In this encore episode I’m sharing a conversation with Salma Darling, a conscious dance facilitator, dance movement psychotherapist, dharma and mindfulness teacher who lives flexibly between the UK and Marin County California.

Salma’s been facilitating conscious dance and meditation in a variety of contexts since 1998, using methods that are theoretically and practically informed by Insight (vipassana) buddhist meditation, western psychotherapeutic models and ecopsychology.

While she was doing an MA in art and ecology she developed Wild Divine Dance as a mindful embodied awakening practice incorporating stillness and movement, indoors and in the wild.

Much of her process was developed on beaches in Devon, Dorset and Cornwall, and on Dartmoor, UK.

Her offerings are led by a number of substantial dance movement awareness trainings since 1997, my work with clients and students over 20 years, embodied engagement with the landscape and directing performance in nature.

Her skills are offerings are also informed by around 2 years cumulative formal silent Theravadan buddhist retreats, dharma study, and her personal and ongoing journey in healing trauma and living fully and heartfully.

Her current workshop programmes combine silent meditation and free dance movement expression inside and in the wild, a weekly dharma group in Brighton UK, and online one to one meditation, somatic enquiry and mentoring.  

Things we chatted about in this episode:

the Buddhist story of Angulimala

  • finds it interesting how many Buddhist meditation teachings are shared through stories
  • the story speak to the capacity we have to transform
  • the capacity we have to find peace and ease and to awaken no matter what our history
  • how we can inspire and support each other and teach each other through our own transformation
  • how the Buddha, his presence, was an inspiration for the terrifying Angulimala to change
  • how the Buddha encourages Angulimala to bear with the changes, and how much of an impact it can have to give someone the encouragement to keep going – that despite being attacked by other people, Angulimala kept going, he bore the fruits of his actions

relationship with body

  • having had a traumatic violent childhood, of having felt unwanted
  • growing up in the 70s in Britain – experiencing a lot of racism
  • therefore, took a vow of silence at the age of 10, her only way of control, body also froze, had extreme tension in the body, developed anorexia, had extreme anxiety and depression
  • in early 20s had two overdoses, was hospitalized twice -was a calling to come back to her body
  • started getting really into meditation and dance as a tool to come back to her body and return home
  • started getting more clear in her mind as a result
  • how her art teacher first taught her to meditate – a very strong impulse told her it was really important
  • meditation has become a place to cultivate care, kindness and acceptance towards herself
  • dance has helped her express and explore different aspects in herself, and how to be in relationship
  • meditation and free dance as a pairing – they inform each other – bringing the practices that the Buddha taught to the dance – being present to movement and relationship – both are about connecting with the divine, all of life, consciousness
  • being with a physical felt sense of her body is a really big part of her life
  • having had chronic fatigue – really got into lying meditation – really surrendering to gravity and doing a scanning meditation
  • cultivating joy, delighting in the uplifting qualities the body can bring – dance has taught her the exuberance of playing

relationship with creativity

  • the state of creativity is exuberance, joy, playfulness
  • the wondering – what is the meaning of creativity?
  • having trained as a fashion designer – creativity was a big part of her life in the conventional sense
  • but then creativity got jammed, started to understand it as life moving and unfolding itself, that life itself is inherently creative
  • has begun to experience herself as a participant in the creative and creativity
  • how one thing leads to another and creativity is the process of tracking the following
  • how recovering from chronic fatigue was a deep listening – of tracking the creative flow and being present in wild nature
  • having a primordial impulse to participate with the land – to come back to the human animal and move with wild abandon through all kinds of different weathers
  • the intimacy of being with the breath and the wind, hearing the ruffle of leaves
  • and through this ‘rewilding’ she feels more spontaneous, more creative, more free to let life through her