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Interview: Your Destiny is in Your Hands

Underground River in Pertosa Cave, also known as Angel’s Cave, which we will visit November 9

An interview with Nyei Murez, Teo Alfero, and Guilhem Morera about our upcoming Tensegrity® and Theater of Infinity® event:
Jumping into the Abyss: Birthing our Destiny
in Paestum Italy
November 6, 7 & 8, 2015

By Zoì Kainosis and Klara del Drago

Following is Part 1 of our conversation with Zoì and Klara, our co-sponsors, and Nyei, Teo and Jim, who will be the instructors at this unique event in Paestum! What it means to “jump” into new areas of awareness in daily life, and the difference between fate and destiny.

Part 2: A discussion of our visit to the mythic Angel’s Cave and how play, and a conscious interaction with nature can help us claim our destiny.

Part 1

  • Carlos Castaneda talks in his books of his apprenticeship with the nagual don Juan Matus, leader of a party of seers from a lineage dating back ten thousand years from ancient Mexico, and about how they prepared for their final jump into the abyss at the end of their lives. Castaneda describes this practice as requiring dedication and life choices. How does the modern version of the work of this lineage, Tensegrity®, prepare us for a similar feat?

Nyei: To clarify, the jump into the abyss that Carlos Castaneda described in his books was something he himself took at the end of their time with don Juan, rather than the end of his life. It was an act he took after years of daily practice of self-awareness, inner silence and dreaming—the arts don Juan Matus taught his students. Don Juan said that at a certain moment, everything that an apprentice had learned, in both normal and heightened awareness, came into play, and the apprentice had to shift his awareness onto his essential essence, called the dreaming body. Carlos made that shift when he jumped into an abyss—a leap of total abandon—immediately after witnessing don Juan’s departure from the world.

Inspired by his deep love for his teacher, he wanted to go with don Juan and his party of seers wherever they were going. Yet it was not his time—after making that leap, instead of finding himself with don Juan, or at the bottom of a ravine, he found himself in his apartment in Westwood, near UCLA. This momentous event represented a complete shift in emphasis for him, where he put his trust in his essence—what don Juan called the “true mind,” rather than the linear “me-me mind.”

This is the same shift we can make daily, in the simplest acts or encounters, to prepare ourselves for bigger turning points in our lives.

It’s interesting that the last thing that don Juan said to Carlos before his departure was, “I hope you find love!” And he waved goodbye. “Ciao!” These are the very last words Carlos heard before leaping into the abyss. Don Juan had once asked a younger Carlos what he was looking for in life. “I’m looking for love, don Juan,” the younger, inexperienced Carlos answered. Don Juan said that the problem was that everyone says they want unconditional love—yet it takes a warrior to actually give that kind of love.

Ultimately the jump into the abyss is the jump into that kind of love. Love has many expressions—love for a family member, a coworker, a project, an exploration, a field of study—a path with heart, a look towards the sublime.

And that’s what our teachers—Carlos Castaneda, Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar and Carol Tiggs—have guided us to do. We practice Tensegrity® movements, life review, silence and dreaming practices, and the integration of all of those, called Theater of Infinity®. These bring us the energy and awareness, and the affection we need to dare to play new roles in our daily interactions. Sometimes, this means moving past your fear when it’s time make a presentation at a conference, focusing instead on your love for the subject, and the joy of sharing it with the audience. Or it may mean setting aside your story of “not being heard,” so you can listen to the other. Simply meeting your partner in the kitchen in the morning can be a jump into the abyss. If you can meet him or her prepared, taking a moment beforehand to practice centering movement, breathing and silence, it’s likely to be a more loving encounter.

These daily “jumps” help to prepare us for bigger jumps, such as when we graduate from school and go out to work, or enter a partnership, or become parents, or send our last child off to school. They connect us to the dreaming body.

Teo: Appreciating the cycles of nature also helps us make that connection. In our evolution, when we humans were pre-verbal, our ancient ancestors were in touch with their dreaming body much more than we are today. Living in silence, they sensed the turning of the earth, the coming of rain, the flow of movement of the great herds. The Magical Passes® help us to maintain this ability to sense the natural world and the dreaming body, to perceive and communicate in ways that go beyond language.

