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
cynthia@interplay.org


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!


Inner Peace

April 25, 2011

The magic of the soul is spontaneous. Inner peace arises from this source. We may only need to rest in silence, plant a flower, let breath give way to song, or give our heart flight in dance.

Mystics and sages have said all along– “If you let this presence settle in your bones, and allow the soul freedom, to love, to dance, to sing, to praise, there will be inner peace today.” Teresa of Avila

I am grateful to Amanda and LAVA for bringing Teresa of Avila’s words to us. We stood in a circle with them at InterPlayce holding light and drinking in this song. Find out more about LAVA touring from New Zealand and their new CD “Dream Love Dare” at MySpace.

Peace to you. Know that if you dance, sing, praise, love, you do it for more than yourself. You are a pulse in the Great Heart felt by everyone.


How to Dodge Suffering When It’s Toooo Much!

April 11, 2011

When Penny Mann had breast cancer she got tired of noticing everything. She was known as the queen of savoring but chemotherapy ruined it. Pain sucks. She needed to leave pain alone. Noticing and exformation didn’t help.  She needed new practices. Reflecting with her, I saw her move her center to a spot above her body.

Dissociation has a place! Personally, I believe it’s a wonderful part of body wisdom. When is it the right time to distance yourself? Detach? Distract? Die to the moment to get back your life? We humans have amazing tricks up our unconscious sleeves for dealing with hard stuff.

Recently, my athletic seventy nine-year-old dad was clearing a mountain trail when he took a bad fall downhill. When he “came to” he had a banged up face and NO memory of the fall. How cool is that? His body’s grace program eclipsed the trauma saying, “No need to remember that!” When friends found him they fed him a piece of homemade pie and drove him home “just to be safe.” Home safe! Hallelujah!

In InterPlay we spend time remembering the great things about being in a body. We reintegrate body, mind, heart, and spirit, and attach velcro to grace experiences. We remember how to sing, dance, speak freely, be still, and intimately connect to the real world. Joy awakens and thrives as we relax our fixer-upper mentalities and, like children, delight in creativity.

Many of us suffering from depression, disease, physical or interpersonal pain, get relief and learn the secrets of what our body wants, simple hungers too easily overridden in this mechanistic era. Communal creativity boosts energy, leavens suffering, and then gives us pie and a ride home, too.

But sometimes suffering is still too much. What then? How sensitive are you? What are your limits for dealing with suffering?

To somatically embrace the world is not the only choice for consciously embodied people. You might need to know when to dim your somatic lights, pull back from political and social banquet tables and “drop connection” as an act of faith in something greater at work. You might need to focus on beauty even during the horrors. It might even be your great service.

Eastern religions address suffering with practice-able tools. Recognizing that “suffering exists,” the Buddha found meditation to be a prime way to alleviate rather than resist suffering. Yogi’s, Tibetans, ascetic monks and indigenous shamans give lifetimes to the body’s hidden wisdom using it to intervene on behalf of the suffering of others.

In InterPlay we use moment-to-moment practice-able ways that allow us to play with breath, moving or voice to activate kinesthetic imagination. With conscious intention we can

shift beyond our immediate body and grow big as spirit,

momentarily pull or shake pain out of our body,

shift attention  onto something other than our suffering,

get all the way in our body using breath and grace-makers,

cultivate enjoyable trances other than pain trances.

As a sensitive body with low-grade depression, I use numerous tricks to function well: service to others, laughter, celebration, dimming and relaxing my sensations, telling my village the truth about how I’m doing, getting sleep, seeing a doctor, massage, taking medications, eating well, getting absorbed in art-making, asking or help and feedback.

And, in the long run, I honor, and dance with many unavoidable sources of suffering, the d words: death and dying, disaster, depression, decay, disease, disability, dread, despair, disorder, diagnoses, drugs, drunks, danger, downers, and darkness to name a few.  I’ve learned it doesn’t work for me to disguise my underlying malaise. Talking about this with my husband, a hospice chaplain, we created this limerick.

“The feeling you don’t want to feel

feels like falling into an abyss.

You don’t want to feel it

because YOU can’t heal it.

And that’s the way it is…”

To this end, I am powerlessness. Accepting that I can’t play with it all and survive, I am grateful to belong to something bigger, wherever two or more are gathered and serve pie. I am glad for my grounding in a sense of a higher power that holds me in the Great Web even when disaster strikes.

Do you suffer? Step one is to learn to suffer just enough that you don’t make it worse. Step Two: Learning that you are not asked to suffer to your own detriment. You are not asked to revisit past sufferings to get better, or to forcefully revisit past suffering on others. You are not even asked NOT to suffer.

You are not required to walk on rocks or bear unnatural burdens. You may do all of this. but it is not required. You and I are only asked to be wise, to care for each other and ourselves, and as we can create life.

Life wants to play us, even after earthquakes, in prison, and when we lose everything. While we are still here, we can find ways to alleviate suffering, starting with our own. Sometimes we use the great tools of detachment and dissociation. It’s the wisdom of the body.

Come InterPlay, even if you feel lousy, especially if you feel lousy. And if that’s too much, let us know and we’ll dance on your behalf!  Leave me your thoughts about how you dance with suffering.

For more thoughts on the soft side of body wisdom visit me at Mystic Tech: Things that They Didn’t Teach in Sunday School, Temple, or PE.


Heard About Sheila?

March 14, 2011
I would never ever call Sheila Collins a senior, except that her wisdom, clarity, and courage in InterPlay and life reveal unsurpassed wisdom. She’s one of the world’s grandmothers whose purpose is “to dance with everything.”

