Grief & Gratitude: Consciously Dancing With Maturity

Grief & Gratitude: Consciously Dancing With Maturity

Warming up, gentle music carrying me…in…into my body, into the space, into the dance. I get curious, checking in with this body today. Following nurturing breath and beat into joints, muscles, aches and pains, stiff and crunchy places… into the question…what is here now?

My heart swells, full of how deeply the dance is my home, my entire life, movement has been a comforting constant. Twenty years alone have been devoted to 5Rhythms and ecstatic forms of dance. As I move with this emotion my body and heart soften, my movements get round and full, slow and yummy.

This carries me into a full and joyful dance…moving from my center and into the space, between other bodies, eventually connecting with other’s movements…feet, hips, spines…in our unique dialogue together. “Hello! Oh…I see….yes, and this is me today…yes…thank you, yes!” Through the room the dance takes us. I go and go and go, connecting and letting go, freeing my body and mind, and my heart…opening, filling, expanding.

Eventually my body quiets, movements slow, I come to quiet, restful movements, gentle, expanded…capacity for embodied presence right now, more than it was when I walked in.

Then I see it…a group of bodies rolling and twisting, hips open and fluid, no limitations in physical form. Beautiful youthful strength, wide-open expression of connection – core flow, body to body, grace, ease, joy. I smile, my brain body loves this, she knows this…it is familiar. I know these moves, I know what they feel like from the inside…rolling hips against the floor, against other bodies, fluid, easy, satisfying connections…and in this moment of joyful knowing it comes. My heart aches, this strange mixture of tremendous expanded gratitude at knowing, in my bones… and heart wrenching grief…the awareness strikes me… this is no longer my dance.

I will not be moving like that, in those ways again. These hips will not abide. The tears stream, I watch these movers as I rock myself gently. Being with this richness…expanded gratitude and grief…at the same moment. This heart of mine has been through many openings, cracking, breaking, shattering, and this one is different. This one is different. Poignant. Paradoxical. Quietly creeping in, it comes.

As I write this now, I see it. I see my expanding capacity. Even with a body that is coming to terms with it’s capacity now and a spirit that far exceeds the limitations of this body, I am expanding. I am softening, my heartful presence is deepening with the nuances that come knocking at my door, bidding me to pay attention. Pay attention, pay attention. Right here. Right now.

I see, the way we grow capacity changes through our life cycle and yet remains the same. In youth, expanding our capacity often comes with building courage to discover and express our Self, often ‘against’ our parents or culture. As we age, we expand our capacity by staying present to what we are simultaneously ‘loosing’ and gaining. The freedoms we ‘loose’ with grown up jobs, marriages, parenting and the joys we gain in exchange. And then…eventually, the ease we ‘loose’ in the body and the invitation into tenderness with ourselves, with our bodies, our elders, loved ones and companions. The sameness along the continuum of life is into the embodied heart, into the present moment, into our vulnerability and the remedy this brings. Eventually we find our way into a new story…and if we are lucky and practiced, we live into mastery. Until we bump into the next stage, the next steps in our ever evolving journey and we begin again…and I hear, “Notice, notice, notice…notice all of it. Don’t miss a thing.”

Shannon Simonelli Ph.D., ATR is the founder and master guide of her signature system The Treasure Map To Your Luminous Life. Learn to navigate five landscapes and live more fulfilled, connected and fully alive. Dance, movement, art making, ritual, journey work, group process, myth/stories, and the rhythms of nature are our tools. 3-month groups, quarterly events and sample offerings are available for your support and pleasure. Come join the journey. You might even decide to become a certified guide! You can learn more about upcoming events at

Imaginal Cells

Imaginal Cells

Consider the transformation of the caterpillar into the butterfly. Butterflies are made from Imaginal Cells, which lie quietly inside the caterpillar, completely unknown within the furry, chubby host. I love that there are such things as ‘Imaginal Cells’ and that they show up in the single most amazing physical transformation of any living being in the animal kingdom that I know of.
Imagine, maybe acknowledge, that you have your own version of Imaginal Cells. They are lying quietly within you, waiting for the right time to call forth something more than you are right now. These Imaginal Cells hold the vibrational frequency and holographic image of every delicate, specific, unique and beautiful aspect of the soon to be revealed you. They know this exactly.

