Author: cynthia winton-henry

Cofounder of InterPlay, executive director of Body Wisdom, Inc, author and coach for body and soul at Mystic Tech, helping others to listen as deeply as possible for solutions and directions by unlocking the wisdom of the body for peace, community, fun, and health. Art, writings, keynotes, online teaching, and retreat and conference leadership.

The Amazing Winton- My Dad

The first horseless carriage driven cross-country? The Winton.

A Dr. Horatio Nelson bet fifty bucks in San Francisco in 1903 that he could drive to the East Coast.

The challenge? No roads.

The auto he chose? It was invented by Alexander Winton, the Scottish-American automobile engine designer who used racing to inspire Americans to imagine the need for long distance hiways.

Reminds me of dad, Hal Winton. Born of Swedish and Scotch-Irish parents he had uphill plans. Even before retiring as an engineer he collected feats. He climbed Mt. Whitney, ran the John Muir trail, traversed the Grand Canyon back and forth any number of times and at age 60 completed multiple 100-mile mountain races in one year, what ultrarunners call The Grand Slam.

A long hard trek through wild country was to drink the nectar of life.  Each summer he ran twenty-four hour loop behind our family cabin in Trinity County, navigating ridges with no trails and in the dark. My sister and I partly joked that he might end his days next to a rock somewhere. He had a trac phone, but few had his number. We had to prepare ourselves for whatever might happen….(read more)

InterPlay as a Life Practice for Spiritual Leaders

Dear friends,

I am whoosing around the U.S. at the moment, caring for elders, teaching InterPlay, and hanging out with friends, old and new. I’ll soon head to Pennsylvania to colead Changing the Race Dance and then to Raleigh, Durham to colead a Dying to Live Tour and Cabaret introduction with my husband Stephen, the hospice chaplain. But, not before celebrating my birthday at home in my new Jingletown Art Studio on the edge of Oakland where I make playful shrines to anything I can lay my hands on.

This Fall I will again be leading the InterPlay Life Practice Program for Spiritual Leaders. What a joy to teach directly to the way an artful, playful, body wise consciousness informs spiritual intelligence. InterPlay was designed to engage body, mind, heart, and soul all together. Most powerfully, this consciousness doesn’t ask anyone to change or grow. How miraculous in such driven, product oriented, problem solving obsessed cultures.

InterPlay is recognized and taught by respected Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Religious Science, Wiccan, and Divine Feminine leaders. By focusing on the common ground of being bodies with extraordinary creativity and love, a Zen priest, a Rabbi, an Earth guided spiritual leader, a Pastor, Chaplain, Spiritual Director or Priest can explore a common wisdom that flows in unique and vital directions.

InterPlay’s elegant, easy creative practices allow us to move with more grace and ease even in landscapes filled with physical suffering. As mystics, blessed to serve, we explore the physical shifts between our roles, our direct relationship to the Highest Good, and just being ourselves. We pray and play as the whole bodies beings we are designed to be. As I like to say, “when we do this, it lights up the Motherboard!” All of creation become our playmates.

An opening and closing retreat at InterPlayce, eight online sessions, and 3 hour long spiritual direction sessions are included. The online visual and interactive sessions are similar to Skype. Zoom rooms allow participants to move together, be witnessed, learn and share in a present time community. It’s the easiest platform I know to get into meetings.  If you like you could explore the Online Dance Chapel to see if this would work for you.

Learn why InterPlay leaders are some of the best equipped for millennial, intergenerational collaboration, interfaith connection, and social justice. 

If you are interested in learning more about the program email me at I’ll be offering an information session soon.

Opening & Closing Retreats: Oct 2-5, 2017 & April 9-12, 2018 • 8 online wisdom teachings: Tues 9–11 am PST • Oct 2017 – Mar 2018  Read more about the program on the InterPlay website.,

A second time option for the online wisdom teaching is under consideration.

In the meanwhile, blessings on all your dancing, spirited leadership, and on the prayers you offer for so many!

Love,  Cynthia

The Body Will Preach

When InterPlayers are invited into a pulpit or onto a platform, the Wisdom of the Body comes into the room in wonderful ways. Dancing, Talking, Chanting, and Breathing! 

Refreshing perspectives.

This happened on the east and west coast the same day when Anna Gilcher in DC at Seekers Church and Phil Porter at First Church Berkeley where Phil serves as a minister of Arts and Community happened to preach on the same story—the man born blind.

Two different takes- both illuminating. 

I thought a few of you would be keen to peek into these Hidden Sanctuaries of Love.

Read Anna’s Sermon here!

One of my favorite parts is where she says,

“The more privilege we carry, the more we profit from the oppression. Recognizing this as a truth is a crucial step, and from there, our work is to take responsibility: (even if) it’s not my fault, it is my responsibility.

