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The Art of Ensoulment: A Playbook on How to Create from Body and Soul

A resource. A curriculum.
A
much-needed prescription
for good health and well-being. 

A vivid journey into the dance of existence, inviting readers to explore the union of body and soul. This book celebrates the middle ground where spirituality and practicality meet. Winton-Henry’s approach is refreshing in its inclusivity and accessibility, offering a map adaptable to one’s spiritual and creative needs.

 

I sometimes forget that
I was created for joy
My mind is too busy
My heart is too heavy
Heavy for me to remember
that I have been
called to dance
the sacred dance for Life
I was created to smile
to love
to be lifted up
and lift others up
O sacred one
Untangle my feet
from all that ensnares
Free my Soul
That we might
Dance
and that our dancing
might be contagious.

-Hafiz

Body and soul organically move together in people, as well as in the big bodies of nations and continents. But we’ve lost our way even though we’re increasingly aware that the embodiment resources are crucial if we are to cultivate mindfulness, trauma awareness, and peaceful communities.

The Art of Ensoulment goes further. Ensoulment invites those who are ready to rediscover the power and freedom in our unified dance of body and soul. 

Do you wish you could flourish on a personal and communal level? Are you sensitive? A seeker? Oddly alone? An expressive artist, healer, spiritual leader, or activist wondering how to transcend trauma and call forth health and beauty?

It’s bold, but with all my heart, I believe I found a way. I trekked into the Art of Ensoulment for fifty years, starting in the 1980s in seminary and performing with Body and Soul Dance Company with Judith Rock and Phil Porter.

 Ordained in 1983, I taught dance and religion at the Pacific School of Religion. In the 1990s, with Phil, I cofounded InterPlay, an improvisational methodology that reignites the wisdom of the body using movement, voice story, and stillness. I needed InterPlay’s communal, playful body-wise vocabulary to help me decode ways to heed soul. In 2008, I began teaching and practicing the spiritual intelligence I’d distilled through many initiations. 

Then, after 15 years of teaching from notes, The Mysterious Playbook Came Out of the Attic. In the preface. I write-

Imagine climbing into an attic. You eye a quirky art journal on a stack of books. You crack it open and find it full of ideas and creative exercises, things that helped the author thrive as a highly sensitive person in a somewhat soul-emaciated landscape. The playbook could be a bit magical. Some might say woo-woo. Certainly, not a book for everyone. Yet it fits well in the hands of someone who knows that soul is a key, someone who connects deeply with inner and outer ecosystems but can’t always make sense of them.

Its pages might offer hope for a reader who pines for friends with whom to rabble-rouse, rejoice, romance, and riff on the way Divinity dances in body and soul. 

I’ve been a sacred witness to hundreds if not thousands, of people as they’ve faced down old social constructs that put their bodies and souls at odds. Dancing into that split as a leader in the embodiment movement, I am proud to join the spiritual teachers who know that soul gathers power for what lies ahead.

The Art of Ensoulment is new and old. It counters much that I was taught. It’s a theo-kinetic bio-theological approach to propagate a blooming field.

The backstory is important…My elders saw my soul when I danced, even though their white mainline Protestantism typically sidelined the dancing body as a distraction or metaphor at best. Usually, dance was bastardized as an outright sign of the Anti-Christ and Anti-Intellect. Over the centuries, the congregants in my lineage left their playful, affectionate, improvisational, irreverent, empathetic, imaginative, skinful parts at home. “Stiff,” was invisibly inscribed above the pulpit. In other words, I grew up on the home turf of Whiteness. 

But, the Dance of Life has secret agents. A minister and PE teacher were in cahoots, each slyly opening the door to the dance of soul. Without hesitation, I leaped inside that divine gold mine of energy, truth, and beauty until one day, “God” stirred in me a call to “Hold Dance and Religion Together.” As Mary Oliver says, what else would I do with my “one wild and precious life?” 

…I frolicked with monks of movement, heretically joyful professors, mystical body intellectuals, priests and rabbis, singers who must have been archangels in a past life, and irreverent clowns who take audacious shortcuts to unite people with their Inexplicable Source.

In other words, I saw what the dancing people saw. Sherri Mitchell, in “Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Spirit-based Change, says, “When we merge our internal rhythms with the rhythms of creation, we develop grace in our movement, and without thought or effort, we can slide into the perfectly choreographed dance of life.” Dance and drum pulse with ancestral wisdom. They are not to be diminished to the roles of metaphor or illustration.