These seer’s methods are what don Juan taught his students and what Tensegrity® continues to teach in adapted form today. They help us return our awareness to our body and our being, overriding our dependence on our commenting minds, so that once again we may feel, sense and claim our birthright – via our “true minds,” and our interconnectivity with organic and inorganic life.

People often use the word “spiritual” to describe these experiences. But whether we are aware of it or not, we all come from spirit and we have a connection with it, so I would rather refer to it as natural learning, the process of reclaiming our natural state of awareness. In my case I can access that state while practicing Tensegrity® movements, and when I am of service to the wolves and the young people that visit Wolf Connection ranch. The wolves have an innate ability to be both in this world, wagging their tail when food is coming, while fully connected to the land beneath them, other creatures around them, and the stars above them.

Guilhem: Yes. That is beautiful. I feel that state of intuitive-silent knowledge when I am working with clients. Before I began Tensegrity®, that kind of awareness was only a vague idea, and now after practicing several years, I can sense and feel the energy of life around me. This helps me in my work, which is to help people and when I talk to someone in a private session, I know whether or not I hit the core of the issue just by paying attention to how the energy moves. When something is manifested in the person who comes for help, I also feel it inside of me. It seems to happen most when I am focused on them with complete acceptance and affection.

  • Do you know other similarities between the Greek initiations and Toltec rituals in addition to the “jump”?

Nyei: We want to clarify that the jump was not a ritual—there were many ways that apprentices could shift their emphasis to the dreaming body—and many ways for us to do that now. What matters is that we are reconnecting with the dreaming body, with our completeness, and making decisions from that state. The forms in which we can do that are infinite and in front of us every day, as we described earlier.

Since we are talking about the link with self, and the dreaming body, it is interesting to look at the way the two traditions deal with our human sense of being “split” or incomplete and that there is a “soulmate,” or “twin flame” out there that we need to find in order to be happy.

In the Greek tradition, there is the story, described by one of the speakers in Plato’s Symposium, that human beings were originally double, until Zeus, threatened by their attempt to climb Mount Olympus, split them in half. Since then, each of us is looking for his or her missing half.

The Popol Vuh in the ancient Mexican tradition also has a similar story of humans being split, separated from their god-like powers by the Fathers or Creation for being too powerful. Also in ancient Mexico, the Nahuatl language contains the dualistic concept of the tonalli –which some scholars interpret as the spirit of the day–and the nagualli—interpreted by some as the spirit of the night, and the link to specific spirit animal who helps guide us throughout our lives. Don Juan described the tonal as the temporary part of us which appears at birth and ends at death, and encompasses everything we can name or describe. The nagual is the part of us that is eternal and cannot be named or described. He later referred to this dualism in terms of the self, and the energy body, or dreaming body.

Carlos would ask us: “Do you know who your soulmate is?” And we would wait for the answer—“Oh my gosh, maybe he actually found my soulmate—and it’s a handsome man, or a beautiful woman…” and Carlos would say—“Your soulmate is right here! It’s your dreaming body!!!! Your dreaming body is your dreamboat!”

Carlos said it seems that humans have been forever telling the stories of being split by the gods—or by circumstances, or by other people—and of looking outside themselves for completeness. Yet completeness is really within us, he said—with our dreaming body. This is our ‘missing half.’

If you are connected with the dreaming body, he said, you could have a truly loving partnership. Without that connection, you are not going to feel happy for very long with anyone or anything.

Another related example of this link between completeness and the dreaming body is found in the tradition linked to Aesclipius, a Greek god of healing, which started around the 5th century BC. People seeking healing would go to the temple of Aesclipius and spend the night there. They would report their dreams to a temple priest, who would then be informed by the dream to prescribe the appropriate therapy.

The word “health” means completeness—and for the seers of don Juan’s line–we are healthy and complete when we are aligned with our dreaming body, which includes cultivating awareness of our dreams, and awareness in our dreaming state.

