Karuna: Hi, I’m Karuna, I’m the founder and executive director of Mind Oasis and with me on Meditation Happy Hour Tea Talk and Truth with Karuna is my guest, Hannah, and I’m going to let you pronounce your last name so we get it right from the beginning.
Hannah: Thank you. Kinderlehrer is sort of the Americanized version.
Karuna: Kinderlehrer. And where do you hail from with this last name that’s really beautiful and long.
Hannah: Thank you, the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Hannah: So like Poland.
Karuna: Yeah, very cool. And where do you live in the world these days?
Hannah: I am located in Boulder, Colorado.
Karuna: So we’re neighbors. I will have to come visit you on my motorcycle. I live up in Raymond Riverside, so I’m just up Highway seven between Estes Park and Boulder.
Hannah: Oh my gosh, that’s amazing. I was just hiking there a couple of weekends ago.
Karuna: What part? Where were you?
Hannah: We pulled off seven to the left and ended up hiking down into Button Rock Preserve Area into the reservoir, like the Russell Stein Reservoir.
Karuna: Yeah, yeah. Very cool. Well, this is really fun. I had no idea that we were like neighbors.
Hannah: I didn’t either. Thats wonderful.
Karuna: Cool. So Hannah tell us a little bit about you. What are you up to in the world,
Hannah: Mmm, all the things. Where to start? Well, I just launched a six month women’s program. Its actually called, Homecoming – Belonging to Self World and Each Other. So I’m really excited about that. And I am a holistic coach. So, I do alot of one on one sessions with clients using the wisdom of the body to guide us through to where we need to get. I do a lot of somatic resourcing. I do some shamanic journey work when appropriate. I do a lot of nature resourcing, grounding to Mama earth. And I just do some straight up coaching, parasympathetic nervous system, childhood wounds, all the stuff. And I teach movement classes. I teach dance for Parkinson’s. I teach, Awaken the Dance, which is a mindfulness based, ecstatic dance class of my own design. And I teach Deep Dive Earth Dances where we get on the ground and dance barefoot on Mama Earth.
Karuna: Wow. I’m so excited now because I love ecstatic dance. It’s one of the reasons I think I really had a hard time when we were in lockdown. I know that a lot of people were dancing online and I did that a couple of times with Lucia Harran out of 5Rhythm’s out of Esslin and I found that hard. I am a person who, though I am a connector in community, I actually I’m kind of an introvert. I’m I like to say I’m like the most introverted extrovert ever. So for me, ecstatic dance, especially coming down to Boulder. When I used to live in Austin, which had a big ecstatic dance community. I would spend the first fifteen minutes of the dance, sort of like denying my existence there, like being very into myself and like there’s no way I’m going to break open this time. And then as the dance, danced me, by the end, I’d be making eye contact and I would be in love with the entire world and I would want to be around other human beings. This is not the normal Karuna. People are cracking up right now listening to this because, they’re like, that’s not you Karuna but that’s what dance does. So what does dance do for you?
Hannah: Oh, my God, you. Well, you nailed it in a lot of ways. Dance is everything for me, to be totally honest. Dance is how I process whatever it is I’m sort of mucking through. You know, I’m sort of one of those people who’s always like chewing on something, growing in some way, excavating something and dance sort of takes all the mental chatter and drama and narrative out of it. Direct line to the wisdom inherent in me, my connection to myself, my connection to others. And then the work is just sort of done, right? Like, like as you said, the dance dances you, the work works me. And it’s just like clean slate, endorphins going. And then yesterday, I just found out working with my lyme doctor and we did some a DNA test that showed me some of how my brain actually works and my neurotransmitters and my synapses. And I should, based on my wiring and my synapses, I should be ADHD. I should be hyper vigilant. I should be stressed out and overwhelmed all the time. I should be so up regulated that I can’t feel myself and I’m none of those things. And she was like, dance and meditation, girl, keep doing it. She’s like, I’m going to put you on all these supplements and herbs. But dance and meditation keep doing it. That’s why you’re the way you are, despite the fact that your brain actually is like this. I was like, oh, I knew there was a reason. So dance does all the things for me.
Karuna: It’s so nice to get the affirmation right.
Karuna: Indeed, it is working and is working on you.
Karuna: Hannah, tell us your background a little bit. So you just told us sort of what you do and it’s a lot and you have a lot of offerings. What the heck makes you qualified to do any of these beautiful things? Where do you come from?
