I read an interesting article today that I’d like to share. It’s from an expert in regime change. She’s been studying what works best, and the hands-down winner is non-violent protests. The number one success indicator is how many people participate, and the number one challenge is to maintain a peaceful stance over a long period of time (and with all those people.)
It got me thinking about a few things.
One is the way we ask for things. I know that, for myself, I tend to ask for things and expect an immediate response. If I don’t get what I want then I tend to get anxious, think I’m not heard, get grouchy and lose faith. I am not real good with patience, and the idea of having to ask over and over never occurs to me.
Another thing is all the difficulties involved in getting groups of people to come together in like mind, and like spirit, and initiate action together. I’m also thinking about how important it is to practice, think things through and talk things through.
I’ve been watching resistance groups at town halls and everyone looks like they are screaming and yelling. I can definitely understand how that can happen, but I’m wondering if practicing would help get the message across better. And I’m not just talking about immediate politics here. It’s a good lesson in how we ask for things in daily life. It’s good to contemplate what it takes to manage a long-term view of sustainability. It’s really interesting to work on ways to come together with a deeper peace… and then bring that out into the world for positive change.
I know there are various groups, and techniques, and things like that out there. But I’m wondering what we can come up with ourselves. I’m thinking that if we work on something that comes from our own understanding, instead of just trying a technique, if we won’t have a more sustainable change in our own being that we can bring into the world.
After our dance camp in Lava Hot Springs in April I’d like some help in putting together groups in our communities who are committed to a new, sustainable movement towards peace. Who’s with me?
Here’s the article:
It’s very important to keep yourself healthy in times of stress! We recommend a full weekend of Dances of Universal Peace. This magic elixir is the result of the most ancient of all medicines: human touch and music.
The terrible thing about stress (besides how yucky it feels) is that it is a contributing cause to numerous diseases — including cancer. Sustained stress weakens us and makes us ineffective in combating what may be causing the stress.
The wonderful thing about stress is how easily it dissolves in the right atmosphere. The Dances of Universal Peace create the perfect atmosphere.
If you have never danced before the thing that will surprise you the most is how you don’t need to know a single person for the magic to work. You’d think that you would really need to know people in order to have a close, loving encounter. But the addition of music and movement gently bring us all into a field of togetherness that does not require knowing names, history or philosophies. Those of us who have danced for years can tell you that it’s the easiest and most effective therapy that a person can possibly experience.
So — let’s get together in April to reduce our stress and spread the love.
We are having a weekend retreat in Lava Hot Springs (southern Idaho) on April 21st to 23rd. Yes! It’s Earth Day! We will get together for a pot luck dinner on Friday evening and then start dancing at 7:30. Saturday activities will be a dance in the morning, and then Earth Day activities through the afternoon (maybe you will only want to soak in the natural spring waters of Lava Hot Springs!) On Saturday evening we’ll have the signature dance of the weekend that we call the “Interfaith Zikr.” It’s our opportunity to sink into the movement and music with few interruptions. And finally, on Sunday morning we’ll dance again in celebration of our togetherness, and heading back to our communities and jobs, refreshed and read to do our life work with renewed passion and effectiveness.
Here’s where to sign up for the weekend — http://liveatlava.com.
Today, as I’m working on getting ready for our next Peace Dance in Lava Hot Springs (11 weeks!) I suddenly started wondering, “What would peace look like?”
We dance for universal peace.
Strangely enough, I realized I don’t have a clear idea of the end game. I do know that some fuzzy picture of everyone walking around smiling all the time as sugar plums fall from the sky… will probably not happen. It would be terrible for our teeth any way!
I know for sure that being human is tricky. We are built to live in small groups in a natural world that does not change very rapidly. We are best when our beliefs hold true during a lifetime, when we know who we are from the day we are born, and when we are not challenged by things we don’t understand. If we are going to live with a fully populated world we are going to constantly face new challenges, and we are going to have to constantly adjust to things as they change.
In other words: People will always go crazy! In the real world peace will have to be dynamic enough to withstand constant change, and ever creative in the way we respond with our human limitations.
