Love Letter to InterPlay

August 7, 2020

~ by Nandita Batheja

Five years ago, I lay on the floor at InterPlayce in the middle of the Art & Social Change training. We were in the middle of doing shape and stillness—I forget the prompt now, but it was something about purpose, or finding home. Or maybe those are the words I think of because they’re the ones I felt.

I rested in a shape on the ground, tears streaming from my eyes. I knew that I found something I had been yearning for my whole life. That I was lying on the floor of a home I didn’t know existed, that I didn’t know I could ever return to. Movement. Song. Art. Story. Community. Connection. Spirit. Healing. Freedom of Expression. And the dance between them all. This is how I describe InterPlay—but it’s also how I describe myself. To be united with this kind of home has been a blessing I cannot describe.

My InterPlay journey has been just like my journey to InterPlay—unexpected, magical, intense, full of love, sometimes there are accidents, and often, it has me Walking/Stopping/and Running along the precipice of the unknown. After my Art & Social Change training, I returned home to NYC where I was connected with another InterPlayer, Libby Mislan, now my close friend and collaborator. Over the next few years, we offered NYC InterPlay sessions geared towards artist-activists, low-income, intergenerational and largely bipoc communities. I watched IP give to others what it continued to give to me: internal authority, release, joy!, friendship, possibility, creative force, confidence, and the healing of internalized oppression.

As I grew, InterPlay also grew within me, adapting with my curiosities and work in the world. On a personal level, InterPlay became one of my main mediums to connect with my ancestry, something that became essential to my art and healing. I’m now working on a novel about belonging, migration, loss, memory and the body—much of which has been inspired by what I discovered through my IP ancestry journey. This process also grew into a collaboration with InterPlayer Natty Abdou, where we hold embodied ancestry workshops to similarly offer space for ancestral connection, guidance and healing, especially for those whose ancestors suffered genocide, violence and oppression.

On a work level, InterPlay has been crucial to me as a facilitator, conflict transformation practitioner and educator. In designing and leading mentorship programs for middle schoolers in Newark, NJ, I used InterPlay to build intergenerational community and to level power dynamics amongst kids and the adult mentors. I also strongly lean on InterPlay in doing conflict work with youth and adults. At Seeds of Peace, InterPlay helped build connection between young folx grappling with anger and mistrust across their intersectional identities. As time went on and the teens began to confront the extremely painful inequities between them, InterPlay helped groups exform and express. When people were too upset or triggered to dialogue, it offered another way to communicate their pain, their sorrow, their stories. At other times, it also helped them laugh and find ways to sustain their spirits through difficult identity work.

The same goes for adults. When I facilitate retreats for artist-activists with YES! World, InterPlay helps us dive deep into our personal stories of oppression and our dreams of liberation. It also gives us ways to find exuberance with one another across identity divides, which is its own freedom practice. Finally, and maybe most unexpectedly, I’ve used InterPlay in facilitating heated dialogues between community members and police in New Jersey. The group was barely able to discuss anything. The mix of betrayal, fear and anger kept people defensive and shut down. InterPlay helped me break the thick wall of resistance preventing authentic dialogue by getting people out of their heads and into the autonomy of their bodies. Babbling created more flow. A hand-to-hand dance (which I still can’t believe I led) created surprising connection. It also made space for the community’s container of rage, which held their grief and pain. We couldn’t heal anything without touching people’s truths—and the dance helped truth rise up. It wasn’t perfect, and I’m not sure I’d lead it like that again, but it helped the group move forward into necessary and honest discussion.

InterPlay is known as being ‘sneaky deep’. In my experience, that’s an understatement. It holds incredible power—and that’s because it encourages people to be in, live and lead from their bodies. The human body, the earth body, pleads for right relationship. Our bodies know how to do justice; they know what balance means, they crave harmony. Our bodies get reparations; they know how to repair, if given the chance. InterPlay connects me to my body and my spirit; and my bodyspirit shows me how to repair my own wounds, and then how to turn to the world and do the same. What is the value of that? Well, what’s the value of love?

Happy 30th birthday InterPlay <3. May we continue to grow together. I love you!


Agnotti Shares about the 30th Anniversary of InterPlay

August 7, 2020

I’m so thankful for the generosity of this community. The generosity goes beyond donating to this campaign. I’ve stayed in your homes, I’ve been fed by you, I’ve learned from you. Last year at the Leader’s gathering you held me as I cried and grieved the passing of my mother. Your generosity of time has provided so much wisdom and grace for me. Each and everyone one of you is connected to each other to create this interconnected web of stories. This web connects across the globe creating more spaces and places where Body Wisdom is at the center.

