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When Monkeys and Humans Howl

When Monkeys and Humans Howl

Bones for Life Immersions are all about freedom. They are movement programs that come from an understanding of the interconnections between our bones, ligaments, and fascia. These parts work together — like a chain — so that when one link is freed up, you find freedom of movement in “stuck” parts of your body that can’t be achieved with any other method or modality alone. Past participants often say Bones for Life frees them from the fear of falling. It transforms their lives from being afraid to feeling free to move in ways that fully express themselves. In Bones for Life, our processes encourage release and freedom of voice too. I remember a time in 2020, while on the territory of other primates, we’d learn a lesson in true self-expression.

Twenty of us are lying on our backs suspended over the jungle ground. The air is thick with the sweet smell of humidity, orchids, and rain. Undulations from the wide, hand-hewn floorboards, planed some thirty or forty years ago, can be felt through our blankets and mats. The wood is dark from an old-world Costa Rican forest. The planks are springy. As we lay and move against them, we sense not only the small dips and rises within each one but how the planks meet imperfectly moment to moment. This isn’t a smooth surface. Like the earth, it has unexpected love and challenges to share.

Our days at the retreat center start early when the male howler monkeys ritually awaken us around 5 a.m. and the sun is already well on the rise. Sometimes the monkeys are announcing “We are here!” from far away and sometimes they are staking out their territory much closer. This same howling ritual repeats in the early evening. It’s an unusual sound, but without any sense of threat.

In the heat of one afternoon, on our imperfect but perfect floor, we are exploring what it means to release ourselves with some abandon doing the Bones for Life process called Tantrum: No and Yes. In unison, we stamp slowly, then more quickly and then we yell as loud as we can. For as long as we can. NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! The stamping is rapid and the percussion against these boards is full of variation. Our voices are loud within our four-screened walls and tin roof. Our noise is resounding. It’s ours, coming from within. Our sound IS us. It’s both open and contained. We are both open and contained.

We pause, out of breath, pleased with our strength of expression. When in the pause, the howler monkeys answer. We continue to explore NOOOOOOO!!!! and then YEEEEEESSSSSS!!! Each within our own pattern of joy and each with a pause. And yes, the howlers answer, letting us know that they hear us, but reminding us that we are the monkeys in their jungle.

It was one of the loveliest group experiences we had. To be in resonance with each other and this local troupe.

To resonance and Pura Vida (Pure Life)!

Cynthia Allen

Cynthia Allen
Cynthia Allen
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