This week we were moved by the question: what is the difference between destruction and transformation. We danced the melty mess of metamorphosis as we saw the photos of Notre Dame burning. Coventry Cathedral which I saw 35 years ago and never forgot kept coming to mind: the bombed shell of a cathedral connected to a transformed modern cathedral with a bridge of faith and a prayer for forgiveness. This picture hardly captures it so do look it up for more.

Below are our playlists for the week. If you’d like to listen to the music, you can find almost all the songs on Spotify (you can listen for free)! As always, please let me know if you have any questions about any of the music we dance to!

And friends, I am always ALWAYS looking for new music. Do you have a song that you love to move to or that moves you? I’d love to know what it is! Please respond in the comments below or email me at sjmnia@gmail.com!

Before the playlists, some announcements of things that are happening!

First Friday Freedance with Kate ~ May 3 at 11:25am
Nia Freedance is an opportunity to play and tap into the creative wisdom in our body, emotions, mind and spirit. For a full hour we get to dance together with the intention of stimulating our own unique movement creativity. The next Nia Freedance will be at ACAC Albemarle Square Friday, May 3 from 11:25 -12:25.

Honoring the Effect of Trauma in our Lives with Larry Goldstein and Wendy Hubbard April 27
Larry Goldstein and Wendy Hubbard lead a workshop on releasing the grip of trauma using structures work, personal stories, and group work. Structures enable a person to go back safely to a traumatic memory with crucial support that was missing then and offers fresh options — an alternative memory – a different outcome in which basic human needs are met and longing for love and protection are fulfilled. This reconstructs inner implicit memory maps in the brain and helps people become viscerally acquainted with feelings that were lacking early in their lives. Pre-course online class Saturday, April 20, 3-5pm, In Person One-Day Class Saturday, April 27, 10-6p, Post-course online class, Saturday, May 4, 3-5pm. Cost $150. Limited to 12 participants. To register and for more information, contact Wendy Hubbard at whubbard0@gmail.com.

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

Monday, Apr 15, 2019, 1045am ~ Messy Melty Metamorphosis

Como E O Ar (Easy Rhodes Remix) 5:21 Mo’ Horizons
Papillon 3:58 Lara Fabian
Mariposa Traicionera 4:23 Maná
And She Was 3:39 Talking Heads
Oye Como Va (Latin/Trance Mix) 4:17 Celia Cruz
Colossus 6:44 Afro Celt Sound System
Shadowman 6:36 Afro Celt Sound System
Butterflyz [Roger’s Release Mix] 4:09 Alicia Keys
Butterfly Heart 5:11 Chris Coco
Lagan 4:05 Afro Celt Sound System
Butterfly 4:30 Bob Holroyd
Metamorphosis 5:51 Soulfood

Tuesday, Apr 16, 2018, 840am ~ Messy Melty Metamorphosis

Como E O Ar (Easy Rhodes Remix) 5:21 Mo’ Horizons
Papillon 3:58 Lara Fabian
Mariposa Traicionera 4:23 Maná
Oye Como Va (Latin/Trance Mix) 4:17 Celia Cruz
Colossus 6:44 Afro Celt Sound System
Shadowman 6:36 Afro Celt Sound System
Butterflyz [Roger’s Release Mix] 4:09 Alicia Keys
Butterfly Heart 5:11 Chris Coco
Lagan 4:05 Afro Celt Sound System
Butterfly 4:30 Bob Holroyd
Metamorphosis 5:51 Soulfood

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2018, 11am ~ Messy Melty Metamorphosis

Como E O Ar (Easy Rhodes Remix) 5:21 Mo’ Horizons
Papillon 3:58 Lara Fabian
Mariposa Traicionera 4:23 Maná
And She Was 3:39 Talking Heads
Oye Como Va (Latin/Trance Mix) 4:17 Celia Cruz
Colossus 6:44 Afro Celt Sound System
Shadowman 6:36 Afro Celt Sound System
Butterflyz [Roger’s Release Mix] 4:09 Alicia Keys
Butterfly Heart 5:11 Chris Coco
Lagan 4:05 Afro Celt Sound System
Butterfly 4:30 Bob Holroyd
O’Connor: Butterfly’s Day Out 4:43 Yo-Yo Ma, Mark O’Connor, Edgar Meyer

