...change...

We're all being asked to change a lot, aren't we?

COVID has disrupted our routines and expectations about the ways we assumed life should be.

Social uprisings have sparked us to question -- some for the first time, some for the thousandth time, some in more precise ways -- what our country is all about.

Whatever we've built our 'economy' upon seems awfully fragile. (Perhaps knowing the Greek roots of economy would invite us to a more enlightened viewpoint...'taking care of one's house, one's own'...and 'one's house' and 'one's own' could be as large as the planet, the universe, THE ALL.)

Maybe you're inviting yourself to change in ways that are important for you. Many of us in the VITALITY-circle are too.

Change can be difficult.

Change can be wonderful too, as we discover there are new possibilities for how you and I could choose to live on this planet.

How to navigate such change? Especially when change can be hard, unnerving, too much?

I take time to watch the flowers, and ask them to teach me. And then I listen. Maybe with a cup of tea.

It is the lazy, slow life that leads to wisdom, my college scripture teachers used to remind. Shepherds became wise prophets with wild rap-like poems that shattered the hum-drum expectations of the ways everyone expected life to be. How did they do it? How did shepherds -- considered by many to be a disgusting, low-wage-earning job in the ancient world -- do it? How could they discover ways through the hum-drum lies of the empire, the 'shipwreck of society' as Thomas Merton called it and urged more people to swim away from it?

I've never been a shepherd, though as I imagine it, such a profession offers a lot of time watching the grass grow, their animals munching so leisurely...the slow life.

Indeed, we get the word 'amen' from shepherding. Once ancient nomadic shepherds found a patch of land where their animals would thrive for awhile, they would drive in their tent-stakes, stay awhile. A relief!

'Amen' is a Hebrew word that means 'I drive in my tent-stake!'

I'm grateful for so many of you who replied to last week's email and shared who you will be in 2021, 2022 . . . your own inner resolving to find a patch of inner territory with which to flourish, to grow.

May we too become so wise as to watch the grass, the flowers grow. And may such watching, such listening lead us to wisdom, to the discoveries that invite important change, now and into the deep future.

Peace, friends!
Brian Shircliff
program director

 


who will you be in 2021, 2022?

I love ancient languages. Studied Ancient Greek and Ancient Hebrew in college, and have enjoyed cultivating them since then.

When I found yoga, I became interested in Sanskrit, the ancient language of yoga.

'How will I ever be able to study Sanskrit?' I wondered, as there appeared to be no university classes near Cincinnati.

So I put it on my list, cycled it, as we say in the Bengston Method. (That three-part series begins tonight at 7pm.)

It seemed impossible that I would ever study Sanskrit deeply as an academic discipline, that I would need to stop my life and travel many miles to get in front of someone who could help me go deeply into this complex, ancient language.

And then a pandemic happened. And I had more time. And an ad popped up on social media for an online course being taught by the person who wrote the Cambridge Introduction to Sanskrit.

I signed up immediately, and am enjoying it immensely with my 155 classmates around the world. The instructor is in Germany. We all meet via Zoom twice a week. There are weekly quizzes, homework submissions, even midterm and final exams...all of which we can skip if we want, though the discipline has been helpful for me.

I am growing so much!

All the times I've embarked on a new study in my life, I've found myself drawn into more life, more growth. It certainly happened for me the last seven years through Movement Intelligence & Feldenkrais Method.

There's something about a new venture that helps me to discover -- very gently -- my own prejudices, my own blocks to richer life...my sexism, my racism, my homophobia, my not being able to see and hear something or someone outside my usual daily life.

Cynthia Allen and I have been thrilled by the two Movement Intelligence / Bones for Life classes we are sharing with 100 people all over the world. And the number of people saying goodbye to aches and pains that have been with them for years -- what a gift! And such a gift to meet with and get to know people of all ages -- 20s to 80s -- from all over the world.

Some of our participants are weightlifters and avid yogins, some of our participants are just beginning to move easily again after years of very little movement at all.

Perhaps you're curious to check it out: click here Our next immersion begins on Aug 3...take it for your own health or as the beginning step toward becoming a teacher.

