The New Word is WE: InterPlay Uprising at the Parliament of World Religions- Part 1

November 1, 2015

There is no such thing as a non-living thing. Everything on the surface of the earth and inside the earth is alive. As long as we see ourselves as separate from the earth, higher than nature, we will inflict pain.” ~ Wande Abimbola. Nigerian Ifa Priest and Professor

In a land named for the ancient Ute People, in a modern and vast Salt Palace, up to 10,000 religious leaders gathered as one Parliament to “Reclaim the heart of humanity.”

InterPlay at the Parliament

InterPlay at the Parliament

InterPlayers were there as a band of twenty plus women joined by Masankho Banda. We flew to Salt Lake City as leaders of spiritual practices from all over the world, privileged to share InterPlay on the final morning in The Unbelievable Beauty of Being Women and Girls InterPlay Performance and workshop.


Doing a city-wide walk stop and run each day we were able to find each other in the Great Hall, just a little left of center, and hold on as the assembly waded into the great world river of suffering.


We witnessed Hundreds of spiritual leaders humbly pray before offering 10 minutes of wisdom on how to end the heinous global disrespect for women and girls, indigenous people, the poor and the Earth. The assembly seemed to know that miraculous collective spiritual intelligence is needed if we are to change the course of extreme poverty, violence, hate and climate disaster.


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The only way to enter such fullness is to let go and travel as a WE.


We messaged our locations to each other, held seats for each other during plenaries, hit the drum, hollered our yeses, attended workshops and shared a daily InterPlay practice in whatever quiet convention corner that we could find.


We danced, sang, breathed, and responded to the potent transmissions of leaders like Jane Goodall, the Dalai Lama, Al Gore, Jim Wallis, Media Benjamin, the Sheik of Mecca, and indigenous elders Dr.Rangimarie Turuki Rose Pere from New Zealand and Chief Arvol Lookinghorse who said, “Mother Earth is the source of life not a resource.” Each person blew us away.
See our group respond to Marianne Williamson’s call here.


Between sessions we met people all kinds of people including the daughter of Malcom X, Rev. Barbara King, 85 year old, African American leader of the largest new thought church in the South, Hillary Lake- a vibrant improvisational Movement leader at 9 Mountain in New England, Rev Victor Kazanjian, Executive Director of the United Religions Initiative and the Pope’s messenger who spoke on his behalf about Pope Francis’ stand on Climate Change.


We ate lunch at the Langar, a 500 year free Skih lunch. We took off our shoes, donned head coverings and sat side by side on the floor with people from every spiritual practice as the kind turbaned hosts handed us Naan and scooped out chickpeas and curry from buckets. It was heaven.

We supported Judy Shook and Gail Ransom with the Creation Spirituality Movement, Carla De Sola and the InterFaith Prayer for Peace, and Susan Pudelek’s voicings on the Buddhist Catholic Dialogue in Rome and many other creative actions.


The last morning, Monday October 19thas I led us through a full hour and a half of the Unbelievable Beauty of Women and Girls performed for an excited audience with songs and music from Soyinka Rahim, Linda Clare Breitag, Michelle Jordan, Masankho Banda and Diane Christopherson. Knowing the forms of InterPlay allowed us to come from around the world, create an order and offer a powerful experience to all.


Then, like the Buddhist sand maṇḍala created and cleared by monks at the entry of the Parliament, it was over. Each person helped to clear the space.


But, we weren’t done. We desperately wanted to hear the Indigenous elders speak. It was the first time in history of the Parliament that time was dedicated to their message.


One after another the elders rose. Many sat in the front of the Hall in full regalia. Their reserved spirit betrayed their extensive education and training.

The message was emotional and harsh to the heart.

“Mother earth has a fever.”IMG_1572

“People on reservations eat diseased fish and live on confiscated land! STOP FRACKING!”

Arnold Thomas, the blind Paiute holy man invoked his authority to ordain us, He invited us to rise and raised an ear of corn, blessing us to return home and tell people to LOVE MOTHER EARTH. Make her needs our top priority!

But we came completely undone when Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, Uncle from Northern Greenland spoke. Both his words and his medicine changed us.


Ice Wisdom Uncle with wind drum medicine

Ice Wisdom Uncle with wind drum medicine

He said,

“It is too late. Over half of the ice in the North Greenland is gone. The water is already in the ocean. The planet cannot stop warming.”