This recognition is highly de-centering to those of us at the center, and the more social identifiers we carry that are the “default,” the less practiced we are at being de-centered.

The willingness to be de-centered is a sacred journey.”


Now go to the 28 minute mark  of “Resist With Eyes Wide Open” • First Church Berkeley Worship @ Congregation Beth Elthel at to see Phil Porter’s improvisational genius at work.

Bravo to the Monastery of the Heart, to the diverse wisdom of creation, and to all who share how they see love at play.


Come to The Dying to Live Tour and Cabaret

Come to the Cabaret

What good is sitting, alone in your room?
Come hear the music play!
Life is a cabaret, old chum!
Come to the cabaret!

What good’s permitting some prophet of doom?
To wipe every smile away
Life is a cabaret, old chum!
So come to the cabaret!

Start by admitting from cradle to tomb
It isn’t that long a stay
Life is a cabaret, old chum!
And I love a cabaret!

I was in Scotland on the isle of Lismore the night Mairi Campbell called her neighbors to join a ceilidh in her living room. It was late. There were a couple of fiddlers, some jokesters, a piano, some singing and some spirits. Everyone knew that in sharing folk music, singing, traditional dancing, and storytelling some people would naturally step up. Some would be cajoled. Like their ancestors they improvised an evening that circled around the fires of love, life, hardship and death to find hope, belonging, and sometimes wisdom.

It was a homegrown informal cabaret where musicsongdancerecitation, or drama included food, drink and some content of an adult, underground nature. We could use more homegrown cabarets.

Like the song says, “What good’s permitting some prophet of doom to wipe every smile away? …Start by admitting from cradle to tomb, it isn’t that long a stay…Life is a cabaret old chum, so come to the cabaret.”

With our parents, family members, friends and some of our idealistic dreams dead ir dying, where do we play with the rough edges of life?  It’s hard to tell our real stories in a death-phobic culture. A cabaret could be useful as a form that includes death as a norm of life. Embracing sister death allows us to live with a little less fear and maybe be a little wiser. 

That’s why me, and me, your interplayful cabaret-ista, and Rev. Stephen Winton-Henry, a pretty awesome grief educator who has sat countless hours in the mystery of death and dying, has every book on the subject and some great pointers and frames on life and death do hereby inaugurate the Dying to Live Tour and Cabaret. 

We’re practicing “bad Ukulele” and songs that honor life and death. And Boy, could we use some help! We don’t have folk dances, but we cand improvise a move or two. Stories? Oh yeah! We have em both made up and real.

As Lord Buddha said

Lord Buddha: How many times do you think about death?

Monk Number 1: I think about death every day.

Lord Buddha: Too little. How about you?

Monk Number 2: I think about death with every bite of food.

Lord Buddha: Not enough. And you?

Monk Number 3: I think about death with every breath in and every breath out.

Lord Buddha: Perfect.

You know things. We want to hear. This will require some levity, honesty, and practice if we want to get real and really live!

Interested in a Dying to Live Workshop-Cabaret evening? 

Rev. Stephen Winton-Henry, hospice chaplain and grief educator and Cynthia Winton-Henry, cofounder of InterPlay are dying to live.  With decades of helping people get into and out of their bodies, in the Dying to Live Tour and Cabaret they honor the lessons and questions of community around the biggest dance we do: Live and Die. Through reflection, music, stories, and movement, we’ll toast one another, write our names in the book of life, and touch on

  • Death’s role at the sacred center of life
  • That death is no solo dance
  • Our need for a fear troupe
  • The holy obligation to die well
  • and more…

all with playful, creative reverence.  

If you are invested in conscious living, wondering about conscious dying, seeking peace in the midst of change, someone who doesn’t plan on living forever, invite us to lead a cabaret! We’ll get you started on leading your own cabaret, if you like.

We can also preach, present at conferences or lead entire weekend retreats like the one coming up in Texas at High Hope Ranch,May 5-7, cohosted by Krystyna Jurzykowski, Madeline Udashen, and Hans York. This is perfect for anybody, including grief educators, health care professionals. family and friends who might be ready to lift up life and death when they see it. It includes Friday 6pm Dinner, introductions and orientation
Saturday Sessions on The Dance of Death, The Poetry of Life, a Happy Hour on The Art of Legacy, A Cabaret of Community Stories, Songs, Dances,Tellings, and on Sunday the Song of the Soul.

OK, off to make Dying to Live Tour and Cabaret T-shirts!  YOU KNOW YOU WANT ONE!


Uncertainty: The Improv School

Carolyn North, a close friend and fellow improvisor has astute wisdom and life experience. She sees improv as a remedy for the school of hard knocks and politically tumultuous times. Leave it to mystics and artists!



