It may be that, as Theodore Roosevelt said, “comparison is the thief of joy.” While I contend that contrast is a joyful thing, the line between the two can be a fine one. We can be looking at the same things but they feel different depending on which view we take. I’ve been noticing when the heavy, judge-y energy of comparison shows up with its thunders of “I should or shouldn’t” and when the “Wow You! Wow Me! Wow Us!” energy of contrast gives each of us the permission to be our amazing selves.

Now I think about it, that’s a contrast right there: between comparison and contrast. May we spend our days in the latter.

All the playlists from the week are below or you can listen to them by going to Spotify! Dance for free at Spotify! Sign up, follow me at “susanmcculley” and you’ll find my public playlists ~ just click and listen!

And first upcoming coolness:

• Scheduling Answer: Wednesday class
Looking toward the summer schedule, we have decided to leave the Wednesday class time at 11am-12:15pm. Thank you for your input.

• Safety & Awareness Reminder
Some, especially in the Downtown Group Ex studio, are choosing to dance with weights during freedance. I don’t recommend this particularly (I’m happy to elaborate if you’re interested) but if you do this, please be mindful that you are moving with weights in a room full of barefoot dancers who are moving sometimes quickly around the room. Please do any weight-dancing on the edges so dancers can easily stay clear and engage lots of awareness about where you are in space. Thank you for your awareness!

• Love Warrior: embody a movement ~ Friday, Apr 7, 6-730pm
a moving experience of activism in support The Front Porch at 219 Water Street E, Cville
Join Susan to experience a new routine called Love Warrior. This is a movement experience designed for everyBody that allows us to experience the sensation of the change we want to see in the world. We can then translate that sensation directly into action.

At a time when the arts and creative education are being undermined and undervalued, it is more important than ever to support the arts in our community and creativity in ourselves! The Front Porch will offer music and refreshments will be available before and after we dance. Enjoy an evening of movement, music, and community.
Donate-What-You-Can ~ All proceeds from the event will go to The Front Porch

Love Warrior shirts with original art
Just because times are tough doesn’t mean we have to wear black all the time. I’ve been working on a Love Warrior shirt design and together with the people at CustomInk, we created this – check it out!  We are having a batch printed now and they will be around $16 each. I ordered some extras. Let me know if you’d like one!

On the 7th day we dance.sit.create… Saturday, May 13, 2o17, 8:30am-5pm
For the 7th time, we will dance.sit.create. Come spend a delicious day playing at the sweet intersection of movement, stillness and art. We’ll explore the creative magic of the number 7 and the power of play for inspiration and restoration. No experience in anything is necessary. All you need is a willingness to see what happens and eat delicious, healthy meals. The retreat provides everything you need for an uplifting, rejuvenating day. Susan offers the structure and guidance for movement, meditation, and creative jaunts. Rebecca caters extraordinary vegetarian, gluten-free, seasonal food (tea, snack, lunch). And it doesn’t stop with one day. Also included is a 6-week series of music, meditations, and prompts to keep you in the flow.
Early Bird: $100 if registered by April 13. Late Bird: $125 if registered by May 10
Limited to 20 participants.
Checks to SusaNia LLC and mailed to 1255 Sunset Avenue Ext., Charlottesville VA 22903 with registration form or at http://www.susanmcculley.com.

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

*** PLAYLIST NOTE: My playlists can also be found on Spotify https://www.spotify.com/us/ by following “susanmcculley” (no space) and look for Public Playlists. Sometimes music is not available on Spotify so I may replace with another version or skip songs . ***

Monday, Mar 27, 2017, 1045am ~ Amazing Contrast

Wonderwall 4:09 Ryan Adams
forever changes 5:34 ZKT
Say Hey (I Love You) (Featuring Cherine Anderson) 3:56 Michael Franti
Compared To What 5:56 Candy Dulfer
Freedom 2:50 Tyrone Wells
More Than This 4:07 10,000 Maniacs
Sometimes 5:14 Kaskade
Deeper (Into Places) (Silk Spinner Mix) 6:23 Afterlife
Sexual Revolution 4:48 Macy Gray
Knock On Wood 4:13 Safri Duo
Sure Thing 6:03 St. Germain
The Boy In The Bubble 4:30 Peter Gabriel
Plegaria para el Alma de Layla 3:19 Pedro Aznar

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2017, 840am ~ Amazing Contrast

Wonderwall 4:09 Ryan Adams
forever changes 5:34 ZKT
Say Hey (I Love You) (Featuring Cherine Anderson) 3:56 Michael Franti
Compared To What 5:56 Candy Dulfer
Freedom 2:50 Tyrone Wells
Sometimes 5:14 Kaskade
Deeper (Into Places) (Silk Spinner Mix) 6:23 Afterlife
Sexual Revolution 4:48 Macy Gray
Knock On Wood 4:13 Safri Duo
Sure Thing 6:03 St. Germain
Let It Go 2:16 Jamie Catto & Alex Forster

