Valentine’s Day dawned overcast and cold and damp.  No matter.  Because since June, every Sunday morning, you’ll find me outside on farmland bordering the Sacramento River.  Music radiates from my trusty old Mackies and a hardy group spreads out all over the property to dance.  We have now moved through three seasons together, missing only four Sundays due to rain, smoke, extreme heat.

I sat by the fire on Valentine’s Day and thought of the morning ahead.  I had some music pulled but my heart felt foggy as my window view.  What was this day about…really?  What measly words could serve as inspiration in such dark times?  And what’s love got to do with it?  My meandering mind pivoted to the previous night and the cat Zoom phenomena:

I was cast by the spell of this ridiculousness Saturday night.  Played it five times over.  Ended up in a floor heap, out of control laughter and tears.  What was that about?  Why did this video go viral?  Right now?  Why are people multiple watching and sharing?  What deep longing does it evoke?  Then it registered: in these estranged times, when solitude can overwhelm, this crazy video connects us.  Laughter connects us.  Tears connect us.

Feeling connects us.  Everybody knows frustration and worry.  Each and every one of us experience moments of gutsy courage.  We get pissed off and we forgive. We have moments of tenderness.  We know how it aches to care.  To be cared about.  You get my drift.  When we climb inside our own vulnerability, when we sense that everybody feels, we touch our common humanity.  We remember we are not alone.

And there is certain comfort in that.  Every time we laugh at the cat filter saying “I am not a cat” we re-connect with each other.  And here’s the thing.  I may not spontaneously trust that connection to another, someone unknown, someone seemingly different.  Gender, age, politics, color, economic status.  All these qualities of human being that superficially separate us.  But everybody laughs.  Everybody cries.

Separation is a lens we choose.  When I remember that you also laugh, when I imagine your tears, I soften and open and the yawning expanse between us fills with possibility.  With a merciful lens, the space between us morphs into a bridge.  A bridge we can learn to navigate, to negotiate.  To maybe even cross over.  Each step buoyed by remembering that we all laugh…and we all cry.

We danced open our hearts and eyes, felt into that bridge Sunday morning…on Zoom, in the garden.  And this was the one-class-a-month fundraiser, all proceeds donated to a local cause.  The river property we’ve been moving on is slated to undergo big levee reconstruction changes.  This community raised $950 for tree restoration.  Wow.  I am in a state of stunned gratitude.  Thank you.

Any community practice, whether on line or live, puts us squarely in the presence of that bridge.  We can choose to ignore that.  Eyes closed, in the comfort of our familiar skin bag.  Now we can even turn off our video.  There are times that is exactly what we need.

But we can also open our eyes, be curious, track our desire to hide out, reach out, space out.  Tap the universal sensation of vulnerability.  Trust the space between, knowing we all feel variations on this thread.  What’s love got to do with it?  Writer Sue Jaye Johnson in telling a story of my fellow teacher Peter Fodera said, “Life is not a spectator sport.  To know love, you first have to be present for it.”   That presence begins on the bridge.

I have a hankering to create some bridges in the alternative Zoom universe this Wednesday.  Johnson also said “You can’t get to love by reading about it or studying it.  You have to throw yourself in the pool.”  Throw yourself in the pool, take a walk on a bridge…plenty of opportunity this week.  Come feel. ❤️Bella

All links to these sessions:

Wednesday Waves
February 17
9:00am &/or 6:30pm

Basic Essentials
Thursday February 18

Deep Essentials
Friday February 19

Physical Therapy
(916) 267-5478 for appointment

Sunday Sweat Your Prayers
February 21 10:00-11:30am
Zoom in your home
Live in the garden

Dance Essentials
Saturday March 13

Essential Recharge
Saturday January 30

After The Holidays you might expect an essay about how unique, how challenging, how memorable the past two weeks were.  And they were.  But this morning I am curious about distraction, which the dictionary defines as 1) a thing that prevents someone to giving full attention to something else 2) extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.  Maybe this topic is connected to The Holidays.

I’m life long intimate with distraction.  I guess, for many, distraction is a default state.  With varying degrees of success—on the cushion, on the mat, on the dance floor—we come to practice giving our full attention.  And then, if we’re paying attention, we notice how the s—t hits the fan when we venture to be present out there in 24/7 land.

