A note from Erin:
I’ve been deeply moved by this perspective since I heard Michael Meade say it in a recent podcast. It’s so true to my experience, though I so often forget and think I need more time. Choosing to pause and lean into the timeless takes courage in this speedy modern culture, yet the rewards are so huge. Carl and I are offering a retreat on Saturday in Salt Lake which will support us in rooting into timeless presence through gentle movement, embodied meditation, and poetry. You’re warmly welcome to join us! Details below and here.
Last week our little family watched A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott, all snuggled up on the red couch with a large bowl full of homemade popcorn on my lap. Our 8-year old son was advocating for something more his style, like the Kung Fu Panda Holiday special, but I insisted he should see this classic. Many times during the film Carl and I made teary eye-contact – when Tiny Tim blessed us, every one, when Scrooge kindled his kindness and made a huge donation to a charity. I was surprised, though, by what stood out to me that I’d never noticed in previous viewings. After he’s visited by the 3rd ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, he’s shaken to see the consequences of his actions and he says, “I promise I’ll carry the past and future in my heart, always! Please spare me!”
What changes when we carry the past and future in our hearts, always?
And perhaps a more important question – what happens when we don’t?
In a conversation with one of my mentors, Francis Weller, he shared that around 20 years ago he created a 200-year vision for his work. I was wowed. Sometimes I barely have an idea of what my work might be 6 months from now. What if, as the saying goes, we carried the next seven generations with us into our every decision of our everyday lives, really dedicating ourselves and our impact in such considerate ways?
this quote lives on the wall at the Utah Museum of Natural History
And how about the past? Not only our personal past but the collective past, which is often so hard to face. What if we carry the history in this country, of the native inhabitants of this land, here for centuries before European settlers arrived? What if we carry the history not only of the pioneers, as many do in this pioneer-settled state of Utah where I live, but the history of slavery? What if in any moment, we were carrying the long view – both forward and back – the beautiful and the ugly, both – and not just locked in claustrophobic thinking about our own personal lives?
What if that perspective might shift us from being rather like Scrooge before the ghosts came to Scrooge after? What if carrying the past and future with us always might make us more good-humored, humble, exorbitantly generous, outrageously kind? It’s something I’ll be experimenting with. Join me?
In a time of national crisis, what our country really needs is a good poem.
Don’t we need a good poem?? I need many. On the regular.
I’d love to share a few with you. Poetry can make such a lovely gift. Support the poets and buy their books!
Lately, I’ve been falling hard for the poetry of Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. I found out we even share a common friend and now I’m connected with her too! She’s one of those generous poets who, if you sign up, will send you a gorgeous poem almost every day in your inbox – and get this – for free!! She writes a poem daily and shares it. What a gift. Here is one of many lovely poems she’s shared which I’d love to pass on. Find her online here.
The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.
Give me a heart that breaks—
ears willing to hear the difficult news
and legs that do not choose to run from it.
Yes, give me a heart big enough
to accommodate a wrestling match inside,
a mind that knows no one wins a war,
hands that move to help no matter
what the mind might say.
Give me a heart that opens
long after it thinks it’s already open,
and lips that know when to listen.
Give me a heart that knows itself
as other hearts. Give me feet
that will stand when someone must stand
for justice. And a spine flexible enough
to turn and see all sides. Snow falls
on all my thoughts. It sometimes
takes a long time to melt, a long time
before I remember again to pray
to be open, to pray for a heart that breaks,
to notice the stars shining from the inside.
Here’s another beauty I return to again and again from poet Jennifer Welwood, whose work I also love. She has a small selection of poems online here and she also offers a book of her poems which you can order. I love it! Perhaps this is a most excellent poem to take into December as we in the Northern Hemisphere approach the darkest day of the year.
There will always be voices that promise you greatness and glory:
They call out from the worldly marketplace;
They call out from the spiritual marketplace;
They call out from the fill-your-holes-marketplace;
They call out from the bigger-better-more marketplace.
Do not buy their false promises, or purchase their ephemeral wares;
What fulfills for a moment is not worth the price of your soul.
There are heights that will lift you, but not when you try to ascend them;
There are powers that will fill you, but not when you make them your own.
