The ground of current events, the shifting backdrop of threats to our well-being, the hypnotic media messaging…it just keeps crashing on our shores.  I wake each day and wonder what it will be.  Spiking pandemic and vaccine news, wildfires waiting in the wings, protests and boarded buildings, chaotic politics and disputed elections.  And now?  In case that was not enough?  A riptide of violence, raging humans who are so dispirited and desperate.  People who are armed with weapons and values that I struggle to fathom.  I have no answers, only questions.

For one hour yesterday I forgot.  It was cold and foggy damp.  My feet were squishing in trampled grass, Sunday Sweat music was moving through my bones and waking my dulled spirit.  Lately I come to practice for two reasons: to forget and to remember.  When I take the bait, fall completely into breath, body in motion, I abandon that shocking list up there.  For a precious while I forget.  And then invariably I remember.  My essence, my fortitude, my capacity for joy, my connection with all my relations.  The walnut tree, the emerging sun, the other human right in front of me, the soggy earth.

This week I am teaching/holding space for us to forget and to remember on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Interested in the thread that will string all those teachings together?  A short video today that makes it come alive for you in the way that it is so alive in me.

So….this is for you if, just like me, you feel like you need to forget in order to remember.  Take the bait, allow yourself to fall completely in love with breath, body in motion…feel essence come alive in you.

So much deep caring….❤️Bella

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

Spontaneous: performed or occurring as a result of a sudden inner impulse
or inclination and without premeditation or external stimulus

Have you felt a bit spur of the moment lately?  Carpe diem inclined?  Something about these times sparks this muscle in me.  It was mid-December when I looked at the long stretch of no-dance-scheduled time approaching.   So I asked Majica if she wanted to hold each other in morning practice for a few days running.  Her spontaneous yes organically precipitated an invitation to whom ever wanted to join us for One Day at a Time: nine days, nine o’clock. Last one today…info to join.

Day after day we felt the momentum and energy build as people from here there and everywhere joined us for a one hour wave.  And here’s what arose out of this spontaneous combustion:

  • For years I cherished my go-to 5Rhythms practice with Kathy Altman in Sausalito Thursday mornings.  She is a great teacher AND there is something about a morning practice that is a way better fit for me.  I longed to teach in the morning but even though I watched year after year as exhausted working folk dragged in at 6:30pm, the evening practice was well established in Sac.
  • Zoom and 5Rhythms: my resistance has been huge.  But this nine days in a row shook it free because we landed in a format that really worked.  Focus primarily on the internal practice.  One hour…in…  out…slide off the dance floor and into your day.  Brilliant.
  • From the get-go in this new on-line world I have kept my focus on providing for our local community.  And the way peeps have been showing up—for themselves and for each other—has been amazing.  Heart boosting.  Incredible.  Over the nine days our local community had a chance to be with, feel into, have a sense of the global community.  Come on.  How right does this feel?

And so it all added up to the next spontaneous decision made in five minutes post-dance yesterday.  Wednesday Waves begins again January 6.  One hour.  9:00am and/or 6:30pm.  Your choice.  Morning or night: same music, same theme, same teacher—Majica and I rotate each week.  No additional cost if 9:00 dancers want to do it again at 6:30.  Simply spontaneous. Only in January.  Because who can plan further than that?

And here’s the last offering in 2020:  Essential Fundraiser 10:00am Thursday December 31.  All proceeds to feed the hungry in our community.  If you are unable to make this time slot, just send your Sacramento Food Bank donation receipt to bella@bodyjoy.net and I’ll send you the class recording.  Be ready with your roller and double tennis balls. Gentle release, subtle toning, luxurious stretching for the whole body with a special focus on the back of the pelvic bowl: sacrum and sit bones.  Curious?  See video below.

If not now, when?  Let’s do it…
❤️Bella

Last Sweat Your Prayers 2020 this morning, in Zoom-land and live in the garden we covered ourselves in white, called in the promise of light.  A hope, a dream, a spark at the end of this long and winding tunnel. Even though it seems we timelessly fall deeper, darker, more dire into this tunnel, our communal attention was on the sections lined with silver. How the light shines on those never-ending lessons, the ones gleaned from the experience of living through 2020.

