spin-to-choice-120716
This week we chose where to focus awareness rather than be caught up in the spin and spiral…except when we were caught up in the spin and spiral. That’s why they call it a practice, not a perfect.

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:

• Join us for a heARTful Action (brain)storming on Saturday, December 10, 3-5pm
Whatever your political leanings, these are difficult days. Now more than ever, we need to use our creativity and art to make our community (large and small) a kinder, more inclusive, healthier place.
The focus of heARTful Action is on putting positive, loving action into the world, directed particularly to the least powerful among us including (but not limited to) black and brown people, immigrants, LGBTQ people, Muslims, elderly and low-income people, and anyone else feeling compromised, including the environment. All are welcome to our mutually supportive community.
We are gathering this Saturday, Dec 10 from 3-5pm to share our personal intentions for heARTful action and brainstorming ideas for things that we can do individually, in small groups and/or as a larger community.
Please join us at 1255 Sunset Avenue Extd in Charlottesville (let me know if you need directions — you can park in our driveway or in the church parking lot across the street) in the heARTful Action Clubhouse. Please bring your personal intention and your ideas for ways we can live out our those intentions and probably a notebook if you’re someone who likes to write things down. The space has a few chairs and floor pillows, but if you have something you’d like to sit on, bring that, too! We’ll have tea and hot water available (and knowing us, we’ll also have snacks).

All who are interested in being part of our heARTful intention* are welcome. Let me know if you have questions and please let us know if you can come so we can plan accordingly!

* heARTful action ~ Intention
Love warriors using our creativity and connection to sustain movement toward kindness, inclusivity, and health in our community and world. We are a community supporting each other in the expression of our unique gifts while we stay responsive and awake to the needs within us and around us. We act from a place of aliveness and positive purpose.
You can join us on Facebook here and/or ask me and I’ll add you to our email list. All are welcome, invite anyone who you’d like to include. And if you have a group doing similar work, we’d love to network with you and hear about what you’re doing!

• Make a Donation and Get Art on susanmcculley.com/shop
For the foreseeable future: You Make a doantion and I sent you art! It’s SIMPLE:
(1) Make a doantiaon to CarbonFund.org (or your favorite environmental organization) or to Human Rights First (or your favorite human rights organization).
(2) Send me a copy of the receipt to sjmnia@gmail.com (alternatively, you can mail a check written to the organization to 1255 Sunset Ave Ext, Charlottesville VA 22903) and include your mailing address and the equivalent value art that you would like.
(3) I’ll mail you the art right away.
Go to http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop to see the full line up of available art. Make a heARTful difference today.

• dance.sit.create. day-treat on Saturday, Feb 18, 2017, 8:30am-5pm
We’ll be at it again – dancing.sitting.creating. together — on Saturday, Feb 18 (snow date, March 4) at Buck Mountain Episcopal Parish Hall, 4133 Earlysville Rd, Earlysville, VA 22936
What better way to spend a winter day than in giving power and time to your unique creativity? As a human being, you are an artist. While we can’t make creativity happen, we can provide fertile terrain for inspiration to land and take root. In this supportive, delicious, fun experience, step into your own creative life. Join Susan McCulley, Nia Black Belt, mindfulness teacher, writer and artist for a day-treat playing at the intersection of movement, stillness and your artist self. If you have dance.sit.created before, new surprises await. If not, this is the perfect time to join us.
Susan provides guidance and inspiration for the day. Rebecca George’s Dragonfly Kitchen provides extraordinary vegetarian, gluten-free, seasonal food (tea, snack, lunch). ALSO INCLUDED is a new 6-week series of music, meditations, and prompts to keep the flow of the day going. Early Bird: $100 if registered by December 15. Late Bird: $125 if registered by February 15. Limited to 20 participants. Go here for all the details and to register.

