Archive

Presence

Today’s Dancing Water Daily experience is a moving meditation for practicing presence. I call it an All Out All You Dance Party (but given our focus this week, we should call it a “Presence Party”!) and it’s designed to be both fun and interesting! In it, I offer a varied playlist and invite All Out All You movement in response. The practice is to let awareness alight on sound, sensation and space as anchors to presence. Please find the video here.

Simply move in any way that feels good to you in response to sound, sensation and space and notice where your attention lands. This is not about moving or meditating “correctly” but rather approaching movement with compassionate curiosity and an intention to keep returning our awareness to the anchors of sound, sensation and space. Sometimes your mind will wander. Maybe lots of times, maybe most of the time and that’s perfectly fine. Just like we move physically in ways that feel good and appropriate to each of us, do the same with your mind: let it wander if that feels good, let it focus if that feels helpful.

Here are Tara Brach’s words on presence that I shared at the beginning:

Presence is not some exotic state that we need to search for or manufacture. In the simplest terms, it is the felt sense of wakefulness, openness, and tenderness that arise when we are fully here and now with our experience. – from True Refuge

Playlist for All Out All You Dance Party: Presence Party! ~ Fri Apr 10 2020
Asleep with the Sun 6:07 Unicorn Heads, YouTube Audio Library
Simple Step 3:32 Slenderbeats, YouTube Audio Library 
A Trip Around the Moon 5:18 Unicorn Heads, YouTube Audio Library
Dubakupado 3:33 Kevin MacLeod, YouTube Audio Library 
Jalandhar 4:09 Kevin MacLeod, YouTube Audio Library
Firebrand 5:59 Kevin MacLeod, YouTube Audio Library 
Late Night Drive 4:53 Nat Keefe & BeatMower, YouTube Audio Library 
Kumasi Groove 3:43 Kevin MacLeod, YouTube Audio Library 
Rhodesia 4:27 Twin Musicom, YouTube Audio Library
Trips 5:26 Topher Mohr and Alex Elena, YouTube Audio Library
Dreaming_in_432Hz 6:56 Unicorn Heads, YouTube Audio Library 

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Help me sustain your Dancing Water Daily practices! No matter how far apart we are physically, we are all connected. The path that we all move along together is held by an Invisible Net of Love that is always there even if we can’t see it. The Dancing Water Daily practices is my thread in that net. Please support my work by offering a donation so I can keep creating these practices for you. With your generous support, I can continue to invest in making these classes available to anyone who can benefit. Please click here https://paypal.me/SusanMcCulley?locale.x=en_US to be part of the Dancing Water Daily Net of Love. And please “Send to a Friend” to avoid PayPal fees! Suggested donation: $5 a class or $15 a week.

Shout outs to this week’s generous donors: Becky Trexler, Gwen Baber, Janice Burnham and Kathie Anzalone! A thousand thanks! Together we can extend this Net of Love.

AND if, like me, your finances are akimbo, I get it. Another way to help is to share these video practices. Send a link to a friend! Post it on social media! Help spread the word about nourishing movement and moving together apart.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As I continue to work on all aspects of offerings online classes, you might also check out NiaTV — an online service offering 30 days free access to Nia TV’s at-home dance workouts, podcasts, meditations, and exclusive livestream.
• To register, click here and start your free trial today.
• Please note: you will need to cancel your Nia TV account within 30 days to avoid being charged after the 30-day trial period.
You can help to increase community engagement (and assure me that you are out there)! PLEASE DO:
• leave comments on the Facebook videos and share them with friends
• subscribe to my YouTube channel (it’s FREE, of course), like, comment and share them
• subscribe, comment and share these blog posts
• email me at sjmnia@gmail.com with ideas and suggestions for what would be of the most help and support in these days

