It is Never Too Late: Learning and sculpting with the Great Mystery
For me, learning has taken nontraditional paths. I grew up with learning disabilities that no one seemed to understand or know how to treat. This invited all kinds of critical voices that tried to shut me down and send me into hiding. I’ve come to understand that, while the disabilities I’ve faced are not an expression of my Soul, without them, my connection to Spirit through the body might never have been so amplified or passionate.
We dance with both the gifts and limitations we are given. And if we dance with enough courage those limitations can be transformed. I have discovered this through birthing Dance of Liberation. Certain doors shut and others open. And when you are brave enough to learn from where you are, magic can unfold and your Soul can thrive and sculpt in ways that are “never too late.”
Sculptor Anthony Elman on Following the Heart
My uncle, Anthony Elman, has undergone several evolutions and passions in his life, from an entertainment lawyer to a social worker to a therapist to a rabbi. Exploring, casting and discovering new ways of passion, he follows his heart and the calling of his soul. At 70-something, he’s retired, and his most recent passion is artistic. He has begun to sculpt.
Anthony recently gifted me with a piece that, from afar, I had watched him make and evolve. Each time he got closer and closer to finishing it, I was filled with joy, creativity and awe. Through his work, I felt the me who never gave up despite severe learning disabilities, and physical dance injuries that propelled me to explore healing through dance. I was so deeply inspired and touched to receive this gift. Here I share his work with you, his embrace of learning, and how creative expression and intention move through him.
Below are excerpts from our interview in Anthony Elman’s words:
The Essence of Completion
I sometimes think of this work as problem-solving. There’s always a challenge to solve. It’s a kind of trial and error, and a kind of waiting and looking. At any given part there’s a moment where I might say – that’s it….
Maybe there are two kinds of rightness. Is it anatomically correct and the other is, does it convey something – is it beautiful? Is it what I want to express? I think I start off with some desire to be more or less accurate and finish off with a desire to express something. It’s not something I can describe or try to describe until I’m done. I’ve got to find the muscles, the bones – there are details to make it look correct enough.
One of the things I enjoy about Rodin is that all the muscles are there but they’re not in great detail. It conveys an emotion, movement – something is conveyed by it even if it’s not “accurate” – and that’s something I’d like to learn towards
Dealing with Negativity–Leaning into Patience and Asking for Help
One of the challenges for me, maybe other people too – even if I’ve got photographs, to convey things into clay, things don’t always line up. I might struggle to capture reality and there’s the other kind of struggle. Which is the struggle to give it movement and beauty. And does it express something of itself or of me?
I can feel frustrated or I can feel excited, but in between those the actual work is like a meditation, because it’s so quietly focused. I might listen to something – a book or music – but often I’m just quietly focused, using the hands or tools to build and shape.
Maybe it’s relationship to materials. I am really very involved with what I’m doing, the actual process, it’s very present, exactly that. I don’t have any embarrassment in facing myself. The other side of feeling myself as an early stage student is that everything that comes out in the end I love…
With everything there’s still a lot to learn. I feel no hurry. I trust I will just slowly get better. There’s pride in the pieces I’m developing, but no shame for me in needing to ask my teacher for help.
Creativity in Meditation
About the figure in tree pose, I loved how everything goes up in that sculpture. It was really a kind of embracing the heavens. A reaching and embracing of the heavens. AND the foot is really solidly placed on the ground. Well-rooted, like a tree.
It reminds me of meditations I used to do, that involved differing energies. This figure is sending energy deep into the earth and at the same time upwards to the heavens (and perhaps taking sustenance from both), similar to those meditations.
Parashakti and the Pose
Both in Yoga and in Dance, I stretch my arms as conduits of prayer to Father Sky. Rooted into the Earth, I stand in Vrksasana (tree pose). In ancient times, wandering sadhus (holy men) would meditate in this posture for long periods of time as a practice of self-discipline.
Kausthub Desikachar, son and student of the yoga master T.K.V. Desikachar says, “It’s supposed to motivate us to work toward our goal even if there are many obstacles in the way.” Finding this inner and outer balance is the invitation to stand in your power and believing it is “never too late” to plant new seeds of creativity in your life.
