A body rests face down on my treatment table and my hands, butterfly wings, rest upon the flare of ribs.  I sense our breath in tandem gently pressing my way south—right, left, right, left.  One side gives, responsive to my touch, springing back as I release compression. Swedish translation for this flare of ribs? Heart basket.  Indeed, this one side gives way like the fibers of a basket.  The other side lives up to the English name: rib cage.  There is a dense unyielding quality, a jail bar rigid resistance.  The two sides are like night and day.

I don’t remember when I began conversing with bodies this way.  There are early memories of being behind someone, my hands an inquiry around shoulder blades, my thumbs in curious exploration where neck meets the head.  This unfolding wonder about finding the knots, their strange asymmetry, the pleasure response evoked with just the right amount of pressure, the palpable sense of tension releasing.  Eventually it became part of my work in the world.

I do remember the moment this hands on passion woke to new possibility.  It dawned when my own heart basket was the recipient of treatment. The therapist taught me how to follow up using the double-wrapped tennis balls and be my own best body worker. It was 1984, it blew my mind, it healed my woes, my focus took a left turn.  I realized the release that skilled hands can generate translates to what self-care tools can create.  Since that epic day my work became duel-fueled: hands-on investigation paired with my rapidly expanding self-care voyage.  Translating the provision of relief (often temporary when done TO you) into the power of deeply informed education.  Lasting changes happen when the right stress is applied to the right tissue on a steady basis.

My latest discovery tickles me to no end.  Calves.  Tight on anyone who is active.  The standard foam rolling technique—leaning back on hands with calves on roller—meh.  Never felt like it was doing much.  Catch this video if you want to really release calves.

We practice this calf release weekly in Essentials.  This week we’ll pull together foot and ankle, shins and calves, knees and thighs…plug the whole leg into the sensual curvy ball/socket of the hip.  90 minutes Friday morning is total luxury; 15-20 minutes on your mat most days is magic.  Maybe you’re intrigued.  Maybe you’re tired of feeling too tight or too weak to do what you love to do.  Maybe you feel the call to care for your one and only body.  Here’s the best way in.  Prepare for the journey with these tools.  Then dive into Essentials: the introduction, now in the Video Library.  After that there are three ways to show up for yourself: 1) purchase any session in the library   2) join us on-line Friday or  3) enroll for Friday and receive the most up-to-date recording that same day to do in your own time.  Easy to create 3-4 shorter sessions with each recording.

And I am right here for that in person one-on-one session that flows in this dance from the pleasure and relief of hands on table work to the joy and empowerment of mat education.  Zoom appointments you wonder?  I guide the self release that informs the resulting education.  Always we end with a video recording for home.

So is there a conversation you are currently engaged in with your body?  It speaks volumes in sensation and whispers in endless variations of breath.  Sometimes it clamors for our attention and other times it’s afraid to bother us.  Listen in.  I’m right here to be in that conversation with you.

❤️Bella

The hula hoop craze seared its way into my seven year old memory.  Everyone had one and when I wasn’t roller skating that plastic was circling my hips endlessly.  I played with this toy on and off through the years and as an adult, cursed/blessed with a more analytical mind, I became intrigued with clockwise vs. counter-clockwise.  I found that everyone has a strong preference for directionality when it comes to circling the hips.
And  it somehow felt therapeutic to work at coordinating moves in the more challenging direction.

This weekend my grandson proudly showed me his new found ability.  First time I’d played with one in maybe five years.  Still could do!  After we each showed off our moves, I asked him to try circling the other direction.  He had to place his feet wider apart, put out way more effort and, after a few valiant circumnavigations, the hoop circled on down to the ground.  He tried again.  Same.  It looked like my own prior experiences.  With a lot of effort and a substantial deficit in coordination I used to be able to keep it aloft for maybe a minute.

So I was totally surprised when it was my turn to go the hard way and it was totally easy.  Fluid, effortless, simple.  Obviously something had shifted in this body.  And here’s what I know for sure.  In the fall of 2015, after a painful bout of left hip pain, I became serious about addressing the asymmetrical deficits at my core.  Up until then I trusted training symmetrically despite increasing evidence that my body was not symmetrical.

Exactly three years later, in the fall of 2018 I moved with uterine cancer and a full hysterectomy.  This loss served to deepen my relationship with this asymmetry and gave me access to feeling sensation at an even more subtle level.  I continued to refine this subtle core toning, working centrally, unilaterally and on the diagonal.  The time necessary for this was surprisingly small—5 to 10 minutes, but the consistency was everything—3 to 4 times a week.

