Continuing my trend of seeking the get the best seats possible, I arrived early for Sonia Choquette's 90-minute workshop, so early, in fact, that I opened the door to the room and was suprised to see just one person inside: Sonja at the front of the room doing some stretches as magic time approached. I'd been highly energized by the keynote address she's given the previous summer and looked forward to experiencing it again. She was a surprise late addition to the weekend's teachers and fitted perfectly into a slot where they weren't any authors I'd been particularly interested in.
I was first in line as a number of people stood next to me, waiting to get their book signed by Gregg Braden. After a few minutes, I got a bit nervous as no one was getting behind me. Feeling I'd had the wrong door (I was at the one they let us in the day before), I headed to the other side where a couple dozen people were in queue. Oh, well, I thought. I'd still be able to sit in the front half of the room. As I talked to a lady behind me and said I was from Minnesota, she noted that my voice had a touch of an Alaskan accent to it. I said, "You betcha" and she smiled. The lady in front of me hadn't been to the conference before, so I told her a bit about the ins and outs of it. When she said she was from the Chicago area, I replied that her face gave the impression that this was the case. The reason I felt that was she looked a great deal like a friend I knew in college who was from a Chicago suburb.
We were let in a few minutes later and I opted to sit next to her on the aisle of the 5th row. Extra seats were brought in as dozens had heard about Choquette's workshop the day before and wished to change who they had been scheduled to see for Sonia. A pleasant vibe was felt immediately as a number of upbeat tracks were played by Shamrock; he's the one who had set the ballroom on fire the previous June dancing like a junebug. I made a number of silly comments about him to my classmate, things like, "When Shamrock gives someone his height, does he include the two-inch bulge of hair just above his crown chakra?"
Sonia came out to much applause a little after 1:30 in a beautiful multi-colored summer dress.
I didn't even think during the entire time that she sounded like Mary Steenbergen, something that was heavily on my mind the year before. To get everyone loosened up, she once again had us stand up, turn to the right, and give the person in front of us a shoulder massage. A minute later, we were instructed to give karate-chop hits on their shoulders. All this while we shook our hips vigorously. Next we turned around and did the person on our left.
As we got underway, she said that laughter was incredibly important when it came to getting in touch with your spirit, exactly what Tamura had told us an hour before. She then showed a couple other things we could do like saying, "Mwwwaaa" and gently hitting ourselves in the chest and saying, "Haaaaaaaaa". I wound up being glad I didn't wind up in the front as Sonia called two people up to the stage who were sitting there. The first lady who I'd met at Neale's workshop the day before looked like a deer caught in the headlights as Choquette asked her to sing a song for the crowd. She did a nice job, but it wasn't really soulful. Sonia gave her a minute and asked her to put her heart into it. She responded by singing Janet Jackson's "Together Again". Such a difference in how her face looked, in how her eyes appeared afterward. Of course, I would be petrified to do such a thing, but was plenty safe where I was sitting.
We were told to do an exercise with the person next to us in which we told the other the things we loved. And we had to keep saying what we loved til we couldn't think of any more. This was harder than I anticipated and I had problems coming up with more than four at a time. Next, we were told to tell the other what we were afraid of. I started by saying, "Carny people" and "rottweilers" and got the laugh that I expected. I then said that I'd thought of those two before and would now go into the real deal, being afraid of not having others to love, gaining weight, becoming disabled.
Sonia asked a lady in the front row what she was afraid of, but the answers she was getting didn't seem to be from spirit, from outside of her mind, so she had her come on stage where she was exposed for all to hear. She teared up a bit as she ran through the things that she was fearful of.
After doing some explaining of the five spirit types that exist, she told the microphone runner, "What about the handsome man in orange?"
*gulp* She asked me for ways to know that one was in touch with spirit. I did good at first, but then stumbled when she asked the part of the body that keeps you in touch with your soul. She had said something about the solar plexus earlier, so that's what I said, but chided myself when I realized that the hips are where she actually said it was at. I made a quick mention of "18 inches", the amount of space between the heart and the head and got a laugh from it, but I was grasping for straws a by that point.
I thought, "Oh, shit" as she asked me to come up front. She instructed me to wave to the crowd where I was greeted by a deluge of waves. In the crowd, I spotted a number of people that I'd become familiar with over the past couple of days, including the two who had already been called up, all with smiles on their faces and wishing me well.
Sonia asked that I tell the crowd of more than 100, mostly women, ways that we could get in touch with our spirit. I started with the old standard of just being, not thinking, and then started moving my hips swiftly from side to side while speaking. I didn't move my hips once during the fast songs that played while on the dance floor during my wedding reception, but hell if I was going to do it half-assed and have Sonja ask me to do it with more vigor. So I shook it fast as I ripped off a few more tips, things like saying, "Mwaaa", hitting yourself gently on the chest saying, "Aaahhh", giving people massages, karate chops, and saying that making people laugh is also a good way to get in touch.
I was more than a little dazed as I got a round of applause and Sonia said, "I like you" as I headed back to my seat. I was incredibly calm and relaxed as I sat down, the fear I'd had a moment earlier gone. I'm not sure how I was able to do this in front of all those people. I just know that I was feeling very comfortable in my body and no negativity whatsoever. I'd like to have actually seen a recording of what I did, but the memory will have to suffice (though I do now have an audio recording of the workshop as a keepsake).
I was complimented the rest of the afternoon by about a half-dozen people who'd seen my performance including one lady who'd said that I was "terrific". I also ran into the young lady who'd sang onstage and touched her hand as I said that she sounded great. We'd both been through the gauntlet, but lived to tell the tale.