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

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