Growing up, I always went to bed at night with my heart in my mouth, uncertain what the next morning would bring. If my mother and sister woke up fighting, which they did on most days, I knew my mind would go blank in school, my fingers too numb to even hold a pencil. On those rare mornings when they didn’t scream at each other, my whole body would feel weird until I found my own center again, and then I could be present for that day.

Needless to say, I all but flunked out of elementary school.

I’ve been experiencing flashbacks of those feelings these days, often too scared to check the day’s headlines for fear I’ll be reduced again to blanking out. I often wonder how I’ve managed to live a productive life despite those years of trauma, and I suspect the reason is that I learned to compensate by creating an improvisatory alternative life in my imagination.

My school of relatively hard knocks may not be the recommended way to become an improviser, but for me that’s the way it worked. My curriculum was based upon an acceptance of uncertainty and the willingness to always start from scratch, being inventive to the max while kids from stable families were more likely to follow the rules. I see my training as preparation for the school we’re all in now where the first motto is, “Expect the unexpected,” and the second motto is, “We don’t know anything so we’d better be prepared for everything.”

It’s ‘The Improv School,’ and our school colors are black and white and brown and tan with all colors of hair and ornaments you can imagine, and our songs are based on an infinitude of modes and scales, and our languages cover the spectrum of sound. The rules of the mingled tribes are changing every single day, and we’ve got a steep learning curve to pick up one another’s languages, learn each others’ moves, and find our way to loving even when we’re scared out of our wits.

You may not believe this, but you and I in our pink pussy hats are running neck and neck with those in “power” because they are scared too, like little kids out of control who count on the grown-ups to stop them from hurting themselves.

They are the barking dogs who can be fierce as long as they know you’ve got your hand on the leash! It’s actually we who have the innovative ideas and sense of fun who are leading the pack! The others are still hauling out old, worn-out strategies of fear-mongering, threatening everything under the sun to scare us, while we are savvy in new ways, sharp as tacks with chutzpah to burn.

For example, whose idea was a border wall? China did that centuries ago and even then it didn’t work; now it’s a tourist trap with souvenir stalls. Even then, every warrior on a pony knew that if they couldn’t go over it and couldn’t go under it, they could always go around it – and they did!

Of course.

Yesterday, I attended the SONG FOR ALL BEINGS with my friends Arisika and Osha, which was an extravaganza of music and ritual from all over the globe, celebrating life and courage in hard times through song and chant and dance and spoken word, most of it improvisations based upon the sung theme of a Buddhist prayer:

May all beings be happy. May all beings be safe. May all beings everywhere be free.

For several hours that simple chant was background to a brilliant theatrical tapestry by artists of every color from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas who drifted on and off the stage, mixing it up in many languages while improvising upon each culture’s songs. We sang the chant along with them, dreaming of a world in which all our geniuses would be seen and heard, all borders open for cross fertilization and love affairs, all beauty intermingled.

If enough of us could wish for this, and practice it with everything we’ve got, celebrating one another’s gifts and not worrying about competing for the damned Gold Medal, then it’s simply a matter of time and hard work before things shift over into shared celebration of exceptional beauty.


Last night I dreamed I was sitting in the shallow surf making little doo-dads out of white seashells when a rogue wave roared up and broke thunderously over me. I scrambled breathlessly for the beach but then a sea monster rose up from the water like a dinosaur with massive tentacles and a huge funnel nose and came for me. But the monster was so ludicrously over-the-top, like a crazy drawing in a children’s storybook, that I started to laugh and it deflated like a rubber toy and sank unceremoniously back into the waves.

I woke up bemused.

Yesterday, I received a message from my nephew Charles, one of those newbies-with-vision I keep talking about. On it was a quote by Cynthia Occelli:

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”

We are learning that, politically and socially, although our elected administration is already making an unholy mess of things, it is actually the destruction of a worn-out phase, and good riddance. We’ve got the very man and his hench-folks to help it happen with everything they’ve got, massive tentacles and huge funnel noses intact.

It’s not pretty, and we’re already getting shaken up, but they will deflate when they are poked hard enough, so it’s time for us to get with the program, expect the unexpected, use the conditions we’re given whether we like them or not, and listen for the new riff coming out of the cacophony of noise.

And then improvise a new and original song from all those voices.

Starting NOW!



THE LIVING EDGE OF DYING is the title of Carolyn’s new book. It comprises the 75 pieces written in the past 2 years, covering the era between her husband Herb’s death and the election of Trump. She’s taking the positive path here, charting the golden thread in the chaos of our times. She is offering the book in the spirit of the gifting economy, asking for donations for the costs of production and printing, and asking people to gift it forward to friends. It’s my contribution to keeping us stalwart as things get harder, helping us laugh and cry, and working together to shift this comedy into a higher gear! You are invited to write and order copies.  Send cash or checks to me at: 2447 Prince St. Berkeley, CA 94705