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 Spiritual Directors International Conference days are full of offerings from Sr. Joan Chittister, Dr. Barbara Holmes, Roshi Joan Halifax, Fr. Richard Rohr, Woman Stands Shining (Pat McCabe), Mirabai Starr, Lucy Abbott Tucker, Adam Bucko and workshops by people like Bayo Akomolafe and other diverse, embodied, contemporary wisdom teachers. Several of us are InterPlayers including Chris Copeland and Jane Vennard. Click here to see the workshop teachers.
As you know a conference is not a retreat. That is why I want to offer additional, affordable, quiet days beforehand (89 for room and board per night) at Pecos Benedictine Monastery’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey located in the Pecos River Canyon 25 miles east of Santa Fe. To hold the space I’d like to know if you would enjoy time with our Hidden Monasteryof body-wise mystics, artists, and contemplative activists. There will be earth time, solo time and group space for artful reflection. (You may choose to attend this retreat and not the Spiritual Directors Conference.) Please respond if you would choose to come Monday, April 20 or Tuesday, April 21 through Thursday, April 22, the first day of the SDI conference. Would you email me your thoughts?
If you want and haven’t registered yet for the conference, see what’s on offer.*Super Early Bird Pricing of $499 for SDI Members, $599 for non-Members until 11:59pm PST on September 15, 2019. Early Bird: $575 SDI Members, $675 for non-Members from September 16 through January 31, 2020. Regular Price: $649 for SDI Members, $749 for non-Members.
Why I’m a member of Spiritual Directors International.
I receive support from therapists, coaches, body-workers, and energy healers. When I entered seminary, it became clear that my focus is Body and Soul. As I attune to the sacred in myself and others I am able to companion others in a unique and profound way. As it turns out my spiritual director is my supervisor and primary witness whether I am struggling or feeling great.
The origins of Spiritual Directors International came out of the bay area. I know the leader as wise and beautiful people and am gladdened by the growth of SDI. It is good to be in a professional community of people who are reflecting and occasionally meeting together.
I recommend the work of spiritual direction to you in gratitude for all the hidden monasteries that we tend.
In one of the Ensoulment Initiation monthly sessions, I focus on ensouling the diversity of Thrust, Hang, Swing, and Shape by teaching where each movement pattern centers in our body. As we attune to body AND soul we don’t let go of our body wisdom. We seek to embrace joy, suffering, and challenges as paths to wisdom. I’ve found that in order to do this, we often enter an “initiation” as we take on the support and tools needed to incorporate wholeness.
How does bringing them into balance assist in letting soul shine?
In my body when I presence all four centers of these primal patterns, I feel like I do when I dance. Yum. I’m grateful that I can play with each pattern and its offering both on the individual and collective level. And I am REALLY grateful to call the patterns into cooperative alignment.
In what way do you ensoul the wisdom of Hang (the “open to the field” visionary), Swing (the community-based collaborator), Thrust (the warm, earth-grounded driver), and Shape (the heart-centered organizer)?
When we resist any life experience within or outside of us, an initiation awaits. You may choose to engage with your resistance or let life work on you indirectly. (What we resist persists). Either way is fine. Soul is in no rush. But I find that the fruits of ensoulment –peace, compassion, joy, connectedness, presence, love, and happiness– are worth engaging the harder stuff.
InterPlayers are lucky because we play with the language, idea, and experience of the four patterns every time we meet. We are initiated in their presence. Sometimes, we get stuck in saying we are one thing or another. Over time, I found that my most relaxed and soulful way of being, swing and hang, required a deep incorporation of thrust. Until my thruster could express its energy and be loved, a graceful balance wasn’t possible.
I am so thankful for colleagues like Marcia McFee who dance and teach from Soul. Her research is included in the 12 sets of ensoulment initiation tools in my year long course on ensoulment initiations. Coming from a background as a professional dancer, she ably joined InterPlay’s Wing It! Performance Ensemble and did the Life Practice Program. There she learned about the movement patterns and went on to complete a Ph.D. at the Graduate Theological Union in Liturgical Studies with an Allied Field of Ethics. Her focus on ritual featured the Four Movement Patterns as The Primal Patterns. Today, Today, Marcia travels all over offering a powerful worship design studio helping church leaders to bring body and soul, wisely, fully, justly and beautifully into the community. As Marcia knows, it isn’t easy to speak in the language of body and soul. I so appreciate how clearly she names this challenge and is helping people to move personally and collectively into soulful, embodied practice.
