The deep cold snap last week scrapped a 3 day camping trip.  I can do rugged…but a 40 degree high is not conducive to anything.  So I woke Monday morning  to an empty to-do list.  My current schedule is a pale shadow of what it used to be.  But nothing planned? Not so much.

I pulled out my trusty Osho deck and asked, “What do you have to tell me about this stillness?”  I drew Ordinariness, a woman gently moving  through an orchard, gathering fruit in her basket.  The accompanying narrative was, in a nut shell, a call to bring your attention and delight to the ordinary.  Chop wood, carry water.

I began moving uber-slowly, especially in the kitchen.  Oozing around molasses-like, returning ceramic dishes to familiar shelves, placing well-worn pans in messy drawers, caressing slender silverware, utensils I’ve eaten from thirty years.  The laundry turned into a celebration of clean creation.  Chopping vegetables a prayer.  Really, it’s such a short hop from ordinary to sacred.

On Sunday we danced this ordinary landscape.  Wanna move with ordinary right here?  Imagine a six foot line on your floor.  Stand all the way at one end, let your chest expand.  Imagine yourself pushing to be more.  More what?  More brilliant, more remarkable, more exceptional, more clever, more extraordinary.  Dazzle the world with your uniqueness.  Maybe it’s a stretch; it may feel totally familiar.  But notice the energy it takes to maintain this posture of perform, pretend, produce.

Shake it off, let go as you walk to the other end of the line.  On this far end, let shoulders collapse, rib cage cave.  Feel the flavor of not good enough, less than, hidden.  Comparing and forever coming up short.  Overwhelmed by accomplishments of others, wishing for more.  More what?  See above.

When you’ve inhabited both ends, let yourself wander this polarized strand a bit.  Or put on some music and dance betwixt too much and not enough.  Be curious.  How does the middle feel?  Nothing added.  Enough.  Unpack this for yourself. I delight in the sensibility evoked by this timeless phrase:

Just be yourself…everyone else is taken.

I adore teaching 5Rhythms, a practice of limitless possibility. Offering this exploration Sunday anchored me into the ordinary and the mysterious way it is woven with stillness.  This week on Wednesday night I want us to feel stillness throughout a wave, serenity at hand no matter what rhythm is sweeping through us in these crazy times.  Our ability to face a sink full of dirty dishes and just peacefully, methodically render them clean.  In the most ordinary way.

On the 5Rhythms horizon:

  • Sunday Halloween Sweat  Oct 31:  Put on a costume, dance with us in the garden.  First wave also available on Zoom 10:00-11:00.  In person?  We have a surprise ritual in store for you from 11:00-1:00.  Bring your lunch; we’ll stay after and break bread together.
  • Wednesday Waves in October 20 & 27:  We have a special “dance mask” for you at the door.  These KN94’s as comfy as a mask can be.  It is amazing to be on that Clara wood floor.
  • Wednesday Waves Nov/Dec5 classes for the remainder of 2021.  Majica and are going to serve up a tasty hybrid of what we love.  I’ll start us out at 6:30 with foam and ball rolling and release BEFORE we dance a wave.  AFTER we dance, Majica leads us in an art experience.  No experience necessary for participation in these three uniquely healing practices.  We are calling you in if you have NEVER danced with us.  Just print this ticket…your participation FREE for the very first class November 10.

Richard Linklater, an American film director, producer and screenwriter sums it up for me here:

As you get older, you want less from the world;
you just want to experience it.
Any barriers to feeling emotions get dismantled.
And ordinary things become beautifully poetic.

Yours in the poetry of it all…Bella

It’s our first act as we exit the womb.  An inhale.  New, fresh, born into possibility.  Arising.  And then there is our departing gesture: the exhale.  A dissolve, a let go into mini-death.  Passing away.  Arising and passing away.  So brief, that precious time we have allotted between birth and death.  Take a breath in and pause.  Feel that sweetness.  Rumi invites us to use that time wisely:

“There comes a time when nothing is meaningful
except surrendering to love.”

