Place is movement in space.
The space around you, yes, but also the space inside – the individual spirit.
Consequently, it’s this unique inner space that determines the way in which we orient in any outward place we may find ourselves.
In that orientation there is also a unique rhythm to the movement.
This inner orientation and personal rhythm of movement in space is the place of the self.
It’s personal and unique and is reached from within, not without.
Under mental and physical pressure to find an outer place within the energy world since I can remember, I’ve always tried to do whatever seemed necessary to be seen and recognized and involved. Orienting in a way that would lead to acceptance by others would mean access to the life force energy – the juiciness I seemed to lack on my own.
With time my addiction to energy and activity grew. The wanderer in me intent on finding the ideal stimulation to take me somewhere beyond myself, beyond where I currently was – on some new adventure I could smell just on the horizon – was always in such a terrible hurry. Irreconcilably so far ahead of myself, my spirit could barely keep up. I was forever riding on top of all the borrowed energy, keen to be the first to get to wherever it was I was heading so fast.
That takes me to the memory of a day years ago when living back in California, going hiking with my sister and a friend of ours. Pushing my body hard and fast, I plunged forward far ahead of them, needing to be the first to arrive at the top, and prove myself the most athletic and capable of the bunch. Demonstrating my ability to not just keep up with others and their energy, but to beat them at their own energetic life force game, I made it, triumphant, to the end of the trail at the summit of the hill. Not content with my victory, and still high on the energy, I kept my body moving and exercising until they caught up. The view from the top was beautiful, but all I remember of the trail was pushing myself in the physical exertion and mental determination to stay ahead.
And for what? What was the point?
Arriving at the summit, I was still only just where I was. Now on the top of the hill, it was time to simply go back down.
No matter how far and fast I journeyed, I was always just with my own self and my energy addiction. Always feeling that there was somewhere I still needed to conquer in order to fill something missing inside, and enough would never be enough.
Distorted rhythm and orientation lead to feeling always out of place and overwhelmed. Not myself.
Fast forward – yes, let’s do it fast for now – and I find myself now deeply connected to my unique inner orientation. In my own place. Myself.
These days, I walk much slower – my natural pace. I’m taking things in. Drinking in the frequency of life’s trail with its uneven steps, strewn rocks jutting out here and there, blades of grass peeking out between the clumps of dirt. Breathing evenly and calmly, I don’t have a necessity to arrive anywhere at all. Merely to sense the aliveness in each whiff of fresh air, perfumed with river, sea, trees, flowers, as the case may be.
This alteration of orientation and rhythm – a coming back to myself – has begun to tune my personal perspective on life and what is important, what stands out, what I notice in the environment. Awareness of myself and others is more possible for me because I’m moving at my body’s natural speed, in no hurry to get to some mentally defined destination that in the end will still just leave me hungry for more and better.
You see, the pace I was setting previously in life was not wrong, per se. There’s someone on Earth meant to move like that and see certain things while in that kind of a rhythm. It’s just not mine.
Not my rhythm, not my orientation, not my direction, not my true way of being in the world.
Not my place.
Not my Self.
These last few years I’ve travelled very little. Previous to 2020, I would take frequent trips around Europe to teach – on average once a month. My house was simply a place to sleep and eat between a lot of hustle and bustle, but it was not quite lived in. Not a home.
Since 2020 I’ve been on an airplane only twice – a round trip to Budapest and back to Lisbon. My wanderlust has found its outlet in the journey of my spirit towards deeper connection to my body and simple daily surprises in quotidian life. Even public transport has become a rarity more recently. Only twice in the last 6-7 months have I used it to travel outside of Lisbon to the coast.
My wandering is within walking distance of home, along my favourite routes, haunting some nearby parks and riverside walks. I teach within walking distance from home. There are no social commitments I have which require me going far from my little nest. Truth be told, my social life has been pruned down to a bare minimum and no longer overwhelms me.
Over and over and over again I walk the same paths and see the same sites. They are ever changing in my mind’s eye. Frequency and energy morph daily. My inner landscape is never the same. Inside of me I have found a place which has mutated significantly these last few years, and continues to do so.
A different rhythm moves me, accompanied by restful breath and eyes which are turned much more inward than out. There’s nothing in particular I’m looking for nowadays. Answers and progress and adventure are not to be found outside of me.
The conversation with life is now at my own pace and each time I walk my well-trodden routes near home, I feel and see something different. I find myself further along the spiral of my own life’s journey and deeper into my own awareness of being a unique helpless human in a material world, filled with all its beauty and suffering. Though my wandering has narrowed in its scope and territory, my spirit is freer.
Surrendering to the absolute of the form relaxes you into your true self, aligning your orientation and rhythm to what’s truly yours, and thus rebalancing your relationship to both time and space.
Timing is not something you control, but an experience of your own movement in space. It is not born from an act of will, but rather it’s cyclic, patterned uniquely and also deeply mutative. There’s a felt sense of time when you find your own rhythm by simply being so intimately in your own body that your mind has no other option but to take its rightful place as the observer.
We are indeed passengers on this wild ride of life, no less wild for living at a pace which perhaps seems outwardly slow and sloth-like. From a personally unique orientation and vantage point, the awareness inside can reach depths of beauty which take the breath away.
Hiking the highest Himalayas is not a requisite for that kind of experience.