On The Arrival Of Soul

A woman in her late 70’s arrived for a dance and movement session that was taking place in the afternoon.  It was the first of such sessions in the local area. As she walked in, she seemed a little confused and a little irritated. Her understanding was that she would be watching dance, not participating and dancing herself. After the initial confusion subsided, she gradually joined in the activities. As the session drew to a close I asked each member of the group to share a word and a movement that described something about their experience at the end of the session. We went round the circle each person speaking and moving his or her truth. Each with their own gesture and tone. It came round to the lady in question.

She looked somehow different now, softer perhaps. With tears in her eyes, she said “belonging,’ her fingers and hands meandered down like roots from a thirsty tree to clasp the two hands of the participants either side of her, she squeezed these hands with a punctuated silence that left a resonance which filled the space with an indescribable richness.

In that moment something happened that once again confirmed to me the communicative power of the arts. We were both transformed for that moment; there was a quality of something suspended. Gravity had changed its mind for that briefest of moments.

What she spoke awakened the meaning of “belonging” beyond the letters and the word itself. She had burrowed deep and excavated herself, and with the speaking of that word… her soul arrived.

When soul enters the room the air thickens. It is as if the air becomes rich with meaning. Not a meaning that we can grasp by our intellect or our rationality. But a full-bodied meaning that temporarily suspends us in time. The speaking of someone’s truth has a resonance like a church bell, which shakes us into a spell of noticing what we often miss about each other. It’s like you have spent years whispering wishes into the well of yourself and finally, without warning, you hear the echo of the answer that, you have quietly been yearning for.

You have been thirsty for years and years without really knowing, your ears drink in that answer that quenches something of that thirst that you had grown accustomed to.

The soul is similar to the 100 trillion cells in our bodies – it is opportunistic to space – and thrives on space. It can break its way through the smallest of cracks and grow in circumstances where growth and life would seem impossible. Those pavements that we tread every day to work, in between those heavy slabs of stone, the tiniest most delicate fragile flower can still somehow grow. Into itself.

Our eyes are so used to orientating towards  “something” in front that we often miss the aerial view. There is so much we can miss on the way by the astounding magnetic strength and pull of our imagined futures.

The soul does not run to a timetable, neither does it glance at the clock in order to find the “right time” to make an appearance.

The soul arrives, when it arrives.

We can’t make it appear, we can’t summon it. We can’t hold on to it tightly, because its very nature defies every attempt to grasp it.

But what we can do is create conditions for its growth we can encourage a space for it.

We can generously water in between the cracks.

The soul is shy but also boisterous. It’s a cunning magician and a lonely wanderer. Like a fox, it appears and disappears leaving a trace of something in the empty space; you can’t see it in with your eyes. But something in you knows it’s visited and carved a trace of itself in the air. You recognize this trace by listening to the absence of something that once was.

Sometimes when the soul appears you could hear a pin drop.

We are living in a world that at times can make it difficult to find places and spaces where the soul can roam freely. Our relationship to our perception of time is framed in such a way that we can be sucked into the vortex of busyness. Our egoic minds enjoys the task of building countless paths of thought and desire that are lined with gold. They sparkle, and like magpies we can’t help but be bedazzled and seduced by what the thought paths offers us. There are so so many paths to follow.

These glimmering paths are littered with signs pointing in every direction away from where we find ourselves standing.

Looking at the signs we see that:

Hope is over there twenty miles down and to the left.

Security is over there, three blocks down past the big iron gate.

Joy is at the end of that rainbow, hiding behind the shadow of the pot of gold.

So we stand, before these paths, breathless with an old rusty compass in our hand… it only works if we shake it. We look down towards it and every arrow is… pointing towards us.

Our breathlessness steams up the glass on the front of the compass and we rub it to reveal that… once again. It is pointing towards us.

We’re terrified and mad.

We feel a breeze on our nose and we look up… then as if from nowhere a gust of wind blows all those signs that we have been following, they spin with abandon, whirling and squealing and spinning, and shaking. Until, after some time hypnotized by the chaos. The wind dies down, and the signs, gradually slow down, painfully, they slow down. Like roulette wheel they stop, delicately and beautifully poised, pointing straight at us.

Our breathlessness disappears….

And we are left there spinning inside with nothing but ourselves as a compass.

It takes us time to remember where our feet are…. to feel them again in our dusty worn out shoes, we wiggle our toes in shoes with worn out soles.

So the world values this currency of busyness. The busier we are, the more we can be seduced to feeling a part of something. We feel that we belong to that family of busyness, it carries us like a sail in the wind.

But when the wind dies down we find ourselves standing still with ourselves.

If we can bear it, we might find a richness that nourishes and feeds us.  We can stay with the stillness, listening to the paradox of how it keeps melting back and fourth from emptiness to fullness.

Maybe it takes courage not always be carried by the wind.

Maybe it takes courage to walk into it in the opposite direction.

Hair blowing everywhere with eyes streaming and tears dissolving into the air.

So In those wide-open gaps of stillness we can be reminded of our human predicament. This gap can be like a gold compass pointing toward preciousness. Our predicament might be how we lose sight of preciousness. Our own, others, and all that surrounds us.

In this golden gap we can gain perspective. We can see for a thousand miles, like we’re at sea. We can enjoy seeing the expansiveness and possibility of the sea of our life. But we can also feel completely lost in it, with nothing in the horizon that our eyes can rest on.

Similar to our thinking. Sometimes there is nowhere for the mind to rest to seek security, nowhere for it to seek refuge and we simply surrender and let go of our imagined control. We throw the keys to the soul and it opens the door and lets itself in.

We sit back in our chair and listen to what it says.

We let it speak to us in its very own language that is unique;

Its language is individual to each of us and needs no translator.

It speaks directly and in doing so, it pierces the bubble of assumption and certainty and plants us firmly back in the mystery of life.

We can summon the courage to be brave enough to put our feet up

And rest in the mystery…

Knowing that we belong safe, nestled, somewhere deep inside it.

Cai Tomos

Sep 2012

James, H. (1998) The Eden Project: In search of the magical other, Toronto: Inner City Books.

James, H. (2001) creating a life: Finding your individual path, Toronto: Inner City Books.

Chodron, P. (1994) Start where you are: how to accept yourself and others, London: Element.

Chodron, P (2009) Taking The Leap: freeing ourselves from old habits and fears, Boston: Shambala.

Hilllman J. (1996) The Souls Code: in search of character and calling, New York: Grand Central Publishing.

Yalom I, D. (2008) Staring at the Sun: overcoming the dread of death, London: Piatkus

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