a shot from the winter solstice at Great Salt Lake
Wow. We find ourselves at the end of such an extraordinary year. I’m so grateful to be alive and healthy and able to write to you, and so glad you’re alive and well to receive these words. Along with the gratitude, I sit here with more silver hairs than a year ago and hosting a sense of deep tiredness. How are you doing as we bring 2020 to a close? I’d love to know.
If ever you’d like us to add your name to our prayer list, just let us know. I love this way of weaving our lives together. We always include our families, students, and clients, and anyone who might need or welcome lovingkindness.
A dear friend shared this lovely and wise poem with me this month and I’ve been letting it have its way with me.
Advice From a Blue Heron
Move from the middle of yourself;
Land without flapping.
Let the earth rise to you.
The way I cock my head.
Each long step.
Pray like that.
by Dawn Coppock
I want to pray like that every day this year. Moving from the middle of myself. Every step. Not flapping. Letting the earth rise to me. Noticing it always does. Sigh. What. a blessing.
I love the way the new year offers a beautiful opportunity to lean into that lifetime practice: To begin again.
A Call to Prayer
We who have lost our sense and our senses – our touch, our smell, our vision of who we are; we who frantically force and press all things, without rest for body or spirit, hurting our earth and injuring ourselves: we call a halt.
We want to rest. We need to rest and allow the earth to rest. We need to reflect and to rediscover the mystery that lives in us, that is the ground of every unique expression of life, the source of the fascination that calls all things to communion.
We declare a Sabbath, a space of quiet: for simple being and letting be; for recovering the great, forgotten truths; for learning how to live again.
Sign me up! I want to rest. To recognize that as a form of prayer. I want to trust the learning and wisdom that emerges from resting, pausing, halting. (This is the orientation we’ll take on the mini-retreat I’m hosting on Sunday.)
A friend recently sent me an article titled something like “The Radical Act of Letting Things Hurt.” What a profound expression of kindness and compassion that can be – to just let ourselves be as we are. To let it hurt. To let it be joyful. To let it be flat or plain. Not to try to let it go or fix it or shine it up, but to simply and radically let it be as it is. My inner life heaves a big sigh of relief even writing these words. Such trust in Life and the power of welcoming what is. And the changes that emerge from that steady ground.
One of the blessings of 2020 for me was when my beloved mentor Francis Weller suggested making a shrine to sorrow. At first, I was surprised. Why would I want to enshrine that on an everyday basis? But I was willing to give it a whirl, even just for several weeks while I was attending his Apprenticeship with Sorrow class in the spring. It’s had unexpected reverberations. It’s shown me that so much of my training, the implicit and the chosen, has been about rising above, “healing,” or getting rid of sorrow. Of course that’s true – the conditioning is so very strong in my culture. Yet sorrow is inevitable. Impermanence is real. Death and loss happen again and again. We’re living in a world where we’re losing species by the hour. The state of planetary crises – the drastic loss of biodiversity, the acceleration of climate change, the ugliness of racism, supremacy, and domination of so many kinds – if one intends to be awake and aware, we *must* find nourishing ways to relate with sorrow – right?
Sorrow can also point us so clearly to what we love, what we value, what we long for. What a fierce and unrelenting teacher. My humble shrine to sorrow, the center of which is a small bowl of fresh water, has invited me to be in a continuous and respectful relationship with this very human experience, with this inevitable mentor. It reminds me to keep my heart soft and honest and to honor the territory of sorrow as holy ground. I’m grateful.
We woke to the news that one of our most impactful Feldenkrais teachers, the incredible Ruthy Alon passed away last night, yet another loss of 2020. I’m full of such gratitude for her work and her generosity as a teacher and I’m reminded yet again how fleeting this precious gift of being alive and embodied is. May we love unabashedly while we can!! May we fully inhabit these precious breathing bodies!!
What if 2020 was the easiest of the upcoming years? Who knows. It might be so. What if it’s the dawning of a new age? A chance to form new habits and lifeways and usher in a thousand years of healing? I step into the new year with the great humility of not-knowing and a commitment to kindness no matter what. I’m leaning on these vows of The Great Turning:
Ooh, I believe in the Power of Kindness
Oooh, I believe in the Power of Love
Oooh, I believe in the Power of kindness
Oooh, I believe in the Power of Love
We don’t know what’s coming
We can help shape what’s ahead
With Kindness as our currency
The common wealth is in our hands
So, give a little, give a little
Give a lot don’t stop
A helping hand makes the world go ’round
There’s more than enough
Oooh, I believe in the Power of Kindness….
Listen up now people
Keep your ear to the ground
We are the river flowing
So, give a little, give a little….
Oooh, I Believe in the Power of Kindness…
The honeybee serves sweetness
Only to help the world bloom
Bringing love to flower
From the flower to the fruit
We could learn a thing or two.
Whatever is coming, may kindness be our currency, inner, outer, all around. I’d love to remind us all that the inner-critic often uses “self-improvement” as a way to maintain its dominance. Maybe we could try loving instead.
May we commit to using everything that arises in this new year in the service of awakening and expanding our hearts and minds.
May we use all that arises as fodder for growing a more beautiful world for all.
I’m rooting for you. May beauty and gratefulness for this precious life drench your days.
I’m rooting for all of us. For beauty and big-heartedness and for this new year to be a start to those thousand years of healing.
As Rilke says, Just keep going. No feeling is final.
And as our yard sign says, Don’t give up. You matter.
Thank you so deeply for being a part of our world.
We’re deeply grateful for this connection.
p.s. I’m delighted to share some gorgeous songs that have been carrying me through:
1. A holy lullaby for the new year. Treat yourself to a listen. What a great lyric to have running on repeat on your stereo or in your heart. I LOVE this song!
2. My favorite album of 2020. I was introduced to this lovely South African man and his healing music by a dear friend who lives in Mexico, and I’m enchanted with the whole album. One of the three of us in our household is usually singing one of these catchy songs. :)
I’d love to invite you to join me in welcoming in 2021 in a conscious, gentle, quiet way on January 3rd, from 9 am -1 pm MT. I’m hosting a mini-workshop that will include gentle movement, guided meditation, quiet restorative practices, contemplation of some good questions as we begin again, and of course, gorgeous poetry woven throughout. If you can’t attend live but would like recordings to work with on your own time, you are welcome to join too. The cost is just $30. Details and registration are here. Invite a friend to join you and let’s usher in the new year with embodied kindness and steady presence! You’re welcome exactly as you are. I’m soooooo looking forward to this nourishing time.
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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.