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

 

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

 

The view is unchanged.  Thirty years, same coastal location.  And, though the world is chaotically strange outside our front door, off the back deck things are persistently unchanged.  Dusky low tide sand, the jutting land spit holding Santa Cruz, diving pelicans and surfacing seals.  The low reverberation of wave upon wave upon wave.

Last week I wrote of suffering. A way to breath-transform the distress that surrounds us into prayer.  And here, nestled in this comfort cocoon for a week, I catch myself grinning for no apparent reason.  The suffering at the front door exists, but I remain by the back door where a pervasive sense of peace settles over this small part of the world.

Pema Chodron’s voice wiggles and squirms it’s way into my consciousness. Something she said about lightening up.  Something about seriousness being the world’s greatest killjoy.  And I wonder about joy in the face of all this pain.  Is there an embodied way to uncover joy, let it breathe, encourage it to rise to the surface?  Not in denial of the suffering, but in spite of it.

I have a long history of dancing with this particular deck view. So I put on some music and move with this question.  Right away I greet the propensity to gloom I feel in my bones.  I was born to get caught up about everything all the time.  But what about these feet?  They move to this beat in the most relaxed and ordinary way.  No big deal.  I play with miserable knees, worried hips and then flip the switch to legs that have a sense of humor.  It’s a practice.  It’s possible.

The beat intensifies, the pulse of it lands in my belly brain. I pay attention from the bowl of my pelvis instead of my judgmental eyes. I sense my heartbeat, look out the window, take an interest in the world out there.  Fishermen, sandpipers, sunbeams on water, surfers.

The tempo gets crazy. I release my head, drop all sniveling complaints about myself, about others, about the state of the world.  Hang in the delicate sensitive space of this moment. And this one.  And this one.  Giggle at our collective illusion that there is solid ground to stand on.  That our preference for security and certainty hold any weight in the world.

The music lightens up, a quirky jazz piece, my feet prance, hands chime in with some wacky off-beat gesticulations, patterns I’ve never experienced quite like this.  A practice of doing something different, something extraordinary.  A sense of wonder, a curtain of awe settles upon me.

My breath slows down with the music.  There is this released sense of struggle ceasing, a softening into surrender.  Fertile ground in which to plant seeds of joy.   Seeds that need cultivating in this suffering world.  Seeds that deserve sunlight and water and air in order to thrive.  Seeds that I cast from this deck in the hopes they find root in the sand.  Another form of prayer.

💞Bella

P.S.  I know you will love this addendum.  Yesterday three construction vans pulled up to the condominium next door.  Since then our peaceful universe is intermittently interrupted by the whine of saws and hammers pounding.  The landlord apologizes and lets us know it will continue all week.  What’s a seeker to do? a) laugh at the absurdity  b) take each jolting sound as a reminder to breathe  c) be grateful for the incredible abundance and comfort surrounding us  d) all of the above.

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

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