Cultivating learning communities over tea

There’s been two gong fu cha style tea sits, one from March and one from April that has positioned me in a place of affirming the importance of coming together and healing our collective and individual stories. In one tea sit, focusing on the theme of the Wild Woman Archetype at a LOVEATX campout we were able to invite the presence of our predecessors - our grandmothers and their grandmothers.

A safe place was created so that women could speak to their experiences of trauma. We left the with the experience of healing and witnessing.

Meredith Nile, myself and my pup Misty aka as Miss Tea at the LOVEATX campout. 

Meredith Nile, myself and my pup Misty aka as Miss Tea at the LOVEATX campout. 

 I had to "step it up" contemplating a sword I have used as a dancing prop that was blessed by Margaret Behan, one of the grandmothers of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers.  I contemplated the sword, and her words that this sword was animated and living. To me it is an affirmation that the animate and inanimate world is living and informing us, alive with beingness. This is something I continuously revisit. 

What is essential for planetary shifts in consciousness is the acknowledgement of Wisdom.  Especially the textures of wisdom embodied by indigenous cultures. There is a sense of "undoing" the learning learned from colonization and years of oppression. Undoing our conditioned learning is disorienting but I don’t see any other way to make the massive shifts so many of us feel are necessary to make a dream into reality - societies embodying love and peace - starting of course with ourselves. There is a latent potency inside of ourselves. I know the feeling of restlessness and "doing business as usual" that distracts us from listening to something so rich and alive. I also know how coming together with others on similar paths of personal growth assists us in staying true to that rich aliveness - whether it is painful or joyful. 

The second tea sit was organized with a writers group and two learners from my Your Originality is Your Sovereignty course. The topic was creativity in community. It was general and we appreciated that there wasn’t an agenda but to speak what was arising for us and our learning. The conversations went in so many directions and my general impressions followed up by confirmation was a sense expansiveness and permission for authenticity.

Its my imperative to embody and curate experiences that allow a fluid way of learning to arise

Traditional learning programs have rigid structures. Its my imperative to embody and curate experiences that allow a fluid way of learning to arise. When we follow a rigid structure we ignore the feelings and resonances from the recent argument, the epiphany trying to guide us, the buried hurt, the insight that can only be seen by truly Hearing it from another. The unconscious and subconscious are ignored in traditional learning environments. It is in accessing the unconscious and subconscious that original thoughts and ideas, insights, and integration surface - spontaneously and in rhythm with the personal and unique ways we unfold. Those ways we unfold are mysterious indeed, and I find that acknowledging this is a step toward radical shifts of self awareness and embodiment.

I don’t think we are supposed to do all this learning by ourselves. There is something about making leaps and bounds in our learning by putting down our guards, assumptions, those incessant thoughts streams and instead  Listen and Witness with others (words capitalized to emphasize Importance :)).

Those leaps and bounds? Well that’s what I am really curious about. What’s obvious to me is there are deeply passionate people who want to make the world a better place, for themselves and for others. Yet to go about this through willpower and pre established ideas and notions of how it "should" look like without acknolwedging the present moment is disastrous. Coming together in learning communities offers for us a platform to access some type of knowing that is provocative and desirous  of unpacking. Interestingly enough, it has to do with being highly individual when coming together with others. 

The present moment beckons us to “be”  with all those feelings and emotions that are sometimes dicernable and sometimes not. Yet from here there is so much potency and fertile ground for the new to the emerge. I want to offer a very significant quote from one of my mentor’s (Pille Bunnell) mentor, Humberto Maturana who stated:

The question that we must face is not about the relation of biology with technology, or about the relation between art and technology, nor about the relation between knowledge and reality, nor even about whether or not metadesign shapes our brains.  I think that the question that we must face at this moment of our history is about our desires and about whether we want or not to be responsible of our desires. 

The future arises from us as Pille once expressed in reference to some of Maturana's work and her personal work. It's not up to the next generation but us this very moment, in which other generations learn from. The world is living as Grandmother Margaret emphasized in blessing the sword for peace. In accepting this and the responsibility of our desires - as is the case of many communities who desire for peace and love - we face a world of continual possibilities and beauty and a sense of renewal that transcends age and time and insight to deal with some of the most difficult questions in our lives and communities. To me, tea sits of the gong fu cha style offer a form of a container to feel into these realities. 

