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.

Courage to Serve with Soul

When you look at a person do you know how to switch on your soul’s eyes, eyes that see the unfathomable beauty and vulnerability of life, eyes that see with compassionate mercy, eyes with the vision to know when to let go or to do something hard even if you look like a fool? If I can see through the eyes of soul you can too.

As a teen, I noticed joy and love that felt like nothing else. I noticed which activities brought this sensation into focus. Tracking this eventually led me to a Benedictine Monastery in Valleyrmo for a sacred dance workshop, and on to study dance at UCLA.  I knew that dance and music heighten our SOUL POWERS.


In college, I had an extraordinary encounter with Love and Purpose. The experience was so powerful it took me to seminary to try to understand what had happened to body and soul in the world and why dance and fear of the body were so widespread. I engaged books, classrooms, and wise teachers, but my greatest learnings came in collaboration with Phil Porter and Judith Rock in Body and Soul Dance Company. We traveled, choreographed, performed, taught, and researched the intersection of physicality and spirituality. When I was asked to teach at the seminary I began seeing the indescribable beauty in the soulful improvisations of these ministers in training. Many of them were equally surprised by their soulful bodies. I saw the same thing beyond the seminary as Phil and I created the InterPlay practice to foster the artful beauty of being human ANYWHERE.

Courage! Are you Finding the Courage to Follow Soul and to Love?

Courage is not a feeling. It is what rises when we claim contact with the wholeness of body, mind, heart, and soul. Especially soul!

Direct contact with soul is to have gold in reserve. You can feel the support of that reserve. Better yet, when you cultivate soul connection you can draw from it in everything you do.

Some of the best ways to build confidence and courage to be ensouled is 1) by inviting emotional, physical contact with soul whether it be as soft as a whisper or an echo from a life-changing encounter 2) in a community of two or more who share ensouled wisdom, 3) with a spiritual companion/director 4) through dance and music that fully engages Soul Power 5) center in a courageously simple theology like “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself,” or “Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly” or, “All beings are sacred.” 6) The patience and hope to use a candle instead of an interrogation light. 

Here in the Hidden Monastery, I am committed to conversation and connection around ensoulment. The Ensoulment Course, the Online Dance Chapel, and being a spiritual companion is all about this.  I believe we have to have enough security and comfort in our bodies to sense and relax into soul. I am committed to discovering how our Soul wants to guide us. I believe this is crucial if we are to find the courageous strength to let go of old ways in exchange for more beautiful ways.

Change doesn’t have to be soooooo hard. I know from experience as I recover from individual and collective trauma. By regularly engaging the joy and love of soul connection I deepen, without being deterred. And, as one spiritual leader in an Ensouled Group said, “The day isn’t successful if there hasn’t been at least one good belly laugh.”  Gold. Courage. Soul!

 

Judith Rock, Cynthia Winton-Henry, and Phil Porter performing “Speaking of the Trinity.”

 

Ensouled Course Starting Now! How to Get Credentialed as a Creative Soul.

Who is your spirit team? Where do you go when you don’t want to explain yourself as a Sensitive, Creative, Dreamer, Healer, Worrywart, Dancer, and Wisdom Worker?

If you are a sensitive, creative leader, you may feel overwhelmed as you strain for attunement in this world. You may be tired. What if these challenges are not your fault? You are attuning to people and systems that fundamentally disregard body and soul. In order to serve, sensitives need to be seen and recognized. You need resonance. You need credentialing in a community that gets you. Sensitivity is not a flaw in spiritual intelligence. It is a valuable gift that needs to be co-mentored at the same time as you support others.

To Find and Bless Your Soul Team is your Ultra Initiation! Without teams we struggle. To entrust our soul journey to a guide or group is like fertilizer! It is important to continuously give thanks to guides, muses, ancestors and soul companions as the foundation of our authority and the living stream from which our wisdom credentials flow. But this can be hard in our materialistic world. That is why I am forming small online wisdom groups Right NOW. These groups will soon be traveling together once a month for a year. 

