Category Archives: Play

Dancing with the Storms

Dancing with the Storms was written the morning of  September 7, 2017, the day after my InterPlay Deep Play group asked for Dances on Behalf of ( a form of embodied prayer) those whose lives had been so deeply affected by both the recent and the approaching hurricanes. I invite your reading, reflecting and commenting and your sharing of it, if it sparks anything within you.

Dancing with the Storms

Yesterday I danced
I danced
on behalf of
those devastated by storms
and
those waiting in fear
to see
to know
would they be next?
My heart felt their fear
my own fear as well
Should we go as planned
into a place
threatened by the monster storm Irma?
My heart said “no”
My husband said “yes…
maybe it will be all right”

I danced with the storms
and with my storm
Until I finally understood
My reluctance to go
was not solely based
on the fear of encountering the storm,
(after all my husband said, “Hurricanes rarely go as far inland
as Orlando)
But on the inappropriateness
of going to vacation in the place
where so many people were going
for safety
uncertain if they would have a home
to go home to!

Storms
Storms threaten to
destroy all we know
all we cherish
all that we love and hold dear

But storms have been whirling
about our lives
far longer than
Harvey
or Irma
or the other two storms forming
even now!

As I danced
a question rose from deep within my heart
“Could the energy of our personal storms
our political storms
our religious storms
our racial storms
our economic storms
have any thing to do with creating
Harvey
and Irma
and all the rest?”
Maybe yes?
Maybe no?
I don’t know.
But in the wake of the Harvey
the unlikely happened
Not only are people helping people
no matter their race
their religion
their ethnicity
or their immigration status,
But on Capitol Hill
In Washington D.C.
the Democrats -at least some of them
and
the Republicans -at least some of them
and
the President
came together
to send help
to make it possible
to find the phoenix
that will rise from the ashes
the love
that will overcome fear
the hope
that will light the way!

Is the only way through
the storms of life
to listen to our heart song
to follow our compassionate impulses
to use our power
and our strength
to help,
to hold,
to heal
and thus to grow
to learn,
and to take another step
toward
the Peace that will set us ALL free
the Love that will heal us ALL
the Beauty that will save us ALL
the play that will calm us ALL
and help us
see our way
TOGETHER!

Share This:

Sometimes it pays to play!

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing!” My five year old grandson makes sure that won’t happen to me!

A few weeks ago as I was fixing breakfast and getting ready for the day I turned on the playlist on my iPhone that contains my favorite songs from the literally hundreds of songs I have downloaded from iTunes or uploaded from CD’s I had purchased -back when that was the primary way you got music! One of the first songs that played was titled Amazing Things by singer-songwriter Megan McDonough. The part of the song that jumped out at me was:

You don’t have to work it out,

Just stay in the here and now,

Let your mind rest for a little while,

Sometimes deepest answers come,

When you’re out there having fun,

So close your eyes, take a breath,

And smile.

Sometimes deepest answers come, When you’re out there having fun, …. I began to think about how many times I have had just such an experience while participating in or leading an InterPlay class. This is especially true in the Wisdom of the Body Deep Play classes which I teach. I think it is because these classes last longer and give more time and space to let go, let the mind rest and just focus on having fun; moving for the joy of moving; singing made-up songs for the delight of using your voice; talking about made-up words as if you are the authority, just because you can; ranting about something in a made up language without worrying what anybody thinks. These ways of playing, along with many, many more of the 26 InterPlay forms seem to create space for ideas to enter. They seem to allow for the openness that is necessary to discover my own deepest wisdom. They create the peace that is necessary for me to notice what is true for me.

But, let me be clear, these answers don’t always pop up in the midst of playing. And deciding to play, so that I will find an answer, usually short circuits the process. It’s when I play for the sheer joy and delight of playing; when I give myself over to the freedom to play and laugh and be silly in an environment where I feel safe and welcome and affirmed; it is then that I have opened the way for ideas and answers and wisdom to emerge.

There are certainly many ways to play and play -honest to goodness play- has so many positive affects on us body-mind-heart-spirit, that we need to find ways of having more play in our lives -no matter how old our young the calendar says that we are. Recent research has demonstrated that for adults as well as children play is important in relieving stress, improving brain function, stimulating creativity, improving relationships and increasing energy. As George Bernard Shaw once observed, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.”

So find some ways to play: InterPlay, Laughter Yoga, dancing, riding your bike, taking a hike, whatever it is that engages you body, mind, heart and spirit, fills you with joy and lets your mind rest for a little while! And maybe, just maybe you will discover that for you too, sometimes deepest answers come, when you’re out there having fun; so close your eyes, take a breath and smile.”

Share This:

The Transforming Power of Gratitude!