What if…in order for activation of the Imaginal calling to be awakened a surrender or mini-death is required? Death and rebirth…the essence of the season of Spring…coming out of winter, pushing through the darkness and into the light we are each reborn a bit as we begin again in these bodies…perhaps it means getting off the couch and into the garden or on to the trail. Perhaps your rebirth brings a shift in what you eat or crave or dream of. As Spring calls to you, I invite you to notice what is awakening in you…perhaps it is your own Imaginal nature inviting you more and more into the center of your own truest expression and life. What if…without knowing what would happen, without bracing against the call, or avoiding it at all costs, you just allowed?

How silly we humans are… we can spend years stuck, bracing against the pulse of our own unique life longing to meet itself.

I understand that taking the journey towards our own luminous life can push us way beyond our comfort zone.  I imagine caterpillars feel they are dying…melting away, with no conscious understanding that they are just changing. They, however, have their beautiful, primal, natural rhythm to follow. There is no second guessing of themselves involved! They just follow their nature. I believe, that when we are supported to hear, trust and follow our own inner, primal, natural rhythm and pull towards our unique nature, we are like the caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

Hearing and following the call to our own lit-from-within life is a personal journey and one that is also the Archetypal journey to our Soul. If we look, we discover there are maps to help us along the way on this journey of a life time. I know we need these guiding structures and supports, we also do better with fellow travelers as we navigate towards inhabiting our Destiny.

I believe this is also a collective journey, one that has an equally strong pull on a Meta scale. Imagine, maybe acknowledge, that our evolution has it’s own version of Imaginal Cells activating the vibrational frequency and holographic image of our collective becoming. In these challenging and sometimes scary times I choose to believe, although it may seem that so many things we love and value are dying, in fact we are reforming. Melting away, in the muck of our own decomposing goo, it can be easy to loose perspective. It can be easy to loose sight of the invitation to become more than what we are right now. That there is a code within us as a people, that holds the the holographic image of our winged rebirth.

We just have to listen, to surrender to the call to action we feel within us. To respond…and to join with fellow travelers so we are reminded we are not alone.

Shannon Simonelli Ph.D., ATR is the founder and master guide of her signature system The Treasure Map To Your Luminous Life. 3-month groups, quarterly events and sample offerings are available for your support and pleasure. You might even decide to become a certified guide! You can learn more about upcoming events and join us on this journey.

Speaking from “I”

Speaking from “I”

Speaking from “I” – what does that mean exactly? First person, owning my perception, my experience, my value, my opinion.

I have thought a lot about speaking from ‘I’ and why this matters. Socially we only use I in the most intimate conversations – “I wanted to tell you how I feel” or in surface exchanges – “I’d like a caramel macchiato please”. Academically it is considered less scholarly if one speaks from I (unless studying feminist theory or a few others). Psychologically when speaking from ‘we’ or ‘you’ it is considered ‘not owning’ one’s own experience, blaming, or not taking personal responsibility. As I think about it, from my own experience – it goes a bit deeper than the sometimes irritating reminder, ‘could you say that using I?’

Speaking from I feels profound for me. I remember the first time I really felt what it felt like to speak from I…it was fortifying…more real-making for me. It was like some part of me got filled in. I felt it in my body…more solid, like I got collected up somehow. It occurs to me that when I (we) see something in someone, or when I see a dynamic or pattern unfolding on the movement floor or in our human nature, the reason I even see it is because it resonates with me. It is resonant with me, therefore it is in me. As I speak about that observation or experience and claim it, make it about my experience, my awareness, my thoughts or ponderings, it is powerful for me and more authentic for the group I share it with. It is also more real, more revealing, more intimate…which sometimes feels more vulnerable.

