Morning of the Soul Commitment Ceremonies, Turned-On Living 2023
I am increasingly making decisions by connecting with my body, and its many sensations. And I love that.
I want to share something quite personal with you today about this trend. It’s not new for me (I’ve been living with an ear toward my body for about fifteen years) but it’s growing in steam and power. It’s not as if I never share personal things, but this one requires me to slow down and think about how to tell you. Here’s what I want to tell you. This somatic-decision making thing.
In early November, I hosted this year’s Turned-On Living group in Providence for our in-person retreat. The women came from Charlotte, North Carolina; Toronto, Hoboken, New Jersey; Austin, Texas; and Seattle, Washington. When I told people at home in Rhode Island that the women were coming from such diverse places, they acted impressed as if I had hit the big time. Well, that’s just how it was. This year we came together as a group of women from these places, and this was our moment to meet in person. As two of them said at our first dinner, it would have been unfathomable not to come.
We have been getting to know each other on Zoom since January, so we would be in person after ten months of meeting online in those little squares. We were three-dimensional people in the flesh. We’ve talked about such intimate things, in months with topics ranging from prioritizing pleasure to anti-people-pleasing to visioning and getting clear about what we want for our lives. What we really, really want, not what we are supposed to want!
We danced in the woods on Saturday and then co-created the soul commitment ceremonies at a farm the next day, choosing songs for their pussywalks down the aisle, talking about the adornments they would wear as symbols of self-commitment. The ceremonies themselves were gorgeous and uplifting like I have never quite experienced. At the lunch to celebrate the soul-commitment ceremonies, I surprised them with a Death by Chocolate Gluten-Free cake, made for them, decorated “Happy Soul Commitment!”on the frosting with their initials. That was fun!
I was sitting with myself a day after the retreat, feeling into the spaciousness and calm that was generated in my body because we got to be in person. So much love, so much support, so much acceptance in those days with these vibrant, fun, surprising women. There’s something different and special about being physically together with the foundation of trust, ease and camaraderie that had been built virtually over time. It’s different than a retreat where you don’t know the people beforehand, and might not see them after. We were a group that that been together ten months and had two months to go.
I was working on some questions about my business, planning next year, what comes next. This year has been a great experience, so I have wanted to do a second Year of Turned-On Living but have been struggling with timing and energy because it’s not easy for me to teach and market at the same time.
As I played with answers and dates and made lists, I realized that I wanted to slow down. I wanted to push the start date of Turned-On Living back from February to June, for a variety of reasons, that would make me feel more rested, and ready, giving me enough time to digest the lessons of this year.
Now this would seem like a small thing, but it was not a small thing. Changing this plan was revolutionary to me! Gosh darn it, I could choose a pace that would feel good in my body when I imagined the path forward, not send me into a spiral of clenched fear that I was going to be exhausted for the next year.
Am I not the boss of my own life and business? Even though I have reinvented myself and my life many times, living in different countries too, and I have specifically chosen to be a self-employed entrepreneur, I sometimes forget that I am in charge, that I have more agency and freedom than I realize. We all get to choose many times, more than we realize.
I felt really good making this decision. And how did it come to me? The idea to push timing back came to me through my body, through a warmth and spaciousness in my belly. When I imagined June, I could sink into the couch and feel relaxed through my middle and even my thighs and down to my toes. I was choosing a future that would feel good to me. Here is a big value of being a sensitive person who is quite in touch with my body; the body can be an excellent rudder for decision-making.
The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain, a book we read during the Embodied Confidence Month of the Year of Turned-On Living, provides evidence that the best decisions come from a variety of inputs. Not just from our brains but from all points in our bodies. The chapter “Thinking with Sensation” dives into research showing that Wall Street traders who were most successful in making money were not the most educated; they made them based on gut hunches and whispers they could feel in their bodies. They could make decisions quickly, almost like animals.
The book is utterly fascinating. I am a bit animal-like in my decisions too, though I don’t make them quickly, necessarily. I do listen to whispers in my body, pulses, and their opposite, deadness. This deep, ongoing listening to my body is not something that came to me naturally. It’s the result of many years of practice; my mind is very active too and can keep me stuck with analysis paralysis.
Listening to my body’s impulses has taken me to many places far away from home, to California, to Argentina, to Bali, back to my native Rhode Island, to tango, to the people who have been influential for me. Listening to my body is also how I healed my body from the aftermath of a secret kept of a single incident of childhood sexual abuse when I was six, because that took me to tango and South America, but I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time. I was just following instincts. Body-based instincts are important. This is what I am writing about in Wet. All about how I got so connected with my body.
My advice about decisions? Think things through, do your research, make your lists, and also make sure you pay attention to your body. Feel into how future ideas, yesses or nos, or schedules, land in your viscera, your organs, your cavitiies.
We talk about body intuition quite a lot in Turned-On Living. How to make decisions by being in touch with your body, speak up, say no, set a boundary, do something different, because you feel it as a truth in your sensations.
Listening to your body can get complicated. Because sometimes the body does lie. Here’s one example. Your heart is pounding. You are feeling like you are going to die; but you are not. You are having a panic attack. It can be a journey to get into a long-term relationship with your body and learn how to read yourself, repeatedly inquiring to find patterns of wisdom.
It makes me happy to have this clear example of listening to my body to make an important decision that improves my quality of life, or I think it will. I adore the clear decisions that feel good in my body, expansive, enlarging. They can be rare jewels. Not that I can predict exactly what will happen–who can ever predict what will happen?
In general, decisions that feel physically spacious have a way of panning out in magical ways, giving me not necessarily what I said I wanted but what I most need. And there are always surprises.
We can’t control everything but we may be able to control more than we think.
So I sent out this essay/email to share with you this story….
And also to tell you the new liftoff dates for the 2024-2025 cohort of Turned-On Living.
We are now kicking off in June.
The interviews to form the group will happen in January. The group will be closed by February 1.
This gives you a lot of time to get yourself settled between February and June.
If this group is any indication, all groups of TOL women will be FIRE, as Gen Zers say.
Want to learn more? Go to the new web page for Turned-On Living with photos from our recent retreat, dancing in the woods and the soul commitment ceremonies at a lovely farm outside Providence.