something-so-right-092816

Just as Paul Simon wrote in Something So Right, how often do we get stuck on, spin on, dwell on what isn’t going right? This week we danced the possibilities of looking with an expanded view that includes what is working well and those things that we tend to ignore or take for granted.

All the playlists from the week are below or you can listen to them by going to Spotify! Rock out for free at Spotify! Sign up for free, follow me at “susanmcculley” and you’ll find my public playlists ~ just click and listen! In particular this week, check out Michael Franti’s song, Good To Be Alive Today and Annie Lennox’s beautiful cover of Something So Right. Mmmm-hmmm.

And first the announce-y things:

• dance. sit. create. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Sunday, October 23, 830am-5pm
dance. sit. create. is going on the road! I’ll be offering the day-treat experience in Cambridge, Mass, hosted by the amazing Kira Hower in her beautiful studio. Want to take a road trip? Know someone in the area who you think would enjoy spending the day at the intersection of movement, stillness and creativity? Please direct them here http://www.susanmcculley.com/workshops-retreats/2016/10/23/dance-sit-create-in-cambridge-massachusetts or here https://www.facebook.com/events/1057151171049816/ or directly to me at sjmnia@gmail.com !

• TEDx Charlottesville: The Power of One on Friday, November 11
I’m delighted to be a small part of the big event of TEDx Charlottesville on November 11. It’s my honor, privledge and excitement to be coaching two of the amazing line-up of speakers: Lulu Miller and Monica Montgomery.

You can listen to the work of Lulu Miller by checking out her Invisibilia podcast on NPR. I’ve been loving the new season that explores the invisible things that shape our lives. All the episodes are excellent but I think my favorite was The Problem with the Solution.

And check out some of Monica Montgomery’s heart-stopping projcts as the founding director of the Museum of Impact, the world’s first mobile social justice museum, and the co-founder of and strategic director for Museum Hue, a platform advancing the visibility and viability of professionals of color, in museums, arts, and culture, and creative careers.

Tickets for this inspiring day are available now! Please join us for TEDx Charlottesville!

• MARK YOUR CALENDAR! Going Below The Surface: Nia, Yin Yoga & Words Saturday, November 12, 1-4pm
SAVE THE DATE, November 12, 1-4pm. Explore this focus in a special workshop — Going Below The Surface — that I’ll be teaching with Yin Yoga Instructor, Amy Kidd on Saturday, November 12 from 1-4pm at acac Albemarle Square. I will lead simple, varied, energetic movements to warm and mobilize the body: particularly the hips, core and shoulders. Amy will then take us through a series of Yin yoga poses designed to release muscle, fascia and other connective tissue in the core with long, supported holds. Interwoven through the afternoon, as energy is released and the body/mind relaxes, will be opportunities to write – either journaling or using simple provided prompts. Plan now to take an afternoon to breathe deep and see what lies below the surface.
Stay tuned for registration information coming soon!

• Art Experiment: Susan’s work on products!
I’m playing with putting my art on some products through a company called VIDA who connects artists with makers – and pays those makers a living wage (you can learn more about VIDA here http://shopvida.com/pages/our-story ). I’m experimenting with a couple of designs and I would love your input. What do you think? Any art you’d like to see on any particular pieces? Any art that I haven’t made yet that you think would work well? I’d love to hear what you think.❤
Susan McCulley

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, Sep 26, 2016, 1045am ~ Expanded View

Altus Silva 6:07 Big Blue Ball featuring Joseph Arthur, Ronan Browne, Deep Forest, James McNally, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Vernon Reid
Whole Thing 5:27 Big Blue Ball featuring Francis Bebey, Alex Faku, Tim Finn, Peter Gabriel, Karl Wallinger, Andy White
Habibe 7:12 Big Blue Ball featuring Natacha Atlas, Hossam Ramzy, Neil Sparkes, The Hossam Ramzy Egyptian Ensemble (Adel Eskander, Wael Abu Bakr, Momtaz Talaat
Shadow 4:28 Big Blue Ball featuring Juan Cañizares, Papa Wemba
Exit Through You 5:52 Big Blue Ball featuring Joseph Arthur, Peter Gabriel, Karl Wallinger
Everything Comes From You 4:42 Big Blue Ball featuring Richard Evans, Joji Hirota, Sevara Nazarkhan, Sinéad O’Connor, Guo Yue
Burn You Up Burn You Down 4:31 Big Blue Ball featuring Billy Cobham, Peter Gabriel, The Holmes Brothers, Wendy Melvoin, Arona N’diaye, Jah Wobble
Freedom (feat. Kendrick Lamar) 4:50 Beyoncé
Drive 3:53 Incubus
Good to Be Alive Today 4:15 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Gentle Voice 6:22 Michael Hewett