Let me share a little story. In 2016, I was teaching an afterschool program in a Latinx neighborhood. As the children’s fear increased as the 2016 election approached, I used InterPlay to calm their hearts and release their stress. The form they would request again and again was a One Hand Dance. I asked them to lay on the floor, respect each other’s personal space, and we turned the lights off. As their hands lifted into the air, the hand dance honored this pause in a chaotic world. It offered a time of meditation, of breath, of calm. Haven’t we all felt that in our practice?

We have come to the point in InterPlay’s history where we need to create long-lasting support for the practice that is so life affirming and sustaining for so many. With the 30th Anniversary Campaign, we are launching InterPlay into the next 30 years. We can imagine and feel in our bodies what it would look like if play, connection, story, sound, BIBOs, movement, stillness, ease, Exformation were woven into the fabric of human connection. Take a moment to imagine.

As we dream about the expansion of InterPlay, I ask you to be a part of what we are building for a better tomorrow. We are almost to our Campaign goal, and we need that extra push. This last push is on behalf of future generations, on behalf of collective body wisdom that includes all races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, range of abilities.

As Leaders, our charge is creating space for Cynthia and Phil to transition out of their administrative roles into their roles as teachers and wisdom keepers. Our charge is caring for InterPlayce as the creative home and administrative center to InterPlay. Our charge is more scholarships. Our charge is centering Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Our charge is honoring intergenerational connections. As Leaders our charge is ensuring our future together.

August 1st was my first official day as Development Director. Cynthia and Phil will be transitioning out of their administrative roles to teachers and wisdom keepers over the next couple of years. Our $300,000 goal is to help with this overlap: bringing more people on, expanding position, and leading from our collective emerging wisdom. Thank you so much!!!! Help launch InterPlay into the next 30 years!

Monisha Mittal Lessons for Managers: At Play with the Physicality of Tension

May 2, 2019

Monisha Mittal is writing a book about what she discovered, Room To Reside: a journey about finding belonging and how the body communicates. Monisha is an organizational and internal communications expert with 20 years of managing consulting experience linking organizations to solutions in the federal and non-profit sectors. (In the first blog of a four-part series, she explored the point of support that we can find amidst the push-pull of tension, particularly when viewed from the lens of a physical experience. In this post, she explores tension as a meeting and tension as an agreement.)

bobbie jonathan.jpegTension as a Meeting The creators of InterPlay, Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter, teach about push-pull through forms involving contact. It’s through these forms I experience how satisfying oppositional forces can feel. One is called Counter Balance.  Here, two people find a way of making contact while also holding onto each other (for example imagine you standing with your right arm outstretched by your side, grabbing someone’s outstretched left arm), and then pull away from each other. We support their weight with our pulling just as they support ours. The tension between my body and the other meant I could go “away”, in a different direction of my choosing, and still feel the pull of someone “wanting” me back, like an anchor. In turn, my body is similarly serving as an anchor to my partner while they pull away. Here I found a middle that felt immensely satisfying, where I felt welcomed back, tethered to a reliable, strong home base, without it holding me back, or feeling smothering or limiting in any way. For a person who spent most of her life not being supported while she went a different direction from the herd, it’s hard to describe how incredible this felt in my body. Exhilarating really. Perhaps even something I’ve thirsted for.

Especially for managers or supervisors, I want to relay how, in my first introduction with CounterBalance, my partner made me feel held and supported no matter how much I pulled or pushed or what direction I wanted to take it.  When you think of how much energy we exert into pushing away from a situation or a relationship or pulling something in we want for ourselves, it is stunning to realize this type of support can be available. Because this was an embodied experience, I still have access to what that feels like in my body. This experience alone fuels my interest in bringing this type of teaching to managers….

(Link here to the rest of the article)

News: What I saw looking back at the 21st Century

June 12, 2018

Future news: In the 21st century cadres of grace operatives systematically co-evolved world change. Surprisingly, they discovered ways to reactivate states of grace and change the social field from body to body. They did this first by reengaging the birth right practices of music, dance, story, stillness, and reflection. Then partnering with each other they introduced easy ways to value welcome and include diverse participation. It was all done by reclaiming ancient strategies, but with new purpose.

Their training and approach was grassroots, non-threatening, and rarely made the news since they weren’t dependent on financial success, industry, hierarchical authorities, celebrity or drama to create grace. Their modus operandi leaned instead toward cultivating generous teams and circles of people that drew on diverse styles, gifts, and lineages with help from trained grace-wise organizers.

Over time cultures of grace grew from body to body until fields of organic human connection were palpable. Some theorize that the shift was a survival imperative. Humans had to rapidly adapt to dense populations, constraints on global resources, and climate challenges. They needed each other like never before. Panic, fear and nervous fatigue were unsustainable as people witnessed attacks on themselves, schools, public places and nations.

The human crisis had created an unusual hunger for something new.  To fill that hunger grace operatives, teachers, artists, spiritual leaders, therapists, inventors, designers, and business entrepreneurs experimented with grace-making technologies like Mindfulness, Non violent Communication, Expressive Arts, InterPlay, Appreciative Inquiry, Yoga, Open Circle Technology, and Conscious Dance to name a few.