Guilhem: It’s interesting to trace the ancient origins of Greco-Roman concept of the “soul.” I have a passion for studying ancient sciences. They come from a different time, a different furrow of what the seers of don Juan’s lineage call the wheel of time. Our modern Western civilization, whose origins are Greco-Roman, really does not give much credit to what ancient people accomplished. Yet the Greeks studied in Egypt. Pythagoras spent thirteen years in the Egyptian temples before opening his school of mysteries in Greece. Like in Mexico at the time of the Toltecs, there were peoples who were keepers of a certain knowledge in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia; Like the Toltecs, they were healers, astronomers, keepers of the calendars, oracles, architects, priests…

Other similarities between the two cultures exist. For example the Egyptians had this concept of weighing the soul. They believed that at the moment of dying, the heart of the person was put on a scale and had to equal the weight of a feather in order for the soul or “Ka” (the Toltecs would say the dreaming body) to be able to continue its journey. There is the same idea in the Toltec tradition that one has to be empty, meaning empty of judgments about oneself or others, of unfinished business. Taisha Abelar described this another way by saying one has to recognize one’s value as zero—meaning neither positive nor negative, just neutral – and that one has to recapitulate, or review one’s life and get rid of all unwanted judgments in order to be free…

Also similar are the early Greeks’ conception of gods and goddesses – invisible yet forceful beings capable of affecting their world, many of whom carried human traits and foibles such as anger, jealousy and lust. Cultures of ancient Mexico also had their pantheon of ‘gods’ and goddesses’ as well as allies, or inorganic aids and guides from invisible worlds, who also had their unique traits to contend with.

Teo: And the idea that one could become god-like or part-god through interactions with the gods, finds a parallel in the ancient seers’ view that we become our best selves through the re-incorporation of our invisible, dreaming body into our lives. It has been said that the feats of awareness performed by the seers of ancient Mexico through the integration with the dreaming body, almost god-like achievements, have become the theme of legend and myth. Every single one of us has an energetic and genetic memory of this connection that has been handed down over millennia from generation to generation as a hidden treasure.

The last time I came to Italy, we visited Pompeii. As I was walking the streets I began having flashes of memory, I began seeing the streets filled with people moving in every direction, interacting, carrying merchandise. I knew the purpose of the buildings before seeing them. My dreaming body reaching out to a part of my Italian ancestry that somehow has experienced that city before and was helping me integrate those forgotten/hidden/inaccessible aspects of my ancestral lineage. That experience helped me to trust my inner guidance—my link with the dreaming body—even more, and bring that into my work, my relationship with my wife and daughter, as well as my relationship with the land where I live.

  • Taking into account the Greek concept of fate in which gods sometimes may decide ruthlessly about men and their destiny, we wonder what is left today of that ancient conception, and how it plays or doesn’t with our modern conception of destiny?

Nyei: ‘Fate,’ from the Latin word ‘prediction’ is accepted to mean “the presumed cause, force, principle or divine will that predetermines events.” And ‘destiny,’ from the Latin ‘destinare’ means ‘the hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future.”

My colleague and energetic sister Renata Murez tells a wonderful story of how Carlos described how these two work together. She was sitting with him at a café, and asked him a question: How do you make your choices of what to do, where to go next? And Carlos held out his left hand, and with his right index finger, pointed to the center of his palm, “This is where I start, right here, in the center…And I look around me and what do I see – choices, many choices – each one represented by one my five fingers.”

“And to make a choice, any choice, I start walking the path of that choice; for instance if I want to look at the choice represented by my little finger, I start walking that path, finding out information, having conversations, all the while feeling what’s it like to ‘live’ that path as I move from the bottom of my little finger up to its top. If along the way I feel a nervousness in my belly, or a distrust of the situation around me, I retreat from that path back to the center of my palm. And then I try again with my next choice, like the one represented by my ring finger. And if this choice feels solid, open-ended, and full of energy, then this is the path I choose.

My whole hand – the palm and all my fingers – can be my fate, an environment given me by Spirit by the mere fact that it’s available. But I choose my destiny. I decide to walk one path, one of my fingers, not all of them, and that is my destiny. Destiny comes from fate – I may have been fated to meet don Juan – but what I do with that is my destiny. And I do this with the utmost care, I give it my best attention, and I keep Spirit close to me as I walk towards my destiny.”