As I repeatedly asked, “What happened to my anti-dancing people?” I unmasked terrible truths. The very religion that hosted my dancing soul also authorized the split between body and soul. …The takeover was systemic. White men and their standard bearers continued to strap female body knowledge to male subservience, mangle indigenous people inside a puritanical vice, enslave dark-skinned people as non-humans, and deauthorize ancient spiritual lineages. Natural intelligence was all but wiped out..The American government learned to distance religious guidance in politics. On the other, Christian power and ideological approaches still influence political conversations. Sadly, almost no one can freely speak of the physical nature of soul as a resource. This split is painful for any who are centered in the Great Spirit and soul.

We have never needed the resources of soul more. If we can’t rely on religion, education, or politics to bring body and soul into the foreground, we need ensouled artists and creatives more than ever. Our creative birthrights are the most expedient means of reworking old myths that desensitize soul in our cultural bodies. I especially mean to debunk four myths.

Soul is hidden, mysteriously other, something we can’t see or feel.

Soul requires hard work.

Soul moves upward, distancing itself from the ordinary. 

Soul is the domain of religious leaders.

As I experience Black, indigenous, and global peoples, I come to understand that many who get victimized by such myths don’t entirely buy them. As one African American elder said,Soul is central for my community and me. It’s who we are. I’m uncomfortable when people use a lot of words to talk about it. Frankly, we’re just waiting for white people to catch up.” 

Meanwhile, body and soul organically move together in us, in groups, and in the big bodies of nations and continents. We are surprisingly aware that the lost resources of embodiment are needed as we cultivate mindfulness and trauma awareness. The Art of Ensoulment goes further. Ensoulment invites those who are ready into the heart of the matter. We will rediscover, explore, and claim the unified dance of body and soul. 

Read the playbook. Use it as a study guide.
Join the community of ensoulment coaches.
Discover what others have:

“The Art of Ensoulment: A Playbook on How to Create From Body and Soul” by Cynthia Winton-Henry is a vivid journey into the dance of existence, inviting readers to explore the union of body and soul. This book is not about extremes or absolutes; it celebrates the middle ground where spirituality and practicality meet. Winton-Henry’s approach is refreshing in its inclusivity and accessibility, offering a map adaptable to one’s spiritual and creative needs. Through a blend of mystic wisdom, artistic expression, and tangible practices, the author guides us through metabolizing life’s trials into moments of empowerment and liberation. This book is a playful yet profound companion for anyone looking to rediscover their inner harmony and engage with a dash of more meaningful synchronicity. She challenges the reader to rethink the relationship between body and soul, offering a perspective that honors human sensitivity and recognizes it as a conduit for grace and wisdom. It’s a playbook for the soul, a dance card for the spirit, and a call to those ready to embody their truth and engage with the world through a lens of compassion and creativity.” –Matt Rudinsky, Publisher.

The Art of Ensoulment Playbook is a rich resource with both practical and mystical advice about claiming our full, rich lives. Soul gets its spotlight! The print version is lively and colorful, and the words dance across the pages. But even without the visuals, I found lots to ponder! Phil Porter, InterPlay cofounder 

This book is a treasure trove of wisdom, creativity, and inspiration. Cynthia’s writing flows from the living springs of her own continuing, multi-layered soul journey and is an invitation to come explore, play, and synch body and soul with oneself and others in the Dance of Life. She has been a sacred witness to many. I am one of those and am forever grateful for the impact she has had on my life. May you be challenged and blessed as you read and engage with this work.  Carolyn Lucas, PhD, clinical psychologist

Cynthia Winton-Henry has gifted us with her life experience and musings on the dance of the soul. In this delightful collection of user-friendly exercises accompanied by reflective writing prompts, she encourages us to look beyond the outward physicality of dance expression into the center of its purpose – to discover, release, and celebrate the essential self. As a seasoned guide with many years of practice, her distilled wisdom blossoms on the page as she shepherds us through an embodied, soulful doorway into the imaginal and insightful realms of knowing. Jamie McHugh, Somatic Coach

Many mazel tovs to the spirit that sizzles despite all obstacles, the creative imagination that runs unstoppably no matter what the circumstances, the art in body and soul that simply has to create no matter what else is happening, the incredible ability to manifest beauty out of the sturm und drang of life in the world, – and the love, the LOVE for all of us, almost no matter what! This book sums it all up with a beauty that runs right out our fingertips in whatever art form we happen to choose at the moment. Carolyn North Books & Podcast 

Take the Course with a Coach!