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017, 11am ~ Amazing Contrast

North 6:49 Afro Celt Sound System
North, Pt. 2 3:02 Afro Celt Sound System
When You’re Falling [Featuring Peter Gabriel] 5:14 Afro Celt Sound System
Colossus 6:44 Afro Celt Sound System
Ma’ Africa 4:49 Mahotella Queens/Ulali
Braided Hair 4:03 Neneh Cherry/Speech
Ta Moko 5:10 1 Giant Leap featuring Whiri Mako Black
Passion 5:46 Michael Franti
Daphne 7:03 Eddi Reader/Mahotella Queens/Revetti Sakalar
Persistence of Memory 4:29 Afro Celt Sound System
Paris Texas 6:45 Gotan Project

Thursday, Mar 30, 2017, 840am ~ Amazing Contrast

North 6:49 Afro Celt Sound System
North, Pt. 2 3:02 Afro Celt Sound System
When You’re Falling [Featuring Peter Gabriel] 5:14 Afro Celt Sound System
Colossus 6:44 Afro Celt Sound System
Ma’ Africa 4:49 Mahotella Queens/Ulali
Braided Hair 4:03 Neneh Cherry/Speech
Passion 5:46 Michael Franti
Daphne 7:03 Eddi Reader/Mahotella Queens/Revetti Sakalar
Persistence of Memory 4:29 Afro Celt Sound System
Paris Texas 6:45 Gotan Project

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NIA?

For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at http://www.nianow.com…
If you’re traveling or moving, you can find a teacher or classes wherever you’re going.
Interested in teaching or deepening your practice? Check out the Nia White Belt Training. They are offered all around the world so you can find one near you or where you may want to go!

This post was originally published on August 18, 2013.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Bottom line: Comparing myself to others is pointless. Any time I start a little tally going on how I’m doing as compared to someone else, it’s time to take a breath and a step back. We all do it (in fact, our culture encourages it), but comparison is a habit worth breaking. Leo Babauta in his ZenHabits blog has written a bunch of posts about comparison (and they’re all good), but I love this one for pointing out how absurd it is to compare ourselves to others. There are too many variables, too many unknowns, too many incomparables. Comparison just doesn’t make sense.

And yet, it’s so tempting, to either knock myself down (“she’s my age and way more fit than I am”) or make myself superior (“I would never talk to my child like that.”) as compared to someone else. It’s so easy to do, but our absolute uniqueness makes it completely meaningless. As they say in AA, don’t compare your inside with somebody else’s outside.

Contrasting, on the other hand, can be a delicious practice of wonder and appreciation. Last year, my husband and I visited his parents in Arizona. One afternoon, we went to a skydiving center to watch people jump out of airplanes. It was strangely mesmerizing. Dozens of us sat on the grass craning our necks skyward and watched tiny colored dots fly out of the plane, cruise around for a while, and then pop their parachutes and float gracefully to earth on a rainbow of fabric. After watching several plane-loads descend like colorful thistle down, I said to everyone and no one in particular, “People are amazing.” A stranger, a woman sitting near me said, “You could learn to sky dive, and then you’d be amazing, too.”

And without missing a beat, I looked at her, smiled and said one of the greatest things I’ve ever said, “Oh, I am amazing…only in a completely different way.”

Few words have ever felt so good to say. I could easily have gone with, “Oh no, I could never do that” or “Yeah, you’re right, I should try it” or something that in one way or another compared me to the skydivers. Instead, I loved appreciating them for what they were doing and recognizing that their achievements in no way diminish my own, totally different, coolness. This is contrast, and contrast is delicious.

One of my favorite things in Nia is the Joy of Contrast. In my very first class, after years of aerobics and traditional dance classes in which the whole class basically has the same energy and the same feel, I loved the feeling of contrasts in Nia. I loved feeling tight then loose, linear then circular, big then teeny-tiny. My body devoured the sensations and the challenge of completely shifting from one to the other. My mind focused intently on crisp shifts between those sensations.  And my spirit loved the expansive possibilities that were inherent in every contrast…even the possibility of blending and integrating them.

Strong isn’t better than flexible. Mobile isn’t better than agile. Fast isn’t better than slow. Skydiving isn’t better than Nia dancing.  The Joy of Contrast is appreciating the amazingness of it all.

The next time you find yourself comparing yourself to someone else, experiment with appreciating the contrasts instead. Acknowledge that you and the other person are both amazing…just in different ways. Then move on to be your amazing self without keeping score. Whether you jump out of airplanes or knit baby blankets, you are amazing. Just being yourself is amazing. Be that amazing and let everybody else be their amazing. That’s the Joy of Contrast!

Especially when life feels overwhelming or out of control in some way, it’s a helpful reminder that I actually do, in every moment, have choices. Even if the choices aren’t great or are narrow, I’m still the captain of my own little ship. And that’s power.