We will explore 12 arts of ensoulment in my course: Ensouled: Blessed Instructions and Initiations for Body and Soul.  The course includes monthly writings on a key initiation, a video about the initiations that spirited leaders encounter, and the opportunity to share in a small group, a lifeline for raising the energy of our work. (If you can’t meet in a small group you are welcome to meet with me one to one.)

Are you ready to put spiritual intelligence first? This is the stuff of spiritual heroes, people of deep courage, skill, and faith. We are here to ride the waves of life, find the beauty way, stay true to love, accept our challenges and keep attuned to soul as our primary guide.

Stephen Covey, dynamic educator, called spiritual intelligence “the central and most fundamental of all the intelligences, because it becomes the source of guidance for the others. In Thinking with your Soul author Dr. Richard N. Wolman, clinical psychologist at Harvard Medical School shares the PsychoMatrix Spirituality Inventory (PSI). In it, he lifts up seven predictable ways that spiritual intelligence grounds in experience: Divinity, Mindfulness, Extrasensory Perception, Community, Intellectuality, Trauma, and Childhood Spirituality.” Cindy Wigglesworth, ED of Deep Change, calls spiritual intelligence “the ability to behave with wisdom and compassion while maintaining inner and outer peace (equanimity) regardless of the circumstances.” Wisdom and Compassion compose the two pieces of loving behavior. She sees spiritual intelligence in 21 skills including the ability to

  • Be Aware of One’s Own and Others Worldview,
  • Align to One’s Life Purpose with Compassion and Wisdom,
  • Become Aware of Ego Self and HigherSelf
  • Feel Interconnected with All Life
  • Engage Mystical or Unitive Experiences,
  • Sustain Faith Even During Dark Nights of the Soul,
  • Seek Guidance From Universal Consciousness,
  • Become a Wise and Effective Change Agent,
  • Become a Calming, Healing Presence,
  • Align with Natural Timing in the Ebb and Flow of Life

As a lifetime ensoulment tracker, deeply curious about how things work, I hope my discoveries will support, clarify and even accelerate your body wisdom practices as you support others to grow into full spiritual adulthood.

Get on the waiting list for an upcoming group. Or consider meeting with me for a brief 30-minute consultation to check in about what kind of body and soul support would best serve you.

Groups are forming now and in the future. Let me know if you are interested. There is also an option to meet with me one to one instead of being in a group. Link here for details.

 

 

Guideposts for the Dance of Life: What would you add?

As an initiate of divine mystery and an activist for spiritual intelligence, there’s logic in my approach. Since science still can’t record much of the subtle and complex body data that I track, nor how to organize a person’s thinking around it, my spiritual tools and practices are more of an art. How can we trust it? How is the information that I share to be considered valuable? The success of any teaching is in whether people 1) claim a benefit, 2) choose to practice the ideas and tools, 3) want to replicate the teaching beyond the teacher. I hope in teaching Ensouled A Course in Blessed Initiations and Instructions for Body and Soul to help demystify and coalesce the more subtle body knowledge of spiritual intelligence with the help, feedback and wisdom of peers. 

I’ve glimpsed some of the great wonders of the world in the dance of body and soul in Africa, America. India, Europe, and Australia. I’ve witnessed people of every ilk ensoul life with enviable beauty as they synch up to the moving world. Such soulfulness is revelatory. Our dances, music, and languages are medicinal in the greater ecosystem. When we power up our creative pleasure fields more than humans benefit.  All we need is to join the dance as Thomas Merton said in New Seeds of Contemplation.

For the world and time are the dance of the Lord in emptiness. The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast. The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity and despair. But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things; or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not. Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance.

Forget the “how”. The general dance is How-less, bigger than a single mind, body, heart, and spirit. This general dance is unendingly relational, born of Intelligence that is magnificently inter-bodied, inter-specied, inter-stellar, and inter-playful. 

Spiritual texts across religions center around an Inspired Source loving and playing in concert with the world. We only need to tap into the awareness, emotion, and physical sensation of our relationship to this fundamental consciousness[1], in order for the unbroken wholeness of body and soul to dance us into Love.