Tuesday, Sep 27, 2016, 840am ~ Expanded View

Whole Thing 5:27 Big Blue Ball featuring Francis Bebey, Alex Faku, Tim Finn, Peter Gabriel, Karl Wallinger, Andy White
Habibe 7:12 Big Blue Ball featuring Natacha Atlas, Hossam Ramzy, Neil Sparkes, The Hossam Ramzy Egyptian Ensemble (Adel Eskander, Wael Abu Bakr, Momtaz Talaat
Shadow 4:28 Big Blue Ball featuring Juan Cañizares, Papa Wemba
Exit Through You 5:52 Big Blue Ball featuring Joseph Arthur, Peter Gabriel, Karl Wallinger
Everything Comes From You 4:42 Big Blue Ball featuring Richard Evans, Joji Hirota, Sevara Nazarkhan, Sinéad O’Connor, Guo Yue
Burn You Up Burn You Down 4:31 Big Blue Ball featuring Billy Cobham, Peter Gabriel, The Holmes Brothers, Wendy Melvoin, Arona N’diaye, Jah Wobble
Steam 6:00 Peter Gabriel
Drive 3:53 Incubus
Good to Be Alive Today 4:15 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Something So Right 3:56 Annie Lennox

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2016, 11am ~ Expanded View

Sacred Light 4:56 Bob Holroyd
Rafiki (Sidewalk Mix) 6:25 Bob Holroyd
Don’t Say 5:47 Deep Dive Corp.
Blood Stud (Ray Mang Remix) 8:36 MB Disco
Drive By 3:16 Train
U R The Answer 5:57 Stephen Bray/ Michael Beckwith
Stairway To Heaven 8:03 Led Zeppelin
Drive 3:53 Incubus
Good to Be Alive Today 4:15 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Something So Right 3:56 Annie Lennox
Þú Ert Jörðin 4:34 Ólafur Arnalds

Thursday, Sep 29, 2016, 840am ~ Expanded View

Sacred Light 4:56 Bob Holroyd
Rafiki (Sidewalk Mix) 6:25 Bob Holroyd
Don’t Say 5:47 Deep Dive Corp.
Blood Stud (Ray Mang Remix) 8:36 MB Disco
U R The Answer 5:57 Stephen Bray/ Michael Beckwith
Stairway To Heaven 8:03 Led Zeppelin
Good to Be Alive Today 4:15 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Something So Right 3:56 Annie Lennox
Þú Ert Jörðin 4:34 Ólafur Arnalds

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!

expand-your-view-092516

Art in Action is a weekly post: a short, practical guide to applying the ideas and principles in the Focus Pocus posts to your body and life. As always, I love to hear from you about how you use them and how you translate the ideas into action.

You wake up (or sit at your desk all day or trip over a root or try carrying ALL the groceries in) and something in your body doesn’t feel good. Instead of focusing and dwelling on what hurts, here are 6 ways to expand your view:

1. Notice what’s happening in detail. Is the pain throbbing, steady, hot, sharp, sporadic, steady?

2. Notice what’s happening around the part that hurts. If it’s your knee, for example, what’s happening in your hip? Your IT band? Your foot? Your ankle? If you take care of the parts around the pain (stretch, for example, or roll on a foam roller, or massage), does it affect the hurt part?

3. Notice what things soothe the pain and what things exacerbate it.

4. Notice what doesn’t hurt in your body, what actually feels good or open or free. Notice that just because one part hurts doesn’t mean that everything is a hopeless mess.

5. Notice how you talk about the pain. Do you call it your “bad knee” or your “stupid back” or your “annoying shoulder”? Do you talk about how much it stinks to get old and how that’s just what happens when you reach a certain age?

6. Notice how you feel about the pain. Do you live in what my friend calls “the wreckage of your future”? Does a pain in your knee spiral into “never hike again,” “never walk again,” “knee cancer”? Notice if your emotional story makes it more than it really is.

