admitted we were powerless…

June 13, 2011

Ever been in utter overwhelm, down-on-your-knees-I-give-upness? You may have discovered that the first step is to admit it.

I am always glad when I get to that place. Why? Because spaciousness soon follows.

I don’t know about you but I find a lot of life overwhelming. National budgets for instance. The weather. My inherited privileged position. Parenting. Being parented. Cooking dinner. Insidious nonverbal messages which tell me to eat more, do more, buy more and to feel bad when I do. Crazy. Over the last few weeks I admitted it. “I am deeply disturbed.”

Yet, body wisdom has other advice. There is another way. Slow down, touch stillness, rest, and if  lucky get with people with arms wide open to mystery, people who sing or dance with abandon to remember who they really are, or at least readily admit they are not in charge. When this happens answers can arrive without force.

Can we do something like this on a wider collective level, welcome that spaciousness that begins with admitting and opening the body to something greater?

We need to allow room for it. It won’t come with a 5 year plan. Oddly, it comes most quickly when we “hook up” our strangely wonderful dance-song-spiritbody.

Yeah, this still surprises me, too. They get it in India. But, it’s a hard sell in a country founded by super serious guys who tried to talk, write, and decree everybody be free the same as them, with NO DANCE on Sundays.

The body knows best how to get to greater wisdom. That is why Phil and I cooked up the InterPlay Secrets of Effective Groups: “bodies, not machines.” When groups can shake out some rampant expectations, take some deep breaths around the fury of activity, learn what the body wants, and let it communicate– we see something new. Most of the time they don’t even have to dance to see it.

How do I know? I watch and listen to the body. People feel better. They start to like each other. In their powerlessness, space opens. They get some power back.

Phil and I will share the Secrets for Effective Groups in Oakland and also in Berkeley at the Pacific School or Religion this summer. When we are in your area we’d love to share them with your work or community.

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.”

InterPlay in the Jailhouse

July 20, 2009

First if all, Wednesday, July 22 at 1pm PST, Phil and I are guests on GREEN VISIONS radio program hosted by Carolyn North. We’ll be talking about how dancing and singing and creativity connect us to each other and our world. Its all about human bodies playing! To hear the show live, go to Click on GREEN TALK NETWORK; then click GREEN VISIONS. To hear this show, and all shows archived, go to Carolyn’s website (The show will be up by Friday, July 24).

An expression of this, came this week from Laveria Bogan, an InterPlay leader from Texas. She shares her own story of how InterPlay snuck up on her, sent her to jail (so to speak) and changed her life.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times Sheila Collins asked me to get involved in InterPlay’s Jailhouse Ministry.  I told her ‘no’ each time she asked.  She would always respond with how beneficial my presence would be.  I still said ‘no’.

Well, during our last Leadership Training in Austin, I just happened to be in the car with Sheila and Lila.  Well, Sheila saw an opportunity and she and Lila actually double-teamed me.  They came right out and told me that they needed me because I’m black!  I couldn’t believe my ears!  Because I’m black?  I’ve worked with a lot of people of various ethnic persuasions, and none of them have ever come right out and told me that they wanted me to do something because I’m black!  After I got over my shock,  I was really impressed!

I said to myself. ” These women are special.  They’re honest and straightforward.”  I was really impressed.  I already liked Sheila and Lila, and when they told me that they needed me because of my blackness I knew we would be friends for life.  And now, I can see what they meant.  My blackness has made it possible for the other women who are black to talk about some of the things that really bother them.

Needlesstosay, the Dallas Jailhouse has been an incredibly healing and transformative experience for me. I’m not nearly as angry as I used to be.  I didn’t know how angry I was until some of the women started to tell their stories.  Suddenly, I could relate to what they were saying, and I wasn’t angry anymore.  When they released their anger, I also released mine. Lila and Sheila said that my presence would make a difference, and I suppose it has. The biggest difference has happened within me.  But most importantly, it has helped me to see the transformative power of InterPlay in action.

I’ve been ‘playing’ with Lila and my ‘jailhouse’ playmates for over a month now. I plan to continue to do so. I love all of the women and we all look forward to seeing each other every Monday.  We ‘play’ together for two hours.  The time goes by so fast!  When it’s over we all wonder where the time went.  Everyone leaves with a smile on their faces.  Sometimes they leave singing the lyrics of a song that I made up.  I’ve grown so much.  The women have given me so much.  They’re beginning to feel safe enough to reveal their true ‘inner’ selves to us.  They are also beginning to share their God-given gifts and talents with us and to share some of their stories.  I am so excited and blessed to have been chosen by a Higher Power to be a part of this wonderful organization.

A thought came to me in the night that one of the reasons that InterPlay is so powerful is that it gives the women a ‘voice’ that expresses itself through ‘play’.  Yeah, that’s what it does for me!

Take care,


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