We have really crazy limitations. Human beings have an huge capacity to misunderstand what is going on. We are all easily fooled. When things go well it’s easy for us to fall into complacency and not see problems as they build. It’s easy to misunderstand situations as they arise, and it’s really easy to over react. It’s also always going to be true that each generation will forget many of the lessons of the previous generation.
I believe it’s true that we have an unlimited capacity of love. We are all full of curiosity and, when something is interesting to us, we are all eager to learn. We have an amazing ability to communicate with each other, and every single person has something they are brilliant in doing. When lots of people look at a problem then they see it from many different angles.
So what would peace look like?
The more I thought about it the more I realized that peace would look like lots of people, with similar values, who are resilient enough to withstand times when others have gone crazy. There will always be times when folks are either not paying attention, misinformed, or downright wrong about what is going on. There will always be other folks who are actively learning, watching, and paying attention. True peace would mean that the majority of the world is living in sanity and without war at any given time… and those people would be willing to intervene in places that experience temporary troubles. True peace would look like that moment when things go terribly wrong, and millions quickly rise up communicating, finding solutions, chanting and demonstrating change.
I suddenly realized that peace on earth would look exactly like our world today. Good job everyone!
I hope you come and dance with us in April as we exercise and grow our ability to love and be together.
Time for a refresher!
Who wants to hug, and sing, and dance and celebrate our deep capacity for love? It’s only 80 days until we can meet together in beautiful Lava Hot Springs for all that! Will we see you there?
Registration is open at http://liveatlava.com – please let us know you are coming.
We have a Facebook event at https://www.facebook.com/events/196884084049009/ – please like that page and pass it around to everyone you know.
We are going to be taking out targeted ads on Facebook soon and the more you do to help the better it will be. So let us know if you are coming, pass around the word, and start practicing those dancing feet.
We need some love
Hello dancers and dance lovers.
It’s a new year and time to plan how we will move forward as a community full of love and celebration. Get out your calendars and start committing to a full year of participation in beautiful change to make our world kind, and green, and thriving.
Here are some suggestions for that calendar.
Montana Family Camp
February 17 – 19
Live at Lava
These days we are having the most poignant lesson in spirituality that we could ever hope to have. As our community landscape changes people may find themselves feeling things that are not familiar: worry, doubt, fear and even anger. Perhaps the holiday season is difficult, or people are dealing with health difficulties. Maybe you’ve suddenly turned into a crazy rebel. Or maybe you are great, but you have friends and family who are going deeper into this unfamiliar territory.
Either way, there are many choices in how we respond to the world around us and the feelings it brings. One way to respond is to let yourself open up with greater and greater awareness. Instead of trying to numb pain, or cover it up in any way, just watch and take the opportunity to learn how you really work as a human being. Learn what really makes you tick, hold firm to what you know is true and good. Speak up even if you may do or say something wrong. Trust your years of spiritual practice. Know you can move with as much truthfulness as possible in each moment.
This way of living is what my spiritual teacher always talked about. He said that if we stand true to ourselves then we grow in wisdom every day – because we learn from our own experience. If we hide and pretend that things are fine, when they aren’t, then we don’t learn. It’s called the light of awareness. It might not always feel good, but it brings tremendous benefits. It is even more powerful when done by a community.
This can be an uncomfortable way to live during trying times, but it is also the way that we become the most use to our communities and families – because every day we grow stronger, wiser and more able to guide and take action.
It also teaches us the true meaning and power of joy!
A very real problem in allowing ourselves to be real, to experience fear and uncertainty as the world seems to change around us, is that it’s tough on the body. Negativity has it’s own force and can draw us in. If we are going to be real, and stay real then we need to take care of ourselves – and that requires our skill at joy!
Think about it this way. Many of us have spent a lifetime cultivating beauty and joy. We are really good at it. If we were never interrupted in that by outside forces we would be quite happy to live in that niceness forever. But when things come along that are difficult we don’t need to dig a hole and hide. Instead we can celebrate and honor our enhanced skills of love and joy. We can face difficulties with necessary responses: protest, discuss, write, share scary Facebook posts… and then take a break! Pick up a guitar and dance and sing! Have a dance camp. Get together with friends and laugh. Know that you have tremendous joy skills and share them as refreshing breaks that heal and replenish!