It is in this surrender we suffer the inevitable loss of what and who we love.  It is in this surrender that our hearts inevitably break.  It is in this surrender that the inseparability of love and loss become an anguished reality.  Maybe your heart is like mine.  In an effort to carry on, it is capable of feigning forgetfulness.  But below this surface deceit, my old wounds smolder.  And with this fresh loss they ignite into a renewal of this perspective. This time the love/loss bond feels urgently regenerated.

I have an old tattered bookmark with a quote from Stephen Jenkinson, author of Die Wise.  A reminder, a hindrance to feigning forgetfulness:

“Grief is a way of loving what has slipped from view.
Love is a way of grieving that which has not yet done so.”

And Confucius say, “In each life there are two lives.  The second one begins when we realize we only have one.”  The moment that second life begins, the moment we heed the call to live in earnest, that moment comes for each and every one of us.  We can be so friggin’ denial adept that it comes quite late for many.  Too late for some.

Yesterday we danced in this territory and felt ourselves come alive.  It is one thing to sit here and read about loss and love as a concept.  Something quite different happens when you move with it.  I’m teaching Wednesday night again.  I don’t know what else to do but keep moving with this.  It’s how I’m built.  Maybe you can join us at Clara.  Maybe you’re not ready.  But we can all breathe.

Take a deep breath in.  Feel whatever is arising, feel born into possibility.  Hold that breath: cherish the time you have been allocated and remember what and who you love.  Let the breath go.  Feel it all passing away.  Yourself included.

Surrendering to love…bella

Remember spring 2020?  We entered this strange chapter at the Equinox, realities of life as we knew temporarily ending at the same time that signs of life renewing itself were blooming all around us.  Now it is Equinox again.  Six seasons have come and gone.  And the “temporary” feels utterly perpetual.  Somehow the Sunday New York Times helps me mark the passage of week after week and the cover article of their flashy magazine grabbed my attention:

When We Could Be Together All We Wanted To Do Was Dance

The author recalled the hopeful doorway we moved through Equinox 2021.  Remember?  The vaccination thing was working.  We cast off our masks and gingerly, or not so gingerly, began to be with each other.  Faces revealed.  Embraces relished.  The joy of gathering in public spaces.   Fear put to simmer on the back burner.  What did the author, Carina Del Valle Schorske, do in that short window of time?  In every conceivable NYC setting, including a 5Rhythms class given by a teacher I know, she danced.  And danced.  And danced some more.  And then she wrote of her experience and quoted French historian Phillipe de Felice:

“Eras of greatest material and moral distress
seem to be those during which people dance most.”

Which is confirmed weekly by our dance closing circle comments and my own experience.  The bigger question is why. One more quote from this article:  “Historical accounts leave little doubt that the boom in public dancing had something to do with the proximity of death.”  And that still leaves us wondering why.  Why dance when death is looming on the transom?  Could it be that we all have a boogie lurking inside us and the realization that this impulse may never find expression breaks us free?  A now or never thing?  The specter of our own mortality unearthing our god given body joy, the yum of beat responsiveness, our longing to feel and be with other breathing bodies, sense the common pulse of humanity in motion.

I just know what is true for me.  I’ve had intervals of loss and moral distress sprinkled with regularity throughout my life.  From the get-go.  Maybe that’s why the dancing force is so strong in me.  Lately it seems like god has renewed my subscription with grief.  And I feel the impact of six seasons of beating the drum, improvising ways for us to vibrate together.  No matter if I’m out moving with you or dancing behind the desk …it has proved to be an anchor for me.  Blessed be my family, friends and my home.  The sky, the trees, the ground.  And there is no doubt that moving in the garden on Sunday and Clara on Wednesday also keeps me from floating off the face of planet earth.  In this era of great distress dancing is a saving grace.

Not to make light of our time on the mat together.  When I realized how far we journeyed in these six seasons I knew it was time for an introduction to the landscape.  Something I used to do periodically in person.  Live.  Remember?  But since on line is working for Friday morning Essentials, an introduction on line just makes sense.  This two hour practice is all you need to know to be in class on Friday mornings and/or avail yourself of the slowly developing Video Library.  The first class on feet just landed in the Hip, Knee, Foot section.