In regards to the Primal Patterns: Towards a Kinesthetic Hermeneutic, Marcia says,
“Kinesiologists have found that a person’s dominant pattern (called a “home pattern”), based on their particular neuromuscular excitation, affects the energy with which they move in the world, perceive the world around them, and thus, behave in relationship to that world. They are patterns of “somatic integration” and are a psychomotor connection between movement qualities and cognitive/affective processes of the brain.
Like the best sense of the word “home,” a home pattern is one in which we find our greatest ease of expression and resonance in terms of energetic identity. The difference in energy between persons depends upon the amount of force and timing with which their muscles “fire.” Although we use all the patterns, our home pattern is one in which we feel most like “ourselves.” Cynthia Winton-Henry describes her experience of finding “home.”
I was forever trying to hold myself in. I felt too big and too weird most of the time. I judged my energetic bursts of joy, anger, and opinion. I was self-conscious about my high level of activity… When I realized that thrusting was an intrinsic part of my unique nature and not a personality defect, I was relieved. The more I let my energy move out from my center in strong, joyous beams, the more I felt inner peace and clarity in my body.
In Winton-Henry’s account, we see that each home pattern has its own characteristics that make it distinct from other patterns in its formative effects. Energy patterns are characterized by “what you can feel and what works in and around people… It is the power and motion that is inside a person and that also combines with the power inside other people too.”Because the dynamics of ritual are created by individuals who “body forth” the power and motion at work inside them through various media in the context of community, the dynamics of ritual may also be described in terms of these Primal Patterns. Various ritual strategies carry dominant patterns of energy dynamics, each having their own characteristics and effects. The energy dynamics of ritual are produced as bodies enact these various kinesthetic attributes through ritual performance. Thus, we can observe and describe dominant patterns of energy dynamics as ritual strategies that are determinative of particular energetic effects. In other words, variations of energy patterns have implications for “what ritual effects.”
 Neuromuscular excitation refers to the stimulation of the nerve cells (neurons) of the muscular system which creates the particular force and timing of muscle movement.
 For more on the neurophysiological process of formation through ritual, see Marcia McFee, Primal Patterns: Ritual Dynamics, Ritual Resonance, Polyrhythmic Strategies and the Formation of Christian Disciples, Graduate Theological Union, dissertation (Berkeley, 2005), 146-184.
 Cynthia Winton-Henry with Phil Porter, What the Body Wants (Kelowna, BC: Northstone Publishing, 2004), 72.
 A Macumba-Christian priestess as cited in Valerie DeMarinis, “Movement as Mediator of Meaning: An Investigation of the Psychosocial and Spiritual Function of Dance in Religious Ritual,” in Doug Adams and Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, eds., Dance as Religious Studies (New York: Crossroads Publishing Company, 1990), 201.
 In Ricouer’s discussion of hermeneutics, there is always a “dynamic, relative tension” between “sense” and “reference.” The “sense” is “what is said”–in our case, the kinesthetic attributes of the patterns themselves. The “reference” is about its “extra-linguistic reality”–the “about which” of the patterns that is the associative images produced by particular dynamics. The dialectic here is the confluence of physiology and a “philosophy/theology of the flesh” for a kinesthetic hermeneutic. See Joyce Ann Zimmerman, C.P.P.S., Liturgy and Hermeneutics (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1999), 37-39 for a brief discussion of Ricouer. For an extended treatment, see Joyce Ann Zimmerman, Liturgy as Language of Faith: A Liturgical Methodology in the Mode of Paul Ricoeur’s Textual Hermeneutics (Lanham: University Press of America, 1988).
To learn more about your movement pattern home base and how to find greater balance check out my page on the mini-test, the Move to Greatness book, or consider a small investment in the professional tool, the Focused Energy Balance Indicator, which I am trained to administer. Click here.