THIS WEEK’S DANCING WATER DAILY PRACTICES
Monday, Apr 6 ~ Dancing Water Nourishing Movement: Presence on Susan’s YouTube Channel ~ find it here https://youtu.be/IIF0_n88Qmo
Tuesday, Apr 7 ~ Dancing Water Nourishing Movement: Presence on Susan’s YouTube Channel ~ find it here https://youtu.be/ztcgewFEFH4
Wednesday, Apr 8 ~ Moon River Restorative Yoga on Susan’s YouTube Channel ~ find it here
Thursday, Apr 9 ~ Dharma Dance from Dancing Water on Susan’s YouTube Channel ~ find it here https://youtu.be/cv3qMnBE8NU
Friday, Apr 10 ~ All Out, All You Dance (aka Presence!) Party from Dancing Water on Susan’s YouTube Channel ~ find it here
Saturday, Apr 11 ~ Ajna (Self-Guided) Practice: 5 Stages of Self-Healing on Susan’s YouTube Channel
Sunday, Apr 12 ~ Moon River Restorative Yoga on Susan’s YouTube Channel

Please let me know how you are using the Dancing Water Daily practices! I always love to hear from you ~ please reach out with email or a comment below!
Until soon, my friends!
Love


Presence requires soft, open eyes, a soft open heart, and a relaxed connection between our core (our highest values) and our legs (our movement and action in the world). Today’s Moon River Restorative Yoga practice anchors on eyes, heart and the deep muscle of the psoas which can be trggered into tightness in times of stress and fear. Put on some softs, gather your pillows and what not (see the list below), make a cup of tea and join me for a deeply relaxing practice of presence.

You can find the video here.

Here’s what you’ll need:
• a yoga mat, blanket or carpeted floor
• two bath towels
• three firm pillows
• a small blanket
• an eye covering
• a wall or a chair
• a cup of decaffeinated tea (or water!)

Presence only happens when we are open and spacious. It is your natural state. Make space for it today.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Help me sustain your Dancing Water Daily practices! No matter how far apart we are physically, we are all connected. The path that we all move along together is held by an Invisible Net of Love that is always there even if we can’t see it. The Dancing Water Daily practices is my thread in that net. Please support my work by offering a donation so I can keep creating these practices for you. With your generous support, I can continue to invest in making these classes available to anyone who can benefit. Please click here https://paypal.me/SusanMcCulley?locale.x=en_US to be part of the Dancing Water Daily Net of Love. And please “Send to a Friend” to avoid PayPal fees! Suggested donation: $5 a class or $15 a week.

Shout outs to this week’s generous donors: Becky Trexler, Gwen Baber, Janice Burnham, Zakira Beasley, and Kathie Anzalone! A thousand thanks! Together we can extend this Net of Love.

AND if, like me, your finances are akimbo, I get it. Another way to help is to share these video practices. Send a link to a friend! Post it on social media! Help spread the word about nourishing movement and moving together apart.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As I continue to work on all aspects of offerings online classes, you might also check out NiaTV — an online service offering 30 days free access to Nia TV’s at-home dance workouts, podcasts, meditations, and exclusive livestream.
• To register, click here and start your free trial today.
• Please note: you will need to cancel your Nia TV account within 30 days to avoid being charged after the 30-day trial period.
You can help to increase community engagement (and assure me that you are out there)! PLEASE DO:
• leave comments on the Facebook videos and share them with friends
• subscribe to my YouTube channel (it’s FREE, of course), like, comment and share them
• subscribe, comment and share these blog posts
• email me at sjmnia@gmail.com with ideas and suggestions for what would be of the most help and support in these days
A reminder that YOU ARE THE BOSS OF YOU. Remember that you are responsible for knowing what your body needs. As with all exercise programs, use common sense and what you know about yourself. To reduce and avoid injury, check with your doctor before beginning any fitness program. By using this video, you are acknowledging that you are fully responsible for your own health and well-being. And by performing any movement exercises, you are performing them at your own risk. Susan McCulley, my website or associated online venues are not responsible or liable for any injury or harm you sustain as a result of what I offer here. Please listen to yourself and do what feels good.