Giving and Receiving in the Pose
Jamie Sams, Author and Native American Elder shares, “The standing people teach us how to run our roots deep into the earth to receive spiritual nurturing as well as the reconnect of energy that keeps our bodies healthy. Without these routes we lose earth connection and can no longer walk in balance. In my tradition, we are taught that humankind is the bridge between earth and the sky nation and like the standing people, we are of both worlds.
To accomplish this balance, we must live in harmony with all our relations, be rooted in this world through our Mother Earth, and allow our spirits to fly through the other worlds and be at one with those realities as well. Be still and become the tree in order to observe what is growing in your forest. The root of every answer for physical life is found in the earth. Look to your family tree for the strand offered by your ancestors.
Lift your branches high, seeking the light of Grandfather Sun and you’ll see how your roots make you of the earth and yet a bridge to the sky world. Ask yourself if you were willing to give and receive. Count the root of every blessing with gratitude. Find any blockage that limits your root system or ability to go deeper. Then remove that feeling, go deeper once again for the answer you seek. Remember that we are also the root of the future and through our lives, future generations are nurtured.”
Visualize Your Tree, Be Aware of Your Breath
Whether you physically practice tree pose or visualize your tree, be aware of your breath. As Yoga Master B.K.S. Iyengar writes in his classic guide, Light on Yoga, “Regulate the breathing, and thereby control the mind.”
Direct Your Gaze
Also called drishti, a steady gaze helps focus your mind. In Tree pose, anchoring your gaze on the horizon or a fixed point directs energy forward to keep you upright with intention and vision.
Getting your balance is a way of tapping into presence. Being in the now is inherently never too late. It’s always now!
Imagine or stand tall as a tree, with your feet rooted firmly in the earth and your arms and head extending up toward the sun.
Take a moment to meditate on what “tree” means to you and find an image that suits your body and temperament. It could be a graceful willow, a solid oak, a flirty palm. Invite this to guide you toward stability, higher vision and inspiration that “it’s never too late”!
Join Parashakti for a SoulHealing Class
Private Shamanic SoulHealing sessions at Urban Exhale with Parashakti
Release old patterns, thoughts and addictions, and awaken the human Spirit. The process involves one-on-one spiritual counseling, hands-on healing, breath work, and a sacred path card reading.
To book a session please call: 323-592-3209
*1st time students to Urban Exhale receive a complimentary guest pass for Yoga class when booking a session with Parashakti
Dance of Liberation Retreat June 9 – 14, 2019 at Omega Institute
Explore ancient mystic teachings of the Kabbalah to embody a physical understanding of the self in this workshop led by Parashakti and Karen Berg.
Kabbalah is an ancient wisdom that describes the physical and spiritual laws of the universe. In a world of fragmentation and separation, Kabbalah assists in removing the veils so that we can find unity. Discover these ancient mystic teachings through lecture, meditation, gentle yoga, breathwork, and more. Experience the Dance of Liberation™ to shed inhibitions and discover a home for your newly awakened consciousness.Through deep soul work and experiential practices, we allow our innermost creative sides to break free.
Parashakti’s shamanic healing work is born of more than two decades of experience facilitating workshops, trainings, and retreats around the world, in Los Angeles, New York, Mexico, Bali, Guatemala, Indonesia, Israel, and Greece. As a lifelong dancer, her path as a healer followed a severe injury – a period of what is often called shamanic dismantling, after which her mission shifted towards healing. Over the last 20 years, Parashakti has developed the Seven Foundations and the Dance of Liberation™, as maps for her spiritual practice, living and breathing these foundations in daily ritual. Dance of Liberation™ has been practiced by over 10,000 dancers around the globe. It’s was born of a mission to help people experience ecstasy – without taking it.
Above all, Parashakti is dedicated to serving community and creating a sacred container where people feel safe enough to experience their deepest essences, honor their voices, and shine their brightest light. Join her on the Dance floor: www.parashakti.org