I am so pleased I found Ursula LeGuin’s rendition of the Tao te Ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way published in 1997. The very first poem, “Taoing” gives us sage advice
The way you can go isn’t the real way.
The name you can say isn’t the real name.
And yet we try.
In contemplating soul almost daily, I track and “want” soul. Or is it that I need soul as never before in times of climate threat and human cacophony? The same poem says,
So the unwanting soul sees what’s hidden and the ever-wanting soul sees only what it wants.
Aligning body and soul to the Beloved Power and Mystery beyond human chaos IS needful. I feel it in my body. But as the poem goes on,
Two things, one origin but different in name, whose identity is mystery. Mystery of all mysteries! The door to the hidden.
So there is a door.
I recently began seeing quotes on soul. I wrote them down. To my delight, Rob Brezny was way ahead of me. He recently sent a gaggle of soul quotes. Thank you, Rob, master artist of the English Language, astrological wizard, trumpeter for the Truth and Beaty Lab, and author of Pronoia! You can get his weekly readings here. Most of the quotes below were in his last newsletter.
Mystics, contemplatives, young and old sensitives, attendants to what can’t be named, innkeepers of the holy, it’s our job to keep the light on for The Way as others did before us. Whether we do it with touch, a glance, a kindness, a breath a song or a word– we know something hidden.
There is a door.
The entire universe contributes incessantly to your existence. Hence the entire universe is your body.
—Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
One in body and soul, . . Though outwardly separate in form. As the Source strikes the note, Humanity sings
—Mechtilde de Magdeburg
“I call the high and light aspects of my being spirit and the dark and heavy aspects soul.” “Soul is at home in the deep, shaded valleys. Heavy torpid flowers saturated with black grow there. The rivers flow like warm syrup.” “Spirit is a land of high, white peaks and glittering jewel-like lakes and flowers. Life is sparse and sounds travel great distances.”
—The Dalai Lama, as quoted by James Hillman in “A Blue Fire”
Soul is something creative, something active. Soul is honesty. I sing to people about what matters. I sing to the realists, people who accept it like it is. I express problems; there are tears when it’s sad and smiles when it’s happy. It seems simple to me, but to some, feelings take courage.
let my body dwell in poverty, and my hands be as the hands of the toiler;
but let my soul be as a temple of remembrance
where the treasures of knowledge enter
and the inner sanctuary is hope.”
― George Eliot
The soul is shy
Love’s mysteries in souls do grow, but yet the body is the book.
The self is something we lay claim to. The soul is what lays claim to us. Soulfulness is not a human quality. It is a quality that human beings partake in, a quality that can be found in how you move, how you see things, how you talk and ponder and eat and love. Soulfulness is the tea and rice of your life. It is a kind of language, and in its calm face we can recognize ourselves and each other, and we can see the way of the holy and the way the natural world has of being itself. The souls way makes and sustains our kinship with the world and with strangers, and as we have seen, there is hell to pay when this kinship is forgotten. the world soul contains and embraces and sustains all those things that human beings find are implacable and opposite, and it gives humans a means of understanding how to live inside their contending ways. With this quality of soulfulness in our minds, we are now on the track of our soul’s desires.
―Stephen Jenkinson, Money and the Soul’s Desires: A Meditation
The soul will not be confined; nor will its explosive power be contained: “The soul has moments of escape – / When bursting all the doors – / She dances like a Bomb, abroad, / And swings opon the Hours.
The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.
—Carl Jung, The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man (1934).
And god said to the soul
I desired you before the world began.
I desire you now
As you desire me.
And where the desires of two come together
There love is perfected.
—Mechtild of Magdeburg
I am the poet of the body,
And I am the poet of the soul.
The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the pains of
hell are with me,
The first I graft and increase upon myself — the latter I
translate into a new tongue.
—Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”
How prompt we are to satisfy the hunger and thirst of our bodies; how
slow to satisfy the hunger and thirst of our souls!
—Henry David Thoreau
The soul should always stand ajar,
That if the heaven inquire,
He will not be obliged to wait,
Or shy of troubling her.
