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

Before I dive in to this uber-dance related narrative let me reach out to you yogis.  Are you ready to touch in to LIVE practice?  Feel it out?  Breath and move and feel indoors with like-hearted practitioners?  Please join me this Saturday at Clara for Essential Recharge.  Plenty of physical distancing space, masks optional and (maybe for last time), vaccination required.  Two hours of pleasure: guided rolling, subtle core, asana, stretch.  Focus on the sending and receiving nervous system: spinal cord, nerves, brain.  Let’s be together.

On to the uber-dance narrative:

Not long after I began holding space for dancers I wondered to myself….why are they coming out to do this?  Over the next year I point-blank asked many people.  Curiosity motivated me to catalogue an ever-evolving list.   But at that early juncture, I have to admit, I imagined I could serve with more accuracy if I knew why people came.  It took about a year to grok this faulty reasoning.  The truth was that all I could do was stay clear about why I showed up.  Meet people where they were and consistently offer up the authentically alive in me.  People would come that resonated with that.

I never waivered from that basic guideline.  At times trusting the support of that internal well is a dubious miracle.  If I patiently wait and listen, it never seems to come up empty.  But my curiosity about why people come to dance never declined.  A few weeks ago I named the ever-evolving list in class. Guided an investigation to clarify personal reasons for showing up.  The closing circle was rich with offerings of subtle variations I hadn’t considered.

Here’s what I sense:  we all come for many reasons.  And one or two rise to the top like cream.  Here’s the current state of the ever evolving list, gathered after many years out there with you.  Don’t see your creamy version?  Please drop me a note for my curiosity catalogue.  These are in no particular order, though I did put my numero uno at the start:

  1.  5Rhythms medicine is practice for the other 24/7:  It’s just so relentlessly revelatory. A guided music wave amps my awareness of what’s currently arising in me.  And then challenges me to maintain that awareness when I’m with you. Or with the group field.  Or both.  So on the dance floor, so in life.  The way I connect to myself and how I behave in the world is quite different than twenty years ago.  In part thanks to this practice.
  2.  Love to dance/ love music: This is such a huge reason for me as well.  They all are!
  3. Meditation: 5Rhythms is simply a moving meditation.  I sit on a cushion most days, but dance is much more akin to real life.  If I’m able to dance-meditate, stay present with eyes open, music going, people all around…then presence is possible anywhere!
  4. Refuge, sanctuary: For some, the dance floor is a safe haven.  I get that, I respect that AND this reason…not so high on my list.  I’m not a space holder who goes out of her way to insure absolute safety.  Actually more a believer that we learn on our edges.  Prime example of why someone may decide not to show up in space I hold. They might not resonate with that edginess.  And that’s OK.
  5. Community, sense of belonging: I know this is cream for many.  And I consciously create space that fosters this sensibility in a variety of ways.  After July 4 Sweat Your Prayers we’re having a community picnic. Please come!
  6. Healing, transformation, growth:  This is totally connected to #1 for me, almost inseparable.  For some this reason is primary and 5Rhythms practice is not necessarily the route they are taking.
  7. Authentic self-expression: How often have I heard a version of this? “This is the one place I can come and truly be myself.”  Many, many times.
  8. Prayer, connection to spirit:  It’s all a prayer. When we dial it in, spirit is ever-palpable.  The wave-induced delivery to the fifth rhythm is, for some, the primary reason they come to dance.
  9. Fun, play, pleasure, joy: For one year pre-pandemic, at practice end, a moment generally ripe with intimate insight, my experience instead was one of pure and simple pleasure.  The joy of feeling my body in effortless motion.  Go figure.  Feel like that one is on the rise for me again.
  10. Bliss seeking, transcendence: Never something I sought, just a sometimes outcome, especially the first few years of practice.  Usually when multiple workshop days produced this form of magic.  Bliss can be super-seductive.  I won’t turn it down, but I’m actually more grateful for a down-in-the-trenches transformative experience.  For me bliss just doesn’t equate with insight. To each his own!

Well, so there you have it.  Curious if you have additions, subtractions, observations.  And then Zoom came along and created a whole new playing field, re-arranging all these reasons in interesting ways.  Two things about Zoom and dance for you to consider.  For now, we are done Zoom-ing on Sunday and Wednesday.  This format has potential though, and Montreal’s Erik Iversen and I had so much fun Zoom collaborating in May that we’re doing it again August  7 for Release in the Rhythms.

