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

Do you know confused?  This tizzy of frustrating paralysis?  Have you ever watched yourself generate flimsy excuses about why you’re feeling stuck?  I know this place and last week, muddled to the max, I turned to my Osho deck for inquiry.  “What can you tell me about this confusion?”  And I drew the Compromise card, which made no sense at first. Compromise? Lately my being and doing feel like a total matchup.  See last newsletter.  But the following paragraph just kept rattling me:

“Compromise may be just a repression of your confusion. Never repress anything, be clear-cut about your situation.  If you are confused, remember that you are confused.  This will be the first clear-cut thing about you: that you are confused.  You have started on the journey.” 
Osho

When words land in your lap and create recognition and then go on to serve as illumination, maybe even mandate action…well, that’s a library angel.  Not to be ignored. Not only did Osho name my old friend confusion, he went on to ask me to be clear-cut about it.  What an invitation.

Because as soon as I probed what was squished underneath that confusion…well things fell into place.  Just like I said: recognition, illumination, mandated action. There are those who know me well, have witnessed and moved with me through befuddlement default zones.  Lucky me, friends who call me out when I dig myself in deeper, stubbornly mired in confusion, claiming a futile victim-hood.

The particulars are less consequential than this insight.  There may be jewels under the rock of confusion. Who would have thought?  Maybe you know this place, too. And, given a little time, the particulars slowly dawned as I looked under the rock of my current teaching path.  I’m holding space a lot.  For many students and patients.  Called with a vital energy by this pandemic chapter to be in service…with a great deal of passion.  Lately, when I slow down and listen, here’s what I feel: a burgeoning somatic wisdom coupled to the relentless passage of time.  A natural age-mandated season is dawning, a time for holding less space. In fact I’m keenly aware of the longing to be held in practice myself, the desire to show up for my own devoted experience.

The cover up confusion emerged when I faced adding one more commitment: the re-start of that precious mid-week 5Rhythms class.  A space I have held whole-heartedly for so long.  My heart was not in it.  So I check in with my partner Majica who, lucky for me, knows me, understands my need to be in integrity and recognizes truth when she hears it. She instantly got it: my wish to show up only as a student on Wednesday night.  Just for the month of September.  And, just like that,  so it will be.  I can’t wait and I hope to be moving out there with some of you on that precious floor this month of September.

The language of the body is sensation.  Over the course of a couple days I experience the shift.  Confusion feels so dense tense, frozen trapped, compromised.  Deer in the headlights.  With the rock lifted, with light shining in, there is movement and change.  In my body the sensation is one of resting ease, effortless breath, simple grace…fluid alignment.

So I hope I’ve touched those who know confusion.  Together we can practice being clear-cut about this state.  Lift the rock and be curious about what  yearns to be uncovered.  Moments like this are exactly what happen when we are on the dance floor, on the mat and on the treatment table.  Together.

❤️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.

Most Sunday mornings, I head out to dance in the garden. I cruise through mid-town, cross the American river and turn left on Northgate.  Right there, beneath the overpass, week after week, I pale at the jumble of broken down tents, piles of rubbish, scattered outhouses littering the landscape of the river’s edge.  The people living here are lean and dark, downcast eyes, shoulders to match.  I look.  I breathe.  I let in.  My Sunday practice for more than a year now.

It would be so much easier to put on my trusty blinders and speed through in my red car, deep in much more important thoughts.  Why would I let in this horrifying specter?  More evidence of all the suffering on this planet.  It is so deeply ingrained to turn away.  How else can we make it through each day?  Each week, in this same location, I surrender to another way.

Buddhism 101 encourages us to use breath as prayer.   Invites us to begin by actually inhaling the suffering into our bodies. Thich Nhat Hahn puts it so well:

“We need to understand the goodness of suffering.
It is the compost that helps the roses grow.
It is the mud from which magnificent lotuses emerge.”

Tonglen is a simple practice that offers us an on-the-spot choice in the face of suffering. We have opportunities aplenty: our own misery for starters.  The challenges arising in the lives of our loved ones.  When the tonglen muscle is strong we can use it whenever we are present with hardship. Try it for a moment right here in the ease of your seat.  If you have the front page of the newspaper handy…suffering is there.  But any heartbreak memory will suffice.  Empty of your breath and then sip in a few inhales specific to this suffering.  Let it in.

Aaah, you have felt the catch. Tonglen isn’t effective unless we fully let in the hurt.  Darn it.  It is so culturally entrenched to resist, to turn away.  But if you find yourself able to let some in, consider this: your magnificent body knows what to do with that world of hurt. Your body actually knows how to compost.  Your body is not afraid of mud.  Your body actually thrives in it.  Your body can washing machine churn and be a cleanser of suffering.

And once your body does that, your exhale emerges as prayer.  For what?  You choose.  A prayer for healing, for transformation, for an end to suffering.  Out there on Northgate my exhale prayer becomes a plea for all beings to be safe, for each person living there to have enough to eat.

This poem by Gregory Orr has always touched me:

Some say you’re lucky
If nothing shatters it.But then you wouldn’t
Understand poems or songs.
You’d never know
Beauty comes from loss.It’s deep inside every person:
A tear tinier
Than a pearl or thorn.

It’s one of the places
Where the beloved is born.

Because we all have that shattered place deep inside, that tear tinier than a pearl or a thorn.  And when we are ready, we can breathe it to life and find out what beauty is ready to come from this loss.  These bodies know how.  There are lotuses just waiting to emerge from the mud.  There was a time twenty years ago when I absolutely got that I was not one of the “some say you’re lucky” ones.  And I got to work in the mud.

These last few weeks I have been deep in it. There is never an end to it.  If there was, I would cease to understand poems and songs.  In this moment, I am feeling lucky indeed.  Lucky to have lived a life liberally sprinkled with suffering. When loss is on my doorstep, I eventually open the door wide and breathe it in.  It is so often the birthplace of the beloved.

I long to practice with you.  We can meet on the mat or the dance floor or up in my studio one-on-one. Until then…breathe it in, compost it, let fly your prayers on the out breath.
Love, Bella

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

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