Our silver linings.  If we have our health, that’s huge.  So many do not.  All that our hearts have borne…there’s a silver lining lesson somewhere there.  All the ways we have learned to let go, be tentative, be spontaneous, stay flexible…giant silver lining.  All the times we have chosen to seize the day, the hour, the moment.  Knowing how precious it has become.  Silver.  All the growth around being still, slowing down, becoming quiet, being alone. Solstice silver linings…

These are the rituals remaining to support those silver linings, bring this year to a close, initiate 2021.  Enrollment info at bodyjoy.net.  I hope I can be with you somewhere somehow sometime:

Talk about spontaneous…Majica and I are holding each other in practice nine days in a row at 9:00am.  We spontaneously decided to open this to whoever wants to show up with us for One Day at a Time: 9 days, 9 a.m.  December 21 through December 29   FREE   We feel this potent pause, this turning point, this stillness. Long to deepen and open each day in a one hour wave meditation. Maybe you feel this call as well and will join us for one or some or all. So simple: same Zoom link every day, no cost.

Essential Recharge December 26 10:00-noon.  On Christmas I’m making my traditional steamed persimmon pudding and mask-delivering slices topped with Meyer lemon sauce around town to my beloveds. The day after Christmas I’m holding space for us to come to the mat to uber-leisurely release, tone and stretch.  Undoubtedly the pelvic bowl will be featured somehow.
Essential Fundraiser  December 31  10:00-11:30.  On New Year’s Eve morning let’s practice with all proceeds going directly to Sacramento Food Bank.  If the time doesn’t work for you, email me your receipt donation and I’ll send you the class recording.

Letting Go and Calling In…. A New Year’s Day Ritual   January 1 2021 1:00-4:00 p.m. Live in the garden, lots of space and fresh air—participation limited.  2020:  a year to commemorate as it passes.  We absorbed, hesitated, integrated, resisted, incorporated, compromised, endured. Alone together we moved through the most trying of times.  On January 1, we’ll do what we know best.  Use the power of communal intention to release unneeded 2020 baggage.  And in the space this creates, with a lightened load, we’ll call in what we long to create, what we yearn for, what we desire in 2021.

Wednesday Waves in January starting January 6  6:30-7:30. One hour.  One wave.  Moving in uncharted territory, practice for life in a world rapidly changing. Revelatory, revolutionary, a matter of survival, we’ll do this alone together.

So seize the day, any special hour, the surprisingly juicy moment and we’ll enter this great turning together.  Breathe into the promise of light at tunnel’s end.  It’s there.  Welcome any silver lining you can feel into.  Cultivate it.  Share it.  Find peace in it.  And if you want to show up and practice….I’m here.

❤️Bella

If it wasn’t for death and disparity and distress. If 10,000 people world-wide every day were not dying of this virus. If it wasn’t that 20,000,000 human beings are currently infected with Covid. Grief and tragedy and heartbreak. If only somehow in a wand-waving sorcery moment I could delete every ounce of personal, family and communal suffering this scourge has created. That would be amazing. But you know what? Utter truth: in that magic wand moment I would not change one thing about this year for myself.

For that to make sense, gotta travel back to 2010, a time when I was acknowledging the mysterious acceleration of my good and privileged life. Sixty years seemed such a natural time to slow down. But my call to creative work combined with adventure’s lure and my overflowing joie de’vivre kept steadily conspiring to crank up the volume on my bustling life. So my spiritually logical self opted for a week-long silent vipasana retreat for that 60th birthday. As if yanking myself out of the loop for seven days would open the elusive door to deceleration. Nice try.

Ten years have passed since that retreat. The slowing down never really happened. At all. During the ensuing ten years I bounced back from two fierce health crises more zestful than ever. I’m not complaining. My soul, infused with enthusiasm and aspiration, kept guiding me down an ever-productive pathway. I have accomplished heaps. I’m content with that. Really would not change one thing about the last seventy years.

Nevertheless, an unrelenting force has been working me over for the last eight months. A down-shift is dawning organically. Steady pandemic wear and tear keeps systematically chipping away habits that used to conspire to quicken me. Right here, right now, in a year’s end perspective moment, I’m officially designating this The Great Pandemic Retreat of 2020. Oh if it were not for death and disparity and distress…I would not change one thing about this year for myself. This is just part of what has come to pass:

The Divorce of Earning and Work
If you’re Enneagram familiar and you know about threes, you appreciate my deeply entrenched connection between work-worth, financial-worth and self-worth, a long time personality definer. To wrestle out of this life long grip…very tricky for a three, super hard-wired. Little wonder it took seven decades, formidable privilege and a prolonged pandemic. But there you have it. The release is uber-sweet. I’m resting in a fortunate zone of teaching and treating with little care or attention to time and energy and value. I simply get to love my work and do it. Maybe you’ve noticed that payment for classes offers choice: full value and half value. My intent is that no one be turned away due to financial challenge. Email bella@bodyjoy.net if pay to participate is not working. Right now proceeds from one class a month circle back into our community where needed. New Year’s Eve Essentials goes to Sacramento Food Bank. So open and curious to follow this divorce thread.