There are treasures, and there are imitations of treasures.
If you have lost your true gold, at least turn away from the glitter.
Want only what is true.
This will lead you to the well of your deepest sorrows.
Follow that passageway, all the way down;
Become the dark emptiness of your absent core.
Be still. Don’t measure the waiting.
Be still. Let the waiting become a fire.
Be still. Let the fire show you its secret heart:
A strand of clear light running through you.
Gather yourself there, and the luminous universe opens.
In that vast expanse, fathomless, infinite ocean of light,
Lose yourself, and find yourself, and become what you already are.
– Jennifer Welwood
And finally, I’m so thrilled to share this one. My dear friend, Brooke McNamara, who is such a gifted poet, has created something of stunning beauty. Brooke is also a dancer, a mother, a dedicated Zen practitioner, and someone I love like crazy. She’s made a little 3-minute film that embodies all of this, that transmits her own beauty at full volume. Please treat yourself to 3 minutes of soulful gorgeousness. I’m sharing it with her blessing. (I’ve also embedded the video below this block in the newsletter for easy viewing.)
Find Brooke online at http://www.feedyourvow.com/ and sign up for her wonderful newsletter! You can also order her beautiful book of poems on her site. She’s another very generous poet sending the very best stuff in my inbox.
I have a brand new podcast episode to share with you! I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Bosnak, Jungian analyst, international teacher on working with dreams, and innovator of Embodied Imagination and Embodied Intelligence (MQ.) He’s offering a course through the Jung Platform which, as a member of this community, you can participate in with a 10% discount when you use the code “happy” Listen to the new episode here.
We’ll have more details about our own wonderful 2019 offerings coming soon. Here’s a quick sneak peek at just some of what we’ve got coming:
I’m thrilled to be offering an Embodied Listening Course on Monday nights in January and February. This work is so potent, and while I include an introduction to it in my other embodied offerings, I always want more time! This class will be entirely devoted to supporting us in refining our skills at listening well and deeply – not only to others but to the many layers of our own inner lives – which is actually a central key to being a compassionate and skillful listener of others. Read more and register here! All genders are warmly welcome to this class!
I’m SO excited! Weekly classes will be at 6:30 on Monday evenings at Vitalize starting January 7th. The skills learned in this class will make you kind. Registration coming soon!
Women Embodied, one of my favorite offerings, will return March 4th and run through June 3rd. As usual, the course will include potent embodied practices offered in weekly Monday evening workshops, 3 retreats, 2 books, a powerfully compassionate community, and more! Registration is now open! Read about it below orhere. Other than 1:1 sessions, this is currently the main way to work deeply with me.
As I’m working on my first book (woohooo!), I’m imagining I won’t be offering a course in the fall, so these two courses – Embodied Listening & Women Embodied – are the best way to work with me this year.
Carl has some wonderful offerings coming up as well. In addition to welcoming new clients into the 10-sessions of Structural Integration (he still has a few spaces left!) he’ll be offering a 3-part series on Feldenkrais and Functional Fitness on Thursday nights in January. I’m so excited! I’ll be hiring a sitter so I can join in. More details very soon!
And he’s also bringing his potent healing offering, Embodying Your Soulful Masculine on Thursday evenings starting on February 28th. Just what the world needs! Registration opens very soon…
From Carl: I’ve opened up a few spaces in my practice for people to do a 10-series of Structural Integration.
We’ve got more exciting offerings in the works, including many for non-local folks. We’re sorting out some technical details and have a very exciting online offering we can’t wait to share with you soon!
And my dear friend Nan and I are offering our annual retreat at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, in September with some exciting changes this year. We’ll be opening registration to past participants next week. If you’re interested in being on an early notice list, email me and let me know.
And please don’t miss the fantastic workshop: From Despair To Joy, which I’m honored to host with Bay Area Master Teachers Mutima Imani and Constance Washburn. I’m so thrilled to have them coming to our community to share this powerfully healing experience! I hope you’ll join me on MLK weekend!
We’re planning new developments for 2019 (and who knows, maybe 200 years into the future) and please know if you’re non-local, we’re working on creating many offerings for you too. More details coming soon.