A note from Erin:
Hello, beautiful human,
We’re on that slippery slope and sliding right into the new year AND a new decade!
I wonder what this round of the Roaring Twenties will be like?
When you consider 2020, is there a sacred something you’d like to put at the center?
I’m contemplating this deep question myself.
I’ve had such a rich fall. I taught my first ever course integrating my embodiment work with deep ecology and The Work that Reconnects. It. was. awesome. I think at first my students were all a bit terrified to really LOOK at what is happening in the world, to acknowledge and courageously feel in our bodies the pain we feel about what’s unfolding. Would people be mean to us or judge the ways we’re not perfect? (Not in my class, baby!) And by the final evening together, I found myself laughing and smiling and sitting in a room of courageous, amazing, huge-hearted humans who together had looked the monster of this Industrial Growth Society in the face, and instead of turning to stone, we came all that much more alive, empowered, and full of love. Wow! I can’t wait to share more of this beautiful, compassionate, and deep work with you. I’m planning a multi-year training program integrating deep embodiment, deep ecology, and deep compassion. It’s pushing on me hard and it so wants to come into the world and what can I do but say yes?
In the meantime, we’re downshifting into a mellow holiday season. In November, I not only completed my first version of The Great Turning course and continued my own studies in The Work That Reconnects facilitator training, we also hosted and assisted Francis Weller for a 2-day Grief Ritual, we hosted Stephen Jenkinson & Friends on The Nights of Grief & Mystery Tour – and we were so delighted to see a packed house of soulful folks! After multiple weekends spent in these deep waters of grief and mystery and community – and for us that also included weekends spent shlepping ritual gear and flowers and food and furniture and tablecloths and more to each of these events, then shlepping them back home to launder and clean and put away again, all sandwiched between busy work weeks, we decided to take a pause on writing for a bit. In part because my soul was having an allergic reaction to my own email inbox, so full of token gratitude and countless “buy me!” emails that I just didn’t want to add to the noise. Yet we’re still here! And writing to say hello. Helloooo!
Can I tell you a story? For many many years, one of the central principles in my teaching of movement, meditation, embodied listening, anything I do, really, has been compassion. I love the Sanskrit word “Maitri” which translates both as “loving-kindness” and also, by Trungpa, as “unconditional brave friendliness.” In this practice, the way I’ve always offered it is that we always start with oneself because I know all too well that if it’s not happening right here in your own body-mind, you’re extremely limited in your capacity to bring compassion to the others in your world.
A few years ago one of my beloved mentors, a fierce and loving elder in her 80s, Deena Metzger, who has been teaching about the need for healing our relationship with Earth for a long time, said something that stopped me in my tracks. After someone mentioned “self-compassion,” she said, “I don’t want to hear about self-compassion. I don’t want to hear anything that starts with the word “self” unless it’s “self-scrutiny.”
Now in a world where humans are wreaking SO much damage on the world, I absolutely get where that sentiment is coming from. And so I sat with this perspective for more than a year. Could she be right? We could definitely use more self-scrutiny (honestly I like the word “self-reflection” better), to correct our harmful ways.
But should we skip over self-compassion?
I asked her about this last summer when I spent a week with her. She said, “I’m not against self-compassion, but why do you start with that?”
So, I sat with that question.
And eventually, I found an answer.
During that week with Deena, I was in a small-group process where I sat with 3 other women and I had a powerful experience. One woman who clearly hadn’t developed much self-compassion ended up derailing our whole group process because she had taken something another woman in the group had said personally, and she couldn’t let it go. She interrupted and took over the process we were doing to keep expressing her deep upset over a comment, which all 3 of us kept assuring her was not personal and wasn’t even about her. She was scrutinizing herself big time without self-compassion and… it got us all stuck.
From my perspective, if she had had some practice befriending herself – her discomfort, her judgment, her fear – she might have self-soothed or had a sense of humor about it and the sticky moment might have liberated itself, or been way less a big deal.
Still, I sat with this inquiry. Was I wrong to put self-compassion as a foundational practice?
Certainly, compassion needs to not stop with the self, but does it make sense to start there?
I was glad I let myself really stew in this question and let myself be disturbed by it. And you know what? I landed back where I started, even if I happen to disagree with Deena.
I believe self-compassion is foundationally important. For me. For the people I work with one on one or in classes. It’s of utmost importance to not stop with the self. But if we don’t start there, it seems to me that we’re essentially handicapped.
I saw a post that Elizabeth Gilbert made on Instagram and she says it so clearly and simply, I really couldn’t have said it better myself.