This earth is honey for all beings, and all beings are honey for this earth.
The intelligent, immortal being, the soul of the earth, and the intelligent,
immortal being, the soul in the individual being—each is honey to the
Ondinnonk is an Iroquois word with two related meanings: 1. a secret wish
of the soul, especially as revealed in dreams; 2. the spiritual part of our
nature that longs to do good deeds.
In the best-known version of the Greek myth, Persephone is dragged down
into the underworld by Hades, whose title is “Pluto.” But in earlier, pre-
patriarchal tales, she descends there under her own power, actively
seeking to graduate from her virginal naiveté by exploring the intriguing
land of shadows.
“Pluto” is derived from the Greek word *plutus*, meaning “wealth.”
Psychologist James Hillman says this refers to the psyche-building
riches available in Pluto’s domain. Hades, he says, is “the giver of
nourishment to the soul.”
Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the
senses but the soul.
“There is a saying that when the student is ready, the teacher appears,”
writes Clarissa Pinkola Estes. But the magic of that formula may not
unfold with smooth simplicity, she says: “The teacher comes when the
soul, not the ego, is ready. The teacher comes when the soul calls, and
thank goodness—for the ego is never fully ready.”
What is the “soul,” anyway? Is it a ghostly blob of magic stuff within us
that keeps us connected to the world of dreams and the divine realms? Is it
an amorphous metaphor for the secret source of our spiritual power? Is
it a myth that people entertain because they desperately want to believe
there’s more to them than just their physical bodies?
Here’s what I think: The soul is a perspective that pushes us to go deeper
and see further and live wilder. It’s what drives our imagination to flesh
out our raw experience, transforming that chaotic stuff into rich
storylines that animate our love of life.
With the gently propulsive force of the soul, we probe beyond the surface
level of things, working to find the hidden meaning and truer feeling.
Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
“The works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with
clinical coolness,” said the painter Joan Miró in describing his artistic process.
“Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul,” wrote environmentalist
“I had tended to view waiting as mere passivity,” wrote author Sue Monk
Kidd in her memoir. “When I looked it up in my dictionary, however, I
found that the words ‘passive’ and ‘passion’ come from the same Latin root,
*pati*, which means ‘to endure.’ Waiting is thus both passive and
passionate. It’s a vibrant, contemplative work . . . It involves listening to
disinherited voices within, facing the wounded holes in the soul, the denied
and undiscovered, the places one lives falsely.”
If you need to visualize the soul, think of it as a cross between a wolf
howl, a photon, and a dribble of dark molasses. But what it really is, as
near as I can tell, is a packet of information. It’s a program, a piece of
hyperspatial software designed explicitly to interface with the Mystery.
Not a mystery, mind you, the Mystery. The one that can never be solved.
By waxing soulful you will have granted yourself the possibility of
ecstatic participation in what the ancients considered a divinely animated
As part of the Beauty and Truth Lab’s ongoing crusade to wrestle the
English language into a more formidable servant of the ecstatic impulse,
we’re pleased to present some alternate designations for “soul.” See if any
of the following concoctions feel right coming out of your mouth:
1. undulating superconductor;
2. nectar plasma;
3. golden lather;
4. smoldering crucible;
5. luminous caduceus.
If none of these work for you—or even if they do—have fun creating your
“Each person is a story that the Soul of the World wants to tell to itself,”
writes storyteller Michael Meade.
At times it seems to me that I am living my life backwards, and that at the
approach of old age my real youth will begin. My soul was born covered
with wrinkles — wrinkles my ancestors and parents most assiduously put
there and that I had the greatest trouble removing.
– André Gide
The soul moves in circles.—ancient Greek philosopher Plotinus
Sensual pleasure passes and vanishes, but the friendship between us, the
mutual confidence, the delight of the heart, the enchantment of the soul,
these things do not perish and can never be destroyed.
—philosopher Voltaire in a letter to his partner Marie Louise Denis
You will never be able to experience everything. So, please, do poetical
justice to your soul and simply experience yourself.
I note the echo that each thing produces as it strikes my soul.
