Grief and Your Wonder Muscle

A note from Erin:

Hi Friends!

I recorded a short video for you about Grief Tending which I want to share here. Locals, please mark your calendar as my friend Kinde Nebeker of New Moon Rites of Passage and I will be co-facilitating a Grief Tending Ritual at Great Salt Lake on the evening of Thursday, March 22nd. You’re welcome to join us. For now, simple details are here. 

You can view my imperfect 8-minute video right here. Of course, part of me thinks I need to have a makeover and lose weight and change my hair and not fidget and blah blah blah, but a bigger part of me thinks the topic is far more important than my appearance while talking about it. :) And you know how it goes… if I wait till it’s perfect I’ll never share it. So, here it is! I hope it’s helpful. I’m surprised to have been so thoroughly claimed by this call to make space in community for tending grief. Please also mark your calendar for the weekend of April 20-22. I’ll be offering a weekend workshop at Vitalize Studio which will include gratitude practice, grief tending, inner listening, creative visioning of the future we’d like to see, support for taking action, poetry, movement, writing, meditation, and more. I’ll have registration details soon, but in the meantime – mark your calendar if you’d like to join me! I hope you will.

You know when Life is clearly tapping you on the shoulder with a message? Three times in the past two weeks, I’ve heard or read different people refer to this: Dagara elder Malidoma Some of Burkina Faso talks about a word in his language, “Yielbongura.” He says it’s inaccurately translated as “mystery” but is more accurately understood as “that thing which your knowledge cannot eat.” Apparently, I’m being invited into relationship with that. What a gift! That thing which my knowledge cannot eat… I feel the breathless wonder in the invitation.

I’m also thinking about what Stephen Jenkinson calls our “wonder muscle.”  It’s a muscle that’s often incredibly weak in those of us who live in a modern culture. Jenkinson writes, “Our willingness to wonder is where mystery goes for shelter from the steady attack it endures from our demand for information, clarity, and certainty and from our rarely questioned right to know what we demand to know. Wonder serves mystery with grace and a humble approach.”

How do you make space or shelter in your day, in your heart, for mystery, for that which your knowledge cannot eat, for that essential ingredient for a full human life: Wonder? Do you think it deserves a place in your day?

Our wonder muscle can become flaccid when we go right to googling for an answer, rather than dwelling in open contemplation. When we numb ourselves out with entertainment, rather than the spaciousness that allows listening to the mystery of our life.  Jenkinson also writes, ‘Wonder is part fascination, part ability to believe in things as they are, part willingness to be confused, even devastated at times, by the epic mysteriousness of ordinary things.” 

What entices YOU to wonder?

Here’s a prescription I wrote for myself as a support for staying in relationship with “that which my knowledge cannot eat.”
Read poetry every day. Especially nutritious for the wonder muscle are the writings of Mary Oliver, Rumi, Hafiz, Rilke, Brooke McNamara.

Do Feldy lessons. You know how the practice entices you to wonder about the seemingly insignificant movements of your own body.
Then go for a saunter in a canyon, wonder into the movement of your legs and feet, the movement of your ribs and spine – not correcting, but deeply feeling, wondering if it could feel more graceful and pleasing, adjusting accordingly, marveling at the miracle of being embodied for awhile.

Spend time in nature. Go sit and watch a creek slip by and yet watch how it remains right there at the very same time.

Look at the stars. Ponder “light years.” Understand that that pinprick of light singing through the night sky happened so long ago your mind can’t even conceive of it. Wonder how this is possible. Then just relax and drink in the beauty and starlight.

Look at the clouds! Especially appreciate the intimacy between clouds and mountains. The way that clouds over the mountain may turn into snow which may melt and come rushing down in a creek, which may become the water you drink.

Take time to imagine:  What would be a good world?

Ponder dreams. Your own deep dreams. The dreams of others. The wisdom coming through dreaming…. what is it asking of us?

Find an unanswerable question. Court it. Dance with it. Don’t kill it with an answer. Bless it with your wonder.

Dwell in that pool of stillness at the end of an exhale. Don’t figure it out. Notice what you feel when you dwell there. Wonder.

Finally – I wanted to share this. A dear friend who is struggling asked for support. I wrote this in a text to her this morning and thought I’d share in case you’re in need of some support today too:

1. A reminder that you are loved. So loved. What a miracle!
2. Can you feel the Earth, the best and most beautiful mother underneath your feet or your butt? This great mother is holding you and happy to nourish you right in this moment. You are not alone. And if you can soften your feet or your butt even a little bit you can let some of her love seep up into your body. Amazing. True. Feel it.
3. I wonder if spending some time with Rumi and Hafiz might be good company?
4. How is your breathing? Can you feel it? Could you very gently extend your exhalation a little bit for the next 5-10 breaths?
5. How would it feel to place a hand on your cheek or your heart or your belly or your toe or anywhere you can and send some love to that one in there? If you can’t find the love in yourself to send, let your hand be a transmission of my love.
6. Your friends have your back. Earth has your butt. Sky has enough room for all of it. Look up. The clouds are not too exciting right now, but the spaciousness is there. The sun is shining.
7. How would it be to look for others who might need some love and support and go about doing some random acts of kindness?
8. How would it be to write some love letters? To people you love. Or to clouds, and cute dogs, and crocuses, and the world?
9. Are you a fan of the hot shower? For me, it’s one of the biggest miracles. Hot water falling on my body, good smelling steam, unburdened intimacy with life and a chance to let a bunch of shit go down the drain….
10. Feel free to throw any or all of this away and just know that I love you.



With my heart’s warmth,

1.) You can still jump in to join us for our Fifteen Favorite Feldy Lessons home study series. We are having so much fun putting together our favorite lessons in a format that people can work with at home. 30-40 minutes twice a week is so powerful you won’t believe it!   join right here!  Here’s one participant’s comment after a lesson: “Noticing how different I am from the checking in with myself before and after this exercise.  I have such a lovely sense of well being.  It never ceases to amaze me that this can happen!  I said to myself, “wow, imagine people all over the world doing this for themselves”.   Thank you so much for guiding me.  I need it and I appreciate it so much.”

2.Registration is open for our weekend movement immersion, March 17 and 18  at Vitalize Studio. Saturday: “Reclaiming the Lost Art Of Squatting” and Sunday: “Foundations For Functional Fitness” Details below! It’s going to be sooooooo awesome!!!

3. Come to Ghost Ranch to Embody Your Genius with Erin & Nan Sept. 20-23, 2018! Details coming soon. For now, mark your calendar. All genders welcome.

4. Carl’s men’s group starts very soon and there are still a few spaces left. The world needs men who can embody a new masculine.

5. We have more good stuff coming up – a day of Embodied Sitting Meditation at Two Arrows Zen in early May, a wonderful workshop in April over the weekend of Earth Day, our podcast coming in March, and more!!!

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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.