Breaking Habits + Coming Alive

A note from Erin:
Good day!
I’m writing from a beautiful old wooden table, sipping some Pu Erh tea, facing a Buddha fountain at my favorite out-of-my office workplace at The Tea Grotto.

Breaking Habits + Coming Alive

I want to write to you about two things that are front and center in my mind this morning. One: The practice of getting non-habitual. Two: What I call “The Fe.”

I want to write about the magic that happens when we step out of our routines and do things in non-habitual ways. How deliberately getting non-habitual shakes up what can become stagnant in our lives, our brains and bodies, and even our ability to imagine new possibilities for ourselves. Doing simple things like opening a door with your non-habitual hand, walking or driving a fresh route home from work or the store, getting dressed in a different order or wearing something you might not normally do, brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, listening to new music, or traveling to a new place not only to see fresh sites but to see yourself and your life with new eyes – any one of these can be profound.

I want to tell you about the special quality Carl and I named “The Fe.”
The word came about more than 10 years ago when we were doing our 4-year Feldenkrais training in Santa Fe, NM. “The Fe” includes that profound sense of liberation, freedom, ease and possibility that comes from doing Feldenkrais lessons. It includes the inspiration that comes from spending time in the magical city of Santa Fe, home to so many artists and creatives over the years. It includes a feeling of spontaneity and openness that go with doing lots of non-habitual things and the feeling of “Wow, so much more is possible than I ever imagined!” It includes the original meaning of “Fe” in Spanish as “faith.” The Fe for me includes the way faith in life and new possibilities can blossom when we step out of our normal corner of the world, our normal routines, our normal way of moving and being in the world, and see with fresh eyes, walk in a fresh version of our body. It also has something to do with the feeling of the wind in my hair as I’m driving our old ’86 VW Westfalia camper van up Paseo de Peralta, grooving to Mason Jennings on the stereo, big smile on my face, freer than I’d ever felt in my life.

I want to write to you about how a young student and friend has asked me several times about the struggle to have dreams for her life, and asked Isn’t it best to just appreciate what we have and not rock the boat too much? And how my response, in addition to living this question deeply in my own daily life and writing a few pieces about dreams is to create a retreat in Santa Fe to explore just that….dreaming ourselves awake, liberally seasoned with the flavor of “The Fe.”

And I want to write to you about how deeply I love what Mark Nepo said about the importance of our dreams as a guide for our lives…. and that they don’t necessarily guide us to our dreams coming true, but that by following the call of aliveness in our dreams, WE become more true.

And I want to ask you a question I’ve been asking myself lately as I’m considering dreams as guides:

If I knew I had 6 months to live, what would I be doing? What would I let go of?
Imagining myself on my deathbed, what might I wish I’d have prioritized?

I want to let that inquiry guide me as I’m imagining new possibilities for myself. I’m deeply grateful to head to Santa Fe and spend a few days marinating in such inquiry.

I want to write about my deep love of the Feldenkrais work, still too little known, still so ahead of its time, and I want to tell you about how in addition to the brilliant movement lessons that can benefit our bodies and brains in so many ways, I’m inspired today by the fact that Moshe Feldenkrais thought a healthy person was one who was living their unavowed dreams.
Whether the dream might be to grow a beautiful garden, to help the poor, to travel the world, to learn another language, to write a book, or the noble dream to grow a kind and undefended heart.

Breaking Habits + Coming Alive

cattail wishes

Do you know how some of your imagined blocks to living your dreams are right there in how you “hold yourself up” when you stand, or how your shoulders, back, neck or hips hold tension patterns learned long ago?

Do you know changing patterns in your movement habits can truly change your life?

I want to write about that in a way you can feel in your bones that it’s true.

In about 5 1/2 weeks I’ll be making a pilgrimage to Santa Fe, diving deep into “the Fe,” into Feldenkrais, into faith in our emerging dreams as a guide. Want to come with me? :)

I’m creating a retreat to explore all of this in a spacious, nourishing way.
I offer this retreat not from the perch of “one who knows” but as an explorer who finds these to be such helpful practices in my own life.
Having attended hundreds of hours of retreats over the years and noticing what really works best for me, I’m designing this weekend to be as nourishing and user-friendly as possible.

We’ll explore liberating our bodies from old holding patterns that no longer serve us with powerful and gentle movement lessons. We’ll sit and get quiet and discover the presence that is our essence, courageously returning to just being here again and again with embodied meditation. Without consciously growing the foundation of authentic presence here and now, dreaming can simply be choosing to get lost in fantasy.

We’ll engage in embodied inner listening and integrate our dreams into our innate wholeness. We’ll write together, not to pen anything spectacular, but to make space and time to listen to our own voices. Sacred space. We’ll be surprised. We’ll rest when we need to. We’ll encourage each other. When we hear how sane and right and doable someone else’s dreams are, it gives us just the boost we need to follow our own. One of my dear friends and clients who is coming on retreat said, “What let me know I could do it is that I know there’s no pressure from you. I know I can participate when I want to, rest or opt out when I want to.” It’s true. As the facilitator, I don’t need anything from my participants. My main interest and heart intention is to encourage you to connect with your own wise inner guidance. If that inner guidance says, “I want to go back to my room and take a nap” that’s cool. My feelings won’t be hurt. I’ll celebrate your connection with yourself, and the courage it takes to follow your own guidance.

Breaking Habits + Coming Alive

dandelion dreams

And I want to write more about courage. About the root of the word being connected to the French “couer” (heart) – and about courage as the willingness to be here and participate wholeheartedly.
During the retreat, we’ll step out of our routines and out of our normal corner of the planet to listen freshly and feel our way into powerful questions like these:

Am I participating wholeheartedly in my life?
What do I want to give myself to with my whole heart?
What is calling me now?

We’ll also have plenty of free time, which I find essential on retreats, to enjoy Santa Fe, alone or together. To integrate. To be quiet. Time to aimlessly wander among the art galleries on Canyon Road, to take in the splendid skies, to take a quiet walk on the rail trail, to savor green chile everything, to sip a tea at another favorite tea shop, to soak at Ten Thousand Waves, to take a nap, or to simply be.

If not in Santa Fe, I hope you’ll join me in getting non-habitual.
In listening to your dreams.
In following the call of your aliveness.

It’s important.
As the wonderful Howard Thurman says, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do it. What the world needs is people who have come alive.”

So perhaps say yes when you’d normally say no. Or say no when you’d normally say yes.
Take a fresh route home.
Do something as simple as step up the stair with your non-habitual foot first.
Fold your hands in the non-usual way with the other thumb on the outside; cross your arms or legs in the opposite of your habitual way.
Switch your “mousing hand” on your computer. (You can totally do it!)
It’s good for your brain, good for shaking up stuckness, good for liberating your life force.
Maybe even take a mini-retreat for a few hours or a few days to listen to the call of aliveness in your own dreams.

Here’s a favorite poem from David Whyte:

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision is gone
no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.
There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your womb tonight.
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

from The House of Belonging

Listen to David read you the poem right here. It’s a poem with the power to change your life.

With my dearest wishes,
and my wholehearted support of what brings you alive,

p.s. I’m so happy to be receiving the 10 sessions of Structural Integration right now. It’s blowing my mind and feeling so good! Carl currently has 2 spots open in his practice. If you’d like to grab one of them (highly recommended!) contact him at

p.p.s. We still have some spaces (including discounted scholarship spots) open for our Fall Embodied Life Class: The Head, The Heart and The Hara, which begins Sept. 8th. We have an awesome community of excellent human beings in the class already and we’d love to have you join us! See details and registration link below. Payment plan available.

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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.