Each new generation was increasingly prone to interactive creativity and social connection. Many seemed driven by obsessions to both slow down and accelerate. As they consistently made choices for a new social order, they asked that all creativities and bodies be prioritized. The gave their lives to inventing and sustaining an emerging strategy. Where ambition was fallow or slow to rise, people were welcome to rest and wait. Trusting the innate wisdom of the body played a central role in their values.

As the internet connected people to one another it created a mirror for leaders who endorsed, embodies and shared grace. Both science and experience proved grace to be the missing link in the overall spiritual intelligence of the people and the planet. This is when Spiritual Intelligence was defined as the overarching cohesion of all intelligences working synchronously and spontaneously for the good.

Artists were given responsibility and honored for creating experiences of celebration and social grace. When their offerings induced desirable social outcomes like peace, wonder, and heightened creativity with room for all kinds of social genius, humans saw leaps in generative innovation. People literally threw off the antiquated dog eat dog style, every man for himself, and the paranoia of single culture systems.

How? It began when humans began to dance, sing, and tell their stories in open non authoritarian ways. They rebuilt their internal authority based on what their bodies knew and what they wanted. As they shared and researched together wisdom grew. They called the spirit of this movement Grace, Namaste, Shalom, Aloha. The shift took many names. The important thing was that humans realized that they not only wanted to change their destiny they must. And they did.

InterPlay, Meditation, and Mindful Leaders

May 15, 2016


C5817C0E98DC408FBB951D954C0F01D8.ashx“Stillness is our friend.”

Phil Porter was the first to say it in InterPlay. He saw stillness create clarity in the process of performing movement. Meanwhile, most of us other movers and shakers let him have his way as we worked on it.

As time went on many of us realized that stillness is more than a skill. It’s a gateway for deep witnessing. It offers us an unconditional creative home in oneself where nothing is required, yet many things can happen.  It is a route to peace in community practice.

This is why stillness is one of the five freedoms we teach: freedom of movement, voice, speech, stillness, and connection. In InterPlay today you are likely to enter stillness and silence through movement, voice, and telling stories. In cases where a meditation teacher is leading, you may find yourself moving from sitting practices into new areas of embodied play, joy, and freedom through InterPlay practices.

Cynthia Winton-Henry, one of the founders of InterPlay has offered a weekly InterPlay meditative movement practice at InterPlayce in Oakland, California since 2004. This practice includes a gentle warm up accompanied by music that guides people to move and listen to the wisdom of their body in their movement, stillness, breath and voice. This may last from 10-20 minutes. After this other forms are introduced that focus on and encourage us to claim our body wisdom in life. The session concludes with a brief time for noticing and reflection.

A favorite form in InterPlay is Shape and Stillness. This practice invites people to move from shape to shape with as much as 80 percent stillness. This allows movers to listen their own body and be attentive to those around us. Inevitably, the awareness of interconnection and beauty arise. This is one of InterPlays most successful and inclusive forms because as Eckhardt Tolle writes in the Power of Now, “To meet everything and everyone in stillness instead of mental noise is the greatest gift you can offer to the universe. I call it stillness, but it is a jewel with many facets: that stillness is also joy, and it is love.”

susan, jewell barbra

InterPlay’s Mindful/Bodyful Qualities

InterPlay brings a unique focus to personal and group practice by welcoming the wisdom of the body and reintroducing the ability to playfully create in meaningful ways and learn as we go.  Creativity show us that we are more than our suffering. We are alive and resourceful! Nor is artfulness dependant on special ability. It is native to all people. All one needs is willingness. Tap into this creative source and everyone is enriched. The InterPlay forms are so invitingly possible most people cannot resist this invitation once they are in the room.

Another basic InterPlay practice is to notice, usually after an activity. Noticing heightens our ability to pay attention to whatever is present. It could be big or little. Even if we can’t articulate it, that’s just fine. Noticing is different from judging. Noticing builds up an appreciative respect for our body data, the bits and pieces of experience including thoughts, feelings, memories, etc. We also notice our body knowledge, those patterns in us that we experience over time, and gratefully, our ability to choose at any given moment what we want for our own good and the good of others. We call that our body wisdom.

We use easy focus to help us lighten our focus.  Instead of grasping or analyzing things that come to our attention, we invite our vision and body into spaciousness so that we can be present to the whole of experience.

We willingly enter and investigate the improvisatory spirit of whatever is moving in and through us. As we honor experience as temporary yet meaningful we learn to savor life, let go and then open to the next new thing.The more we let go and play with each new thing the less we seem to resist our life experiences.

We honor the speed of the body. With such a great need for stillness and rest in personal and social health, slowing down, being present and finding ourselves in direct contact with the earth, immediacy of breath, thought, energy, imagination, each other, joy, sorrow and life is potent and worth it. In this our body is our greatest teacher!