An explorer's tips, passionate deep exploration to destroy and create

Do explorers ever have a destination in mind? Sure we have targets but they are moving targets. If you're keen to it and oddly confident about it, there’s a sense of being lost yet on course. Perhaps its fool's faith or crone's faith. 

I'm not sure which, so I'll take both. :) 

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Deep exploration requires passion. I am amazed at its ability to destroy and yield creativity and abundance. A period of intense destruction in my life yielded so many fruits. "Follow the gold links" was a guiding chant. Later the earth started to become animated. Later music emerged from my finger tips. Later the butterfly came to me in a period of despair. Later the tea plant spirit came to sooth and encourage. 

Tilling our souls 

I am deeply unhappy of economic, political, and education systems (to name a few) - that create societies made up of ghosts, hamsters on wheels, slaves, and charlatans, to name a few expressions of oppression -  wearing human skin yet not really "humaning."

Power dynamics, suppression, and oppression are barbaric in possible timelines of the future. Timelines intrinsically experienced through our imagination. Yet to cultivate this imagination requires the type of exploration that turns the soul over and over and over again. A dedicated passion helps integrate insights into new forms and to release the old. 

Think of the tilled and fertile soil yielding fruits.  Creating change requires passion - it is a state of being not to be feared. Knowing our intrinsic flux and flows and moments of chaos and discernment is part of humaning.  Reason aides in stillness and passion helps in the building and creation of new forms as much as it aides in the destruction of old forms - ideally we destroy old forms out of our own dicerment and will instead of waiting for the "rug" to be pulled out from underneath us. 

Humaning with passion towards purpose 

I emphasize a range of intellectual and physical passions. Maintaining a rich immersion with our bodies and intellectual flames means everything for our evolving stories of humaning. I use this term to point to the fact we have to engage with what being human is all about amongst the static that exists internally and externally distracting us of the unfolding awareness and knowledge guiding us to incredible sensitivities and perceptions. 

I wanted transformative change many years ago. I could feel it when I was an undergraduate. Later, I dropped out of a graduate program in social work and that's where the real reckoning began. 

As layers of my identity softened and sloughed off I became more sensitive to imagery, visions, and creativity. I let myself feel lost yet trusted a new story was being written. With peace, I'm happy to stay where I am, a passionate explorer who's learned a skill or two and lives daily with surrealism and observance of subconscious forms. Life is emanating with wisdom, glittering and shimmering. Its gorgeous.  

I offer below some aspects of deep exploration that reveals a level of passion that I personally had to go through. It's not for everyone, but if a caterpillar is to change its form entirely, it must do so with a level of passionate fierceness to destroy and create. I also emphasize the slowness of tenderness and softness of curiosity as aspects of deep exploration as well. 

Let's be real tips

  • Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. To live like it is is to surround yourself with walls. How thick those walls are depends on how thick your fears are. This isn't a necessarily carpe diem perspective either, there's a sense of a type of fervour that may edge toward blindness this may evoke. With tomorrow not guaranteed, I'm just not interested in living any other life that is not my own and getting caught up in projects that are here for the short term. Its part of the reason why I can immerse myself into ancientism and futurism. 
  • You’ll stop on your tracks. Your heart will drop. You’ll be paralyzed. Perhaps many times over and over again. I think subconsciously knowing we might have moments like this before a change sabotages us. Facing ourselves is difficult but necessary to live with a particular type of purpose deep exploration encourages. This paralysis is part  questing - the type of questing that seeks knowledge, enlightenment, waking up of deep soul yearnings and purpose. Eventually though paralysis gives way to graceful and contemplative stillness. There's a teaching about a monk that dunks his student's head under water - the lesson is that he should seek enlightenment as much he desires air. Below is guidance recieved and a prayer evoked during a period of intense change in my journey. 

Dear Hero,

Out over there and here is a maze,

a labyrinth. If you're steady and true

you'll find

a blade

drenched in golden hymns...

sung by angels of death,

sung by angels of birth...

