In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.

~ Robert Lynd

Do you have any furry or feathered friends? How often do you communicate with other species? What can you learn from your dance with other non-human beings?

Lots of folks have pets or domestic animals as the case may be. You might have a dog or two or a cat or three. Canaries can be with your family for a few years, parrots can outlive their owners and get passed down to future generations. Jonathan, the giant Seychelles Tortoise, was born in 1832 and is still plodding along today.

Then again, you may be one of the many people who choose not to have the responsibility and obligation that comes along with having a critter to care for. It’s perfectly understandable and more than ok to simply appreciate the fauna of our world in situ and to relate to the animal kingdom as an observer.

Different ages and different stages in life also factor in when it comes to caring for creatures. Youngsters thrive with the emotional support of a furry friend when times are tough there’s nothing quite like having a companion who will listen without comment, stare into your eyes, and tolerate endless hugging without judgment.

During the peripatetic years of life when we’re traveling, seeing the world, and trying on big adventures, the responsibility of owning an animal can be too much, so we’re better off leaving that to others and getting our dose of animal wisdom from the natural world around us.

When we’re well settled down and comfortable in our later years, having a wagging tail in the house that gets us out the door and walking two or three times a day is a blessing. A purring ball of fur that trains us to properly prepare their meals and organize their environment can be a comfort beyond compare.

When you get right down to it, we’re all creatures with a need for connection, it’s just that we all have different capacities for communication. Domesticated animals like cats and dogs have spent millennia becoming attuned to our foibles and learning how to symbiotically cohabitant with us with the rewarding result of food and warmth.

Cultivating your connections across the species barrier doesn’t have to mean owning a pet. Even if you are an urban dweller, the natural world offers an abundance of animal life that can amuse, inform, and inspire you.

Case in point — crows. Not just crows, but corvids in general. This family of birds is canny, clever, and resourceful, ready to get to know you and deepen your connection to the natural world. Turns out they are some of the most intelligent animals in the world.

From Wikipedia: “ Corvidae is a cosmopolitan family of oscine passerine birds that contains the crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays, magpies, treepies, choughs, and nutcrackers. In common English, they are known as the crow family, or, more technically, corvids.

Several months ago I read somewhere that making friends with crows is a quirky and rewarding practice. Since I find myself walking Ivan, our big black canine companion most mornings, I realized that it would be easy to get to know the pair of large black birds that live in our trees a bit better.

Apparently, the trick is peanuts. In particular, unsalted peanuts with the shells still on. Not something I typically kept on hand, but worth a few dollars at the grocery store to pick up a big bag. I started keeping a few in my pocket to drop along the path during my doggie walks.

Lo and behold, within a few days, my local couple started to land on a nearby lamp post to watch us walking as soon as we’d leave the house. One of the pair is more courageous than the other and swoops down towards the valuable peanuts as soon as Ivan and I are more than 50 or so feet away.

They seem to really distrust Ivan, even though he’s safely on a leash any quick moves by him cause them to fly away. What’s really amusing about their peanut acquiring behavior is the way they keep one eye on me through the whole engagement like a shoplifter eying a clerk.

They land on the ground a few feet away from the prize and then approach it with a series of sideways hops. It’s like they think they’re committing a crime because as soon as they pick up the peanut they skitter back a few hops looking at me as if to say “Ha! Outsmarted you again silly human, I am the brilliant peanut thief!

So now I’ve got this kind of quirky little corvid dance happening nearly every day on my outings. If I happen to go out without some peanuts in my pocket, they are obviously upset, loudly registering their disappointment with squawks of dismay.

One thing is for sure, we’ve developed a strong connection. Anytime I leave my house on foot in the mornings or afternoons, they’re keeping an eye out for me, swooping out of nowhere to a vantage point above my head. They seem to be able to hear the sound of a peanut hitting the ground from hundreds of yards away, or maybe they just have excellent eyesight.

I’ve known folks who became friends with a mongoose, socialized with squirrels, or communed with coyotes. There’s nothing to stop you from reaching out to another species who happens to share your environment and expanding your dance of life to include them.

