The Personal Mythology of Ashley Berry
For the sake of the story, I identify as a mover, artist, sacred witness, experience facilitator, and holder of healing hands, based in Oakland, CA. As a reflector in the Human Design, I shift with the moon and am inherently inclined to gather information about the environment by sampling its energies. This enables me to try on a vast array of perspectives, and to have a lot of range. It also means that I could write a different story of my life on any given day.
One thread remains the same.
Every day, I commit myself to participation; to fully choose my choice to be in a body. I am making friends with all aspects of the world, internal and external, from the deep belief that we are here to love this world by making art of our lives as an offering to the mystery; a radical act of gratitude for the gift of embodiment.
Participation is key.
Growing up in the woods of western Massachusetts, I always had an inkling that there was something bigger than I could see with my eyes. It was a deep knowing that revealed itself in the magic of my dream life, but that didn't seem to be mirrored in the interactions I was having in my waking life.
Waking was difficult, and there was an ever present longing to "go back home", as though home was somewhere else. In this longing, I found myself perpetually one foot in and one foot out of this world. And so, before I knew what it was, the long journey to land fully in this human body that my soul chose to enter in order to complete my mission here, had begun.
I spent my early years cultivating my relationship to body: to my human body through dance, athletics, and embodied play; to terrestrial body by being an avid tree climber, stream jumper, and maker of art using earth.
Being the keeper of a wild mind-body, in my 20’s I turned my attention to yoga, meditation, and ways of creative forming that supported me to direct my thinking mind away from its frequent spin cycles, and into imaginative territory. This is a work in progress. I just keep breathing.
My breath is my compass. Returning, again and again to the breath, supports my return to presence in body. Breathing is, for me, the primary foundational practice in cultivating a sense of belonging in my body, as well as the bridge between the conscious and unconscious. In one conscious breath there lies a pause, and within that pause, the doorway to choice. Choice is the mother of freedom.
Building on this root of mindfulness, I dove into the study of herbalism to deepen my relationship to the natural world, which also deepened my relationship to intuition, reciprocity, and the capacity to be in subtle, nonverbal communication with both human and non-human beings. This communication evoked a sense of belonging that seeded in me a deep root of connection to source. Another layer of feeling at home with the world, via the company of plants, had landed.
From this ground, I began to engage in spiritual activism; for me, a compassion-based process of transforming personal and collective suffering through the practice of feeling our feelings, specifically grief and longing, in connection with the land. Every step a prayer and offering of our feelings back to the Earth, in gratitude for the full spectrum human experience that comes with embodiment.
In conjunction with earth-based spiritual practices, the other foundational components of my work are rooted in somatic exploration and conscious relating: Thai bodywork, contemplative dance, expressive movement, acroyoga, holistic kink, conscious breath work, The Way of Council, Nonviolent Communication. Playing with relating, both verbally and nonverbally, is the practice of being human.
Creation follows intention. Connection gives rise to belonging. Devotion is the act of following our bliss.
My ritual art/space making is partly a creation of beauty as an act of devotion, partly a collaborative meditation with the material world, and partly a ceremonial divination process to midwife artful containers that act as a warm invitation to contact the divine in a way that most nourishes the minds, bodies, and souls of those who connect within it.
Ritual is a simple touchstone practice that nourishes the root of connection our personal mythology within the all that is.
This work is an extension of the work of art that is my life. Making choices in alignment with what brings aliveness into my body in each moment is what creates a life that feels vital, joyful, and honoring of the gifts of embodiment. For the longest time I believed that I needed to “find my path”. What I see now is that with each choice, with each step forward, I am walking my path alive.