Hannah: Thats a great question? Um, life? I got diagnosed with Lyme disease about 12 years ago and just hit the ground and couldn’t get up for like a year or two. And this is how I found my way back into life, is by doing all the things I do and teach. And so part of it life experience. But I’m also a Hakomi certified practitioner. I have a degree from Naropa University. And I’ve been studying the Dharma for 20 something years. And it’s just sort of letting… Trying to get out of the way as much as possible when I’m with people and letting it come through and using the things that are way beyond me, like the power of the Earth and all the energy that the Earth has to give to clients. Or when we’re in a shamanic journey, trust in the wisdom of their helping spirits and mine and getting out of the way. And the same with the dance. When I teach dance, it’s like I vacate on it should go this way or I have to do this way. The mental chatter vacates. And what needs to be said to the people just comes through, because when bodies are in a room, we co-regulate. It’s not something that I claim is mine. And I think it’s something that really happens. So I do have a fair amount of training and at this point it’s letting the work, work me.
Karuna: So you’ve used a few words that I’m very familiar with because it’s my husband’s jam as well. Joseph is a movement guru. And my words, not his. And and so he talks a lot about regulation down regulation and the parasympathetic and sympathetic states. And I’d love to just hear you talk or expand a little bit. There will be some listeners or viewers depending who might not be familiar with those phrases. And maybe you could just break it down for us a little bit and why it’s important.
Hannah: Yeah, I’d love to, especially because the workshops I’m going to be teaching with you will have a lot of this component. And so, basically our nervous system works and the sympathetic and parasympathetic. And so when we are in the sympathetic nervous system, we are up regulated or completely down regulated. We’re either in hyper arousal, which means like what’s going on, tracking for safety. What do I have to do to get out of here? Digestion shuts down, mindfulness shuts down, muscles get mobilized to fight or run. Or we go completely shut down and go into freeze. And it’s almost as if we leave the building. We leave being home in ourselves. We leave the awareness of what we might actually need to do and we sort of play possum. There’s also fawn where we go into, whatever you want, whatever you need. Sure, this is a total boundary crossing, but if it works for you, great. That’s also sympathetic nervous system, believe it or not. It truly is. Oh, my God. My dog is licking my leg and it’s crazy.
Karuna: Oh,let see. Whos our furry friend?
Hannah: This is Sammy.
Karuna: Hi Sammy.
Hannah: Sammy the terrible is what we call him, because he’s pretty neurotic. As are most of us. So that’s, so sympathetic nervous system is absolutely necessary. It’s evolutionary. It is designed to keep us alive. It was designed at a time where every time we opened our cave door, we needed to make sure that there was not a saber tooth tiger out to eat us. And that’s the negative bias that we all live with of this will probably go wrong. This will probably go bad. I should really over prepare and make sure I have an outfit for every weather change. Right. So this is like evolutionary. Well, it’s time for us as humanity, I really think, to evolve out of the negative bias out of that kind of brain, because what we’ve done is turn it on ourselves emotionally, because we don’t live in a world where we’re in physical danger all the time. But we do live in a world where all of a sudden every emotion feels terrifying and we have to respond to it like this. Every interaction, every conflict, every really hard feeling. We sort of treat it as if we’re in danger rather than building the ability to stay with it.
Hannah: And so part of the parasympathetic nervous system is about coming back into the place where we have space. We’re present in our body. We might even feel wonderful feelings like nurturing or safety, but we can handle things that come. We can say grief, right? This is not my favorite, but this is part of being human and I can do this. Or anger. This is not my favorite. It’s uncomfortable. I don’t like it, but I can stay with it. I can process the physical feelings of it. And then, from this place of grounded resource, I can decide what’s the best thing to do rather than lashing out. Right? And this is the brain that can feel compassion and empathy and can really make wise choices. And so we want to be in this part of our system, in the parasympathetic system. We want to return to it. We don’t want to live there because the sympathetic is necessary for a lot of things. But we want to return here as often as possible. And the best way is through the body. And so I teach a lot of tools and tricks to recognize what’s happening and bring ourselves home into a place where we actually have choice rather than reaction.
Karuna: That’s a really beautiful and I’m happy that you mentioned your upcoming workshop you are offering first we’ll get to both. You have two offerings on Mind Oasis. And you can find them both at MindOasis.org and there’s a learn tab and you’ll just scroll down until you see Hannah. The first is what we call a mini workshop. And these are great because they’re just 30 minutes. They’re free to join. And it gives you the opportunity to kind of get to know Hannah and her modalities and see if it’s a good fit for you. And then there’s a longer offering coming up. So on the twenty fifth of August is the workshop and it is called… I love this, every time someone registers, I’m like I get the words, quick and dirty dive that come across my screen, which, if you know me, is super sassy and I’m like, oh, quick and dirty dive. Where? I’m in, Right? So it’s a Quick and Dirty Dive into Delicious Embodiment. Hannah, tell us about it.
