Chani Nicholas, Latihan and Postcards

August 22, 2016
by Paul Nelson

8.20.16 Collage by Chai & SonyaI love it when different parts of my life intersect, reinforce, inform one another, validate, how ever you want to put it. It took an Einstein, I am told, to say: “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”

I have been tracking the astrology of Chani Nicholas for about 15 months now and she has become my go-to astrologer, for what that’s worth. I glean the Virgo section of her weekly emails and ofter there is a nugget for me. Last week, however, I did not even need to go to the Virgo horoscope for this bit of wisdom:

We are made of energy. Pure vibration. Humming along with every other force of energy in the universe. Mixing, merging, creating more. We are here to share our energy. To see what it does when we use it wisely and insightfully. To see what it inspires more of. We are meant to let this energy run through us. Freely. Opening the flood gates of our energetic reserves with a great generosity. Cleansing us as it does. Creating more space to see by. Clearing away the debris that collects when we stay too constricted within the self…

We might even feel purified when we step out of the way, letting universal intelligence flow through us…We are meant to intuit what we could be beyond the boundaries that keep us caged and to find a way to transcend them. We are meant to venture beyond the bounds of a scarcity, using our minds to expand our world. We are energy. Experiencing ourselves through the physical forms that we have been given. Sometimes believing that we stop where the body does. But we go beyond. When we remember to open our minds to that fact we give ourselves the chance to tune into something else at play. And we need that reminder.

Compare this with the Wikipedia entry for Latihan Kejiwaan of Subud:

Latihan kejiwaan, or simply the latihan means “spiritual exercise”, or “training of the spirit”.[4] This exercise is not thought about, learned or trained for; it is unique for each person and the ability to ‘receive’ it is passed on by being in the presence of another practicing member at the ‘opening’. About twice a week, Subud members go to a local center to participate in a group latihan, men and women separately.[5] The experience takes place in a room or a hall with open space. After a period of sitting quietly, the members are typically asked to stand and relax by a ‘helper’, who then announces the start of the exercise.[6][7]

Practitioners are advised to surrender to the Divine and follow ‘what arises from within’, not expecting anything in advance. One is recommended not to focus on any image or recite any mantra, nor to mix the exercise with other activities like meditation or use of drugs, but simply to intend to surrender to the Divine or the will of God. (The term “God” is used here with a broad and inclusive intention. An individual is at liberty to substitute interpretations that they feel more in tune with.) One is not to pay attention to others in the room, each of whom is doing his or her own latihan.[7]During the exercise, practitioners may find that, in terms of physical and emotional expression, they involuntarily move, make sounds, walk around, dance, jump, skip, laugh, cry or whatever.[8][6] The experience varies greatly for different people, but the practitioner is always wholly conscious throughout and free to stop the exercise at any time.

I was “opened” in Subud in June 2004 and became a serious practitioner in 2007. Latihan also acts as a kind of psychic detox agent,  It has become clear to me that so much in life becomes conditioning and intellect, we lose our more intuitive way of being in the world, or confuse it with fear. Maybe that is why I like road trips so much. You are in the moment, reacting to the moment when you are behind the wheel. Having control of the music helps. When we learn to trust whatever physical impulse comes up and just do it, don’t think about it, it can be a profound healing experience. I was told by my Soma body-work therapist that my pelvis area can use some help by keeping it limber, moving it around, shimmying. These actions come naturally in the latihan hall if you let them and has for me on some level on many occasions. The body usually knows what it needs if one can get fear and the intellect out of the way. Chani Nicholas knows this on some level, as she has learned to follow her intuition as pertains to astrology and has a unique way of relating the experience. I think health can be best seen (& more importantly, experienced,) as a flow of energy as well.

The Joy of POstcards

The Joy of POstcards

Learning to trust an inner impulse is also at the root of the magic of the August Poetry Postcard Fest, now near the end of Year Ten. It is hard to believe I’ve done this for ten years, but when I see that I have written over 600 postcard poems, it makes sense. I’ve written on and on about spontaneous composition and I still feel like I can’t articulate it in any way that does justice to the experience. Again I cite George Bowering, who said:

When a poem has you in its grip, you have to shut up all your usual yapping and listen as hard as you can. If it continues to work, and nothing interrupts it, you will get to be the first reader of the poem. It will be a happy event.

If THAT does not communicate how one reaches outside of one’s self for the words in a poem, I don’t know what can. I DO know that learning to write to trust what your conscious mind in the moment does not understand, but learns to trust that it “sounds good” or “feels right” then the intuition is being strengthened again like a muscle with exercise. And the writing gets better. The added dimension of exchanging cards every August puts poetry in the front of one’s consciousness for a month (or more, since the call goes out July 4) and there is no better antidote to the industry-generated culture than poetry, because real poetry has a negligible market value.

8.22.16 - Corita KentI sent out my 610th postcard poem this morning and have written 38 this year. I feel like I have at least two more in me, although seeing the Corita Kent exhibit at the Portland Art Museum gave me another model to use and I’ll probably be writing about that once the tenth APPF is over for me.

So here’s to your effort to get into the flow.


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