Words & Pictures

A Call for the Fierce Protectress on Mothers Day

on March 6, 2016 No comments

In celebration of all Mothers today on Mothers Day. I 100% include those women who have birthed children AND those whose mother energy was destined to birth other creative endeavours in this lifetime.

We are living in a time of mass movement of so many refugees, so many women and children forced to leave their homes. There are horrendous wars and within this mass abuse and rape of women and children. Thinking of all those who are displaced and lost and in pain today, its hard not to recognise that we need fierce feminine, we need the roar of the lioness. Chameli Ardagh articulates this with such humour and grace in her TED talk. I have posted it before but is worth posting again. Have a wonderful day.

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Carly MountainA Call for the Fierce Protectress on Mothers Day

I want to give myself utterly….

on February 18, 2016 No comments

Lake and Maple

I want to give myself utterly
as this maple
that burned and burned
for three days without stinting
and then in two more
dropped off every leaf;
as this lake that,

no matter what comes

to its green-blue depths,

both takes and returns it.

In the still heart,

that refuses nothing,

the world is twice-born–

two earths wheeling,

two heavens,

two egrets reaching

down into subtraction;

even the fish 
for an instant doubled,

before it is gone.

I want the fish.

I want the losing it all

when it rains and I want

the returning transparence.

I want the place

by the edge-flowers where

the shallow sand is deceptive,

where whatever

steps in must plunge,

and I want that plunging.

I want the ones

who come in secret to drink

only in early darkness,

and I want the ones

who are swallowed.

I want the way

the water sees without eyes,

hears without ears,

shivers without will or fear

at the gentlest touch.

I want the way it

accepts the cold moonlight

and lets it pass,

the way it lets

all of it pass

without judgment or comment.

There is a lake,

Lalla Dad sang, no larger

than one seed of mustard,

that all things return to.

O heart, if you
will not, cannot,
give me the lake

then give me the song.

Jane Hirshfield

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Carly MountainI want to give myself utterly….

Coming out as…grey

on March 14, 2014 No comments

For 20 years no less, I have polluted my system with hair dye.

I’m done. I am taking my masks off. I do not want to pollute my system or our water with those chemicals anymore. I am done with the violence of the beauty industry, to the earth, to animals and to myself.

Change is life. And to age is a privilege.

If we are to walk a life of meaning we must do just that, walk it. And there are many ways to do that. We are after all transmitters and I find myself asking everyday “What do I want my transmission to say?”. So many people have said “you are so brave”. But isn’t it odd, that it is brave to be natural, to be seen as I am? I have finally realised that to let the earth shine through me is the most beautiful I could ever be. It’s not conventional, it requires a letting go of looking to those ideals for a sense of worth.

Ultimately we hold the keys to our own cages. Age brings wisdom. Women as they ripen into the autumn and winter of life are often mocked for being menopausal, or are “traded in for a younger model”, get the sack whilst their male counterparts work on in their distinguished gentlemanly aging. And we perpetuate it with surgery, hair dye, dieting, grasping outwardly for some resemblance of summer that we think will make us desirable, empower us and make us feel we have a place. I am not saying that enjoying looking after our appearance is wrong, it can be a beautiful way of taking care of ourselves. But, it is worth checking in with who we are doing it for and what our choices are based on.

You can’t grasp power from outside, you tap into it from the inside. We are abundant, we are earth, we are love.

So enter the reign of the wolf, the wild, the free.

Grow old with grace. And be the change you wish to see.

* Since writing this post I have re-dyed my hair. I was grey for about 3 years and it felt really important to make the statement. I still believe much of what I say in this piece. I would love to see more ageing women feel comfortable in their grey hair. But I also realise the importance for freedom to change and freedom to choose. I am still not happy to put chemicals on my head or in the water….but I am human and imperfect so sometimes I make selfish choices.

Here is to freedom of expression in all it’s forms and embracing our imperfections as compassionately as we can. 

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Carly MountainComing out as…grey

The beauty of a shell

on March 1, 2014 No comments

The natural beauty of a shell. My daughter was looking at this this morning and she said thoughtfully, “Sometimes I look at shells and think they are so beautiful that they can just have appeared, they must be ‘man-made'”.

To which I instinctively replied, “But the most beautiful things in life cannot be made by humans…they all come from nature. Natural things are the most beautiful of all”.

What we show speaks as loudly as what we say. Society values human made objects so highly and often to the detriment of nature. The so-called beauty industry sells the idea, primarily to girls and women that we must do so much to ourselves in order to become beautiful. So many Mums in the playground with eye lash extensions that on a timeline at my little ones preschool a child had included “put her eyelashes on” as part of her morning routine. Our children absorb everything and it subconsciously shapes them.

I dye my hair, I shave my legs…..there are some things that I cannot yet relinquish. But more and more, I see that we are being sold an empty shell of what a woman can be. And I wonder what could be more beautiful than letting nature shine through us? That women could once again be valued, protected and cherished as an expression of mother earth. That perhaps would be the most beautiful union, respect and liberation.

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Carly MountainThe beauty of a shell

Yoga is a process of becoming more intimate with yourself. Taking the time to spend with yourself, as you would with someone you love. Turning towards all that you are with compassion, so that you can embrace wholeheartedly the fullness of your being. Leading us towards naturalness, no pushing no holding back. Letting the notion of perfection repeatedly give way to love. What are we cultivating? Love.