Zoom has shed some interesting light on this.  When distraction arises as I practice solo in my quiet room, there’s just no dodging it.  I’m the only one responsible.  I can’t blame the temperature or this person hovering too close to me or the music being too loud/soft or or or…  Left to my own devices, without others present, distraction  surfaces with astounding vigor in my lonely room.  Zoom clarifies how much I lean into physical human connection, particularly on the dance floor, to auto-anchor me to the present moment.

No, I’m not discovering this basic sensibility for the first time.  But I am feeling the spotlight of Zoom on my wandering heart and mind.  This is not rocket science. It’s simple, just not easy.  I like to invite attention to rest down in my body: sensation and breath and motion.  Distraction is when the energy rises up into heart or head.

This upward rise is the directional default that creates an ever-repeating loop if we’re willing to track and take it on:

*down into the body
*up into feeling/thinking
*golden moment: noticing we went up (which can take seconds, minutes, hours)
*back down into the body

The practice loop.  A hundred times in a single practice.

Why bother?  Real life example: I had precious visitation time with family this weekend, rare these days.  I tracked myself spacing out and up a few times and circled myself right back down.  Didn’t want to waste one moment in non-presence.  The afternoon, despite outdoor rain and cold, took on such an easy graceful lyrical tone.  This is what’s possible when I choose to anchor back down to body again and again. The mystery opens, I enter a timeless zone peppered with richness that has no compare.  And I love that place.  It can happen in practice and it can happen in real time.

Maybe this intrigues you.  Practicing in the spirit of inquiry we can find what pulls us away.  No blame, no shame, just curiosity about what distracts.  And what opens when we devote an hour repetitively returning to body language.  See below for plenty of mat sessions, which I actually find less distraction-prone than dance sessions.  That’s a whole other newsletter.

Super-excited about the newness of January Wednesday Waves, inspired by the nine consecutive dancing mornings bringing 2020 to a close.   We heard you and we love this format: one hour…in, out.  A single wave really lends itself to tracking the loop.  9:00am and 6:30pm…same class, same teacher, same music. If you morning dance, dance again in the evening, no additional cost, same Zoom link.

                                          “Attention is all we really have to give.”
Gabrielle Roth

These are ripe times for extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.  Giving our full attention is love manifest.  Let’s practice together.

Love, Bella

On my way to an inquiry about fully inhabiting the power of being, I was kidnapped by the word fluency. I’ve taught classes aplenty on the rhythm of flow.  I wanted another way in, a quality more all encompassing than feminine, circles, receptive, earth, interior, dark, inhale, continuous, weighted.  I kept obsessing on the word fluency, felt like a somatic expression of the power of being.  A being deeply in touch with their internal weather—breath, sensation, shifty feelings, looping thoughts—and fluently able to enter the external, the slipstream of human and earth events. You’ve seen beings in full possession of this quality.  They confidently glide through any space they occupy, 360 degree aware of the full surround. Fluent.

This delivered me to fluency in language.  Which is the ability to both express AND understand. And this notion transported me to influence.  I had us partner on the dance floor.  From the power of our own being, one person influential, the other being influenced.  A conversation.  Fluency is essential for true give and take dialogue. In this process our bodies grasped something sorely needed in this crazy polarized culture.  The ability to be influenced or be influential depends with whom you are talking these days.

This personal love affair with words was mined a couple days ago by Holly Holt , friend and fellow teacher.  She’s passionate about writing and is all about fostering the writer in us all.  To help meet that vision, she’s talking to women who write.  Women who cannot help but write.   I agreed to the interview because I adore that mission and 100% support her in it.  But I also knew there might be some pearls from this guided conversation.  I was not disappointed.

My first poem was penned at age seven, a plea to the tooth fairy. A poem that initiated a lifelong stream of verse.   And there was that diary I kept from eight to eighteen, relinquished to the trash bin in a raging fit of embarrassment.  Sigh.  And forty years of journals dating from 1970. A woman who cannot help but write. In 2005 I started this newsletter as an informational communication of my offerings as I transitioned from clinical practice to brave worlds unknown.

But toward the end of 2011 those private journal entries ceased. I must have sensed that lodged in all that off-the-record vulnerability there were musings to reach an audience I cared about.  This crossover to more personal disclosure was never a conscious decision, just a slow roll over. Didn’t start saving posts until 2013.  I just finished categorizing some of them for the new web site in Recent Revelations.