With an expanded view, see how it feels to reconnect with the injured part of you. Are there more possibilities? More perspective?

You can use the same approach when something in your life or in a relationship or in the world feels bad. See what happens when you expand your view:

1. Notice what’s happening in detail. Do your best to understand the full situation and then investigate what it is that you are feeling. Stay concrete rather than rushing to the philosophical. Check out the physical sensations in your body around the situation. Is your stomach tight? Does your head hurt? Your heart?

2. Notice what’s happening around what feels bad. Investigate what is happening around the situation. What might be contributing to it beyond the obvious? Is someone afraid, desperate, embarrassed or angry? Are you?

3. Notice what things soothe your suffering about the situation and what things exacerbate it.

4. Notice what is working in the situation. Notice the good. As Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

5. Notice how you talk about the situation. Do you call someone “an idiot” or a company “heartless” or a decision “crazy”? Do you lump a group of people together or make the situation black and white with the way you talk about it?

6. Notice how you feel about the situation. Do you live in “the wreckage of the future”? Does the situation spiral into “everything will be terrible,” and, “the world will end”? Notice if your emotional story makes it more than it really is.

With an expanded view, see how it feels to reconnect with the difficult situation. Are there more possibilities? More perspective?

expanded-vision-092216

They started tearing down the forest behind our house this morning.

The screaming sound of grinding trees started before 7:30am and I felt sick like I’d both eaten a bad egg and hit my head on a rock. We knew it would happen eventually. The land behind us is part of a big tract that has been slated for development for years.

But the sound of it. The sight of it. It was almost more than I could bear.

I rode my bike fast away from the arboreal carnage, swimming in bad news and bad feelings: another unarmed black man has been shot, and now another, another bomb, and the election, this election that flirts with hatred, chaos, violence and fascism is only 43 days away.

Then a conversation we had with our 25-year-old daughter, Reade, floated back to me. On the morning radio show she listens to (Elvis Duran’s syndicated show) they suggested that when something bad or difficult happens, to expand your view of the situation. Rather than zeroing in on this upsetting thing, open up and see what else is going on.

So while my heart felt tight and my gut felt stony, I opened my eyes and also saw the pink early morning clouds and felt the cool September breeze and the excitement of teaching bubbling in my chest.

I still find it devastating that they are destroying all those beautiful trees. And that the world is on fire. But it’s not the only thing that’s happening.

Eckhart Tolle speaks to this in a recent interview. He was asked if he thought that the state of the world is particularly bad at the moment or if it only seems that way since we are bombarded by instantaneous news from all directions. He responded (in part):

The news is a manifestation or reflection of the collective mind which operates like the individual mind. The individual mind (and people may be able to verify from their own experience) tends to dwell on things that are more negative than positive. If someone offends me today my mind can dwell on that for hours on end or for several days. But if I watch a beautiful sunset, it’s less likely that the mind will dwell on that for hours or days. … Through the media we get a considerably distorted impression. Yes, these dreadful things are happening but there are also many other things happening that are actually good that are not considered newsworthy. (Eckhart Tolle, Awakening to Higher Consciousness Interview with Deepak Chopra)

Spend 10 seconds with the headlines and I expect you’ll see the truth of this. There are constant reports of horrendous things happening everywhere…but that is not all there is. The double whammy of the news’ skewed emphasis on the terrible and my mind’s tendency to dwell on the negative can leave me feeling hopelessly hopeless. And with a throbbing head and a sick stomach.

When I drop into my body to really feel how an expanded view works. Right now, when I sense my body, the first thing that I’m aware of is tension in my lower back and my feet are cold. Right away, my attention goes to what is unpleasant or challenging. But then if I expand my view, I can feel that my breath is moving fully and my hair feels good on my shoulders and there is a pleasant soreness in my legs and core from class this morning. And then, if I expand it even further, I notice what I’m not noticing: the backs of my knees, my ears, my forehead. Suddenly, there is a lot more going on than a squinchy back.

Taking an expanded view doesn’t mean that I ignore the difficult bits. An expanded view gives me perspective. Everything is not a mess. There are all kinds of things going on. Spinning on the negative only offers me a distorted view of the situation and leaves me paralyzed. From an expanded view, I can make choices: stretch, take a ride downtown, have hibiscus tea with a friend, plant some trees, reach out to an African American friend, make a campaign contribution.

