one of his events or courses if you can! Earlier this year I was able to sign-up for one at Spirit Rock. His energy is really top-notch. Super calming during turbulent times. The perfect pick, to contrast any tension while living through the pandemic and the sea of change taking place. Treat yourself, if you get the opportunity.

Hakim Tafari 2

Hakim Tafari-3

Hakim Tafari 4

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The Edge of the Unknown

japanese death poem

“In Buddhism, the reflection on death is an essential spiritual practice. It is not seen as an ideology to be adopted as protection against death. Rather, it is an opportunity to become more intimate with death as an inevitable part of life. While such reflections may seem morbid to some, I have found the practice of cultivating a wise openness to death to be life affirming. The value of these reflections is that we see how our ideas and beliefs about death are affecting us right here, right now.

Sono lived alone, on the edge, surviving on a meager Social Security check. Now she was living out her final days at the Zen Hospice Project. She was straightforward, no-nonsense woman, and I remember asking Sono a few days after her arrival how she thought it might be living there. She said, “I think it’s going to be all right because in this place, I can die the way I need to die”.

It was clear that Sono had come to us to face death directly. I knew we would get along well.

One day, we were sitting at the kitchen table together. Sono was writing in her journal, and I was reading the book Japanese Death Poems. There’s an old tradition in Japan of Zen monks and others writing short verses in preparation of death. Myth suggests that these poems, composed on the day of one’s death, express an essential truth discovered in one’s life. In general, they are short, intense poems, sometimes profound, sometimes satirical, often expressing an immediate beauty and natural simplicity. They remind us that we are most alive when we are present at the edge of the unknown.

Sono asked me to read her a few. I chose my favorites.

This powerful one is attributed to the founder of the Soto Zen School in Japan, Dogen Zenji, who died in 1253.

Four and fifty years
I’ve hung the sky with stars.
Now I leap through…
What shattering!

Another entertaining poem, by Moriya Sen’an, who died in 1838, speculates on afterlife.

Bury me when I die
beneath a wine barrel
in a tavern.
With luck
the cask will leak.

And unflinching poem by Sunao, who died in 1926, expresses the sometimes harsh reality of dying.

Spitting blood
clears up reality
and dream alike.

And Kozan Ichikyo, who died in 1360, offered this poem of elegant simplicity.

Empty-handed I entered the world
Barefoot I leave it.
My coming, my going–
Two simple happenings
That got entangled.

After hearing these death poems read to her aloud, Sono became inspired to write her own. She asked me about form and length. I suggested that she not concern herself with such matters. I invited her to simply write what she believed to be true.

Sometime later, Sono called me into her room. “I’ve written my own death poem,” she announced.

“I would love to hear it,” I responded.
“I want you to learn it by heart,” she instructed. And then she went on to say, “When I die, I want you to pin it to my clothes. I want to be cremated with my poem.”

“I promise, Sono,” I said, my tears expressing the honor I felt in being given this gift.

Sono’s poem was an invitation to be open-minded and openhearted, even in relationship to the great unknown of death. She read it to me several times. Then she had me recite it over and over, to be certain I had learned every word.

That is where it has lived ever since, in my heart. I’ve never written it down until today. I share it as a beautiful reminder of what is possible when we live fully in the light of death. Sono found her way. It is up to each of us to find ours.”

SONO’S DEATH POEM
Don’t just stand there with your hair turning gray,
soon enough the seas will sink your island.
So while there is still the illusion of time,
set out for another shore.
No sense packing a bag.
You won’t be able to lift it into your boat.
Give away all your collections.
Take only new seeds and an old stick.
Send out some prayers on the wind before you sail.
Don’t be afraid.
Someone know’s you’re coming.
And extra fish as been salted.
–MONA (SONO) SANTACROCE 1928-1995

From the book, The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully, by Frank Ostaseski

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The Art of Jennie Jieun Lee

jennie-jieun-lee

Jennie Jieun Lee art

Jennie Jieun Lee

Jennie Jieun Lee clay

Jennie Jieun Lee painting

Jennie Jieun Lee ceramics

Jennie Jieun Lee studio

Jennie Jieun Lee 1

Jennie Jieun Lee 2

Jennie Jieun Lee artwork

Jennie Jieun Lee 3

Jennie Jieun Lee vase

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Monk’s Morning Routine

Monk Morning Routine

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The Art of Wangechi Mutu

Wangechi Mutu

Portraits

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