Here are some guideposts that help me dance the dance.

Love is the bottom line. Ask for it! Go for broke on this. Ask and Keep Asking for Big Love. It makes everything work. As soon as you ask, accept everything as your answer. Trust exactly how love is offered, big or little, and from whatever source.

You’re a physical partner in reality. You and I co-create life. When one person suffers I do. When one person rejoices you do. Justice is the tension of good physical partnering. The question is how to partner when powerless over others, how to stay connected, take care of myself, learn and change? Fortunately, partnering is ensouled. Love and purpose guide us.

My purpose is at work even if you don’t know it! Webster defines soul as “that which is believed to give life, a person’s deeply felt moral and emotional nature, the ability of a person to feel kindness and sympathy for others, to appreciate beauty and art, etc.” You are linked up to a giant GPS system helping you navigate what, where, and with whom you want to learn to dance. With soul is tuned in and honored, life is a dance.

Being ensouled is physical! Human art, ritual, prayer, and sport allows us to break through the inertia of daily survival into our higher self. These methods awaken us to what lies beyond fear and fatigue. Without them, we get disorganized, go out of sync, or worse. Wise teachers say, “those who do not dance do not know what comes to pass.”[2] How you are in your body affects your soul.

Forget integration, authenticity and being good. This isn’t sustainable. Humans are designed to be human, to fear and transcend fear, to change, to be anxious and filled with grace. Instead, relax and honor higher intelligence as greater than self. Follow this spiritual intelligence. Don’t try to be it. Swim in it. Let it take you for a ride.

Trauma won’t destroy soul. Meister Eckhart said, “The soul loves the body.” I believe that Soul is eternal and can’t be abandoned or lost. However, it’s perfectly sensible for a soul to feel disturbed under threat. Are we safe enough to ensoul our body, to shine brightly in the face of a threat that could kill us? The treasures of soul may need to go offline to avert bodily suffering until we have the tools, support, and just and loving community we need.

Body and soul carry history. Written history focuses on those with power, wealth, and societal rights. Other forms document the generational wisdom of the ordinary, the poor, the undocumented, the kids and the women, the oddballs, the everyday humans, and creatures. There are markers in our DNA. There is body memory in the oral and artistic lineages of cultural practices. Mystics clue into other sources as well, like the Akashic records. Just because things are not written down does not make them absent. Sacred Dance is not absent. The Divine Feminine is not absent. The resources in our memory rise when it is time.

Institutions don’t legislate soul. Institutions are abstract forms designed to influence and maintain canons of practice. Living mercy, love, beauty and innovation spring from organic founts. Institutions can shape us but they can’t understand us. Consequently, we regularly skirt our institutional instructions to find places that bless the particularity of our genetic, gendered, purpose-driven personality. Institutions, being inhuman, therefore do best when they serve humanity and not “structure for structure’s sake.”

Something Bigger is required. We don’t have to look far. Any person I love is enough. Earth is enough. Humanity is enough. To cultivate healthy, ensouled lives that are aligned with Mother Earth, current generations will resist asking for every material thing we want. Refusing to be kings and queens we will become a garden. This won’t be deprivation, just a new focus on something more wonderful as we grow soul through art, sport, and beautiful skillsets, disciplines that lay the groundwork for purpose, regrow imagination, regulate energy, and bond us with one another. The call for returning to spiritual intelligence is to

  1. Bless the body, breathe, and relish sensations.
  2. Reach for and draw down the Arts of Love, Peace, Joy, Happiness, Good Health, Grace, and Ease.
  3. Refuse to denounce any soul or any aspect of life.
  4. Encourage each person to cultivate their chosen art or skillset.
  5. Support for each person a spirit team to further curiosity, adventure, beauty, joy, and fun.
  6. Affirm that life depends on each person in a beautiful way.
  7. Share in following, leading, blending, releasing and reconnecting. Locking anyone into one dynamic drains life.

Would you like more purpose? More joy? Would you like to be of service in a new way? Are you interested in how to best stay true to body and soul? Do you want to be a great soul? Would you like soul not to be a problem or absence but to know your soul as satisfied? 

