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“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how it compares with other expression.  It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.  Keep the channel open.”  – Martha Graham

I feel called to explore how the river of life wants to move through me, and through each and all of us, beyond our inherited or conditioned ideas of what to want or who to be.  I am learning that when I listen within and follow my heart, I end up doing what most nourishes and enlivens me as well as what serves the larger community of life.

This involves:

  • Following life.  I study and practice body and energy literacy, how to notice and feel a widening range of sensations in the body, become intimate with life force, open to its creative currents and nourishment, and live in alignment with the intelligent way it spontaneously guides our movements, and gives us feedback about what is enlivening and deadening, moment to moment.  I am experimenting with different ways to cultivate embodied inner presence, while engaged in external activities.  And I enjoy sharing what I am learning, and supporting others to discover what body-mind practices most feed their soul and support their journey.
  • Befriending darkness.  Learning to embrace and transmute rather than repress or endlessly recycle anxiety, anger, fear, and depression has been the primary theme of my long journey from medication to meditation.  Over the last ten years, I have been learning to befriend, feel, and connect with what the world teaches us to hide or suppress.  Breaking free from the tyranny of some ideal notion of perfection is an ongoing journey, but taking the time to befriend my own shadow is slowly but surely growing my capacity to face and feel the world’s dark side.
  • Inviting soulful explorations and authentic community.  I am drawn to discover what moves us from the inside, and to offer spacious conversational spaces where we can talk authentically about our life journey, share our learnings and deeper longings, bear witness to each others’ shadows and challenges, explore what makes us come alive, and discover what we need to strengthen our gifts, support and nourish each other, and be of service to the larger community of life.
  • Supporting synergy and collaborative leadership.   For the last ten years, I have been exploring ways to cultivate collaborative leadership, and to access collective intelligence in group settings, while entering into greater individual and collective partnership with life itself.  I have been engaged in these explorations through my involvements in different networks and communities over the years, such as the Tipping Point Network, the Art of Hosting, the World Cafe, Help Others, and smaller circles of inquiry.  I am now particularly interested in the intersection of deep listening, receptive awareness, embodied conversation, and spontaneous action, and how these can nourish creativity and support the emergence of new modes of engagement with the challenges of our times.
  • Being a thread in the world wide web –   I am in awe of the internet, and all the ways it can catalyze deepening awareness of our interconnectedness, and support collaborative action, from Wikipedia to Kickstarter and other crowd funding platforms.
  • Playing with words.   I love to use words to acknowledge and honor the invisible, and bring new possibilities into reality.  This takes many different forms: studying and speaking different languages, reciting mystical poetry, capturing visions and conversations, writing stories, essays, poems; singing songs, and making sounds.
  • Writing and reciting poetry.  Poetry is what first lured me out of existential loneliness into a more intimate and embodied relationship with all of life.  It guided me out of the accomplishment trance which grips our world and invited me to take the time to feel all the textures of the present moment.  It re-enchanted the universe, inviting me to see myself, others and the Earth with new eyes. Learning poetry by heart has reshaped the way I experience and express life, and eventually gave birth to my own poetry which you can read and hear on Soundcloud, and a website called Learning to Linger: Poetic Invitations to Become More Intimate with Life.  
  • Unleashing new currencies.  I am also passionate about the diversification and democratization of our monetary system and the creation of complementary currencies which can support a healthier flow of all that nourishes life (not simply goods and services, but also wisdom, connection, community etc.).  Currency designer Bernard Lietaer has been a great hero of mine.
  • Philanthropy. Aya’s Rivers is the name of a small fund I started in 2008 when a visionary invited me to serve as a flow funder for three years, and gave me $20,000 each year to give away to inspiring people and project who are making a difference in the world.  Over the course of three years, I gave $60,000 away to pioneers, visionaries, innovators, leaders, healers, and artists who are answering the call of our times to develop greater presence and awareness, build a more intimate relationship with life, befriend darkness, free creativity, experiment with innovative solutions to our local and global challenges, and strengthen our capacity to align ourselves with the greater river of life.  When my three-year assignment ended in 2011, I began turning my philanthropic attention from flow funding to crowd funding, which gives regular folks with limited resources an opportunity to come together and collaborate in funding and supporting inspiring people and projects.