Serious Mind vs Play Mind & New Offerings for 2021

A note from Erin

Hello, beautiful human,

I’m a lover of quotes. When I was young I imagined someday having a line of greeting cards – gorgeous images with wise words. While that vision never came to fruition, I still love to match images and wise words. Here’s one for you today.

(Image description: A photo of Erin & Carl’s son, limbs spread wide, lying in the grass, tongue sticking out with the words, “Serious mind is always exhausted. Playmind always has energy.” – Thinley Norbu)

Here we are, rolling into this final month of a wild year. Raise your hand if you’re feeling exhausted! I certainly have been. I’ve also been relishing these long dark nights here in the Northern Hemisphere as we wind our way toward solstice. I’ve never loved this season of darkening so much. I’m finally able to slow down to this season’s pace – and I’m discovering that it’s just what my soul needs.

It’s been quite a wild ride, hasn’t it? Our family started 2020 off with a bang – literally – when a distracted driver ran a red light and totaled our car on New Year’s Day. Fortunately, we were all physically fine aside from some bumps and bruises. The whole year has felt a bit like that. Bumped, bruised, disoriented, and yet grateful in the midst of it all. 2020 included a gorgeous retreat in Costa Rica in February just before things shut down, though my beloved Carl wasn’t able to join us due to a serious back injury after a fall on the ice. We hope to return in 2022 for another retreat. We hope you can join us!! My grandmother passed away in April and like so many families, we were unable to gather. We’ve witnessed George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arberry, and way too many others murdered in cruel and heartless ways. Gratefully it seems more people than ever have begun to wake up to the need for collective anti-racist action. It’s big, humbling, lifelong work. I’m here for it, and grateful for the support embodied practices offer in this learning. 2020 has seen massive wildfires and natural disasters. Just days after the first “stay home” orders came to us in Salt Lake City, we experienced an earthquake. But our house is still standing and we are so grateful for that! We’ve been getting used to this new lifestyle of staying home, homeschooling, and working (or at least trying to – parents you know what I’m talking about) in the same space all together all the time. I’m so grateful we like each other so much. We survived a toxic election season in the US and we’re beginning anew in 2021. I love the many “Make America Kind Again” signs I see when walking around my neighborhood. May it be so.

We’ve missed our friends, family, clients, and in-person students fiercely, and we’ve also loved the miracle of online gatherings through Zoom. I’m still in awe that we can connect with wonderful folks from around the world in classes we’ve both taught and taken. I’ve spent more hours in the yard and garden than ever, and that’s been a profoundly soul-nourishing gift. I am in love with my plant, bird, squirrel, worm, tree and bee friends in our wild garden-yard, so deeply that part of me never wants to leave! I’ve loved the now-faded flowers and herbs that the bees and birds adore; the many pockets full of seeds I’ve collected from native plants on hikes and who I’ve invited to put their roots down in our yard. I’ve been sipping herbal teas entirely grown in our garden, loving imbibing the terroir of this little patch of land with each steaming sip. I’ve felt my roots going down deep. I’ve spent countless hours at the stove, cooking up a storm – one of my favorite means of creativity and one of my favorite ways of ancestral connection. I feel so blessed that great grandmothers have been hovering in the steam whenever I cook for many years.

I’m deepening my learning in many rich ways, for which I’m always grateful. I’m always learning from my own movement and embodiment as well as my family and local ecosystem. I’m studying beekeeping with a radical beekeeper and excited to start a hive in the spring. I’m deepening my apprenticeship with the sacred territories of grief and praise. I’m continuing to learn with the wonderful Lara Vesta in realms of ancestral ways. Carl and I are in a potent apprenticeship with Deena Metzger and the 19 Ways and both so blessed to be mentored by Francis Weller as well. I’m exploring new-old approaches to these winter holidays. I’m doing inner listening and sharing the practice with an awesome new class of people I adore. I’m learning ever more about healing herbs. I’m doing fresh Feldy lessons and I’m absolutely thrilled at a dream come true – I’m finally attending the Bioneers conference (online) which has been a dream for years. Thanks to the generous support of a friend and student who sponsored my tuition, I’m on my knees in gratitude, and can’t wait to share more with you about it. In the early morning hours or my rare hours alone, I’ve been dreaming into what 2021 might look like. The fastest way to make the gods laugh, as they say, is to tell them your plans – so I’m holding my plans lightly. (You can read about some of them and upcoming opportunities to work with us below.)

