Settling in    

In the settling in there is a certain kind of loneliness, which offers a creativity if I listen to its stillness. I made a pact with myself to push a little less and relax a little more, so this week I have cycled daily to the green hills of Dartington where I have rested into the blossoming of friendships, my growing community who know that life invites us to meet in the gardens and rest by the trees, even on a weekday afternoon. The stilling of the mind is my continuing invitation to myself; Skyping with a US friend earlier today I noticed my eagerness and desire for elsewhere. My job is like training a puppy to sit and stay when it hears the rustle of the packet of its favorite treats. When I stay here, in the land where I was born there begins a tremendous amount of unearthing, and then arrives the loneliness. And, when I listen to its silence it holds great creativity. Tonight I took the taste of that loneliness back to the hills of Dartington, so much pleasure in the upwards task of the hills; I’m a modern day Sisyphus. And as the dusk set in I cycled down and home, along the river where I saw geese fly. Packs of tiny flies gather at that time of night, endless swarms pervade the paths and make quite a challenge for an unspectacled cyclist like me. Hence I resorted to dipping my eyelids low, and looking straight ahead. The ‘Buddha cycling meditation’ look you may call if you saw. And then I started laughing at myself, a mock Buddha on a cycling mission trying to avoid an eyeful of flies and still her mind. Don’t believe it if I come past you, I’m utterly bonkers.

La vie en velo    

If you’d asked me a year ago what was waiting for me in England I may have suggested my faithful Ridgeback road bike. 4 years in storage she lay still and disregarded with the black square moped-box attached – which homed my cycle pumps in exchange for the heels I slipped on before entering chic Parisian nightclubs, rendez-vous awaiting. When I carried her home across the Channel to live in Notting Hill the tradition continued; I would arrive to swish hotel functions, change my shoes and pass the bike to a concierge who would park it for me and hand my receipt in return. I never forgot what the Parisians taught me about romance and cycling through cafe-terraced streets. I once asked a boutique assistant how to navigate the wind, my skirt and my pedalling legs without alarming the Parisian passing eye, ‘Pas de problème,’ she answered, ‘On fait un joli show!’ This morning I re-baptized my dear bike along Devonshire hills with an inspired friend. The past season may be stuck, requiring layers of thermals and sheepskin mitts, but spring was racing through our breath and heart beats. Nowadays it’s the nature that makes the ‘joli show’, and the simple pleasure of being alive. I’ll be returning to Paris for the first time since the path took a widening view, this very June to teach Soul Motion. I’ll look forward to cycling, dancing and seeing through fresh eyes.

The Devonshire Hills are alive with the Manaton Movers    

Helen addresses me by the name ‘Leyla’, they all do out here in the sticks, in the village hall of Manaton. Sunlight fills the kitchen and I notice her tartan skirt, bottle glasses and clear eyes at 80 years old. She tells me, ‘Years ago I would have been in your class but today I make the tea and biscuits afterwards so I can still join in.’
Eight women and a couple of chaps, all over 50 and living in this small village regularly invite and employ me to offer them Soul Motion classes. They call themselves the Manaton Movers and every Monday (without fail) they show up with curiosity as to how a peer or guest leader will guide them. In all the classes I offer around the world, I am always inspired by the Manaton relaxed embrace of movement meditation. They demonstrate how enjoyable, and how simple it can be. As one of them concluded in the closing circle, ‘We simply dance in the moment.’
Helen reminds me as we leave that such openness is rare in a small village nested on an English moor. Then, 80 years old, pink fluffy cardigan and strong yet trembling smile, she climbs into her sports Mercedes and drives away, reminding me she’ll be back to make the tea and biscuits next time.
Oh England, I’m learning to hold hope for you yet!

Why I dance.    

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