The Demise of the Energizer Bunny
If you’ve read this far and/or you’ve known me awhile…need I say more? I get so much done in one day. Not only can I manifest ad nauseum, I can multi-task while I’m at it. Such a combo gift/curse. Seventy years of it. Is there a connection between time awareness and productive busy-ness? Because my usual time passage markers—an hour, a week, a month—feel stripped away. I watch myself jot down to do’s or not. Do them or not. Sitting on my garden bench feels more important. No, I have not self-relegated to my rocker. I thrive when physically active, teaching, writing, connecting, cooking, outdoors-ing, treating…and lately, restaurant dreaming. There is just much more stillness. It feels juicy.

Unconditional Love Arising
Super defenseless moment. But I’m not unique in this particular human vulnerability. We all have our personal ego cast of characters. I’ve got a bully whose sole function is to remind me I’m incapable of receiving love. Oh yeah. Also unable to offer love. Basically a worthless unlovable being. I’ve got a handle on ego development and function and given my growing up circumstances, this thug is logical. Mostly he’s content to sit back and shut up…more with every ensuing year. But in the last eight months, something has shifted. My heart feels so awakened by love flowing freely in. Alive with love spilling out. So much spontaneity. So much unself-consciousness. So much powerful ease. The word is unconditional. It may be the greatest gift of The Great Pandemic Retreat of 2020. I’ll take it.

There’s more. It just hasn’t taken articulate form yet. And it doesn’t have to in order to be real. Fundamental shifts are happening in each of us. Transformative depths that can’t happen in a weekend workshop or week-long retreat. Because real change takes time. And time alone is not enough. Real change happens when we pay attention. Real change happens when we remain open to whatever is arising. Real change happens when we cultivate a willingness to do something different. I’m going to just keep holding space for real change to transpire. Because we’re all enrolled in The Great Pandemic Retreat of 2020. Practice provides perspective. Without the panorama that dedicated reflection provides, we might miss this incredible opportunity.

I hope you can join me for one of these offerings in reflection. Come journey up the body this week, bringing our attention to the floor of the pelvis. Such amazing territory—see video below. Or Sunday, wear white to dance in the Solstice—on line or in the garden. Take a look at all the opportunities that remain in December, dedicated space to pay attention, open to whatever and do something different. Real change is there for the taking.

Love, Bella

December views…

 

Basic Essentials 

Thursday December 17     10:00-11:15am

Deep Essentials

Friday December 18      10:00-11:30am

Sunday Sweat Your Prayers

Dec 20 wear white 10:00-11:30am
Zoom in your home / Live in the garden

Essential Recharge

Saturday December 26/January 30      10:00am-noon

 

Sac Food Bank Fundraiser: New Year Essentials

Thursday December 31   10:00-11:30am
link coming

Dance Essentials

Saturday January 16   10:00-11:30am

Physical Therapy

(916) 267-5478 for appointment

Been learning from avowed hermits lately.  Not recluses, who isolate out of basic human disdain.  But hermits.  Who live a life oriented to solitude, filling extra time with contemplative practice rather than social interaction.  They come in all shapes and guises.  Some hermits follow religious guidelines, some answer to no spiritual authority.  There are hermits who live in caves or neighbor in plain sight in suburbs and cities.  Cultivating solitude unites them.

This pandemic has created levels and forms of solitude brand new for each of us.  For some, way more than others.  How is this aloneness for you?  Love it?  Hate it?  Love/hate it?  If you’re paying attention, you might be feeling some preference by now. I’m sure some have tapped their latent love of solitude, a sentiment that was maybe hiding in the depths of previous warp speed life obligations.  More alone time sets the stage for daily rituals and contemplative tendencies to flourish.

If you’re a “hate it ” you might have mastered the art of automatically, even unconsciously, seeking distraction or connection.  Anything to avoid the scourge of being alone. And you know what?  If that’s working for you, awesome.  Really.  But maybe you’re intrigued with what this new amount of solitude has to offer, wonder if there’s something there for you. Would consider a bit of a shift.

Raven’s Bread, a loose organization tended by two elderly hermits, expounds ways to transform anxiety-ridden isolation into nurturing solitude.  They believe that “anyone could benefit from eremitic fundamentals:  being rooted in place, practicing austerity and committing to a daily schedule prioritizing prayer or meditation.”  I love this simple solace in solitude list.