We are two embodied peas in a pod and once again we’ll go back and forth during the three hour stretch: me guiding quiet body awareness, fascia release foam rolling.  Erik moving us in the dance. A playful informative practice exploring the rich default story of the shapes and patterns we inhabit. The unconscious accumulation—structural, emotional, mental—of a lifetime.  How, where, why do I hold on to stress?  This is expertise garnered over two long lives offering long-term health both on and off dance floor.  All in the comfort of your home space.  Please consider joining us.

Practice: relentlessly revelatory.  There is one small catch however. Favorite Woody Allen quote….”80% of success is showing up.”  Let’s just keep showing up together….❤️Bella

Retreat:  1) an act of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable   2) a place of privacy or safety  3) a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director

Last year, right around end of May, we were supposed to be prepping for a period of group withdrawal.  A long anticipated community retreat, the first since the 2015 loss of Harbin to fire. This retreat was special, not only for its resurrection value, but because it was the culmination of five year’s of art/dance collaborative workshops.  When we cancelled, the hard hit retreat center, unable to refund the hefty deposit, asked us to consider re-scheduling.  A year ago that felt impossible.  Business as usual evaporated all around us.  This one thing fell by the wayside along with a multitude of things.

Lately it feels like we’re picking up some of the fallen pieces.  Some we retrieve and return right back where they fell.  Everything feels up for consideration.  We looked at this fallen piece every which way and chose to let it find expression.  And the fact of that felt so dreamy…until last week when we physically returned to Four Springs and let ourselves fall in love all over again.  From the sweet cabin spaces, nested in forest of oak, madrone, manzanita, fir….

to the pool and grape arbor….

to the clean, light-filled dance space…

This retreat was dreamed up pre-pandemic and its description feels prescient.  Cultivate Being…..because in this last year some old ways of being began to be seen in new light. For instance, the habitual ways we can lose ourselves in the details.  Those pesky details that keep life in forward motion…relentlessly.  Or how every moment we’re busy fixing we forget to notice how perfectly right things are. In the silent spaces this year granted, life’s treadmill and the way it can overwhelm us came clearly into view.

This residential natural setting, some mandala-making, some 5Rhythms dance feels like the right place to gather and cultivate our way back to being together again.  Ah yes, always the conversation about risk.  We are asking you to exercise self-responsibility.  Masks and physical distancing are optional.   If this works for you, please come.  If it does not, just wait.  There will be a next time.  We are already more than half full: singles, doubles, tent space outdoors or sleeping bag space indoors.  And my son, Ross is catering some yum healthy vittles.

Ready to hop off for a moment? Move a bit away, give perspective a chance to ripen?  Consider what pieces you want to pick back up and what needs to remain fallow.  Retreat in the cradle of community with collective permission to just be.  Harbin Hot Springs is right next door…big invitation to soak all day Friday before we begin. That’s where I’ll be.

In the meantime, I’m here in Sacramento offering it up.  And when I’m not here, you can often find me out in the forest or at the ocean camping out in my trusty bus.

Time in nature is requisite for my well-being.  I hope we can spend some time in the lap of the great mother together.  ❤️Bella

What happens when you return to the same spot 20 years later?  Here I am again.  The base of Mount Whitney, the eastern slope of the Sierras rising everywhere that is west, straight up and out of the 5,000 foot plains of the Owen Valley.  Who was that in 2001 just beginning a crazy rambling month long odyssey in that red bus?  The one we bought for $9,000 the week before.  Barely six months along a 5Rhythms road beginning to be paved with all my neuroses, flagstones crumbling, re-arranging.  My life shifting around me, tumbleweed wheeling over arid sand.  Moving relentlessly toward wholeness.  Fostering way dormant creative urges, letting them finally have more say.  Carving out space for a more authentic emergence.  A place where surely less and less is needed.  Enough to live this given life exactly as it is.  A place I just could not settle for twenty years ago.  A place that doesn’t feel like “settling” at all.  But rather arriving, surprised at the welcome mat to a life that was always laying right at my feet.

What happens when you return to the same spot 60 years later?  Who was that trusting ten year old, dutifully keeping pace behind mom and dad and my little brother?  As if these wilderness total newbies knew what they were doing.  Their parental daring astounds me.  A left turn out of Lone Pine in that Oldsmobile 88, a trailhead winding into the eastern Sierras.  Laden with a mish-mosh of re-purposed backpacking gear, way before REI was your one stop shop.  Steel cups looped to our belts, scooping water out of icy streams.  Gathering down wood, roasting dinner over flames.  Imprinting a novice fire-tender who single-mindedly hones that skill to this day. No tent for this family, cocooned in red plaid flannel bags, fearless under boundless sky.  Building memories right along with the capacity for innate wonder: sapphire lakes, sterling granite, the potency of time stretching empty.