InterPlay Mindfulness and Meditation Teachers

Wonderful teachers are exploring and teaching at the intersection of InterPlay and meditation. Trained to share InterPlay’s eight body wisdom tools and simple structured practices they support people to find and claim a vital nature that is responsive and true.

Kaira Jewel Lingo, a widely traveled dharma teacher shares her
Kaira-Jewel-Lingo inspiring journey into creative mindfulness and bodyfulness and  says,

I bring InterPlay into my teaching and practice of mindfulness every chance I get. On retreats or days of mindfulness or when I share mindfulness with kids in schools, it always refreshes and inspires and I see a light in people’s eyes and a bounce in their step that wasn’t there before. They are more connected to each other and to themselves and they can see life in a new and more hopeful way. There is always laughter and a sense of discovery and curiosity. It is healing in the best of ways, because it is subtle, unassuming and has no agenda except to create fun and joy. I am so grateful for the many precious moments of meaning and transformation it has brought to my life and that of so many others with whom I have shared it!

Read her honest and compelling tale here. 

KristaDancerAtBeach008(2)In the Seattle Insight Meditation Society Quarterly Newsletter Anne Trench writes about teacher Krista Harris, “Krista wants us to “come out and play” in SanghaPlay… What is that all about? we might ask. Krista, a trained facilitator in the InterPlay movement, has adapted concepts from InterPlay to help us explore Buddhist principles.”

In 2000, an incredibly vital InterPlay friend of Krista’s was diagnosed with incurable cancer. Krista pledged to create a space with fellow InterPlayers where Peggy “could dance and sing, and tell big stories about her journey with cancer.” Seeking to better understand all that was happening, Krista stumbled on a course entitled “A Year to Live,” given by Rodney Smith. During that hard year and in the years that followed, Krista discovered many similarities and complementary connections between InterPlay and meditation. The basic, well-known forms of InterPlay helped Peggy embrace death, just as the basic, known practices of meditation – being still, focusing on the breath, being with what is – were helping Krista more fully embrace life. For over ten years, Krista has been working to deepen the embodied knowledge of stillness in the InterPlay community, and she wants to bring more embodied knowledge of “play” to the SIMS sangha.   Read more here. 

AJ Johnston introduced InterPlay to her sangha in Missoula, as well as on the Eastern


Shore of Virginia, and in Berkeley. Read what people discovered here including Ria de Neeve who said,”I have touched places in my Mindfulness Practice, like Joy and Freedom, that I couldn’t access on the cushion.”

awaken agnotti susan joshSusan Pudelek is an ambassador of the Parliament World Religions and part of an ongoing Catholic Buddhist dialogue. At Awaken Chicago, hosted by the Chicago Shambala community she and Agnotti Cowie, InterPlay Millennial Liaison, led InterPlay and Deep Listening with outstanding response. The purpose was to address Chicago’s “deep roots of isolation, inequality and violence that touch every one of our lives. The power is within all of us, individually and collectively, to transform these roots with open-hearted bravery and challenge a new paradigm to emerge, grow, and flourish. That is what Awaken Chicago is all about – a weekend to be together, listen and search within ourselves for the bravery, acceptance, and compassion desired to make this historic shift.” In storytelling these leaders supported a kind of joyful witnessing where people connect story to story. 71 people did small practices like “I could talk about,” 30 seconds of telling, and much more.

Awaken InterPlay Babble for Deep Listening


InterPlayers have much to learn from these and leaders like Chinh Nyugen, Connors McConville, therapist and spiritual director, Wakoh Shannon Hickey, Professor of Religious Studies and Zen Buddhist Priest, and  Kelsey Blackwell at Shamhala Meditation Community in Oakland. They exemplify what Spirit Rock teacher Wes Nisker says,  

“In order to hear crazy wisdom, we need to somehow shut off or turn down the grinding noise of the rational, analytic gears. Crazy wisdom requires that we get at least a little bit out of our minds.”

What better way than to dance, sing, take a deep breath, and hear a good story?  Yours, mine or ours!

InterPlay plays well with other practices, mindsets, and disciplines to help to bring the whole body into play with best practices.


InterPlayers Offer Voice to the Voiceless

April 11, 2016

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In Cambodia Trish Watts  listens to descendants of the Pol Pot genocide. The loss of so many artists, singers, dancers, intellectuals, and elders left kids without art mentors or knowledge about group song. Trish’s skills as a choir leader, Voice Movement Therapist and InterPlay leader support these young singers in Cambodia Sings, to Stand Up Tall and Strong. Here them sing.

A spontaneous, creative voice carries our truth, power, healing and wisdom. And in InterPlay our approach into leading a little creative movement, melody, rhythm and speech can help people tap into and share rich, simple, and silly moments with each other. When we do we feel more whole and safe allowing us to learn and heal.

