Constriction is in the furrowing of my brow,
visible to only the sharpest observer
running in line from my third eye to throat to belly button
a sharp arrow on the war path –

Every thought, word, and action tightens the bind in my body
no way to problem-solve my way out
frustration arrives as heat in my forehead and
hot tears running down my cheeks

I invite movement into my paralyzed body, starting with my jaw. Opening my mouth wide, placing a finger in either cheek, gently and firmly stretching my mouth, tension releasing. Rolling my head from side to side, letting the neck stretch, and suddenly I am laughing. My belly is expanding.

It is not indifference but spaciousness
this quality of equanimity, manifesting
in laughter and the smoothing of my brow

Equanimity is not a quality of the mind; it is this felt sense of spaciousness in the body. My mind does not need to problem-solve. My mind sees only the two static options presented by a constricted body, and pokes and fights at these boundaries. My body offers resolution in due time.

If and when I am ready, I can step towards the relationship and see if there is potential for resolution. Or not, or so. The two of us may meet on the middle way for a brief walk, or a long and meandering one, or none at all. If I can stay in my body, moving out of constriction into spaciousness, everything is possible.

The walk can be silent or loud
gently holding hands in the shade of redwood trees
Parting ways where the river crosses the bridge and
When the garden’s strawberries sour into compost
There is no commitment for life and always a way out.

I may let go of my urge to rustle strawberries for a time (or not, or so)
And he may set down his lab coat to play in the forest for a time (or not, or so)
And we may be together for this little while, sharing some happiness (or not, or so)
There is no need to cling, for happiness is
Possible in the lab and among the berries
and in every other place


Constriction in the belly forms as dark, gloomy storm clouds. Dense, heavy with rain, signaling impending doom. I bathe the storm clouds in awareness and they break apart into showers of rain that sweep across my whole body. After the rain there is a knot in my stomach. A tight round ball that the rain hasn’t dispersed.

Unraveling the knot there is a child Melanie pouring tea in a tea party for two. There is an empty seat and multiple tea cups. She is focused on pouring tea. At first I am afraid for her being alone, sad to see the empty seat. I stop for a tiny cup of tea – just a thimble-ful, a sip!

Dear Melanie, what is it you need?
To serve, to have people to serve
The empty chair is my offering

The beauty is in there being a chair, and that many people will sit down for a cup of tea. Child Melanie is not worried, she is simply preparing her tea, making ready clean teacups. She is not worried if people will come – after all, I came, didn’t I? She placed the chair herself, painted it sky blue, smiling the whole time. She intended it to be empty so that those passing by would have a place to sit down. The chair is an invitation to be received with love and warmth.

In the distance across the meadow my parents stand in front of a wooden house. They are young and sturdy, my mom is bursting with joy and my dad is solid, calm. I stand from my seat, walking towards them.

Take good care of her
She’s special to me

There is no need to say goodbye to the child Melanie. She is busying herself in stirring the tea leaves in the pot, rinsing the cup I’ve left behind. She is not sad to see me go, another will come in my place soon. It is me (looking back towards her in the meadow) that is wandering.

To the adult Melanie I ask, how do you want to serve tea?

I am the head of a big and chaotic family
Full of noise and color and love
handling out cups of chai to my children
Light is streaming in the windows
Happiness settled in my heart as play and noise and community
Raising a family and teaching them about the world
How to dance with the wind and surrender to the
First shock of the ocean, how to climb trees and relax in their shade
Mentoring and encouraging them in their dreams,
A small studio for art and one for poetry carved out for me
Stillness and chaos woven together

Settling into this vision, constriction arises again in the belly. I shift my body to allow my stomach to exist without compression. My arm is unconsciously pressing down on my belly and I must consciously move it to give space. My knees are wide, hands facing up, hips tilted forward, my breath flowing, not held.

Without compression, new life has space to grow. My body is celebrating in ease the absence of constriction in the belly. The feeling of pregnancy rises in me, new life growing. Pregnancy only possible when there is space.


Constriction in the chest and spine, as if I am squeezing and compressing my spinal column in play. My belly is tight and breathing shallow. I invite the constriction to take up space without needing to change it and the constriction rapidly expands in my chest, becoming a wildfire spreading through the meadow of wildflowers, burning everything. The upper part of my body is on fire, from the bottom of my breasts up to my head, burning, burning.

Slowly I begin to rock my hips,
their movement is the movement of the waves
undulating in the ocean
calling in the vastness of the ocean body
to wash over the flames,
purifying, healing, soothing

I dive into the ocean water to cool my face,
dousing the last remaining flames
They spring up again, reborn as
new sparks of light, same energy transformed

The memory of fire fresh in my mind –
clearing the dead trees from the field,
rejuvenating the soil, letting the cycle of
death and rebirth
give rise to lush, fertile fields ripe for tea planting
nutriments abundant
fresh water plentiful
air and birds and dragonflies dancing among
fragrant tea leaves

Fire prepares the soil for new planting,
this abundant harvest.