THIS WEEK’S DANCING WATER DAILY PRACTICES
Monday, Apr 6 ~ Dancing Water Nourishing Movement: Presence on Susan’s YouTube Channel ~ find it here
Tuesday, Apr 7 ~ Dancing Water Nourishing Movement: Presence on Susan’s YouTube Channel ~ find it here
Wednesday, Apr 8 ~ Moon River Restorative Yoga on Susan’s YouTube Channel ~ find it here
Thursday, Apr 9 ~ Dharma Dance from Dancing Water on Susan’s YouTube Channel
Friday, Apr 10 ~ All Out, All You Dance Party from Dancing Water on Susan’s YouTube Channel

How are you faring? What are you grateful for? What are you challenged by? I love to hear from you ~ please reach out with email or a comment below!
Until soon, my friends!
Love


In these strange days of separation and disorientation, it can be easy to focus attention only on what is going well, the silver linings OR to get sucked into the unfathomable loss, fear and suffering. I know I am finding myself vacillating between the two. Are you?

These days call us to be present to everything: the sweetness and the sadness, the abundance and the anxiety, the gratitude and the grief. But what does that really mean? How do we really open eyes and hearts and turn toward all of it? Presence seems like something that only brave remarkable people have.

Presence is what Maya Angelou had. Or Ghandi. Or Barack Obama. Or Ram Das. Not me.

But Insight Meditation teacher, Tara Brach reminds us

Presence is not some exotic state that we need to search for or manufacture. In the simplest terms, it is the felt sense of wakefulness, openness, and tenderness that arise when we are fully here and now with our experience.

Simple but not easy. Especially in the face of such overwhelming suffering. And in the full acknowledgment of the blessings, beauty and abundance that surround us. The invitation of today’s practice is to be with it all. Even if just for fleeting moments, we can practice presence to gratitude and compassion. Please find the video here.

Playlist for Nourishing Movement: Presence, Mon Apr 6 2020
Spy Funk 3:46 Quincas Moreira, YouTube Audio Library
It’s Always Too Late to Start Over 5:00 Chris Zabriskie, YouTube Audio Library
Whatdafunk 4:38 Audionautix, YouTube Audio Library
Slow Times Over Here 4:49 Midnight North, YouTube Audio Library
Rubber Ducky 3:58 Slynk, YouTube Audio Library
Love In LA 3:58 DJ Williams, YouTube Audio Library
Savannah 3:41 ELPHNT, YouTube Audio Library
Trophy Wife 3:53 Rondo Brothers, YouTube Audio Library
Rolling Heads 3:42 Unicorn Heads, YouTube Audio Library
Ella’s Interlude 3:56 DJ Williams, YouTube Audio Library
A Trip Around the Moon 5:18 Unicorn Heads, YouTube Audio Library
Asleep with the Sun 6:07 Unicorn Heads, YouTube Audio Library

The Instagram post I mentioned, “Please don’t talk to me about Silver Linings…” by coach, Jane Clapp is here.

And the poem Thanks by W.S. Merwin (with thanks to Zakira Beasley) is below

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Help me sustain your Dancing Water Daily practices! No matter how far apart we are physically, we are all connected. The path that we all move along together is held by an Invisible Net of Love that is always there even if we can’t see it. The Dancing Water Daily practices is my thread in that net. Please support my work by offering a donation so I can keep creating these practices for you. With your generous support, I can continue to invest in making these classes available to anyone who can benefit. Please click here https://paypal.me/SusanMcCulley?locale.x=en_US to be part of the Dancing Water Daily Net of Love. And please “Send to a Friend” to avoid PayPal fees! Suggested donation: $5 a class or $15 a week.

Shout outs to this week’s generous donors: Becky Trexler, Gwen Baber & Kathie Anzalone! A thousand thanks, friends! Together we can extend this Net of Love.