Hannah: Mm. So. I believe we have bodies for a reason. I do believe we are spiritual, energetic essence beings, absolutely. But there’s a reason we have bodies — we’re supposed to be in them. And the only way to experience the present moment is through our sensations, through being home in this body. Our thoughts are about the past or about the future, they’re not about now. If we actually want to live our lives, it’s now and it’s through the body. So we’ll be doing some parasympathetic nervous system, building safety in the body, building safety in the moment, building safety in the space we’re in. And this will be tricks and tools you can take with you and use anywhere you go in the whole wide world. And then we’ll be doing some delicious super gentle movement about finding pleasure, right? So people sometimes when they first come to me, say, well, why would I want to live in this body? Like, this body has pain. And I don’t love the way it looks. And I kind of feel like it’s betrayed me. And I’m like, well our bodies don’t betray us, but we do abandon our bodies. And if we come home to our bodies and listen and nourish and enjoy that feeling of betrayal is a thing of the past and we become allies. And so even though, like I’m standing here telling you, like I’ve wonky brain chemistry and I have Lyme disease, I have a million other things that are technically and physically wrong with my body. This is home and this is my greatest resource. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Karuna: I just had the funniest visualization because, I very much have Owl energy and I was just thinking about like. Or feeling, maybe not thinking, but like feeling, what does it feel like to be home in my body? And it was like this connection to being in a tree. I have a tree grandfather tree. That’s my most favorite tree on Earth. And he protects the forest above my home. And I just was like, oh, it’s like being in grandfather and peering out like an owl peering out of its burrow and like, that’s the embodiment. Right. And then we can peer out from that space.
Hannah: Exactly. From home.
Karuna: Mm hmm. And and the other thing that was simultaneously happening was I was picturing a few of my friends who have terrible chronic pain and,and how it would perhaps feel to hear that’s your home and how that could be difficult. Do you have anything you want to just say to that.
Hannah: Yes. Yeah, that’s I mean, that’s my story, right? With Lyme disease. And I’ve had chronic back pain before. I knew I had Lyme disease and I broke my back and had to figure out how to be still a dancer with a broken back and do all the things. Yeah. So this is also just comes right back to when we feel like our bodies betrayed us, we abandon our body. If we can stay with the pain in ways of curiosity, we’ve come to label it as pain. But if we can actually get so, so curious about the sensations and the nuances, we’ll find that they change. They don’t stay. We’re like, oh, headache. And we think it’s like in the same place, doing the same thing for four hours. But it’s not. It’s here. And then it’s here and then it’s dull and then it’s throbbing and then it dissipates. And we don’t even know that moment when we don’t have a headache anymore. Right. It’s like we solidify the pain. So by tracking, following and breathing and learning how to also titrate. Titrate between the area of pain and an area of not pain in the body so that there’s breath and space rather than all that focus, we find that we can actually build a relationship with it. Where it’s no longer pain. It can be discomfort or sensation or unpleasant, but it’s not the solid thing called pain.
Karuna: So I was noticing behind you the beautiful Buddha deities and, you know, in Buddhism, or at least the lineage, I come from the transmission of ideas and teachings from teacher to student, who then of course the student becomes the teacher. And so there’s this beautiful twenty five hundred year movement from from voice to ear and voice to ear and hearts in between, as I was listening to you. Talk about did you call it tri-tating?
Karuna: Titrating, thank you. I think so many of us want to move out of thinking mind or out of feeling pain or whatever that might be and into the Somma, into the body. But we don’t know how.
And so I’m really excited. I know that. So we have a mini workshop on the twenty fifth of August. But then what this is really prepping us for is a six. I think it’s a six week series,
Hannah: Might be four weeks. I can’t remember.
Karuna: Four week series. Oh yeah. 15TH of September to the 6th of October. I just wanted it to be longer. So, four week series with you. That’s called The Wisdom of the Body. Can you talk a little bit about the vision for the full four weeks and what one could expect to learn to really get into the wisdom of their body?