An expanded view helps me from collapsing into hopelessness and gives me the space to do what I can to make a shift.

go-to-the-source-092116

Underestimating the power of the inner belly, the core body is almost impossible to do. This week we danced right into it and experimented with strength, mobility, agility, stability and directed attention. When I direct my attention to the inner belly, I ground and balance myself. When I direct my attention to my inner body, I quiet my mind. And when I direct my attention to my inner purpose, life radiates from there.

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

And first the announce-y things:

• dance. sit. create. ~ THREE SPOTS LEFT for the next delicious day-treat on Saturday, October 1, 830am-5pm
You are creative. You are an artist. Even if your elementary school art teacher told you differently. Whatever you think and feel about dancing, sitting and creativity, this day is for you. Whether you identify with the words “dance sit create.” and think, “Heck, yeah” or if you shake your head and say, “I can’t do those things” or “That’s not me,” this day is for you. Please join me for a delicious day of living at the intersection of movement, stillness, and art. If you’ve come before, come again. If you’ve never joined us, this is a great time.
Early Bird: $95 if registered by September 27. Creative Bird: Get an additional $5 off by making something (a photo! a drawing! a haiku! a kid! anything!) and sharing a picture of it on any social media with this link (www.susanmcculley.com/workshops-retreats/dance-sit-create) and use the hashtag #dancesitcreate. (OR send something you’ve made to Susan and she will share it!)
Limited to 20 participants [Just 3 spots left!]. Questions? Please connect with Susan at sjmnia@gmail.com or between August 7-26, please call or text to 434.960.9959.

• dance. sit. create. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Sunday, October 23, 830am-5pm
dance. sit. create. is going on the road! I’ll be offering the day-treat experience in Cambridge, Mass, hosted by the amazing Kira Hower in her beautiful studio. Want to take a road trip? Know someone in the area who you think would enjoy spending the day at the intersection of movement, stillness and creativity? Please direct them here or here or directly to me at sjmnia@gmail.com !

• MARK YOUR CALENDAR! Going Below The Surface: Nia, Yin Yoga & Words Saturday, November 12, 1-4pm
SAVE THE DATE, November 12, 1-4pm. Explore this focus in a special workshop — Going Below The Surface — that I’ll be teaching with Yin Yoga Instructor, Amy Kidd on Saturday, November 12 from 1-4pm at acac Albemarle Square. I will lead simple, varied, energetic movements to warm and mobilize the body: particularly the hips, core and shoulders. Amy will then take us through a series of Yin yoga poses designed to release muscle, fascia and other connective tissue in the core with long, supported holds. Interwoven through the afternoon, as energy is released and the body/mind relaxes, will be opportunities to write – either journaling or using simple provided prompts. Plan now to take an afternoon to breathe deep and see what lies below the surface.
Stay tuned for registration information coming soon!

• Art Experiment: Susan’s work on products!
I’m playing with putting my art on some products through a company called VIDA who connects artists with makers – and pays those makers a living wage (you can learn more about VIDA here http://shopvida.com/pages/our-story ). I’m experimenting with a couple of designs and I would love your input. What do you think? Any art you’d like to see on any particular pieces? Any art that I haven’t made yet that you think would work well? I’d love to hear what you think.❤
Susan McCulley

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, Sep 19, 2016, 1045am ~ Inner Belly Is Where It’s At

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
Belly Disco 4:33 Karminsky Experience
Everythings 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, Sep 20, 2016, 840am ~ Inner Belly Is Where It’s At

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
Everythings Gonna Be Alright 4:33 The Baby Sitters Circus
Elephant (Dub) 6:07 Spiral System
Empty Vessel 3:46 Bob Holroyd

Wednesday, Sep 21, 2016, 11am ~ Inner Belly Is Where It’s At

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
Belly Belly Nice 3:53 Dave Matthews Band
Everythings 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

Thursday, Sep 22, 2016, 840am ~Inner Belly Is Where It’s At

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
Fire In the Belly 5:43 Ganga Giri
Everythings Gonna Be Alright 4:33 The Baby Sitters Circus
Elephant (Dub) 6:07 Spiral System
Empty Vessel 3:46 Bob Holroyd

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!

inner-belly-power-091916

Art in Action is a weekly post: a short, practical guide to applying the ideas and principles in the Focus Pocus posts to your body and life. As always, I love to hear from you about how you use them and how you translate the ideas into action.