AND if, like me, your finances are akimbo, I get it. Another way to help is to share these video practices. Send a link to a friend! Post it on social media! Help spread the word about nourishing movement and moving together apart.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As I continue to work on all aspects of offerings online classes, you might also check out NiaTV — an online service offering 30 days free access to Nia TV’s at-home dance workouts, podcasts, meditations, and exclusive livestream.
• To register, click here and start your free trial today.
• Please note: you will need to cancel your Nia TV account within 30 days to avoid being charged after the 30-day trial period.
You can help to increase community engagement (and assure me that you are out there)! PLEASE DO:
• leave comments on the Facebook videos and share them with friends
• subscribe to my YouTube channel (it’s FREE, of course), like, comment and share them
• subscribe, comment and share these blog posts
• email me at sjmnia@gmail.com with ideas and suggestions for what would be of the most help and support in these days

A reminder that YOU ARE THE BOSS OF YOU. Remember that you are responsible for knowing what your body needs. As with all exercise programs, use common sense and what you know about yourself. To reduce and avoid injury, check with your doctor before beginning any fitness program. By using this video, you are acknowledging that you are fully responsible for your own health and well-being. And by performing any movement exercises, you are performing them at your own risk. Susan McCulley, my website or associated online venues are not responsible or liable for any injury or harm you sustain as a result of what I offer here. Please listen to yourself and do what feels good.

THIS WEEK’S DANCING WATER DAILY PRACTICES
Monday, Apr 6 ~ Dancing Water Nourishing Movement: Presence on Susan’s YouTube Channel ~ find it here
Monday, Apr 6, 430-545pm ~ Full Moon Restorative Yoga class with Shandoah Goldman on Monday, April 6 at 430pm on ZOOM! Register and get all the details here.
Tuesday, Apr 7 ~ Dancing Water Nourishing Movement: Presence on Susan’s YouTube Channel
Wednesday, Apr 8 ~ Moon River Restorative Yoga on Susan’s YouTube Channel
Thursday, Apr 9 ~ Dharma Dance from Dancing Water on Susan’s YouTube Channel
Friday, Apr 10 ~ All Out, All You Dance Party from Dancing Water on Susan’s YouTube Channel

What’s a silver lining that you are seeing or experiencing? What is a suffering that you are seeing or experiencing? I’d love to know and I always love to hear from you ~ please reach out with email or a comment below!
Until soon, my friends!
Love

 

If you look up the classes I teach on the gym schedule, you’ll find them listed under “Body Mind Classes” as opposed to “Group Exercise Classes.” After 20 years of having my work categorized in this way, I find the arbitrary distinction sometimes hilarious, sometimes exasperating. Catch me in the right mood, and I can go on a serious rant. I mean seriously: what Body Pump or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) class isn’t using both body and mind and what yoga or Nia class isn’t group exercise? Don’t even get me started.

If I got to describe the practice we do together, I would call it movement, not exercise or dance or martial arts. I would say it is systemic, whole-body and sensory-centered. I would say that it is about presence, awareness and responsiveness. I would say it creates health through integration and is as much about what we do outside the studio as it is what we do in it.

I might call it Seselelame.

Seselelame is a West African word that a genius coach friend taught me not long ago. She learned it from Philip Shepherd’s book Radical Wholeness in which seselelame is described as “an inner realm in which all the world is felt.” I haven’t read Shepherd’s book but this term captures my imagination.

Kathryn Geurts’ academic work and her book Culture and the Senses: Bodily Ways of Knowing in an African Community
describes the holistic quality of seselelame and how it encompasses sensation both internal and external, physical and emotional, everything in the world inside and out.

Our western view of the senses, on the other hand, is utterly external. From our “five senses” perspective, we see what is outside us, hear what is outside us. Taste, touch, smell what is outside. Other cultures think of balance as a sense and physiologists know that proprioception and interoception (see my post about these here) are senses that are essential to our human functioning. But we westerners are all about what’s out there.

Seselelame is translated as “feel feel at flesh inside” which recognizes that the entire human experience is felt in our bodies. The approach is used by dancers to balance choreography with improvisation, training with intuition, cooperation with competition. I loved watching this video and considering the question it poses, “How does dance enable you to understand who you are?”

Maybe if I was asked to describe the practice we do together, I’d call it HIIT: Holistic Integrated Interoceptive Training. Maybe I’d call it Seselelame: Feel Feel At Flesh Inside While Moving To Groovy Music. And maybe that’s why I’m not in the marketing department.

