Day Two in Bangalore, India we shared InterPlay at Vimochana Forum for Women’s Rights, a center working towards gendered justice and reaffirming the ethic of the feminine. The center is dedicated to making violence against women unthinkable. I went with InterPlayers Francoise from India, and Cassie and Trish Delaney from Australia. In the open, clean courtyard my eye rested on a metal bowl of red marigolds afloat in water. On the walls were beautiful African masks, spirit ancestors, and in the conference room library a poster with words from a Native American chief.
We sat and had coffee. One of the founders, just back from New York, shared the history of the center that started in 1979. I recalled that that was the year I married, started seminary, and met Phil.
She told of how the women’s movement in India arose from fighting against the outright violence against women. I thought of my dream of a memorial for victims of domestic violence and my own journey to renounce violence.
She spoke of women murdered, burned, of suicides and the work of the women’s courts. Then, the workshop participants started arriving. One group from a village took three bus rides to get there. Translation made teaching slow but meaningful. There were giggles as women encountered InterPlay’s practices and we began connecting, connecting, connecting. I taught the five essential freedoms: to move, have our voice, connect, do nothing, and tell our story and the five elemental movements of healthy interaction: to lead, follow, blend, change, and reconnect. At the end the women who traveled the farthest encircled us with their spontaneous dancing and we spontaneously followed them in movement, laughter and spirit.
One young woman, 17 years old, took us to her heart. She would have easily become a friend had there been opportunity. I’ll never forget seeing her stand before the poster of the Native American chief with Trish asking about each word and its meaning as she wrote it down, words that spoke of refusing to speak of God if doing so created violence, oppression, and division. Observing Trish’s gratitude I took it in as a deep meditation on the cross cultural support, wisdom, and friendship that can be sparked in such brief moments. Once again I realized, it is not only what InterPlay does in the moment, it is what results from InterPlay that is so profound- the spontaneous life, healing, and humanity. InterPlay offers sneaky-deep, homeopathic, social medicine with surprisingly powerful outcomes… stuff that our greatest spiritual teachers want for us.
Adrienne Rich said, “Violence is the failure to connect.” This is how InterPlay serves as peace-making. Anytime we make ease-filled, rich connections and foster chances for people to notice, share and celebrate the most everyday truths, we strengthen the underlying web that fosters harmony, innovation, and resource sharing. We learn things about each other we never knew. We bond. Violence becomes less and less desirable. Peace rises up in families, non-profits, organizations, on the street when this happens regularly.
For many such simple practices like InterPlay takes tremendous courage. We have good reasons to fear being open, direct, and full of life. That is why the practice of InterPlay in community is so useful. Giving people regular chances to rediscover on a body level that it might be OK to “come out” and play, work, be, and create with others is an increasing need in a world of anonymous, virtual, and isolating practices. Amazingly, those with the least to lose-the hopeless, the sick, the homeless, and the imprisoned are often quickest to respond to InterPlay. Courage to live is something they already practice every day.
InterPlay is offering elegant simple tools to more and more people all around the world. In India we shared InterPlay with paraplegics, elders, women with extreme depression, people with multiple sclerosis, teen women just out of prison, village people, school children, and leaders of NGO’s and corporations. There were so many open doors thanks to Prashant and our friends Bobby and Sampoorna.
Masankho Banda taught InterPlay in Frankfurt. Phil taught in Sydney and Adelaide Australia, and Nadia taught InterPlay in Brazil at the World Social Forum. Friends in Thailand, Japan, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Montana, and France ask if InterPlay is happening where they are… Together we are making a difference. Stay tuned.
InterPlay in the news:
Clergy merge body, mind, soul in class by Yonat Shimron
Meditation – The Dance of Life by Life Positive
Dealing With Rape by Sanaya Chavda
Find these stories and more on the InterPlay Hot News page!
From Nadia in Brazil:
The InterPlay experience at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
I would like to share my experience leading InterPlay – art, multiculturalism, social change and cultures of peace at the World Social Forum in Brazil on January 27 and 29. The first day was at Faculdade QI College in Porto Alegre with 25 teachers, 2 computer technicians, a visual artist and 2 musicians – percussion and guitar. We had a wonderful experience, a very playful morning and in about 2 minutes all people were already feeling free to play. The second day I lead a multigenerational and multicultural group at the World Social Forum Youth Camp in Nova Hamburgo connecting people from Uruguai, Brazil and Argentina with mother earth and a lot of fun in the middle of the mud! It´s amazing how InterPlay simple forms can lead people to connect easily. As a performer with extensive training for more than 20 years, I recognize that simple forms, clear comands and incremental steps are very important to encourage people to let go the barriers and simply play. I am very happy to be part of this International community of people engaged in transformation through art. It´s a blessing to get to know people like Masankho Banda who came to Brazil and opened people´s heart with his wisdom using InterPlay forms. I understand now that whatever you do, it is always about leading people connecting heart to heart. The responsibility of starting InterPlay in Brazil is certainly something that I am aware of. I will always do my best to respect the work that has already been built by so many people and specially Cynthia and Phil my gratitude for your effort and dedication over so many years. InterPlay in Brazil is growing step by step and with this I am also growing because my main motivation is self development and the happiness of having more and more people also into a path of love, integrity and hope of a better world. Read some news from the World Social Forum official website