My roots are growing even deeper during these long dark nights full of deep rest and deeper dreaming. Last night in dreamland I spent time with an old friend watching giant wild bears; then I took a terrifying ride in a friend’s helicopter; I worked a shift in a busy restaurant with my mask falling off again and again wondering why I was there; and then I jumped from the back of a speeding truck and plunged into a river below, finding a beautiful canyon I never knew was there. That also feels like 2020: The more I jump off the out-of-control speeding truck, the more I keep finding beauty I never knew was there. Right here, actually, in this simpler, slowed down life.

How are you faring, friends? We hope you’re finding creative ways to find beauty and wellbeing in the midst of the mess. If you’re struggling, I’m truly sorry. It’s been such a challenging year. I hope you’ll reply. We’d be honored to include you on our lil’ prayer list. We’re holding you all in our hearts.

(Image description: A Rumi quote is overlaid on a background of a field of golden grains with mountains and puffy clouds in the distance. The quote reads: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.”)

Back to serious mind and playmind. I am reminding myself of this distinction often lately when I find myself slipping into the heaviness of a serious mind. Living with a 10-year old who hasn’t lost the primacy of playmind helps a lot! I think of Moshe Feldenkrais saying of his method, “This work is far too important to be taken seriously.” What if that’s true of so many issues we face in our cultures, in the natural world, in our personal lives? I often wonder – what is that mature version of urgency we might bring to healing these situations? Perhaps a kind of reverence infused with grounded wisdom and good humor. As we roll toward the close of 2020, I’m inspired to lean into the spirit of playmind more than ever. It is all too important to be taken seriously, isn’t it? And as Mary Oliver, beloved poet who knows well how to be idle and blessed, writes, “Doesn’t everything die at last and too soon?” Too soon indeed. So let’s meet these days with as much reverence, beauty, generosity, humor, dancing, and kindness as possible. Here’s another way to say it with simple elegance, from my friend and gifted poet, Brooke McNamara:


will always love

But urgency must grow up
before she thinks to lie down
with eternity in his warm
and endless night,

and there find
her most radiant face.

– Brooke McNamara

May our urgency grow up. I have a sense that playmind might be an essential part of that process!
Thanks for making the world a more kind and embodied place, friends.
With love,

(image description: a photo of a paper that has this quote from Scott Morrison: “The Whole Teaching: The path of awakening and liberation requires that we ask ourselves just this one fundamental question: “Do I wish to live this moment with as much attention, care, and affection as possible, or am I going to do something else?” There is no point in judging the “something else” as either good or bad. It’s just that it’s important to know who’s making the decisions.”)

We have a sneak peak below of many upcoming offerings that we’d like to let you know about:
You can always read more on our website. 

**Before registering, please familiarize yourself with our cancellation policy. **

We have several rich podcast conversations which we look forward to sharing with you soon! And shortly, we’ll share about our new Patreon project where we can share many additional resources for you generous souls who support our work and might like to hear from us more frequently. More coming soon!

On December 12, Carl is offering a live online workshop called Coming Home: Inhabiting Your Spine, Belly & Pelvis. Click here to learn more and register. We’re offering this as a free gift to folks enrolled in the Embodiment Lab. (Lab friends you’ll be receiving an email with details on how to join very soon!)

If you’d like to join us in the wonderful world of the Embodiment Lab, please do! If you subscribe to the lab by December 11th, you can join Carl’s Coming Home workshop for free. We’ve just mapped out a few years of upcoming lab topics and ooooh, they’re so juicy! Participation takes about an hour a week, yet this embodied way of learning has a way of transforming many areas of your life. Read rave reviews and get a peek at our upcoming topics here. In December, starting on Monday the 7th, we’ll dive into Deepening Your Somatic Relationship With the Earth. Powerful stuff!! Join us!