But the interview set me to wondering. Has my writing changed, lost its candor through its link to my public work in the world?  Has utilizing my writing to beat the drum about my work altered it?  In some weird way this question relates to my soup restaurant dream. Will monetizing my love of cooking change how I feel about being in the kitchen? The interview floated me all around this question and also showed me how tightly woven word love and embodied practice are confluent in me. Confluent.  Love of word, love of body…inseparable.

This age old word love of mine.  Its inextricable tie to embodiment.  This compulsion to pour sensation, feeling and thought into the written form. The revelations that come down the pike as word meets movement, as movement meets word.  Language interwoven with bones and breath and blood.  I’m dropping the worry about my writing being adversely affected.  Of course it’s impacted.  And that’s a good thing.

My private journaling was always about documenting experience and exploring what I was feeling.  I needed to write to know.  This here?  Same.  Except that because you are out there reading, the writing adventure is amplified, deepened, enriched.  Thank you for that.

I absolutely adored being with you last Saturday to trial run Dance Essentials: roll, dance stretch.  So much so that it’s re-scheduled for December 12.  If you have yet to enter the world of Essentials, this coming Saturday is perfect: a slow two hour cruise through release, tone, stretch.  Opportunity to feel so much…including fluent.

Love, Bella

P.S.  An inquiry about foot pain motivated the short video below.  Physical therapy via Zoom works amazingly well to address this oh so common challenge.  Don’t suffer with that one! Let’s do it.

All last week I waited.  Paralyzed.  Obsessed by a future hanging in the balance.  Where were you Saturday when the election news came down?  I bet we’ll always remember.  I was buying poblano peppers at the Ferry Building Market in San Francisco.  A sun drenched crowd erupted in spontaneous acclaim.  I love California.

The three day time warp that has since passed highlights a recurring personal reality.   Though I wish I could be a more transcendent being, the dread of waiting never spontaneously shifts to the joy of get-up-and-go.  I watched the impromptu celebrations across the globe, an observer of elation.  I could not feel it.

I danced in the garden Sunday morning, utterly present to moments of community jubilation.  I could not authentically get on board.  I wept into the grass. Four years of tonnage, magnified by the massive load of these last eight months, has talons firmly hooked into my back body. So much weight pulling me under.  It was blister cold out there, wind plucking leaves off ever-willing trees.  I did my best to surrender like that, released a big hunk of burden under a witnessing sky.  As much as I could through the power of practice.  It felt infinitesimal compared to the millstone remaining.

I know I’m not alone in experiencing the effects of unrelenting trauma.  Trauma that is not going to resolve itself just because the current political drama has potential to improve.  When a tidal wave of world and human events is this formidable, what’s a body to do?  How do we honor the truth of our internal experience and not resist or hide or freeze?  How do we stay in the moving current and continue to ride with the flow?

I wish there was some magic bullet to offer here.  Time.  It will pass.  And as it does we do what we must.  Breathe.  Stay present.  Feel.  Tell the truth.  Move.  Connect.  Repeat.  I have a fair degree of discipline, yet I cannot do this alone all the time.  I also need to do all this with you.  I need both.  This week we have five times to do this together.  You know about virtual Essentials Thursday and Friday morning.  You know we have a committed group moving together live on Wednesday night.  You know about Sundays, virtual and live.

What you don’t know about is this Saturday morning’s Dance Essentials (info at page bottom).  I’ve never done this on Zoom before.  This is a total trial run, a free offering, a let’s give it a whirl and see if we like it kind of thing.  This is 90 minutes of what is often my personal studio practice.  Awesome music playing, foam rolling and tennis ball-ing, breathing and feeling together.  Then we get up and dance awhile, enjoy fluid, expressive, shaking it all out bodies, hearts, minds.  Then we stretch it all loose and long together and finally drop into full surrender rest.  Details on equipment for class. Yum.  I hope you can join me.

So, O.K., no magic bullets.  But check this out: take thirty seconds to open your mouth and make some random sound as you wiggle your jaw around. Add in vigorously shaking your hands and stamping your feet.  Pause.  What is that remarkable sensation?  That is life force.  And it’s moving through you.  Imagine a 90 minute practice.  Let’s do it.

