This past week marked the completion of a 5-month journey with my Women Embodied group. What an amazing experience it was. Though I know how powerful this work is, I am still stunned, amazed, and deeply honored to witness what happens within and between a group of human beings… Practicing courage, openness, and radical kindness. Grounding, settling, unwinding, learning flows into blossoming, flourishing, thriving, radiating. I feel so blessed to have been a part of such an extraordinary group of women. Sigh….
I have been thinking about something I spoke about with them.
One of the very potent lessons for me during my professional Feldenkrais training was learning how to have a good amount of my attention on my own embodied experience wheneverI do hands-on work with another person.
For me this was revolutionary.
I had been well practiced in paying attention to others in such a way that I wasn’t really tuned to myself while doing so.
Wasn’t that the kind way to give others my attention?
Instead, I discovered how beneficial it is to be “in myself” and aware when interacting with others.
Another potent learning from my Feldenkrais training was the radical, countercultural invitation to ease.
This question continues to bear fruit for me on a daily, if not hourly basis:
How could I make this action less effortful and more pleasurable?
Not only for its own sake, but to begin to eliminate the habits of over-efforting that create wear and tear in our bodies. The habits that create suffering.
When I began my training 10 years ago, I was still experiencing agonizing low-back pain much of the time. I found it so challenging to bend over a table to put my hands on another person without feeling discomfort (or agony) in my own back.
It took me a few years of intensive inquiry and self-study to learn there were ways I moved which perpetuated my pain, and new ways Icould move that didn’t hurt.
I learned that when I have my hands on a client and I’m physically uncomfortable, they feel that, and are likely to be uncomfortable as well. Perhaps feeling guilty to sense that I’m struggling in some way while trying to support or help them.
What a mind blow to realize it’s not actually selfish to tune into my own well being and comfort while interacting with others. It’s actually a pathway that allows me to be of MORE benefit to others when I’m simultaneously caring for my own well being.
I’m so grateful to have learned this through the very smart and respectful lens of Feldenkrais lessons.
Could that be true for you too?
That taking care of your own well-being moment to moment (which of course is grounded in being aware of yourself moment to moment) might make you more effective and of more benefit in the world?
Right now as you’re reading, wherever you are, could you pause for a moment and sense your whole body?
As you sense into yourself, do you notice any shifts you might want to make?
Softening your belly, finding an easier posture, unclenching your jaw, checking if your shoulders might want to drop down a bit, or perhaps allowing your neck to find length and ease?
Maybe following an exhale all the way to its end?
Could it be that this is not self-centered, but simply allows you to be a centered self?
If the invitation resonates, I invite you to try it, as I do, many times a day.
Ask yourself this question and feel for the answer:
How could I make this action less effortful and more pleasurable?
Could I more fully inhabit my body and my self?
Could I practice having open attention that includes both my inner world and the outer world as one world?
(As opposed to flipping back and forth between EITHER paying attention to myself OR paying attention to the world around me.)
If you explore this, I’d so love to hear what you discover!
Does paying attention to your own embodied experience make you feel self-centered, or rather a more centered self?
I’m inspired to share a poem that is also an invitation:
“Awareness Knowing Itself”
Settle in the here and now.
Reach down into the center
where the world is not spinning
and drink this holy peace.
Feel relief flood into every
cell. Nothing to do. Nothing
to be but what you are already.
Nothing to receive but what
flows effortlessly from the
mystery into form.
Nothing to run from or run
toward. Just this breath,
awareness knowing itself as
embodiment. Just this breath,
awareness waking up to truth.
~ Danna Faulds, From Root to Bloom
I am super excited about the upcoming visit of Philip Shepherd to Salt Lake City. He teaches, among other things, about just what I’ve been writing about. Having attention resting in your pelvic bowl while going through your life.
Try it. It’s powerful stuff.
Have we encouraged you locals enough yet to mark your calendar for his visit?
Don’t miss it!
He’s offering a public talk at Avenues Yoga on Friday evening the 27th of June, and a weekend workshop for 16 lucky people on June 27-28.
There are still a few spaces left for the workshop. You’re welcome to just drop in to the public talk – and can I just say? I think it will be awesome. Potentially life changing. Definitely informative and entertaining.
Don’t miss it! His work is unique, cutting edge, and Carl and I find it Ahhh-mazing.
Also – if you haven’t already, read this amazing interview
with Philip which was featured in the Sun Magazine last year.
It’s how we discovered him, and I’m oh-so-glad we did. The interview is called “Out of Our Heads: The Brain in our Belly.” It’s awesome.
You can still listen to our talk with him here
– it starts out a bit slow, but rather quickly gets so very interesting and rich. It’s about an hour long.
We hope you enjoy the talk, and we dearly hope you’ll join us for this event which Salt Lake City is so lucky to have.
More details are below in our newsletter. And if you want to come to the weekend workshop, don’t hesitate! I strongly encourage you to register soon. It will surely sell out.
Wishing you a fully embodied,
centered-self kind of day,
and with love,
p.s. I’ve created a 2-part payment plan option for the Creative Play weekend for Women to make it easier for you to claim your spot now. See below. I’d love to have you join me! The price goes up a bit on July 1st.
p.p.s. We’ll be adding a few more workshops onto our summer schedule …. look for details coming soon! Dynamic transitions and the Art of Sitting are among the themes we’ll explore…
p.p.p.s. I must include one more poem. I know we have some readers in other hemispheres, but if it’s almost summer where you live, perhaps the peonies are blossoming by you, as they are in my neighborhood. How could I not include Mary Oliver’s ode to peonies?
This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old buttery fingers
and they open –
pools of lace,
white and pink –
and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap
taking it away
to their dark, underground cities –
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again –
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are