When I hear people speak from ‘we’,”we can get uncomfortable when…”, for me, it can feels like a broad generalization. Sometimes I feel like these broad generalizations don’t relate to me and this leads to some catching in me. It can feel like: I don’t fit in, I’m excluded, or that I am separate from ‘everyone’ else’s experience.

The other way I react to hearing generalizations in statements like, “you know, you can get uncomfortable when…” is by blocking what is being said. Some resistance rises up in me and says, “don’t tell me what is true for me, don’t tell me what I feel or how I experience this!” Ironically, what is being said, might be very relevant or important for me to hear.

I am giving extreme examples or speaking about subtle experience or feeling to make the point. When I speak from ‘I’ many things happen on many levels to empower me and to invite others into both what I am saying and into their own experience of power. I invite you to try it! Try only speaking from ‘I’ for 3 days and see what you notice and what happens! If you should choose to accept this mission….I cant wait to hear about your experience!

You can learn more about upcoming events and join us on this journey.

Shannon Simonelli Ph.D., ATR is the founder and master guide of her signature system The Treasure Map To Your Luminous Life. 3-month groups, quarterly events and sample offerings are available for your support and pleasure. You might even decide to become a certified guide!


Intimate Revolution

Intimate Revolution

Through the years of doing my personal work and then my professional work, I have come to view our body as our most intimate partner…always with us…willing to hold things we aren’t ready to see and willing to reveal things to us when we are ready…like the most compassionate of lovers.

The beauty of this perception is that we can begin to grow into trusting what arises in this intimate partner, to practice getting curious with this loving compassionate body…spirit, partner.

As we work and grow from this perspective and practice moving and making art with this body spirit, things begin to arise that we have been carrying for much of our life…the body does that for us…it takes and holds and stores things. It agrees to stuff and be in collusion with our very early perceptions and attempts at meaning making, safety and coping. Then, perhaps, these agreements begin to feel constrictive and we realize we can no longer live comfortably within their constraints. This is the impetus that drives many of us to grow.

The courageous among us take steps and find supports to get curious, to invite something to shift, something to feel better. This experiential way of working may seem incidental in the beginning…’we are just dancing and drawing pictures’ right? Right…but something much deeper is happening.

We are offering our body, the spirit of our body…our BodySpirit, ground and space and attention we may never have given her before. I say ‘her’ because I see the physical body as a feminine principal, elemental and of the material/mater world. This is an important point at this changing time in our world, when women’s groups and circles and activism is leading an evolution…a ground swell of change in response to a ‘too small’ container.

As we give our BodySpirit space, permission and attention, we are both being taught by her as she unfolds and reveals and guides us into movements and memories that awaken and lead to healing…and, we are expanding our capacity to listen, respond, observe and witness her healing, her releasing, her expanding into something bigger…the something bigger that is our Soul life. The Soul life that is stretching her wings, taking her breath, expanding her lungs and arms and heart…finding the words and the neural connections…unlocking the grips of perfection and body image that locks us down into a life too small…a body notion too small for ‘all this’…all this going on…in here. All This…ALL THIS…that we need, each of us individually as we find our voice and power, ALL THIS that we need collectively, as we wake up to our embodied truth, voice and power.

So into the BodySpirit we go…

As we unwind from the warped and distorted ways in which we see our selves, our experiences and the stories we tell our self, we expand our capacity to witness our current experience with more compassion and clarity. We grow and expand and learn to validate our own journey. This is the process of mastery and of individuation not only from what society or our families or our religion think we should do or be like…but individuation from our own inner rigidness, judgment and perfectionism. This is the process of our Soul making and is the journey to our essential Self and to our unique and beautiful Luminous Life. This is the embodied empowerment journey that our country and our world is crying out for. Awakening this embodied feminine BodySpirit as our most intimate of partners, for our self, our families, our communities and our world…this is an intimate revolution.

