What Does It Take to Be A Mature Human Being?

A note from Erin:

Greetings old and new friends!

A warm welcome to the many folks who are newly joining our mailing list and community after the Move Better Feel Better summit. And warm hugs to the many of you who’ve been with us for years. We’re so grateful to be connected to such an authentic and caring community of people. Especially when the world feels more than a bit crazy, we’re deeply grateful for your presence in our lives.  Thanks for being here!

Carl and I are finding our way with a new rhythm of writing – for many years we’ve sent weekly emails which began to feel like a bit too much with the great influx of digital communication. We’re aiming to send a regular email full of resources, beauty, inspiration, and opportunities to your inbox every two weeks. In the meantime, I’ve taken a much-needed break from social media to dive into book writing. Yippee! It’s time. :)

Before I get into today’s article, I wanted to make you aware of a few upcoming opportunities to work with us. You can click on any of these to learn more.

Sign up here to join us in our beloved Embodiment Lab! This is our ongoing monthly online course which is, if we do say so ourselves, excellent, and made to be very affordable. We share Feldenkrais lessons, guided meditations, inspiring talks, nourishing group calls, poetry and so much more. If you sign up to join us in the Lab in June (the first lessons arrive on June 8th) we’ll share with you the past month of the Embodiment Lab which dives deep into Reclaiming Inner Authority –  for free!  Here is what one student shared after a practice in the Lab last month:

“Oh WOW.  Being part of this Embodiment Lab is the BEST thing I could do for myself, for my family, for my community, and for the world, right NOW.  I’ve just finished these 24 minutes and feel a warm, loving, hopeful glow of love and of healing and of peace, and even, better, I feel a sense of optimism for the future.  Yesterday was a hard day, tight and sore and fearful in all ways, so this marked contrast, my delighted surprise that something as simple as a guided meditation should lead to the bliss I feel right now, is startling and wonderful.  The words “thank you”, Carl and Erin, feel insufficient.  I am excited for what this Lab unveils for us!”

Sign up here for Carl’s live Tai Chi in the Park in Salt Lake City which starts June 25th.

Sign up here for Erin’s new free class Root & Rise: An Introduction to Embodiment and The Work That Reconnects. I have about a thousand folks from all over the world in this class and I’d love to have you join! Totally free.

Sign up here for our next live online Gratitude, Grief, and Going Forth workshop, Saturday afternoon June 27th, from 1-6 pm Mountain time.  We had such beautiful feedback from our last gathering and we’re very inspired to offer it again. We’ll include embodied gratitude practice, a wonder circle, a grief ritual, gentle movement practices, small group sharing, poetry, and more. Space is limited. You can register now by donating any amount.

Erin’s new online class Living the Questions will be held on Monday nights in July and August. Mark your calendar. Details coming soon.

Sign up here for Carl’s Natural Movement and Feldenkrais: Embodying Awareness, Strength, and Spontaneity. This new live online course begins Friday, July 3rd and we’re soooo excited for it!

Erin is hosting a Mary Oliver poetry party on the solstice!!  Can we get a WOOHOO!!??  Bring your favorite Mary poems or just come to listen. Prepare to have your heart cracked open once again to the beauty of the world. This gathering is offered by donation. Click here to make a donation of any amount. Folks who’ve donated will receive the zoom link the day of the poetry party. This revelry will be held on the solstice – summer for us and winter for some of you. What a great time to pause and refresh our reverence for this precious life! We’ll gather on Saturday, June 20th at 6 pm mountain time. If there’s interest (international friends, chime in!) we will host a second one on the morning of Sunday June 21st Mountain Time so our faraway friends can join. Either way, we’ll post a recording on the website for all to enjoy.

We are thrilled to share a brand new podcast episode with Steven Martyn of The Sacred Gardener on the topic of Embodying A Sacred Relationship With Earth. It’s a good one! Click here to listen.  And keep your eyes out – We’ll have a brand new episode with our dear friend and mentor Francis Weller coming up very soon.

Finally, I’m thrilled to be a guest teacher in the gorgeous class, Summoning The Unseen, offered by my dear friend and incredible poet, Brooke McNamara. I’ll be guest teaching on June 26th on the theme of gratitude and grief. You can still join this inspired offering which includes meditation, poetry, and more.


we’re reveling in rose season! 

What Makes A Mature Human Being?

I’m a fan of good questions. Questions that stand strong and generative even after many attempts to answer them.

There is a potent question that I’ve been carrying with me lately.

What does it take to be a mature human being?
What does it take to be a wise elder? 