This video gives you a quick overview of what we will cover during two hours Saturday October 2 10:00-noon.  Can’t make that time slot?  Guess what?  Enroll anyway and receive the recording.

Alrighty then.  All the way from death and dancing to the pleasure of rolling.  All over the board today.  May the balance of light and dark in this seasonal moment inspire the balance we need as we cruise together toward the winter solstice in these rocky times.

Love through it all….❤️Bella

Can you feel your precious feet on the floor?  The weight falling into heels.  Sensitive to the empty space in the dome of the arch.  Plump nesting ball of foot.  Each teeny earth contact point of ten toe pads. Being grounded in these trying times…so many ways to practice.  But you might start with your feet.  What do you feel right there, right now?

Our bodies speak to us in sensation.  Sometimes, in some body parts these sensations begin to inscribe sentences. Over time some of these sentences develop into chapters.  An entire story can become written in a particular region.  If you are human, most likely this experience has been yours.

I still remember my body composing a chapter in early 2007.  The sensation began so faintly, my foot gently aching from time to time.  You might know this one.  How a random ache develops into that first step out of bed being exquisitely painful.  Sensation that haunts every move, captivates your full attention.  When you begin to inquire, plantar fasciitis will be the most common response to “what is this?”  On the “how to get rid of it” front, many practitioners will focus on where the sensation is arising: the pain at foot bottom.  Seems logical enough.

I limped along with this developing story for a good long while, using my hands to massage the plantar fascia at foot bottom, meds, various supports, rest.  Finally went to a physical therapist specializing in foot treatment.  Did he treat the painful bottom of my foot?  No.  Instead he dug into my inner shin, breaking up some gnarly fascial binding.  I had no idea this lower leg tightness was causing the foot pain.

I followed up with my own posterior tibialis digging, a muscle that sends its tendons to foot bottom.  Plantar fascia is the surface cover over an extremely dense tendon region down there.  And those tendons originate from muscles in lower leg.  My recovery chapter began with releasing what had tightened.  Lately I’ve been calling the release self-care I teach the “gateway drug” because it temporarily relieves the pain.  For full healing, after establishing loose, the healing practice of long and strong are ready to move front and center.  Not only did I learn how to consistently loosen up tight tissue, I learned how to stretch it accurately and strengthen it as well.  This chapter had a happy ending.

Over the ensuing years I’ve treated many of your feet.  I love this work and through working with you one-on-one, general principles have emerged that apply to all of our feet. Maybe your foot hurts right now, maybe you’re AOK but this pesky foot thing periodically crops up, maybe you’re just curious about how to prevent this challenging and universal problem.

To that end, this Friday September 17 Essentials begins its new chapter—Foot, Knee, Hip.  The first two classes of this series will focus on our incredible feet and uber-connected lower leg.   Come get educated and inspired by yoga infused with self-care physical therapy sensibility. Those tootsies will love you for it.

Love, Bella

Do you know confused?  This tizzy of frustrating paralysis?  Have you ever watched yourself generate flimsy excuses about why you’re feeling stuck?  I know this place and last week, muddled to the max, I turned to my Osho deck for inquiry.  “What can you tell me about this confusion?”  And I drew the Compromise card, which made no sense at first. Compromise? Lately my being and doing feel like a total matchup.  See last newsletter.  But the following paragraph just kept rattling me:

“Compromise may be just a repression of your confusion. Never repress anything, be clear-cut about your situation.  If you are confused, remember that you are confused.  This will be the first clear-cut thing about you: that you are confused.  You have started on the journey.” 
Osho

When words land in your lap and create recognition and then go on to serve as illumination, maybe even mandate action…well, that’s a library angel.  Not to be ignored. Not only did Osho name my old friend confusion, he went on to ask me to be clear-cut about it.  What an invitation.

Because as soon as I probed what was squished underneath that confusion…well things fell into place.  Just like I said: recognition, illumination, mandated action. There are those who know me well, have witnessed and moved with me through befuddlement default zones.  Lucky me, friends who call me out when I dig myself in deeper, stubbornly mired in confusion, claiming a futile victim-hood.