Here's a short video I made yesterday to show you how playful Movement Intelligence / Bones for Life is: click here

Who will you be in 2021, 2022 as we emerge from this pandemic into a new world?

And could it be possible that your engaging a new passion or curiosity might help you to do the inner work that sets you and the world free(r)?

Peace, friends!
Brian Shircliff
program director
513.300.5174


go deeply?

Would you prepare a meal you love and everyone who eats it loves too and then say, "Well that was easy to make and delicious. I'll never make that again..."?

Would you brush away the hand of your lover who is caressing you in a way you enjoy and say, "Oh we've done that before. Never again..."?

Would you say to a child or a pet needing comforting, "I gave you affection last week. Why would I give you affection now?"

The answers seem obvious, don't they?

And yet how often do you and I have an amazing experience with yoga, with Movement Intelligence, with meditation, with journaling, with tai chi, with whatever and then go twitter off to something else.

Standing on a whale searching for little fish, the proverb goes.

Maybe these times are inviting you to know something deeply?

We've been given the gift of time, an invitation to learn something new, to set one's life on a new course, to grow in surprising ways a little at a time, to master something.

Perhaps one of these Zoom opportunities calls to you, from the comfort of your own home...

Morning Gentle Tai Chi with Mary Duennes...Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays at 9am (beginning July 20, drop-in, $10 donation/class)

Movement Intelligence that ANYONE can do...Tuesdays & Thursdays at 11am, Wednesdays at 6pm, all drop-in, $10 donation/class

Movement Intelligence / Bones for Life Immersion...every Monday in August from 9am - 2:30pm with Cynthia Allen & me...take it for your health or on the path to teacher certification, $450

Learn How to Magnetize into Your Life Whatever You'd Like (and use that 'selfishness' to help heal friends and family who ask for your help)...using the Bengston Method as shared by Logan Probst, CJ Pierce, and me...this is a 3 Wednesday-night series...July 22, July 29, Aug 5 from 7 - 8pm, $25 donation for the whole series

Text me at 513.300.5174 and I'll send you the Zoom links & information.

Let's encourage one another to go deeply, friends. Even simply to take the first step, a movement into depth. Your life, your health, our shared world might just depend on it.

Brian Shircliff
program director
513.300.5174

PS...VITALITY's 10th anniversary plans this Fall are getting more interesting every day! HINT...movie!

 


stable?

As the winds kick up around the world, as everything is changing so rapidly, and as many of us find ourselves moving less with the COVID-compassionate quarantining, how stable do you feel?

Does your backbone feel strong to withstand big winds? And yet supple to dance with those winds and changes? To unfurl in those wild winds because your roots are strong?

Do your feet know where the center of the planet is?

Ruthy Alon created intelligent movement sequences for ALL ages. She began when she was in her 20s. This year she is 90! She used the pioneering ideas of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, one of the geniuses of the 20th century.

How did Ruthy do it? Did it involve lifting tons of weight? Lots of sweat and grit and effort?

No! Much simpler and gentler and wiser than that!

She used one's inner intelligence, the same curious processes that you and I figured out to sit up on one's own, to roll or crawl, to stand, to dance, to do what we want.

How quickly we forget that standing up to gravity is a miracle!

A neurological one!

And can be improved so easily for any age -- from babies to centarians.

Restore your joints to innocence, friend, so that the greatest force we've ever known is pleasurable. Gravity!

Curious? There's plenty to read. But you won't improve your standing & moving by reading. Join a class!

Heck, one starts in a couple of hours at 11am EDT. Every Tues & Thurs at 11am, every Wednesday at 6pm. Click here and I'll send you the Zoom link!

All by donation.

There's a reason six VITALITY friends are studying Movement Intelligence so deeply and playfully enough to get certified among 100 people all over the planet through the training Cynthia Allen and I are offering this summer.

Imagine a new world of stable people who can withstand -- stand with! -- anything and thrive!

Brian Shircliff
program director
513.300.5174

PS...VITALITY's 10th anniversary plans this Fall are getting more interesting every day!

 


gift

there’s gift
in watching 
the rain fall

time to sift
within the soul
all that’s gold
and all that wants
to be

 

-- Brian Shircliff . . . posted on Facebook 6/23/2020


feel like you are constantly changing and being invited to change?

We do too.

From COVID-19 changing our routines & expectations

to Black Lives Matter and the assemblies of people around the world inviting profound & important awakenings...

there is a great deal of change in the air.

Something new is being born, yes?

We are on an adventure together, welcoming a new world, changing with every wisp of the breeze, discovering together how we might want our shared life & our world to be. Each moment reveals a little bit more...

Is what is important to you today the same as what was important to you last year, 10 years ago, 20+ years ago, all the way back to when you were small child, even back to when you were in the womb?

We are invited to change and grow every day, yes?

May these two offerings help us all welcome this new world being born...

CAPACITAR & HEALING TOUCH SELF-CARE

Join Mary Duennes' Wednesday night CAPACITAR Easy Tai Chi & Healing Touch Self-Care 4-week series at 7pm beginning tomorrow night...June 17, June 24, July 1, July 8. click here to register and receive the Zoom link. Offered by donation...find easy ways to love yourself...and then so much easier to love everyone!

GARDENING & GLEANING

Sue Plummer's work in Walnut Hills has led to VITALITY becoming the caretaker of what used to be called the Julie Hanser Garden (2627 Stanton Ave, Cincinnati, 45206)!

Sue has renamed this space the Glean & Share Garden (click for a video-tour)...a move to recognize her larger role in fashioning a Southwest Ohio gleaning-network...bringing together volunteers to harvest produce from local farms and putting this healthy food immediately into the local food system in a just way. Food pantries, homeless shelter kitchens, and LaSoupe receive our gleaned produce and the produce grown in the Glean & Share Garden.

Our current Yoga/Healing Touch Intern-Group -- VITALITY's 12th! -- meets every Saturday at the Glean & Share Garden from 8 - 10 am to volunteer either with the Walnut Hills gardens or with gleaning projects as farmers reach out to us.

We meet wearing masks, socially-distancing, and follow a long list of helpful protocol to keep one another as safe as possible in this COVID-era.

Would you like to join us? Meet some of the new yoga-crew? Make a new friend?

Reach out to Sue at sw-ohio@endhunger.org and she will share with you all you need to know.

May the new world being born find us flexible, loving, rooted, and strong . . . ready to embrace each human person and every creature, THE ALL!

Brian Shircliff
program director
513.300.5174

PS...I'm grateful to Tonia Smith for her wisdom in our Yoga/Healing Touch group, pictured in the center wearing her stylish mask. Mary Duennes (wearing blue) & Sue Plummer (by the garden gate). Thanks, wonderful friends!

PS...stay tuned for VITALITY's 10th anniversary plans this Fall!


there was a day...

before the Kali Yuga, an age that ancient yogis said began 4000 years ago and will end ~426,000 years from now (!)

Kali Yuga means the age of strife (!)
the age of quarreling (!!)
the age of struggle (!!!)

(take a breath)

There was a day
on this earth
1000s of years ago
when we prospered —

without slavery
without any kind of boss-slave games
without anyone trying to put themselves over another

because there was no ‘other’
instead, only THE ALL
all of us swimming, dancing, swirling in life
in love with life
and never a need to tell a story
or sing a sing about life —

why ruin your bliss by speaking?! —

instead:

dance
live
love.

Know your being.

~~~~

How did that bliss end?

Where did we all go wrong?

I mean — you’ve know bliss too, yes? it wasn’t in some ancient age only, right?

maybe we went ‘wrong’ when we decided that there was an ‘other’

— something better than another — a ‘good’ & a ‘bad’
— something to control
— something inside myself that needs to be destroyed, pushed down, disguised, covered up

And all that then enacted
a dynamic
a splitting
a power to power
a one over the other
an ordering where something is considered better than another

and then that hierarchy dominated, grew catchy,
grew to be the only way it simply is —
that old boss-slave game

instead of

noticing we’re all swimming in the same big-bowl
all so different and amazing
kaleidoscopic, holographic
swimming in and out
in this big-bowl

of energy
life
love

that is the Uni-verse
the One-verse

that is inseparable
equanimous
nothing ‘better’
than ‘the other’
because there is no ‘other’

only us.

how to get back to that non-dichotomous life?

babies know it

but I don’t know myself —

at least not enough of ‘me’…

maybe we all (ALL) do though:

perhaps it’s in the wind,
in listening to it / us roar &
quiet, in feeling it come, 
go—

and in noticing that
its coming & going
is really just a farce ——

how does the atmosphere ever stop?

— Brian Shircliff, written during the June 10, 2020 Inner Journey led monthly by Penny Costilla

 

 


love

if love
is your politic
there is no right
no left
no middle
...only THE ALL

 

-- Brain Shircliff (originally written June 9, 2019)


how does change happen?

Dear friends in our yoga circle,

Some of you reported that you felt a change in your toes, legs, hips, or even elsewhere as a result of your experience with Feldenkrais’ toe lesson yesterday.

How did that happen?

Maybe a more helpful question is…where did that change happen?

And if you think about this carefully, you’ll find the big lesson. The massive lesson. The important thing about change.

One cannot change the ‘part.’

In fact, there is no such thing as ‘part’ . . . no matter how much you and I keep trying to think that there is.

Sure, we can say there is a ‘part’ of this. And that’s a ‘part’ of that.

But in fact, these ‘parts’ have never been separate from each other.

Your toes have never been separate from your legs or hips. Unless of course you actually had a toe cut off and re-attached. (And even then...!)

Those things Tonia Smith, through her Neuro Linguistic Programming exploration, had you hold in separate hands — one aspect of yourself and another aspect of yourself — they exist within the same whole as well. You. Your imagination. Your life. There are no ‘parts’ to you.

Indeed, there are no ‘parts’ to the Universe.

This is the deepest teaching of yoga.*

And this is the tricky thing about sequencing things in yoga, in anything. An intelligent sequence or poem or song or whatever invites us to remember what something in us has known all along. (That there is no ‘thing.’)

The deepest neurons of yourself know this, and perhaps the least studied. They are often referred to as the red nucleus, in the deepest areas of your brain. Fascinating in themselves. They know, you know, that change in how we move in our world is possible when we remember where we are in movement on the earth, often in very fine ways. I suppose it’s possible in water or space/air too, but I’m not sure.

The first question of a neuron is ‘where am I?’ The second question is ‘where do I want to go?’

So where does change happen? How do your hips feel better when you play with your toes in a way that makes sense to your brain? How does your neck get relief, how do your eyes get relief...anything within you get relief when you do something ‘far’ away from them?*

How?

How?

There was never a moment when ‘they’ were disconnected. And ‘they’ are held together by the one and same nervous system, lymphatic system, circulatory system, every system.

In fact, even these ‘systems’ are fictions too...ways of speaking about things that are not separate within you. (Same of course goes for the maps we call meridians and chakras and nadis in yoga and other disciplines — all of them simply stories to understand, get a glimpse of the whole.)

You are a whole. You are one. You are. You.

And where does that ‘you’ end? Where are your boundaries?

Especially when that molecule of oxygen you breathe in feeds you, enlivens you for a moment and then is breathed out as carbon dioxide — or even oxygen — and then feeds me, and my neighbor down the street. And that kid who punched me in first grade. And my first love. And that person on the other side of the globe I’ve never met. And that person I detest. And that animal, that fish, that creature without a name or classification yet. And that plant, that fungi.

No matter now much we try to separate things from each other — be they toes from hips, be they molecules of oxygen from each other (especially in a quantum sense...things appear and disappear, friends...it’s quite quarky), be they police officer from an innocent person or a guilty person they are arresting or even killing —

the fact of the matter (*matter*) is that ‘they’ ... those ‘things’ you and I thought were separate ... are not and never can be separate.

Perhaps that’s why Dr. King prayed an hour every day...and on busier days prayed for two hours a day. Perhaps that’s why he insisted on loving enemies to awaken them — oppressor and oppressed — to change.

Perhaps that’s why Gautama gave up ‘forceful yoga practices’ and simply sat. ‘Meditated.’ For hours. Perhaps for days, weeks. Even as political regimes crumbled around him and gave birth to better or worse regimes.

Perhaps that’s why Jesus escaped to the desert when things went haywire, even when the greatest political power on the planet (Rome) was conquering and enslaving village after village and extorting their livelihoods from them. In Jesus’ time it had to do with a new tax on fish sales, in a place in the world where people barely scraped by.

Perhaps that’s why all the ‘greats’ we look back upon and revere and find helpful...perhaps that’s why we’re drawn to them. Even a loving grandparent or neighbor or teacher. They knew something. They figured something out. About the mystery that is life.

Play around. And you too will know.

Such a discovery is sitting there for all to know, to uncover, to discover. For anyone who has neurons.

And in *your* knowing, so too will every creature on this planet, in the vast ever-expanding Universe.

The One-Verse.

The One.

THE ALL.

The One-Verse.

May the ‘yoga’ we offer one another share the verse...the song of the whole that frees.

——
(*) unless you did too much 😊

Emily Dickinson reminds...’the truth must dazzle gradually, or every man ** be blind’***

——
(**) or woman or non-binary or creature with neurons

——
(***) or deaf or sensitive in any way****

——
(****) now, do you know the perils of language? language identifies things, tries to differentiate things. when there are no ‘things’ and no separation. even though we are geared to recognize differences — one’s nervous system & senses depend on noticing differences to find our way in the world.

OM.

Join the song of the One-Verse. The hum of life. The sound of life finding life, life discovering life, neuron reaching out to neuron, the sizzle of creation.***** OM.

——
(*****) And thus why perhaps Jesus and Buddha and King and Gandhi and Dorothy Day sat. Did nothing. Sensed themselves. Often. As worlds and worldviews collapsed and gave birth to other worldviews that are collapsing now.

OM.

 

Love to you, with you, around us all,

Brian Shircliff


you are wildly intelligent!

Jon Kabat-Zinn has inspired me for decades — since I discovered him in 1992.

You might know that he began a Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. He combined a little yoga and simple meditation.

Doctors sent patients who were not responding to the usual medical protocols — the patients with whom they didn’t know what to do.

Soon the doctors began showing up to classes too because their patients were often healed, even cured by the 30-minute experience of gently moving, breathing, resting.

Insurance companies reimbursed him for his work. In the 1990s!

I remember Jon telling a story about how he and a friend rented out a church in Boston awhile back to offer two hours of yoga followed by two hours of seated meditation.

He found it so strange that the people who came to the meditation class often sneered at the people who came to the yoga class, and vice versa.

Only a few participated in both and explored themselves and their habits in new ways.

Wisdom comes when we step outside our usual ways, yes?

I felt something similar when I embarked upon Movement Intelligence / Bones for Life training in 2014. I was a proud yogi & tai chi enthusiast and I was a Healing Touch Certified Practitioner—I thought I knew all there was to know about movement and life.

The first few minutes of Bones for Life training helped me to discover just how much of myself, my world, my understanding of movement I'd been missing. The discovery came gently, easily...because Bones for Life uses the 'wild intelligence' humans cultivate since birth to navigate our gravity-rich world.

Maybe you’d like to explore with us through a free Bones for Life webinar offered by Cynthia Allen of Future Life Now:

tomorrow / Wed, May 27 at 6pm

Monday, June 1 at 12 noon

click here to find out more and to register

So many wonderful VITALITY friends have embarked on this Movement Intelligence / Bones for Life self-discovery through gentle, easy movement — and they report how much their lives have so positively changed!

You too?

Come, see!

The training Cynthia and I will offer together begins soon, and we have 3 work-scholarships available through the Emmaus Fund created by the Maggini, Newman, and Tew families!

Imagine your future as a teacher of this great work!

Brian Shircliff
program director
513.300.5174

PS Our usual Wednesday night 6pm class will not meet this week so we can participate in the webinar. Some of us might need to leave the webinar early to attend Mary Duennes’ Capacitar class at 7pm.