Tired from traveling the world and too many meetings, He said plainly,

”The U.S. is the major obstacle. Your people are weak.”

He raised his sacred wind drum and sang its medicine into us body-to-body.

I breathed it in.


Thirty minutes later, laying exhausted on the grass outside of the Salt Palace near the tepees and fire that had been tended by indigenous elders some of them were holding each other in a tight circle around the fire, praying as they prepared to extinguish it.


That is when the same elders who spoke during the assembly mysteriously began appearing, one by one. When Uncle Angaanqaq came through the door. We rose to meet him.


He laughed, looked into the eyes and hearts of our InterPlay group and asked, “Will you bring hope to the young?”


Alongside Agnotti, Rehana, Cassandra Sagan, Susan Pudelek and others I said, “I will!”


It was not hard for me to say. InterPlayers already bring hope. Ours is a “We” practice that fosters physical, spiritual and emotional intelligence. Our “beauty way” is a both fun, offers deep teaching, and gives hope to hopeless people. That morning we’d taught our audience the “I could talk about” form, “three sentence stories” and how to make a dancing bridge between their hand and someone else’s in an actual movement that creates peace. We invited people to not only listen but to MOVE INTO ACTION!

We sang Soyinka Rahim’s and Linda Clare Breitag’s hope filled songs.

The drum, fiddle and Michelle Jordan’s voice empowered us to dance on behalf of our ability to rise and heal.

InterPlay is our beauty way.

Hope comes when we honor the body wisdom that springs from earth wisdom Our beauty way doesn’t require expensive equipment, travel, excessive planning, great halls or large assemblies. Small rooms are perfect.


InterPlay reclaims the heart of humanity each time we create a new WE where everybody can give voice, tell a story, and feel part of the dance of life. This beauty way is rising in its power to give hope to young leaders and partnering communities who want to marry InterPlay forms and ideas with their people and contexts.


Celebrating our 25th anniversary Coke Tani recently spoke about being a liaison to Leaders of Color. Agnotti Cowie spoke as a liaison to over 50 trained Millennial leaders. Harriet Platts spoke of Life Practice Programs supporting people and leaders!


It is not too late to play a part in supporting the hope-driven intelligence and wisdom of this WE based movement. Donate HERE.


At the Parliament of World Religions I walked as a WE, ate as WE and heard that I need to proceed as WE.   As the Hopi elders prophesied.


“The time of the lone wolf is over.” (Individual destiny is no longer the key.) “It could be a good time!”

“There is a river flowing now very fast.  It is so great and swift that there are those who will be

Leaning on one another

Leaning on one another

Linda Clare Breitag

Linda Clare Breitag

afraid.  They will try to hold on to the shore.   They will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly.

“Know the river has its destination.  The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water.   And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate.  At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, Least of all ourselves.  For the moment that we do,  our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

“The time for the lone wolf is over.  Gather yourselves!  Banish the word struggle from you attitude and your vocabulary.  All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.”

In deep gratitude to the long walk, dance, and prayers of indigenous elders. To learn more about their journey link here.


Chief Arvol Lookinghorse

Chief Oren Lyons

Wande Abimbola

Arnold Thomas

Dr. Rangimarie Turuki Rose Pere

Inija Trinkuniene

Grandmother Flordemayo

Iriama Margaret Lokawua

Steven Newcomb

a’Kaiya Blaney (youth singer)

Dr Wilson Aronilith, Jr.

Iyekiyapiwin Darlene St. Clair

Ta’Kayia Blaney vocalist and youth environmental activist.


To play in this movement of Inter-Religious InterPlay

Join the InterPlay at the Parliament Facebook Group to stay in touch with InterPlay in InterFaith Practice.

Also see Rehana Tejpar’s Blog or Kelsey Blackwell‘s blog on the one thing that can fix everything

Special Thanks to Jocelyn Bowman for her photography. See more at


InterPlay Quickens Dreams in 2012

January 2, 2012
I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart so long.  If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can play together all night.
~Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

To dream big is to adventure into the wild, holy daylight where Edger Cayce said, “Dreams are answers to tomorrow’s questions.” What are you dreaming? Share in the comments below! InterPlay connects things, people, ideas and DREAMS!

In many ways InterPlay is a dream come true allowing InterPlayers in 2012 to gather in Australia, Scotland, The Holy Land, Germany, India, Amsterdam, and the US. InterPlayers will uplift women’s voices and spirits, empower men, and awaken life in kids as we walk, stop, and run in news ways together.