Thursday, Apr 18, 2018, 840am ~ Messy Melty Metamorphosis

Como E O Ar (Easy Rhodes Remix) 5:21 Mo’ Horizons
Papillon 3:58 Lara Fabian
Mariposa Traicionera 4:23 Maná
And She Was 3:39 Talking Heads
Oye Como Va (Latin/Trance Mix) 4:17 Celia Cruz
Shadowman 6:36 Afro Celt Sound System
Butterflyz [Roger’s Release Mix] 4:09 Alicia Keys
Butterfly Heart 5:11 Chris Coco
Lagan 4:05 Afro Celt Sound System
Butterfly 4:30 Bob Holroyd
O’Connor: Butterfly’s Day Out 4:43 Yo-Yo Ma, Mark O’Connor, Edgar Meyer

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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Here’s a question to ponder: What’s the difference between destruction and transformation? (I’ll let you noodle on that for a bit.)

When things feel dangerous, difficult and dark, I long for the miracle of a transformation. I love the idea that change, even radical change, is possible. Not only over glacial eons but real-time, witness-able change.

Take the classic: caterpillar to butterfly. Especially after a long winter, that’s what I’m all about. Until relatively recently, here’s how I thought about the caterpillar-to-butterfly metamorphosis:

  1. Bumpy, lumpy caterpillar gorges herself on leaves.
  2. Bumpy, lumpy caterpillar gets more bumpy and lumpy.
  3. Bumpy, lumpy caterpillar cleverly makes a chrysalis. Like I Dream of Jeannie’s bottle, this chrysalis is a groovy little apartment with a little makeup table, velvet pillows and nice-smelling lotions.
  4. As she rests comfortably on her soft sofa, the caterpillar’s sticky, knobby feet elegantly turn into delicate, slender legs.
  5. Out of the bumpy, lumpy caterpillar’s back iridescent wings gently unfold while her body lengthens and narrows.
  6. She gingerly cuts open her groovy little apartment, hangs out for a bit to get her bearings, and then off she flutters looking for lovely flowers to sip on.


As nice as it sounds, it actually doesn’t happen anything like that. This is how Scientific American describes it:

To become a butterfly, a caterpillar first digests itself. But certain groups of cells survive, turning the soup into eyes, wings, antennae and other adult structures.

Digests itself?? Caterpillar soup?? What about the glamorous apartment with the comfy couch and the cute pillows to rest on? What about the calm, organized process of changing from one thing into something else? The science of it sounds like a complete mess and incredibly, unavoidably uncomfortable.

Think about a time of change in your life, when something big was happening. You have a baby (or want to have one and don’t). You get a new job (or lose one). You move to a new city, go on big trip, get a divorce, or your kid moves away. Whatever it was, think about it. Was it neat and organized with soft music playing and a cashmere shawl around your shoulders?

Nope.
(Not for me, anyway. If it is for you, please start writing a blog so I can read it.)

It’s nerve-wracking and crying and fear and mud tracked into the living room and maple syrup spilled in the fridge and pickled herring on the floor. It’s a mess. It’s a life soup. And it’s out of that that something new emerges.

So, back to the original question: what’s the difference between transformation and destruction? On the surface of it, the two seem to be made from the same ingredients. But the difference? Resistance and intention.

Things are going to change. Everything is going to change. Sometimes gradually, sometimes suddenly. Resisting change, wanting it to be different than it is, is a recipe for suffering. Intentionally flowing with change, seeing possibilities for growth, is a recipe for metamorphosis soup.

It’s not neat. Or pretty. Or organized. There are rarely velvet pillows. It’s better than that. It’s a miracle.