The particulars are less consequential than this insight.  There may be jewels under the rock of confusion. Who would have thought?  Maybe you know this place, too. And, given a little time, the particulars slowly dawned as I looked under the rock of my current teaching path.  I’m holding space a lot.  For many students and patients.  Called with a vital energy by this pandemic chapter to be in service…with a great deal of passion.  Lately, when I slow down and listen, here’s what I feel: a burgeoning somatic wisdom coupled to the relentless passage of time.  A natural age-mandated season is dawning, a time for holding less space. In fact I’m keenly aware of the longing to be held in practice myself, the desire to show up for my own devoted experience.

The cover up confusion emerged when I faced adding one more commitment: the re-start of that precious mid-week 5Rhythms class.  A space I have held whole-heartedly for so long.  My heart was not in it.  So I check in with my partner Majica who, lucky for me, knows me, understands my need to be in integrity and recognizes truth when she hears it. She instantly got it: my wish to show up only as a student on Wednesday night.  Just for the month of September.  And, just like that,  so it will be.  I can’t wait and I hope to be moving out there with some of you on that precious floor this month of September.

The language of the body is sensation.  Over the course of a couple days I experience the shift.  Confusion feels so dense tense, frozen trapped, compromised.  Deer in the headlights.  With the rock lifted, with light shining in, there is movement and change.  In my body the sensation is one of resting ease, effortless breath, simple grace…fluid alignment.

So I hope I’ve touched those who know confusion.  Together we can practice being clear-cut about this state.  Lift the rock and be curious about what  yearns to be uncovered.  Moments like this are exactly what happen when we are on the dance floor, on the mat and on the treatment table.  Together.

❤️Bella

 

The picture up top?  For seven days, my reality.  And now I’m back.  There is smoke.  There is Covid.  There is drought.  There is Afghanistan.  There are hurricanes.  There is loss upon loss upon loss.  My first day back felt disastrous, overwhelming.  I wondered if the time away was worth the onslaught of return. And I wonder how we continue to move through each day with a modicum of grace.

This morning it feels possible once more.  For now.  It comforts me lately to reflect on a vision of some great power in charge of The Big Plan. Holding the infant that I was in 1950 and saying, “This one. This one I am preparing for 2020.”  Because lately it feels as if the ensuing decades, regularly dosed as they were with ample suffering, were perfectly crafted to deliver me to be with these times.

And also to be with you and hold space for you in these times. The clarity I am blessed with around this calling startles me in its spontaneous arising, its unbroken feeling of connectedness.  This deep well of resonant responsive reciprocity.  And so offerings that invite us to stay present continue to unfold.  It is what I know how to do.  And some days it is the only thing I am clear about.

ESSENTIALS

I want to welcome you to this world if you have yet to dive in.  Twenty minutes on your mat to breathe, roll, tone and stretch can create huge change.  And ninety minutes weekly supports you in that personal practice.  You can do that on Friday mornings at 10:00 or you can dive into the evolving  Video Library.  Calendar Saturday October 2 10:00-noon for a slow moving  introduction to the basics.

I am also holding small, outdoor in person classes for the vaccinated. Frequent pivoting required—stay tuned! If that is of interest to you and/or you have an outdoor space that would support a small class, please drop me a line in reply.

5RHYTHMS:

For many of us, the medicine we receive from dancing is vital and potent.  Majica Alba and I continue to wind our way through the morass of how to safely and effectively offer.  If this territory is unfamiliar, you may take a peek here.

We dance every Sunday from 10:00-noon, on-line AND in person (vaccinated). This also has required frequent pivoting; stay tuned. Please reply if you wish to receive Saturday updates regarding the in person offering—weather sometimes calls the shots on this beautiful two acres.

For the month of September we return to Clara on Wednesday nights 6:30-8:30.  Ready for the crazy details? All east doors open, masked, vaccinated only, limited participation for optimal physical distancing.  This tells you how much we love our dance medicine!