  • InterPlayers will serve visionary organizations and leaders in places like Out and Equal, Prasad, Saint Mary’s Senior Center, Alexian Brothers Mental Health Community, Youth for Environmental Sanity. learners in elementary to graduate level classrooms, and practionners in Buddhist Communities, churches, and temples.
  • InterPlay will raise up different stories, cultures, languages, and views at places like the International InterPlay Convergence!
  • Dynamic global leaders seeking embodied wisdom and playfulness will gain tools and support in the Life Practice Program.
  • InterPlay will serve as an incredible wellness resource for professionals exploring the InterPlay Way thanks to CathyAnn Beaty and others.
  • Next Gen/Millennial Leaders will lead in integrating body mind heart and spirit in artful, passionate ways to foster health on our planet.
  • InterPlayce in Oakland will celebrate its 3rd leap year birthday! Which one is that?
  • InterPlay will play more online.
  • And here is a wild dream. InterPlayers will rest. How? Because rest is vital and we know how to play in reality’s great synchroniCity!

To support the dreams, I’m offering Mystic Tech: Stuff they don’t teach in Sunday School, Temple or P.E.  This online, yet personal way to learn and share body wisdom practices teaches more sophisticated practices that help to balance energy, attune vision, manifest dreams, and show up as artists. Subscribe to get emails at the Mystic Tech blog. I send gifts to those who do.

Letting go is easiest when we have space and time. Perhaps that’s why it is said, “The young shall dream new dreams, and the old shall see a mighty vision.” The middle-aged do well to hold on to each other through the great years of care-giving.  Yet, we dream, even if we get a little frozen as Shel Silverstein poem says in”Frozen Dream,” from  A Light in the Attic,

I’ll take the dream I had last night,
And put it in my freezer,
So someday long and far away,
When I’m an old grey greezer,
I’ll take it out and thaw it out,
This lovely dream I’ve frozen,
And boil it up and sit me down
And dip my old cold toes in.

Raise your wandt. What do you dream for 2012 or a future season? I’d love to know! Little dreams count!

The Spirit of InterPlay Awards

November 7, 2011

Drumrollllllll please!!!!!

On November 5th, 2011, at a festive San Francisco Bay Area Million Connections Fun-Draising Brunch celebrating InterPlay Outreach, we presented our 2011 Spirit of InterPlay awards to filmmaker and activist Katrina Browne and St. Mary’s Center which serves low-income seniors in the East Bay. We honor those who are making a world of difference using creativity and body wise smarts for social change!

st marys

Katrina Browne, 1998 Bay Area Life Practice Program participant, brought InterPlay to Boston, co-taught a Life Practice Program group and offered workshops on racial dynamics at the First International InterPlay conference in Nashville.  Katrina just moved to Washington DC and hopes to InterPlay there soon!

Katrina is Producer/Director of Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North, a documentary about her slave-trading ancestors, the hidden history of New England’s complicity in slavery, and questions of repair and reconciliation today. She met film co-director Juanita Browne in an InterPlay-inspired multicultural Women’s Performance Group.

Traces of the Trade premiered at Sundance in 2008, aired on PBS to reach over 1.5 million Americans, was nominated for an Emmy, and contributed to the Episcopal Church’s vote to atone for its role in slavery. Today, the Tracing Center on Histories and Legacies of Slavery creates heart-opening dialogue on issues of white privilege and the legacies of slavery.

Her award certificate read, “For your exceptional contribution to the world through your potent, creatively inspiring, and open-hearted film Traces of the Trade and your commitment to spreading its truth through unflagging outreach, education and relationship-building.”

Saint Mary’s Center and InterPlay Oakland have been friends for years. InterPlayers have engaged their board, staff, and community at many events. St. Mary’s believes in the arts, friendship, and people-led social change causing one InterPlaying social worker to say, “This is the first agency I’ve been in that was also a community!”

Thanks to a County of Alameda Mental Health Innovation Grant, three InterPlay leaders, Phil Porter, Coke Nakamoto and Connors McConville and St. Mary’s staff are offering low-income seniors activities in the winter shelter program and other settings.

We acknowledge Carol Johnson, executive Director for her wise, open-hearted, people friendly leadership over these years. The certificate presented to St. Mary’s read, “For providing heart-felt services to low-income seniors, families and pre-schoolers in the East Bay and for fully embracing the arts as a part of their ‘whole person’ approach to addressing the needs of their communities.”