It’s been a wild week in Charlottesville, y’all. The UVA men’s basketball team won the national championship for the first time…ever. Basketball gets me through the winter with its long season and exciting games but I love this team not just for how they play but for the way they ARE.

After the win on Monday night, head coach Tony Bennett told the team, “Don’t let this change you. It doesn’t have to. Stay humble and stay thankful.” This, to me, is an embodiment of The Lion’s Roar: the absolute confidence that you can be with, feel and handle anything. You can stay who you are and not let the big wins or the big losses change you. What happens isn’t who you are, it’s just what happens. You get to choose who you are as whatever happens unfolds.

Below are our playlists for the week. If you’d like to listen to the music, you can find almost all the songs on Spotify (you can listen for free)! As always, please let me know if you have any questions about any of the music we dance to!

And friends, I am always ALWAYS looking for new music. Do you have a song that you love to move to or that moves you? I’d love to know what it is! Please respond in the comments below or email me at sjmnia@gmail.com!

Before the playlists, some announcements of things that are happening!

Honoring the Effect of Trauma in our Lives with Larry Goldstein and Wendy Hubbard April 27
Larry Goldstein and Wendy Hubbard lead a workshop on releasing the grip of trauma using structures work, personal stories, and group work. Structures enable a person to go back safely to a traumatic memory with crucial support that was missing then and offers fresh options — an alternative memory – a different outcome in which basic human needs are met and longing for love and protection are fulfilled. This reconstructs inner implicit memory maps in the brain and helps people become viscerally acquainted with feelings that were lacking early in their lives. Pre-course online class Saturday, April 20, 3-5pm, In Person One-Day Class Saturday, April 27, 10-6p, Post-course online class, Saturday, May 4, 3-5pm. Cost $150. Limited to 12 participants. To register and for more information, contact Wendy Hubbard at whubbard0@gmail.com.

First Friday Freedance with Kate ~ May 3 at 11:25am
Nia Freedance is an opportunity to play and tap into the creative wisdom in our body, emotions, mind and spirit. For a full hour we get to dance together with the intention of stimulating our own unique movement creativity. The next Nia Freedance will be at ACAC Albemarle Square Friday, May 3 from 11:25 -12:25.

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

Monday, Apr 8, 2019, 1045am ~ Embodied Presence: The Lion’s Roar

Say 3:51 John Mayer
Essarai 5:48 Cantoma
Journeyman 6:41 Bob Holroyd
For You I Will (Confidence) 3:50 Teddy Geiger
Little Lion Man 4:01 Mumford & Sons
Malawi Moonlight (Dance Version) 5:27 African Tribal Orchestra
Rhythm Is? (Marques Wyatt Mix) 5:49 Afro-Mystik
The Thing That Helps Me Get Through 4:35 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Feel It (feat. Mr. Talkbox) 4:40 TobyMac
Lionheart 6:15 Angels Of Venice
Wondering Where The Lions Are 3:48 Bruce Cockburn
Bach: Cello Suite #4 In E Flat, BWV 1010 – 1. Sarabande 5:03 Yo-Yo Ma

Tuesday, Apr 9, 2018, 840am ~ Embodied Presence: The Lion’s Roar

Say 3:51 John Mayer
Essarai 5:48 Cantoma
For You I Will (Confidence) 3:50 Teddy Geiger
Little Lion Man 4:01 Mumford & Sons
Malawi Moonlight (Dance Version) 5:27 African Tribal Orchestra
Rhythm Is? (Marques Wyatt Mix) 5:49 Afro-Mystik
The Thing That Helps Me Get Through 4:35 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Feel It (feat. Mr. Talkbox) 4:40 TobyMac
Lionheart 6:15 Angels Of Venice
Wondering Where The Lions Are 3:48 Bruce Cockburn
Bach: Cello Suite #4 In E Flat, BWV 1010 – 1. Sarabande 5:03 Yo-Yo Ma