Soyinka Rahim, the Grassroots Spiritual Practionner, is a fountain of song on the street, in a school, spiritual community or the conference stage. From her history in professional dance and teaching the young and the old, she inspires the breathless to breathe and the motionless to move with InterPlay and her BIBO Love chants, (Breathe In Breathe Out). Hear her voice on her BIBO Love album! Her work as a love activist is changing the world. BIBO!


Andrea Waterstone, Director of Art and Education at Georgia’s Clarkston Community Center (CCC) was thrilled to have Ruth Schowalter join her after school program to teach teenage refugee students “Creative Communication,” using the improvisational tools of InterPlay. She said, “The result from the work Ruth does with the students at the Clarkston Community Center is nothing short of transformational. I have first hand noticed students who were shy, unable to make eye contact during conversation or incapable of speaking up for themselves in group interaction BLOOM into more confident, self assured, well-spoken individuals. Read the whole thing here. 


LaVerne Baker Hotep traveled to South Sudan with Mediators Without Borders and used InterPlay practices to help refugees connect with each other and find hope. Through Shape & stillness and Big Body Stories with a Gesture Choir she said they took to InterPlay like “fish to water,” so often the case in cultures that retain connection to the wisdom of the body.


The vocal body is wise, joyful, and true. It carries us through suffering and opens the way to love. What an amazing resource!  If you are a choir leader or interested in voice you’ll find some easy InterPlay tools in the book What the Body Wants. Check out InterPlay classes and the rich leadership resources in InterPlay’s Life Practice Program and Trainings in your area.





All of the Gifts in InterPlay Are People!

January 4, 2016

We are lucky in InterPlay circles to be surrounded by the unbelievable beauty of being human.

People say, “How did you get such amazing people together?” The reverse is true. Visionary, wise, complicated people seek out InterPlay’s unusual, wonder-working power to help them to embody their core creative spirit in community.

These wonderful folks are all graduates of the InterPlay Life Practice Program. Visionary leaders know that InterPlay helps people make a difference!

We’ve also discovered that most visionary leaders arrive there through art practices of their own!


Selisse Berry was awarded our 2015 National Spirit of InterPlay Award.

Berry-SelisseSelisse did the InterPlay Life Practice Program in 1999 having already founded Out and Equal Workplace Advocates, a paradigm changing nonprofit dedicated to helping 500 multinational companies create welcoming workplaces for LGBTQ folk through domestic partner health and family leave benefits, anti-discrimination policies and diversity training.

Her reach extends to key political players in Washington, DC—where she now lives—and around the globe!

Selisse’s InterPlay wisdom grounds her visionary leadership—a compassionate, imaginative, social justice intelligence that is not afraid to dance, sing, tell one’s story, and dream the dream of embracing all bodies as whole and necessary.

She adds, “There are emotional and financial benefits to being authentic…If you are putting all your energy into hiding, into changing pronouns, you are actually not working at full capacity, and that hurts the company’s bottom line.” Read more about her journey here! Selisse you are a gift!


MairiCampellMairi Campbell was just awarded Scotland’s Instrumentalist of the Year at the Scot Traditional Music Awards, and credits InterPlay’s “cross-art-form practice” for helping her birth Pulse, a new groundbreaking one-woman performance. Pulse will premiere in January at the prestigious Showcase Scotland at Celtic Connections.

In it, Mairi sings, acts, plays and dances the story of her musical homecoming and journey of the heart. She weaves live viola, voice, animation, movement and storytelling with tracks inspired by improvisations that grew out of her urgent listening to the earth during Scotland’s recent struggle for freedom during the referendum election.

Bravo Mairi! Click to get a taste of her performance on YouTube.

Mairi took the InterPlay Life Practice Program and Teacher Training in 2012.


LeahMann2Leah Mann recently gave big in Atlanta, helping to creatively address issues of AIDS/HIV in young people—a 70% spike in new HIV cases in young people ages 13-24 in the US.

Funded by the Elton John Foundation, she produced a week of powerfully charged performances and events including an InterPlay workshop led with Harriet Platts. One can see the effects of InterPlay’s freeing influence on her choreography for Moving in the Spirit, an award winning youth company she helped to found! Take a look at Getting to Zero.

Leah credits InterPlay as one of the as one of the ways she can recharge her artistic batteries amidst the joyful chaos of making art and raising a child with her amazing collaborator-husband Ela Lamblin! Get more Lelavision goodies here.


SoyinkaRahimSoyinka Rahim, Grass Roots Spiritual Practitioner, gifts InterPlay in many ways including being a champion of the InterPlay workshop “Changing our Race Dance.” She recently led InterPlay at the People of Color Conference in Florida organized by the National Association of Independent Schools People of Color Conference in Florida. Another amazing InterPlay leader, Caroline Blackwell, their Vice President for Equity & Justice and Research, currently assisting with the Life Practice Program in Washington, DC, leads this 3,000-member event.