Fundraising, grants, fees for Body Wisdom events help us strengthen connections among movements of people seeking the vision, energy and peace to get where they want to go in surprising, healing, creative. miraculous and world-changing ways.

Join us at an event or click here to play a part with your pocketbook.

Cynthia Winton-Henry

7th grade InterPlay rocks homeroom!

September 6, 2011

To avoid freaking out a real or inner 7th grader… offer  a) heaps of affirmation b) solid teaching techniques c) and a leader who can have fun.

Some lucky kids head into their bumpy teens with InterPlay’s power of affirmation, improvisational creativity and tools to claim body wisdom.

Stan Stewart Sawyer and Anita Bondi know. They InterPlayed with Susan Featro’s 7th Graders in Pennsylvania.

In Mumbai, India Ligia & Jaime da Fonseca enthrall teens in a School Orientation programme.

Come play, have fun and relax and get refreshed, renewed with more body spirit. Is this possible?

We enter the room with a lot of love, hope and excitement.  A room full of over 50 youngsters with eager eyes await us. They only know that it is the day for their Orientation Programme. What does it mean???? A lecture, or an interactive group discussion…….?  Something to orient them into what???? It surely cannot be play which is indoors in a school building.

We begin by centering ourselves and listening to our hearts as we close our eyes. Initially there are smiles and then like angels their bodies begin to smile from within. They love the singing gong!  It’s resounding sound starts the music in their hearts.

Warm up, stretch and yawn, they surely do and respond so easily and shake off all that they would like to, like leaves falling from the trees. Shake, Shake, Shake!!!! The loud sighs and sounds help them exform so easily.

What fun imagining we are kicking dry leaves (and just like Mother Earth transforms everything into manure) they also eagerly  spread the goodness around to each other and then to the rest of the world.  Even the quiet ones are slowly warming up to play.

Now begins the fun…. We walk slowly…… even slow is fast with youngsters as their world is on the move all the time. Each time we go at a slower pace and then…..  They love the still moments…… Some find it so difficult to close their eyes. Are they the shy ones or the scared ones? Maybe both, but with personal encouragement they give it a try and slowly begin to enjoy this world with closed eyes that helps them go on their inward journey.

…Their reflection after an experience of joyful connections with everyone is so deep as they go round connecting in a circular form. They realize how important it is to connect with all, even though our differences are great…. Their eyes open wide as they see possibilities of initiating connections in their families and friends circles. The experience is so profound, there is a loud request for MORE….

When we once asked some 12 year-old kids,” what do we gain by listening to our hearts?: what amazed us was the wisdom of one child that said,”  My  heart tells me what is the most loving thing to do in a situation.”  Another girl once said “My heart tells me how each time I can make a new beginning.”  This is truly how InterPlay is all about participating in a mystery, going to the unknown and evolving from there.

Story telling and babbling brings out a world of imagination and fun and allows us to get into their world. We all begin to dream together and get into each other’s world as our subconscious speaks.

Tired yet peaceful we lie down to rest, relax , refresh ourselves and allow our hand to dance, surrendering our spirits to our creator we now curl up and get into our bodies closer to our hearts and souls. The dance between body, mind and spirit has begun and will go on…….

Imgine InterPlay for homeroom, health, art, writing, as a way to help a project flow, to let go of stress so learning can happen!



Economics of Happiness = Localize Goods + Body + Spirit

August 1, 2011

InterPlay is a leader in the movement to enjoy life where we are, increase grace, connect with neighbors, and C E L E B R A T E creativity in all forms! Check out a new movie on changing our economy!

We appreciate your support for the 2011 group of 20 and 30 year old’s from around the world currently gathered in Oakland for Arts and Social Change: InterPlay for Next Gen Leaders. We are moving toward a future that embraces the body wisdom of the earth and one another in hopeful and inspired ways.

Want to know more about InterPlay’s approach to the Economics of Grace? Read this article by Phil Porter!

Find some InterPlay! If you can’t make it to a group, check out the Friday Virtual InterPlay Practice. Subscribe or unsubscribe anytime!

Improvisation is a Divine Love Thing

July 25, 2011

I spent the weekend in New Mexico with Richard Rohr and Cynthia Bourgeault learning about soul-stirring, heart opening, divine love in real people. How we find the real deal.

In ancient practice three actions lead to Great Love. 1) Let go. 2) Deeply welcome life. 3) In singular fullness, unite with self, other, all.