IMG_2424On February 6th, I had the privilege of leading an InterPlay workshop as part of the Midwest Women Spirit 2016 conference held in Chicago, IL. Since I wanted to make sure that I was onboard with the general theme of the conference, I arrived early enough to hear the keynote presentation given by Kate Braestrup. Kate is a UU Minister, a New York Times best-selling author and a Chaplain with the State of Maine Warden Service where she provides ministry to law enforcement officers and those they serve. Prior to becoming a UU minister Kate was married to a police officer who was killed in an on-duty accident leaving her with four children between the ages of 3 and 9 to raise on her own. Before his death her husband had been wrestling with a call to enter the ministry and their long conversations had evidently ignited a spark within her, because sometime after his death she entered seminary and was eventually ordained.

Since the theme of the conference was “Recognizing Our Calling” Kate had many powerful insights to share, from her own experiences and those of her children as they grew and matured. But the thing in her presentation that stood out the most for me was her challenge to us -especially those of us who feel some call to bring more peace, justice, hope, love, compassion and healing to the world- not to fall into the trap of despair and hopelessness regarding any of the many major problems we face. She shared some specific examples of the ways we as human beings have come together to avert almost certain disasters in the past, and her absolute confidence that we could do so again.

Then in the Q & A that followed her talk someone asked her about the environmental challenges we are currently facing and how she could have hope in the face of these. I don’t remember most of what she said in answer to that question, but I do remember the story she shared. To the best of my recollection it went something like this:

When I see a picture in the newspaper or magazine or watch a TV image of a disaster of some sort, in the midst of all the pain, suffering and devastation, I look for the helpers, those people who are there to offer comfort, medical assistance, food, shelter and the like. Helpers are always there! Sometimes I am one of those helpers and sometimes I just need the assurance that a helper will always come.

For some reason this image replayed itself again and again and eventually had me thinking about gratitude which led me to a book titled, Attitudes of Gratitudethat’s been on my shelf for many years.  As I thumbed through the pages of the book, I discovered  again many powerful testimonies from the author about the power of gratitude to transform us body, heart, mind and spirit.

One of the quotes the author shared from Susan Jeffers (“When we focus on abundance, our life feels abundant; when we focus on what we lack our life feels lacking. It’s truly a matter of what we focus on, ) seemed to link back to the story of the helpers in the midst of the disasters, so, I decided to focus my two online Dancing Our Prayers classes for the week on gratitude.

As we moved into each class I invited participants to focus on gratitude and then holding a tiny spark of gratitude in their hands to dance with it and allow it to grow and expand and carry them wherever it would. Each participant in both of the classes noticed the deep sense of joy, peace, ease and grace that seemed to take them over. It was like mixing a basic solution with an acidic one, gratitude neutralized the stress and tension many of them had been experiencing prior to the class.

I too felt this transformation.  I had awakened at 3am Monday morning to get ready to drive to the airport to fly back to Boston, so I would be there in time to teach the online class that night, only to discover that my flight had been canceled!  Now I really wanted to get back to Boston and I needed to be in a place with good internet in order to teach, so I let this stress me out. I was, therefore not even remotely close to being  in a place of calm, peace or gratitude when the class began. But little by little as I danced with the feeling of gratitude that at least I hadn’t been stuck at the airport or on a plane, gratitude began to work its magic. By the middle of the class I felt a deep sense of peace and joy. But that’s not the amazing part of the story!

The next morning I made it to the airport without incident and my plane took off pretty much on schedule. Once in the air, I did my usual bit of playing some games on my iPad and then reading one of my Kindle books. But then about an hour into the flight my eyes were tired (I had after all gotten up at 3am for the second morning in a row!) so I put on some meditative music and closed my eyes and just began breathing gratitude. With each breath my gratitude seemed to grow. With each breath my feelings of peace and joy deepened. With each breath my heart and mind seemed to expand. Then completely out of the blue came the absolute knowing that I needed to open a new document and begin working on the design for a new online class focusing on the wisdom contained in the book Move to Greatness: The Four Energies of a Whole and Balanced LeaderFor the next 30 minutes the ideas came in a steady stream. (This seemed especially astonishing since creating this design had been on my “to do list” for more than a few months.)

Since that day, I have been taking between 5-10 minutes some time each day to breath gratitude, to dance gratitude, to sing gratitude. Sometimes I think of specific things for which I am grateful, but sometimes I just dip into the well of feelings and pull up gratitude. Sometimes it happens quickly, sometimes its a bit slower. But in every case the transformation that gratitude brings is northing short of a miracle!

Share This:

Easy Focus is NOT Always Easy!

out-of-focus-1

Easy Focus is NOT always easy!   Man, did I discover that last night! It was the first night of our eight week Online InterPlay Body Wisdom Tools class. My co-teacher, Sharie was coming online from her home base an hour or so from Seattle and I was coming online from my second home base outside of Boston. Our 9 participants were joining us from 9 different locations -6 in various time zones in the USA, 2 from Australia and 1 from India! This was a first for almost all of us. But, because I was the one who had done a very small amount of online teaching, Cynthia (co-founder of InterPlay who had asked Sharie and I to teach the class) dubbed me as the “technical expert”! Hahahah. I think that’s where most of my distress -the opposite of easy focus-  originated.