I am not quick moving. I have to wait for myself—it is always late before
the water comes to light out of the well of my self, and I often have to
endure thirst for longer than I have patience. That is why I go into solitude
— so as not to drink out of everybody’s cistern.
When I am among the many I live as the many do, and I do not think as I
really think; after a time it always seems as though they want to banish
me from myself and rob me of my soul—and I grow angry with everybody
and fear everybody. I then require the desert, so as to grow good again.
Gather into the summer months by listening to what your body wants.
Are you weary? Bring that. If you are cranky bring that.
InterPlay practices provide a place to be YOU in body, mind, heart, and spirit, with more joy and grace.
The bonus? Restored sense of human goodness.
Reground in the core power of creative, playful body wisdom.
The mini-retreat schedule
10:30-11:00 warm up meditation 11-12 SpiritPlay Movement, Voice, Story 12-1 Bring or Get Lunch 1-3 Creative Practice Focus
June- Creative License Poetry Art
July- Heart Bouquet Collage
August- Story Shrines- Bring a Book
Cost: $20-$80 sliding fee, work trades available Registration/Information: Register with firstname.lastname@example.org 510-465-2797
Coming This Fall
A PATH TO SPIRITUAL INTELLIGENCE FOR OUR TIMES The InterPlay Life Practice Program for Spiritual Leaders 2019-2020
Opening & Closing Retreats in Oakland, CA: Oct 7-10, 2019 & Feb 17-20, 2020
8 online weekly wisdom teachings: Tuesdays 3-5 pm PST October 15, Nov 5, 19, Dec 3, 17, Jan 7, 21, Feb 4
Three one to one sessions to explore InterPlay tools and practices in your own life either in person or on Zoom.
This program orients and guides you through the paradigm shift that puts body wisdom and creativity back at the center of personal and group spiritual life.
Affirm your body’s intrinsic spiritual intelligence.
Increase fluency in the creative wisdom languages of soul: movement, voice, word, stillness.
Embody healing, prayer, speaking, discernment, celebration, justice, and ritual.
Recoup the path of joy and play in a reflective, easy-going community.
Why Body Wisdom?
Physicality is basic. Racism, gender, class, ability, politics, religion, climate change, animal care, and culture are all body realities. A great transformation is possible when we put the body and our earth body at the center of spiritual intelligence. Our bodies know how to honor and affirm everybody as distinct and as part of a distinct community. Do we honor bodies? If not, how can we honor souls?
Gifts of this Program When we honor the body we can reliably, playfully, and authentically
• Access voice, movement, stillness, and stories to connect to self, others and the Divine.
• Build communities that empower marginalized people.
• Find a deeper connection with earth, people, and spirit.
• Practice resiliency techniques.
• Adopt improvisational skills for working with complex situations.
• Risk new skills for speaking and presenting.
• Bring artful ritual to bedside, one-to-one, small and large groups.
• Cultivate intergenerational bonds among children, youth, and adults.
Why Creativity for Spiritual Intelligence? Soul comes alive through voice, story, and stillness, whether or not we are proficient in these areas. Each form of creative expression provides a unique route to revelatory knowledge and healing. To embody one’s full spiritual inheritance depends on engaging our birthright practices: movement, voice, story, stillness, as well as visual, musical, written and spatial arts.
Start your journey in the creative diversity of the Bay Area and in the artful sanctuary of InterPlayce. With time to explore the balance of creative practice and body wisdom teachings, our journey unfolds through elegant moments of movement, voice, story, and stillness, which open up the parables of our lives. You learn tools to help people orient to the wisdom of their body: Easy Focus, Body Data/Knowledge/Wisdom, Internal Authority, Physicality of Grace, Exformation, Spiritual Disciplines, Incrementality, and Affirmation. You’ll gather into grace, ease, and spontaneous health as body and soul yield refreshment, connection, and guidance. Along the way, we’ll take in the beauty of the bay area.
This workshop uniquely introduces the body wisdom of spiritual practice.
