Blog | Zuza Engler | Moving with Life Blog

Personal Transformation for Professional Growth

It has become clear to me (via my experience and students' reports over the last twenty some years) that awareness of inner process can catalyze profound shifts toward alignment with the deeper desires and dreams for our lives. And that a long term learning circle offers uniquely powerful tools and conditions to support lasting transformation.

If you are a parent, friend, teacher, family member, and generally a human interested in relating to others, you know that sometimes love is not all we need. Most of us could also use a few extra resources, capacities, and relational skills to actually be able to show up for ourselves and each other.

Past BALP participants without fail reported significant life changes: reclaiming a sense of worthiness, belonging, and hope. A new career direction, a move across the country, a difficult decision regarding health care for an aging parent, sustained weight loss, sibling reconciliation, forgiveness, self-care, a new trust in life, deeper commitment to love.

If you are a coach, therapist, movement teacher, or body worker, you know that you can only take your clients/students as far as you have gone. You want to continue your own journey to embodiment and grow your capacity for attunement and compassion. Here's how we can help.

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​Happy Ishtar

Never mind the bunny with a candy basket. Easter is a celebration of the passage from bondage to freedom, from darkness to light, from crucifixion to resurrection. What a potent wake up call for every day of our lives. Around this time, a long long time ago and every year, Ishtar, the ancient Sumerian goddess descends into the underworld to reclaim a forgotten treasure.

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Think Again, Rene Descartes!

Contrary to popular disbelief, everything we experience in our lives is a bodily experience. I can argue otherwise, or I can surrender to the simple facts of aliveness right now - by attuning to my proprioceptive sense, concerning the location and movement of my body in space; by listening to the murmurs and whispers coming from my muscles, tendons, and joints; by luxuriating in the slow meandering process of tracking how sensations appear, move, develop and dissolve - in response, or in connection to any thought, image, memory, emotion I'm in touch with at the moment; and by noticing how I am held in the great context of the living world as this breathing, feeling, thinking body.

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Feeling as Doorway to Presence

What does it take for someone to actually feel something when they move? Several years back, I wrote a whole 300+ page dissertation (a spiritual boot camp process that almost did me in, I do not recommend it) exploring with a group of brave movers this very question. Having experienced the amazing unlocking powers of conscious dance I wanted to understand how to shape practices that would open the door to, encourage, and support feeling on the dance floor.

By feeling I mean anything that can be felt in the body. Weight in contact with ground, vague pressure, vibration, tension in my lip, compression in my ears, a crowded feeling around me, the shape of space inside, the streaming of energy in my legs, the smell of jasmine wafting in, tears building up behind my eyes, the heat in my belly, even the apparent absence of feeling we call numbness which is a whole sensate scenery in itself.

The territory of feeling is a soulscape forever shifting, often unclear, exciting, terrifying, sometimes infused with a sense of urgency, longing, deep unfamiliar pleasure, vague discomfort, unintelligible swirlings, oscillations, openings. It is full of secret meaning, ultimately asking me to pause, release, offer myself to this life I have been given, now, no longer seeking the false refuge of illusory control, to sing my song, now, no longer waiting for the perfect situation, now, now.

Here's some learnings from my study: The willingness to feel is a must & the first step. Passing through the gate of fear is often required. Repeated sacrifice of identity (i.e. the I that I think I am), habit, attachment to outcome, all that may be asked for. Ability to trust the unknown and surrender to the Mystery is essential.

It is, of course, not as dire as that. Dropping into this level of being alive is exhilarating and creates a clear open space for whatever comes next. When given time, space, permission to express in everyday doses, feelings naturally flow through and become a resource for aliveness, authenticity, power, and love.

But there's nothing more alarming to the so called higher brain than to be exposed to something it cannot predict, control, organize or problem solve. To be sure, same goes for much of the culture which we inhale daily and which chants to us in a myriad of ways: do not feel. you can figure this out. if you control your breath, you'll be fine. stay busy. have another joint. take this pill. take a cruise. take a shopping trip. do not stop. Even in the dancing circles I once heard, Give me a break, I come here to get out of my body, not to feel the mess inside!

It's as if we're not supposed to live, really, before we all die. Meanwhile, even science says a dynamic range of experience is healthiest, physiologically and emotionally speaking. A chaotic heart rate is healthy - yes! - not arrhythmia, but a variable rate. When the heart rate is too steady you are near death. You'd better check, eh?

It is a revolutionary choice to turn toward feeling. How bizarre is that, given that somatic awareness, or embodiment, is key not only to our ability to orient, move, and find nourishment in the physical world, but to our mental, emotional and relational sanity? But then, how sane do we really want to be?

Join the counter-culture. We were feeling, moving bodies first, a long long time ago, and thinkers last. Let's turn and re-turn toward the mysterious process of real time body-ing, breathing, unfolding, opening, sensing, trusting ... bowing in the vast holy field of presence to which feeling is one doorway.

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