All the playlists from the week are below or you can listen to them by going to Spotify! Dance for free at Spotify! Sign up, follow me at “susanmcculley” and you’ll find my public playlists ~ just click and listen!

And first the announce-y type things:

• Safety & Awareness Reminder
Some, especially in the Downtown Group Ex studio, are choosing to dance with weights during freedance. I don’t recommend this particularly (I’m happy to elaborate if you’re interested) but if you do this, please be mindful that you are moving with weights in a room full of barefoot dancers who are moving sometimes quickly around the room. Please do any weight-dancing on the edges so dancers can easily stay clear and engage lots of awareness about where you are in space. Thank you for your awareness!

• FREE Workshop: Conscious Communication with Mary Linn & Susan ~ March 25, 3-5pm
A FREE heARTful Action gathering, Saturday, March 25, 2o17, 3-5pm
at the Quaker Meeting House at 1104 Forest St, Charlottesville
In our polarized, highly-charged political environment, a simple conversation can be tricky, scary and even dangerous. More and more, we may find ourselves avoiding conversations about the things that matter to us most for fear of an argument or damaging a relationship.
In this free workshop, we will explore practical ways to approach conversations (either in person or on-line) that promote connection, curiosity and clarity. Join us to learn ways of talking to even the prickliest people with calm and kindness. Bring a journal and a friend!
Please RSVP to sjmnia@gmail.com or on the Facebook event page (https://www.facebook.com/events/1921663034719326/) so we know how many people to expect. Wear comfortable clothes, bring a journal and a friend!

• Love Warrior: embody a movement ~ Friday, Apr 7, 6-730pm
a moving experience of activism in support The Front Porch at 219 Water Street E, Cville
Join Susan to experience a new routine called Love Warrior. This is a movement experience designed for everyBody that allows us to experience the sensation of the change we want to see in the world. We can then translate that sensation directly into action.
At a time when the arts and creative education are being undermined and undervalued, it is more important than ever to support the arts in our community and creativity in ourselves! The Front Porch will offer music and refreshments will be available before and after we dance. Enjoy an evening of movement, music, and community.
Donate-What-You-Can ~ All proceeds from the event will go to The Front Porch

Love Warrior shirts with original art
Just because times are tough doesn’t mean we have to wear black all the time. I’ve been working on a Love Warrior shirt design and together with the people at CustomInk, we created this – check it out!
Would you like one (you know you would)? It’s the perfect outfit for protests, marches, and of course, Love Warrior dancing! If you’re interested, please email me and let me know including what size you’d like. The more we print, the less each shirt will be (if we order 25, they will be around $16) so share this with your friends and I’ll let you know what shakes out before anyone has to commit to anything. Nevertheless…

On the 7th day we dance.sit.create… Saturday, May 13, 2o17, 8:30am-5pm
For the 7th time, we will dance.sit.create. Come spend a delicious day playing at the sweet intersection of movement, stillness and art. We’ll explore the creative magic of the number 7 and the power of play for inspiration and restoration. No experience in anything is necessary. All you need is a willingness to see what happens and eat delicious, healthy meals. The retreat provides everything you need for an uplifting, rejuvenating day. Susan offers the structure and guidance for movement, meditation, and creative jaunts. Rebecca caters extraordinary vegetarian, gluten-free, seasonal food (tea, snack, lunch). And it doesn’t stop with one day. Also included is a 6-week series of music, meditations, and prompts to keep you in the flow.
Early Bird: $100 if registered by April 13. Late Bird: $125 if registered by May 10
Limited to 20 participants.
Checks to SusaNia LLC and mailed to 1255 Sunset Avenue Ext., Charlottesville VA 22903 with registration form or at http://www.susanmcculley.com.

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

*** PLAYLIST NOTE: My playlists can also be found on Spotify https://www.spotify.com/us/ by following “susanmcculley” (no space) and look for Public Playlists. Sometimes music is not available on Spotify so I may replace with another version or skip songs . ***

Monday, Mar 20, 2017, 1045am ~ Choices for Personal Power

Here We Go 5:59 Deep Dive Corp. Ft. Hush Forever
The Flame 6:51 Deep Dive Corp.
Heartbreaker 5:24 Crazy P
Down To Love 6:34 Hot Toddy
Don’t Stop The Dance 6:20 Martin Brodin
Steal Drum 7:07 The Martin Brothers
The Power Of Bhangra 3:27 Snap!, Motivo
Everything’s Gonna Be Alright 4:33 The Baby Sitters Circus
Elephant (Dub) 6:07 Spiral System
Empty Vessel 3:46 Bob Holroyd
Stillpoint 4:18 Oliver Shanti & Friends