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, Dec 5, 2016, 1045am ~ Wheel of Awareness

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
Tribal 4:09 Badmarsh & Shri
Mad World (feat. Safri Duo & Isam B) [Raaban Edit] 3:34 Michael Parsberg
I Don’t Like It, I Love It (feat. Robin Thicke & Verdine White) 3:44 Flo Rida
Unpack Your Heart 3:16 Phillip Phillips
Watching the Wheels 3:19 Matisyahu
Ooh Child ((Remix)) 3:33 Nina Simone
Everything’ll Be Alright 4:07 Catherine MacLellan
Once Upon The Sea Of Blissful Awareness 7:31 Shpongle

Tuesday, Dec 6, 2016, 840am ~ Wheel of Awareness

Ooh Child (Alternate Version) 3:54 Beth Orton
Finally Moving 4:38 Pretty Lights
SuNu 5:05 Rising Appalachia
Belly Belly Nice 3:53 Dave Matthews Band
Mussiki é (Jungle Mix) 7:11 Miango
Tribal 4:09 Badmarsh & Shri
Mad World (feat. Safri Duo & Isam B) [Raaban Edit] 3:34 Michael Parsberg
I Don’t Like It, I Love It (feat. Robin Thicke & Verdine White) 3:44 Flo Rida
Watching the Wheels 3:19 Matisyahu
Everything’ll Be Alright 4:07 Catherine MacLellan
Once Upon The Sea Of Blissful Awareness 7:31 Shpongle

Wednesday, Dec 7, 2016, 11am ~ Wheel of Awareness

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
Wheels 3:37 Jamie Cullum
Mad World (feat. Safri Duo & Isam B) [Raaban Edit] 3:34 Michael Parsberg
I Don’t Like It, I Love It (feat. Robin Thicke & Verdine White) 3:44 Flo Rida
Clocks 4:11 Coldplay
Unpack Your Heart 3:16 Phillip Phillips
Ooh Child ((Remix)) 3:33 Nina Simone
Everything’ll Be Alright 4:07 Catherine MacLellan
Breathing Out 4:56 Shaman’s Dream

Thursday, Dec 8, 2016, 840am ~ Wheel of Awareness

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
Wheels 3:37 Jamie Cullum
Mad World (feat. Safri Duo & Isam B) [Raaban Edit] 3:34 Michael Parsberg
I Don’t Like It, I Love It (feat. Robin Thicke & Verdine White) 3:44 Flo Rida
Clocks 4:11 Coldplay
Unpack Your Heart 3:16 Phillip Phillips
Ooh Child ((Remix)) 3:33 Nina Simone
Everything’ll Be Alright 4:07 Catherine MacLellan

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!

heartful-action-120516

“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. ” — Maya Angelou

heARTful is a word I made up to mean awareness from and leading with the heart. heARTful Action posts focus on how to stand up and create a culture of health, inclusion and kindness. heARTful Action posts are calls to love warriors everywhere.

I’m doing my best to learn about positive social action…and there is a boat ton. As I open my ears, eyes, and heart, I’m committed to offering practical, tangible information so you can do your own heARTful action.

Fear

These days, I’m afraid. I don’t think of myself as a fearful person (A worrier? Yes. But fearful? Not so much.) but I keep feeling it with a clutch at my stomach and heart. Sharon Salzberg, one of my meditation teachers, wrote a helpful post about what to do in the face of fear. I recommend it highly.

She writes about feeling the excruciating pain of being seen as irrelevant in someone else’s eyes. To have someone with their actions, words or vote say, “You don’t count. You aren’t important.” She goes on,

I also [felt] a renewed commitment to never giving anyone that message of disregard. I felt the energy and uplift of remembering what has been, in a way, a big part of my life’s work — helping people practice tools that keep us from treating ourselves or others as less-than or irrelevant. To consider inclusion instead of exclusion, even when it’s hard. We can try to remember what we really care about in terms of what gives our lives meaning.

Which is exactly what heARTful Action is all about.

Focus

So today, even though I can feel the ache and tingle of fear, I’m focusing my attention on what I can do. To paraphrase Joan Baez, “Intentional, purposeful, heARTful action is the antidote to despair and fear.” Today, I’m focusing on what’s working and what isn’t.

What’s Working

See the good. Look for what’s working. If you see someone doing something that you are grateful for, tell them. When your teenager puts their dishes away, love on them for it. When your cashier finds a way to save you a couple of dollars, thank them sincerely. If a company or politician is doing something that is in alignment with what matters to you, write them a note and tell them how much you appreciate what they are doing.