PHYSICAL THERAPY

It is so good to be with you again up in my studio.  And I will continue to see you on Zoom if you are not in this geography or for any reason unable to safely be seen in person.  Our time together is dedicated to those specific unique-to-you body challenges.  You know.  That achey back, troublesome shoulder, ever present hip, undependable knee, persistent foot, tense neck.  You get the drift.  If you are willing to spend twenty minutes on your mat most days, I’m your practitioner.  Our collaboration moves from assessment to hands on treatment to home self care instruction, supported by our video creation.

The Big Plan is relentless…and so is this unbroken feeling of connectedness.  Feeling you out there….❤️Bella

 

Most Sunday mornings, I head out to dance in the garden. I cruise through mid-town, cross the American river and turn left on Northgate.  Right there, beneath the overpass, week after week, I pale at the jumble of broken down tents, piles of rubbish, scattered outhouses littering the landscape of the river’s edge.  The people living here are lean and dark, downcast eyes, shoulders to match.  I look.  I breathe.  I let in.  My Sunday practice for more than a year now.

It would be so much easier to put on my trusty blinders and speed through in my red car, deep in much more important thoughts.  Why would I let in this horrifying specter?  More evidence of all the suffering on this planet.  It is so deeply ingrained to turn away.  How else can we make it through each day?  Each week, in this same location, I surrender to another way.

Buddhism 101 encourages us to use breath as prayer.   Invites us to begin by actually inhaling the suffering into our bodies. Thich Nhat Hahn puts it so well:

“We need to understand the goodness of suffering.
It is the compost that helps the roses grow.
It is the mud from which magnificent lotuses emerge.”

Tonglen is a simple practice that offers us an on-the-spot choice in the face of suffering. We have opportunities aplenty: our own misery for starters.  The challenges arising in the lives of our loved ones.  When the tonglen muscle is strong we can use it whenever we are present with hardship. Try it for a moment right here in the ease of your seat.  If you have the front page of the newspaper handy…suffering is there.  But any heartbreak memory will suffice.  Empty of your breath and then sip in a few inhales specific to this suffering.  Let it in.

Aaah, you have felt the catch. Tonglen isn’t effective unless we fully let in the hurt.  Darn it.  It is so culturally entrenched to resist, to turn away.  But if you find yourself able to let some in, consider this: your magnificent body knows what to do with that world of hurt. Your body actually knows how to compost.  Your body is not afraid of mud.  Your body actually thrives in it.  Your body can washing machine churn and be a cleanser of suffering.

And once your body does that, your exhale emerges as prayer.  For what?  You choose.  A prayer for healing, for transformation, for an end to suffering.  Out there on Northgate my exhale prayer becomes a plea for all beings to be safe, for each person living there to have enough to eat.

This poem by Gregory Orr has always touched me:

Some say you’re lucky
If nothing shatters it.But then you wouldn’t
Understand poems or songs.
You’d never know
Beauty comes from loss.It’s deep inside every person:
A tear tinier
Than a pearl or thorn.

It’s one of the places
Where the beloved is born.

Because we all have that shattered place deep inside, that tear tinier than a pearl or a thorn.  And when we are ready, we can breathe it to life and find out what beauty is ready to come from this loss.  These bodies know how.  There are lotuses just waiting to emerge from the mud.  There was a time twenty years ago when I absolutely got that I was not one of the “some say you’re lucky” ones.  And I got to work in the mud.

These last few weeks I have been deep in it. There is never an end to it.  If there was, I would cease to understand poems and songs.  In this moment, I am feeling lucky indeed.  Lucky to have lived a life liberally sprinkled with suffering. When loss is on my doorstep, I eventually open the door wide and breathe it in.  It is so often the birthplace of the beloved.

I long to practice with you.  We can meet on the mat or the dance floor or up in my studio one-on-one. Until then…breathe it in, compost it, let fly your prayers on the out breath.
Love, Bella

I pulled up to the drive in pharmacy window at CVS and already knew the drill.  Insert  Qtip an unreasonable distance into each nostril, twirl then hold 15 seconds.  Put nasal sample in sterile tube.  Disinfect and open receptacle to deposit secretions.  Sigh.  Drive away.  Pray.