We know what we are best at – Joy! We can use this to create a good world as we move through times that are difficult. We are the joy warriors.
Hi All and Happy Digestion Day,
In other words “Day after Thanksgiving Day!” Hope you are well and that a day of giving thanks was good for the soul.
I’m thinking that there is a high likelihood that many of us are still experiencing a lot of agitation. And Thanksgiving was a nice retreat into quiet or family. Lots of us had great meals… some of us didn’t really, but enjoyed the pictures. (Wayne and I are still in our trailer in Texas, so we were a bit meager in the food department.)
If you are finding that you are having difficulties with meditation these days I would like to ask you to be kind to yourself. I hear many other spiritual leaders calling for love, and kindness, and happiness… and I question how useful those entreaties are to our actual health. I’m afraid that we too often take the “Opiate of the masses” approach to spirituality, and see that it is actually causing a lot of internal pain. In other words, if we always think we should be sweet, and kind, and loving, and then discover that we aren’t… how do we reconcile our own hypocrisy?
My meditation teacher taught that the ultimate goal of meditation is to reach a state where every moment is illuminated. It wasn’t so much that you changed yourself to reach some special state, but that you illuminated every second of your own experience, whether it was good or bad. With this approach you don’t have to wait for some miracle to happen. Instead you consciously embrace yourself the way you are. One of his favorite stories was of a Zen monk who lived in a cemetery. The guy was criticized constantly: Wouldn’t an enlightened person find a beautiful place to live? How could he maintain his meditation in such a ghastly place? And yet, here was the guy every day dancing and singing through the graves.
The point of that story is in how we relate to our own minds. If we wait for the beautiful, perfect moment to come we’ll be waiting forever (though you can come to dance camp and get a weekend of it). But if we can still call it meditation when we are raging and weeping on the outside, then we have illuminated our nature and taken a real stance for our being. It’s why enlightened people are always laughing! They see just exactly how nuts they are!
The thing that’s important to understand is that it doesn’t matter if the mind is raging, or if the mind is singing love lullabies. It’s still the mind – it’s still not you. The raging mind is easier to observe because we don’t like it. It’s loud, it’s mean, it’s full of fear, doubt and pain. It’s crystal clear, it’s sharp and in focus. You can literally let it go without cooperation. Just let it yammer on and watch it without interference. You are the watcher. You are the one watching. Be nice to the poor little thing. Hold still and let it have its say. As you simply hold true, in tune with yourself, including all that you like and don’t like, a focus may happen. The mind is much happier when it has a master who understands its needs, who creates a ripe field for it to thrive, who can withstand both the foulness and the beauty that comes from its yammering.
If you are kind of grasping what I’m saying here you’ll realize that I’m talking about changing the goal of meditation, and that changing the goal changes everything. If our meditation goal is to have a perfectly silent mind we are going to end up very frustrated and unsilent. If our goal is to have only a beautiful mind, then we are going to end up either loathing ourselves, or working ourselves into a fully deluded state. But if the goal is to just take a break from mind management and spend some time as the simple observer, then we’ll find ourselves more and more the master of our own experience. More than likely we’ll find ourselves more articulate, more creative and more centered… because it is the observer who can actually learn from the rantings of the mind.
This is the kind of meditative mind that can take on the burden of political activism and remain true. I believe this is what our times are calling for now and I’m here to encourage and support all the people in our community for their participation on any level.
A great article
Here is a great article by Barbara Kingsolver with some fabulous suggestions as to how we can move forward as a community in troubled times.
Trump changed everything. Now everything counts
Here’s the poignant starting paragraph, please read the rest.
If you’re among the majority of American voters who just voted against the party soon to control all three branches of our government, you’ve probably had a run of bad days. You felt this loss like a death in the family and coped with it as such: grieved with friends, comforted scared kids, got out the bottle of whisky, binge-watched Netflix. But we can’t hole up for four years waiting for something that’s gone. We just woke up in another country.