And though you can plunge that damned blade into your heart a thousand times over you cannot not die but live more fiercely. Trust. Faith. A beating pulse that shatters everything that cannot stand true against it. 

Dear god, remind me to be tender and soft, the roots of my innocence restored and perfect, ready to offer all of myself to you. 

Wink and laugh my love, Wink and laugh. 

  • Lastly, there are powerful moments when a destination is reached. It isn’t necessarily a location, it could be a person, a piece of music, a conversation, a landscape. These moments are to be cherished and exalted. These are moments where threads of understanding shape life's tapestry. This is the salve of grace and beauty. 

To acquaint ourselves with passion we need an explorer's attitude. Getting out of our comfort zones is a must. Adventures await - they singe you just as much as they illuminate you. Ultimately by adopting a lifestyle of journeying, we experience humaning at a deep and authentic level, free from scripts designed to oppress versus liberate.

Explorers are lost yet on course...  

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Questions as Illumination

There are echoes, deep sonorous bells that beg to be struck inside of us - leaving us vulnerable. Anything can strike those bells - a question or a kiss, a child or a lyric. For purposes of the blog post my attention observes living with questions - more specifically the question that guided my West Texas travels was "what does it mean to be vulnerable with the land?" 

Javelina's are the cutest, a wild "pig" like animal 

I took in the  mountains and dust, wind and stars, appreciating those rhythms that move so differently from beats that guide those routines in city life. And of course not to romanticize it, I mused at those pleasures of modern living in which I can move through its desert contours physically unscathed - though I did buy some sunglasses at a local gas station to protect my eyes:). 

Marfa, Texas. Sitting at one of  Donald Judd's  famous blocks - 15 cement blocks  laid across the landscape. A  javelina  - trotted through the landscape, it was such a vision! 

Marfa, Texas. Sitting at one of Donald Judd's famous blocks - 15 cement blocks  laid across the landscape. A javelina - trotted through the landscape, it was such a vision! 

I had an encounter with a javelina! They are the cutest, a wild "pig" like animal, its totem symbology is connected to loyalty to the herd, abilities to defend itself, and recognition of friends. Recognizing friends I am! Thank you javelina! 

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What does it mean to be vulnerable with the land?

This question started to emerge when I lived in a farm and meditation center in Georgetown, Texas a few years ago. And grew as I took on a role as a council member at Alma de Mujer Center for Social Change.  It begged no immediate answer but several lived experiences. One of which was this visit to West Texas towns Alpine and Marfa in which I was intentional in my receptivity of inner and outer guidance. 

 I was listening, watching the edges of my inner experience interact with the edges of this outer experience, this landscape, this land. I observed the sun touch my skin. I watched the landscape in Alpine, Texas become frosted.  I wandered. The long vistas in the desert reflected the vistas of my inner life. 

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I can only speak to what arose for me in this trip in context of highlighting the importance of the process. There is a richness and complexity yet simplicity that arises from sensing the texture of a question and interacting with it through my senses. 

The definition of vulnerability (vulnerable), according to Merriam Webster is as follows

Definition of vulnerable

1: capable of being physically or emotionally wounded

My attraction here is the emotional wound.  Vulnerability creates states of insecurity. What I'm curious about is the susceptibility, the helplessness and the letting go of control that vulnerability evokes. What is that wound we feel? Who are we afraid of? What are those thick shields? How do we become our own salves? I asked from the perspective of individual and collective experience. 

At McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis  I saw a crater on the moon through a telescope, I saw the Pleiades, and forgive me, I forgot the details, star dust related to a Pegasus:). On this trip each moment eternally collapsing into each other - part of the lived experience of ancientism and futurism - a term I'm investigating further as an ethos guiding my actions and work. 

By valuing the landscape and resisting the tourist desire to consume an environment I honored "being" with the environment.  I was able hear, feel, and experience questions that are part of my path, my purpose, my form of love. 

There is a beauty in the luminosity of peripheral knowledge asking for your attention.  So often couched in silence yet storming within a myriad of emotions - from restlessness and joy to enthusiasm and sadness. That peripheral knowledge? Its that edge of evolution. Growth is cultivated by lived inquiry. 