Wednesday, Apr 10, 2018, 11am ~ Embodied Presence: The Lion’s Roar

Say 3:51 John Mayer
Essarai 5:48 Cantoma
For You I Will (Confidence) 3:50 Teddy Geiger
Mariposa Traicionera 4:23 Maná
Little Lion Man 4:01 Mumford & Sons
Malawi Moonlight (Dance Version) 5:27 African Tribal Orchestra
Rhythm Is? (Marques Wyatt Mix) 5:49 Afro-Mystik
The Paris Swing Box 5:24 Parov Stelar
Feel It (feat. Mr. Talkbox) 4:40 TobyMac
Lionheart 6:15 Angels Of Venice
Wondering Where The Lions Are 3:48 Bruce Cockburn
Bach: Cello Suite #4 In E Flat, BWV 1010 – 1. Sarabande 5:03 Yo-Yo Ma

Thursday, Apr 11, 2018, 840am ~ Embodied Presence: The Lion’s Roar

Say 3:51 John Mayer
Essarai 5:48 Cantoma
For You I Will (Confidence) 3:50 Teddy Geiger
Mariposa Traicionera 4:23 Maná
Little Lion Man 4:01 Mumford & Sons
Malawi Moonlight (Dance Version) 5:27 African Tribal Orchestra
Rhythm Is? (Marques Wyatt Mix) 5:49 Afro-Mystik
The Paris Swing Box 5:24 Parov Stelar
Feel It (feat. Mr. Talkbox) 4:40 TobyMac
Wondering Where The Lions Are 3:48 Bruce Cockburn
Bach: Cello Suite #4 In E Flat, BWV 1010 – 1. Sarabande 5:03 Yo-Yo Ma

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!

I told myself not to say it. I think I actually bit my tongue. But suddenly, I heard the unkind, impatient thing fly right out of my mouth. I saw the words, sludgy and dripping, hang in the air between us and immediately, I regretted them.

I saw his face and shoulders fall. He responded with his feelings and I did my best, I really did, to feel my feet and my breath, to reflect back what he’d said, to be present.

Instead, I was swamped with pain and regret and a mind-flood of talk about what a bitchy jerk I am and how I always do this and how the people I admire would never say such a thing. In a heart beat, in a breath, the discomfort was so strong that I unplugged and split from my body.

Embodied presence – connecting mind and body, being in the present moment – sounds simple and easy enough. We’re living in these bodies all the time, after all, so how tough can it be to be in there? The truth is that it’s a huge challenge for most of us even when we’re sitting quietly on a cushion with sunlight in our hair and flower petals falling around us. When we are upset, angry, tired, hungry, in pain, afraid, or uncomfortable in any way, the practice of keeping body and mind in the same place at the same time can feel utterly impossible.

In her two dharma talks about Embodied Presence (which you can find here and here), Tara Brach invites us to explore the unpredictable wilderness of the body. The mind does what it can to control the uncontrollable and tuck in all the loose edges but that neatness is a false refuge. The body in all its messiness is the only place to connect to empathy, love, freedom and unfolding of life itself. The only place. She suggests that whenever we leave the body, when we vacate the premises, it comes down to one thing: there is something we are unwilling to feel. We find ourselves disconnected and separated from direct experience because there is something that feels scary or dangerous or uncomfortable and on some level we think we can’t handle it. So we run.

Last week, we focused on Embodied Presence and the practice of getting body and mind in the same place at the same time. This week, we continue this exploration by looking at the ways we take ourselves out of the body and how to get back in.

It’s such a common state, to be up in the control tower of our heads that we might not even realize we’re doing it. Tara Brach offers four signs of being in trance and out of the body:

  1. obsessive thoughts on a loop often as a way to prepare to avoid something bad,
  2. negative judgment about myself or others (see above example of me thinkingthinkingthinking about being an impatient jerky pants),
  3. distraction of any kind especially on screens or online (like habitually reaching to check my phone when I feel nervous, for example),
  4. speeding around and rushing, as if getting more done will keep the difficult feelings at bay

When you see this list, do any of these feel familiar? Perhaps you’re like me and they ALL feel familiar. When we are in this auto-pilot, sleepwalking state, we are intentionally (although often subconsciously) avoiding feeling something edgy or uncomfortable. Mindfulness – in movement, in meditation, or in the moment – invites us back into the lush wilderness of the body.