Rooted in place.  Ms. Fredette of Raven’s Bread defines ‘anchorite’ as “a religious solitary who takes a vow to remain in one place, though even non-anchorite hermits tend to be homebodies.”  What does this notion stir in you?  I spent the first fifty years of life as a perennial vagabond.  I lived in twenty places before I landed in my current home at thirty-one.  Travelled extensively until about five years ago.  Then, except for local camping trips, I just kinda stopped.  Lost the urge for several reasons.  Right now I spend more time at home than I ever believed possible.  Been in this same home 40 years.  Pretty rooted in place. What’s your story?

Practicing austerity.  Another great quote: “eschews rabid consumerism”.  This is so up for me.  Human supremacy: the unconscious worldview, operating as background assumption, telling us we humans are entitled to treat nonhumans and their habitats as we please.  Stunned every moment I look through this lens as I throw out a plastic bag, run the heater, flick on a switch, drive for groceries. For now, my right action is to keep this issue front and center. I know, I know…with everything else falling apart around us, who wants to include something else? But this is the exact reason everything is falling apart all around us.  How do you stem the tide of consumerism in your life?

Committing to daily prayer or meditation. I’m about this, have been for a long time.  Even holding space for others who want to cultivate daily practice.  Prayer and meditation can take so many forms.  The obvious: cushion, prayer rug, mat, dance floor.  What about the not so obvious, the personal, the unique?  What daily rituals pull you into contemplative presence?  Most days I’m down for some of the obvious.  But it’s a prayer when I walk outside in nature.  Writing is one form my meditation takes.  Music often delivers me to spirit, touching a place inside nothing else does.  My pandemic surprise meditation? Cooking from scratch.  A lot.  Never have I taken time to find this degree of culinary expression.  It brings me a great quiet joy.  With the bonus of extending that joy to others.

We’re living through a time of huge global pain, chaos and transformation. Are these eremitic ways selfish?  Do they have value beyond personal peace of mind?  Couldn’t I be out attending marches, ministering to the sick, volunteering at a food bank?  This internal listening is so different than a call to activism.  Cliches become clichés for the truth they hold.  Peace begins as an inside job.  When we slow down, our desire to seek satisfaction from what’s outside slows down, too.  Our deeper being feels safe enough to emerge.
“Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved.”  Seraphim of Sarov

When we become still, we become witness.  I’ve been a very public person for a long time.  And I still am, albeit in this altered fashion.  And I’m listening to you.  The topic of isolation is up.  Finding viable ways to maintain social connection is critical.  And then there’s learning to be still, finding how to be comfortable just sitting there, cultivating solace in solitude.   Isolation.  Solitude.  Different, connected somehow.  When we practice on line, the isolation-solitude conundrum is right there.  Second time for Dance Essentials—roll, dance, stretch—this Saturday Dec 12 at 10:00.  In any class you can feel how we’re learning to negotiate this conundrum alone together.  Amazing.

Love, Bella

 

What we’re up to in Essentials….

December views…

 

Basic Essentials 

Thursday December 3, 10, 17     10:00-11:15am

Deep Essentials

Friday December 4, 11, 18      10:00-11:30am

Dance Essentials

Saturday December 12   10:00-11:30am

Sunday Sweat Your Prayers

Dec 13 wear black, Dec 20 wear white 10:00-11:30am
Zoom in your home / Live in the garden

Essential Recharge

Saturday December 26,      10:00am-noon

Fundraiser New Year’s Eve Essentials

Thursday December 31   10:00-11:30am
link coming

Physical Therapy

(916) 267-5478 for appointment

Plant medicine…trending way to politely reference pychotropic drugs.  We are so creative with our euphemisms.  Back in the day…well, I digress.  But I’ve been steeped in plant medicine this week. Not the kind of plant medicine one might call in, but medicine all the same.  You’re lucky if you’ve never been gifted an excruciating brush with poison oak.

By the time of the scheduled appointment made after a worried night, I figured out what it was.  Slow painful onset, fifth bout in 30 years, must have been that American River hike to see the salmon running.  How it landed on my upper chest, neck and lower face I’ll never know.  And other assorted random locations.  Doc prescribed a 21 day course of prednisone and this initiated days of listening deeply. Every bone in my body screamed a resounding NO to this intervention.  Felt like my body needed to expel, not repress, this toxin.

Days and nights of listening.  Attentively.  To what my body needed.  At first, hot compresses eased the itch, seemed to draw the toxins out.  As the rash began weeping, it became all about cold.  Listening attentively, trusting what emerged. When the skin turned all red and scaly and dry it was all about hydration.  With what?  Listening attentively.  Trusting.  Back and forth between avocado oil laced with tea tree and Aquaphor.

