“It is an audacious notion to put forth in this age of science and willful determination that one’s existence is somehow inspired, guided, and even managed by unseen forces outside our control. Whether called fate, destiny, or the hand of God, slender threads are at work bringing coherence and continuity to our lives. Over time they weave a remarkable tapestry. … These are the mysterious forces that guide us and shape who we are.
—Robert Johnson, depth psychologist, from Balancing Heaven and Earth
I am a photographer, author, and teacher. I write and teach on topics such as creativity and seeing. My perspective has been informed by decades in the Gurdjieff work, studies of Buddhism and other traditions, the practice of my own creative work, as well as a recently renewed involvement with yoga. My teaching of creativity is guided by the search for authenticity through artistic practice.
I am a yoga instructor. I teach traditional ashtanga yoga and facilitate satsangs, or monthly gatherings that explore how to apply yoga philosophy in contemporary society. My practice and teaching are informed by my studies of Buddhist and Hindu philosophy and Sanskrit. My interest in these spiritual teachings originally grew out of my first contemplative and creative practices of art and design.
Quite simply, we were led toward contact with each other by a deep, intuitive impulse. It felt as if we were in the presence of unseen forces that seemed to guide our connection and shape our dialogue. Initially, we found a rich and expansive email exchange about themes of inner work through creativity and yoga, which extended to coffee shops and frequent meetings—which then led to a collaboration that involves teaching, writing, the practice of yoga, and exploring numerous mutual questions. The questions we share have dimension and depth, and we have found in each other’s perspective a challenging mirror, an opportunity to learn, and the growth of a collective viewpoint and understanding which has felt like a slender thread, in the words of Robert Johnson, that serves to offer strong but elusive hints of the potential for the work towards “balancing heaven and earth.”
Recently, we collaborated on a series of classes in creativity and yoga at Pacific New Media, University of Hawaii Manoa. We taught three workshops in creativity and seeing where yoga was integrated into the sessions, and offered a stand-alone yoga class with Laura for the students. It was an informative and enriching experience.
“Why?” — is the question we are asked frequently. Why creativity and yoga? Why would a yoga teacher and practitioner collaborate in a series of classes with an artist and author on creativity and perception? What is the connecting thread? The answer lies embedded in the larger dimensions of both yoga and creativity: both ask for a resonant search to the core of one’s being, to seek and cultivate a broader awareness, that opens in increments, and becomes, over time, capable of embracing the core of oneself and the energies of the outer world within our gaze. Cultivating awareness and seeing becomes the bridge between yoga and creativity.
Both ask of us to learn to see what is. And, we hear the question: Why learn to see? Don’t I already know how to do that; haven’t I been seeing since birth? The key lies in cultivating a broader form of seeing that opens to oneself and the world simultaneously. This form of awareness opens questions that encourage discovery:
Who am I?
What is the nature of my authentic being, my core strengths, capacities, and limitations?
What is my relationship to the outer world; where lies my deepest resonances?
What is my relationship to others; how can I see clearly without the veil of my opinions and desires?
What is my relationship to the world; where can I make a difference?
Where lies the region of my greatest contributions and personal fulfillment.
There are many questions and few answers. We find that in the approach to the questions, combined with the experiences from these classes, that something new and enlivening is growing rapidly that we wish to highlight and explore through the pages of this blog.