• The Soul Loves The Body: Recovering Lost Soul Languages
• The Architecture of Soul as Bigger Than Our Body: Bodyspirit as Bigger Than Our Skin
• Spontaneity as A Signature Of Soul
• Transformation and Healing as A Creative Process
• The Need for Different Art Forms To Create Different Ritual Outcomes
Online Sessions: The October retreat is followed by eight online wisdom trainings (two hours each). In these interactive, live, video sessions, participants deepen their body wisdom around aspects of the creative spirit, the art of truth-telling, the nature of being a body intellectual, how to play with challenges, healing and wholeness, and how we encourage creative prayer and service in others.
These sessions will be on Tuesdays from 3-5pm Pacific Time: October 15; Nov 5, 19; Dec 3, 17; Jan 7, 21; and Feb 4.
February 17-20 is the Closing Retreat: “Collective Peace-making and Ritual” (Oakland, CA)
Having formed bonds of play and deep story, we open new vistas for creativity in communal life. What does it mean for peace and for the communal soul to be embodied? This retreat culminates with a graduation celebration.
Continuing Education Credit
50 CE credits (Life Practice Program) and 15 CE credits (Secrets of InterPlay) for various healthcare and allied healthcare professions are available for those practicing throughout the U.S. and for educators only practicing in Illinois. CE preregistration is required at least 2 weeks before the start of your event. Notify the Body Wisdom office (510) 465-2797 at time of registration that you are requesting CEUs. A fee of $25 per program will be due at the time you register. CEUs are offered through Continuing Education Institute of Illinois.
The Hidden Monastery first emerged in 2008 as a sanctuary offering spiritual support for mystics, artists, and activists. I believe that there is an oft-hidden stream of grace and love that is fed by those who are sensitive, gifted, and awake to the lineage of divine reality. Whether or not we are seen or approved of we call attention to the sacred source of life.
For my birthday May 28th on Memorial Day weekend, I’m hosting a Hidden Monastery Shrines show at InterPlayce. It will feature the Holy Woman Icon of Anne Hutchinson commissioned from Dr. Angela Yarber who researches, writes and paints remarkable dancers, activists, mothers, and women. She gives the commissioned painting to the recipient and places the icon in a canon of holy women in an online gallery and store.
On this memorial day, I invite you to consider a holy woman in your life to lift up. Send her name and at my shrine show on Monday, I will attach their name to the shrine I’m creating for Anne Hutchinson. Put it in the comments.
I also invite you to contribute to the Hidden Monastery to honor Anne as well as my birthday. I see this ministry continuing to blossom. If you would like to pour some water on the garden I welcome it. Paypal link here.
We share a common grandmother, Susanne Marbury. My great grandfather was part of the controversial protest against the work ethic “Puritans.” As proponents of grace, our extended family fought non-violently against the land-grabbing, genocidal, judgmental, class and gender biases of men in power.
Anne is a spiritual midwife of American Democracy, the one we still labor to birth. Like Mary Magdalene, the male Puritan leaders of her time demonized her and turned her into a harlot of her faith. Her crime was speaking while being female as a lead advocate and theologian promoting a free grace vs. working to prove one’s worth to deserve God’s love.
Anne was a happily married mother of 12 and a close friend of Mary Dyer, a Quaker. Both were midwives and herbalists. They knew the body. In the early 1600s these well-read teachers saw women as wise and connected to the Divine. Anne spoke out against the male clergy and the Governor, was put on trial, kept under house arrest, excommunicated, and with others banished from Massachusettes. These “Antinomian” rebels had their guns removed. Antinomianism relates to the view that Christians are released by grace from the obligation of observing the moral law. This movement included 60 young men who signed a protest and boycotted the leaders of the war on the Pequot Indians. In a later season, Anne and William Hutchinson helped create the document to separate church and state.
About Angela: Angela holds a Ph.D. in Art and Religion and is the author of books that address the intersections among gender/sexuality, religion/spirituality, and the arts. An ordained, queer clergywoman, she served local churches and taught graduate and undergraduate students since 2006. After a decade as a professional dancer, she now finds creative fulfillment and spiritual expression by fusing painting, writing, and embodiment through the Holy Women Icons Project. Her partner in life and in this project is Dr. Elizabeth Lee who holds a Ph.D. in Ethics and Social Theory and is a certified Health Coach who has taught ethics, philosophy, and religion.