There has been no lack of advice from well-wishers.  And the internet is chock full.  But this plant medicine had something it wanted me to learn for myself and so I have surrendered.  It wanted me to spiral back again to the holy trinity.  It wanted me to remember that what is true for the body is almost always true for the holy trinity.  When we listen attentively to what our bodies need and trust what emerges we’re often spot on.  Same for when we deeply heart attune and trust what is revealed.  When we meditate, attend to what our mind is up to, even the looping obsessive stuff, we can trust twin jewels of insight and intuition that sometimes emerge.

When we listen attentively and trust what emerges from the holy trinity—body, heart, mind—we’re delivered to a destiny that is truly ours.  We’ve laid the groundwork that might open us to divine guidance so we can trust spirit to lead the way. It all starts with these precious vessels we’ve been dealt, with all their unique challenges and quirks and special needs.  Let’s take a listen together this week and trust what emerges.  I don’t know any other way for healing to happen.

Love, Bella

In a year when much has been lost, we turn to gratitude Thursday.  We give thanks for all we still have.  Which is what I really want to write about this morning.  But first this invitation.   I bet you have food on your table.  Probably in abundance.

“It’s such a critical time in food access.
Food security is a top priority for every community.”
Nicole McNeely, executive director of a food bank

Everything about food moves me and the suffering due to lack calls me to action.  Please join me Thursday morning at 10:00 for Basic Essentials…to feed the hungry.  While we practice, while we remember all that we still have, 100% of proceeds will go directly to Run to Feed the Hungry. So where food is critically needed, there will be food on the table.  Thank you for joining me.  And now a word about what we still have….

The Holidays.  A phrase layered with a weird combination of joy and foreboding in this special year. Traditions steeped in childhood and layered through ensuing decades usually shepherd us through these coming weeks.  A time of year when each day dawns darker and colder than the last.  Checking in…how you doing with all this out there in weird-ville?

This is where I turn all Zen on you, since it appears we’re all enrolled in the same unique school.  A school repeatedly testing us on our connection with form.  A task-master demanding we watch the forms we have counted on dissolve.  Again and again and again.  I’ve had more practice letting go and being with disappointment than I ever dreamed possible.  Take something as straight up as The Holidays.

Don’t gather with your family indoors.  Don’t gather to worship.  Don’t get on an airplane.  Don’t go to parties.  Don’t go shopping.  Re-think how to cook and share your favorites with loved ones.  Wonder about gift giving.  Don’t even think about intimate gatherings to sing or dance or just hang out by the fire.  In other words: give up tried and true forms.

I’m not addressing those folks who think all these new fangled rules are political in origin, meant to infringe on precious personal freedom.  That would be a different essay.  I’m talking to you intelligent but exhausted people.  Am I the only one who feels this undercurrent of desperate spinning wheels?  This anguished struggle to hold on to old forms, even if it means risking the health and life of people we love the most?

In the absence of tried and true old forms, what do we have left?  Maybe my vision is clouded but from where I sit, I see only two possibilities: create new forms or get comfortable with the formless.  We can count the amazing array of ways we’ve invented new forms.  You only have to look as far as Zoom space to see something we never would have envisioned a year ago.  Multiply that by a hundred.  The creative juices have been astounding in so many areas of our lives.

But in our rush to keep going, in our American can-do-it-ness, we could miss a big lesson offered in the curriculum of this mass cultural Zen training.  Perhaps this is our time to viscerally learn what formlessness means. Not the hypothetical notion of emptiness, but emptiness itself.  Not the intellectual understanding about being with things exactly as they are, but the nitty-gritty experience of equanimity.

So my question today is this:  what has value that is also formless?  When we strip away exterior constructs, some really juicy stuff patiently awaits.  Ineffable, ephemeral, indescribable….maybe this is the surprise blessing of living in weird-ville.  When we peel away the hoopla and tinsel and razzle-dazzle from The Holidays we find the formless treasures that were always there. The foundational sensibility supporting the spirit of this season.

Breath is formless.  Presence is formless.  Love is formless.  When we release our slavery to form, these jewels can really shine.  Can’t you feel this?  Isn’t this what we want to share with each other?  In whatever way is safely possible?  And so I ask…what is hidden underneath all the complex structures and forms historically laid down over our lifetimes?  What remains?  What is formlessly asking to be recognized?

When we get quiet enough, when we bring our focus to the internal weather, when we bravely stay with…the formless is revealed.  Come practice with me on Thursday and Sunday this week.  It’s so close right now you can touch it.

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