First two tests were negative, this hopefully my final one.  Necessitated by Covid exposure first at Harbin, then Four Springs and then (as if that were not enough) Esalen.  Eight days at the end of July I’d been anticipating ever since it seemed the world was opening again.  Ever since the CDC said we could go mask-less if immunized.  Ever since I entertained the hope that maybe, maybe, maybe we were moving in a good direction.

Unfortunately these events coincided with the Delta variant explosion.  Despite precautions that seemed logical even the week before—proof of vaccination OR current Covid test for unvaccinated—some people ended up positive and sick.  Even some vaccinated had “breakthrough”, though the illnesses of the unvaccinated were more severe.

This community and so many others are moving through this chapter together.  In my last newsletter I wrote about why I might be able to facilitate a workshop focused on cultivating being.  That perhaps decades of life experience salted with unflagging awareness ripened me for this service.  In the last week I recognized that, along with my incredible partner Majica Alba, I am utterly capable of holding a community moving through an episode of this nature as well.

Why am I writing about this?  Well for 15 years I’ve written about anything and everything arising of import in my life.  Especially when it intersects with your life, our lives. A practice of vulnerability, humility, illumination…often all three.  This is not a moment to hold back.  Do I wish it were different than this?  Well, yes.  Sigh.  It’s been a great deal to hold.  But here’s the gift.  In this deep period of holding I’ve been made utterly aware of the reciprocity in this field.  The mutuality.  The way the community holds me as I hold community.  The way we hold each other. It took this bigness to feel this truth.

And I’m writing for one more reason.  After this front line experience, it would be irresponsible to remain quiet, to not shout out the necessity of vaccination.  We are in another critical moment.  This new Delta variant is an entirely new animal that wants to survive as much as we do.  To that end, in all its biological intelligence, it is more virulent and more contagious. Giving our weary immune systems, vaccination is our own best biological intelligence.

Take a breath in with me here. That breath comes from the air we all share.  Now breathe out.  That breath is your contribution to our shared space.  There are seven billion of us on this ailing planet.  We each have a choice.  We can act from fear about how vaccines may negatively affect our personal health.  Or, we can act on faith in the hope of supporting our families, our communities, our common good.  Clearly those not vaccinating have the right to make their choice.  I am not here to change their minds.

But I am only one person, an elder, capable of only so much. I do not know what the future holds.  In this moment if we are together in person and indoors I feel I can hold the vaccinated.  That has risk I am willing to bear.  Outdoors…not clear.  Things are rapidly changing and I am only capable of speaking to right now.  Stay tuned about Sundays in the garden.  This Sunday, August 8: no dance as we ride out this Delta variant wave.

On line?  A whole different story.   Very grateful for this teaching forum we scrambled to establish March 2020.   It is a functioning piece of beauty.  And I’m really excited to let you know the Video Library, recordings of Friday morning Essentials, is finally available. I love practicing with you in real time and the recording is always available on request with your enrollment. Missed enrolling? I’ll be adding a class each week to the Video Library.

Here are two opportunities to practice in the comfort and safety of your home this week:

  • Release in the Rhythms Saturday August 7, 10:00-1:00 Pacific Time.  A playful 3 hours: 30 minutes dance then 30 minutes of rolling; repeat 3X. All in service to feeling where we hold stress and how to release it. Erik Iversen from Montreal and I have so many combined decades of expertise in bodywork and dance—well I don’t even want to name how many! If you love to move to music, if you appreciate foam roller releasing and want some solid guidance…this is for you.
  • Essentials Fridays August 6, 13 , 20 10:00-11:30.  An embodied exploration of the autonomic nervous system.  Miracle fibers that keep our heartbeat, blood flow, breathing, digestion functioning without conscious effort. First week: sympathetic—fight, flight, freeze. Second week: parasympathetic—rest and digest.  Third week: enteric—did you know you have a “gut brain”?  Pre-enroll for all 3 to commit and save or drop in to any single session.

It is life support when we learn how our amazing body functions. Experiential anatomy allows us to explore each body system or region.  Formatted weekly in a way that repeats with gentle variation: release with rollers and balls; subtle tone deep core; stretch out tightness; a bit of yoga asana. Tender encouragement for your personal practice in the comfort of your home.