Love, Bella

On Saturday nights, Social Distance Theater has been holding parking lot converted to courtyard space in a funky 25th & R warehouse complex. Pre-pandemic it housed two theaters, the Poetry Center and various workshop rooms.  Now it is an outdoor haven for live musicians to offer their craft to a few scattered patrons in the balm of a Sacramento summer night.  What will happen when winter hems us in?
Last week I listened to both artists passionately speak about how meaningful being with a live audience has been.  How their artistry depends on the dynamic interplay between audience and performer.  How fused artistic creation is to feeling response, seeing expression, hearing applause, sharing laughter.  How our co-joined living breathing humanity literally sets the stage for music to unfold.  These testimonials pierced me, helped me name another piece of what has gone missing for me. 
Listening to live music, sharing the experience with an audience…yes, of course.  But on a personal level, I miss live teaching in a similar way.  Yes, we’ve been live intermittent Sunday mornings—as temperature and air quality allow—since July.  So grateful for the space and opportunity.  This experience, this interesting juncture of practice and the great outdoors, has served to deepen my recognition of the value of enclosed space.  There is nothing like a dedicated four walls to focus attention and limit distraction.  It is beautiful to be with the sky and the grass and the trees.  And there is a reason that most meditation practice is seated on a cushion, often with closed eyes.
I want to facilitate group practice within four walls again.  And I feel just like those passionate musicians as I anticipate 5Rhythms return to Clara on Wednesday nights.  For now, restrictions have lifted in such a way that allows us to show up live with limited numbers and several precautions. 

It takes discipline to be a free spirit.”  Gabrielle Roth

I feel the responsibility to insure public health on my shoulders.  And it feels like a responsibility I have carried a long time…willingly. We are all approaching how to be with this unique challenge each in our own way.  There is no right and no wrong.  To insure safety, this will be a committed group of dancers willing to take these precautions. Maybe you are feeling the call to venture out and see what’s possible and maybe this feels right for you.  These are the details to consider:

When:  Oct. 28-Dec 16              6:30-8:30pm 
Cost: $140 for 8 weeks. Payment in full due to hold your spot. 
The Rules: Temperature taken at the door.  Dancers must wear mask in lobby and auditorium and maintain 6ft physical distance while dancing. 
The Conditions:  Doors to lobby and parking lot remain open during our time together.  Wear layers.  A fan will be blowing air toward the doors.  We will not be simulcasting on ZOOM. 
The Numbers: We need a minimum of 8 committed dancers to move forward with this plan.  We can accommodate a maximum of 12.   We will assess returning to Clara January 2021 if we do not reach the minimum.  To create a safe container, drop-in is NOT available.  If you decide to join us in this commitment and our 8 minimum is not reached, you’ll be issued a refund.  If county returns to shelter-in-place status during our committed series, we’ll complete the series on Zoom. 
We left Clara abruptly in March, not even knowing it was the last time.  On Saturday Majica and I opened the doors and felt all that we have been missing as we danced a spontaneous wave.  I guess it’s pretty obvious that this opportunity to once again dance in community at Clara completely lights me up.  Just the dream feels so incredible to hold.  And my partner in all things dance feels exactly the same.  We are beyond excited to extend this invitation to you.  Click here and scroll down to reserve your spot with us.