It’s questions like these I love to carry as I walk in the canyons of the Wasatch Mountains near my home. Though I’m in my mid-40s, I’ve been carrying this question since I was a child. Pretty much my entire adult life has been dedicated to seeking out wisdom teachers, wise elders and mentors – through personal relationships, formal training, as well as through beloved books. I could fall to my knees right now and weep a river of grateful tears for the wisdom and kindness offered to me by my many teachers, as beautifully imperfect and as utterly human as they are. Having wise teachers in one’s life is like carrying a light in the dark – they offer warmth and wisdom to help me to see more clearly. Their guidance can help us to find our way through this ever-changing, frequently gorgeous, often confusing terrain of a human life.
Years ago my world was rocked with this statement from Moshe Feldenkrais: “A mature being is one who has re-appropriated inner authority. The point of these lessons is to help you remove outer authority from your inner life.” Wow. Right? It humbles me still. What a profound, liberating inquiry – one worth deep investigation. And to do this at the bodily level of our movement and postural habits is deeply profound and profoundly liberating. Discovering what we’re actually doing so we can do more of what we want… It’s a process that is so worthy of time and attention – and one of the themes Carl and I treasure as Feldenkrais teachers.

Years later I was blown away again when I read Francis Weller’s words in the Sun Magazine: “The task of a mature human being is to hold gratitude in one hand and grief in the other and to be stretched large by them.” These words struck my soul like a bell and years later have left me ringing still. This is such an essential skill, such an important soul muscle to grow to navigate life in the 21st century.

I love these invitations.
To reclaim inner authority while remaining a rigorous learner.
To fully welcome the whole human range of gratitude and heartache, grief and deep love, without turning away.

And I wonder – is that complete?
What else is necessary to make up a mature human being?

As I walk with this question lately, other facets emerge.

Having the courage to bring forth your uniqueness, your medicine, your gifts, your genius. Our quirky, unique way of being in the world which no one else can replicate.   As the Gospel of Thomas says, “If you bring forth what is within you what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” This feels essential for our times.

Another essential aspect seems to be the capacity to have a perspective on your own perspective. The capacity to step back out of your own opinion or experience or reactivity and to witness it with spaciousness and compassion, with disidentification.

And also hugely important is the cultivation of empathy, compassion, and a sense of dedication to something larger than oneself.

It’s of essential importance not just to our own development but to the ongoing life of the world that we dedicate ourselves to something beyond ourselves. I’ve written before about the importance of decentering personal enlightenment and recentering Life. This is ever more deeply important to me.

One might be mature in the previously stated ways and still be profoundly self-centered. Some of us who were raised in a culture or family that encouraged self-deletion and a kind of martyrdom may begin to learn the important practice of self-care. And unfortunately, many stop there. Getting good at caring for ourselves is important… and it’s absolutely not enough. We are each called to help sustain this world so in need of our care. I’ve long been in love with the guidance in this line from Rilke: “I live my life in widening circles. I may not complete this final one, but I give myself to it.” What if we gave our lives toward widening circles of care? What if in a world where many bemoan the lack of wise elders, we decided to rise up and be them ourselves as we age, determined to take better and more beautiful care of Life?

With an eye on the whole, with roots in Deep Time, with a sense of connection to the rich resources we carry in our bones from our own ancestors, with a sense of our place in the grand flow of time – and with an eye on the thriving lives of future generations, we can live such rich and meaningful lives.  If more people and corporations held this perspective, we’d be living in a very different world – one with more restraint, more mindfulness, more reverence, and more care.

Let’s consider the invitation to apprentice ourselves to eldership. Apprentice ourselves to the ways of being a good creature, a good caretaker, and to giving more than we take while we’re here for this brief while.

The good news is that you’re never too old or too young to begin this apprenticeship.

There are so many pathways in – the body, inner authority, grief and gratefulness, growing grounded spaciousness, embodied mindfulness and meditation, a dedication to growing our compassion and care for the web of life. Let’s step in, wakeful and willing.

What a gift when we discover that we can find our own wellspring of wellbeing through a courageous commitment to being in a life-giving relationship with the whole web of life. How beautiful that this willingness can transform our sense of overwhelm and despair into inspired and compassionate action.

May it be so!

Friends, I’d love to hear your thoughts on maturity. I don’t think I’m done with this question yet, and likely will be living into it for the rest of my life. What seems important to you?

Here’s a poem by Mark Nepo which speaks to my heart today.

May it bless us all with a glimpse of the peace that’s possible when we slow down, even ungracefully, to the speed of life, right in the midst of our lives.

What Ties Me to the Earth is Unseen

My heart was beating like a heron awakened

in the weeds, no room to move. Tangled

and surprised by the noise of my mind,

I fluttered without grace to the center

of the lake which humans call silence.

I guess, if you should ask, peace

is no more than the underside

of tired wings resting on the lake

while the heart in its feathers

pounds softer and softer.

May your heart pound softer and softer today.
Like the peace found at the underside of tired wings resting on a lake, may awareness rest in the vastness of our own hearts.

With love,
Erin

 

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Erin

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.