Throughout our planning and preparation  process Sharie and I kept reminding one another to breathe deeply, sigh often and do lots of shaking of our arms, legs, bodies and voices (all good ways to foster easy focus!)! Even so, even a cursory scan of my body data told me that I was anxious. So, not only did I do my part in preparing to guide us through  the content  we would be covering, but I read documents and watched training videos so that I thought I knew every in and out of how to help our participants get signed on, use the meeting controls and have a positive experience.

I was not, however, prepared for what to do when every word almost any of us spoke reverberated with an echo traveling down a long tunnel! And what was the Body Wisdom Tool we were teaching? Easy Focus, of course. Easy Focus, that way of seeing the big picture and holding things lightly and playfully! Easy Focus, that encourages us to savor and enjoy our experiences. Easy Focus, that encourages us to relax our muscles, soften our attention and just be in the moment. But how how how  do do do you you you do do do that that that when when when every every every word word word echoes echoes echoes????

Well, we took lots of deep breaths with lots of sighs and lots of shaking. We danced. We played. We laughed. We practiced softening our focus in a guided meditation that Sharie led. And we noticed what all of that felt like in our bodies. Here are some of the things folks said they noticed:

I felt a progressive softening in my face and body…

I was more a part of everything

I was less tense

 I was more forgiving to myself.

I was allowing myself to float.

Easy focus increases my sense of connection to all and everyone that is

Amazing! By playing and practicing the things that help to bring easy focus….. we somehow found easy focus even in the midst of the echoing. And just as we moved from our exploration of the Body Wisdom Tool of Easy Focus to our exploration of the Body Wisdom Tool of Affirmation the echo stopped!!!! That’s right just as mysteriously as it began, it ended!

As I pondered all of this I began to think how life can imitate art… that is how when I remember to do what brings me to that place of playful ease called Easy Focus, even and especially when easy focus seems hard to achieve, then wa-lah there it is -Easy Focus! And with Easy Focus comes peace, ease, playfulness, creativity, and JOY!

Take a deep breath…. let it out with a big sigh…. shake out your right arm…. shake out your other right arm…. shake out your right leg…. shake out your other right leg…. shake out what you are sitting on…. shake out your voice…. repeat as needed!

 

Share This:

And a little child shall lead them…

Masters of Play!

One of my delights over the past 2 1/2 years has been living within driving distance of our first grandchild, Ben, who turned four this past May. One of the joys of being a grandparent is that you have time to simply observe your grandchildren at play. A couple of weeks ago  when I was at his house, Ben was so involved with what he was doing that I had an extended time to just sit and watch and learn from a master of play!

As I witnessed his adventure, I noticed his imagination and how every object held the possibility of being something new and completely different from what I understood it to be! I watched as he created stories, made up characters and occasionally gave me a part to play in his elaborate drama. I noticed how he slipped effortlessly and totally unselfconsciously from singing to a talking in a made up language and back to English with complete delight in just hearing the sound of his voice. It made little or no difference to him whether I understood what he was saying or singing; he did and that was all that mattered. I also noticed the joy he experienced as he moved about the room, making objects fly and dance and twirl. But I also noticed his delight in having me witness his play,  It seemed to matter that I saw him and watched him and delighted in him, because once or twice someone else came in the room and Ben was quick to call me back if I started to talk to someone else!

A few days after this amazing afternoon I was leading one of my InterPlay Classes and we were doing a back and forth form called “I Could Talk About…” One of the things I said was “I could talk about watching my grandson play…” Then later my partner invited me to do a DT3 about watching him play. (A DT3 is an InterPlay Form that involves moving/dancing then talking x3)  As I did I heard myself say how interesting it was that he did naturally all the things that we invite participants in an InterPlay class to do… he used his imagination, made up words, talked in a made up language, sang, moved, used his voice, told his story, connected with me and experienced joy and delight in simply being witnessed. How easy it was for him and how hard it is for us as adults! As my DT3 continued I came to a place of longing for all people -children and adults- to have the opportunity and the freedom of such creative, imaginative, play.

As I was noticing my body wisdom after I finished this form,  I remembered our recent InterPlay Leaders Gathering and the observation one of our leaders of color made that the things we do in InterPlay -movement, story-telling, having our voice, being still and connecting with others- these  things are birth-rite practices. They are part of what it means to be human, to be whole and I believe to be holy.  And I felt a deep sadness for those children who are denied any or all of these birth-rite practices. And I felt a deep desire to do what I could to create a world where all children and all adults can freely and joyfully move, have their voice, tell their story, find stillness, connect with others and be witnessed with joy and delight.

So if you have the good fortune to have children around, take some time and let these masters of play lead you back into the joy of your birth-rite practices and you just might discover the One who has been waiting to dance with you, sing with you, play with you, listen to you, delight in you and show you all that you might become. While you’re at it you might also check out the InterPlay website to see if there are interPlay classes happening near you or contact me to see about the possibility of playful on-line coaching that will empower you to lead joyfully and live playfully as you discover the wisdom of your own body!

Share This: