“Let my history then be a gate unfastened to a new life And not a barrier to my becoming”
–David Whyte, from Solace: the art of asking a beautiful question
Welcome to The Embodied Work’s first newsletter. As I write, vivid memories float to the surface—remembrances of the newsletter I published for my dance company long ago. What stirs most in me at this moment is the felt sense of fun and excitement that the creative process evokes. And, if I am to be truly transparent with you, there is a bit of a curious trepidation circling within me as well.
Ahhh…how new ventures evoke risk, and risk evokes all of the above. And, as I often am heard saying, “Is it possible to hold it all?”
Since the launch of my website the first of May, I have been enjoying the afterglow of a process that fueled a deeply personal commitment to both my self and my life work. I still find the internet an interesting phenomenon though, and so it is both with delight and a sense of disbelief when I hear from people around the country. But…I’m just a shy little Salt Lake City gal!
Astrologically speaking—Jupiter entered Virgo in August—it been a good time to pay attention to the details and nitty gritty of things. Hence, I have returned to the website, editing and fine tuning things.
If curiosity grabs you, take a look. There is a new blog, Paring it Down to the Bone: Contemplations on a 5 day Solo Desert Retreat. I have also re-written my psychotherapy page with the hopes that it represents more specifically and clearly the therapeutic and life practice I offer.
I also changed the top photo on the “Meet Dana” page. Having just returned from the La Plata mountain range in Colorado where we did a technically interesting peak to peak ridge traverse, I found the new photo taken there to reflect Joseph Campbell’s nudgy invitation: “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” I believe he speaks to a “hearty yes” that is deep, full and forever widening.
I am in the process of adding some new pages as well: newsletter postings, work related articles and creative writings exploring the landscape of the human heart. All of these support my will and desire to write more, as well as share with others, in my own way, what I have taken in, mulled over, and integrated through decades of exploration—an exploration both self-guided and mentored under the wisdom and inspiration of a wide variety of awesome teachers—of which, perhaps, Life itself being the most poignant.
As summer hotly fades into fall, the bounty of harvest season has been upon us. How grateful I am for the large fruitful garden I share with a dear friend, and the abundance of exquisite food gracing my table every day. And of course, I can’t forget the girls who are such disciplined practitioners, sitting nearly everyday on their “cushions” of straw and proudly showing off the result of their hard work. Eggs and vegetables—The Girls and Greens Grocer is how I announce myself when I drop off food to friends and neighbors.
Harvest season also evokes an interesting paradox. The moment of the gardens’ fullest expression gives way to its decline and dying away. What a great teaching, pointing us towards sensing into our own deep embodiment of life’s natural rhythm.
May the coming on of fall be full of harvest for you, whether the harvest is food, love, adventure or simply quiet cooling nights. Be well!
Dancing in Desert Light
May 26 – June 1, 2016
Sitting on Desert Ground
June 13 – 19, 2016
September 12 – 18, 2016
Beginning October 21, 2016
Creativity and the Healing of Our Grieving Hearts
February 9-April 26, 2016
For the last 15 years or so, I have taken myself into the desert for some solo time. Each retreat has a different flavor to it, depending on what is happening in my life. Regardless what takes me there or what I bring with me, I always find the stillness and silence of this beautiful retreat spot opening my body, heart and mind in a way that nothing else does. Simply, I need the intimate relationship with this landscape to allow for the fullest expression of myself.
This year, as one of my practices, I decided to write. I took a wonderful book along, How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice, by Pat Schneider. The book itself has a particular significance, as it was given to me by a woman who had recently been there on a group retreat. Out of my daily practice of reading and writing came this blog: Paring it Down to the Bone: Contemplations on a 5 day Solo Desert Retreat.
In coming back home to the city, I found retreat engendered my personal practice of writing. This has been a blessing, as it allows me to uncover my self and enter the mystery of “this one precious life” in a way that lights me on fire, as well as tethers me to the cellular memory of my desert wanderings and contemplations.
Desert retreating is indeed an illuminating, calming, intensifying, grounding, quiet, and awe inviting experience. It is also quite ordinary in its extraordinary nature. If it calls to you, heed the call.
For the last 13 years, fall has marked the return of women’s group. After having the summer off, we gather refreshed—rekindling our will and desire—to begin again a process that has deeply impacted many women over the years.
Fall is also a time when we bring in new members. We never quite know what our personal intentions or group work will be for the year until we all gather, and together uncover the territory of our desired exploration. What we do know is that this process is one of deep commitment, edgy and illuminating, deeply focused and full of moments of grace.
Together we practice—“To know oneself is to know the world”. We begin each group gathering by settling into the silent still place within, readying ourselves for the exploration of: holding onto ourselves and the group simultaneously—“owning one’s seat”; direct, empathic and honest communication; staying with a process whether easeful or pushed to our edge; exploring both the personal and group conscious/unconscious process through dialogue, creativity, and embodiment—asking the question, “What is actually happening here?” Perhaps most deeply, we engage with each other in a way that allows for being in intimate relationship and all that brings to the circle.
This group process is unique in a particular way. My role is one of a “supervisor” to the group, guiding and containing it as members explore their ownership and direction of our process. It is the group’s group! Hence, our group style is immensely interactive, allowing for a beautifully fluid and fiery process where we all grow and evolve under the insight and depth, as well as the stumbling and vulnerability, facilitated by every person present.
We meet Wednesday evenings for two hours, October through mid-June. Two weekend retreats, both around our start and finish dates, give us time to dive more deeply into our practice and engaged intimacy with each other. Learn more about group work on my website.
We are open for new members this year! We begin gathering October 21. If you have interest in joining us, or are curious and in need of more information, feel free to contact me: [email protected]
THE LANDSCAPE OF THE HUMAN HEART
As mentioned above, I have been writing as a practice, a way to voice the singing of my heart. Perhaps you may find a resonant tune somewhere in this small offering, following the thread of its voice home.
Readiness of Heart
There lies out in front of me a woven grass mat, holding the small bottled shape of an old geometrically painted vessel—those ancient hands that shaped dreams into form; curious hands drinking in the desert drenched sun, feeling out across the horizon like sunlight draping itself over the landscape—and contemplating what?
What did those hands see in the red brightness of a stark and yet fertile landscape, where canyons wind their way into the heart that cannot be hidden?
I don’t know what readiness of heart is and yet I can feel the fine pulses of pinyon juniper memory loosening the hardened crystalline tears tucked behind my sightless eyes.
I know its presence though, because sometimes my heart no longer forms itself within the shape of my body but leans outward, filling space as if it knew it could pour itself open and find no end to its subtle warm voice.
Newsletter and updates
What Others are Saying
Dana is an intuitive and heart-centered facilitator who is highly skilled in guiding women in living an authentic life.