Movements of the Heart with Wilhemeena Monroe and Jeffrey Wium – A Personal Account & Reflection

There are 13 of us in this Lightroom space in Mt Maunganui, it’s nearing the end of winter, the faith of Spring lures.

One man twelve women are participating.

One man one woman teach or lead.

Today is the second opportunity to be with these ‘guides’ these facilitators: Wilhemeena Monroe and Jeffrey Wium or Jeff and Willa. Last night was cacao, and watching the “Jeff’s” film “The WisdomKeepers – Paqo Andino.

We’re on yoga mats, in a semi circle with Jeff and Willa at the front.

Is that clary sage burning?
There are other herbal oils and burning.
The windows are closed.
It feels serene, with a taste of fire somewhere.

People are quiet.
I know most people in the room.
The wellness tribe.
There are new faces.
I like new faces.
People are moving their bodies.

I come in late.
A last minute decision to risk the fall out of a disappointed-i’m-not-at-home-with-the-family-and-the-chores-husband and come to ‘Movements of the Heart’.
It was Jeff’s photo.
His face looks open.
His face speaks adventure.
It was Willa’s child-like excitement about this course.
Come – it’s amazing, this work, you’ll see, he’s the real deal, it’s special, come.
If i’m honest, the ‘marketing’ words on the page didn’t grab me.

– explore authenticity and internal authority
– deepen mental, emotional and physical tranquility
– strengthen mind-body-spirit connectivity
– expand interpersonal and inter-dimensional relationships
– shift perceptual awareness to find opportunity in obstacle
– cultivate contentment in a world of constant change

Perhaps because i couldn’t see how this was possible, as in ‘it’ wasn’t described to me HOW we got to ‘shift’ to these ‘states’ above.

Perhaps because i didn’t believe.
I think this is it.
I didn’t either know these things were important to me, or that i could improve in these areas over one day.
It’s peculiar.
Perhaps it felt like it was too much to ‘achieve’ all this.
I’m not entirely sure.

I don’t come for the words on the flyer.
I come for the open clear face of the teacher.
I come for the thrill in the voice of the other.
I hear the call.
My heart.
I come.

There’s gentle music playing in the background.
It’s not intrusive, or annoying (sometimes ‘world’ music or any music can be).
Later the music sounds like angels, and i cry.

There’s no pffaffing.
I am late though.
The facilitators are clear. We start.
They move clockwise around the room, smudging us with clary sage.

Then we’re invited to lie prostrate on our backs, in our individual space, eyes closed.

Are we asked to simply breathe and focus our attention on our heart.
To breathe deeply into our belly.
For our belly to rise.
To release the tension in our jaws (part the lips of our mouth).
To allow the breath to be sounded.

After what seems like 15-20 minutes (maybe it was 30) we are invited to move our body any way it needs to move and make any sound we need to make – i think.
Perhaps we aren’t invited, by any case, i do.

My lower back is sore, so i’m keeping my feet on the ground and lifting my hips and jiggling them about, swinging them from side to side. Articulating them. Unblocking the tension and pain.

It’s feels like Drama School.
How does my body feel today?
What is it telling me?
What sound does it want to make?

I sense everyone is moving slightly, breathing, still ‘contained’ on their mat.
I can hear feet and the change of sound – so the facilitators are walking around the space.
Perhaps the herbs are moving with them.
Yes they are.
Willa speaks in light language, it feels like something of Eastern Europe.
I think of long grey haired women, wearing full skirts, in a naked wood, winter, natural colours, full breasted, wise, and hearty.

Organically, without any sort of introduction, a neighbouring person i can’t see for my/our eyes are closed, starts making big sounds. Hacking coughs, which remind me of what i sounded like when i last vomited. I can hear Jeff’s soft reassuring voice talking the participant through it. The smell of fire-lit herbs are stronger. There’s still a calm in the room even though the sounds are dramatic. I think on ‘validate, validate, validate’. There are loud sobs. More guiding words.

I am wondering, is this what we’re s’posed to do. Hmmm? I’m not feeling any of the feelings i’m assuming my neighbour is feeling. The doubt creeps in. I’m not doing it right. They’re not doing it right. The impatience. When will some sort of ‘profound’ moment happen for me. A shift. Then diligence and self-compassion. Come back to the mahi, the invitation. How does my body want to move? What has my body got to say?

Another neighbour is yawning loudly. She ‘burps’ out a ‘boring’.I know her.
She’s an actor too.
We’ve had funny times together.
We don’t spend a lot of time together, but i always appreciate it.
I find that funny.
I empathise.
Is she bored of herself?
The pattern?
The groundhog day of thought.
Especially the ‘limiting’ ones, the ones that keep us small, or hurting, or blaming.