It hit me. Improvisation is the discipline of letting go. And, it’s hardest when we’re scared, stressed, or upset. In other words, most of the time.

But an improviser loves to play with life and ride it into the big “YES!”  An improviser will gladly flop if the payoff leads to making love with creation. This is why InterPlay is my playground, discipline, and where I feast on love for life.

Clinging is the opposite of letting go.  I need both dynamics to be human, but to get to Love, InterPlay sets up practices that build confidence in the flow of our own voice, moves, stories, connection, and self understanding. Incrementality!

Adult play gives us a “safe enough” place to follow and go with the materials of experience until we can do it for longer periods with all we encounter, even death. We discover we are alive, powerful, and that we are having fun!

In community we get strong enough to merge with a greater field that helps our social body heal from the bumps of daily life. What does this look like? A dance. A song. Drumming. A community sharing the quiet. When we point toward Something Bigger we touch ecstasy. Peace, joy, hope, laughter, tears return.

What is your discipline for letting go? Do you practice as a mover, a teller, a person with voice, breath and stillness?  Is it fun?

What if peace-making required more lovers and fewer problem solvers? Would you know how to play into love?

Are you ready for the disciplines of this strange age: learning to improvise and love? Come InterPlay! Maybe you are called to come learn lead it!

Depression is not funny

July 11, 2011

I once got in trouble in group therapy for cracking jokes about feeling bad. I was not the leader and it was the day I planned to leave the group. I don’t think the leader wanted me to go. Laughing at depression is a no-no when you are trying to learn how to actually be depressed.

I am sorry to say that I do get depressed (oddly sad, achy, grumpy, and sometimes worse). This is one of a myriad of reasons that InterPlay exists. I learned that certain behaviors empower my healthiest self  like creativity, movement, surprise, big bodied expression, goofing off, silliness, spontaneity, love, affection, truth-telling, and connecting with others and with life. As you can see I am as smart as a rat tracking the cheese.

The doc called my brand of depression dysthymia. a mild case of low serotonin…a bit of sluggish mental health immunity. This explains why I need a higher power to keep myself out of the ditch, why I need to take care of myself instead of wallow, why I need to dance and sing and make jokes about depression and everything else that gets to me, and why I am a ridiculously intent go-getter. When I’m unconscious I get seriously worked up–fueling adrenalin into my system instead of a good diet of creating, resting, and playing.

Am I ashamed about depression? No. I wish I didn’t have it, but disease does not define the soul, it only informs it.

Many who InterPlay are as shocked as I am that InterPlay is like getting a multi-vitamin booster shot. Playing with five core freedoms-1) movement 2) voice 3) telling stories 4) stillness 5) connection in a reasonably safe way is sneaky deep! Bad moods and rude attitudes shift. ITS CRAZY!

Of course you needn’t be depressed to benefit! Last week a guy came to my group for the first time, a scientist who was understandably dubious. After an hour he said, “I haven’t moved like that in I don’t know how long. I felt free. It’s just good for you!”

In Kansas City Devi Whetterer led a group and afterward Laird Schaub wrote about his first InterPlay experience on his Community and Consensus blog. Over a weekend, this community networker & group process consultant gleaned the power of o Slowing Down o Moving Consciously from Stress to Grace o Working with What’s in the Room o Being Brave with Strangers o Working Inside While Playing Outside o Trusting the Body’s Wisdom o Using Movement, Touch, and Voice as the Vocabulary of Emotional Expression. He wrote

“I think that Interplay is powerful because, as a culture, we are starved for emotional authenticity, and highly inhibited in our bodies. (There are plenty of exceptions, of course, but you get the point.) Interplay tries to open both of these doors, giving us a taste of what fuller expression might feel like. Though the context of the workshop is as benign as possible, we got a glimpse of what this might look like if we approached problem-solving this way, where our voices and bodies were fully welcomed at the table.”

Someone said, “The opposite of depression is not happiness. It’s movement.” I like that–not feeling stuck in my disease or the culture’s. Making art, telling little truths, resting, singing, connecting, putting my energy into what works is why InterPlay got an innovation grant to offer wellness to homeless seniors, why its part of a social change strategy for groups and individuals who rely too much on adrenalin and not enough on good looks body wisdom. And, it’s why helping professionals are adopting this fun, wonderful tool set for self and client care in The InterPlay Way. 

It turns out play is medicine. All the smart people are saying so. And that’s pretty funny.

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