What Isn’t

Some days, it feels like there is an over abundance of things that aren’t working. For today, for right now, focus on one. What is one positive step you can take toward shifting something that isn’t working toward something that is. How can I approach what isn’t working with kindness and inclusion?

This is the quote that is in my mind and heart today:

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
~ Edward Everett Hale

BONUS:

Join us online in the heARTful Action group (and we’re gathering in Charlottesville on Saturday)! heARTful Action is a place to share ideas and intentions and to gather support and colleagues in the actions that matter to you. All are welcome (Charlottesville or no). You can see what’s happening at the Facebook group or tell me and I’ll add you to the email list.

ferris-120316

The Chester Fair was a late-summer highlight of my rural Connecticut childhood. And why not? It offered the intoxicating combination of junk food (I was known to go a whole weekend eating nothing but fried dough), unusual activities (Tilt-A-Whirl! Steer pulling! Chickens with strange feather arrangements!) and a tantalizing amount of parental freedom.

Smack dab in the middle of the Chester Fair Grounds was old beat-up the Ferris wheel (are they ever new?). Even before my first stop at the fried dough stand, I would get in line for the wheel. I loved it for the high-up view both in the hazy summer sun and at carnival-lit at night. I loved it for the air and the speed and the swinging cars, and the odd cocktail of intimacy and exposure as I swung in the car above the fair.

There was also the utter randomness of riding the Ferris wheel. The slightly dodgy, mildly creepy, never-smiling men who worked the wheel had some kind of incomprehensible algorithm for which cars were loaded and unloaded and in what order and when they would throw the switch for a grand whizzing ride around. When I rode on the wheel, I was at its mercy.

Sometimes my mind is like that: a big, crazy, slightly rickety, unpredictable Ferris wheel of thought and experience. I’m on the ride and flying around. Or I’m trapped at the top. Or I’m in the car with my sister who insists on swinging like a maniac. There are lots of things going on and I don’t have control over any of them.


At the same time that I was going to the Chester Fair, our family had one old color TV in our house. We had two channels to choose from and an actual dial on the actual TV was used to make the selection. (This actually isn’t a bad “back in my day” skit) When I sat on our burnt orange love seat to watch Fantasy Island or Love American Style, I would stand up, walk across the room, and turn the dial to either 3 or 8. Like the captain of a ship uses the wheel to navigate his craft, I would chose what I wanted to see by turning the dial.

Years ago, I came across psychiatrist, researcher and author, Dan Siegel’s metaphor of a wheel to describe awareness.

drdansiegel_wheelofawarenessHe writes:

The hub [of The Wheel of Awareness] represents the experience of awareness itself — knowing — while the rim contains all the points of anything we can become aware of, that which is known to us. We can send a spoke out to the rim to focus our attention on one point or another on the rim. In this way, the wheel of awareness becomes a visual metaphor for the integration of consciousness as we differentiate rim-elements and hub-awareness from each other and link them with our focus of attention.

Dr. Siegel describes the TV dial, the steering wheel of awareness. I’m never actually in the spinning Ferris wheel, I only think I am. I have a choice of where to point my attention. There are times when focusing on what is difficult or not working makes sense. There are other times when shifting my focus to what is working and what feels good is essential. Practicing this choice in low-stake environments – on my cushion, on my mat, on a walk – make it easier to make those choices when the creepy guy flicks the switch and I start to spin.

The practice is to know that I actually always have the steering wheel in my hands. It’s just a matter of choosing where to turn it.


For more information on Dr. Dan Siegel and The Wheel of Awareness, go here.

