A Hidden Monastery dedicated to the Divine Dance of Body and Soul
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.
Come hold sacred the Wisdom of the Body. Come move, sing, and honor each other’s bodyspirit in these times…
Sunday’s 5 pm with Trish Watts & Jane Siarny Mondays 5 pm pst with Cynthia Winton-Henry Tuesdays12 pm with Rehana TEjpar and Tuesdays 5 pm pst with Stephanie Gesling & Greer Dokmanovich Wednesdays 4 pm pst with Ruth Showalter Thursdays 9:30 am pst with Nancy Pfaltzgraf Thursdays 4 pm with Coke Tani
Fridays 9 am pst with Monisha Mittal See world clock for your time.
Here’s what you can expect in a chapel. Light a candle, virtual or real and bring your intention for family, community, and world.
Affirm and notice your body wisdom as you move, notice and share.
Renew grace and gratitude in your week.
Hear and share inspiring poetry and wisdom.
Dance on behalf of others in the group.
Connect to global companions.
Drop-in at any time you need prayer, community, or support at no charge.
We welcome donations of $25–85/month and love offering anytime. Just click here.
Make checks to Cynthia Winton-Henry, 2273 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612.
I don’t think dreams are only about the dreamer. I believe that human consciousness is communal. Modern people carry individual freedom to such an extreme that we forget how much we are of one piece. I believe that we dream for each other as well as ourselves. In the Bible, Jacob won a seat in the court of a foreign King for his ability to prophetically dream and translate their meaning to the powers that be. The only problem is that, like art, dreams are subjective. We have to decide whether to swallow dreams whole or take them with a grain of salt.
In the summer of 2002, I dreamt a world dream.
Suited up against the dark nights,
OUT OF NOWHERE
I looked up.
A rainbow stitched the night sky.
A night rainbow? I checked my lense,
elbowed my neighbor, “Did you see that?”
Suddenly the rainbow stitch
duplicated into multicolored
spherical, fractals of light,
each enwrapping an inner light
born from infinite, unlit sources.
Rainbow eggs torrentially divided,
multiplied, hailed down.
I was Unprepared
wearing high terrain boots,
the kind used for hard work
and cross country mountain climbing.
As I clod toward the village square
so many shoes lay abandoned by the road.
I took off my boots and ran light-footed
toward the center of the city,
an aurora borealis flood
consuming and swallowing the world.
When I woke, I wondered, “Is this how it will happen? A future coming at us over which we have no control? Apocalyptic death? Or? Apocalyptic hope.”
Something enormously “other” is at the center of every miracle. Strike us dead or let us dance, I don’t know how well we’ll do, but I know bodies will be altered and offered up every time. A rainbow world is coming. And it may not depend on us.
Since that dream, I’ve thought that something outside human consciousness may be needed to create the shift we need. A trillion inner suns illuminating our darkness? Coronas?
Are we collectively open to help from beyond? Strange question. Strange dream. My life may or may not be saved. This is not a time for individuals. I bow to the storm.
If I think of the world as a body, it can’t be reduced to a problem or disease. Life is a web of health. The more health we grant ourselves the more we create a healthy world body. Violent methods put off healing and health. Things like war are surgical. Who wants surgery? Recovery is hard.
What leads to peace and healing? Creative Contributions, Play and Rest. That’s CPR of body wisdom.
Play is the genius of consciousness. Play builds up bodies, fosters health and transforms trauma. The sooner we play, dance, share our story, song, and spirit, the quicker we stabilize and open up our bodyspirits to relief, curiosity, love, energy, power, and crazy encounters.
If you’d like to read the introduction to Chasing the Dance of Life link here. I wrote it to companion the mystics, poets, visionaries, and dancers who feel weird. In it, I offer my quest to understand why something as expansive, visionary, heart-opening and socially healing as the Dance of Life could be so hard to claim. Fortunately, there are voices that say, “Fear not.” On discouraging days I cling to incantations like poet Muriel Rukeyser’s,
Let poems and bodies love and be given to air,
Earth having us real in her seasons, our fire and savor;
And reader, love well, imagine forward, for
All of the testaments are in your favor.
Dance when you are broken open. Dance if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance and you’re perfectly free. Rumi
Here’s to rainbows in your night sky or at your roots.
Franciscan Richard Rohr, a prolific, eloquent teacher and guide for our times, recently wrote on body wisdom, soul, and collective stuckness. Drawing from Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, he shares the growing awareness of historical white stuck trauma. It’s in our bodies and continues to inflict pain.
To unstick trauma requires more than noticing or releasing trauma. Traditionally humans healed their traumatized social nervous systems through the birthright practices of movement, voice, story, stillness, humor, affection, love, friendship and ceremony. The creative neuro-pathways not only bring us back to a healthy sense of life and soothe us, but they also open up channels of inspiration and communication with wise, higher-ordered intelligence.
Scientist Stephen Porgas in The Polyvagal Theory writes that “to connect and co-regulate with others is our biological imperative. We experience this imperative as an inherent quest for safety that can be reached only through successful social relationships. In which we co-regulate our behavior and physiology.”