The Art of Ensoulment has helped me grow and become more myself as no other study has. And I’ve done a LOT!  I’m more whole, free, confident… more creative…more grounded, loving, and connected. It’s like I fell into a sanctuary where everything finally makes sense, and I feel SAFE and supported to be exactly who I AM.  I’ve even credentialed myself as a dancer! -participant

“I have learned so much from The Art of Ensoulment. I highly recommend it.”–Renee Bhatia, Spiritual Director, Supervisor, Expressive Arts Guide.

“The Art of Ensoulment has graced me with means of looking anew, moving anew, playing anew with these things, and with people with whom to do so, people who are soul companions. It has been a coming home. And for someone who lives with severe environmental illness, where material housing is continually at risk, the body and soul home of these communities and practices is Life-saving and life-giving. I am still at work/play in learning to honor my sensitivities, activist inclinations, animist relationship with nature, and need to create in ways that light Life and work for my body-being. the Art of Ensoulment holds many layers of wisdom with which I may be graced.” –Rachel Herzig, Spiritual Director

“My soul soars when I do this sneaky deep work/play using the Art of Ensoulment body wisdom practices. Many people write about connecting with our bodies, our souls, and Earth. Cynthia offers accessible wisdom practices that help us reintegrate. It’s playful and full of yummy art. Sensitive people and folks with Highly Sensitive Bodies will find ways to ease and shift to the parasympathetic nervous system. People who feel stuck in their heads or driven by work, others’ expectations, or just the cultural expectations to be a consumer/producer will find relief and re-connection with the wholeness of self! I bought the ebook to have it easily almost anywhere. And my hardcopy is ordered so I can more fully relish the art!” Rev. Judy Shook 

Cynthia has a mastery of defining how we can each create a profound relationship with our most sacred center. Her intuitive capacity, as well as her capacity to receive spiritual guidance, is expertly engaged to accompany others in ways that are both unique and creative. You won’t be disappointed if you choose to take this journey through the Art of Ensoulment Playbook with Cynthia! – Julia McKay, Unitarian minister/Spiritual Director

 

After discovering, at age 68, that I am a Highly Sensitive Person, The Art of Ensoulment was recommended to me by my spiritual director as a potential space to find community, acceptance, and understanding. I am finally DISCOVERING myself and loving what I am discovering! I have found my people, I am honoring my creativity, I am reveling in my weirdness, I am dancing with wild abandon, and I am fully accepting myself with grace and self-love!– Peggy Beddall, Spiritual Director.

 

“Cynthia is like a complete art and personal development academy in one person. Her IQ (Imagination Quotient) is remarkable. Her gifts are wide and deep. Her Life and work are an inspiration and source of solace and hope for our species.” –Mary Luttrell Cuoio, Organizational Consultant.

 

“An amazing guide for what it means to live an embodied life! Ensoulment can sound so huge and mysterious, but each practice is wrapped in wisdom and encouragement to start where you are! Cynthia’s journey and how she shares it is a gift for grounding this practice. At the same time, I feel honored in my own growth, becoming fully who I am, whether I’m wobbly, grounded, exuberant, or totally clueless about what in the world I’m doing and where I’m supposed to go. So helpful in connecting body, soul, mind, and heart.” –Coletta Eichenberger, Clergy and Healer

 

“I have led a life of dance, meditation, and inner work, and the Art of Ensoulment weaves it together for me. Cynthia is truly living this view of body wisdom and has allowed me to lovingly explore. I weep and leap with gratitude.” –Kay Rhode, Dancer and Meditation Teacher.

 

“To not only understand the concept of the Divine web of creation but to also dance that web, visualize it, draw it, and do it all over again has taught me how to access the depth of my own soulfulness. All I need to do is to lift my arms up over my head, and like lifting the lid on my computer to connect with the internet, I am connected with something so vast and deep and healing and juicy. When I put my arms down by my side, I continue to be part of something greater than myself. Learning methods to power my soul up and power my soul down is just part of this humble journey of seeking to restore my rightful relationship to the body. The Art of Ensoulment helps me live the spiritual Life I was seeking.” –Ruth Schowalter, Visionary Artist and Educator.