Hannah: Yeah, absolutely. So a lot of us don’t even take the time to listen. Right, so that’s the reason that my dance classes start with a body scan. Really listening to sensation and dancing from a place of this is how I want to move. Not that’s how I think I should move. Right. So we’ll be doing body scans and we’ll be getting really nuanced with sensation. And that helps us build a relationship of listening and following versus telling or commanding. Right. Which is sort of like the coachy language that they use with mindfulness. It’s like, command your mind, command your body. And I’m like, ahh, that’s not my relationship with my body. If anything, my body commands me. Like someone’s calling the shots and it ain’t me. Right. It’s the wisdom of my body. And so we do a lot of slowing down and then we do a lot of pleasure. Right. To feel at home in this body. We need to find pleasure. And so we’ll do things like joint circles, which is um, releases trauma and feels frickin amazing and opens up the body in ways we can’t expect. But we do them slowly and mindfully and then we’ll do things like moving from different body parts and letting different body parts lead the movement. So that we’re starting to trust the intelligence of our body versus our mind. Little guard dog here. And we’re going to do just a lot of practices based on finding creativity, discovery, pleasure in the body. We’re going to do some just like shaking it out and get messy and wild and weird. And that can be done sitting down. That can be done lying down. That can look huge, like when you get to chaos in the five rhythms dance sounds or that can look teeny tiny because you’re all the way in it and no one else gets to decide what’s all the way for you. Right? So it’s a lot about learning to trust. What does my body want to do within all of these given exercises? And we’ll use music. And we’ll do we’ll keep coming back to parasympathetic regulation so that we’re staying and we’re staying safe
Karuna: What kind of music, do you like to use in your classes?
Hannah: All of it, yeah, all of it, you know, to get a sneak peek of my music, you can actually go to my website, which is awakenthedance.com and there is a playlist tab. And I have like 100 playlist there.
Karuna: Oh, super fun.
Hannah: Right? So everybody can go check out my music and you’ll see.
Karuna: Say, the website one more time.
Karuna: Perfect. And there’s playlist there. So what you don’t know about me is that my DJ name is Dj Lady Owl. And so one of my, you know, we all have gifts. I think that one of my gifts in this earth is to create fun playlists. So I love that. I can’t wait to go. And I’m totally going to poach a few of your songs.
Hannah: I hope you do.
Karuna: Isn’t that the best.
Hannah: I hope you send me some of your magic, some of your magic DJ Lady Owl playlist.
Karuna: You bet. Yeah. Wonderful. So you have two offerings on The Wisdom of the Body is a four week series that starts on the 15th of September. It’s on Wednesday mornings. If you would miss a session or two, it’s no big deal. The recorded you can come back to them. It’s always better to try to lock and load and show up live, obviously. Hannah, I want to ask you about sort of it’s a question that I ask everyone, and you can just answer it however you like. And that’s, What is your truth.
Hannah: That we are all here. To love and serve each other. Thats it.
Karuna: It’s really beautiful.
Hannah: Thank you.
Karuna: Yeah. So, Hannah, thank you so much for joining me on Tea Talk and Truth with Karuna, I think we covered it all. Did you have tea? I had sparkling water.
Hannah: I had bulletproof coffee.
Karuna: Oh, that’s fun. And we definitely got to the truth and we definitely had some talk. Is there anything else that you want folks to know either about you, your offerings, about your truth. Anything else?
Hannah: I think I want people to know that whether they are a super experienced mover, professional trained dancer, a professional athlete, or have never moved in a creative way or have literal physical disabilities that would normally say, well, I can’t do something like this, You Can! Everything I do is created around the fact that I may or may not be able to dance on any given day due to my health and due to my back. Everything I do is 100 percent accessible. And we all have a body we might as well enjoy it.
Karuna: I love it and I love that you addressed that. For me, one of the biggest obstacles to dance, which is really interesting, so like as a child, I was the kid out on the dance floor dancing with my grandpa at weddings from the moment the music started, until they had to drag me off the dance floor. I mean, the right and even in eighth grade dances and in high school, like, I was always the first one on the floor, but I had this really big resistance around the vulnerability and what I felt was the need for courage to show up to dance in an ecstatic dance environment. And it felt like for me it kind of felt like getting naked and then like running out in front of people. And like, I just I think it’s really beautiful to know that you hold safe space. And I guess from my perspective, I would just encourage folks to give it a shot because I’ve never found a modality that. And I have a lot of tools in my toolbox that allows me to connect with that truth, that you describe the interconnectedness of all beings in such a profound way, because largely, I think because Karuna gets the fuck out of the way, frankly,Ye
Hannah: Yes and then co-regulation can really happen. When the ego isn’t saying you – me. Yes, one hundred, one hundred, one hundred percent and one of my favorite, favorite things I often hear, so I’ll I’ll often be brought into a group, a workshop, a week long retreat, whatever to come and do movement. And one of my favorite things I hear is I sort of, you know, whisper my way out of the room after is. Wow, I have never wanted to be in my body before. And I’ve heard that dozens of times from like 70 year old men and 15 year old boys and 20 year old women like across the board. And I’m like, yay! So let’s just be in our bodies together.
Karuna: Awesome, so you can meet Hannah on MindOasis.org. You go to the learn tab, you’ll scroll scroll down, you will see a mini workshop that she’s offering and then also a four week series and would love for you to join us for both Hannah. Thank you so much for joining me today for Tea Talk and Truth with Karuna.
Hannah: Thank you. I can’t wait to connect more with you.
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