Who are we? What do we want? Where is the evolution of the human species going? What is time? 

The land's wisdom helped me change (and continues to) as we are not separate and if intentional about it - are in continuous dialogue. I touched the edges of knowing and evolved my sense of self through practicing deep listening and following through with my curiosities, uninhibited. To me evolve means coming into greater Love. It is a pursuit we must do as a species. 

The Question as the Illumination

The imagery of the bell is helpful for me, as I sit in silence, seeing the individual and collective bells that are striking our hearts or are asking to be struck. 

I've come to terms that this question, "what does it mean to be vulnerable with the land" as one of many inquiries for me to ride its crest into shorelines awaiting my arrival.  And only to recede again, cyclical again and again over my lifetime.  

I hope that for you, your questions become your guides. 

 

Chronicling the process of emergence through a year's cycle

I'm having fun with possibilities available through interfacing with a website. Below is a post shared on Facebook speaking to the transitions of how I will share in 2018.

Beginning of Post:

A personal post for all my loved ones!!

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<3 I can't believe this picture was taken 4 years ago!!! So much changes and so much stays the same. <3 <3 <3 Every year, at the turning to another year I've always wanted something general - releasing something old and inviting something new. This time though, as I look at 2017, I see pretty clearly what 2018 is for me. Its time for me to move from the shadows and periphery and to share words that weave together experiences of years spent between solitude and socializing + new adventures and explorations that tug at my soul this very moment. Chrysalis News. (read at the end for more info). 

My close friends that follow my unfoldments know of my connection with butterflies. When speaking of the change we want to see around the globe down to what we see outside our front doors and inside our homes, I think what we really mean is transformation. Change is exciting and gets people rallied- for a moment. But transformation is the real stuff -it is science, it is art, requires skill, rigor, discernment and yeah, play. Transformation means you follow through with that one change, and then the other, and the other, many many moments continuously kicking your butt evolving your awareness of self and others. Me, I don't see any way around it. We need transformation - in a societal scale - in a global scale. So I work on myself in ways that are unique to me. And I *try* to be real with what I can do and what I cannot. I've had to develop a relationship with Transformation. The tenacity and trust of a caterpillar, the mystery of the chrysalis, the glamour of the wings. 

Butterfly. Mariposa. 

Over the past few years I've been involved in a graduate program that is pretty incredible with meeting you where you're at (I'm finally at thesis stage!). A couple of things have emerged that I want to share: 

First, is the development of an idea informed by many deeply personal experiences - "ancientism and futurism" - a philiosophy, an art, a science, a "spiritual" way of being that takes into account the processes set in motion by our ancestors and the wisdom that is available to us right now guiding us individually and collectively towards possible futures - ideally futures in which there is sovereignty for all peoples. 

This informs a course I've designed, "Your Originality is your Sovereignty" its part of my pushback of people telling you what to do/ believe + modeled by the way these professors have held space for my watery, ambiguous wisdom to emerge. I want to do this for you. This is part of my thesis work, as I see studying and articulating how we navigate liminal spaces - individually and as community is essential toward imagining these possible new futures. More info at vanessacabrales.com - This course is a prototype example of the third endeavor:

The Dragon Institute is in the process of becoming a formal 501c3 -(the board is tagged). The purpose of this institute is to cultivate emergent and established leaders into deeper wisdom and synergize with a network of communities through learning programs and curated experiences. I see it as a game changer, an organization with actions steps that consider generations into the future. Here, I follow the dragon totem, and y'all the wings here are different;). 

Chrysalis News

In efforts of transparency and sharing, I'll be chronicling these explorations, discoveries, musings, and collaborations through my blog at vanessacabrales.com and a newsletter. They showcase the work named above but also my journey as a "creature" in love with the patterned anomalies of my life. 