Brach teaches that the intensity of any of these states is in direct proportion to our unwillingness to feel what’s in our bodies. In order to come into embodied presence, we have to make the courageous and intentional choice to wake up. She teaches that first, we must notice what’s happening (ah, I have hurt someone’s feelings and that feels wretched), then name it (pain in my heart and heaviness in my stomach), and breathe (amazingly difficult when I’m suffering) and interrupt the pattern – even briefly – by allowing ourselves to feel whatever it is.

This practice leads to what is sometimes called The Lion’s Roar which is the ability to be with, to roll with anything, ANYTHING that happens. The Lion’s Roar is the fearless proclamation that everything that happens is workable and that I have the ability to handle and feel anything. Imagine the freedom of trusting in our capacity to be with whatever life delivers.

Notice that this state of presence is not called “The Roaring Lion” which feels startling, fierce, and threatening. Instead, the Lion’s Roar is the energy of confidence. It is the knowledge that this power is available no matter what arrives. When we practice, The Lion’s Roar is a strength that infuses life like an aura, a light that allows me to face anything.

Few of us will be able to claim the Lion’s Roar as our way of being all the time, but the practice of noticing, naming, breathing and interrupting the well-worn sleepwalking pattern offers glimpses into the possibility of freedom.

The next time you find yourself caught in one of the signs of being out of the body, ask yourself, “What am I unwilling to feel?” This question alone is the first step toward finding your Roar.

At its essence, embodied presence is about getting body and mind together in the same place at the same time. Simple and complicated as that. It takes practice to gather our scattered parts even for short bursts and it’s one of the main reasons I do the mindful work (and play) we do together. It’s a big enough topic that we’ll be focusing on it next week, too (only a little different flavor).

Kurt Vonnegut reminds us that life is a garden, not a road and what matters is not where you go but what you notice. So what did you notice this week? Spring is springing in Virginia, so there is plenty in the natural world to notice, not to mention in our internal landscapes. Please share any of your noticings in the comments so we can all be reminded to invest in the sensation of the moment. (P.S. Did you notice all the critters and creatures in the garden art?)

Below are our playlists for the week. If you’d like to listen to the music, you can find almost all the songs on Spotify (you can listen for free)! As always, please let me know if you have any questions about any of the music we dance to!

And friends, I am always ALWAYS looking for new music. Do you have a song that you love to move to or that moves you? I’d love to know what it is! Please respond in the comments below or email me at sjmnia@gmail.com!

Before the playlists, some announcements of things that are happening!

First Friday Freedance with Kate ~ April 5 at 11:25am
Nia Freedance is an opportunity to play and tap into the creative wisdom in our body, emotions, mind and spirit. For a full hour we get to dance together with the intention of stimulating our own unique movement creativity. The next Nia Freedance will be at ACAC Albemarle Square Friday, April 5 from 11:25 -12:25.

Honoring the Effect of Trauma in our Lives with Larry Goldstein and Wendy Hubbard April 27
Larry Goldstein and Wendy Hubbard lead a workshop on releasing the grip of trauma using structures work, personal stories, and group work. Structures enable a person to go back safely to a traumatic memory with crucial support that was missing then and offers fresh options — an alternative memory – a different outcome in which basic human needs are met and longing for love and protection are fulfilled. This reconstructs inner implicit memory maps in the brain and helps people become viscerally acquainted with feelings that were lacking early in their lives. Pre-course online class Saturday, April 20, 3-5pm, In Person One-Day Class Saturday, April 27, 10-6p, Post-course online class, Saturday, May 4, 3-5pm. Cost $150. Limited to 12 participants. To register and for more information, contact Wendy Hubbard at whubbard0@gmail.com.