To register for Ensouled! A Course for Body and Soul
 send a check to Cynthia Winton-Henry at 339 Broadway #215, Alameda, CA 94501 or through PayPal here.

  • Get a monthly module with a document and a video, and access community body wisdom in a closed facebook group  with one coaching session the year-long curriculum for $185
  • add four one-to-one sessions for $360 (this is the curriculum cost185 plus 65/per session, my lowest session rate
  • or join a monthly online zoom group where I offer an hour of coaching at $55/month, no cost for materials.

 

[1] Judith Blackstone, Trauma and the Unbound Body: The Healing Power of Fundamental Consciousness Sounds True, p33.

[2] Hymn of Jesus, Apocryphal Acts of John.

Initiations Around Your Life Purpose

Your life purpose is working even if you don’t know it! Purpose is keyed into our deep self or soul. Miriam Webster defines soul as “that which is believed to give life, a person’s deeply felt moral and emotional nature, the ability of a person to feel kindness and sympathy for others, to appreciate beauty and art, etc.”

I experience purpose as part of the greater GPS system. Divining purpose is how we key into “what we’re here to offer and learn, with whom, where, and what we have to be willing to put up with.” When soul is tuned in and honored, we feel true, necessary, and oriented,  fully plugged into the dance of life.

There is a difference between gifts, calls, and purpose. I remember clearly that as I matured a strange restlessness grew. What was wrong? I was using my gifts. Studying about initiations I came to realize that using your gifts isn’t enough. We are here for a purpose, but our deepest drive may not come naturally or be solicited by others. We have to really listen in for this area of initiation, clarity about our vision.

My life purpose is to foster freedom for all people and myself. I realize it’s a bit grandiose. One’s purpose can be simple and beautiful, like to care for Earth, make a home, or create a play space for kids.

Whatever else, getting clear on purpose seems to accelerate our initiations. In my case, I began to more intentionally confront oppression in order to find freedom from fear. As an idealistic visionary, I saw myself get agitated, self-righteous, defensive or worse. My passion overwhelmed equanimity, integrity, and balanced energy. Fortunately, my path is creativity and play! Humor, friendship, and love loosen my grip. I learn and grow while the challenges of freedom in me, my family, and socially aren’t any easier as I age. My responsibility and suffering increase with each year. There is no time out. Fortunately, I trust the sacred nature of purpose. I accept freedom as my koan, my nut to crack, a nut that resists any who try.

For this reason, to dance with purpose takes courage, the greatest mystery of all, the secret at the very heart of ensoulment. Courage is an entry and outgrowth of our initiations. We must discover that we are sourced each step of the way and learn to be grateful. Courage is about relationships and others who en-courage us in Holy ways. In my life, a Presence says, “I will provide for you.” I tune into the felt sense of this Spirit to anchor in my own guidance and the supportive body data and knowledge of others who dance with me in time, space, energy, and transcendent love.

This year I am offering support if you are seeking clarity of purpose and courage to love. Ensouled! Blessed Instructions and Initiations for Body and Soul is starting as early as January 25th. You will receive monthly installments of my curriculum with or without coaching. The very best is to travel with a small circle that includes support. I will comp you if you bring 4-5 others into your own monthly group.

P.S. I was in an InterPlay storytelling exercise. At the time we were in the presidential contest between Bush and Gore. The election was undecided and created anxiety when our leader prompted, “Talk for a minute about what you want politically.” I spoke to a partner about my fear of government-controlled human rights and my lack of political savvy. How I  felt angry and powerless. When the leader asked us to notice what is below our reactions. “What did we really want?” I sputtered, “I want freedom for myself and all people!”  That was the bell of purpose rang. My partners head nodded. It rang true for him too. As I clarified the poetry of my purpose “to foster the freedom for all people” today whenever I say or write it, I feel a deep resonance with life. Other people sense it too. Today, I use my gifts to support my purpose to unlock the wisdom of the body so that people can sing, dance, tell our truths, and rest in the garden of creation! In other words feel free to be ensouled! I continue to lean into struggles of liberation with great longing and love.