It feels like a parental spell cast in 1960, the family’s return to this sacred spot every year through my teens…well, it has steadily worked it’s magic. Through the random lifetime rhythms until 2021, a year that has stripped away any remaining ties of binding.  For me, for you perhaps, for so many.  Out here on my mat, the exploration of internal landscape feels like a match for these majestic surrounds.  An embodied sense of  bhanda ties that bind us, utterly released as the inhale moves prana through over and again.  What I am sharing on the mat continues to clarify: the intersection of breath, bhandas/chakras and release. Re-orienting to the shushumna as central touchstone.
Body Joy: Unbound Workshop

Incorporating the mat onto the dance floor unleashes the mythic questions. How has this year rocked our home/work world/balance/reality?  Ways that the lockdown has played with our authentic expression in the world.  Are we listening? Are we being heard?  This is the essence of Unbound: moving from lockdown to freedom online May 8th.  It will be so natural to hold this exploratory space for three hours with Erik Iversen, 5Rhythms teacher from Montreal.  Between us we draw from a combined 140 years of embodied wisdom, each of us deeply embedded in a life of internal landscape exploration.  I love dancing with Erik; his invitations are offered in the accessible language to which my body responds.  I hope you can join us for this three hour experience as each of us, in our own unique way begins the tentative moves from lockdown to freedom.

Moving relentlessly toward wholeness.  Fostering way dormant creative urges, letting them finally have more say.  Carving out space for a more authentic emergence.  A place where surely less and less is needed.  Enough to live this given life exactly as it is….❤️Bella

“Not even an inch.” This mantra, established immediately, oft-repeated throughout the reunion week-end. Emphatically, joyously, giggly—over and over. Marveling how crazy close we were to each other.  A vaccinated release from an entire year of no physical contact with my children and grandchildren.  After three glued days it still felt utterly strange, weirdly verboten.

Preview of coming attractions, eh?  This slow shift into shedding spatial and contact vigilance.  We are so in need, so ready, so yearning.  We know the beaucoup science around health benefits of touch.  We’re first hand experiencing our neurological wiring for connection. Where touch is deprived, humans cease to optimally thrive.  Not just physically and emotionally, but mentally, soulfully, spiritually.

It’s a weird coincidence how this year of touch taboo arrived on the heels of #MeToo. We were attuning to appropriate touch in new ways.  Feeling the cultural pendulum swing far enough to right years of wrong.  This unfolding drama abruptly closed for the pandemic season.  And because “so on the dance floor, so in life” this new perception of old behavior was playing out on practice floors around the globe, too.  Who knows if such hard won, freshly developed discernment will survive.

So when the door slammed shut a year ago, none of this went away.  Lack of touch and the longing it creates; graceful/awkward maintenance of physical distance; pandemic-enforced touch taboo concurrent with #MeToo sensibility—unfolds right before my eyes each and every Sunday in Sacramento.  Cuz somehow we’ve been moving together in that spacious garden through three full seasons now: summer, fall, winter.  The intrepid pioneers who initiated this miracle and do everything it takes to keep this practice alive are amazing. Courageous, inventive, respectful.

Now it is spring, things are slowly shifting. Participants are newly venturing out, some are emerging from the singular safety of Zoom, some are vaccinated, some are less than aware.  The territory is changing yet again and we just keep negotiating the unknown.  My partner Majica and I are charged with holding this sacred ever-evolving space. It is a responsibility we have not shouldered lightly.  And since health care delivery continues to be my highest calling, I’m grateful for CDC guidelines.  Especially now that this government organization appears to have re-joined the ranks of integrity.

It feels consummately clear that in a public setting, until we hear it is safe to do otherwise, we need to honor those CDC guidelines.  No matter if you’re sick to death of it, vaccinated, or just feeling rebellious we cannot touch each other out there.  The need to remain physically distant and/or masked is a communal imperative and demonstrates an embodied understanding that unless everyone wins, no one wins.  There are many among us unvaccinated and/or immune system challenged.  It is the wrong time to be selfish. It is the right time for us all to rise up together, as one.  And I cannot imagine a better practice setting for life than dancing out in that garden.

If we can keep the maturity bar high, I truly believe we’re offering some of the best specific medicine out there.  Health care that insures that, if not physically, we persist in connecting emotionally, mentally, soulfully, spiritually.  Strong in our communal desire for everyone to win. We’re practicing it on that dance floor every week.

