We Are All Truly Miraculous

An Evening of Poetry, Music and The Spoken Word at The White House May 12, 2009.

I'm incredibly moved and inspired. Beautiful opening performance by ELEW and Esperanza Spalding, soulful spoken word by Mayda del Valle and a powerful performance by ELEW.

“We’re here to celebrate the power of words and music to help us appreciate beauty and also to understand pain. To inspire us to action and to spur us on when we start to lose hope." President Obama tells the crowd as he opens the evening.

"It is one thing for people to tell their stories in their own spaces and quite another for those stories to be welcomed in this space. Barack is president today because many people who thought their voices didn't matter or wouldn't be heard decided to show up on election day and vote anyway." Michelle Obama

"Abuela, how did you pray before someone told you who your god should be? How did you hold the earth in your hands and thank her for it's fecundity? Did the sea wash away your sadness? How did you humble yourself before your architect? Did you lower yourself to your knees or rock to the rhythm of ocean waves like I do? "

“To be able to go in the White House and to represent my grandmother and my ancestors, it really means a lot. It’s a generation of women that don’t often get heard, you know, these old Puerto Rican women that no one ever really thinks about. To be able to use my voice to represent them on this kind of platform is really powerful.” Mayda del Valle


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Singing the Blues

A guaranteed smile (for me at least!). Another treat from my God Friend Ethan and his dad, Brad!

(my apologies for the poor quality, I'm still figuring out the whole Youtube thing)

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Carrotmob Makes It Rain from carrotmob on Vimeo.
Carrotmob Website

What power do we have to create change with our everyday habits of spending money? What's possible when we organize together that isn't when we act on our own?

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posted by ashley


For Your Enjoyment and Inspiration: Whooshclang!

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"It's Up To You" to Share Your Gifts

If you haven't already heard, Radiohead has taken an inspiring step forward in the music industry. They recently released their latest album, In Rainbows. You can download this album and pay what you can. That's right, the price is "Up To You."

It's so exciting to see more and more people offering their gifts and the products of their passion out into the world in ways that invite others to engage in a mutual exchange of gifts and resources.

At Radiohead's website, they link to a new friend and incredibly inspiring artist Chris Jordan.

Above is Chis Jordan's work Cell Phones, 2007 which depicts 426,000 cell phones, equal to the number of cell phones retired in the US every day.

Chris was recently featured on Bill Moyers' Journal on PBS and can be viewed here. Last night he appeared on The Steven Colbert Report. You can watch that clip here.

Ahhhh... Sweet swirls of gratitude beckon through me in response to these inspiring artists who are communicating messages of great importance to such a wide audience .

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posted by ashley


Forms of Personal and Collective Practice

Inquiry is an essential part of my personal life practice. A current inquiry: the relationship between personal practices and collective practices.

One way of describing practice is the process of listening deeply, becoming intimately engaged in a certain way of being. For example, a person who practices piano learns to know the instrument, the notes, and their own personal relationship with the process of playing the piano and creating music. At first practicing may look like reading a sheet of symbols and pressing keys to create sound. As the person becomes more practiced at listening deeper into the experience, an intimate relationship with the process develops as the music begins to move through the instrument and the player in a seemingly effortless flow. The person develops a new way of being that surfaces when they are playing the piano.

In the initial stages of practicing there is often a strong emphasis on what we are Doing. We practice doing... dribbling the soccer ball, holding a yoga position, looking people in the eyes, etc. As we become more practiced, the doing begins to fall away as we are becoming our practice. The ball is coming towards us (we are observing all the cues) and we immediately think to dribble; we are in a yoga pose and by listening to our body, we know that it would benefit us to rest here longer; we see someone approaching us and noticing a desire to connect, we remember to raise our head and look them in the eyes. As we become masters in our practice, there is no thought or effort needed to engage our doing. We are able to rest in a state of Being as the practice naturally arises through us. The ball touches our foot and we are dribbling, breathing into a position we hold it as it moves deeper into our body, engaging with another our eyes are drawn into a place of deep connection. As Thomas says,
In this field time falls away and we are absorbed in an unbounded eternal resonance, suspended at the peak of an effortless leap beyond here to there.
I am interested in our capacity to listen... to sense into an experience, opening ourselves to be revealed to the sensations, the colors, the flavors, the feelings, the quality, the texture of this moment... folding into now, showing up with presence.

We can do this individually as part of our personal practice and we can do this communally as part of our collective practice. My hypothesis is that the more developed we are in our individual practice, the greater capacity we have to engage the collective practice.

Finn Voldtofte writes at Evolutionary Nexus about Inquiring from the middle, a collective process of listening deeply and becoming intimately engaged in a collective way of being. I have only pulled out pieces of his writing, please follow the link for the full expression.
The practice was to sit in silence for a few minutes, centering attention and settling the activity of the mind - and then to hold the intention of directing ones attention from a silent place within towards the middle.
Aligning with the silent place within is a personal practice and intentionally directing towards the middle is the personal practice expanding to include collective practice.
After a period of "attending to the middle" start sharing whatever one senses in the middle, but without making interpretations of what was sensed. "Sense" means see, hear, feel, smell, taste, but also intuit and give it words.

... The shared experience seems to be that something of being comes into existence, or manifests, or emerges, or reveals it self - something that is not a concrete physical form, but is there as opposed to in me and as opposed to the feeling of the group energetics.

...One has to think of oneself as potentially at any time being the one through which the abstract middle can acquire voice. In very practical terms it can simply mean: Speak as you are moved to. A skill to be developed is distinguishing between when an impulse to speak really is from the middle or when it is a personal impulse. The skill is about making one self available and letting go of personal fears and desires. The skill is also about showing up in all of your capacity. Any holding back from the individual side holds back the entire field. Holding back is relative to your highest capacity – so you can not tell from the amount of words said or the brilliance of them whether it comes from fully being on ones own edge or it is really more cleverly hidden holding back.
The interplay and intimate relationship between personal and collective practice is essential when engaging in these fields. I am excited to be diving deeper into the experiential play of this inquiry and recognizing patterns that arise to feed my equally present intellectual curiosity. Please join me if you feel called!!

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