You might also enjoy these posts:
Inquiry
Banana Trees & Fireworks

heart-strong-spinal-roll-drawn-112516
Powerful good week of dancing strong hearts (and legs!). 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:

• Celebrating Slow: Donation-based Nia at Buck Mountain Open to everyBody ~ December 2, 6-7pm
“Sometimes I think there are only two instructions we need to follow to develop and deepen our spiritual life: slow down and let go.”
― Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Contrary to Nature’s rhythm in this season, the winter holidays come upon us at breakneck speed. Layered on top of already busy lives are parties and performances, cooking and customs, shopping and wrapping that have us running from November to January.
Slow down. Get clear. Be intentional about what you are doing and where you are going. Approach the season as you would a small child: gently, slowly and with an open heart.
Bring a friend. All are welcome regardless of age, experience, fitness level … anything! Donations support the Buck Mountain Health & Wellness Ministry which is doing great work for both the congregation and the community!
For more details and to RSVP, go here.
“For fast acting relief, try slowing down.”
― Lily Tomlin

• ALL Art Sales on susanmcculley.com Go to Charity Between Now and January 20, 2017
BETWEEN NOW AND JANUARY 20, 2017, ALL PROCEEDS FROM ART AND SAFETY PIN EARRING PURCHASES on susanmcculley.com WILL BE DONATED TO CARBONFUND.ORG FOUNDATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST. http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop for the full line up of available art. I’ll have some prints and earrings available at the Buck Mountain class on Friday so come do a little holiday shopping!

• dance.sit.create. day-treat on Saturday, Feb 18, 2017, 8:30am-5pm
We’ll be at it again – dancing.sitting.creating. together — on Saturday, Feb 18 (snow date, March 4) at Buck Mountain Episcopal Parish Hall, 4133 Earlysville Rd, Earlysville, VA 22936
What better way to spend a winter day than in giving power and time to your unique creativity? As a human being, you are an artist. While we can’t make creativity happen, we can provide fertile terrain for inspiration to land and take root. In this supportive, delicious, fun experience, step into your own creative life. Join Susan McCulley, Nia Black Belt, mindfulness teacher, writer and artist for a day-treat playing at the intersection of movement, stillness and your artist self. If you have dance.sit.created before, new surprises await. If not, this is the perfect time to join us.
Susan provides guidance and inspiration for the day. Rebecca George’s Dragonfly Kitchen provides extraordinary vegetarian, gluten-free, seasonal food (tea, snack, lunch). ALSO INCLUDED is a new 6-week series of music, meditations, and prompts to keep the flow of the day going. Early Bird: $100 if registered by December 15. Late Bird: $125 if registered by February 15. Limited to 20 participants. Go here for all the details and to register http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop/w9knh9ft0g5o6c7jwh6741t07b0t5o

• Join us for heARTful Action
Whatever your political leanings, these are difficult days. Now more than ever, we need to use our creativity and art to make our community (large and small) a kinder, more inclusive, healthier place.
The focus of heARTful Action is on putting positive, loving action into the world, directed particularly to the least powerful among us including (but not limited to) black and brown people, immigrants, LGBTQ people, Muslims, elderly and low-income people, and anyone else feeling compromised, including the environment. All are welcome to our mutually supportive community.
heARTful action ~ Intention
Love warriors using our creativity and connection to sustain movement toward kindness, inclusivity, and health in our community and world. We are a community supporting each other in the expression of our unique gifts while we stay responsive and awake to the needs within us and around us. We act from a place of aliveness and positive purpose.
You can join us on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/groups/376379809420207/?pnref=story and/or ask me and I’ll add you to our email list. All are welcome, invite anyone who you’d like to include. And if you have a group doing similar work, we’d love to network with you and hear about what you’re doing!

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, Nov 28, 2016, 1045am ~ Heart Strong

Put Your Records On 3:36 Corinne Bailey Rae
New Shoes 3:22 Paolo Nutini
Tamacun 3:26 Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Nostalgia Worship 6:46 Bassnectar
Love and Hope 4:24 Ozomatli
Black Horse And The Cherry Tree 2:51 KT Tunstall
Back To Me 3:31 Kathleen Edwards
Freek 7:16 Shakatura
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
Get Up and Get Down 3:10 The Dramatics
Yes I Will 4:20 Michael Franti
Song Of The Nile 8:00 Dead Can Dance
No Trace 3:58 Jamie Catto & Alex Forster

