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.

If the collective body is in trauma do we protect, or dare to dance?

 
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. 
 
 
 
 

Crazy-Making Times Require Different Muscles, Soul Muscles.

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 Conflict by 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.

 

 

2020 Offerings from the Hidden Monastery

Next week!
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.
      • Optional monthly coaching with Cynthia.

        Powerful wisdom, powerful results.  See more here…

 

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.

 

To join use this link to join us (zoom video): https://zoom.us/j/821297708
Not at your computer? call: 669-900-6833. Meeting ID: 821 297 708
Click here for other time zones

 


 

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…

Note: Retreat precedes the 30th annual Santa Fe Spiritual Director’s International Conference, where Cynthia and Soyinka will present.

 


 

Mystics, Artists, Misfits? We are not Mistakes! Ground Your Body Wisdom in a New Paradigm

Our ancestors were not naive. They were incredibly attuned to the cosmos, radically dependant on nature, and wildly perceptive. They relied on the gestalt of the collective’s cumulative senses to discern patterns and discover Earth’s wisdom for them over time. Their masterful spiritual intelligence was practical and mystical leading them to honor their ground of being as holy and wise beyond measure. To disregard such body wisdom was a form of insanity. As we can see, today, their wisdom is still authoritative.

Do you know things, see things, and feel things in ways that make you appear more intense or reserved than others?  Do you have visionary bursts or feel shut down? Do you struggle with shame about “who you are?” We need your wisdom. We need you to feel whole and worthy!

People who are gifted and sensitive have a different center of gravity. When our culture disregards our center of gravity we experience overwhelm, disease, and chronic ailments.

One in five humans is designed to sense more. We are not broken. We are gifted. We require an Earthwise balancing point. Like a treasured plant in the rainforest with great medicine, an orchid’s prophetic beauty, an elephant’s ability to walk miles to honor the anniversary of the deceased, a sensitive body may grow ill, turn against self and others when families, religious communities, work, and schools miss this fact.

Those who don’t fit into standard models need unique forms of training and encouragement. In fact, all people benefit from understanding and practicing the body wisdom needed by sensitives. After all, that is what sensitives are for, to help communities strengthen spiritual intelligence, creative imagination, wisdom, earth care, and health.

All of my adult life I’ve been guided to learn and practice the wisdom of sensitivity. Even in seminary, I had to demythologize and decode sacred texts. I had to get as close as I could to direct forms of knowledge to find support. I had to travel to Africa, India, and to Pueblos in order to find my center. I was given incredible mentors who supported me as an artist, thinker, writer, and dancer. Because of dance, I inadvertently trained to be a body intellectual. Thanks to my work with Phil Porter and creating InterPlay, I stumbled onto a gold mine of human health-making processes, the heart of which is located in the birthright practices of dance, story, voice, and stillness.  These wisdom practices are embedded in ancestral village morays.

One day I told my spiritual director that I hoped to write a book about initiations for mystics. She laughed.  I didn’t realize it’s crazy and presumptuous. Nonetheless, I’ve seen a huge gap in training for people like me. I want to assist others who are entering or trying to navigate the ancient mystic stream in a way that can shift us from affliction to recognizing and credentialing ourselves as gifted.  When we do we see that all growth is rooted in Earth and her initiations. As initiates, we develop clarity of vision, efficiency of energy, and courage to love.  

It is humbling to say that each year, people have been gathering with me in retreat and online spiritual courses. The course is the Art of Ensoulment: 12 Initiations in the Playbook for Senstives, Mystics, and Artists. I’ve asked some women to share their experience of the course.

Licensed acupuncturist Jiling Lin, L.Ac. “Ensoulment helped me transition through graduation, board exams, and starting a medical practice. During sessions, I feel met and heard and am able to access and express usually inaccessible states. This helps me be more creative, motivated, and ultimately live a more joyous life, to show up fully for myself, and my patients and students. Snippets of ensoulment tools arise when needed in life and clinical practice, particularly in times of challenge, as gems of beauty that help anchor me into my greatest self, and the Great Mystery of the Universe. Deep gratitude!”

MaryEllen May, filmmaker, guide of Mythos Journeys. “Life often feels like too much for my sensitive body, but this year was exceptionally challenging.  I’ve often felt trampled, fragmented and compromised just by being in the world.  The effects of this in my energetic field and in my physical body left me depleted.  I’m incredibly grateful to have connected with Cynthia and the journey of ensoulment last January.  It gently carried me through the trials I faced.  Each month gifted me with a deeper way of dancing with life’s initiations.  It gave me ways to experience these life shifts as gateways.  I moved through each gateway with profound appreciation and awe, transformed by the experience rather than trampled by it.  Cynthia’s guidance about how to navigate life in a sensitive body and to playfully release and dance has been life-saving.  This is a course one can encounter, again and again, going deeper each time.  The richness of this course can’t be overstated, I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to take the journey of ensoulment. 

I am offering the introduction to the course in an hour and a half online live training called Gifted and Sensitive Bodies: Intro Workshop for Leaders, Mystics, and Artist. The session is easy going, instructional, and gives you some practice in the basic tools of grounding, clearing, and restoring yourself. Link here for cost and times.

If you are interested in stepping into the year-long course I welcome your inquiry.  It’s a commitment so I am happy to talk to you in person to see if this is the right fit. Link here for more information.

Thank you for reading. If you know someone who might be interested, please forward this message.  It can take years for someone to finally orient to their giftedness!

 

 

Your Gifted, Sensitive Body! Next Friday!

Can’t make it? Sessions are recorded and come with a pdf.  Individual follow-up is available.
 
Gifted and sensitive people are crucial to healthy community. We become teachers, healers, spiritual guides, activists and artists. But without mentoring and guidance for our initiations we tend to struggle, isolate, become ill, discouraged, enraged and pulled toward addiction. Increased violence toward self and others may result from the lack of supportive, sacred grounding for gifted, sensitive bodies. 
 
Statistically, one in five feel more and sense more than our peers. W. Thomas Boyce MD  calls us the Orchids and the Dandelions. I believe this math is part of nature’s design. But without recognition, tools,  creativity, and community support we are misfits with abilities that some call weird. We get “diagnosed” for being too big or too small, and struggle with balancing energy. We get overwhelmed or grow calloused.  

Are you gifted and sensitive? Know someone who is?  The upcoming 90-minute trainings help us shift from labeling ourselves or others as overly sensitive to being credentialed members of the “One-In-Five Gifted, Sensitive and Body Wise Club.”

We’ll incorporate tools from InterPlay, a creative framework for body wisdom full of supportive strategies that make sensitivity understandable, manageable and fun.  I’ll survey the initiations that sensitive bodies encounter and give you a peek at How to Live Your Glorious Life No Matter What with instruction on the art of ensoulment using the Self-Care Playbook for Sensitive Leaders and Mystics.

Join either 90-minute training to receive the 24-page Spiritual Instruction Module, Credentialed as Mystics: How to Honor Gifted and Sensitive People covering

• What are Your Soul Credentials?
• You’re Not Sick, You’re Sensitive! Recognizing the 1-in-5
• How to Make Sensitivity More Fun
• Playing with Initiations
• Initiated by the Nature of Life
• Initiation Inventories for One-In-Fivers
• How You Are Credentialed to Serve

Cost

This offering is through Cynthia Winton-Henry, not Body Wisdom.

Workshop, recording, and pdf $25
With an Individual session $75                      
available at lower prices.

Contact

To register

paypal.me/cynthiawintonhenry
or send a check to Cynthia Winton-Henry
2273 Telegraph Ave, Oakland CA 94612
Venmo payments also accepted.