“These are your Three Directives”

Artwork by Alison Lee at an InterPlay Australia workshop

In my twenties, the great fear was a nuclear bomb. Humanity’s capacity to blow ourselves up assaulted basic confidence in life. A Hollywood movie was making the rounds, depicting what a nuclear holocaust would be like. I didn’t want to watch it alone.

Driving down the freeway to view it with a friend, the San Francisco Bay was to my right and the Berkeley hills were to my left. The sweeping view across the water took my eye to the Golden Gate bridge. Why would I want to imagine such a threat to all I love? That is when I heard a voice as if it was in my vehicle with me. In a neutral tone, this is what I heard, “These are your three directives: efficiency of energy, clarity of vision, courage to love.” Out of the blue. Just like that. That was 35 years ago.

So it is that fear and the Unseen Teacher is interwoven in me. Both the World and the Divine have my full attention.

At the time I was part of Body and Soul dance company with Phil Porter and Judith Rock. I was teaching dance in a seminary and already signed up for the whole ride. I loved God but I was learning that more than feeling love is required in leadership. Suffering freaked me out. I avoided it. On the other hand, I was discovering that to resist suffering seems to intensify and prolong it.

In my studies, I was taken with the hymn of Jesus, a gorgeous Gloria to the dance of creation recorded in the Apocryphal Acts of John. This ritual circle dance and song is led by Jesus and is attributed to the night he was betrayed, the Passover, not unusual behavior in Jewish life.  In the hymn, Jesus sings, “Learn to suffer so as not to suffer.”  As a dancer I’m tuned into bodies. I’m super sensitve and confronted by suffering when it doesn’t go away. As a spiritual leader, I’ve been asked to prepare to suffer in order to meet others in their suffering, like the time Body and Soul performed in a women’s shelter. After performing four dances for a small group of shell shocked women. I wondered what we were doing there. What was this place? I remember afterward, changing my clothes as shudders of truth went through me. I was awakening to the domestic violence in my own family history, just one of my many initiations into the role of violence and victimization in my own life. Years later, I choreographed Rachel Weeping, a dance that contextualized the role of violence in Latin America, the Holocaust, and in our living rooms by bracketing each scene with a portrayal from the biblical story of Herod chasing down firstborn Jewish males and Rachel’s Passover lament from the First Passover, with her crying out, “How long O Lord?”  

Today I see the three directives– efficiency of energy, clarity of vision, and courage to love– as areas of initiation for spiritual leaders who want to be of service. We are called to wise seeing, wise speech, to find stamina as we balance energetic highs and lows, and to navigate personal and collective life in courageous and transformative ways. We seek to make our living as passionate, purposeful beings with a full capacity to live in the joy and pain of shared humanity. Our quest requires a Spirit Team, people who support us through suffering and joy and share tools and stories about how to be artfully, beautifully who we are, every step of the way.

In addition to support, I need unique places where play, art, meditation, sacred conversation, prayer, and good humor nourish hope, places where others like me don’t have to explain how we hear, feel, know and abide in the great mystery of love. Many of these places are “hidden.” They aren’t in the grand institutions, but they are very very real.

Finding mentors and space can be tricky. Some of us give up. Some of us are so tired we just make do. But, more is possible. We only have to ask, Who is my mentor? Where can I play where I am understood? When we do Guidance will lead us.

Have you received mentoring as a creative, sensitive, embodied, soulful person? Do you have a Spirit Team, a wisdom circle who understands your gifts and upholds your dreams? Is it time to strengthen your spiritual practice?

This year I am offering Ensouled! Blessed Instructions and Initiations for Body and Soul. Groups are starting as early as January 25th.I will be providing monthly installments of my curriculum and ways to find accompaniment. You can get the curriculum with or without coaching sessions but I know from experience that the most beneficial path is to travel with a companion or a small circle. For this reason, I’m forming a number of circles in the coming months. 

I will happily comp anyone who brings 4-5 colleagues into a monthly group. Or I can place you in one of the groups I am forming. Let me know if you are interested. I will email you soon.