This week, let’s dive into the question, “How does movement enable you to understand who you are?”

Before you get up.
Before you eat.
Before you go to the next thing.
Before you hit SEND.
Before you speak.
Before…pause.

Even in the middle of everything.
A nourishing, intentional, sacred pause can make all the difference.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

DANCING WATER CLASSES ~ ~ ~ I’m delighted to announce that I will start offering classes at the studio at Dancing Water* on Thursday mornings from 11-1215pm starting THIS THURSDAY, May 2. Come join us in the trees by the river for grounded, flowing, spacious movement. For the month of May, I’m offering a discounted rate while we work out the kinks together! Go HERE to sign up!

 

  • Dancing Water ~ 2370 Old Lynchburg Road, Charlottesville VA 22903 (detailed directions can be found in the SHOP section under Additional Information).

I told myself not to say it. I think I actually bit my tongue. But suddenly, I heard the unkind, impatient thing fly right out of my mouth. I saw the words, sludgy and dripping, hang in the air between us and immediately, I regretted them.

I saw his face and shoulders fall. He responded with his feelings and I did my best, I really did, to feel my feet and my breath, to reflect back what he’d said, to be present.

Instead, I was swamped with pain and regret and a mind-flood of talk about what a bitchy jerk I am and how I always do this and how the people I admire would never say such a thing. In a heart beat, in a breath, the discomfort was so strong that I unplugged and split from my body.

Embodied presence – connecting mind and body, being in the present moment – sounds simple and easy enough. We’re living in these bodies all the time, after all, so how tough can it be to be in there? The truth is that it’s a huge challenge for most of us even when we’re sitting quietly on a cushion with sunlight in our hair and flower petals falling around us. When we are upset, angry, tired, hungry, in pain, afraid, or uncomfortable in any way, the practice of keeping body and mind in the same place at the same time can feel utterly impossible.

In her two dharma talks about Embodied Presence (which you can find here and here), Tara Brach invites us to explore the unpredictable wilderness of the body. The mind does what it can to control the uncontrollable and tuck in all the loose edges but that neatness is a false refuge. The body in all its messiness is the only place to connect to empathy, love, freedom and unfolding of life itself. The only place. She suggests that whenever we leave the body, when we vacate the premises, it comes down to one thing: there is something we are unwilling to feel. We find ourselves disconnected and separated from direct experience because there is something that feels scary or dangerous or uncomfortable and on some level we think we can’t handle it. So we run.

Last week, we focused on Embodied Presence and the practice of getting body and mind in the same place at the same time. This week, we continue this exploration by looking at the ways we take ourselves out of the body and how to get back in.

It’s such a common state, to be up in the control tower of our heads that we might not even realize we’re doing it. Tara Brach offers four signs of being in trance and out of the body:

  1. obsessive thoughts on a loop often as a way to prepare to avoid something bad,
  2. negative judgment about myself or others (see above example of me thinkingthinkingthinking about being an impatient jerky pants),
  3. distraction of any kind especially on screens or online (like habitually reaching to check my phone when I feel nervous, for example),
  4. speeding around and rushing, as if getting more done will keep the difficult feelings at bay

When you see this list, do any of these feel familiar? Perhaps you’re like me and they ALL feel familiar. When we are in this auto-pilot, sleepwalking state, we are intentionally (although often subconsciously) avoiding feeling something edgy or uncomfortable. Mindfulness – in movement, in meditation, or in the moment – invites us back into the lush wilderness of the body.

Brach teaches that the intensity of any of these states is in direct proportion to our unwillingness to feel what’s in our bodies. In order to come into embodied presence, we have to make the courageous and intentional choice to wake up. She teaches that first, we must notice what’s happening (ah, I have hurt someone’s feelings and that feels wretched), then name it (pain in my heart and heaviness in my stomach), and breathe (amazingly difficult when I’m suffering) and interrupt the pattern – even briefly – by allowing ourselves to feel whatever it is.

This practice leads to what is sometimes called The Lion’s Roar which is the ability to be with, to roll with anything, ANYTHING that happens. The Lion’s Roar is the fearless proclamation that everything that happens is workable and that I have the ability to handle and feel anything. Imagine the freedom of trusting in our capacity to be with whatever life delivers.