Barbara calls us to action at the end of that article with a very good list of the things we can do as individuals, and I would like to add to that list.
If we are dancers, and singers, and lovers of laughter then let’s move and sing with more urgency. There is no need to sedate ourselves from our own experience. Honor your truth in knowing right from wrong. Don’t hold back from the uncomfortable: embrace that and bring as much music to it as possible.
When I really look closely at my own experience I see that my mind is asking me to find a way to do more. To do the things I do better. To make more of an impact. That’s something we all do together. That’s something you can do for me. That’s something I can do for you. The raging mind, in the end, if born with dignity and watched with self-love will always bring up the next step.
Wayne and I start driving home from Texas next Saturday, December 3rd. Apparently I am fully cured, and have every intention of making as much mischief as I possibly can. As soon as I have the opportunity I’ll be calling together leaders in our community for training and putting together our next steps so that our dance community can thrive and grow without interruption. Hope to see you there!
Love and hugs
No… I don’t mean to Canada (smile). It’s time for each of us to find a new level of action.
May of us are experiencing a collective shock right now and I wanted to write some words of encouragement. While it would be wonderful to live in a world where everything is happy and good all the time, that is just not the case. Fortunately we, as human beings, have all the tools and intelligence needed to deal with things as they come at us.
Here are a few of my thoughts.
Don’t be afraid of yourself
We may wish it weren’t so, but fear and regret are two of our most important emotions. Sometimes we need those. If experienced by an awake individual these powerhouse emotions cause us to re-evaluate what we’ve been doing, and give us the courage to change course. It’s possible to have negative emotions while still standing in a field of love and hope.
It’s obvious that each of us needs to do more.
This was first brought home to me with the sudden death of Carol Hanson from our community. Carol was a beautiful mess in many ways (as are we all). She bungled, sang and smiled through unwavering commitments. She served on the board of the Dances of Universal Peace, and even as president. I remember that she drove some people crazy (I had my moments…), but she kept going and did everything that she was able to do… always with that crazy smile. At her life service the church was packed with people from so many organizations in Pocatello that she worked for. My thought was, “I can do more.” Just looking around the room I realized that I was only doing half of what I could do.
And now we are faced with a very odd situation of leadership in our country. We could have each done more these last few months. I certainly could have done more… even though I have been dealing with cancer. And while I can’t go back and undo anything that I did not do… I can certainly re-evaluate and let myself be inspired for what I can do in the future.
You can’t protest wrong
If you get out and protest you are going to do it wrong in some way. The reason for that is because there is no way to do it “right.” So protest, or don’t protest. But don’t worry if you are doing it right or wrong. Please don’t shame others who are looking messy in the way they are acting. Anything we do will have many elements of craziness and sanity. Moving and speaking and doing something will lead us all into new paths. So do something, even if it’s problematic. Just doing that will make it right. Keep your love and songs of life forefront in your consciousness and move with certainty.
We have several community members right now who have loaded up their cars with supplies and headed to Standing Rock. They are an example. Stand behind them in any way you can, and then ask others to stand behind you in your choices.
Together we are stronger
Please don’t get confused in thinking that everything is relative, and that things just work out without our participation. There is actually goodness and badness, and we need constant discrimination to discern between the two. Bigotry and misogyny are bad – it creates so much anger and hate. But standing up against a bigot in a way that looks angry is sometimes necessary. Please support each other in our attempts to deal with difficult things. It’s important to lean in and try to understand a bigot, but we also have to not be swayed in our stance.
Denying Climate Change is not right, and polluting the planet is not right. This is a collective problem and we need collective answers We have the opportunity to stand up now and do what we can do for the issues that are important to us, even in a political climate that has turned against what we know to be good and true.
Here is a quote from a recent email from Al Gore that I received as a Climate Reality Leader:
In every great struggle humanity has undertaken, the march towards progress has included both successes and setbacks. And the struggle to protect and save the Earth’s ecological system is no exception.
Today, I am as optimistic and resolved as ever that we will solve the climate crisis. Our collective efforts are dependent not on politics or ideology – or elections – but on our commitment to each other, to the health of our planet and to a sustainable future for all.