Now it is fall again and another three years have passed.  I find myself bounding up the long flight of stairs that lead up from the beach where we are camped.  Balancing on the roller with total ease (pictured above) while gazing at Mama Ocean.  And I can hula hoop to the right or the left.  I feel the best I have felt in many years…maybe ever.  And I know the physical is just a part of the whole.  But it is the physical that supports me in continuing to open my heart, quiet my mind, find full expression for my soul and touch into spirit in all ways possible.  And sharing this route to self-care is what Essentials is about.

Maybe you’re curious and have yet to dive in.  This Saturday at 10:00am, for the first time on line, I’m offering Essentials: the introduction.  If this time does not work for you, pre-enroll to receive the recording.  In two gentle hours learn all the basics of release via foam rolling and double tennis balls; above mentioned subtle core toning—symmetrical and asymmetrical; stretching spine, rib cage, arms and legs.  Want a visual sense of that?

Not only will you feel great by noon, this prepares you to take any Friday morning class Pre-enroll for October or drop in. Or take any class available in the growing Video Library.

So that’s what’s Essential in October where we continue our journey from the feet up.  If you missed the first two foot-focused classes, especially if your tootsies are giving you grief, both those classes are in the library now.  When we start again on October 8 we’ll move up from the shins and slide into the knees.  These sessions are 90 minutes and I hear from many of you that they so easily break into segments of 20-30 minutes, allowing you to create shorter sessions from a single recording.

Circling and circling…so much love coming your way…❤️Bella

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love through it all….❤️Bella

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Bella

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The doumentary Oliver Sachs: His Own Life really got my attention the other night. The compelling story of a brilliant man who came into fullness via a challenging childhood, a troubled young adulthood and a struggling middle age.  Through every difficult passage, across every divide, faced with each seemingly un-scalable wall, he just kept moving with destiny.  Doubting aplenty, murky and flailing at times, his soul kept turning him toward what he needed.  Oliver Sachs, age 82, reached the end of his life utterly fulfilled, dying at peace, surrounded by those he loved.

Despite doggedly pursuing his dream of lab-based neuroscience research, destiny had different plans for this human being.  Oliver Sachs became a highly skilled clinician in the old school mold.  A medicine man spending hours of empathetic time with an incredible array of patients.  People with troubled nervous systems that had completely upended their lives.  He listened, he documented, he treated.  And then he wrote.  Ignored, even shunned by a medical community whose respect he longed for, Sachs just kept following his bliss, going where his unflagging interest delivered him.

Toward the end of his life, the incredible volume of books he wrote—books based entirely on medical case histories—garnered him the attention for which he had always longed.  And, incidentally, at long last, at the ripe age of 75, he connected with the love of his life.  But what delighted this being to no end was that in his sunset years, the newly emerging field of neuroscience exploring the nature of human consciousness, recognized the work of his lifetime.  These acclaimed lab-based researchers absolutely needed the clinical stories Sachs had been documenting all his life. The honor and esteem that eluded him, the knowledge that there was wide spread application of his life’s work, the bounty it was reaping in the field of neurology…a destiny fulfilled.

I’ve always understood the practice of medicine to be 50% art/50% science.  And the skillful ability to be with a suffering human being and discover what they need by simply listening and feeling…therein lies the art.  Watching that creative piece of medicine fade out there over my fifty years in practice has been frustrating and disturbing.  I feel the lack of this skill so often when I am myself a patient.  And I hear it voiced as discontent and utter exasperation by so many patients that end up in my “slow medicine” studio.  Now that my heart-mind-soul is the director of my clinical practice, this artful piece, this attunement to the full humanity of another…well, it has found full flowering.  I don’t know any other way to be the medicine woman that has been my destiny as long as I remember.

And the way the teaching weaves into this clinical practice is finally, after so many years in the dream state, finding expression.  Now my patients have a weekly practice they can land in and students have an opportunity to come see me (even on line, need be!) to explore and receive support for their particular challenges one-on-one.  And that brings us to how Oliver Sachs delivered me to the next round of Friday morning Essentials.