The Why

Yoga – the whole picture

on December 20, 2013 No comments

Sometimes I get a bit weary of all the “look at how great my body and my life” yoga pictures and quotes that are out there. Mainly because I think they don’t show the whole picture. I love positivity and beautiful pictures, it’s great to celebrate as long as we are still honest. Some days practice is tough, some days I just feel sad, some days feel dark. Practice can be both celebration and joy. But true joy encompasses the dark and the light. And isn’t practice about being present with what’s there, rather than looking to be calm or balanced or some other ideal that is not truly where we are at? If we are not careful, yoga can become a stick to beat yourself with. A search for an ideal and within that is a pressure to pretend that we are supremely sorted, calm and in control; rather than honest, real, people.

When darker emotions rise, anger, desire, frustration, grief, its great to be able to recognize it mindfully and know that it will pass. But, if we do not ever allow it, and give in to its messiness then I feel that we do not fully embrace what it is to be human. Take belly laughing…impossible to do mindfully, it just wouldn’t happen if you were being mindful about it. And we all know how delightfully close laughing is to crying. Sometimes it’s okay to break into a million little pieces. Infact, this is the process of yoga.…..

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction” Cynthia Occeli.

We need to break in order to be visible and shed some light on what needs to be seen.

“The world is like a dropped pie most of the time. Don’t kill yourself trying to put it back together. Just grab a fork and eat some of it off the floor. The carry on.” Elizabeth Gilbert.

We always employ the 3 second rule in our house.

Surely, being human is about experiencing the full spectrum of our emotional life. We can feel totally raw and still be grateful and reach beyond to those around us and our practice and our life. Yoga is not about what a strong beautiful body we have and what a ‘together’ person we must be to achieve that.

“Although there are many physical places one can go to feel her way back home. The physical plane itself is not home; it is only the vehicle that rocks the ego to sleep” Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

I can honestly say, my greatest challenges and joys come from allowing my most vulnerable self to show…be that out of necessity, celebration or despair. I am learning that the messy parts of me, that I feel scared to show are not my weakness but the parts that hold my deepest strength.

So today I feel quiet and tired and sad. I still practiced. And I am still totally grateful for my life. I am human and I am alive.

And day always follows night.

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Carly MountainYoga – the whole picture

Celebrating and Honouring natural cycles….Happy Spring Equinox.

on November 14, 2013 No comments

With Full Moon at the beginning of this week and Spring Equinox today this weeks classes have been all about honouring natural cycles.

Modern life is not geared around natural cycles instead we are encouraged to prioritise other things. Take a flu remedy, work through it, be more productive. But in this disconnection we lose something.

In nature there are clear cycles, the waxing and waning of the moon, the seasons, the life/death/life cycles are with us all the time on micro and macro scales. Yoga is union. Through practice we can tune into ourselves and others becoming increasingly wakeful to life. Which brings pain and beauty. Light and dark.

Have courage, embrace change and move with the cycles. Trusting and reaching into the vastness of your existence with love.

I chose these photos because they were taken on one of the last golden days of last year. And I am now welcoming in the golden days of this year.

Wishing you a wonder filled Spring Equinox.

With love Carly xx

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Carly MountainCelebrating and Honouring natural cycles….Happy Spring Equinox.

Cathedral of Summer

on November 2, 2013 No comments

“I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of summer,

 

My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music.


It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips” – Violette Leduc

 

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Carly MountainCathedral of Summer

Pink is for girls, blue is for boys.

on November 1, 2013 No comments

Pink is for girls, blue is for boys.

You would hope that in 2013 we had progressed beyond such obvious stereotypes. But no—walk into any large toy shop and pink is still for girls and blue for boys. And colour is just the tip of the iceberg.

Open a kids book and still the characters are predominantly “he”. Hats off to the Julia Donaldsons of this world who have female and male characters in her books. Sadly, she is in the minority. I constantly change characters when I read our children books so that female characters feature as much as males.

Simple observations you might say, but why then do we still take it for granted?

Meanwhile in a conversation sometime ago at my house…

My daughter, Aurora, age three: ”Look at my rabbit.”
Friend: “What’s his name?”
Aurora: “Its a she and her name is big rabbit.”

I was thrilled when this conversation first happened as our naming all the toys “she” had worked. But when friends and family come around to visit 99% do not think twice about about presuming all the toys are male. Pah, you may say its a toy it means nothing; but I disagree.

It’s the little things that mount up to a big message and this is the insidious way that the patriarchy in which we live perpetuates itself.

I am a feminist—not because of the number of books I have read, but because I am a woman living in the world. A world where, on a micro scale, I still get post from women of my own generation addressing me Mrs James Mountain (my jaw drops every time). Am I a possession of my husband? I ask myself.

And on a macro scale, a world where, “603 million women still live in countries where domestic violence is not a crime, and 2.6 billion have no criminal legal protection from marital rape.” Taken from the 2011-2012 Annual Report from UN Women.

Astonishing.

Feminism is not something that just concerns women – it concerns us all. When one suffers, we all suffer. The whole basis of yoga is union, union of Ida and Pingala, of masculine and feminine on a micro scale of the body and on a macro scale of the universe.

This does not depend on sexuality, gay, straight, black, white we all have masculine and feminine within us. Union is the only route to liberation. But there is no use cultivating union on a yoga mat if it does not translate into daily life.

It’s about humanism and equality; we all deserve love and respect.

According to both UN Women and the World Bank, countries where women have the same rights as men also enjoy greater financial and social prosperity.

There are fundamental differences between males and females and these are to be celebrated—but also numerous studies have shown that a lot of our behaviour is learned not innate. And there is still not enough balance.

My concern as a woman and mother is that whilst ever the simple daily expressions and experiences of our children are so male dominated, regardless of what we do at home these inequalities will continue.

I love men – my husband is one of the biggest feminists I know! Only through education and awareness of those tiny things that mold and shape our children can we change society.

I don’t want to live in a female dominated society but I would like to see equality.

True equality—and it has to start with the kids.

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Carly MountainPink is for girls, blue is for boys.