With Seattle-based Betsey Beckman as producer, Soyinka is finalizing details for her CD, BIBO Love, to be launched February 13th in Oakland!

For Soyinka, InterPlay is a family that believes in and upholds her tremendous gifts as a facilitator,. She completed the Life Practice Program in 2006.


During the time Katrina Browne did the Life Practice Program in 2000, she received a diary from a grandmother disclosing the history of her family’s involvement in the northern slave trade. With tremendous courage she followed her body wisdom to create the documentary Traces of the Trade about her family legacy. Katrina has initiated 1000s of conversations to help shift the race conversation in the U.S. This year she is recommitting herself to the wisdom of the body and InterPlay leadership. She moves forward with consciousness about life and love alongside her friends/leaders at Dance Exchange (founded by Liz Lerman) and Afro Flow Yoga.

SharieBowmanInterPlay Leaders Sharie Bowman, (therapist and healer) and Nancy Pfaltzgraf (retired nurse and clergy) led their first 8-week InterPlay Tools Online course this fall. Participants were amazed at how connected they felt using this online video format. Their closing Version 2celebration was a delightful affirmation of the power of InterPlay’s tools. They were connecting with others around the world —two from Australia and seven from all over the US.




AmyShoemakerAmy Shoemaker, Life Practice Program, and Jeff Cheifetz credit InterPlay for the body wisdom tools helping them create Sanctuary for the Arts, an innovative community at the intersection of art, faith and social change. JeffCheifetzThey seek to provide holistic spiritual growth and healing to anyone who has ever felt creatively limited or frustrated in faith communities. Their visionary leadership is breaking ground for others who seek to embody faith in life and practice.


OlafElander.jpgBody Wisdom board member Olaf Elander first completed the Life Practice Program in 2009 and repeated it in 2011 and 2014. He is a former Kaiser Permante employee who is dedicated to men’s InterPlay. His long-time desire to see InterPlay introduced to the Kaiser committee led him to introduce Cynthia to Katie Rovere, co-founder of Genkp, a millennial movement within Kaiser Permanente’s health care system. Genkp seeks to provide energizing cross-organizational collaboration and professional development to inspire and empower KP employees to be the change they seek in healthcare. For two years, Katie has invited Cynthia to lead outstanding leaders of this movement as they accelerate their game-changing wisdom for the future of Kaiser with the support of the organization’s CEO, Bernhard Tyson. Olaf and Katie know the power of InterPlay to connect people to their passion and each other!


The inspiring gifts of InterPlay leaders are endless!

What gifts we have in InterPlay leaders drawing on their body wisdom in service to a better world: Trish Watts leads Cambodia Sings, Janie Oakes serves on the board of The Vietnam Project, Keith Warner’s provides earth-wise leadership at Santa Clara University’s Miller Institute for Social Entreprneurship, Kaira Jewel Lingo teaches mindfulness and peace, Diane Rawlinson inspires dance educators using InterPlay to build community and empower the art-making of young people and Beth Sarver, serves schools as a Trauma Outreach Coordinator through Kansas City’s Truman Medical Center Behavioral Health.

The list could go on and on. If I click on any name in our Leaders Circle I can see the ways that InterPlay has opened up the gifts of that unique person in the world! Amazing!

The practices of InterPlay provide support for your deepest passions. The Life Practice Program, led worldwide, makes this happen. People are writing books, making movies, recording music, serving as care-givers with more joy, moving through illnesses with greater resilience and sharing these strategies with people in many arenas.

Interested, or know someone who might be? Check out the Life Practice Program at to find out where the program is being offered next. You may also enroll in the Long Distance Program if there isn’t a program in your neck of the woods.

We’re all over the world and happy to support you. Call or email for more information at 510-465-2797 or

The gifts don’t end there!

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Over 100 donors in the Giving Wings Society are committed to providing financial support for InterPlay millennials, leaders of color and special projects. Since August 25 people have joined in the “flap!”:

Cindy Acker, Amy Angel, Nancy Banman, David Bentley, Heidi Blythe, Susan Bowen, Andrew Chen, Joyce Copenhagen, Paul Dannhauser, Jeff & Joyce Davis, Jennifer Denning & Lachlan Brown, Indi Dieckgrafe-Dreyer, Nancy Donald, Leslie Houston, Mary Hillstrom, Katie Hymans, Liz Lang & Louise Petrasek, Amos Lans, Billie Mazzei, Terry McCarthy, Deanna Murray, Linda Palmstrom, Stephanie Pile, Ron Prieve and Madeline Udashen.

More recent news about the Giving Wings Society…

What a thrill to be part of something that makes deep, deep sense on the inside even if it looks crazy from the outside. We are excited for all who are playing a part in what is to come. More shall be revealed!!!