Love, Bella

This world’s rocking us.  For a breath or two, feel that right here.  Just shift your weight right.  Feel the momentary relief of settling into “new normal” on one side.  Then feel the rug pulled out as you move left.  Don’t settle there.  Now shift right.  Back and forth.   Back and forth.  Until the rug pull itself is the “new normal.”  Keep rocking.  Keep rocking until maybe you just become the change itself. 
Living is all about change and teaching is such a metaphor for living.  After six months of continuous change, I’m aware of some deep resistance to all the shifts, even in my little teaching world.  Paralyzed sometimes. So I was surprised how deeply I treasured holding us in that sense of being rocked in Sunday Sweat Zoom-land.  It felt like maybe, just maybe, I finally entered the flow of human/earth events, moved with things exactly how they were, offered up what I could with the means in my possession.
What I had in my possession was a strong imprint of the previous day.  An evening on the smoke-filled north coast debating about traveling or scampering on home.  Body check: accelerated heartbeat, shallow breath, jumpy tense low back, butterfly belly, utter brain fog.  Classic sensations of fear.  Our body’s brilliant way of saying beware, be aware, listen, prepare for action.  I went to bed.
Rose early, entirely gut clear.  Get up, get packed, get home.  A couple tense route decision moments, pervasive dense smoke…but seven hours later we were at our doorstep.  Disappointed and grateful all wrapped together.  So it turns out I had all day Saturday to sink into Sunday’s teaching, curious what I might harvest from this experience. 
I put on music, moved to let in those memorable fear sensations.  Danced from confusion to clarity and back again.  Danced the difference between panic and calm, everything in between.  Felt shapes of dread and excitement, noticed how similar they can be.  Let my weight shift right left right left right left until I became the change. Moving faster than I could think, right in the flow of human/earth events.  The opposite of paralyzed, in resistance.  In no time it wasn’t about me anymore.  Tapped into the global, humanity unified in the face of our biggest fear, which might just be change.  Change itself.  Delivered finally to a felt sense of being watched over, protected, secure, safe at least in this moment.
Then I assembled the installation pictured above, inspired by these lines from this poem:
…all of our bones someday fall softly down to meet earth.
When you stand, send your roots down between the stones….
Altar complete, I pulled out my cards: “What do you have to tell me about fear and change?”  My left hand hovered over the spread deck a long time, one card shined, I pulled it.  COURAGE, a synchronistic place for it already present on the altar, a bridge connecting the two rock structures.  A  flower struggling to sprout skyward from between rocks.
And so on Sunday morning I held space for the intrepid Zoom voyagers to embody this journey from fear toward courage.  Maybe it’s a universal journey right now.  What exactly are we afraid of?  7.8 billion answers.  But might you too sense the embrace beneath our individual fears? Perhaps our deepest fear, the fear that unifies us all, is change. 
Somehow I feel like I’m on board for that now in a way that I wasn’t before.  Don’t get me wrong.  The shift is not making my life easy.  But a lot of energy can be expended on waiting.  And denial.  And resistance.  And paralysis.  I just need every available ounce for other stuff.  And what I get after this weekend’s experience is that some of that other stuff is teaching.  For the way it serves you, for sure.  But the leap I just made now happened because of the way teaching is serving me.  Funny thing…teaching. 

Carve out 5:15 Wednesday if you want support for dropping deep inside your body in a fresh new way.  Thursday and Friday 10:00 to drop in there in the most essential way.  Sunday Sweat 9:45—who knows what might be revealed?  The earth is rockin’ us; let’s rock together. 

So much love for the universe of us….Bella

I heard the term “collective effervescence” in a recent podcast and goose bumps rose on my skin.  It resonated utterly familiar but ironically unnamed.   We all know this: when the atmosphere magically crystallizes at a concert, a ballpark, a festival.  Durkheim, a French sociologist, coined the term in reference to religious gatherings.  He observed that song and rhythm connect people to create moments of unified transcendence.  Any shared experience of collective emotion unifies a group.
The goose bumps were quickly followed by tears as it dawned on me that we have not had this, you have not had this, I have not had this healing prescription in any form in six months.  We receive a vital medicine in live music venues, live theater, motion picture houses, houses of worship, crowd-filled celebrations. It happens in a yoga studio surrounded by embodied mat practitioners. Anywhere, anytime we authentically share an event with a group of fellow human beings, there is potential to generate collective effervescence.  Consider life as it used to be: where did you receive this medicine?
For me, what really hit home, where the deficit feels deeply jarring in its absence, is the reliable dose I received twice a week for twenty years on the dance floor.  Often more than that.  Not only have I not received, my skill in creating the experience for others has lain dormant.  What might surprise you is that the act of creating collective effervescence offers up double the medicinal dose. It is deeply unpleasant to be with my attachment to this, drift in and out of the pain of loss, acknowledge how my systemic health was regulated through this essential community practice.
Oh yes, we are dancing on Zoom.  Maybe you’ve danced with a Zoom community; maybe not.  I’ve heard more than my share of opinions about this experience from seasoned practitioners, but I only speak for myself here. It. Is. Not. The. Same. Zoom-land is always interesting, even intriguing.  Often frustrating. It tickles me how the technology has offered opportunity for those too shy or intimidated or scared to show up in person to dance. First ever experience on Zoom.  Amazing. Sometimes we move in our boxes and land in a shared zone of collective empathy.  Which has value in these times.  I know we are fortunate to have this technology; truly it offers us so much.  But it is a whole different animal than body-to body, face-to-face live and, at least for me, does not provide the collective medicine on which I deeply depend.  
Every summer we take a break from teaching Wednesday Waves and it was really good to stand in that tradition this year.  Time to feel into what had come to pass and wonder how we might shape the fall, given this new experiential base.  It’s a crazy world out there and we truly want to support you in staying aware, remaining awake, feeling alive and connected. Going into the pandemic, we felt blessed to lean into an established foothold in this transformative practice.  Somehow we have to find a way to move alone together through this strange chapter.
But right here I want to name the humongous elephant in the Zoom room: the glory of together—partner and communal—is pretty much on hold right now. The current on-line practice supports our relationship with numero uno, our interior dance.  Here’s the deal: if you’re a dancer who derives the most juice from taking a partner or bathing in the collective, this current practice will challenge you.  And maybe that’s just what you need.  Just a thought, who knows?  For those who delight in dancing in the corner, cringe when the invitation is to take a partner, this will definitely reinforce that preference.  It is what it is.
This fall we work with what is and flesh the internal exploration more fully.  5Rhythms is an exceptional map for that AND there are many other maps into that interior landscape. Both Majica and I have complementary skills we have been using in other formats uniquely applicable to the on-line experience. The rich world of art therapy, counseling, yoga and physical therapy combined with dance will illuminate our inner space. Alone together we’ll create a dynamic way to explore the body, open to feelings, become aware of thoughts. This is the map.  As body, heart, mind align, a portal reveals a gateway to soul and spirit. Alone together.
This is an invitation to move in uncharted territory, practice for life in a world changing so rapidly. This dynamic practice of presence is not only revelatory, but revolutionary.  It feels like it might be a matter of survival. Come with us as if your life depended on it and we’ll do this alone together.

