One of the most well-known thought leaders and conscious movement teachers in Nevada County will be a guest presenter over Labor Day weekend at a four-day retreat, Aug. 29-Sept. 1 on the Stanislaus River.
Michael Stone of Grass Valley, facilitator for “Sweat Your Prayers,” a movement group at the South Yuba Club in Nevada City for the last 15 years, and a weekly interview-show host on KVMR radio, is a key part of the event, called “River of Bliss.”
RiverGuidess Adventures, a Marin County-based group led by longtime river guide and conscious dancer Gail Orchier, is organizing the retreat at a private estate along the river.
Stone, who studied with the late Gabrielle Roth, pioneer of 5Rhythms conscious dance practice, will lead a workshop entitled “Moving With the Spirit of Water.”
A Nevada County resident since the early 1980s and a former longtime organizational development consultant, Stone said his work now — and the content of the workshop — is focused on waking up to the beauty and magnificence of the present moment, which allows us to have greater freedom in the choices we make and leads to a more fulfilling life. Spending time in the natural world gets us back in touch with our place in the web of life.
Stone, a shamanic practitioner who works with pioneer shaman Sandra Ingerman and runs workshops and drumming circles, said he is using the metaphor of “drawing on an inside straight,” a poker metaphor of winning despite highly unlikely odds, because he agrees with most scientists that humanity is at a in stage of mass extinction for the sixth time since the earth has formed. “We’re well into it, moving faster than any other one (mass extinction),” he said. “Thousands of species are going extinct each year. If we don’t wake up and have an inner transformation that will cause an outer change in the way we live, there’s a very small chance of survival,” he said. “The earth will survive, but humans and the rest of the species won’t.”
The good news is that this one is human caused, which means we have the power to turn things around.
“We could have an awakening, that’s my inside straight,” he said. “There could a mass awakening and people would wake up and say, ‘Whoa, we’re destroying our habitat.’
“That could lead to major changes in how we relate to each other and the world,” Stone added. “It is the only hope I see for the children of future generations.
In his weekly KVMR radio show, “Connections,” airing 1 to 2 p.m. Tuesdays on 89.5 FM for the last 10 years, Stone interviews leading authors on spiritual, environmental, health and wellness and social justice topics. The content of the shows mirrors the focus of a group he and others have founded called the Panchamama Alliance.
“The purpose is to bring forth an environmentally sustaining, spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence on the planet,” he said. “That kind of guides me.”
He said he leads conscious movement in the Sunday “Sweat Your Prayers” classes — which Stone calls “the best church in town” because people are able to still their minds by moving their bodies.
“I started working with Gabrielle Roth in 1974, and then I brought that into corporations,” he said.
“Because … I realized that most people in corporations were like heads on sticks.
“It’s really not dance,” he said. “It’s conscious movement. You move through different energetic states — they’re maps of consciousness.”
He also teaches workshops on opening to love.
“The concept is to become more present, as a healing practice,” Stone said. “When we’re more present, we have a greater range of choices, and that it opens us up to more love, more connection, more intuition, everything gets magnified.
“In our mainstream culture … we’re so distracted and we’re not paying attention to what’s going on,” he added. “Plus, 95 percent of the media is owned by five corporations.”
Stone, whose email newsletters go out to more than 7,000 people, said the “River of Bliss” event will incorporate yoga, conscious movement, meditation and river rafting.
Registration and more information on the event is available at www.riverguidess.com. Current pricing is valid through Thursday, Aug. 21.
For information on Stone, or to sign up for “River of Bliss” with a local discount, visit Stone’s website, http://welloflight.com