Tuesday, Mar 21, 2017, 840am ~ Choices for Personal Power

Here We Go 5:59 Deep Dive Corp. Ft. Hush Forever
The Flame 6:51 Deep Dive Corp.
Heartbreaker 5:24 Crazy P
Down To Love 6:34 Hot Toddy
Don’t Stop The Dance 6:20 Martin Brodin
Steal Drum 7:07 The Martin Brothers
Everything’s Gonna Be Alright 4:33 The Baby Sitters Circus
Elephant (Dub) 6:07 Spiral System
Empty Vessel 3:46 Bob Holroyd

Wednesday, Mar 22, 2017, 11am ~ Choices for Personal Power

Here We Go 5:59 Deep Dive Corp. Ft. Hush Forever
The Flame 6:51 Deep Dive Corp.
Heartbreaker 5:24 Crazy P
Down To Love 6:34 Hot Toddy
Don’t Stop The Dance 6:20 Martin Brodin
Steal Drum 7:07 The Martin Brothers
(For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People 3:44 Joss Stone
Everything’s Gonna Be Alright 4:33 The Baby Sitters Circus
Elephant (Dub) 6:07 Spiral System
The Power Of The Heart 5:54 Peter Gabriel

Thursday, Mar 23, 2017, 840am ~ Choices for Personal Power

Here We Go 5:59 Deep Dive Corp. Ft. Hush Forever
The Flame 6:51 Deep Dive Corp.
Heartbreaker 5:24 Crazy P
Down To Love 6:34 Hot Toddy
Don’t Stop The Dance 6:20 Martin Brodin
Steal Drum 7:07 The Martin Brothers
Power to the People 3:23 John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band
Everything’s Gonna Be Alright 4:33 The Baby Sitters Circus
Elephant (Dub) 6:07 Spiral System
Empty Vessel 3:46 Bob Holroyd

Saturday, Mar 25, 2017, 9am for Anne ~ Choices for Personal Power

Ooh Child (Alternate Version) 3:54 Beth Orton
Finally Moving 4:38 Pretty Lights
I Believe (feat. Michael Franti & Nahko) 3:23 SOJA
SuNu 5:05 Rising Appalachia
Belly Belly Nice 3:53 Dave Matthews Band
Mussiki é (Jungle Mix) 7:11 Miango
Mad World (feat. Safri Duo & Isam B) [Raaban Edit] 3:34 Michael Parsberg
The Power Of Bhangra 3:27 Snap!, Motivo
I Don’t Like It, I Love It (feat. Robin Thicke & Verdine White) 3:44 Flo Rida
Unpack Your Heart 3:16 Phillip Phillips
Power to the People 3:35 Black Eyed Peas
Ooh Child ((Remix)) 3:33 Nina Simone
Everything’ll Be Alright 4:07 Catherine MacLellan
Waters of Miriam (Live at Esalen) Part 2 4:42 Josh Brill

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NIA?

For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at http://www.nianow.com…
If you’re traveling or moving, you can find a teacher or classes wherever you’re going.
Interested in teaching or deepening your practice? Check out the Nia White Belt Training. They are offered all around the world so you can find one near you or where you may want to go!

My first therapist never rolled her eyes at me or sighed dramatically but I wouldn’t have blamed her if she had.

In my early 30s, recently divorced, then quickly into first one then another messy relationship, eating and exercise disorders, financial straights: I had it all. And I had not a single clue about the monkey mind mayhem that I was constantly brewing. Not one clue.

I think of that poor therapist often and cringe my apologies.

One conversation I remember with her went something like this:

ME: So I’ve been pretty stressed since my boyfriend moved in with me last week.

POOR BELEAGUERED THERAPIST: He doesn’t have a job, right? And he’s depressed and dependent on you both financially and socially?

ME: Well, yes. But he asked if he could move in with me.

POOR BELEAGUERED THERAPIST: And you thought that was a good idea?

ME: Well, no, but what else could I say when he asked?

POOR BELEAGUERED THERAPIST: Um. How about “No.”?

Saying “no” wasn’t even anywhere near my radar. I didn’t think I had a choice in the situation. I thought I had to take him in. I’ve spent many of my years afraid of saying the wrong thing or being unkind or making a “stink” (as my mom used to say). It’s taken me a long time to begin to find my voice and to recognize that no matter what is happening, I actually do have a choice.

I have a choice to say yes to eating a vegetarian diet. I have a choice to say no to having guns in my workplace. I have a choice to not say a single thing or lovingly state my complaint when a certain someone walks through the house with muddy boots. I have choices. Listening to a dharma talk by spiritual teacher Adyashanti recently, I was reminded that I even have a choice about whether or not I am overtaken by my emotions.

In Nia we call it making choices for personal power. That’s what choice gives us: power.

When a high school friend posts some absurdly misinformed statement on Facebook, I ask myself, “Do I have the personal power to respond mindfully?”

When presented with a bowl of salt & vinegar potato chips, I ask myself, “Do I have the personal power to have one handful?”

