InterPlay and Miraculous Weight Loss

December 7, 2009

I am pretty sure that someday I will write an essay on the InterPlay miracle stories about Cathy Ann Beaty, Susan Pudelek, and others.  Here’s one about miraculous InterPlay “weight” loss…

Miracle on Carroll and 4th Streets: Huge Woman Slims Way Down, Then Naturally Expands
Reported by Kathryn Sparks of Washington, DC

During the weekend of October 1-4, 2009 a huge woman was caught playing in 2 beautiful locations of the festive village of Takoma Park, Maryland.  The story goes that she was taking part in a variety of secret activities at a church called Seekers and quite by accident realized later that she had lost about 65 lbs of weight over the course of just a few days.  At the time of this interview, the woman (who shall remain anonymous) said that a good friend of hers had told her it would eventually happen but that she was skeptical.  She also said that she didn’t think it would happen so dramatically.  Upon reflection however, she realized that in actual fact she had taken incremental steps all along to get to this point.  During my discussion with her she cited “easy focus, body wisdom, and looking for the good” as major steps in the weight loss program, though noticing herself instead of critiquing herself was also a key factor in the transformation.

Apparently there were 15 witnesses of the miracle, but since the whole group was playing together, i.e. having fun, she didn’t really stand out in the group as someone who needed much help.  In her own words, she says “I can’t believe how light I feel: tingly, buoyant, alive, and energetic.  It’s such an amazing feeling that I’m not quite sure if I need sleep or if I’m hungry.”  Clearly, her new body-spirit, or coherence (as it is sometimes called), will take some getting used to but she says she is really looking forward to the challenge.  When asked about this cryptic “challenge” she merely laughed and said something about not being as afraid of bears as she once was.

The woman’s history might provide some clues as to how the weight was gained in the first place.  An independent source told me that she comes from a good family of people who have worked hard for change and goodness in the world, but that there was still some lack in her upbringing.  I also discovered that in her 20s she dealt with an illness that claimed most of her energy for that decade of her life.  I learned that the dead weight consisted of trying to do things the “right” way, carrying heavy loads of responsibility, and an obsession with “figuring things out” disguised as endless time and energy spent on discernment and “call.”  In addition to this I also discovered that a major source of her pain and suffering was an excessive dependence on others’ opinions of her, and she readily admitted that she is not proud of this.

The woman, entirely self-actualized at the time of our discussion, was practically beaming and happy to talk about the change.  “My weight was really a habit, even addiction, of contracting and playing small in the world.  It’s ironic to me that playing small actually made me huge but that getting this weight off has allowed me to naturally expand into my full self.  Granted, the habits are pretty ingrained and might be easy to slip back into, but I am hopeful.”  When asked about this hope and what she will do when she falls into the old habits, the woman talked about exformation and laughter as important spiritual practices she intends to engage in frequently to ward off the demons.  She noted several changes made already which signify to her that she’s on the right path: unsubscribing from numerous do-gooder email lists, eating only part of a pint of ice cream instead of the whole thing, confidence in her abilities and increased satisfaction in her work, which now seems fun.

Reported with deep gratitude to:
Tom, Ginny, Kate, Carol, Mary, Mary, Amy, Sarah, Hank, Del, Sharyn, Bernadette, Laura, Tricia, Sheri, Phil, Cynthia – and in memory of Karen Blomberg.


The Tools of InterPlay have been lifting spirits and lightening loads for twenty years. As you head into your holidays do what one 83-year-old InterPlayer did on Thanksgiving. Instead of over-indulging, she took time to dance and lay still. Her body needed it so much more than sugar, carbs, and alcohol. Check out Dance: The Sacred Art: The Joy of Movement as Spiritual Practice from Skylight Paths Publishing. Better yet, get thee to InterPlay in DC, Sydney, Mumbai, Kalamazoo, or at the mothership…InterPlayce in Oakland.

Epilogue to story: There was one last thing that the woman really wanted to say to those who might be reading this article and considering playing, especially on a Sunday.  “My dear Dad, a Presbyterian minister, called me when I got home from the weekend to tell me he had met someone that knew about me. When I observed that it was World Communion Sunday he asked if I had served communion in my capacity as an elder of the church I attend.  I said that I had not even gone to my church today but instead had been dancing, making music, resting and telling stories. Somewhat dismayed at my answer, Dad asked me to explain this to him since he is a Calvinist through and through.  I said to him, Dad, it’s not in your world view, but just trust me…I went to church today.”

The Wisdom of Crowds

June 16, 2009

Mass Movements are popping up.

These are especially powerful when they exhibit random, purposeless joy. YouTubes of 4,000 dancers at Victoria Station, a mob of dancers in Japan’s Shinjuku District, and a recent release of a giddy dance erupting to “I got to be unstoppable,” started by a guy on a hill at the Sasqutch Music Festival, are sparking enthusiastic viewership.  It’s contagious stuff.

My alma mater, UCLA sponsored the largest student-organized philanthropic event on the West Coast, the eighth annual Dance Marathon. An LA Times article said, “726 sponsored dancers (along with 1,250 ‘moralers’) busted moves for a solid and sometimes grueling 26 hours…Emotions rose as the kids from Project Kindle and One Heartland (sleep-away camps for HIV-positive children) bravely got up on stage and told their stories. Things reached a fever pitch as the dancers slid into the ‘hour of power’ — the last 60 minutes, when all feet were on deck — singing along to Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and rocking out to Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a Prayer,’… Some were crying, some laughing, but all moving until the clock struck 1 p.m. When it was all over, the sweaty, 2,000-plus collective sat down together and the dance marathon steering committee held up signs to reveal the total amount raised — $362,742. Dance, dance revolution, indeed.”

Movement is no longer mere expression. It’s a form of community activism that is beginning to influence how we organize ourselves. Those who know how to incorporate body wisdom into group dynamics are taking the lead as we gradually move from old models of cog-in-the-wheel actions to an era focused on the development and exchange of knowledge – a knowledge society. Michael Wimmer, Director of EDUCULT, Institute for the Mediation of Arts and Sciences in Vienna, shares that “The ‘knowledge society’ requires competencies such as quick perceptivity, planning competencies, convincing presentation and negotiation skills, and the social and emotional know-how to behave adequately in a multi-cultural environment.” Sounds like InterPlay’s skill set to me.

I am thrilled that InterPlay is part of this grand evolution. InterPlayers are beginning to understand the best ways for body wisdom to guide us to our highest good. If joy were the only outcome it would be worth it. But when I check out the growing world of InterPlay online, I know something much bigger is at work. If you check InterPlay’s website, you’ll see that this movement is widespread, and there are some wonderful tales being told.

Mass movements need to be smart. That’s why we’re testing an InterPlay community development toolkit workshop at InterPlayce this week. Wheeeeeeee. I’ll keep you posted.

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