If you’re new to Essentials (or old!), check out this new video illuminating how to engage bandhas.  This technique is integrated into each session in a variety of positions to effectively align and deeply tone the core.

Alrighty then.  Let’s take one more breath in together, sharing a moment of gratitude for any way in which you are being held in this moment. Let yourself rest in it and feel the healing power of being held. Then, on the out breath, let that holding float out to someone you love. May we all be held.  ❤️Bella

I found myself wallowing in doubt a short while the other day.  Really, who am I to teach a workshop titled Cultivate Being?  What do I know?  I should be teaching the alternative, the one called Cultivate Distraction.  There’s where my expertise lies.  Besides, the last time I held a multiple day retreat was 2014 at Harbin, before it was lost to flames.

But as I wallowed, a persistent voice begged to chime in.  Bella, it murmured, why wouldn’t it be you?  You are poised at the portal where being looms as the final frontier.  Certainly I have cultivated self-observation, recognizing my behavior somewhat objectively.  An ability to witness myself in action has led to glistening moments of self-understanding.  Albeit in fits and starts.  Insights that consistently deliver me to thresholds of change, of transformation, of making a shift.

I’ve felt how staying present, resting in awareness will move me off the transom and open the door.  Destiny persistently prods me from distraction, points my nose to the here and now and says “this is what you need to deal with.”  Real time experience, though I may not like it, though it be inconvenient, generally gifts me exactly what I need. Time and again.

Warning: 5Rhythms geek-iness for next bit.  In the best of scenarios, life moves us through a cycle illuminated by the rhythms.  We’re born to meld and flow with the earthy maternal a few short years. Then we individuate  a spell via the fire of staccato: learn to love another, set boundaries, play by the rules.  Puberty initiates chaos and we can spiral in this energetic vortex for years.  In hindsight, that is how it was for me.

It appeared I’d exited adolescence, dropped into maturity.  There were decades of incredible and all-consuming marriage and children and professional development.  O.K….I did flirt with rebellion, did some crazy
s—t, had some raucous adventures.  But you know what?  I was basically a good girl adhering to my childhood programming.  Years went by.  Sometimes when we’re stuck, the shadow-y stuff is what finally gets our attention.  I careened toward mid-life crisis suffering an ever-diminishing ability to control life and an increasingly painful confusion.

At fifty I began to dance in earnest. The presence and exquisite awareness cultivated in consistent practice lifted me off this festering threshold and opened the door to overdue change.  Thus began ten glorious years of chaotically lyrical transformation.  Years of surrender, years of letting go, years of exploring what maturity really had in store for my gifts.  I rode this turbulent wave to the shore of a destiny very different than I’d imagined.  A melding of personal, creative and professional…no part held separate from the others.

Over the last ten years, my soul has kept ripening. Albeit in fits and starts. Trusting my gut self, loving my undefended self, letting go into living life just as I am.  No abject apology, no crippling doubt, no shame.  Mostly contented peace, deeply profound gratitude. I find myself poised on the cusp of the final rhythm, stillness.  Which is what (being the fifth in a series) Cultivate Being is about.  I’ve lived through so much to arrive at this moment.  Maybe I do know something of this territory.

Perhaps we cultivate being when we simply cultivate living.  Living with awareness through the wave of a lifetime.  Being fully present to all the painful, unexpected, not-in-the-plan stuff, we learn what is essential.  That we are not our appearance, our emotions, our thoughts, our personality.  That we are not some strategy for coping with life. That being in alignment, being authentic is an expression of what’s underneath all that drivel.  When life is free of apology, bitterness, blame and shame we walk a path paved with experience-derivative truth.  And doubt shows up as an aspect of that truth.  But we carry on anyway and cultivate being in order to live from our essence.  There comes a time when the main thing left is to cultivate being. I have been so blessed.

❤️Bella

There I sat, a grandchild nested both sides, focused ready for a re-read of a favorite Dr. Seuss.  It was a golden oldie when my kids loved The Sneetches.  Pretty amazing how this classic has not only endured but telegraphed a future we are now living.  Maybe you’ve not had the pleasure.  The sneetches: large yellow creatures that live on their own planet, some with stars on their bellies.  The star-bellied sneetches parade around, shoulders thrown back, pride smeared all over their faces. Snooty noses way up in the air.  Those with empty bellies slink around ashamed and dejected, obviously in deep longing.

