Archive for the ‘embodied spirituality’ category

Natural Dreamwork Events Summer 2022

May 14, 2022

Some members of the Natural Dreamwork team of practitioners are offering workshops and groups this summer. These offerings provide both in-person and online opportunities to learn about the Natural Dreamwork approach to healing through the sacred encounters in our dreams. Here is a link to the events page of their website:

Included in these events some online workshops that I am offering, including an Introduction to Natural Dreamwork, and Introduction to Expressive Arts and Dreamwork, and a Dream Sharing group for those who want to explore their dreams collaboratively. You can find information about these programs through the above link, through the Upcoming Programs page of this blog, or below:

Introduction to Natural Dreamwork:

July 13, 2022

7-9pm ET by Zoom

Learn how exploring your dreams with commitment and companionship can help you find healing, increased vitality and self-compassion.  Through this introduction to Natural Dreamwork, participants will explore how to approach dreamwork as spiritual practice. Examples of Natural Dreamwork approaches to specific dreams will be provided to illustrate the basic concepts within Natural Dreamwork. Participants are also invited to share a recent dream and engage with it through the Natural Dreamwork process.

2 CEUs are available for art therapists, mental health counselors, and social workers.

Fee: $60, or $90 if you sign up for both this workshop and the Expressive Arts workshop below

To register, contact Liza at

Natural Dreamwork and Expressive Arts:

July 20, 2022

7-9pm ET by Zoom

For those already engaged in Natural Dreamwork, or who complete the Introduction to Natural Dreamwork course above and want to dive deeper by learning how to connect expressive arts practices to enhance the dreamwork experience. This workshop will explore how to use the Expressive Therapy Continuum model to more deeply engage with the healing medicine in the images of dreams.

2 CEus are available for art therapists, mental health counselors, and social workers.

Fee: $60, or $90 (for both Intro to ND and this workshop)

to register, contact Liza at

Natural Dreamwork Dream Sharing Group:

6 months on the 2nd Wednesday every month for 6 months

August 10, September 14, October 12, November 9, December 14, January 11

7-9 pm ET by Zoom

Explore your dreams with other dreamers in this monthly gathering facilitated by Natural Dreamwork practitioner Liza Hyatt. For those new to Natural Dreamwork, completing the Introduction to Natural Dreamwork workshop on July 13 is recommended.

Fee: $25 per session, or pay in full for all 6 for $120

to register, contact Liza at

Becoming an Earth Monk

April 30, 2022
Earth Monk watercolor by Liza Hyatt

I haven’t been active on the is blog for several months because I have been writing chapters of a book whose working title is The Dark Night of the Earth and the Earth Monk’s Vigil. I am now ready to share here what my writing and research are enlivening for me.

Like many people, over the course of the past few years, I have felt growing despair for what is happening on our Earth and to our Earth. I feel a deep need to be with others who feel the same despair – and the hope that humanity can mature through the dark times ahead and learn to live more compassionately with each other and with reverence and caring for our local ecosystems and the planet as a whole.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction to The Dark Night of the Earth and the Earth Monk’s Vigil:

  As a young woman, I hoped that our collective transition away from the Earth-destroying culture we currently inhabit and participate in, toward new, sustainable, more just and compassionate systems, would be completed in my lifetime, with a relatively brief and collectively chosen period of transformation. Now, I grieve for how we are only just entering what must be an extremely complex, dark, painful, disordering, chaotic, conflict-filled, multi-generational liminal expanse, from which a radically altered, profoundly humbled human culture might emerge –  into a very different kind of rebirth than the world-conquering Renaissance of the past – if we don’t render Earth uninhabitable along the way.  

     Now, as a woman entering my crone stage of life, I am starting to see that I will live my elder decades as a participant within a time of global descent into disorder and confusion, revealing that what we have lived through in recent years has been merely the beginning ripples, the early distant rumblings of the much larger storm of change, struggle and painful psychological and spiritual initiation necessary to make us surrender our old familiar ego-centric cultural systems. The transformation that we must undergo will be humiliating in the truest, root sense of the word – a process in which we are brought low, back down into the earth, into the humus nature of being human, a return of Adam to adama –  the clay, the earth to which we belong and must be real stewards of.  Initiation, the soul’s process of ripening us, is humiliation of the ego, rendering us more in service of community and of the needs of soul. Only through such an initiation will humanity learn again to live in relationship with earth and each other. I do not expect this human-humus initiation to be completed in my daughter or granddaughter’s lifetime. Perhaps my great-grandchildren, and even more fully, my great-great grandchildren will be born in a truly Earth-stewarding culture.

     At the same time as I’ve been stripped of my younger naïveté, which hoped for an easier transition and an easier era in which to live the second half of my life, my soul life and spiritual love has grown and deepened. This is a love that encompasses the whole Earth, humanity, and the sacred web of interconnected relationships within which we are woven. The spiritual formation through which this love has expanded gives me strength, courage, groundedness, and personal commitment to living as one engaged within present and future suffering, complex and scary as it will be. I want to be as present as I can, in deep relationships with people around me, witnessing and staying awake, keeping vigil throughout what is to come – the collective dark night of both the human soul and the planet itself. 