Guilhem: My own story reflects that journey of trying the different fingers of the hand, so to speak. I used to be confused in my life not knowing which direction to take. When I started practicing Tensegrity® I was working in theater. My mother loved poetry and would have loved her son to be an artist, and I loved to travel, to work with a group of people, the atmosphere of the theater, the playfulness, the adventures… but I was not a real actor, and so I was not feeling so much at ease in this theater world. I was always trying to convince the other people from the group to practice Tensegrity® with me, but they had no interest in doing that.

Later, when I moved to Los Angeles, following my interest for Tensegrity®, I worked as a math teacher, or I worked for big companies such as a French Lycée, just to make a living like my father had done all his life. I learned a lot from everything I experienced, but there was no more passion in my life.

It’s only when I moved back to France, following my interest in ancient mysticism that I felt I had found my path. I wrote a book about an old card system and found a publisher, then I met Howard Crowhurst who was studying the megaliths at Carnac and around the world and started an association with him, blending Tensegrity® practices and encounters with ancient sites, as we did in this summer’s Tensegrity® workshop in Carnac—letting the silence brought with the Tensegrity® movements and Theater of Infinity® link us with the deep millennial silence and wisdom of the ancient stone alignments of Carnac.

Since then, I fully merged with my work and I don’t have to force anything, it seems that it is just flowing… and doors began opening one after the other. I feel that I am living my destiny. Fully loving my parents, I have integrated poetry and math in the form of the study of the ancient symbols, but I have found my own path, one that makes me very happy.

And I am practicing a different kind of theater, Theater of Infinity®, which integrates the Tensegrity® movements into daily life, helping me to see the habitual roles I play in my interactions, such as for example, the critic, the victim, the person who does not engage—and allows the possibility of new roles, such as, the person who fully enjoys his life and is active and participates in what happens around him.

Part 2

  • My question is about ‘jumping into the abyss: Where are these abysses or unknowns in our daily life?

Nyei: In one of the questions above, we gave some examples of Jumping into the Abyss as stepping regularly into unfamiliar situations, or by bringing a renewed perspective to seemingly familiar relationships and activities.

To turn one of these seemingly knownand possibly unrewarding interactions or activities into a rewarding moment of awe is one of the practices we do in our workshops through the Theater of Infinity®.

In the Theater of Infinity®, getting together in small groups and playing scenes from our day-to-day lives, we get to see how we play the character of ourselves. For example, if I play the default “me,” in an interaction where I don’t agree with the person in charge, I am assuming I already know what this person is doing, resisting the interaction. Practicing a Tensegrity® movement, I will shift to a stance of greater balance and alignment, and more fluid breathing. And my awareness shifts accordingly, and I am more available to listen and collaborate. This is an act of transformation – we have taken what is known, infused it with the unknown input of the dreaming body, and lived the scene in new ways.

Guilhem: For me the jump into the abyss was to do something I really liked in my life. I was afraid to redirect my life into something that would fulfill me. I was especially afraid about the money aspect and not being able to make a living. I thought I had to struggle with life. And also, at the beginning I could not even name what I really liked. It is maybe sometimes difficult to know if something is for you before you try it. It takes time… So from the old position of my self, it seemed that there was an abyss between the set up of my life as it was and the dream of completeness that I was intending… And you don’t jump into the abyss once and for all. What I felt is that I glided into the abyss, like in my childhood dreams where I was learning to fly. I remember I was feeling a current of air, then I was silencing my thoughts and I was letting the density of the air take me away. In my dreams I had to reach and maintain a balance inside of myself to be able to fly. That is also what I experienced in my life. I started by writing a book, then I gave a workshop about what I had written and little by little I realized I had made the jump and I was gliding into this abyss, this unknown., and there was still some fear, but the Tensegrity® practices were helping me to keep this balance in my life. And the air was becoming denser and denser and it was becoming each day easier to follow the winds…

There are many challenges here, – in finding a job, in raising our children, in accepting another person’s point of view, in working with someone who wasn’t our pick! If you don’t at first glance agree, look a little more deeply into your life. Daily, minute by minute, there are tests everywhere! At least for me! So many abysses where we can learn to jump and glide…

Teo: Carol Tiggs talks about doing your preparation to be able to jump into the abyss with awareness versus stumbling into the abyss unprepared, at the mercy of circumstances … So, for me personally I make the effort to commit only to that which I know I can do, showing up on time, reflecting before I speak or hitting “send” on an unconscious email.