Everything changes when an enterprising young man shows up with his new-fangled star belly-making machine.  Lacking sneetches hungrily line up, pay a fee and come out the other end with “stars upon thars”.  Their noses snoot up as well.  The original sneetches are appalled.  No problem.  The entrepreneur has another machine designed to remove stars.  You get the picture.  Utter chaos ensues as the sneetches try to keep up with the prevailing and ever-changing trend.  Which after awhile is impossible to fathom.

My grandkids, both under twelve, still masked in public, did not miss the convoluted parallel.  We are living in a weird sneetch planet right now, crazy-making judgments flying through public space.  When the sign says no masks required for the vaccinated, what does it mean when someone is masked?  Maybe they’re not vaccinated.  But they could be vaxxed and living with a health risk or dealing with the unknown public every day or wanting to be extra cautious.  And who knows about the unmasked?  They could be rebellious Covid skeptics and/or mask efficacy non-believers.  All this ambiguity tolerance seems healthy on one level.  I could tolerate it better if I were less worried about the spread of the delta variant.

Last month 15,000 vaccine-required New Yorkers filled Madison Square Gardens to enjoy a Foo Fighter concert.  I have yet to experience the unique joy of huge group participation.  There is a ton of research indicating that joy and happiness and laughter are hugely amplified in the company of others.  A few years back I wrote about “collective effervescence”, the energetic harmony generated when folks come together with a common intention.  Dancing, singing, eating, exercising, worshipping…so many collective activities we have put on hold. We’ve had a long haul of lack of opportunity on this front.

Now that we are slowly, tentatively finding our way back, what does it mean to nurture our yearning for collective effervescence when we know some are excluded?  Or have to mask or have to weigh risk over benefit or know that some differ from us in risk assessment?  Sorry, lots of questions.  No answers.  For myself, vaccinated since April, there’s been a slow but steady peeling away of personal concern.  My mask, an accessory for so long, was mostly off the last couple weeks.

But my collective concern still runs deep. There are people I love who are not vaccine-protected.  It seems so clear to me that 7 billion people cannot live on this planet without this miracle that medical science has provided for a century.  There are just too many of us.  These five upcoming events illustrate what a crossroads we are all living upon:

Essentials:  mostly online, most Friday mornings 10:00-11:30.  I love this cavalcade of Zoom-ers.  Some are virtually present, some participate via recording.  The last four weeks: an embodied exploration of fluid spinal cord; sending and receiving of peripheral nervous system; four lobes right and left of cerebrum; and ever on the job brain stem.  Next week: balance and your cerebellum.  Each class in this nervous system series stands alone as we roll and release, subtly strengthen and become ever more flexible.

Sunday 5Rhythms Dance July 18 10:00-noon: live and in person every Sunday (except July 25), entering our fourteenth month outdoors.  Staying with this until we come back to Clara morning of Halloween.

Cultivate Being July 23-25 at Four Springs:  so excited for this long delayed three day 5Rhythms/art creation retreat, live and indoors.  Vaccination or current Covid test required.  We are full up but things change.  Let us know if you want to be on the wait list.

Resource and Renew July 26-30 at Esalen:  I’ll be assisting Lucia Horan for 5 days of dancing and meditating.  I do not need to write about how thrilled I am to return to the magic of Esalen.  Which is 100% live in person.  Maybe you want to come with me.

Release in the Rhythms:  Saturday August 7 10:00-1:00.  100% online.  Which allows me to team up with fellow teacher Erik Iversen in Montreal.  This is for you if you want a dance exploration of the unique way we each embody stress and the basics of rolling that tension away.  And if you love this idea, Fluid Spine is available on demand 100% online through July 23,link at home page bottom.

Yes, feeling that.  This yearning for collective effervescence.  Joy magnified because it is shared.  Maybe you are, too.  So willing to tread these ambiguous waters with you.  It’s better that way.
❤️Bella