After all, when you expand your perspective to include their point of view you’re giving yourself more opportunities to “move with an intention towards greater awareness” which is the definition of conscious dance in the first place!

Much love and inspiration until next Monday!

M+

Mark Metz
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine

Dance First Member Spotlight – Stacey Butcher!

This week’s Dance First Member Spotlight shines on Stacey Butcher! Stacey is a practiced healer focused on incorporating deep mindfulness, presence, authenticity, passion and humour into her practice and experiences. Using a blend of spiritual, therapeutic and physical techniques, Stacey has found that the medicine of movement provides the perfect integration between our inner and outer worlds.

Stacey draws from her diverse skill set, built with over a two decades of study. Among other qualifications, she is an Open Floor Movement Teacher (Serving on the Faculty of Open Floor International), 5Rhythms Teacher, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, Reiki Master, Certified Acupressure Practitioner specializing in Emotional Balancing, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.

Offering workshops in movement , Reiki, and crystals , Stacey is committed to sharing a spiritually guided healing experience to those around her. Upcoming events can be found on her calendar, alongside registration information and helpful event links.

For those in Marin, CA, Stacey is offering a Reiki Level 2 Training THIS Saturday, February 22, from 9 am to 5 pm.

For the dancers out there, Stacey is setting off soon for an extensive teaching tour in Europe. She will be teaching Open Floor Workshops in Prague , LuxembourgBelgium and Ireland, as well as an Open Floor class in Edinburgh and a 5Rhythms SweatYour Prayers at Findhorn, Scotland. And stay tuned – she may pop in for a few guest teaching spots in other places.

And save the date, Stacey will be back in the Bay Area and teaching a new Open Floor Workshop called “Unfinished Business” on October 23-25 in Berkeley, CA. Details will be coming soon. Join Stacey’s email list to be notified when registration opens.

Her workshop attendees have nothing but positive reviews for Stacey’s practices: “I cannot speak highly enough of the solidity, safety, and power of the container she provides for deep movement-based work, nor of her masterful use of music to assist in sacred, heart-opening practices. ” -Carol Amor, Property Manager/Spiritual Director

 One of the things I like best in working with her is that she’s able to combine all her trainings to be the most effective for whatever your body needs at the time. Not only do I get an hour of gentle, peaceful touch in a sacred space, I leave feeling better than when I arrived and, over the weeks of working with her, I get to see an upward trend of overall improvement.” -Deborah F, Speech Therapist

Healing is another one of Stacey’s specialties. Her healing sessions focus on transformational bodywork and somatic experiencing.

Transformational bodywork combines various energy healing modalities, designed to fit your own personal needs. Healing happens by facilitating a reconnection between yourself and your true essence. The process reduces stress, brings clarity, and promotes an emotional release that balances your mind, body, and spirit.

Somatic experiencing is a technique developed by Dr. Peter Levine and provides a holistic strategy to achieve healing and resolution of trauma or emotional wounds. Using a biophysical approach to healing trauma, somatic experiencing provides the opportunity to engage, complete, and resolve the body’s natural fight or flight response.

Interested in learning more about Stacey’s holistic approach to healing and spiritual empowerment? You can find more information here.

Check out her upcoming dates and make plans to participate!

Body Prayer w/ Stacey Butcher
Feb 23, Sebastopol, CA

Perspective w/ Stacey Butcher :: An Open Floor Movement Workshop
Mar 20-22, Prague, Czech Republic

Open Floor Class w/ Stacey Butcher
April 7, Edinburgh, Scotland

5Rhythms Sweat Your Prayers w/ Stacey Butcher
April 19, Findhorn, Scotland

Strong Back, Soft Front, Wild Heart :: An Open Floor Movement Workshop with Stacey Butcher
May 15-17, Luxembourg

Inquiry in Motion :: Integrating Somatic Experiencing on the Open Floor with Stacey Butcher
June 19-21, Antwerp, Belgium

Open Floor :: Lineage w/ Stacey Butcher
June 26-28, Cork, Ireland