When I am sitting in meditation and I feel antsy, I ask myself, “Do I have the personal power to not peek at the timer?”

Sometimes the answer is yes and I patiently wait for the chime to ring. Sometimes the answer is no and I write a snotty response to my misinformed high school friend. I have yet to find the power over the salt & vinegar potato chip.

Whatever I choose, though, this framing reminds me that I am choosing it. I’m not a leaf being whipped around by the winds of life. I am making a choice. Some choices take more energy than others to make. Sometimes I have that energy and sometimes I don’t. But they are all still choices.

If I was to go back to that first therapist’s office, it might have been interesting if the conversation had gone something like this:

ME: So I’ve been pretty stressed since my boyfriend moved in with me last week.

THERAPIST: He doesn’t have a job, right? And he’s depressed and dependent on you both financially and socially?

ME: Well, yes. But he asked if he could move in and even though I didn’t think it was a good idea, I didn’t have the personal power to say No.

THERAPIST: Ah, so you chose to say Yes. Let’s talk about ways that you can increase your personal power in those situations….


Thank you for reading!

If you liked this post, please share it!
And you may also like this one: Push. Pull. Put it Down.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.”  — Shunryu Suzuki (see link to original lecture)

We spent the week revisiting routines that I learned when I was a Nia beginner. The practice is to bring that same energy of curiosity, spaciousness, and possibility to even those things we know well.

All the playlists from the week are below or you can listen to them by going to Spotify! Dance for free at Spotify! Sign up, follow me at “susanmcculley” and you’ll find my public playlists ~ just click and listen!

And first the announce-y type things:

• Scheduling Question: Wednesday class
Looking toward the summer schedule, there is some talk of moving back our Wednesday class time to 11:15am-12:30pm to give more space between Nia and the class that comes before. I’m curious to know how/if this would effect people. Please let me know what you think in the comments below or by emailing me at sjmnia@gmail.com. Thank you for your input.

• Safety & Awareness Reminder
Some, especially in the Downtown Group Ex studio, are choosing to dance with weights during freedance. I don’t recommend this particularly (I’m happy to elaborate if you’re interested) but if you do this, please be mindful that you are moving with weights in a room full of barefoot dancers who are moving sometimes quickly around the room. Please do any weight-dancing on the edges so dancers can easily stay clear and engage lots of awareness about where you are in space. Thank you for your awareness!

•SPRING NIA JAM: MARCH 17
Join Kate Aust, Mary Linn Bergstrom, and Rachel Horsley for our spring Nia Jam! Friday, March 17, 5:45-7pm Downtown in Studio A. *Please note, we will be downstairs in A rather than upstairs in “the big room”. Also, there will be no Nia 101 this week – class begins at 5:45pm!

• FREE Workshop: Conscious Communication with Mary Linn & Susan ~ March 25, 3-5pm
A FREE heARTful Action gathering, Saturday, March 25, 2o17, 3-5pm
at the Quaker Meeting House at 1104 Forest St, Charlottesville
In our polarized, highly-charged political environment, a simple conversation can be tricky, scary and even dangerous. More and more, we may find ourselves avoiding conversations about the things that matter to us most for fear of an argument or damaging a relationship.
In this free workshop, we will explore practical ways to approach conversations (either in person or on-line) that promote connection, curiosity and clarity. Join us to learn ways of talking to even the prickliest people with calm and kindness. Bring a journal and a friend!
Please RSVP to sjmnia@gmail.com or on the Facebook event page (https://www.facebook.com/events/1921663034719326/) so we know how many people to expect. Wear comfortable clothes, bring a journal and a friend!

• Love Warrior: embody a movement ~ Friday, Apr 7, 6-730pm
a moving experience of activism in support The Front Porch at 219 Water Street E, Cville
Join Susan to experience a new routine called Love Warrior. This is a movement experience designed for everyBody that allows us to experience the sensation of the change we want to see in the world. We can then translate that sensation directly into action.

At a time when the arts and creative education are being undermined and undervalued, it is more important than ever to support the arts in our community and creativity in ourselves! The Front Porch will offer music and refreshments will be available before and after we dance. Enjoy an evening of movement, music, and community.
Donate-What-You-Can ~ All proceeds from the event will go to The Front Porch

DOUBLE BONUS: Love Warrior shirts with original art
Just because times are tough doesn’t mean we have to wear black all the time. I’ve been working on a Love Warrior shirt design and together with the people at CustomInk, we created this – check it out!
Would you like one? It’s the perfect outfit for protests, marches, and of course, Love Warrior dancing! If you’re interested, please email me and let me know including what size you’d like. The more we print, the less each shirt will be (if we order 25, they will be around $16) so share this with your friends and I’ll let you know what shakes out before anyone has to commit to anything. Nevertheless…

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

*** PLAYLIST NOTE: My playlists can also be found on Spotify https://www.spotify.com/us/ by following “susanmcculley” (no space) and look for Public Playlists. Sometimes music is not available on Spotify so I may replace with another version or skip songs . ***