Then maybe suddenly, i feel the noises in me strengthen.

I’m sounding like an animal.
A large animal.
I’m sounding the exhalation.
It feels like frustration or anger coming out.
It feels like the beginning of a release.

I’m still on the yoga mat.
Eyes closed.
Nobody is touching me.
I feel 100% safe.
100% in my own experience.
Allowed to make whatever sound i need to make and move however i need to move.
It is an entirely delicious and liberating feeling in my heart to feel this ‘allowed’.
I’m grateful for the neighbour who started the sounds.
I feel almost an apprentice.
Neighbour opened the door.

The music changes and it unlocks another part of me.
I’m singing now (not with words) some long held sounds.
The sounds are as angels.
I feel connected to a presence other than one of the earth.
It’s not a tangible experience for me, as in i don’t ‘see’ spirits, but there’s a connection to something other than what physically is.

I realise lightness is not only about hue.
It’s about weight.

Now i’m punching the space above my head, straight strong arms, pound the air.
I’m still on my back on the ground.
It’s not overly violent, but very rhythmic, and very enjoyable.

I have tears flowing down the two sides of my faces above my ears.
They are sad, they are relieved.

There’s laughter.
Someone starts laughing.
I start laughing.
There’s a lot of authentic abundant laughter in the room.
All are still on their mats.
Eyes closed.

When i’m in an angry punchy state Jeff comes over to me and assures me i’m okay and tells me it’s a feeling from long ago, that, I’m here now. He encourages me to open my eyes. Does he give me something to smell. Does he say as he leaves to walk across the space to another – it’s a serious film.

With that my lungs are overtaken with laughter.

My life is sooooo serious.
I am sooooo serious.
This is all deeply significant.
I’m laughing so loud at myself now.
Delighted that someone has seen me.

There’s play in the room.
There’s depth.
There’s sorrow.
There’s knowing.
There’s movement.
Movement of the Heart.

We’re encouraged to move around the room.
Jeff waltzes me.

There are divine cards on the floor, i am drawn to Mary Magdalene.

Are we asked to open our eyes and look up.
My eyes are open, i am looking, up.

Now i see the eyes of my first grandmother to die.
I feel the pain, and the feeling she left too soon.
I recognise how much my life has been led by her.
Even though i’m tearful i feel reassured and strengthened to see her.
I meet all of my grandparents one by one.
Great-Uncle Philip the bird-calling man.
I see my young cousin by marriage who suicided.
He had flatted with me for a time.
He was the first young person to die, in my life.
Their faces are not ‘real’ they just come to my mind, or perhaps to my heart.
I meet my last baby.
I weep.
I am walking through the space still upright, crying.
I’m not self-conscious.
I’m not focused on other people in the room, but i’ve heard them crying too.
It’s okay to BE in this space.

No other participants engage with me.
We are all ‘safe’ in our individual space and personal process.
We’re encouraged to open our eyes.
We return to our mats.
All of this happens smoothly, and slowly, nothing is hurried or self-conscious.

A tell-tale sign these facilitators have ‘done what they came here to do’ is that very few of the participants choose to speak in the ‘circle’. All has been said and done. There’s no stone left unturned. It’s been in the mahi. This is very uncommon. I feel a sense of triumph for the ‘teachers’ for the ‘student’s for the ‘group’

It’s lunchtime.

The afternoon is less personal, and moves from the individual to the pair (with eye gazing) and slow paced & gentle ‘contact improvisation’. Although neither of the facilitators (Shamans are really what they are, i use this term tentatively as i don’t wish to alienate any future participant, but also wish to honour the skill of our practitioners) label any of the processes.

The exploring, the contact, with one other, becomes contact with three, four, until the workshop finishes with a human puddle in the centre of the space.

What could seem disturbing to view, a pile of bodies, feels for me a challenge to find the comfort in the discomfort or the lack of ‘fluency’ around being this intimate with ‘new’ ‘friends’.

The workshop has finished.
I’m driving home along the sea.
I somehow feel exorcised.
But not cleansed of anybody else’s spirit, but my own.
I feel a block is released.
I feel a dominant emotion has been expelled and has made room for the plentitude of other emotions to play, dance, laugh, wonder, tender, cry, stand up.
There is a lightness.
It’s the shedding of heaviness that softens me.
I have a sense of humour again.
I can see people.
I feel calm.
I feel soft.
I don’t feel ‘in self-protection’ mode.
I feel.

A kirtan teacher once stated “being conscious is the state of not being self-conscious.”

I feel this.
I don’t feel apologetic for how i feel, what i think, what i value.
I come home and i state ‘it’ when i need to.
What i feel.
It doesn’t feel ‘drama’.
It feels truth.