Soon I’ll be considering how and where to have that first live communal Essentials class—just a one off for now.  But stay tuned.  No need to wait though.  That Zoom thing is established and awesome.  And we are in the introductory phase of feeling into the breathing benefits and subtle core toning available from an accurate practice of uddiyana bhandha.  If you are intrigued with the video below you might read about it in that highlighted link. I am loving how it feels in my body and I am starting to hear the same from you.  This week?  10:00am Thursday, Friday and/or Saturday.  The touch of the roller and the balls?  Not nearly as good as human touch…but an awesome massage just the same…and some of the best specific medicine out there.  Looking forward to that time when we can all be “not even an inch” and until then staying…

in service…Bella

LINKS to classes:https://bodyjoy.net/

By and by the events that pepper our days fall into place.  Our minds, hungry to create meaning, chew on personal stories.  Eventually interpretation breeds perspective.  Which the dictionary defines as the “true understanding of the relative importance of things.”  Sometimes that perspective awakens in a flash.  Which is what happened to me last Thursday.

Minding my own business, doing that Zoom dance thing up in my studio, guided by a Montreal teacher I adore.  Zoom dance, an animal with which I maintain a love-hate relationship.  I’ve learned more about my distraction patterns than I ever wanted to know this past year.  But something clicked that morning.  A kinesthetic memory stirred by the pure joy of my body in fluid motion, a fleshed out perspective of 2019.  2020 had clouded that memory, never allowed it to even fully emerge.

2019: a year that began in the worst of health—post-surgical, a month of radiation, unrelenting bronchitis that morphed into 15 days of unexplained fever.  I was one sick puppy.  I danced on and off through it all.  The loving care of an integrative medicine doc combined with my indefatigable spirit teamed up for healing that commenced mid-April.  I kept dancing.  By summer, feeling good felt brand new, amazing, vital. My dance was taking new form, a springy lightness that had never been there before.

Through the balance of 2019, in closing circle after closing circle, I listened to participants share their dance floor experiences: deep meditation, break through insights, personal transformation.  Variations on all the revelatory truths I had occasionally shared and witnessed in others for twenty years. I intimately knew the territory since my own practice of corralling attention to body, breath, mind often (not always!) yielded juicy personal insight or deep drops into the mystery.

I silently listened during most of these 2019 closing circles.  At the end of each practice I was empty in a way I had never felt before.  Week after week I was dancing two hours of unadulterated joy in motion.  My whole body grinning.  Extreme pleasure was the summation of my experience.  Each and every precious time.  I did not know how precious, even during the last dance at Clara March 11, 2020.

The events of 2020 completely wiped out that barely born experience that was revived Thursday.  Pleasure, foreign yet familiar, felt like it was missing in action, like a long lost friend.  I began to suspect I was not alone in this rusty relationship.  That the events of this long year have placed pleasure on our collective back burner.  On Sunday I invited us to feel how easy it is to be flesh and bone, the simple miracle of an arm winging through space, moving with the space around us as if it were a lover.  Music that allowed the beat to have it’s way with us, a beat we could feel deep and close to our bodies.  The pleasure of release, the savor of surrender.   From the group field response, I gauged I was not alone in this longing.

And so, dear reader, an inquiry.  Your own investigation.  So what’s your  pleasure?  Is it on the back burner?  What would it take to bring it to the front burner for a bit? So curious about us.  What has gone dormant during this collective trauma?  How can the classes I offer be in service to explore, to nourish, to awaken?

Well, the opportunities are all on line for you.  I was actually gonna write about immigration this week, how unless we’re North American native, we’re all immigrants.  How one hundred years ago my grandparents were immigrants.  These thoughts spurned by St. Patrick’s Day and how the Irish were immigrants.  The inspiration for this month’s fundraiser, Dance Essentials, donating all proceeds to the Sacramento chapter of International Rescue Committee  .

Well, so be it.  I had to write about pleasure.   And you can bet there will be a whole lot of pleasure in store for you on Saturday morning as we roll and release kinks, feel the beat deep and close to our dancing bodies and then, like cats in the sun, stretch long.  Plus, the pleasure that comes knowing that 100% of your tuition is helping an immigrant put healthy roots in our community.  Can’t make it Saturday morning?  Just send me your receipt of donation  and I’ll send you the recording.

It’s been a pleasure….love, Bella

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
10:00-11:15am

Deep Essentials
Friday February 19
10:00-11:30am

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
10:00-11:30am

Essential Recharge
Saturday January 30
10:00am-noon

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