Somewhere back in October 2020 we began a long meandering journey.  It started with a foot focused class and then week by week, bone by bone, joint by joint, muscle by muscle we have worked our way up the body.  Lingering for long explorations of pelvic bowl, rib cage, spine, shoulder…wherever interest delivered us.  Then we took a full two month detour integrating the bandhas into our rolling and stability practice.  Two weeks ago we landed in upper cervical spine and the way it meets base of skull.  Last week it was how tempomandibular joint figures in that delicate relationship.  And so now, to complete this series, it is time to tie it all together.  We’ll feel into the anatomical nervous system—brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves—over the next 6-8 weeks.   And that will deepen our understanding of how neuroscience illuminates the very nature of human consciousness.  After that? I do believe we might just circle back on down and begin again at the feet.  I love finding fresh new ways to explore.

Essentials happens on line 90 minutes most Friday mornings.  You can drop into any particular class at any time.  Explorations always held in the context of loosening up with balls and rollers, subtle core toning, stretching and some asana practice.   This video summarizes the three bandhas we detoured into. We practice them in a variety of positions. Give it a watch if you’re new; it has been truly amazing to feel how this delivers us to alignment and stability.  But here’s the key thing: the essentials are always there in each class, meaning that you will feel really good at 11:30.  And really supported in personal practice during the week.  For that support?  Or if you want to join in but can’t make this time slot? Recordings always available.  Music backdrop always awesome.

So…as the subject line says…”you gotta lot of nerve”.  Embodiment is the only way I know for us to fathom and honor the enormous part this nervous system plays in the symphony of our lives.  Come feel….❤️Bella

I had barely drifted into sleep land Thursday when the barking began.  Not an occasional yip.  A persistent deep-throated arf with only a very occasional pause.   How animal vocal capacity could sustain this woof was beyond hard to fathom.  My irritation grew steadily into frustration which soon escalated to outrage.  After an hour I figured if slumber was to be denied, perhaps practice was called for.  I began to doggedly include the barking.

Buddhism 101 enumerates three torments of the heart, three poisons that create human suffering:

  • We want good stuff.  In fact sometimes we crave as much as we can get. We grab anything pleasurable and greedily hold it close.  More is better, right?
  • We don’t want bad stuff.  We can become more and more skilled at pushing away what pains us, turning away from ugliness and, if it bothers us enough, lashing out in hatred.
  • We don’t care about stuff that doesn’t directly affect us.  We can be indifferent, intolerant, ignorant and head-in-the-sand.

Why do we do all this stuff?  It’s so basic: we can’t believe we’re not  permanently here. All this grabbing, pushing and ignoring guard against considering our demise, keep us from feeling into our inevitable disappearance.  Mortality sucks.  These three strategies work as viable short term solutions to not feeling how fleeting life is. They’re so convoluted though and tend to keep us enslaved to our own self-centeredness. What’s a human to do?  It’s hard out there.  Who wants to suffer?

I don’t want the bad stuff either.  But instead of spending my limited energy lashing out at Mr. Dog, I just stayed still and included him.  Did I sleep?  No.  But I wasn’t all worked up about the situation. I could breathe and feel and rest in this practice of inclusion.  This is a workable possibility when we are stuck in that place of not wanting the bad stuff.  Inclusion can eventually deliver us to compassion.  Sometimes.

Well of course there are antidotes to that greedy place and that not caring place as well but this not wanting the bad stuff place was just not done with me yet.  After the night was over and morning had finally arrived, I climbed the stairs to my studio to Zoom teach Essentials.  As the door opened I was greeted by the piercing screech of the smoke alarm, programmed to emit a warning every 15 seconds.  It’s a longer story of why I could not get it to cease until class was over.  But it is a very short story of what I made of this ridiculous situation.

How obvious could it be that great spirit was not done with this survival lesson about how to embrace it all.  I had spent the night practicing but apparently there was still more to learn.  I just returned to the breathe-feel -rest  place, introduced students to our smoke alarm companion and carried on.  We dove into a class that was about way more than the upper cervical spine.  By the end of ninety minutes I barely noticed the sound.

Polarization is a fact of current life. Color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, financial status…each can be construed to divide us. Practicing exclusivity is what transforms all these human variations into hate.

“We have everything we need to make the present moment the happiest in our life, even if we have a cold or a headache. We don’t have to wait until we get over our cold to be happy. Having a cold is a part of life.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

Practicing inclusivity is a moment by moment choice.  Often not an easy one.  Let’s practice……❤️Bella

Took a few days to read a New York Times Magazine special feature about the past, present and future of the human life span.  I had to take it in mini-bouts.  Put our current state of affairs into stunning perspective.  Did you know that between 1920 and 2020 the average human life span doubled?  A number that never really varied much throughout human
history?  That until mid 18th century, 35 years was all you got?  If you were lucky.  Because only three out of five children survived to brief adulthood.