Tuesday, Nov 29, 2016, 840am ~ Heart Strong

Put Your Records On 3:36 Corinne Bailey Rae
New Shoes 3:22 Paolo Nutini
Tamacun 3:26 Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Nostalgia Worship 6:46 Bassnectar
Love and Hope 4:24 Ozomatli
Black Horse And The Cherry Tree 2:51 KT Tunstall
Back To Me 3:31 Kathleen Edwards
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
Yes I Will 4:20 Michael Franti
Ain’t No Sunshine (Rishis Short Mix) 3:27 Al Jarreau
Song Of The Nile 8:00 Dead Can Dance
No Trace 3:58 Jamie Catto & Alex Forster

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016, 11am ~ Heart Strong

Wonderwall 4:09 Ryan Adams
You Can’t Always Get What You Want 6:47 Rusted Root
Love The One You’re With 5:03 Luther Vandross
I Will Survive (Radio Edit) 5:11 Cake
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction 2:41 Devo
More Than This 4:07 10,000 Maniacs
Super Freak 4:04 Bruce Hornsby & Ricky Skaggs
Higher Ground 3:22 Red Hot Chili Peppers
I Get Lifted (Feat. Deborah Cooper) (Danism & Michael Grey Remix) 4:45 Erick Morillo
Drop It Low 3:45 Kat DeLuna
Da Ya Think I’m Sexy (Feat. Rod Stewart) 4:22 N-Trance
Sweet Child o’ Mine (Rick Rubin…) 3:56 Sheryl Crow
High 4:04 James Blunt
Rise 3:06 Afro Celt Sound System

Thursday, Dec 1, 2016, 840am ~ Heart Strong

Wonderwall 4:09 Ryan Adams
You Can’t Always Get What You Want 6:47 Rusted Root
Love The One You’re With 5:03 Luther Vandross
More Than This 4:07 10,000 Maniacs
Super Freak 4:04 Bruce Hornsby & Ricky Skaggs
Higher Ground 3:22 Red Hot Chili Peppers
I Get Lifted (Feat. Deborah Cooper) (Danism & Michael Grey Remix) 4:45 Erick Morillo
Drop It Low 3:45 Kat DeLuna
Da Ya Think I’m Sexy (Feat. Rod Stewart) 4:22 N-Trance
Sweet Child o’ Mine (Rick Rubin…) 3:56 Sheryl Crow
High 4:04 James Blunt
Rise 3:06 Afro Celt Sound System

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!

heartful-action-112816

“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. ” — Maya Angelou

heARTful is a word I made up to mean awareness from and leading with the heart. heARTful Action posts focus on how to stand up and create a culture of health, inclusion and kindness. heARTful Action posts are calls to love warriors everywhere.

I’m committed to positive social action and … I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. As I open my ears, eyes, and heart, I’m also committed to offering practical, tangible information so you can do your own heARTful action.

Today is #GivingTuesday, so I’ll focus on three aspects of giving: money, time, and attention.

(1) Giving Money

This is a great time to consider the causes and organizations that matter the most to you and offering them financial support. There are so many charities it can be challenging to know how best to support the work that matters to you. A site that I appreciate is Charity Watch which rates charities according to how much of donated money goes to overhead and how much goes to the work of the organization as well as other metrics. You can search for a particular charity or look through categories or top-rated lists.

This holiday, some of my gifts will be in the form of donations. In addition, I’m selling art (so far, prints and safety pin earrings) on my web site* and donating the proceeds to two organizations that are in alignment with my personal intentions: CarbonFund and Human Rights First.
* Want to be part of the giving? Go to http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop and check out what I’m offering!

(2) Giving Time

In addition to giving money, of course, organizations need volunteers. I’m in the early process with this part of giving so I’ll update with more on this soon. I’m leaning toward helping to build trails at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir and the International Rescue Committee refugee center and would love to have some people to do this with. Given that, if anyone has favorite charities that they donate their time to in the Charlottesville area, please put them in the comments below and perhaps we can put together teams of people with similar interests!

(3) Giving Attention

I detest making phone calls. Even simple things like making doctor’s appointments and scheduling car work, I resist. Making calls to government offices is way outside my comfort zone. But these days, the importance of making my voice heard and giving my attention to critical issues outweighs my telephone discomfort.

Friends who work in government agencies confirm that calls voicing opinions carry more weight than petitions or emails. So, here’s what has helped me in making calls this week (with big thanks to Joy Trammel Tanksley who coached me to 7 calls I made this weekend):

(1) Figure out who to call about the issue you care about. Make a list of offices or agencies with the numbers.