Sunday, Mar 12, 2017, 315pm ~ Beginner’s Mind

Adiemus 4:02 Adiemus/London Philharmonic Orchestra/Miriam Stockley
Tintinnabulum 11:03 Adiemus/London Philharmonic/Miriam Stockley
Cantus Inaequalis 3:18 Adiemus/London Philharmonic/Miriam Stockley
Cantus Insolitus 5:40 Adiemus/London Philharmonic/Miriam Stockley
In Caelum Fero 7:49 Adiemus/London Philharmonic Orchestra/Miriam Stockley
Adagio for Strings [Remix by Ferry Corsten] 6:35 William Orbit
Cantus Iteratus 6:42 Adiemus/London Philharmonic/Miriam Stockley
Amaté Adea 5:23 Adiemus/London Philharmonic/Miriam Stockley
Kayama 7:58 Adiemus/London Philharmonic Orchestra/Miriam Stockley
Hymn 2:42 Adiemus/London Philharmonic Orchestra/Miriam Stockley

Monday, Mar 13, 2017, 1045am ~ Beginner’s Mind

All I Want 6:52 Shantal
Dance of Sarasvati 9:07 Kitaro
Agolo 4:50 Angelique Kidjo
Spellbound 5:43 Rae & Christian
In Caelum Fero 7:49 Adiemus/London Philharmonic Orchestra/Miriam Stockley
Wombo Lombo 4:17 Angelique Kidjo
New Beginning 5:32 Tracy Chapman
Jamming 5:24 Candy Dulfer
Where the Story Ends… 5:44 Shantel
Bless This 7:21 Deseo Remixes (original by Jon Anderson)

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2017, 840am ~ Beginner’s Mind

All I Want 6:52 Shantal
Beauty & the East (Banco de Gaia Remix) 6:51 Bombay Dub Orchestra
Agolo 4:50 Angelique Kidjo
Spellbound 5:43 Rae & Christian
U R The Answer 5:57 Stephen Bray/ Michael Beckwith
Wombo Lombo 4:17 Angelique Kidjo
The Basement 3:35 Eric Hutchinson
Jamming 5:24 Candy Dulfer
Revolution 3:40 Coco Love Alcorn
Hymn to the Fallen 4:43 Voces8

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017, 11am ~ Beginner’s Mind (Firedance Enhanced)

Reel Around the Sun 8:42 Bill Whelan
The Heart’s Cry 2:28 Bill Whelan
Alba 5:16 Paul Mounsey Featuring Nahoo
Journeyman 3:48 Paul Mounsey Featuring Nahoo
Shivna 3:38 Bill Whelan
Firedance 6:04 Bill Whelan
Dalmore 3:59 Paul Mounsey Featuring Nahoo
Stranger in a Strange Land 6:20 Paul Mounsey Featuring Nahoo
Siamsa 4:28 Ronan Hardiman
Riverdance 5:45 Bill Whalen
Aran Boat Song 5:27 Aryeh Frankfurter & Lisa Lynne
Caoineadh Cu Chulainn (Lament) 4:11 Bill Whalen

Thursday, Mar 16, 2017, 840am ~ Beginner’s Mind (Firedance Enhanced)

Reel Around the Sun 8:42 Bill Whelan
Alba 5:16 Paul Mounsey Featuring Nahoo
Journeyman 3:48 Paul Mounsey Featuring Nahoo
Shivna 3:38 Bill Whelan
Firedance 6:04 Bill Whelan
Dalmore 3:59 Paul Mounsey Featuring Nahoo
Stranger in a Strange Land 6:20 Paul Mounsey Featuring Nahoo
Riverdance 5:45 Bill Whalen
Aran Boat Song 5:27 Aryeh Frankfurter & Lisa Lynne
Caoineadh Cu Chulainn (Lament) 4:11 Bill Whalen

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NIA?

For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at http://www.nianow.com…
If you’re traveling or moving, you can find a teacher or classes wherever you’re going.
Interested in teaching or deepening your practice? Check out the Nia White Belt Training. They are offered all around the world so you can find one near you or where you may want to go!


Spring is springing. St. Patrick’s Day is upon us. In my teaching, that means I’ll be sharing the classic Firedance routine (or my version of it, anyway). I’ve been teaching this routine since 2003 and it’s full of things I love: inspiring music, explosive and beautiful choreography, and sweaty fun. But after 14 years, I can get stuck in habit and even boredom with a routine that once brought me to tears. So as we revisit Firedance (and some of the other classic routines from early in my Nia teaching) this week, it seems like a good time to revisit a post from 2012 about beginner’s mind.