There’s a trust.
There’s a gentleness.
There’s a presence.

So i reflect on the process.
Do i feel this purged simply because i’ve made deep sound, which brought up the emotion, and let it go.
Is this feeling due to a sound and emotion release?

I feel moved to share this opening, purging, clearing, moving doesn’t feel ‘tried’ or ‘personal’. I didn’t enter this ‘space’ THINKING i’m going to work through this pain i have stored about this situation, or this wound i have due to this breakdown in communication with this person. I haven’t come here thinking ‘i wanna work through my anger’ or ‘i wanna work through my blocks’ or ‘i wanna access more joy’. Did the facilitators ask us this at the start? Not that i can remember?

This opening, purging, clearing, moving has happened from the heart.
Without the land of words, and thoughts, and ‘story’ within the land of feeling, the realm of the heart, the body.
It is a different sort of alchemy this ‘release’.
This ‘understanding’.

A friend later tells me she feels (after this mahi) a sense of connection with all beings, that ‘lack of separation’ that Eckhart Tolle, Krishnamurti and others talk of.

I don’t feel this.
But i do feel an ability to SEE people and allow them to SEE me.
In this moment i feel gloriously me.
Not apologising, through my body, my words, my actions.
Utterly connected, comfortably and pleasantly with ME.
And perhaps what my friend and Tolle, Krishnamurti talks of is when we SEE, breathe our soul we see the core, essence, soul of another.
We neglect to take things personally.
They are them.
We are we.
I am me.
Or I am that i am that i am.
Or perhaps it is entirely the opposite of this.

Did this happen because a neighbour opened the flood gates?

Would i have found my way alone?

Can i find my way alone?

Can i do this work, when i feel myself getting foggy, filled up with ‘crap’?

Did this alchemy, this release happen because of the herbs, the safety in the room, the facilitators?

Did this clearing happen because i met my ancestors and those who go before me?

How often could i do this?

How long will this feeling of ‘bliss’ of ‘comfort’ of ‘trust’ of ‘softness AND clarity AND gentle strength’ last?

Why does this feeling leave?

Is it not forgiving someone?
Is it being too busy?
Is it going too fast?
Is it not communicating?
Is it not being heard?
Is it not being allowed to feel?
Is it feeling alone?
Is it feeling unprotected?
Is it being disconnected from Nature?
Is it not breathing fully?
Is it an out of balance of joy versus responsibility?

Is it wi-fi and social media and computers?
Is it chemicals, sprays, cleaning products, lack of good bacteria?

I’m charmed by the realisation i have been aware i need MORE joy, MORE fun, MORE laughter, MORE pleasure, MORE alone time, MORE freedom in my day to day life, and i’ve been looking for it in experience, friendship, learning, people who listen and advise, books, film, inspiring talks, running, wellness, purpose.

But it’s like all of these are based in the mind.

I could choose people, places, actions that supposedly make my heart sing, but if my heart isn’t tuned in to that frequency, i don’t pick up the signal.

I feel tuned up.
I feel able.
I feel like i’m hearing my heart.

I’m not sure i’ve felt this way before.
I’ve done meditation, yoga, bush-walks, read inspiring books.

Perhaps i have felt similar to this, but only 1-2 handfuls of times, in my lifetime.
I’m in my 40s.

A Kundalini forgiveness workshop in 2017
Kundalini anger workshop with Mari Hall in 2017
A Sue Weston movement workshop in 1997
Kirtan at little yoga festival in 2017
Tao of Clown workshop in 2008
Reading “Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle in 1998
Reading “Broken Open” around the same time 1998
Reading “You can heal your life” in 1993
Tom and Kate workshop at Drama School in 1999
In the desert in Morocco 2005
Karekare many times since 1993
Giving Birth each of the three times
The first date with my husband
Being in the bush on a multi-night tramp 2008, 2010, 2017
Nursing my grand-dad until he died 2005
Singing kirtan on Kawai Purapura’s stage 2017, 2018
Maitai Bay 2017 and the previous times
Bordeaux 2005 and the previous times
Edinburgh 2000 – knocking on the door on my ancestors home.

It’s an open trusting feeling.
A feeling of coming home.
Of returning to some prior state.
A wonder.
A joy.
A new seeing.
A connection.
A thrill.
A calm.
A protection.

An abundance of love and gratitude to Willa and Jeff for ‘holding the space’ and allowing us each to explore, to move what was in our way, and to emerge, to blossom.
The skill, wisdom, service, time in experience it requires to stand as a facilitator with such mana, grace, strength and quiet is immense.

Many try to give what these gave, that day.

Written by Emily with wild & grace
Photo credit: Sean Sinclair from Unsplash



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