(2) Write a script. When I’m nervous or emotional about something, any articulateness abandons me. So when I make a call, I know exactly what I want to say. I ask people who know more than I do about it for suggestions and then I tailor it to me.

(3) Make a commitment. It helps me to tell someone that I’m going to make these calls. Accountability, baby. It makes a difference.

(4) Take a breath. When I’ve got what I need, I take a deep breath, relax shoulders and anywhere else I’m tense, and I dial the number.

Once you have a personal intention for your own heARTful Action [link], identify ways that you can give your money, time and attention!

BONUS:

Join us online in the heARTful Action group! It’s a place to share ideas and intentions and to gather support and colleagues in the actions that you want to do. All are welcome (whether you’re in Charlottesville or no).

heart-strong-spinal-roll-sketch-112516

The grumbling inside my head gets loud.

“How long is he going to keep us doing this?” it says, all cranky and indignant.

The Nia training was more than a decade ago but I can feel it clearly right now. I’m standing in a room full of Nia teachers, learning the 52 basic moves of the practice by doing each one for a minute. We’ve gone through the stances and steps, and now we’re on Spinal Rolls.* I feel my body temperature and heart rate go up and I’m sure Carlos has made a mistake.

The minute has to be up by now.

We’re all fitness professionals, after all. And we’re all breathing heavier and starting to sweat. But no, in his calmly precise way, Carlos was exactly on time. We had done Spinal Rolls for exactly a minute. You’ve heard of people who are head strong. Turns out, moving the heart up and down and around in a big circle makes us heart strong.

One of the powerful benefits about the Nia Technique is that it builds cardiovascular strength by moving the heart in relationship to gravity instead of jumping and pounding on the joints. By taking the heart through the three planes of movement – high, middle and low – the heart gets stronger. The more we move the heart around, the more heart strong we get.

In both my Nia and Vinyasa Yoga practices, we use the Power of the Three Planes to build the heart’s strength and fitness. By lifting high and dropping low, by folding down and unfolding up, we increase the heart’s capacity. Over time, as I move my heart through the three planes, I can adapt to larger ranges of movement and greater overall health and fitness.

What is true for my physical heart is also true for my emotional heart. My willingness to feel my “lower”emotions of sadness, grief and anger expands my capacity to feel my “higher” emotions of joy, love and passion.

While our culture puts tremendous focus on positive thinking, Tori Rodriguez wrote in the 2013 Scientific American article:

In fact, anger and sadness are an important part of life, and new research shows that experiencing and accepting such emotions are vital to our mental health. Attempting to suppress thoughts can backfire and even diminish our sense of contentment. (Negative Emotions Are Key to Well-Being, May 1, 2013)

This is not about manufacturing drama to create higher highs and lower lows (Life tends to do that without our help). This is about feeling what is there in the moment. Just as I resist getting up and down off the floor or doing a minute of spinal rolls, I can resist feeling the full anger I feel about injustice, or the full grief over the loss of a friend, or the full sadness at the death of a dream. Instead, if I can allow myself to feel it all, I’m stretching my heart muscles to allow in the full range of life.

It may feel more comfortable to stay in the half-way middle ground, but literally and figuratively such mushy middle-ism is the ticket to a slow death. Get heart strong: allow yourself to go low, middle and high.


*How to do a Spinal Roll:
Standing in “A” Stance, inhale deeply and look up and sense the front of your body lengthening and opening. Use your hands for support and slide them down your legs, keep looking up while sinking to a point at which your body says, “Enough, I can’t go farther.” Then gently drop your head and look down, exhale and round up, pushing your heels into the floor, while sliding your hands back up your legs to return to a standing posture. Do the whole movement smoothly, and coordinate your leg and spine mobility. You can also do spinal rolls going in the opposite direction, by tucking your chin and dropping the crown of your head straight down, then at the bottom of the movement, look up and dive back up. Benefits: Practicing Spinal Roll keeps your spine strong and flexible. It’s terrific for self-healing the spine and back and it improves cardiovascular strength while warming up the whole body.