Three pivotal breakthroughs shifted all this: germ theory, antibiotics and (you guessed it) vaccines.  Each development a fascinating story woven of scientific curiosity, public resistance and socio-political activism. Take vaccines: there’s evidence the original vaccine—variolation—originated in India thousands of years ago.  By the 1600’s variolation was saving lives in China, India and Persia.  Enslaved Africans brought it to the American colonies.  This scientific technique has been around the block for centuries.  But it took social and political activism to bring it to widespread use.  And begin gifting us years beyond 35.  And, as with every other breakthrough, once again we’re experiencing the resistance that inevitably accompanies change.

The long and winding road eradicating small pox, cholera and typhoid is paved with different details but the same elements.  Chlorination, pasteurization, penicillin.  Science first, activism second.  And the creativity and inventiveness resulting in reduced mortality has opened a Pandora’s box of new problems.  Can earth support this long-lived population?  Some believe our interconnected globe and its dependence on industrial livestock is leading us into an age of pandemic.  Population explosion and climate change are intricately entwined.  Oh lord.  Enough already.

I put the article down and looked out into my garden.  The flowers know nothing of this and keep on blooming.  The tomato plants are setting fruit.  The sky is vast, infinite, incredible.  I am still breathing, grateful, present.  Curious how to navigate these monumental changes and scale them down to a local, practical, rooted in the moment level.  How to continue to serve community in the face of all this.

Somewhere in all this musing I feel the onus of responsibility shifting.  For more than a year, I willingly embraced a form of guardianship.  Finding ways to keep us safe AND connected: teaching on line; distance garden dancing Sundays; Wednesday Waves on/off with masks, fans, open doors; Essential Recharge for the vaccinated.  I’m not sure when to let go.  When to trust that our individual self-care choices will not put ourselves or others at risk.  It feels like the burden of responsibility may be moving on to the shoulders of the unvaccinated.  Clearly I don’t know.  It just keeps changing and I keep placing my finger on that pulse.  Listening.

So I’ll keep offering up this strange hybrid.  Because it is in the field of practice where clarity continues to arise. For me, for you, for us.  This is how the current hybrid looks:

  • ON LINE Dance Essentials Saturday May 15 10:00-11:30.  So turned on teaching Unbound with Erik Iversen last Saturday. Exposing a contingent of folks around the globe for their first experience on a foam roller.  And the way it ushers us into the free form joy of dancing through space.  Really.  This Saturday we start with release, move into dance and end with stretch/shivasana.  Ninety minutes of joy in the safe comfort of your home.
  • LIVE Wednesday Waves Clara May 19-June 30 6:30-8:30.  Eight sessions, limited to 12 participants.  The incomparable depth of a committed group. Beginning our session with physical distance, masks, fans, open doors. Feeling into the group, arriving at consensus about these details as we begin to move together.
  • LIVE and ON LINE Sunday Sweat Your Prayers May 16 10:00-11:30.  I’m up front this week simulcasting from the garden.  We continue to keep physical distance out there, masks optional…so much space.
  • ON LINE Essentials every Thursday/Friday 10:00-11:30 in May.  Choose your day, lay out your mat: roller, tennis balls, blocks, blanket.  90 minutes to release those fascial binds, access/tone deep subtle core, stretch out those needy tight spots, feel it come together in asana. Drop in; recordings always available; music always stellar.
  • LIVE Essential Recharge 11:30-1:30 Saturday May 22.  For the vaccinated, pre-enrollment required.  Over the top amazing to be with you in the flesh last month.  A good landing zone if you are new to practice, great support for cyber-practitioners.  This month I’m bringing a box of infamous pokey balls so we can get a bit deeper into shoulder and hip release.
  • LIVE Cultivate Being residential retreat July 23-25 Four Springs Center.  Yes, you read that correctly.  This is the fifth in a five year series that we had to cancel exactly one year ago. We will be dancing, making art, swimming in the pool, frolicking in the forest from Friday night to Sunday noon. My son Ross is catering the event.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll make some soup!  Harbin Hot Springs is four miles away.  I’ll be at Harbin all day Friday and will return there after the retreat on Sunday.  Masks will be optional at this residential gathering.  Take a moment to read the details and join us please!

Take a look out your window right now.  Take a full breath in and out. In this moment it appears all is well with the world. I’ll take that.

Love, Bella