  • How can I actualize, visualize, realize my destiny, bypassing my fears which lock me in a cage of myself, repeating familiar negative sentences: “I cannot I cannot I cannot,” “I am a loser,” “I am not good enough.” In daily life, thoughts, concerns and the almost constant attention to others and what they think of me, seems to slow down my ‘evolution.’

Nyei: We can begin with: Where did I learn these sentences or moods? Where did I learn this type of distraction that takes me away from being, creative and contributing?

Knowing that these sentences and their related moods came from a time in your past when they were relevant, does not mean that they are functional now! Playing with these sentences in the Theater of Infinity® will allow you to notice that others say similar things to themselves. And it will give you more inspiring options and ways to talk to yourself.

For many of us, speaking and relating to ourselves in a supportive way is jumping into the unfamiliar, the new. It may seem like an easy thing to do, yet we may be shifting old habits—so it’s a moment-by-moment practice of noticing: How am I perceiving myself? Is it a thought and intent that enhances my body, my being, and others around me. This practice may even lead to more moments of inner silence!

Practicing together, in Paestum, we will find some of those non-verbal, or silent moments of inspired action when we were children. Remembering and claiming these is one of the best strategies against our negative thoughts, giving us a new point of reference in the present. The answers are inside of us. Each of us can bring ourselves down or lift ourselves up, according to what we give our attention.

Teo: Yes, for me, I realize that underneath my negative dialogue is fear of the unknown, and trying to bypass that fear keeps me in the fear loop. The trick is to continue putting one foot in front of the other through—not around—our fears, and here is where play and humor become part of the art of the practitioner. Play and humor will soften the sharp edge of our “I’m not good enough” story.

  • I understand that every time I spend more time in nature, an aspect of me with a simpler connection with my energetic level is activated. Can I expect from this next workshop to reach an active dynamic dialogue with nature even when I am not physically in it in my daily life?

Teo: During the upcoming workshop, we will have an opportunity to spend time in nature –taking short hikes in the neighboring hills, watching the waves roll along the shore. And we have a very special treat saved for Monday when we will have the opportunity to experience nature’s artistic perfection inside the Pertosa-Auletta Cave, or Angel’s Cave. There we will ride a boat across its subterranean river to enter its caverns and experience the play of light and shadow, the silence, and the natural echoing music of water drops in the cave.

I am especially excited about our visit to this cave since, as part of my work as a mountaineer many years ago, I used to train and guide at a cave in South America. I still clearly remember the feeling in my body of walking, crawling, and climbing a mile into the earth’s womb, turning off my flashlight and just being there with zero light, little air flow and zero sound. After a little while the body naturally shifts to energy perception and I would start seeing halos of faint white light, and sense the flow of consciousness all around me. Visiting places like this gives us the opportunity to feel the darkness, the quiet, and the light within. It is tapping into our lineage as human beings. And I look forward to experiencing a cave environment like that again, and sharing it with everyone there.

When we connect with these moments in nature, we can also realize that we are attuned to the fact that nature is always around us.

We can connect with the trees lining the sidewalk or the grass in the park. We can connect with the cycles of the moon, sun and stars!

Guilhem: Connecting with nature inside and outside of us, as Teo described, can link us to our energetic being, and this is reflected in myths around the world. Many cultures have myths and stories of crossing rivers to reach an underworld, or another world. Ancient Mexican myth includes crossing various rivers in the afterlife. In ancient Greek myth, people crossed the river Styx to enter the underworld, and were made strong by immersing into that river. Achilles was immersed into that river except for his heel—and his heel was his only vulnerability—which led to his earthly end, a reminder that the cycles within our lives come to an end—and new cycles begin. To navigate these cycles, and live our purpose we need a foot in both worlds, so to speak, and nature helps us to remember that.

