Friday, January 14, 2011


What I'm about to describe is going to sound a little kooky to many of you, but I feel moved to share it.

I spent most of the last week in Portland, Oregon at a little place called the Playground. Founded last year by Havi Brooks, the Playground is home to several different interesting events, all led by Havi. I attended a Rally specifically for folks who have been members for at least a year of a group run by her.

We began each day with some really, really difficult Shiva Nata. (Disclosure: For me, all levels of Shiva Nata are difficult; there's a reason, after all, its practitioners frequently refer to it simply as "the flailing.") At one point Havi had us do some level 7, which is unbelievably brain-scrambling and resulted, for me at least, in a day-long series of epiphanies in a week already packed with them. Shiva Nata was followed by savasana, and then by some reflective journaling and setting of intentions for the work we'd like to accomplish that day.

There were ten of us on the retreat, all of us working on separate projects and giving one another mutual support when we became stuck on a particular part of our projects or when we felt stymied in a more general way. My fellow Rallions were all bright, creative women who were so delightful to finally meet in person after a year of communicating online. I suppose the best way to describe Rally is as a silent retreat punctuated by whimsy and play (and profoundly fabulous pie from a nearby cafĂ©.) I accomplished so much in three days—lots of writing and planning, but after doing the work I felt less intellectually exhausted (my usual state) than exhilarated.

I've been reflecting, then, on how I can bring the spirit—and some of the physical aspects, because they're also central to the experience—of Rally with me to my home and work.

Some ideas:
  • There was one pattern-recognition exercise in particular—it involved various kinds of walking with intention—that I'll be trying out on my students when I'm teaching the capstone writing seminar this semester.
  • I'm noting, now that I'm back home, a distinct lack of floor pillows in my house, and they're much needed, particularly when I play with Lucas on the floor of his room.
  • Candles! Funky lamps! Plush monsters! A hammock (and we already have a hammock chair ready to mount on the back patio when it warms up).
  • I'm going to recommit to practicing Shiva Nata. I was doing it every day for a while about a year ago, but then I stopped, and I'm not sure why. It provides some light, much-needed physical exercise, and I could benefit from the brain workout, too.
Mostly, I want more play—more playgrounds—in my life at home and at work.

What about you? What are you trying out this semester or this year?


Stacey said...

Cooking! I'm specifically focusing on chocolate and tarts. I'm actually going to a chocolate-making class for the first time ever. I'm also studying the book of Joshua for the first time. Oh yes...I'm learning all about potty-training. Eek!

Susan M said...

I'm envious of your time at the Portland Playground (and happy for you). :) I've been trying to think of ways to include more play in my life, but I confess it's been difficult to try to infuse even a sense of intellectual play into working on the diss. (pressure, pressure, pressure, grunt grunt grunt) I did, however, go on a hike last week with some lesbians and a dog named Simon Weisenthal Nazi Hunter, so that was a beginning.

Susan M said...

Ohmygod thanks for the monster link!! I found my Lurker!