(originally posted December 2, 2012)

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.”  — Shunryu Suzuki (see link to original lecture)

In 2006, when I was preparing to go to the Nia Black Belt training (the highest level of teacher training in Nia), I went to a martial arts demonstration led by a Black Belt Kendo Master.  At the beginning of the demonstration, he asked, “What does being a Black Belt mean?”  Others in the group said, “It means you are an expert,” “It means you know everything,” and, “It means you could kick my ass.”

BLACK BELT? ME?

I groaned internally.  I was deeply anxious about doing the Black Belt training for these very reasons:  I knew I didn’t know everything and certainly didn’t feel like an expert who could kick anyone’s anything.  I was hit with a wave of insecurity about even thinking about becoming a Black Belt.  I felt like a fraud.

But the Kendo Master smiled kindly and said, “No, being a Black Belt means … now I am a student.”

Now I am a student.  Yes, this was it exactly.  I wasn’t purporting to know everything, but Nia was something that I was passionate about and wanted to learn in depth.  This definition helped me see that by becoming a Black Belt, I was saying that NOW I was really ready to study and learn.

This definition of Black Belt connects with the idea of Beginner’s Mind.  Beginner’s Mind, or Shoshin, is a concept from Zen Buddhism and is defined as an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would.

EXPERT WORSHIP

Our American culture is replete with expert worship.  There is a pervasive idea that if we don’t know something, that we should turn to experts to know what to do (or buy or think or be).  And, so this line of thinking goes, whatever the expert says is exactly what we should do (or buy or think or be).

There are two main drawbacks to the expert worship approach.  First, if you are the one turning to an expert, this approach elevates those with experience to an untenable and unrealistic place of all-knowingness.  Second, if you ARE the expert or experienced one, expert worship encourages you to feign that you know all the answers rather than approaching everything, even things you’ve done 1,000 or 10,000 times with the inquisitiveness and freshness of beginner’s mind.

“I’VE NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT IT THAT WAY BEFORE”

While it is important to gather information from experienced sources when wanting to learn or understand anything, it is important to approach all expert information with a discerning mind and an awareness that no one can know everything about anything.  The greatest teachers are always learning themselves and are willing to be surprised.  I took a wonderful on-line poetry course this fall (see Coursera for their offerings).  The professor, Al Filreis, has been teaching poetry in the Ivy League for 35 years.  More than once, he said, “I’ve been reading this poem for decades and I’ve never thought about it that way before.”  His approach is that we are figuring things out together with all of our experiences and insights as resources.  Beginner’s mind empowers both expert and novice to be open to new information and perspectives.

YOUR BLACK BELT

So what are you a Black Belt in?  What do you love to know/learn/do?  What would you be willing to approach with fresh eyes and an open mind every time?  Whether it is playing the cello, or learning about the Civil War, preparing healthful meals for your family or mowing your own lawn, you are an expert in something.  Beginner’s mind invites you to do even “expert activities” with curiosity and enthusiasm as if you’d never done it before.  As we enter into the holiday season, do you feel like you’ve “been there done that”?  Or have you “always” done things this way and feel entrained to those choices?  Whatever it is (especially if you find yourself resisting change or resisting letting go of the idea of yourself as an all-knowing expert), see if you can step in next time with the energy, wonder and excitement of a beginner and see how that changes your experience.

The question she asked was, “What do I do if I hate it?”
The answer Pema Chodron offers is, “The way to dissolve our resistance to life is to meet it face to face.”
The follow-up question (and there HAS to be a follow-up question, right?) might be, “WHY meet our resistance face to face?”

The answer I offer is three-fold:

1. Calm Center – Our essence is peace and calm. When we are pushed and pulled by likes and dislikes, we move further away from that essence.

2. Curiosity – Staying with my feelings around my dislikes gives me information about my tendencies and patterns. Do I want to control this situation? Do I feel like I don’t matter? Is this an old habit of thinking/ feeling that I don’t need to use anymore?

3. Conscious Choice – By practicing coming face to face with what I don’t like in a low-stakes environment (like Nia class or on the meditation cushion), I am practicing for when life presents me with pain or challenges. If I run away when the stakes are low, I won’t have the tools to be present when the stakes are high.

All the hook-filled playlists from the week are below or you can listen to them by going to Spotify! Dance for free at Spotify! Sign up, follow me at “susanmcculley” and you’ll find my public playlists ~ just click and listen!

And first the announce-y type things:

• Safety & Awareness Reminder
Some, especially in the Downtown Group Ex studio, are choosing to dance with weights during freedance. I don’t recommend this particularly (I’m happy to elaborate if you’re interested) but if you do this, please be mindful that you are moving with weights in a room full of barefoot dancers who are moving sometimes quickly around the room. Please do any weight-dancing on the edges so dancers can easily stay clear and engage lots of awareness about where you are in space. Thank you for your awareness!

