Today I want to sing my appreciation of colour in my life.
Not – this time – the vibrancy of sunflowers as they open their faces to the fumbling bees, nor the rose-and-cyan of June sunsets, nor the rich chocolate of earthworm-compost, the green of elms, the Colour Purple of literature and elder-woman-hood. Nor the soft fawn of the Hare’s ears, nor the tawny of the pelt of the Wolf Cub resurrected from the peat.
Rather, the colour of light: healing light “seen” and offered, the light of vitality and wellness.
Light as gift.
For twenty years now I have danced 5-rhythms, and other embodied movement practices. Initially invited in the mid-1990s by a small group, dancing at Friends Meeting House, Hartington Grove, Cambridge UK, and progressing to a bigger monthly gathering at Homerton College, group-led. Dancing with teachers such as Peter Wilberforce, Cathy Ryan, and Louise de Caux.
And more recently at weekly Cambsdance sessions, with David Ellis, Ruth Hirst, Alex Svoboda, Bodhi Hunt, Angela Griffiths, Jason Rowe, Ajay Rajani…
At one of the early Homerton sessions in the 2000s, in the closing circle a dancer shared that she had been “reading” colours for each of us during the two hours of our dance. She then proceeded round the circle, offering us each her “sight”.
I wept at what she told me.
This was at a time when I was employed as a science tutor and adviser for the Open University. I’d been told that I was an excellent teacher and encourager, yet it was a constant struggle for me to fulfil my role, as I suffered devastating lapses of self-confidence. It was hard for me to conceal my vulnerability, and in truth I never did.
When the “seer of light”- whom I had never met before, and had not spoken with before – addressed me, she perceived “a heart of rose-coloured light, expressing my deep love and tenderness for the earth and its ecosystems”. That’s why I wept, because it was true, and because I was tired of holding up my mask of poise and intellectual authority.
Fast forward a dozen years and I was no longer teaching. The struggles I had with anxiety and exhaustion had led me to relinquish that work. The self-reproach for that decision continued to harangue me.
However I was making tentative in-roads into a much longer-held dream, to work more deeply in the area of self-development and imagework, even though I didn’t yet have a ready vocabulary for what I wanted to do or how to access it. (Indeed my friend M, the spiritual director whom I had been seeing in the 1990s, had already posed me this enquiry: “Which will come first: the work, or the name for it?”).
By this time, my way into the Cambsdance community had re-opened (after a few years’ break) and at the same time I was drawn to revisit meditation (something that I had encoutered through contemplative Christianity). This time my teachers were Ruchiraketu and Sagaraghosa at Cambridge Buddhist Centre. I took their Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course in 2012, and again (as a “helper” this time) in 2015, with other introductory courses in meditation and Buddhism as well.
(The richness of symbolism and the path of vision are something that I intend to write more about here in future.)
Maybe the pivotal experience at this time was actually aural rather than visual. In a Buddhist Centre class on ‘Ritual and Devotion’, we were sitting quietly with a movement of a Mahler symphony. Washed over by the melodies, I had a beautiful “seeing”, which involved being anointed with water by a gentle Being who was clothed in white light – and playful amusement. Soon after, I wrote of that here:
At about this time I dared to offer a voice movement workshop at our home, led by a fellow dancer who is a trained Local Authority Music Therapist, and who works with young people. On that occasion I was struck by the energy present in our Annexe Room: eight of us held in a cocoon of sound, weaving a constellation of musical notes.
Possibilities were conceived in those moments, in that space…
Later I was not surprised when one of the participants asked to come and continue that conversation in sound, energy and light. She is now a dear friend and has offered me (and others) healing energy and tender sensitive support since that time.
On one of those occasions, when we were each attending one of Joanna Watter’s workshops, my friend wove around and beneath me a bed of aquamarine buoyancy so luminous, so utterly deep and restful that I remember its beauty and home-ful-ness to this day.
On another occasion, during an energy treatment that she was offering to me in the Annexe Room (the setting of our earlier music workshop), she identified for me a Being who stood in the western corner of the room. Spinning, with lichen-green light, in the shape of an infinity sign. A bit like the one I later made out of birch-bark, here:
I hope to relate more luminous synchronicities on further occasions.
Today I want to share another experience of light and connection, at another of Joanna’s workshops – on the theme of boundary keeping – that I attended three days before my partner and I moved in at Dhruvaloka, Sutherland in mid-May 2018.
We were asked to work in threes, with one Receiving touch, one Giving, and one Witnessing the transaction. When I was the donor, moving my hands gently across the shoulders, head and back of a younger person, I noticed that different colours were making themselves known – in turn – to my awareness.
As part of the feedback process I related this sequence to my little group: waves of lime green, acid yellow,, whiter than white and rose.
There ensued, later that weekend, such an exchange of connection and tenderness that I still delight to remember the joy and the wholesomeness of it. If you are reading, and if you recognise yourself in that exchange, I thank you.
On another note: for those of you living around Cambridge, UK, I can recommend another teacher who works with light in a delicious way. At Gentle Movements (yes, at the Friends Meeting House again), my friend and bodywork guide Moniek Hopman combines many different types of movement practice. In her own words:
“Combined with the use of imagery and focus on breathing, Gentle Movements give you a sense of freedom and joy. Experiencing calmness, harmony and stillness enables you to truly listen to your body.
Gentle Movements are suitable for everybody, including those with limited mobility”…
She often concludes each session with a visualisation. My all-time favourite is when we are invited to imagine a beam of coloured light that emanates from the top of the head, and with this to draw patterns on the ceiling.
I commend this – and her – to you! And may you all enjoy the rich colours in your inner world, and in our shared outer experiences.