Shannon Simonelli Ph.D., ATR is the founder and master guide of her signature system, The Treasure Map To Your Luminous Life. Join her and learn to live more fully alive, satisfied and joyfully at ease in your relationships, work and life. 3-month groups, quarterly events and sample offerings are available to support you. You might even decide to become a certified guide! for more goodies.

Slow it down

Slow it down

Mid Winter…Solstice, also known as hiberna solstice, I love that,…the darkest day, the longest night and natures gift to slow down. Hibernate. Get quiet. Rest. Restore.

This year, my body nature has deeply invited me into this quiet resting place. Recovering from a recent stem cell procedure to rejuvenate my highly used body has placed me in the middle of ‘slow down’.

Early in recovery, I had no choice but to walk slow, move slow, be…s-l-o-w. I have had to practice really listening to the pull in my own body to get quiet, reflect, rest and restore. This year, I am feeling this pull deep in my bones, more that ever before. I am learning to trust this cellular desire to renew…gather strength, rest into and trust stillness.

And…as much as this is truly feeling good to me at this time, I notice, as I let myself really sink into deep rest…right along the edge of the goodness and relief, there is a crackling of something else.

The spark of a little thought fragment or even panicky feeling in my chest… ‘what if I just stay this way’, ‘loose momentum’, ‘get distracted’, loose focus? Perhaps I wont ever really ‘get going’ again and wander fuzzy and adrift through the remainder of my days. Maybe I will just get sucked into the couch or the bed and never fully reengage with my life. Ha…ug.

This leads to the newer twist…as I approach the mid point of my years on the planet, the inkling suggests….’this is how it begins’…the decline, the slide into entropy…the devolution into that ‘small life of old age’.

In the past, this fear felt more like I might be ‘slipping into a depression’ – a family comment and worry…and so revealing of the lack of intimate relationship with stillness and reorientation. The tightening in the body that comes with this fear, and the seeming loss of all perspective that energy and vitality will most likely return. It all starts to feel like a mini death, and invites a practice dance with that inevitable transition.

Hummm….poignant and a bit funny to put it all out on paper…to reveal the beliefs and auto trip edges that get engaged…and to sit on that crackling edge for a moment. To let it work me.

I have to say, as I have written here, in this pitch-dark morning, something unexpected has happened. Something is notching more deeply into me. In this moment I feel a clicking into the inkling and seduction of deeper quiet. I find myself wondering if it would be so bad if I got sucked into the bed or the couch. I can feel and imagine into the sweetness of a softer focus and the permission to rest in the exhale…both my own bodyspirit’s and this earth bodyspirit we live on.

Hummm…I will rest here with the planet and invite you to join us, curious… in your own exhale and resting place.

Shannon Simonelli Ph.D., ATR is the founder and master guide of her signature system, The Treasure Map To Your Luminous Life. Join her and learn to live more fully alive, satisfied and joyfully at ease in your relationships, work and life. 3-month groups, quarterly events and sample offerings are available to support you. You might even decide to become a certified guide! for more goodies.