• FREE Workshop: Conscious Communication with Mary Linn & Susan ~ Saturday, March 25, 3-5pm
A heARTful Action gathering at the Quaker Meeting House at 1104 Forest St, Charlottesville
In our polarized, highly-charged political environment, a simple conversation can be tricky, scary and even dangerous. More and more, we may find ourselves avoiding conversations about the things that matter to us most for fear of an argument or damaging a relationship.
In this free workshop, we will explore practical ways to approach conversations (either in person or on-line) that promote connection, curiosity and clarity. Join us to learn ways of talking to even the prickliest people with calm and kindness. Bring a journal and a friend!
Please RSVP to sjmnia@gmail.com or on the Facebook event page (https://www.facebook.com/events/1921663034719326/) so we know how many people to expect. Wear comfortable clothes, bring a journal and a friend!

• Love Warrior: embody a movement ~ Friday, Apr 7, 6-730pm
a moving experience of activism in support The Front Porch at 219 Water Street E, Cville
Join Susan to experience the new routine, Love Warrior. This is a movement experience designed for everyBody that allows us to experience the sensation of the change we want to see in the world. We can then translate that sensation directly into action. At a time when the arts and creative education are being undermined and undervalued, it is more important than ever to support the arts in our community and creativity in ourselves! The Front Porch will offer music and refreshments will be available before and after we dance. Enjoy an evening of movement, music, and community.
Donate-What-You-Can ~ All proceeds from the event will go to The Front Porch

DOUBLE BONUS: Love Warrior shirts with original art
Just because times are tough doesn’t mean we have to wear black all the time. I’ve been working on a Love Warrior shirt design and together with the people at CustomInk, we created this – check it out!
Would you like one (you know you would)? It’s the perfect outfit for protests, marches, and of course, Love Warrior dancing! If you’re interested, please email me and let me know including what size you’d like. The more we print, the less each shirt will be (if we order 25, they will be around $16) so share this with your friends and I’ll let you know what shakes out before anyone has to commit to anything. Nevertheless…

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

*** PLAYLIST NOTE: My playlists can also be found on Spotify https://www.spotify.com/us/ by following “susanmcculley” (no space) and look for Public Playlists. Sometimes music is not available on Spotify so I may replace with another version or skip songs . ***

Monday, Mar 6, 2017, 1045am ~ What Do I Do If I Hate It?

Yulunga [Spirit Dance] 6:56 Dead Can Dance
Always Waiting (fest. Irina Milkhailova) 7:08 Kaya Project
Shadow 4:28 Big Blue Ball featuring Juan Cañizares, Papa Wemba
Sometimes 5:14 Kaskade
Do It Anyway 4:23 Ben Folds Five
Gulf Breeze 6:30 Eat Static
Dancing is Important 5:37 Moodswings
More Than This 4:07 10,000 Maniacs
Everloving 3:26 Moby
Winter 5:43 Tori Amos
Devorzhum 6:13 Dead Can Dance

Tuesday, Mar 7, 2017, 840am ~ What Do I Do If I Hate It?

Yulunga [Spirit Dance] 6:56 Dead Can Dance
Always Waiting (fest. Irina Milkhailova) 7:08 Kaya Project
Shadow 4:28 Big Blue Ball featuring Juan Cañizares, Papa Wemba
Dancing is Important 5:37 Moodswings
Gulf Breeze 6:30 Eat Static
Do It Anyway 4:23 Ben Folds Five 1/25/2013 2:59 PM
More Than This 4:07 10,000 Maniacs
Everloving 3:26 Moby
Winter 5:43 Tori Amos
Nothing Lasts Forever [Instrumental] 3:58 Adam Plack/Deepak Chopra M.D.

Wednesday, Mar 8, 2017, 11am ~ What Do I Do If I Hate It?

Passing Away 5:16 Nahoo
Let The Groove Get In 7:12 Justin Timberlake
Keep On Searching 5:08 Kraak & Smaak
Jogando Capoeira 6:20 Beatfanatic
Thinkin’ ’bout Somethin’ 3:45 Hanson
Shakin’ It Up 6:15 Ganga Giri
Spinning the Wheel 6:24 George Michael
Silk Road 8:00 Kitaro
Why 4:54 Annie Lennox
Devorzhum 6:13 Dead Can Dance

Thursday, Mar 9, 2017, 840am ~ What Do I Do If I Hate It?

Passing Away 5:16 Nahoo
Let The Groove Get In 7:12 Justin Timberlake
Sometimes 5:14 Kaskade
Jogando Capoeira 6:20 Beatfanatic
Thinkin’ ’bout Somethin’ 3:45 Hanson
Shakin’ It Up 6:15 Ganga Giri
Spinning the Wheel 6:24 George Michael
Silk Road 8:00 Kitaro
Why 4:54 Annie Lennox

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NIA?

For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at http://www.nianow.com…
If you’re traveling or moving, you can find a teacher or classes wherever you’re going.
Interested in teaching or deepening your practice? Check out the Nia White Belt Training. They are offered all around the world so you can find one near you or where you may want to go!

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