After a lifetime of wrassling with my outer belly, generating all manner of suffering around what I thought it should look like and how it definitely did not measure up, I felt a wave of relief when my yoga teacher, Lizzie said, “The outer belly is going to do what it’s going to do. The inner belly is where it’s at. That’s where the fire is.”

Lizzie’s words help me release my attachment to the outer and get busy with what’s going on inside. Today’s Art in Action digs into the inner belly, inner body, and inner purpose.

Inner Belly

Over and over again in my physical practices, I am reminded about the radiating effects of cultivating a strong core. I mentioned some of what I’ve noticed lately in this week’s post but simply put a strong core will help you do everything better. Our culture tends to put a heavier emphasis on the outer core, and truly the two are deeply intertwined.

Of course, what with the World Wide Interwebs and fitness experts all over the place, you can find all kinds of core exercises:

• I offered some in an Art in Action post earlier this year a couple of my favorites for deep core are Plank Pose and Air Chair (it looks simple, but if you keep your hips and knees at 90 degrees, you will feel your core turn on — SHAZAM!).

air-chair-092016

• Yogis use a root lock (Mula Bandha) to strengthen the pelvic floor and an upward abdominal lock (Uddiyana Bandha). I wrote about them some last year.

• Aikido and other martial arts practitioners put their awareness on the center point of the body, sometimes called the Hara or Tan Tien, to ground and balance. Try this exercise with a friend: stand with your feet shoulder width apart with soft knees, focus your attention on the tip of your nose and have your friend gently but steadily push your shoulders with their index and middle fingers. It probably won’t take much to push you off balance. Then do the exact same thing but focus your attention on your inner belly, two inches below your belly button and two inches inside your body. Your friend probably cannot budge you when you drop your attention to your center.

Give your deep, inner core attention, it has powerful benefits for your physical movement and more than that…

Inner Body

Similarly, it’s easy to get caught up in what the external body looks and feels like even though the inner body is where the real power is. Our culture tends to put a heavier emphasis on the outer body, and truly the two are deeply intertwined. Connecting to the inner body can quiet the mind, offer perspective, a reminder of what is really essential.

Right now, feel your outer hands: notice if they are warm or cold, what textures they are feeling and if there is weight or pressure on them in any way. Now sense below the surface to your inner hands: there you may feel a sense of flow or tingling or pulsing that is different from your heart beat. This is the sensation of life force, energy, what yogis call prana, what martial artists call chi, moving through you. Now experiment with feeling your inner body in other parts of you.

By dropping your attention into your inner body, you can get out of the flow of thought and reside more fully in the present moment. You can do this any time but it’s particularly helpful when you want to be fully present or when you feel upset, worried, or rattled in any way. And it’s best to practice when you are relaxed so you have access to it when you need it.

Inner Purpose

Again, similarly, we can get caught up in the externality of our lives – what we do and have and how it looks from the outside when our attention is really needed inside. Our culture tends to put a heavier emphasis on the outer purpose, but truly the two are deeply intertwined. For this part, I’ll let Eckhart Tolle explain:

So the most important thing to realize is this: Your life has an inner purpose and an outer purpose. … Your inner purpose is to awaken. It is as simple as that. You share that purpose with every other person on the planet – because it is the purpose of humanity. Your inner purpose is an essential part of the purpose of the whole, the universe and its emerging intelligence. Your outer purpose can change over time. It varies greatly from person to person. Finding and living in alignment with the inner purpose is the foundation for fulfilling your outer purpose. It is the basis for true success. Without that alignment, you can still achieve certain things through effort, struggle, determination, and sheer hard work or cunning. But there is no joy in such endeavor, and it invariably ends in some form of suffering. (from the wonderful book, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, p. 258)

Go to the inner – belly, body, and purpose – as Lizzie says, it’s where the fire is.

 

outer-belly-vs-inner-belly-091016

Literally and figuratively, my belly has been my soft spot since adolescence. It’s the place I cover up and suck in and tuck around. I work out, crunch myself silly, eat whole foods but a flat tummy is not mine to be had. My belly is where my self-consciousness and body issues converge.

Not so surprising, then, when I started practicing yoga regularly a few years ago, I cringed a little every time my teachers said, “Pull in your belly.”