Bones. I have been thinking about, imagining into and being with the power of bones lately.
The actual bones that provide skeletal structure to this body and the symbolic bones that we all must gather as we piece together a deeper narrative in the process of our own soulful becoming.
As usually seems to happen in my life, being one who has been called to walk in the in-between places – the space between the everyday world, and the rich loamy landscape of the symbolic world where image and metaphor guide us to the ‘something more’ voice of Soul – I am wildly present to the ‘something more’ story unfolding in these bones and this body I inhabit. I want to name it here as an offering to you…curious bread crumbs leading into the dark and sometimes scary terrain of your own soulful becoming.
The nuts and bolts, every day layer of this story is that my hips, pelvis and lower back have been in some pain for some while. Being one who navigates in the in-between places of life I have taken a layered approach to this body symptom and also looked at the symbols from my own inner landscape.
Through months of various interventions including deep structural and emotionally clearing bodywork, psycho-spiritual work, physical rest/modulation, supportive supplements and ritual work, although I have healed and learned a great deal, I am still in quite a lot of physical discomfort and limitation.
Simultaneously with this process, I have been reading old tales and motifs that are designed to speak to the deeper layers of the Psyche’s knowing as I prepare for facilitating a 3-month journey focusing on The Physical Body*.
An additional thread in this story, is that I have birthed a new project which this 3-month journey is part of. The gestation of this project has been the beginning place of this pelvic pain…laboring on all levels of experience. I had hoped the delivery of the ‘baby’ would relieve the discomfort. No such luck.
In my hunt to be free from the pain, I have been lead to confront the ways in which I energetically and in behavior, carry people, relationships and projects ‘on my hip’ or ‘on my back’ and the ways in which I over do and do not garner the support that would best serve me. I continue to do the difficult, scary and liberating work of speaking my truth with family and loved ones while also changing behaviors in alignment with this awareness. Even shifting my approach to what I create and share with the world has put me into a deeper right relationship with the bones of my truth and my life’s calling.
In the journey of my hurting and healing pelvis I am taking another step, an ‘experimental’ procedure at the leading edge. (I like this energy of being on the cutting edge of innovation and science, it is where many good things are born.)
I have already harvested many deep and life changing gems from this hunt for resolution. Now I am choosing to use the wealth and riches in my own bones. Deep in the center of our structure is the vital life force of our bone marrow, rich in stem cells, which have the power to regenerate tissue. To repair and grow more of what we need. To do what stem cells do best, work to generate healthy structures and return the body to a more vital life with less pain.
In preparation for this stem cell procedure I have been talking to my bones, to the connective tissue, ligaments, tendons, muscles and liquids of my body. I have been imagining my bone marrow, rich with stem cells, vital, vibrating, happy, healthy and fully alive. I have shifted what felt like fear into excitement and curiosity. I love that there is room, even in the sometimes cut and dry mechanical world of science, for the in-between terrain of soulful meaning making if you are one who knows how to listen, see and read the signs. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I am reminded of the story of Skeleton Woman who was a vital, spirited young woman who could not be controlled. The short version is: Her love is betrayed, she is killed and put at the bottom of the sea where she becomes bones. One day she is fished out of her deep resting place by a fisherman who runs, terrified by her bony rise from the depths. Tangled in his line she ‘follows’ him home where she tells him she wants to be truly loved and return to her life of flesh to love in return. The story goes that he takes on her desire and they fall into a deep love. Their love is the kind that reanimates the body and Soul. Their loving shows how to hold safe and sacred both the deep, dark and scary parts of inner life and the yummy life giving forces that we all long for through real love and connection.
I reflect on my new marriage and the life affirming love I feel with my husband. I also consider the ways in which I have betrayed myself and how we all live with our own betrayal of self love and truth. Then, if we are lucky, we fish up the bones we thought were long buried. We get the chance to take the long walk home, our ghost following us close on our heals…asking us to love it…to be made whole, holy and right.
I celebrate this more-than-meets-the-eye story of how the body is a magical ground for both the concrete, everyday layer of life that most people live in and the deeper mystical landscapes that call to us, begging us to listen… see and pay attention to the call of our Soul life. If we practice listening and leaning into this deeper knowing we can harvest many riches from the treasures of the deep.
Stay tuned for ‘the rest of the story’ as I continue on this treasure hunt of healing. I can hardly wait to see what will happen next!


Shannon Simonelli Ph.D., ATR is the founder and master guide of her signature system The Treasure Map To Your Luminous Life. *The Physical Body is one of four 3-month groups that make up a year-long journey, quarterly events and sample offerings are also offered. You can learn more about upcoming events here or join our mailing list here.

Feel free to email Shannon about a referral to her stem cell doc.

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