Notice that this state of presence is not called “The Roaring Lion” which feels startling, fierce, and threatening. Instead, the Lion’s Roar is the energy of confidence. It is the knowledge that this power is available no matter what arrives. When we practice, The Lion’s Roar is a strength that infuses life like an aura, a light that allows me to face anything.

Few of us will be able to claim the Lion’s Roar as our way of being all the time, but the practice of noticing, naming, breathing and interrupting the well-worn sleepwalking pattern offers glimpses into the possibility of freedom.

The next time you find yourself caught in one of the signs of being out of the body, ask yourself, “What am I unwilling to feel?” This question alone is the first step toward finding your Roar.

“Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.” – James Joyce

This famous line from The Dubliners amuses me. I can see him: dressed in gray, buttoned to neck, eyes looking back warily. I feel sad for poor, sorry, gray Mr. Duffy. When I think about it, though, am I any different? I’ve spend much of my days in my head, on my screen, out of my body, out of natural rhythms. Who of us, in the past day, hour, or even minute hasn’t lived a short distance from our bodies?

At the core of it, the mindful movement practice we do together is about getting our minds and bodies to be together in the same place at the same time. The mind loves being in the past and future but the body can only reside in the present. So if we want them to be together, the only way is for the mind to join the body in the present moment.

The problem is that our culture, habits and neurology train us to do anything but.

A few years ago, my friend and colleague, Bev Wann and I taught classes on embodied presence to federal executives. These were high level managers in an intensive leadership program which required them to examine their habits and patterns in regards to their professional lives, their management style, and their health. They were intelligent and ambitious with long, successful careers. Many had intense, driven personalities and had challenging relationships and interactions with employees, peers and managers. Most of them didn’t exercise at all, ate poorly, slept worse and were under intense stress. Almost all of them lived almost exclusively in their heads.

Bev and I focused on teaching the execs practices that could help them be present and attend mindfully to their colleagues and their work rather than bulldozing through from their heads and habits. In one session, I’d been leading a group in mindful movement: breathing and feeling their feet as we walked slowly. I suggested that connecting the mind and body in this way is a way to release thinking and drop into sensing.

One man looked at me with annoyance, impatience and exasperation and said, “Why in the world would I ever want to stop thinking?”

Teaching a reluctant and skeptical student has to be one of the biggest challenges a teacher faces. I rarely have an involuntary student but here I was faced with someone who didn’t buy a word I was saying. He stood there in his new white athletic socks utterly fed up with this woo-woo story I was telling. Every achievement he’d ever had in his long career had been because of his thinking. Why, indeed, would he ever want to stop? Even though I’d been sharing the science and benefits of mindfulness, he was having none of it. I felt ill-equipped for the situation. I was embarrassed and I was speechless.

I’ve regretted my inability to reach that man ever since. I wish I’d had words that would have made sense to him. If I could do it again, I would say that thinking is a great tool but we’re addicted to it and use it for everything. (As the carpenters say, if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And life is not a nail.) If I could do it again, I’d say that our brains reside not just in our heads but in our bodies and that sensing gives us access to a different kind of intelligence. If I could do it again, I would say that everything that really matters in life – love, connection, creativity, compassion – are experienced in the body, not the mind. If I could do it again, I’d say that being in the body is the only way to be fully alive.

If I could do it again, I’d also share some of the genius wisdom of Tara Brach’s two talks on Embodied Presence. (You can find them here and here.) But since I can’t share them with him, I’m sharing them with you. They are so full of goodness. I truly hope you’ll listen to them. And if you can’t, I’ll bring threads from them into class and the blog for the next couple of weeks.

For now, I invite you to contemplate this question: What’s between me and being at home in my body at this moment? Allow your body and mind to be together in the same place and the same time and see what you notice*.

*The complete Kurt Vonnegut quote is “Life is a garden, not a road. We enter and exit through the same gate. Wandering, it matters less where we go and more what we notice.”

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