For the love of Pete, people, it’s what I’ve been attempting to do my whole life. Don’t you think if I could, I would?

But then my teacher, Lizzie said something that changed my perspective, “Pull in your inner belly. The outer belly is going to do what it’s going to do. It’s your inner belly that we’re working with.”

Of course. My outer belly is going to do what it’s going to do. Just like my eyes are a mish-mash of blue and gray. Just like my hair curls in some weather and frizzes in others. Just like I’m 5’ 7” and not 5’ 2” and not 5’ 11”. And suddenly, I felt less ashamed of my soft, round pooch and got more connected to what was happening on a deeper level.

The more I practice, the more I notice the radiating effects of a strong inner core. The stronger my core:

• The better balance I have
• The more graceful and easeful my movement is
• The better my back feels
• The better my posture is
The better my feet feel 
• The more agile and mobile I am
• The faster I can pedal and the higher I can hike
• The better I feel in my body overall

That’s a lot of benefit from strengthening a part of the body and it points (yet again) to the amazing interconnectedness of the human form.

My self-consciousness about my belly didn’t come from nowhere. Our cultural focus tends to be on the outer belly instead of the inner belly. I see lots of headlines in fitness magazines about getting a six-pack or flat abs, but not so much on strengthening the inner obliques. Which is too bad since focusing on the deep core muscles gives the greatest benefits…as will focusing on my deep core values and priorities.

Ho boy. This post is teetering precariously on the cliché edge of “beauty is only skin deep” and O how superficial we all are.

But there is some truth in all words, even cliché. It is worth considering where I put my focus and energy. Am I placing my attention where the most good will be done? Or am I doing something that only looks good? Am I going to the core of the issue or am I fiddling with the superficial?

And as I’m bobbling and hobbling through my practice, Lizzie drops another pearl of wisdom that I know (IknowIknowIknow) in my mind, but need to be reminded of over and over. She reminds us that how deep we can go into a posture or what it looks like means nothing about what kind of yogi or what kind of person we are. Says Lizzie:

It doesn’t matter what the pose looks like. It matters how you approach the pose. Come from the inside out.

I am grateful for my physical practices for bringing awareness to my body in a deeper way. But just as my deep core muscles connect to my feet, my physical practice radiates far beyond my soft tummy to the core of how I move through the world.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Explore this focus of Going Below The Surface in a special workshop that I’ll be teaching with Yin Yoga Instructor, Amy Kidd on Saturday, November 12 from 1-4pm at acac Albemarle Square. Stay tuned for registration information coming soon!

disentangling-090716

We spent the week disentangling struggle from suffering. It’s an ongoing practice, for sure, but what better way to play with it than dancing together. I’d love to hear your experience with struggle and suffering and any teachings you go to on the subject. It’s a big one, y’all.❤

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

And first the announce-y things:

• dance. sit. create. ~ TWO SPOTS LEFT for the next delicious day-treat on Saturday, October 1, 830am-5pm
You are creative. You are an artist. Even if your elementary school art teacher told you differently. Whatever you think and feel about dancing, sitting and creativity, this day is for you. Whether you identify with the words “dance sit create.” and think, “Heck, yeah” or if you shake your head and say, “I can’t do those things” or “That’s not me,” this day is for you. Please join me for a delicious day of living at the intersection of movement, stillness, and art. If you’ve come before, come again. If you’ve never joined us, this is a great time.
Early Bird: $95 if registered by September 15. Creative Bird: Get an additional $5 off by making something (a photo! a drawing! a haiku! a kid! anything!) and sharing a picture of it on any social media with this link (www.susanmcculley.com/workshops-retreats/dance-sit-create) and use the hashtag #dancesitcreate. (OR send something you’ve made to Susan and she will share it!)
Limited to 20 participants [Just two spots left!]. Questions? Please connect with Susan at sjmnia@gmail.com or between August 7-26, please call or text to 434.960.9959.

• dance. sit. create. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Sunday, October 23, 830am-5pm
dance. sit. create. is going on the road! I’ll be offering the day-treat experience in Cambridge, Mass, hosted by the amazing Kira Hower in her beautiful studio. Want to take a road trip? Know someone in the area who you think would enjoy spending the day at the intersection of movement, stillness and creativity? Please direct them here http://www.susanmcculley.com/workshops-retreats/2016/10/23/dance-sit-create-in-cambridge-massachusetts or here https://www.facebook.com/events/1057151171049816/ or directly to me at sjmnia@gmail.com !