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

Monday, Apr 1 2019, 1045am ~ Embodied Presence: Garden Not a Road

Garden 3:59 Sean Hayes
Cosmopole 6:39 Cantoma
Wander This World 4:51 Jonny Lang
Kintamani (Hanoman’s Forest Mix) 5:46 Transglobal Underground
Baya Baya 5:27 Safri Duo
Fallin’ High 6:00 Safri Duo
Garden Of Delights 2:36 Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories
Marjaani Marjaani (From Billu) 5:26 Sunidhi Chauhan, Sukhwinder Singh & Pritam
Wanderin’ 2:42 Chris Isaak Speak Of The Devil
New Morning 3:44 Alpha Rev
Tupelo Honey 3:37 Van Morrison
Skin Deep 4:30 Derek Trucks Band with Buddy Guy
Giuseppe Tornatore Suite: Malena (Main theme) 4:22 Yo-Yo Ma, Ennio Morricone & Roma Sinfonietta

Tuesday, Apr 2, 2018, 840am ~ Embodied Presence: Garden Not a Road

Garden 3:59 Sean Hayes
Cosmopole 6:39 Cantoma
Wander This World 4:51 Jonny Lang
Kintamani (Hanoman’s Forest Mix) 5:46 Transglobal Underground
Baya Baya 5:27 Safri Duo
Fallin’ High 6:00 Safri Duo
Garden Of Delights 2:36 Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories
Marjaani Marjaani (From Billu) 5:26 Sunidhi Chauhan, Sukhwinder Singh & Pritam
New Morning 3:44 Alpha Rev
Tupelo Honey 3:37 Van Morrison
Skin Deep 4:30 Derek Trucks Band with Buddy Guy

Wednesday, Apr 3, 2018, 11am ~ Embodied Presence: Garden Not a Road

Garden 3:59 Sean Hayes
Cosmopole 6:39 Cantoma
Wander This World 4:51 Jonny Lang
Kintamani (Hanoman’s Forest Mix) 5:46 Transglobal Underground
Baya Baya 5:27 Safri Duo
Fallin’ High 6:00 Safri Duo
There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back 3:19 Shawn Mendes
Marjaani Marjaani (From Billu) 5:26 Sunidhi Chauhan, Sukhwinder Singh & Pritam
Wanderin’ 2:42 Chris Isaak
New Morning 3:44 Alpha Rev
Tupelo Honey 3:37 Van Morrison
On the Nature of Daylight 6:35 Max Richter Orchestra & Lorenz Dangel

Thursday, Apr 4, 2018, 840am ~ Embodied Presence: Garden Not a Road

Garden 3:59 Sean Hayes
Cosmopole 6:39 Cantoma
Wander This World 4:51 Jonny Lang
Kintamani (Hanoman’s Forest Mix) 5:46 Transglobal Underground
Baya Baya 5:27 Safri Duo
Fallin’ High 6:00 Safri Duo
There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back 3:19 Shawn Mendes
Marjaani Marjaani (From Billu) 5:26 Sunidhi Chauhan, Sukhwinder Singh & Pritam
Wanderin’ 2:42 Chris Isaak
Tupelo Honey 3:37 Van Morrison
On the Nature of Daylight 6:35 Max Richter Orchestra & Lorenz Dangel

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!

“Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.” – James Joyce

This famous line from The Dubliners amuses me. I can see him: dressed in gray, buttoned to neck, eyes looking back warily. I feel sad for poor, sorry, gray Mr. Duffy. When I think about it, though, am I any different? I’ve spend much of my days in my head, on my screen, out of my body, out of natural rhythms. Who of us, in the past day, hour, or even minute hasn’t lived a short distance from our bodies?

At the core of it, the mindful movement practice we do together is about getting our minds and bodies to be together in the same place at the same time. The mind loves being in the past and future but the body can only reside in the present. So if we want them to be together, the only way is for the mind to join the body in the present moment.

The problem is that our culture, habits and neurology train us to do anything but.