And for now, the warm memory of collective effervescence will just have to be enough.  Love, Bella

Maybe you feel current events hitting you like a ton of bricks, the rage of injustice deeply stirred.  Yet again.  Maybe the news propels you into a morass of numbness.  Sinking into safe folds of oblivion.  Yet again.  Maybe your belly contracts in anxiety, new fear heaped upon the old fear.  Yet again.  Some of us waft into confusion as chaos comes calling. Others put the brakes on wherever control is feasible.  Yet again.  Yet again.  Yet again.
How much can we take?  We are finding out.  How are you doing?  A tidbit of an answer to that question arose in practice Sunday as I investigated an imaginary line. All the way at one end?  Relative ease dancing the insular space of fierce mama bear, protect-ress of everything me and mine.  No matter what.  At the other end of my imaginary line?  My bigger self reigned, moved magnanimously with inclusivity, embracing it all.  Compassion arising for all sentient beings, desire for every one of us to be safe, for all beings to live free of fear and thrive. 

Then that elusive place in the center, equanimity required to hold little me and big me all at once.  A place that smacks of mature wisdom. If we allow our awareness to expand, become less caught up in what magnetizes our attention…well, maybe we are all juggling this polarity right now.  With varying degrees of success.
How can we possibly hold all that is coming at us with so much force and speed and urgency without retreating into insulation?  Even in my relatively easy circumstances, I suffer days of battered exhaustion, barely making it through. Last week…the gift of a random respite, a privileged opportunity to completely rest three days—no news, no screens, tender companionship, good food.  And, most importantly, total balm of Mother Nature: endless expanse of sky and trees and sea.  
“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.’” – Sylvia Plath
On return, I breathed into the latest horrid news cycle, let it completely sink in: déjà vu frustration of injustice, self-preservative need for calculated caution, clear tracking eye on my tendency toward numbness, judgment, confusion, control. Way too awake to be seduced by any one of these old habits.  Compassion arising again and again with each barrage of information.  Buoyed by my bond to the natural world, for a brief moment, I hold this middle ground, my insular needs optimally balanced by my desire to include it all.  To witness, to be in right action, to offer perspective and holding, patience and trust, space for unfolding. 
And Saturday morning I returned to the bounty of outdoors again, holding six of us in a yoga practice beneath a grove of redwoods. We began by burrowing fingers deep in green grass, searching for four leaf clovers.  There it was again—this palpable nervous system downshift via connection with the natural world. I am so called to open us all to this resource right now.  We have been cooped up, loves. 
So, because we can, because the times urgently call for it, we switched things up for Wednesday Waves.  This Wednesday June 3 we begin a 5 week series to renew our ability to resource the natural world.  You could put headphones on and practice outdoors.  But inside or out, this dance is an embodied instinct boost no matter where you are.  We start an hour earlier at 5:15; sign up for the series or drop into any one.

Bones and earth; beat and fire and passion; water and blood, tears and sweat; breath, air, wind. Orienting to direction—bodies front, side, backs.  Father Sky, Mother Earth, Sacred Center.  Feel into your practice space.  Do you know in what direction East lies?  Find out now and join us Wednesday on this most natural of journeys, our animal bodies in motion….together.
And I’ll be leading practice from my backyard for this Tuesday’s Essentials…maybe you want to see if you can find an outdoor space, too.  This is the new web link where you can register for all of June or enroll to drop in any one Tuesday….fostering animal bodies supple and toned.