InterPlayers in a Side-by-Side Story with the Dalai Lama at upcoming Parliament of World Religions!

September 21, 2015

OK, well not exactly at the same exact moment in the same exact location, but pretty close to it.

More than 20 InterPlayers are signed up to play at the Parliament of World Religions October 14-19 in Salt Lake City, Utah, all coming from different faith traditions using the bridge building practices of InterPlay to play every day, perform, and witness Spiritual Leaders like the Dalai Lama, Jane Goodall, Karen Armstrong and more than 6000 participants.

The final morning, Monday October 19th, we will offer an Unbelievable Beauty of Being Human Workshop/Performance that will include newcomers as we focus on frequently underrepresented stories of women and girls!

How inspiring to bring together people like Susan Pudelek, Parliament Ambassador who led InterPlay in the Buddhist Catholic Dialogue at a Vatican meeting held with Pope Francis.


Kaira Jewel Lingo–Dharma Teacher in the Engaged Buddhist tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh who uses InterPlay practices in some of her teaching.


Betsey Beckman who designed opening worship for this year’s Spiritual Directors International Conference.

Cassandra Sagan who uses InterPlay to prepare Jewish Maggids (storytellers) for Ordination.

Soyinka Rahim, GSP, Grassroots Spiritual Practionner who led InterPlay Race Dances across the US this year, including in Fergusen, Missouri.

and Kelsey Blackwell Shambhala Buddhist Practionner who recently attended Arts and Social Change InterPlay for Millennial Leaders.


Why Religion?  Is InterPlay a spiritual practice?
Phil and I see that the depth of human wholeness reveals itself in the arts, especially in dancing. From our beginnings this “moved” us to “heal the false split” that humans create between body, mind, heart and spirit. What eloquence we consistently see in people who create in the NOW!  How rich and resourceful people are when they “open up” to even a little more artfulness.

Why does it still surprise that those who move, vocalize, and share stories in the moment uncover a promised wholeness spoken of by founders of religious communities, the great spiritual teachers whose wisdom is followed in ancient cultures.  Because we need to be reminded, Phil and I use the word bodyspirit to reclaim that basic wholeness.

Spiritual intelligence is an inherent wisdom of our bodies. Spiritual intelligence does not replace religion or culture, and may not even be associated with a religion.  Yet it is a key intelligence to reach for when violence, injustice, and environmental challenges shake our foundations.

We need ways to harness the COMMON WEALTH of our spiritual wisdom, joy, courage, and love especially if we need to do hard things. InterPlay is one of these ways.

On this 25th year of celebration we are excited that InterPlay strategies are helping diverse spiritual communities foster their gifts of body wisdom using artful ways to amplify the wisdom of our traditions! We are even more thrilled when we get to play and learn together!

We invite you to participate!

  1. Connect to and affirm this offering by joining the special Facebook group where you can share your own hopes and connections in relation to learning from each other’s spiritual practices. Invite friends.
  2. Make a financial contribution. Body Wisdom created this to be an offering in honor of our 25th year – we are not charging typical tuition or event fees. Your contributions support costs for Parliament registrations, travel and event organizing expenses.
  3. Sign up for Parliament News and find ways to participate online.
  4. Know anyone going that we should connect with? Contact
  5. Last but not least please dance and sing on behalf of the gracious contributions of each InterPlayer and their offerings before, during and after the Parliament! They are:
  • Masankho Banda-Storyteller and Peace Activist from Malawi;
  • Betsey Beckman–Catholic liturgical dancer, Washington;
  • Kelsey Blackwell–Shambhala Buddhist practitioner, California;
  • Bobbie Bolden–Church of Religious Science Practionner, California;
  • Linda Breitag–Musician and Vipassana practitioner, Minnesota;
  • Agnotti Cowie–InterPlay Millennial Liaison, Chicago;
  • AJ Johnston–Sangha leader in the Thich Nhat Hanh community;
  • Michelle Jordan–Church of Religious Science Practionner, Calif;
  • Kaira Jewel Lingo–Dharma Teacher in the Engaged Buddhist tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, Atlanta;
  • Julia McKay–Unitarian Universalist Minister, Colorado;
  • Susanna Pain–Anglican Priest and Spiritual Director, Australia;
  • Susan Pudelek–Catholic lay leader, Parliament Ambassador, Chicago;
  • Soyinka Rahim–Grassroots Spiritual Practitioner, California;
  • Cassandra Sagan from Oregon-Teacher at Jewish Spiritual Education Maggid-Ordination Program;
  • Judy Shook, Methodist Minister, Creation Spirituality Leader, Calif;
  • Rehana Tejpar–Somatic Arts Facilitator, Toronto;
  • Nadia Thalji-Therapist and Spiritual Leader, California/Brazil;
  • Barbra Wiener–Jewish leader, Minnesota.