“Through Cynthia’s Wisdom and deeply intuitive mentoring, I am finding radical acceptance (even joyful embracing!) of my non-linear, highly sensitive ways of navigating Life’s choices and challenges. My creative self and connection with Spirit are being nourished and are thriving through the community gathered from near and far through the Hidden Monastery. What a wonderful and diverse group of soulmates – playmates — drawn together from all over the world to share and co-create! So grateful!”–Ruba Byrd, Clergy, Spiritual Director, and Intuitive Singing Guide

 

“Cynthia’s presence and Art of Ensoulment Course have been such a meaningful gift in my life. It came right on time with all the unexpected twists and turns of 2020, allowing me to connect with messages in my body that informed actions centered on love for myself and others. As a sensitive person, mother, and therapist, I learned how to balance better and know myself better, giving me greater confidence and acceptance for what is. The opportunity to meet individually has been a magical mix to support in my liberation journey. Cynthia as a teacher is gifted at supporting people to have their own experiences leading to surprises only the individual can uncover. I am whole heartily grateful for my connection with her and teachings that support my development in the Course’s inspired contemplations. It led me to greater peace within. I highly recommend the Art of Ensoulment Course.” Shauna Castro-McDaniel, Therapist/Founder of Be Love Community Counseling

“Ensoulment helped me transition through 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, 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!” Jiling Lin, Licensed Acupuncturist, L.Ac.

 

“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.” – MaryEllen May, Filmmaker, Mythos Journeys.

 

“Cynthia, with all her teachings, is like a field with an immense amount of buried treasures to mine.  She comes along beside you in the most unintrusive way and helps you dig….but it always with your own shovel.  She mixes an immense space of incredible safety and ease…..she is at the same time just so silly (I giggle a lot, and it breaks up all the tension in my body) and just so profound. Introduced are a plethora of spiritual practices one gets to be with at their own pace. Community is built with a breath.  I am going to join her again for the next ensoulment group and I know I will be able to deepen all that I have learned.”  Emily Katzenbach, Psychotherapist, Chaplain

“The deep wisdom of the body that radiates through Cynthia is an extraordinary treasure. Her generosity of spirit and joy is welcoming and inspiring. I’m grateful for our decades together of play and friendship and shared faith. Her example of love and service inspires me always!”  Susan Pudelek, Office of Interfaith Relations, Archdiocese of Chicago

“Cynthia has created beautiful forms of embodied wisdom. The Art of Ensoulment process over an entire year brings a deep understanding of how we are wired as humans and how we can thrive in life. I will always remember the meaningful experience I had with a special group of people, with Cynthia inviting us to dance & play more into deeper wisdom states. I looked forward to each month! It is so encouraging to be mentored into embracing my sensitivity as a gift!” Susan Garrison, Therapist

“Whether I’m wobbly, grounded, exuberant, or totally clueless about what in the world I’m doing and where I’m supposed to go. The group is so affirming and encouraging. The readings and practices are so helpful in connecting body, soul, mind, and heart.” Coletta Eichenberger, UCC Clergywoman

“Cynthia’s openness, passion, compassion, curiosity, and her own ensoulment are the foundation for her classes, workshops, and coaching.  Her thoughtfulness, born of wonder and intelligence, comes out in grounded, Earthy wisdom, which she shares with humor, play, and grief.  The incrementality in the Body Wisdom she and Phil Porter co-founded in InterPlay is an intrinsic part of Cynthia’s Art of Ensoulment.”  Judy Shook, Creation Spirituality leader, clergywoman.

“A nourishing and informative balm for our souls with inspiring wisdom on every page.” Dr. Sheila Collins

“It ministers to the soul of the body,” –Jamie McHugh.

“A magpie nest of beautiful, practical prompts for juicy living. –Rev Molly Basquette, Author 

“A Powerful guide for a full, rich life.”  Phil Porter InterPlay Cofounder

“Great embodiment resource!” –Susan Garrison LCSW

“Your Soul Will Sing and Delight! You Will Be Inspired! Dr. Rich Citrin

“Part of my morning meditation. I love having this information and practice gathered into one resource. This work is epic!!” –Rev. Laurie Rudel

“A powerful and meaningful work for these times.” –Diane Turner-Forte, Dancer, Poet, Guide.

“A much-needed prescription of good health and well-being. I am proud of this amazing contribution to our world.” Jennifer Botwick ND 

 

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