No matter where you are today, notice the trajectory of the sun in its journey east to west.  Our planet keeps spinning toward Summer Solstice, heedless of humanity in wild evolution, barely touched by our little lives in flux.  I feel this star coming front and center in my life, long days shining with light, warmth and nourishment. Let’s call in the seasonal change together.

Physically distanced, spiritually & socially connected…..

I’m home.  Maybe you are, too.  Feeling life spread out in a volatility that seems different than my own history with chaos.  Any childhood innocence about predictability was shattered at age eleven by the death of my sister.  Which coincided with the erratic uncertainty of omni-present nuclear annihilation: drop drills, backyard bomb shelters, food hoarding. The theme of unforeseeable continued: assassinations, civil rights riots, Viet Nam war.  In California several years-long droughts. The death of my mother, my brother.  My son’s cancer.  9/11.  Deadly fires.  My cancer.  The death of my papa. 

But this upheaval?  I have no context for this.  We ride together in uncharted territory. And my heart goes out to those of you in essential services, on the medical frontlines.  This sacrifice of sheltering in place pales in comparison.  And so we wait.  And in the stillness much is arising for me.  I know it is for you as well.  Like the cream that it truly is, two priorities bubble to my top: love and work. 

We all share in this first one.  Being in connection with folks we love is paramount.  As much as I’ve been dismayed by the telecommunication alteration in our relationships, railed about the way it actually distances us, bemoaned ad nauseum…I am so grateful for it in this moment.  It is allowing some of us to maintain our bonds sans the necessary balm of human touch.  We are all suffering from this lack of touch.  It is unreal to me that I cannot hug my children and grandchildren.

And then there is work.  Through its absence we can touch it’s significance in our lives.  For some of us—retired or “work is a necessary evil”—this moment is no different or perhaps a relief.  Speaking only for myself here: this moment has underscored, once again, my utter passion for work.  And here is the double whammy: my work is about healing and about fostering community.  So for me to NOT work in this critical moment of need…this is indeed painful.  For my own health and well-being—with full on respect for my own needs—and for the community’s health and well-being I am exploring possible ways to continue to work.  Yoga?  Essentials?  Physical Therapy?  Brewing on this. Today I’ll fill you in about 5Rhythms Dance.

Yesterday: a two hour Zoom call with 50 global teachers exploring how  technology will allow us to continue practicing together.  Highly technical learning curve with this result: me alone in a room with my computer, playing music, voicing over for you in a room with your computer, dancing by yourself.  Both of us looking at a screen with a bunch of tiny images dancing around.  I’m sorry.  At least in this moment, this has zero juice for me.  It has always been about the magic co-created between facilitator and participants, whether I’m in front of the room or in it.  I am not sure this practice translates in this fashion.  Reserving the right for change of heart.   Right now, what feels healthy for me is to ramp down screen and technology time.  The Zoom option would take a personal toll for dubious benefit.  At least for now.

Tonight is Virtual Wednesday Waves  at 6:30. Click the link for details.  I love Majica’s plan for this week.  Let’s dance at our appointed time with a 30 minute playlist accessible to most anyone on Spotify or Soundcloud.  Then we’ll dial in for a Zoom closing circle.  I’ll be there.  Why thirty minutes?  It’s a good place to start; long enough to do the internal practice, the interior dance.  This is only one third of 5Rhythms practice; we’ll miss partnering and being in the collective. Majica will most likely offer similar format Sunday morning this week. In this accelerating environment we’ll move forward one day at a time. I love our partnership.

And here’s what I’m currently offering: low tech, old-school support for you to move at home.  Look at the picture up top.  This LINK takes you to the current 5 SONG WAVE page.  On the left, a few words to guide you in practice.  Ignore if you want.  Click PLAY ALL under the picture top left and move for thirty minutes. There are random commercial breaks.  Click Skip Ad.  Know that I am right with you.  Every track was chosen as I moved to evoke the personal exploration of what it means to shelter in place, the theme of this particular wave.  Your body knows and wants to be in motion.  Trust in the movement and listen.