6th Annual Art & Social Change inspires participants in work and play

August 26, 2015

Fifteen Millennials from across the United States and from Europe, Mexico and Canada converged at InterPlayce July 20-July 31 for InterPlay’s 6th annual Art & Social Change gathering for young artists and activists.

11822526_10153307018814279_704961481585031536_nDuring the two-week program participants between the ages of 19 and 36 were introduced to InterPlay forms of movement, storytelling and song as “sneaky deep” ways for building artistic skill, leadership ability and strong community.

To support and inspire young thought leaders, daily practice connected “play” with pertinent social issues including racial injustice, gender inequality and gentrification.

“I am constantly amazed at the level of passion and commitment within these special groups of Millennials,” said Cynthia Winton-Henry, one of the co-founders of InterPlay and the primary organizer of the yearly gathering. “They already have so much wisdom about making art and making change in the world.”

Phil Porter, InterPlay’s other co-founder remarked on how quickly the group connected.

“Although they were strangers to each other when they first entered the room, it seemed to me that the group bonded really quickly—even by the end of the first day. The InterPlay process definitely speeds up the relationship-building but I also think they were just so happy to be in a room with others with a deeply shared commitment.”

Field trips to businesses in the East Bay exemplified how art, social change and conscious commerce can successfully intersect.

Participants toured Creative Growth, a non-profit visual arts center in Oakland providing art programs, independent living training, counseling and vocational skills to adult artists with developmental, mental and physical disabilities.

“I had to put on my sunglasses to hide my weeping,” said Kassi Dephinia, a writer, performer and visual artist. “I’m a disabled artist struggling with psychological pain and diagnoses of mental illness. Before this program I’d been researching and seeking organizations that make the arts accessible for disabled artists, and fretted when I found none in my area. This experience made it clear that of the many causes I’m passionate about, this will be the one I focus on first.”

At Impact Hub Oakland, a co-working and events space for business professionals invested in social and environmental change, participants learned about the international network of Impact HUB spaces and how each reflects the interests and priorities of its community. Other excursions included trips to Alameda Redux, an Alameda-based studio space and gallery featuring artwork and merchandise made from reclaimed material; Redwood Regional Park; and Goat Rock Beach.

Another highlight were regular “Art Shares” where participants were invited to share their personal stories and inspirations using song, movement, improv and storytelling.

“Sharing my story using dance and being witnessed was incredible. I got so much more out of it than I imagined,” said Kelsey Blackwell, a writer and dancer. “I now see how my personal journey is supporting me in my big work. My goals feel possible.”

The two-week training culminated with an improv performance and graduation ceremony in which participants danced, ran and jumped, down a Soul-Train style line while celebrants threw glitter, feathers and confetti.

Porter empowered attendees to use the InterPlay forms in their work and in daily life during a graduation speech (much of it in a made up language) which concluded the evening and two-week training.

“The whole experience stimulated me to reflect on my life and the role creativity plays in it,” said Stephan Marchant, an art therapist from Belgium. How do I invite creativity into my life, and which practices can I cultivate to continue to honor the creative process?”

Echoed Dan Dilliplane, a teacher and director:

“InterPlay’s focus on the creative tools of the body and on embodied ways of knowing is just what I needed to push my work to the next level. I hope to continue to develop the connections that I made in this program, and I know that some of the InterPlay tools and exercises I learned during this training will be finding their way into my classroom this fall.”

Radiate from the center of your universe

August 24, 2015

Excerpted from: Slightly Mad Rantings of a Body Intellectual, By Phil Porter  

world-revolves-around-meI am the center for the universe!

Of course, so are you.

The universe has many centers, and from each center circles of concern radiate outward as far you can go. Our orbits intersect, overlap, and even sometimes collide.

Although it may sound self absorbed, I think we should spend more time circling around ourselves. My body is right here, I should be in it. Occasionally, I may spin out and around someone or someplace else, but if I stay there too long, I will probably get into one form of trouble or another.

Many of us live lives that are not spinning around ourselves. We may be focused on a relationship, children, a partner, a job, or even a world event that we find concerning. There will be times in our lives when we either choose or are forced to circle elsewhere—a sick child, an aging parent, a crisis of some proportion. There will be times when we send ourselves quite far out—to distant loved ones or even the divine. But if we are gone for long from our centers we will suffer, and we shouldn’t be surprised.

Difficult work that requires us to be spinning elsewhere should be shared. Even if we feel called to do difficult work, we probably shouldn’t do it for long unless we also find significant ways to come back to ourselves.

Many of us have been taught to take care of others, that giving must come before receiving. We must give even if it is costly to us. We feel undeserving or self-indulgent when we receive.

In fact, there is no split between giving and receiving. Both are crucial to us as individuals and as members of community. To take care of ourselves leads us to abundance and generosity. Giving flows out of those states like a clear, cool, effortless stream.

Go boldly where few have gone before: to the center of your own universe!