PM your email so that I may include you in the newsletter in which I'm happily calling Chrysalis News - sent out about every 7 weeks:). :D

I hope everyone's new years is sprinkled with sparkles and thank you to every single one of you who have personally helped in the fruition of this stage of work - by sharing yourself I've been able to access Myself - and especially to the ladies at Mariposa house who's flavor of magic have assisted me so much  Angel Marie RussellTricia StorieJennifer Genevieve MonroigAllyssa MilánStephanie Rodriguez.  <3 :* xoxoxo

End Post

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Resisting Dystopia through the Joy of Learning

Below are a series of images taken the weekend in which I was feeling into my body, pondering  how best to integrate a final product for a self-directed course at SelfDesign Graduate Institute.  The final conclusion? Well a lot. This website. This post. And a whole lot of community building and momentum.

In this post, there are four photographs. I see them as perfect visuals to describe the process of creating futures and the love and joy I feel from my relationship with wonder and curiosity. 

David Jewell (photographer) and I interacted with the home, camera, clothes, etc. The result: Hundreds of photographs. As all art begs, edit. :)

Below are two photographs that captured how I felt throughout the course. In expansive resonance and observing my experiences and growth felt as stretches of consciousness. Arising from this was a feeling of "timebending" where pasts and futures are reshaped. 

A guidepost for me as I explored the edges of my knowing, allowing for receptivity in ambiguity was Humberto Maturana's definition of love in which "love is that domain of relational behaviors in which the other arises as a legitimate other in coexistence with oneself".  I came to terms with my ideas and "wild" imaginations as a "legitimate other" - stay tuned for work on Pathways to Vermillion, Rosemary and Bones, and Patterned Anomalies;). Below, notions of metamorphosis and infinity added to embodied learning. 

Art by  Juan Villegas

At first I used a temporary title for the course - the Edges of Knowing - because that was what I intended to do - to observe the periphery of my knowledge. The beauty at SelfDesign Graduate Institute is that in some courses you can rework the final syllabus to reflect integrated learning not anticipated at the beginning of the course. That is genius and humbling my friends!

Not to digress, accepting the intimacy of our ideas - is challenging and can leave us vulnerable - thus the paradox in enjoying learning and growth. The paradox though creates this steady presence and knowing. I have come to appreciate both my personal religion (I say this with a wink) and emerging science fiction writing (I say this with reserved optimism) as the topic of "ancientism and futurism" emerges out of my love for tapping into my sensitivities, imaginations, and art. In addition, acceptance in the shape of my learning - which is deeply relationship oriented - whether through people or ideas, galvanizes me to serve in such a way so that we may all unfold together into deeper learning, growth, and wisdom.  

Self designing is a process of living into your purpose. What has reached fuller integration for me is The Dragon Institute.  The Dragon Institute is a non-profit organization I am in service to focusing on intergenerational learning through intimate conversations and curated experiences to cultivate heart intelligence and evolve consciousness. I see it as an organization that keeps in mind that our actions influence generations into the future. I see it as an organization that is world changing. 

It is one of my offerings to community as means to resist dystopia at a global level - by staying true to my/ our own personal discernments and curiosities. Advancements in these pursuits have been directly related to the myriad of curiosities and self-care activities that feed me - composing music, teaching music and yoga, serving gong fu cha, and nurturing relationships - up to entertaining ideas, culture changing and world building through collaboration. 

All of which I was able to tend to in this course. I had the freedom to echo "glimmers of learning" into my embodiment. I mention this freedom because as a society reframing learning - the growth involved and it's integration into a pleasurable experience helps enhance our talents and engage in the world in a multitude of ways in a way that is freeing versus oppressive. This is my experience to this unique graduate program. This learning "method" though I find it to be part of the natural learning inherent to human beings willing to be open, honest, and vulnerable is intentional design for emerging futures - for ourselves and communities we choose to engage with. 

This course morphed from the Edges of Knowing to the Joy in Learning as Means to Intentional SelfDesign. I come to satisfaction that I am a "living curriculum" in all that I love informs me of my learning and in which my "Originality is my Sovereignty" . A hope exists in me to resist dystopia through varied and unique paths though often with care and patience.

I look forward to sharing with community as I anticipate rich adventures and contemplations. Stay tuned as I contemplate the inquiry posed to me during the course - what does it mean to be vulnerable with the land? I travel to West Texas at the end of the year when it transitions into the new year.

With love,

Vanessa

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