Orienting in a Frozen Landscape

Stepping outside one morning recently I looked up and laughed with surprise and joy.


The bushes weighted down with fresh snowfall bowed over the pathway so devoutly.


An untrodden white path leading into the most glorious snow scene I have ever seen.

I’ve been wheelbarrowing things through snow to and from my forest dome home for a week now.  Logs, a vacuum cleaner, yoga mat, heater.  Dressed in a colourful second-hand Norwegian style cardigan, multicoloured legwarmers from Nepal and a selection of things knitted by my mum.    This outfit is probably much better suited to the mountains than to the tube in London where I sort of accidentally found myself wearing it a few weeks ago.  Feeling a bit self-conscious amongst the commuters I realised if I imagined myself to be a storybook character gypsy-witch-adventurer, somehow it felt better.  So I spent a week being her.  It was fun. 

On the tube I read 'A life of One’s own' by Joanna Field.  Written almost a hundred years ago in the spirit of an explorer, Field describes insights about her inner world, paying close attention to what occupies her mind and what seems to motivate her. The culmination of several years of inquiry through journaling, she shares discoveries about happiness, suffering and life purpose which are nothing short of a profound dharma teaching.


‘So I began to have an idea of my life, not as a slow shaping of achievements to fit my preconceived purposes, but as the gradual discovery and growth of a purpose which I did not know’  Joana Field


The beauty and ease of tending to the seed of an unknown purpose!  I love it.

 The tube carried me across London each day to a Body-mind centring course.  Another step on my long and delicious journey of discovering what life is through embodied experience. 

For one week we explored basic neuro-cellular patterns of movement.  Coming into the starfish pattern of navel radiation was especially fun.  Taking my awareness first to my navel, I then traced the pathways out to each of the six limbs of hands, feet, head and tail.


Quietly, slowly I arrived into an embodied memory of this movement pattern.  The differentiation of limbs gradually fell away, I forgot I had a face, and this central radiating pattern emerged.  My sense of direction was entirely aligned to this new pattern so that ideas of upper and lower body disappeared. 


There was a moment when I remembered my mouth, breasts and vagina and noticed my mind trying to figure out how they fitted into this new orientation.  I came back into the world of vertebrates.

Embodying these patterns of life showed me new perspectives.  I was orienting myself differently in space. Remembering a new sense of direction.  A different way of knowing, beyond ideas, concepts and figuring things out and into the wisdom of the body.  A knowing which is always here, waiting to be remembered. 


‘Knowing is no good unless you feel the urgency of the thing.  Maybe this is love. Your being becomes part of it, giving yourself to it’  Joanna Field


Sometimes in life we feel ‘stuck’.  We don’t know our next move.  We feel frozen.  We try and figure it out.  Perhaps if we think hard enough the path will become clear, we will see some foot steps to follow. What if we began by turning towards that which brings us most alive?

If I asked you what was the most important thing in life what would you say? 


What would you orient your life around?


What moves you?


I would love to know.

What if we begin by coming in touch with the most basic movements of life that we can feel in our body?  Our warm vibration? Our heartbeat?  


Some of the earliest life forms moved from their mouth.  With a sense of direction and the impulse to move they propelled themselves through the world. This memory is also in us.  Orienting from the mouth towards food, comfort and affection. 


Lying on a blanket, eyes closed I came into my memory of 'mouthing'.  It felt so good.  To let my mouth search in space and find my hand.  Allowing lips and tongue to gently explore the back of my hand.  I felt a longing in my heart and stomach.  A longing for connection and meeting.  It felt good and sad at the same time. 

If we lose our sense of direction, are paralysed by indecision, stuck in fear of making a wrong move or haunted by voices of self-doubt, sometimes it can help to take a break from trying to figure things out.



Pay close attention.

Let disorientation be a juicy place where we can lovingly tend the seed of our unknown purpose.   Perhaps a long-forgotten movement will emerge from the depths and our sea creature self will be pulsing off in a direction we never imagined while we are calling out behind it ‘hey wait for me!’

Write a comment

Comments: 2
  • #1

    Mary (Friday, 27 January 2023 22:19)

    Thank you Frances. I can relate to the idea of an inner unknown purpose, with the unpredictable nature of daily employment tasks. In 2 days, I dealt with 2 very different meltdown’s, one an individual who showed risk of violent behaviour, one paralysed with anxiety. These were unusual extremes in my job, yet in the fast and unexpected occurrence of these aspects, I had a strong, unplanned sense of purpose, to show these individuals a better way forward.
    With a wider issue at work, a turning point occurred today, to which I gave an unexpected and new response, in short responding gracefully but in a way that said: “enough is enough”. Time for a new approach, an altered perspective and standpoint. Lots of love, Mary

  • #2

    Frances (Tuesday, 21 February 2023 20:51)

    So lovely to read your resonance Mary.

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