It’s true, Sheila has InterPlayed almost as long as Phil and me. When we met her and Rich Citrin, her equally playful, smart husband, they ran a counseling center in Texas. She’d left academia and written a book, Stillpoint: The Dance of Selfcaring, Self Healing having already performed in film, onstage, and with a Jewish Dance Community.  She’d played along side famous and ordinary teachers, served on boards, won grants, amassed expertise, and never stopped dancing even when two children died from AIDS and breast cancer. (Read more in What the Body Wants.)

Sheila could have done anything. Her vitae is intimidating, although she never once intimidated me. Why did she look at my picture on a bulletin board on that flyer about Body Wisdom and call me up.

Her belief in InterPlay flies beyond love of creativity or call to offer healing.  Sheila knows that our arts are the best way to promote “noble causes.” The arts move us into action. We become the thing we desire and can no longer suppress our desire for it. Her life and role are visionary.

In Texas, Sheila helped bring InterPlay to women in prison and prison to women on the outside. Now in Pittsburgh, she leads an intergenerational performance group, Wing and a Prayer, that takes InterPlay to after school programs, seniors, hospitals, multicultural gatherings, therapist groups, universities, stages, and intergenerational community centers. With her, InterPlay Pittsburgh has fostered a vibrant community of colleagues, male and female leaders of organizations, non-profits,  classes and religious communities, who now share an artistic language that bridges cultures and religions. Just play?

Last week journalist Margaret Smykla wrote a fantastic story in the Post-Gazette about ways that the Pittsburgh InterPlay group is teaching adults to play again using music and storytelling to promote healing, self-discovery, and change. Link to it here.

Sheila serves on the Body Wisdom board and supports InterPlayce. She remodeled and shepherds the InterPlayce five star condo that functions both as vacation rental and InterPlayer landing spot.

She blogs, shares a newsletter, plans to publish a new book, and has begun her next InterPlay Life Practice Group because it is the most powerful thing you can do or teach. I am pretty sure she stays up some nights thinking of how to support InterPlayers and has a couple of great ideas moving though her.

Sheila is dancing everywhere with EVERYTHING! That is why I am dedicating next Friday’s participation in global Dance Anywhere Day to Sheila!

Thanks for inspiring us and showing us the way to InterPlay every day!

To participate in Dance Everywhere Day March 18th see http://www.danceanywhere.org/event/140


8 secret powers useful when change is afoot (no pun intended)

February 28, 2011

Phil Porter, Cynthia Winton-Henry photo: Carly Rosin

Somewhere in the midst of improvising with body and soul, listening to life, and honing 26 core InterPlay practices Phil Porter performed 8 of our key tools as a set. We were in North Carolina at the beach. He got up in front of thirty folks and the 8 tools flew out in a fun, powerful, body intellectual lecture in Phil’s inimitable style! Today, wherever people lead the life practice program these 8 tools form the foundation, the bones of InterPlay. When change is afoot they help us navigate.

Noticing any changes in the world?

The 8 tools are part of a larger set of 26 core elements. When people think of InterPlay they often reference forms like sighing, shaking, Babbling, Hand-to-Hand Contact, the Warm-up, Walking, Stopping & Running, One-Hand Dances, Toning, and one breath songs. Yet, it’s the 8 tools that are the backbone organizing our beautiful, brainy beings to be able to amplify and enjoy embodied thought, movement, breath, voice, speech and connection. What are they?

The 8 INTERPLAY BODY WISDOM TOOLS ARE….

1) Easy Focus or… how to lighten a stifling, serious look on life.

2) Body Data, Body Knowledge, Body Wisdom or how to catch  on to what’s right under your nose.

3) Internal/External Authority or how to honor your knowing even when you can’t articulate it.

4) The Physicality of Grace, or how to become a grace operative, amplifying what brings healthy energy in a crazy world.

5) Exformation, or how to find and let loose the wisdom inside you in creative, easy, and mind-blowing ways.

6) Incrementality or how to be an overnight success by being in your body, taking a step at a time, and celebrating more.

7) Body Wisdom Practices (aka Spiritual Disciplines), or how to use fun, ingenious practices to have more of what you want.

8) Affirmation. Affirmation. Affirmation or, how affirming others makes a world of difference.

On the printed page these 8 tools are just words. It’s when you actually play with them on a body level that they make sense. Would you be shocked that this is the stuff that 1000 graduates have found encouraging, helpful, and life changing?! Nothing replaces doing InterPlay and joining the real web for which your body was designed.

If you are curious to know more about the 8 tools, leave a comment and we’ll send you a free pdf of Phil’s book, Having It All: Body Mind Heart and Spirit Together Again At Last.

Readers say: “Master-teachers Porter and Winton-Henry have discovered a new way of “being” in the world. This book is foundational in an understanding of the philosophy which they both teach and live. I recommend it to anyone seeking greater integration and wholeness in their lives.”

“Phil outlines exactly what it takes to “heal the split” between body, mind and spirit. I have followed these suggestions, and they really work. For those of you who are looking for ways to improve and/or heal your connection with yourself and others, this is truly a winning way to go.”

Or, better yet, get thee to a Life Practice Program, now in its 17th year. If you did it ages ago, come again. Long time InterPlayers revel in the new developments and the price break. In the next few months the Secrets of InterPlay and the Life Practice Program will come to MN, Kansas, the UK in May, and to Oakland for Next Gen Leaders 18-30. The secrets are out! Come play. Change is afoot.


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