Asking Good Questions; Your Thread + An Interview with Philip Shepherd

A note from Erin:
Good day, friend!
I’m so inspired.

A surprise gift from generous and loving friends.  Thanks Loos! 
Yesterday Carl and I had the huge treat and absolute pleasure of interviewing Philip Shepherd, whom we’re so lucky to have coming to Salt Lake City next month. 
Carl and I have been imagining for some time starting a podcast where we interview many of the amazing beings with whom we’re fortunate to be connected. Though we don’t have this set up as a podcast yet, I do believe this is our first step. Exciting!
Below you’ll find a link where you can listen to our conversation with Philip.
 He has such a unique combination of sharp and far-reaching intellect, brilliant facility with language, a huge heart, contagious enthusiasm and authentic loyalty to wholeness, embodiment and agenda-free presence. Wow. 

We just can’t wait to share an experiential weekend with him soon. 
If you’re local – make sure to mark your calendar for his public talk at Avenues Yoga on Friday June 27th. (There are still a few spots open for the weekend workshop too.)
We talked for about an hour, and what an enlivening conversation! Though the three of us could have continued with enthusiasm for many more hours, we paused around the hour-mark so as to offer a wonderful interview that’s not too long to fit into your day.
We hope you enjoy listening, and hope to bring you many more such conversations in the future. There are a few points where Skype breaks up a bit, but I think you’ll be able to follow his thread, even if you miss a syllable here or there. So many brilliant insights….

One of Philip’s comments which really struck me was this:

He said he finds more support for his growth in quantum physics than in psychology – specifically because quantum physics focuses on asking questions whereas psychology supplies answers. 

He said, “I don’t want answers! Answers stop me. I love questions.” 


Don’t you just love that?!

I love the path of open questions too. 


Here’s a poem in which Mary Oliver asks some wonderful and simple questions. Bold added by me. :)



by Mary Oliver

What did you notice?
The dew snail;
the low-flying sparrow;
the bat, on the wind, in the dark;
big-chested geese, in the V of sleekest performance;
the soft toad, patient in the hot sand;
the sweet-hungry ants;
the uproar of mice in the empty house;
the tin music of the cricket’s body;
the blouse of the goldenrod.
What did you hear?
The thrush greeting the morning;
the little bluebirds in their hot box;
the salty talk of the wren,
then the deep cup of the hour of silence.
What did you admire?
The oaks, letting down their dark and hairy fruit;
the carrot, rising in its elongated waist;
the onion, sheet after sheet, curved inward to the
pale green wand;
at the end of summer the brassy dust, the almost liquid
beauty of the flowers;
then the ferns, scrawned black by the frost.
What astonished you?
The swallows making their dip and turn over the water.
What would you like to see again?
My dog: her energy and exuberance, her willingness,
her language beyond all nimbleness of tongue, her
recklessness, her loyalty, her sweetness, her
sturdy legs, her curled black lip, her snap.
What was most tender?
Queen Anne’s lace, with its parsnip root;
the everlasting in its bonnets of wool;
the kinks and turns of the tupelo’s body;
the tall, blank banks of sand;
the clam, clamped down.
What was most wonderful?
The sea, and its wide shoulders;
the sea and its triangles;
the sea lying back on its long athlete’s spine.
What did you think was happening?
The green breast of the hummingbird;
the eye of the pond;
the wet face of the lily;
the bright, puckered knee of the broken oak;
the red tulip of the fox’s mouth;
the up-swing, the down-pour, the frayed sleeve
of the first snow-
so the gods shake us from our sleep.


Here are some other open questions I love to ask myself, in no particular order:



  • What do I need to do to deepen my self-respect?
  • How could I make what I’m doing less effortful and more pleasurable?
  • Have I experienced joy with sufficient gratitude? 
  • How might I find a life-giving relationship with this?
  • What would LOVE do? 

And as the Jewish saying goes,


“Why ruin such a good question 

with an answer?” 


What are some of your favorite open questions? 

Truly, I’d love to hear.  




One last poem.

 A fave from William Stafford. 

(We first were introduced to Stafford’s poetry at a reading by Robert Bly and Martin Prechtel years ago in Taos, New Mexico. Bly said, “Do you know Bill Stafford’s poetry?” And when much of the audience was quiet and unresponsive, he practically yelled “You’ve GOT to read Bill Stafford!” Note duly taken. :) We’ve become fans.)



The Way It Is


There’s a thread you follow. It goes among

things that change.  But it doesn’t change.

People wonder about what you are pursuing.

You have to explain about the thread.

But it is hard for others to see.

While you hold it you can’t get lost.

Tragedies happen; people get hurt

or die; and you suffer and get old.

Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.

You don’t ever let go of the thread.


~ William Stafford ~




Another open question for you:
What is your thread?

p.s. Last week I opened registration for my first e-course (with many more to follow!) I’m thrilled to have many wonderful people signed up from around the country to join me in a gratitude journey. Or as one participant called it “Grati-June.” :) Love it! I’d love it if you’d like to join us! Details are below. 



p.p.s. Please note that our Wednesday morning meditation will continue through May and will go on summer vacation starting in June.   Our last Wednesday morning sit will be next week on 5/28.

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By training and profession, I am a somatic educator. Over the past 25+ years I have trained in and taught modern dance, tai chi, Indian and Tibetan yoga, yoga therapy (specializing in back pain). I completed a 4-year professional Feldenkrais training in 2007 and a 3-year Embodied Life training in 2014. I also study and work with somatic meditation and the profound practice of embodied inner listening known as Focusing.

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