We also have exciting news! Many of you have asked if you can have access to past Embodiment Labs. After some serious behind-the-scenes tech work, all the past Embodiment Labs are now available as standalone offerings you can purchase anytime. Check them out here. You get instant lifetime access to all the lessons on the topic of your choice for just $60 per lab. They also make great gifts! If you’d like to gift someone an experience of the Embodiment Lab just reply to this email and we’ll hook you up. So many great topics to choose from! See them here. 

For years we’ve hosted a meditation practice around New Year’s Day live in our offices. This year we’re taking it online. On January 3rd, from 9am-1pm Mountain Time I will host a mini-workshop: A Fresh Start. Our time will include a gentle and enlivening Feldenkrais movement lesson, a quiet meditation practice, inspiring poetry, time for community connection, and some good questions to contemplate in an embodied way as we begin a new year. Space is limited to 24 people and the cost is $30. I imagine this workshop will fill soon, so click here to grab your space if you’d like to join me.

On January 9-10, I’m thrilled to offer A Great Turning Retreat.  I have SO much more to say about what we’ll do and why I’m thrilled to do it and invite you to join me but instead, I’ll point you to the webpage where I’ve said it! Sliding scale pricing is offered.

I am thrilled to begin 2021 with a 9-week immersion: Embodying The Great Turning. This is a live-online course weaving embodiment practices and The Work that Reconnects, offered at two times. Choose between Monday evenings 6-9pm MT 2/1-3/29 or Tuesday mornings 9am-noon MT 2/2-3/30. Read more about this powerful opportunity right here. Spaces are limited.

On Saturday, January 23, Carl is hosting a Grief Tending Circle, especially for men. Save the date. Morning hours mountain time. Registration opening soon.

While I’ve been thrilled to see more people feeling the call to offer community grief tending (Yay! We need it!) I’ve personally been feeling the strong nudge and calling to make sure I’m balancing my own grief-tending practice with full-on, wholehearted praise practice. We need to express the wild love we feel as much as we need to express the grief and heartbreak we carry. Either one without the other is simply incomplete. Let’s do it – together!  In 2021 I’m planning to offer Community Grief Tending circles and Community Praise Practice on alternating months, also alternating mornings and evenings so you might be able to join us from wherever you are in the world. Also, I must confess – the last online Grief Tending I held has been troubling me – I ended the circle when I said I would according to the clock. Rituals don’t always work like that and I really felt we needed more time. So you’ll notice on the schedule for 2021 I say the ritual will go from, for example, 9-noonish. If you need to leave at the suggested end time, you may, but I need to give myself and us the flexibility to follow the organic flow of the energy. I don’t imagine it would go longer than 30 minutes beyond the scheduled time but hey, it’s not up to me. It is up to me to follow the call, so here we go! Join us for grief tending or praise practice in 2021. All are offered by donation. See the schedule here. We’ll have registration open for January Grief Tending and February Praise Practice very soon. Save the dates! Dates are scheduled through 2021. When it’s safe to gather in person, we’ll be offering an in-person full weekend experience as well. I’m also planning to invite some special guests to join us for these community gatherings. I’m so excited for a year of wholehearted grief & praise.

We had such a fabulous time during our Grounded & Spacious Retreat in Movement & Stillness. We were amazed how with such a spacious schedule and lots of free time, we could go so deep and really have a legitimate retreat experience from our own homes around the world. During two days we did 5 20-minute sitting practices each day and 4 powerful embodied movement lessons each day, all woven with a truly rich community conversation. We are thrilled to do it again. You’re invited to join us in an embodied retreat from your own home. Mark your calendars for the next Grounded & Spacious Retreat, live online, Feb. 20-21Register right here. 

If you read this far, well done! We’re sending a thousand thanks and a sprinkling of confetti!! We’re deeply grateful for your interest in our words and our work. We are full of joyful anticipation to share more soon – about Patreon, podcasts, and more – and hope to connect with you in one way or another in the next while. Thank you so much for being here and for being a part of our community.

From our hearts,
Erin & Carl

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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.