A few years ago, my friend and colleague, Bev Wann and I taught classes on embodied presence to federal executives. These were high level managers in an intensive leadership program which required them to examine their habits and patterns in regards to their professional lives, their management style, and their health. They were intelligent and ambitious with long, successful careers. Many had intense, driven personalities and had challenging relationships and interactions with employees, peers and managers. Most of them didn’t exercise at all, ate poorly, slept worse and were under intense stress. Almost all of them lived almost exclusively in their heads.

Bev and I focused on teaching the execs practices that could help them be present and attend mindfully to their colleagues and their work rather than bulldozing through from their heads and habits. In one session, I’d been leading a group in mindful movement: breathing and feeling their feet as we walked slowly. I suggested that connecting the mind and body in this way is a way to release thinking and drop into sensing.

One man looked at me with annoyance, impatience and exasperation and said, “Why in the world would I ever want to stop thinking?”

Teaching a reluctant and skeptical student has to be one of the biggest challenges a teacher faces. I rarely have an involuntary student but here I was faced with someone who didn’t buy a word I was saying. He stood there in his new white athletic socks utterly fed up with this woo-woo story I was telling. Every achievement he’d ever had in his long career had been because of his thinking. Why, indeed, would he ever want to stop? Even though I’d been sharing the science and benefits of mindfulness, he was having none of it. I felt ill-equipped for the situation. I was embarrassed and I was speechless.

I’ve regretted my inability to reach that man ever since. I wish I’d had words that would have made sense to him. If I could do it again, I would say that thinking is a great tool but we’re addicted to it and use it for everything. (As the carpenters say, if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And life is not a nail.) If I could do it again, I’d say that our brains reside not just in our heads but in our bodies and that sensing gives us access to a different kind of intelligence. If I could do it again, I would say that everything that really matters in life – love, connection, creativity, compassion – are experienced in the body, not the mind. If I could do it again, I’d say that being in the body is the only way to be fully alive.

If I could do it again, I’d also share some of the genius wisdom of Tara Brach’s two talks on Embodied Presence. (You can find them here and here.) But since I can’t share them with him, I’m sharing them with you. They are so full of goodness. I truly hope you’ll listen to them. And if you can’t, I’ll bring threads from them into class and the blog for the next couple of weeks.

For now, I invite you to contemplate this question: What’s between me and being at home in my body at this moment? Allow your body and mind to be together in the same place and the same time and see what you notice*.

*The complete Kurt Vonnegut quote is “Life is a garden, not a road. We enter and exit through the same gate. Wandering, it matters less where we go and more what we notice.”



This week’s focus on kaleidoscopic movement and living is to recognize how even small shifts change patterns fundamentally. Thanks to Lynn Pribus who brought her hand-made (by her hands!) kaleidoscope for show and tell!

One of the songs at the end of this week’s playlist is Coldplay’s Kaleidoscope and the vocal recites a translation of Rumi’s poem, The Guest House.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi

Kaleidoscopic moving and living allows us to see whatever arrives at your door as a guide, a glittering shard of light. Below are our playlists for the week. If you’d like to listen to the music, you can find almost all the songs on Spotify (you can listen for free)! As always, please let me know if you have any questions about any of the music we dance to!

And friends, I am always ALWAYS looking for new music. Do you have a song that you love to move to or that moves you? I’d love to know what it is! Please respond in the comments below or email me at sjmnia@gmail.com!

Before the playlists, some announcements of things that are happening!

Nia Jam on Friday, March 29, 5:45-7pm, Studio A, acac Downtown
Join teachers Jeanne, Loring, and Rachel for a Nia* Jam! as they focus on the energy of Spring, a time to Grow and Blossom, with the intent of tapping into empowerment and beauty. This special event will pre-empt Jeanne’s regular Friday night class. As always, for a Nia Jam, you can bring a friend to ACAC for free.
*Nia is barefoot cardio dance set to fabulous music that feeds your body, focuses your mind, stirs your emotions, and uplifts your spirit.