I’ll periodically publish 5 SONG WAVES on Facebook Dance Sacramento 5Rhythms.  My YouTube channel is full of 5 SONG WAVES I have curated in the past.  Providing in this way, in this moment, allows me to continue the work I love and be in service as an offering from my heart.  It allows you to shelter in place and keep moving.  It allows us to remain connected in the ethers.

And I am feeling very quiet.  The grief upon grief is doing its work on me.  I am staying very still.  And I intersperse that with walks outside, calling/texting family and friends, dancing and compiling 5 song waves, writing/reading, gardening, cooking, essentials and yoga on the mat, being with/loving sweet hubby. And I can truly feel how….

“There is only one of us here.”  Gabrielle Roth

We have been practicing for years.  We have what it takes to move through this.  Together.  Believing in myself, in you, in us.

Love, Bella

Really, who am I to teach a workshop titled Cultivate Being?  Me, the living embodiment of all things doing.  With the never completed to do list.  Whose sure indicator of illness is a reclined posture of nothingness on the sofa.  Well, actually, given all that, I’m probably a good person to offer this particular workshop.  I was born this way and moved unconsciously through the early years with this drive. What an incredibly mixed blessing.  I got a lot done at a significant cost.  Slowly awakening to this tendency over time has been humbling. 

For many years I was frightfully aware of this formidable attribute yet felt helpless to make a shift.  Struggling to be in honorable balance with a non-stop task master, learning how to healthy harness this trait….this has been my work the past couple decades.  I know a lot about how to cultivate being.  I certainly know when I am not doing it.

Funny, the decision-making process around offering this workshop is actually a case in point about this shift.  There was never a question Majica and I would offer this one-day final segment, fifth in a series, focused on stillness, weaving together the rhythms and the artistry.  That was a given.  But when she suggested making it a three-day retreat, I hesitated.  And every wise bone in my body attended to that hesitation.  I told her I needed time to be with the notion.

The old me would have just barreled ahead with this innocent proposal.  The old me knew how to run with her gut, say yes in a flash and then just do whatever was needed. The old me brought this community to Harbin on a three day retreat six years running.  And it was good.  In many ways, this yearly event, this retreat brought to finality with the 2015 fire, was instrumental in creating the community we now enjoy.  There is just no substitute for the residential experience: shared stories, breaking bread side-by-side, laughing and crying together, communal being…it is a very good thing.

And yet…where would we go if not Harbin?  And the timing seemed challenging.  And the amount of work seemed daunting.  Slowly, slowly I let it in.  I watched my willingness begin to emerge.  We found an awesome location.  We dialed in some good timing.  And the work?  Now split with someone else!  By pausing, by allowing time to be with, by sitting with the not knowing…this is how commitment and clarity arose.  And a big yes dawned with zero effort and no pushing.  

So we’re going and I’m super-excited and I hope you can join us May 29-31 in the oak-studded forest of residential Four Springs Retreat Center. Early bird pricing until March 15. Together we’ll cultivate being with mandala-making and 5Rhythms dance.  No doubt there’ll be optional Bella-style yoga in the mornings.  And here’s the kicker: Harbin Hot Springs is right next door…so you have a big invitation to soak all day Friday before we begin and/or spend the night Sunday, continue soaking through Monday. 

And because I’m so in love with Harbin and have been there several times since it re-opened (no conference center, no communal kitchen) and I’ve taken the time to pause and consider how to incorporate this incredible resource…I’m thrilled to offer some bits there before and after our retreat at Four Springs.  Consider extending your stay and join me: 

Friday      May 29     1:00-2:30pm
Roll & Release w/ Bella in the outdoor events tent. This is just the ticket for those pre-soaked bodies. Open to the Harbin public, by donation.

Monday      June 1      9:00-10:30am
Chakra Immersion w/ Bella in the tubs. In 2014, our last time at Harbin, 25 of us hot/cold immersed seven rounds, one for each chakra. It was stunningly memorable.  This is a ritual I do each time I go to Harbin. It’s a way to embody these unique energies and an experience you’ll treasure for a lifetime. No cost.

So what would happen if you got nothing done today?  If the ‘to do’ list turned into a ‘be’ list?  We can lose ourselves in the hundred details that keep life in forward motion.  We’re so busy fixing we can stop noticing how perfect most things are. Life’s treadmill  overwhelms. Maybe hop off a moment, move just a little bit away, feel perspective ripen.  Take this opportunity to drop the doing.  Retreat in the cradle of community for more than a few breaths as we give ourselves collective permission to just be.

Love, Bella