• acac 30 days for $30 benefits SPCA!
Work out & give back during the month of September at acac Charlottesville! When you purchase an acac 30-day membership at Downtown, Albemarle Square or Crozet for $30, every dollar will benefit the homeless animal shelters in the Charlottesville area.
Donations during September will be split between the following local animal shelters:
Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA – Celebrating 10 years as a no-kill organization, with a vision of putting healthy animals in caring homes. Located on Berkmar Drive in Charlottesville, VA
Fluvanna County SPCA – Supporting paw-sitive pet partnership since 1989. Located on Union Mills Road in Troy, VA
The Greene County Animal Shelter – Small in size, but big at heart! Located on Jeri Allen Way Road in Ruckersville, VA
These local organizations strive to match loving households with an animal in need of a home.
Interested in signing up? Go to http://acac.com/30days/charlottesville/
PLUS: This week we danced to Schuyler Fisk’s playful song, Love Somebody. Download it and the proceeds go to the Charlottesville SPCA! https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/love-somebody-single/id349326667

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, Sep 5, 2016, 11am ~ Struggle Without Suffering

Eireann 5:10 Afro Celt Sound System
Rafiki (Sidewalk Mix) 6:25 Bob Holroyd
Journeyman – AO 6:41 Bob Holroyd
I Know What I Know 3:13 Paul Simon
The Boy in the Bubble 3:59 Paul Simon
Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) 3:42 Kelly Clarkson
Break The Chain 4:32 Tena Clark
One Billion Hands 4:05 Lourds Lane
Life During Wartime 4:54 Talking Heads
Never Coming Home 5:00 Sting
Wristband 3:18 Paul Simon
Friend Of The Devil 4:14 Lyle Lovett
On the Nature of Daylight 6:35 Max Richter Orchestra & Lorenz Dangel

Tuesday, Sep 6, 2016, 840am ~ Struggle Without Suffering

Sajanna 5:06 Badmarsh & Shri
Rafiki (Sidewalk Mix) 6:25 Bob Holroyd
Journeyman – AO 6:41 Bob Holroyd
I Know What I Know 3:13 Paul Simon
Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) 3:42 Kelly Clarkson
Break The Chain 4:32 Tena Clark
Life During Wartime 4:54 Talking Heads
The Heart is A Lonely Hunter 6:22 Thievery Corporation
Wristband 3:18 Paul Simon
Friend Of The Devil 4:14 Lyle Lovett
Nagual 4:03 Michael Hewett

Wednesday, Sep 7, 2016, 11am ~ Struggle Without Suffering

Awake My Soul 4:16 Mumford & Sons
Barely Breathing 4:15 Duncan Sheik
I Believe (feat. Michael Franti & Nahko) 3:23 SOJA
SuNu 5:05 Rising Appalachia
Sweet Inspiration 4:41 Derek Trucks Band
Everybody Got Their Something 4:23 Nikka Costa
Tribal 4:09 Badmarsh & Shri
Mad World (feat. Safri Duo & Isam B) [Raaban Edit] 3:34 Michael Parsberg
Once a Day (feat. Sonna Rele) 3:58 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Below My Feet 4:52 Mumford & Sons
Unpack Your Heart 3:16 Phillip Phillips
Love Somebody 4:00 Schuyler Fisk
Everything’ll Be Alright 4:07 Catherine MacLellan
Breathing Out 4:56 Shaman’s Dream

Thursday, Sep 8, 2016, 840am ~ Struggle Without Suffering

Awake My Soul 4:16 Mumford & Sons
Barely Breathing 4:15 Duncan Sheik
I Believe (feat. Michael Franti & Nahko) 3:23 SOJA
SuNu 5:05 Rising Appalachia
Sweet Inspiration 4:41 Derek Trucks Band
Tribal 4:09 Badmarsh & Shri
Mad World (feat. Safri Duo & Isam B) [Raaban Edit] 3:34 Michael Parsberg
Once a Day (feat. Sonna Rele) 3:58 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Below My Feet 4:52 Mumford & Sons
Unpack Your Heart 3:16 Phillip Phillips
Love Somebody 4:00 Schuyler Fisk
Everything’ll Be Alright 4:07 Catherine MacLellan
Breathing Out 4:56 Shaman’s Dream

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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