We must – and will – continue to find hope and joy in our work that will define humanity for generations.
He’s right. It’s up to us how this will all work out. It’s time to move.
Love you all and we’ll be dancing together soon.
Chin up everyone! Things are getting better and better… if you just know where to look.
Love is the winner
We are blessed to be living in a huge social experiment of love versus hate. As we plow through each day this fall we’re getting a college level Political Science class that speaks to how we choose to live our lives day to day. It all boils down to our most basic understanding that:
- If you speak and spread hate; hate, anger and belligerence will follow.
- If you speak and spread love; a flowering of love will be the result.
There is only one difference. It’s easier to spread hate and anger; it works faster and is very loud. It’s so easy to see it, hear it, and be afraid of it. Love takes more effort and flowers slowly… the results aren’t immediately visible so it also takes more skill (and an open heart) to notice the results.
We are Love Leaders
Today is a good day to take a breath and give ourselves a nod for the love we spread. A personal thanks from me to every person on this email list! I know that each of you spread kindness and constantly move towards wisdom. I know that your families, friends and community are the recipients of your love.
Every breath we take, every move we make… is the step of a leader of love. If we have learned anything from our world, through the year of 2016, it’s that we have been proven to be absolutely necessary! The world needs each and every one of us. We need each other. Each smile we share, each hug we give, each word of praise or song we sing is creating a field of love that benefits everyone.
Keep up the good work!
Slow and Steady
If there is one thing I have learned with my illness this year, it’s that things take time. Every little step can be celebrated. The same is true in spreading love. I need to constantly remind myself of both.
(Just a quick FYI… Aesop was right: the tortoise can beat the hare. A new race was held in Thailand that you can see on this page.)
This is what we do when we dance together. This is what our community of healers is sharing. This is how we can live, move and breathe together.
Speaking of slow… we do have our next Live at Lava dance scheduled… many days from today. It will be next spring, on Earth Day — April 21, 22, 23, 2017. Put that on your calendar because I want everyone there for the biggest spring dance ever! (Yes, I’m going to be nice and healthy by then and need lots of hugs!)
Love you all
Dear dancers and community dance lovers,
We are excited to announce that the Dances of Universal Peace have been accepted at the Ogden OmFest this year. OmFest is a oneness gathering held in Ogden, Utah’s beautiful 84-acre Fort Buenaventura. We are excited to explore a venue like this, because it seems like a sustainable way to introduce people to the dances and to put another quality dance event on the map.
Melissa Zuckerman is spearheading the event. This is a great opportunity for dancers to join in with a thriving spiritual community in Ogden, and to create a new annual dance opportunity for us all!
To help make all this happen Melissa is bringing in Joy Morris and Nuriya Akers from Colorado. Carol Hanson is coming down from Pocatello and Wayne is hoping to make it from Salmon to help with the music.
We also need dancers to come join the circle. Just like our amazing experience at the Parliament of World Religions the more experienced dancers we have the in circle the better. It’s so wonderful to have a container of love when a new dancer steps into the circle. So let’s make that all happen.
To start with… let’s get some money to help with gas expenses for our dance leaders. Melissa has created a crowdfunding site so we can all donate. I know I won’t be able to be at this dance, but I’m going to click the donate button as soon as I send this email. I hope many of you join me in supporting Melissa in this exciting adventure.
Here are some details of the OmFest
Location: Ogden Utah’s beautiful 84-acre Fort Buenaventura.
Friday August 19th – the dance team will meet, check out the venue and set up.
Saturday August 20th – We are the first event in the OmDome. 8:00 to 9:30 AM
Saturday afternoon – possible dances later in the children’s program.
Sign up: There is a cost for the event and dancers sign up directly with the OmFest: http://ogdenomfest.com/
Cost: It’s a very affordable event, from $15 to $25.
Fun: The OmFest is a great event in its own right. You’ll love it.
Donate for dancer leader costs:
Contact: If you can make it to the event, or help in other ways, contact Melissa here: melissazuckerman
Thanks everyone for stepping up and donating to this event. Let’s show our collective strength and make this happen!
Love you all