In the Art of Ensoulment Self Care Playbook for Mystics and Sensitive Leaders, my year-long course dedicated to body, soul, creativity and wisdom needed to thrive and lead in the coming days, I share key initiations. One is to restore our birthright practices.
In the Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Healer, Teacher and Visionary anthropologist Angeles Arrien writes, “In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person, complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions. When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence? Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experienced the loss of soul. Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves.”
Be reassured. No art, no soul, is lost, only dormant. It’s silence waits and holds beautiful and terrible secrets, casting shadows of creative power that pulse and pull on us in the dark. Poet John O’Donohue in the Invisible Embrace of Beauty sees stillness as the hidden power of dance “Stillness is the canvas against which movement can become beautiful. We can only appreciate movement against the background of stillness. Were everything kinetic, we could not know what movement is. As sound is sistered to silence, movement is sistered to stillness” Appreciate the hidden arts and we generate creative surges of growth, connection, and insight. InterPlay offers a beautiful container for exploring this.
For the one in five of us who are sensitive bodies, we need creative flow more than most. We need soothing, holistic sensations, insights and technologies. We need to counterbalance suffering with renewed beauty and hope. We need artistic observation, reasoning, and consensual processes that loop us into energy, guide and regulate collective body wisdom.
I am afraid it is no longer enough to do solo dances, solo songs, and solo embodied prayers. If we want health in the social body, we must dignify the wisdom of our ancestors and the living traditions of indigenous people whose dances, songs, and stories are spiritually intelligent. Then we must reinitiate our body wisdom and creativity in simple, heart-activating ways. InterPlay is brilliant at this.
From Stuck in the Body by Richard Rohr, Thursday, February 20, 2020
In the West, we rely predominately on “head” knowledge, but our hearts offer us plenty of information as well through powerful experience of awe and empathy, joy and heartbreak (even if we choose to dismiss it most of the time). But it seems to me that we have lost or ignored the wisdom of the body almost completely. I have often taught that if we are not transformed by our pain, we will almost certainly transmit it to those around us, and I am learning that we pass it on to future generations as well.
Author and therapist Resmaa Menakem speaks directly about “bodily knowing” and the transmission of trauma from a historical and corporate perspective. Our bodies have a form of knowledge that is different from our cognitive brains. This knowledge is typically experienced as a felt sense of constriction or expansion, pain or ease, energy or numbness. Often this knowledge is stored in our bodies as wordless stories about what is safe and what is dangerous. . . . The body is where we live. It’s where we fear, hope, and react. It’s where we constrict and relax. And what the body most cares about are safety and survival. When something happens to the body that is too much, too fast, or too soon, it overwhelms the body and can create trauma. . . . Trauma is not primarily an emotional response. [It] always happens in the body. . . . Trauma is the body’s protective response to an event—or a series of events—that [the body] perceives as potentially dangerous. This perception may be accurate, inaccurate, or entirely imaginary. . . . An embedded trauma response can manifest as fight, flee, or freeze—or as some combination of constriction, pain, fear, . . . reactive behaviors, or other sensations and experiences.
This trauma then gets stuck in the body—and stays stuck there until it is addressed. Menakem explains how layers of trauma have built up in the United States: America is tearing itself apart. On the surface, this war looks like the natural outcome of many recent social and political clashes. But it’s not. These conflicts are anything but recent. One hundred and fifty-six years ago, they spawned the American Civil War. But even in the 1860s, these conflicts were already centuries old. They began in Europe during the Middle Ages, where they tore apart close to two million white bodies. The resulting tension came to America embedded in the bodies of Europeans, and it has remained in the bodies of many of their descendants. Over the past three centuries, that tension has been both soothed and deepened by the invention of whiteness and the resulting racialization of American culture. At first glance, today’s manifestation of this conflict appears to be a struggle for political and social power. . . . While we see anger and violence in the streets of our country, the real battlefield is inside our bodies. If we are to survive as a country it is inside our bodies where this conflict will need to be resolved. . . . If we are to upend the status quo of white-body supremacy, we must begin with our bodies.
Adapted from Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies (Central Recovery Press, 2017), xvii, 5, 7. Image credit: Saint Serapius (detail), Francisco de Zurbarán, 1628, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut.
You are a sensitive being. You feel and notice more than most. What do you do when a toxic leader is driving you crazy? When this happens, you and I need to engage different muscles, soul muscles. Maybe you are already using them.
I was once a minister in the church. Unfortunately, I navigated more than one situation where a person incrementally took the community captive. Some people aren’t just critics. There aren’t enough workshops, experts, prayers, committee meetings, or conversations to appease these individuals. They ferret out dissent and build coalitions. The idea of a common good is not on their mind though they say it is. They blatantly defy social rules and are uncannily gifted at encouraging others to do the same, even people I’d expect to behave ethically. In my experience, a church leader, like presidents, agrees not to tamper in communities they’ve served. In my case, the former pastor got seduced into hosting dinner meetings with the antagonist. Confusion grew. People refused to name the ringleader.