First Friday Freedance with Kate ~ April 5 at 11:25am
Nia Freedance is an opportunity to play and tap into the creative wisdom in our body, emotions, mind and spirit. For a full hour we get to dance together with the intention of stimulating our own unique movement creativity. The next Nia Freedance will be at ACAC Albemarle Square Friday, April 5 from 11:25 -12:25.

Honoring the Effect of Trauma in our Lives with Larry Goldstein and Wendy Hubbard April 27
Larry Goldstein and Wendy Hubbard lead a workshop on releasing the grip of trauma using structures work, personal stories, and group work. Structures enable a person to go back safely to a traumatic memory with crucial support that was missing then and offers fresh options — an alternative memory – a different outcome in which basic human needs are met and longing for love and protection are fulfilled. This reconstructs inner implicit memory maps in the brain and helps people become viscerally acquainted with feelings that were lacking early in their lives. Pre-course online class Saturday, April 20, 3-5pm, In Person One-Day Class Saturday, April 27, 10-6p, Post-course online class, Saturday, May 4, 3-5pm. Cost $150. Limited to 12 participants. To register and for more information, contact Wendy Hubbard at whubbard0@gmail.com.

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

Monday, Mar 25, 2019, 1045am ~ Kaleidoscope

The Blower’s Daughter 4:44 Damien Rice
Here With Me 4:15 Dido
Souvenir 5:39 Kaledj feat. Neko
What I Know 4:14 Parachute
Hotel California 5:48 Gipsy Kings
More Than This 4:07 10,000 Maniacs
Sunshine in a bag 4:28 Gorillaz
Ghosts in My Machine 3:33 Annie Lennox
Yahoo 7:33 Veeresh & The Humaniversity Sound
Facing East 3:48 Thievery Corporation
En el Bosque de Cristal 4:11 Tierra Negra and Muriel Anderson
Kaleidoscope 1:52 Coldplay
Way Down 5:08 The Happening

Tuesday, Mar 26, 2018, 840am ~ Kaleidoscope

The Blower’s Daughter 4:44 Damien Rice
Here With Me 4:15 Dido
Souvenir 5:39 Kaledj feat. Neko
What I Know 4:14 Parachute
Hotel California 5:48 Gipsy Kings
More Than This 4:07 10,000 Maniacs
Sunshine in a bag 4:28 Gorillaz
Yahoo 7:33 Veeresh & The Humaniversity Sound
Facing East 3:48 Thievery Corporation
En el Bosque de Cristal 4:11 Tierra Negra and Muriel Anderson
Kaleidoscope 1:52 Coldplay
Way Down 5:08 The Happening

Wednesday, Mar 27, 2018, 11am ~ Kaleidoscope

Orange Sky 6:11 Alexi Murdoch
Here With Me 4:15 Dido
Souvenir 5:39 Kaledj feat. Neko
What I Know 4:14 Parachute
How Many More Years (buddha nature) 5:10 No Logo
Tightrope (Feat. Big Boi) 4:23 Janelle Monae
Ghosts in My Machine 3:33 Annie Lennox
Yahoo 7:33 Veeresh & The Humaniversity Sound
Closer To Fine 4:02 Indigo Girls l
En el Bosque de Cristal 4:11 Tierra Negra and Muriel Anderson
Kaleidoscope 1:52 Coldplay
Way Down 5:08 The Happening

Thursday, Mar 28, 2018, 840am ~ Kaleidoscope

Orange Sky 6:11 Alexi Murdoch
Here With Me 4:15 Dido
Souvenir 5:39 Kaledj feat. Neko
What I Know 4:14 Parachute
How Many More Years (buddha nature) 5:10 No Logo
Tightrope (Feat. Big Boi) 4:23 Janelle Monae
Ghosts in My Machine 3:33 Annie Lennox
Yahoo 7:33 Veeresh & The Humaniversity Sound
Closer To Fine 4:02 Indigo Girls
Facing East 3:48 Thievery Corporation
En el Bosque de Cristal 4:11 Tierra Negra and Muriel Anderson
Kaleidoscope 1:52 Coldplay

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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