Big Sur
Esalen Institute
February 26-28, 2010
The Song of the Body:
Global Physical Expressions Toward the Sacred
Sara K. Schneider

In this experiential workshop, we inquire with our bodies, as well as our minds, into ancient practices designed to bring about a sense of surrender and to promote insight or an experience of the divine.

Beginning with practices of surrendering to the Other, we try on bowing as it may be executed in the secular Japanese context, and foot washing as a Christian practice of hospitality and humility. With our feet, we study pilgrimage, comparing our own experience with that of the Muslim hajj to Mecca. We conclude with a playful contemporary dance-drama that we create, re-interpreting the mirthful and fun-poking medieval Dances of Death, invoking yet another type of surrender, this one to our own sense of the myriad ways one can whimsically play with or mischievously trick, tango with or seduce death. Additional exercises drawn from global spiritual traditions are also explored actively.

In the process, we find that the experience of surrender is one not of terror but of considerable joy, not of heaviness but rather of fleetness of heart as well as foot.

In all cases, we connect these culturally embedded practices with the ways in which, in contemporary Western culture, we may surrender, both physically and in other ways, to others, ourselves, and a sense of the divine. Journaling and thorough debriefing allow participants to integrate their experience within their home spiritual practices. Movement is gentle and easily adapted; participants of all physical abilities are welcome.

Sara K. Schneider, performance anthropologist, professor, and author of three books on body and identity, as well as the monthly e-zine Skin in the Game, directs the Center for Bodylore and Learning, linking public education about global cultures with the professional development of teachers, healthcare professionals, and clergy. She can be reached at

Registration: 831.667.3005 or

Cost for weekend workshops at Esalen includes tuition, lodging, and meals, as well as movement classes during one's stay.
The cost depends on accommodation type; "standard" accommodation for the weekend workshop, for example, costs $670;
more economical options are also available.

Please contact Sara at for more information
or to schedule workshops at your retreat or conference center.

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All materials © Sara K. Schneider 2012