How does this happen? More like a disease in the body than a strategy, some people eat and drain the energy or power of others as indicated in this article on workplace bullying. The book Antagonists in the Church: How To Identify and Deal With Destructive Conflictby Kenneth Hauck helped make sense of my experience. I don’t consider the book authoritative about normal conflict, but it showed that this particular problem wasn’t just me. Because leaders lrefuse to empower such experiences is one reason we don’t talk about it. But, for many the scars are real and so is the learning.
I love affirming people. I am loyal, playful, caring, and too empathetic. But, antagonists aren’t interested in that. They need energy. I had to learn an entirely different strategy for dealing with the insatiable drama of antagonism, but by the time I did, it was too late — the church split. Good and embattled members disappeared. My health deteriorated. I had no training in the phenomenon and had to go. The good news is that experiences like this accelerated my path to create InterPlay. I understood better the nature of health in the community.
As we deal with insanity in the U.S. presidency, here are the strategic muscles I’m using.
Step one: Center in soul and healthy relationships. Gather and honor your higher power. Soul muscles are so deep we forget that they’re even there. Connect to Source and find the reassurance that you are OK no matter what.
Step two: Resist looking for what is fair and what isn’t. Instead, notice energy. Are you getting drained? Is it like people are fighting a disease? Are they getting drained? Yes? This is an energy problem. Don’t be consumed.
Step three: Keep shifting attention off of the antagonist to those open to love. The antagonist’s ability to incite reaction is their primary power. Use energy wisely. Train your focus on building up people.
Step four: Give up shaming and negotiating. Mental health professionals recognize that some personalities may not be able to improve their social awareness. Shame or negotiation with antagonistic people feeds the disease.
Step five: Surrender idealism. To deal with conflict head-on, I had to confront an addiction to idealism. Perpetuating tolerance of unjust actions and words is part of whiteness. To see if you are addicted to idealism, check out this article.
Step six: Observe Solemn Boundaries: Let your “No” be neutral and clear. This is where soul muscles get a real workout. The good news is that NO becomes the most loving thing for everyone. Items on the list below come from PsychCentral.com for dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder. They are similar to the behavioral strategies for dealing with people who are agitating for their next energy/drama fix.
Don’t feed an antagonists need for attention/validation
Don’t get pulled into drama triangles.
Don’t feel emotionally destroyed by impulsive remarks or behaviors.
Don’t become emotional “prey.
Don’t get into any routines or habits with antagonists.
Don’t be their “go-to” person at ALL times.
Don’t allow boundary crossings.
Don’t always go the extra mile.
Don’t look affected by attempts to control, manipulate, or dominate
Don’t show emotional distress, agitation, anger, or pleasure.
Don’t give information to someone who intends to manipulate you.
Don’t get pulled in by unsubstantiated fears of abandonment.
Don’t normalize their risky behaviors.
Don’t believe they are capable of “snapping out of it.
Don’t minimize your intuition.
Step seven: Keep building coalitions that understand and protect against the nature of antagonism and continue to place situations and people in Divine hands.
Step eight: Know that all of the above is Love.
I’d love your thoughts and reactions to this. I’ll respond to comments.
Last chance to sign up for this 2020 year-long course
Initiations in the Art of Ensoulment
with the Self-Care Playbook for Sensitive Leaders and Mystics.
Dedicate the year to body, soul, and wisdom needed to thrive and lead in these days. Choose one of two online monthly workshop options: Second Mondays starting Jan 13, 2:30-4:30 pm pst, or Second Thursdays starting Jan 16, 3-5 pm pst.
Monthly live, 2-hour (recorded) zoom session full of instruction, interplay, reflection, and practices related to the 12 initiatory arts of ensoulment.
Wisdom and creative prompts from the Self-Care Playbook.
Share questions, art, poetry, and noticings in a private Facebook group.
Next week Wed. January 15!
EnneaMotion and the Enneagram 3-4:30 Pacific / 4-5:30 Mountain / 5-6:30 Central / 6-7:30 Eastern
Meet Andrea Isaacs, Enneagram master teacher, creator of EnneaMotion and the EQ quiz. (Take the quiz if you haven’t.) The intro describes the Isaacs Enneamotion approach and training. Get the recording if you can’t make the time. Email me if you want to join.
Reserve Your Spot! Pecos Monastery Santa Fe, New Mexico Retreat. April 20-23, (3 pm check-in, 5:30 dinner–Thurs, noon departure).
Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey, 25 miles east of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Send your deposit: $100 with Venmo, Paypal, or check to Cynthia Winton-Henry, 2273 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612.
Total Cost: $495-$640
Room and Board $295.00 15 singles, 5 doubles, register early for singles. Honoraria $200-345 sliding scale.
Find respite, among sensitive, creative souls. Listen, rest, sing, move, exhale with InterPlay practices to honor land and our enduring source of resilience and health, body and soul. We’ll research Greening the Soul: Creative Practices for Ensoulment., take personal time, make art, dance on behalf of each other and our world, create ritual and tune-in to stories, nudges, weirdness, laughter, and arising wisdom. Link for more info…