That’s it, friends.
I stand by this perspective. 100%.
And I’ll continue to bring it to embodiment work, to listening class, to Feldenkrais, to my particular way into teaching deep ecology and The Work That Reconnects, to grief tending, to pain of all kinds, to my own deepening learning about the many harmful systems humans have created. To all of it.
Well simply said, because it works. I’ve seen it time and again.
And at a certain point, nothing else really makes sense.
The very same action can have vastly different impacts depending on if it’s running through an inner or outer critic or a”fixer,” or if it’s run through love. Same action. Vastly different impact.
I’m all for bravely loving all the layers so we can really love the world.
We can’t heal anything without love.
Yesterday I read this beautiful interview between bell hooks and Thich Nhat Hanh and I’m so glad to see that they agree.
And so it came to me – that’s the sacred thing I’m intending to put at the center of the new Roaring Twenties.
And more love.
As Mary Oliver says, “First love yourself. Then forget it. Then love the world.”
Let’s do that, shall we?
With love, love, and more love,
Here are some current offerings we’d love to share with you! Click on any image for more details and registration info.
Would you like to gift someone private sessions with my highly skilled, gentle giant of a husband? Reply to this email and we’ll happily create a custom gift certificate.
We’re offering Embodying Presence: A Winter Retreat Day on Saturday, December 14th from 1-6pm at Vitalize Studio in Salt Lake City, which will include gentle movement, guided meditation, poetry, deep relaxation, and a soul and body-nourishing pause for quietude, simplicity, and spaciousness – aligning ourselves with the quieter, slower rhythms of nature in December. As our friend Bayo Akomolafe says, “The times are urgent. We must slow down.” Let’s!
We LOVE THE LAB!!! And we’d love to have you join this amazing online learning experience and community!!! We’re in the midst of a month exploring Your Ribs Are Not a Cage – such powerful, essential body-wisdom that can change your life, from easing physical pain to liberating self-compassion. Join us and a wonderful community of folks! If you’d like to gift someone a month in the lab, just reply to this email and I’ll help you set it up. Our January topic will be The Movement of Self-Compassion. (I didn’t even realize that when writing the newsletter, but how perfect is that?!) If you sign up before the 15th of the month, you’ll have access to this month’s content. If you sign up after the 15th of the month, we’ll sign you up for January.
I couldn’t be more excited about starting the new year with another deep dive into the world and words of beloved poet, Mary Oliver. Join me? Gift a friend or loved one?? (If you’d like to gift it, just email me!)
I did one of these courses last spring and it was SO wonderful. Here’s what a few past participants said:
Thank you so much for the gift of so many days in the dharma mist of Mary Oliver.
I loved listening and learning and soaking it up. I am so grateful.
Erin, I so appreciate all that you’ve put into this course and sharing the many beautiful poems. You and they and Mary inspire me to get out into nature even more and experience oneness with all that is! Much love to you!
Erin, I just wanted to say thank you for creating this course. I loved every little bit of it!!!
I just want to thank you again for this month-long dive into Mary’s world. It’s again given me pause to reflect and respond to the world around me. There is goodness in the world. There is much more to be seen and had than what the media reports or what the powers-that-be want us to think is really happening. So I appreciate everything that you’ve done and shared. I’ve really enjoyed Mary’s world. And I will continue to focus on the greater good that there is in this world.
Just $100 or 2 payments of $50. Join me!
Oh, we can hardly wait for time in gorgeous Costa Rica. Come with us! It will be amazing. Questions? Just ask! Happy to hop on a Zoom call with you to answer questions or show you lodging options.
We still have room for you. Is Costa Rica calling?
Are you feeling the call to slow down and steep yourself in the Costa Rican vibe of Pura Vida and clean, green, beautiful earth? Join us in February! Always the month when I’m ready to escape winter. Read more below or here. We’d love to make it easy for you every step of the way!!!
By the way, due to my poor timing of trying to schedule Embodied Listening class over the holidays and so low registration numbers, I decided to cancel it and will offer it again in the new year. If you’re interested (and it’s *amazing!*) let me know what timing would be best for you!
Thank you for reading.
Thank you for being.
With so much gratitude,
p.s. We have a great new podcast episode where Carl interviews Mark Walsh about his book Embodiment: Moving Beyond Mindfulness. Our episode with Erwan LeCorre, author of The Practice of Natural Movement and founder of MovNat, will be released any day! And more fun conversations coming your way soon…. We’re SO grateful to our podcast supporters. Thank you for helping us bring these conversations into the world!!!