     The state of being in vigil is a state of being liminal. Of opening to silence, unknowing and darkness. Of suffering and lamenting and witnessing the pain within our depths. Of meeting our own demons, which we created in fruitless effort to be in control. Of surrendering to waiting in prayer dark for dawn.  

      More than anything, the Earth needs us to enter this state of vigil. To stop doing what we have been doing, to surrender our being in control, to face the demonic mess we have made of things, to meet the trauma we have inflicted and carry within us. To grieve, soften, and acknowledge the collective pain in which we live. And to wait, learning to listen to nature itself for what will heal us, and for the real work that is needed of us.

     To grow capable of such vigil, we need to learn to be more patient within the liminal. We must be willing to become monks – Earth Monks born from the spiritual and communal needs of our era, committed to living in service of healing the collective trauma of humanity and our planet. 

I hope this post finds its way to many others who are also called to become Earth Monks. In the coming year, I will continue to post excerpts from my book project, including suggestions of practices to help us unlearn the conditioned behaviors of Western society and its colonizing and consumerism. One of the key wounds to our soul-life in this society is the impairment of imagination, without which we cannot experience the world as alive and sacred. Therefore many of my upcoming posts will be about ways to heal our relationship with the imagination, first through the primary imagination that we encounter in our dreams, and later through the secondary imagination found in contemplative art making practices.

Liminal Dancer

July 11, 2020

Liminal Dancer

The dis-ease and trauma within which we live is planet-wide. Changes must take root and flower in every system, institution, home and individual. In such a world, how do use my gifts as spiritual guide to support social change???? If I answer this question with my mind, I fabricate heroic plans, despite having learned that heroism is inauthentic. Heroism insists on ego-driven improvements to what it sees as an inadequate and unacceptable world and self.  This compulsive pretense goes to the heart of the dis-ease we face. Instead, relating with compassion amidst ordinary life is where relational healing occurs.

Since my mind gets stuck in old ego patterns, I turn to my body’s discernment. Inspired by My Grandmother’s Handsby Resmaa Menakem, and its reminders of body-settling practices, one morning while commuting to work (for an 11-hour day among very unsettled bodies), I began humming. Without conscious choice, I found myself humming the melody of Amazing Grace.  I began to sing. Out came spontaneous new words, starting with the question, “What can I do in times like these?” and verses emerged – “we feel it in our bodies, the suffering – it starts in our bodies, the healing” …. I pulled out my phone and recorded this song. After recording, I kept singing – repeating verses, watching them evolve into a final verse (not recorded):

It starts in the body

becoming safe,

it starts in the body


it starts in the body

finding peace

in the midst of our suffering.

     I entered the eating disorder treatment clinic where I have worked as art therapist for 13 years singing these words. This is Spirit’s answer for me – I have gifts to help bodies find safety and calm. Whatever work I continue or add to my life, this settling of suffering bodies (mine included) is the moment to moment practice.

At work, bigger than normal changes had begun months before the virus. The pandemic has unraveled everything further. Every week has been a practice of surrender, of doing what is needed imperfectly, of losing my bearings and only temporarily finding them. We are all in the same state, life’s normal flux thrust into disequilibrium and chaos.  One of my biggest stresses has been the eating disorder clinic piloting a teen PHP during this pandemic, while we’ve also learned to provide telehealth to all our adult patients. Every week has involved major shifts in practice, letting go of what I did well, while struggling with new situations.  (Thich Naht Hanh’s mindfulness teachings have been so helpful during this time!!!)

Yesterday afternoon, I took 7 anxious teens outside for a mindful walk, a welcome break in PHP’s day-long therapy. We trekked around a nearby pond and watched a pair of blue herons among lotus flowers growing from pond-mud. I returned, settled in my body, to attend a Zoom staff meeting. There I found out that we will be switching to an entirely new schedule for the PHP. My future responsibilities are unclear and to be determined. Instead of solidifying ground, this fall will bring more disruption. More feelings of loss and uncertainty. More confused bearings and having to adjust.

The peace of breathing with lotus and herons evaporated. My body flew into panic, thinking, “I’ll just quit and focus entirely on private practice!” Grand schemes spun from mind – heroism, grasping at control and the illusion that safety is found in independence. Luckily, I observed my state. I returned to body settling and mindfulness and loving kindness.

I put the finishing touches on an art piece I have been collaging, titled: The Truth Is the Ground Has Always Been Shaky, Forever (from Pema Chodron).  In it, a woman is dancing on fragmented, quaking, and constantly shifting ground.  A series of shock waves is occurring. One of the dancer’s feet stands on a Covid virus. Ripples of melting glaciers, disappearing rainforests, and other terrain quake under her other foot. Her body is covered with words from Alice Walker, Thich Naht Hanh, and Felicia Murrell about hard times and furious dancing, about two arrows hitting the same place, about racism and liminal space. I painted the dancer as a dark-skinned woman, reminding me that, globally, people of color have the most difficulties to navigate, as we live our lives fighting to dismantle unjust structures and experimentally create a more compassionate society. The dancer is me and every woman. She is Mother of All affirming that we can do this dance. We can soul-journey through the turbulence that is being quickened.