Carlos Castaneda describes such a symbolic crossing or unity in his conclusion to the chapter Jumping into the Abyss in the book The Active Side of Infinity with these words: “I knew what I had to do. I had run out of time. I took off at my top speed towards the precipice and leaped into the abyss. I felt the wind on my face for a moment, and then the most merciful blackness swallowed me like a peaceful subterranean river.”

The next chapter begins with him finding himself in his office apartment in Los Angeles, at the beginning of a new journey in his life—one in which, with his teacher no longer in the world, he is compelled to put greater trust in the dreaming body.

We can see this at certain turning points in our lives—for example, sometimes a friendship or a project reaches an end of a cycle, and it has to transform and go to another level to continue. Each person involved has to adapt, to become new. Through connecting with our own being via Tensegrity® movement and Theater of Infinity® and the natural caves of Pertosa-Auleta, and we will parallel that journey of becoming new.

  • How can I understand if I am realizing my destiny?

Guilhem: Think back through your life at all of your most fulfilling moments. This was your following or making of your destiny!

Right now, combining elements of Tensegrity® with my passion for exploring, uncovering and bringing back pieces of the ancient knowledge – almost like an archeologist would do – I feel that I am living mine!

Nyei: We can also tell we are on our destined path by the fact that we are interested or curious doing something!

It helps to look at what games or roles you played as a child. How did you play? What did you do? What stories or myths inspired you? What did you dream of being or living when you grew up?

You may find that you are actually living those dreams already…This is what will explore together this in the workshop.

For example, as a child, I loved to hear flute music. For me it evoked lightness, play, and stories of leprechauns or fairies, of Irish or Celtic legend. So my parents got me a flute and lessons. And I am playing today. When I play the flute, it flows naturally. There is effort, practicing, planning—yet I am not forcing anything. I am really not talking to myself. I am mostly listening. And I feel that certain of my ancestors, from my father who is a trumpet player, to my mother who took me to all those music lessons and concerts, to my grandmother, who was a singer, and other ancestors several generations back, are all enjoying and participating. My mother said it very simply. “You are joyful and you bring others joy when you play.”

In my case, somewhere along the line I got caught up in ideas of perfection and trying to be the best player, and I had to learn to lighten up and play the flute—and play well with others. It’s an ongoing journey–learning when to prepare and practice, and when to let go and let the river of music flow. It helps to remember that we don’t ‘work’ or ‘struggle’ music. We play music.

  • At the recent workshop in Sochi, you also invited participants to explore the state of play. Please talk to us about that.

Teo: Play is how we learn—animals naturally play together, and that’s how they learn to communicate, to bond, to synchronize their emotional and energetic state … and to get along with each other. And as Carol Tiggs pointed out in Sochi, it’s how we learn as well.

When we have learned a skill as a child, with that spirit of play, often we say it’s “second nature.” Seers say that when we learn something in the “second attention,” a state of heightened awareness or “dreaming awake,” we absorb knowledge at a much deeper, primal level.

As we increase the awareness and state of play in our lives, our creativity and dreaming awareness follows.

As a child I imagined being Robin Hood who had a playful spirit, a lady love, and a band of merry men who helped him champion the underdog. And today I’m living so many aspects of that dream– I’m leading an aware life that includes Tensegrity®, a wife and a baby daughter I absolutely adore, a great team that I work with, and an animal reserve that gives a safe and happy life to rescued wolves, and is changing the lives of many young people on a daily basis. This life keeps me energized, and helps me through daily ups and downs, it invites creativity, joy, health, vision, and hope for humanity.

Nyei: And that’s what we will explore together in Paestum—how to bring more play into our lives, and how play helps us dream. We will get in touch with our childhood dreams and our natural spirit of play, and dare to jump into roles and responses that better serve our destiny in the Theater of Infinity®–and in the theater of Life!

 

 

 

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