Other Posts about the 3 Planes of Movement are here and here.

welcome-111816
Deep gratitude to everybody who came out to dance this week including the big gathering on the basketball court on Wednesday (thanks for teaching with me, Mary Linn!) and the crowd that came out to play this Thanksgiving morning. How lucky am I to get to play with y’all every week? Durn lucky. May we all take a break from our habitual thinking and doing and spend time feeling and being this holiday.

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:

• Celebrating Slow: Donation-based Nia at Buck Mountain Open to everyBody ~ December 2, 6-7pm
“Sometimes I think there are only two instructions we need to follow to develop and deepen our spiritual life: slow down and let go.”
― Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Contrary to Nature’s rhythm in this season, the winter holidays come upon us at breakneck speed. Layered on top of already busy lives are parties and performances, cooking and customs, shopping and wrapping that have us running from November to January.
Slow down. Get clear. Be intentional about what you are doing and where you are going. Approach the season as you would a small child: gently, slowly and with an open heart.
Bring a friend. All are welcome regardless of age, experience, fitness level … anything! Donations support the Buck Mountain Health & Wellness Ministry which is doing great work for both the congregation and the community!
For more details and to RSVP, go here.
“For fast acting relief, try slowing down.”
― Lily Tomlin

• dance.sit.create. day-treat on Saturday, Feb 18, 2017, 8:30am-5pm
We’ll be at it again – dancing.sitting.creating. together — on Saturday, Feb 18 (snow date, March 4) at Buck Mountain Episcopal Parish Hall, 4133 Earlysville Rd, Earlysville, VA 22936
What better way to spend a winter day than in giving power and time to your unique creativity? As a human being, you are an artist. While we can’t make creativity happen, we can provide fertile terrain for inspiration to land and take root. In this supportive, delicious, fun experience, step into your own creative life. Join Susan McCulley, Nia Black Belt, mindfulness teacher, writer and artist for a day-treat playing at the intersection of movement, stillness and your artist self. If you have dance.sit.created before, new surprises await. If not, this is the perfect time to join us.
Susan provides guidance and inspiration for the day. Rebecca George’s Dragonfly Kitchen provides extraordinary vegetarian, gluten-free, seasonal food (tea, snack, lunch). ALSO INCLUDED is a new 6-week series of music, meditations, and prompts to keep the flow of the day going. Early Bird: $100 if registered by December 15. Late Bird: $125 if registered by February 15. Limited to 20 participants. Go here for all the details and to register

• Join us for heARTful Action
Whatever your political leanings, these are difficult days. Now more than ever, we need to use our creativity and art to make our community (large and small) a kinder, more inclusive, healthier place.
The focus of heARTful Action is on putting positive, loving action into the world, directed particularly to the least powerful among us including (but not limited to) black and brown people, immigrants, LGBTQ people, Muslims, elderly and low-income people, and anyone else feeling compromised, including the environment. All are welcome to our mutually supportive community.

heARTful action ~ Intention
Love warriors using our creativity and connection to sustain movement toward kindness, inclusivity, and health in our community and world. We are a community supporting each other in the expression of our unique gifts while we stay responsive and awake to the needs within us and around us. We act from a place of aliveness and positive purpose.

You can join us on Facebook here and/or ask me and I’ll add you to our email list. All are welcome, invite anyone who you’d like to include. And if you have a group doing similar work, we’d love to network with you and hear about what you’re doing!

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, Nov 21, 2016, 1045am ~ Saying Yes

Passing Through 5:19 Bob Holroyd
A Different Space 8:43 Bob Holroyd
Marisi 6:33 Cantoma
What I Know 4:14 Parachute
Tantrika 9:27 Makyo
Is Your Love Big Enough? 3:22 Lianne La Havas
Just Say Yes 4:41 Snow Patrol
Shining Path 7:23 Dreadzone
Redemption Song 4:10 Playing For Change
The Spirit of the Earth Continues (Floating Earth Remix) 6:32 Cybertribe

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016, 840am ~ Saying Yes

Passing Through 5:19 Bob Holroyd
Marisi 6:33 Cantoma
Dah-Din Beats (Ges-E + Usman) 8:01 Genetic Drugs
Tantrika 9:27 Makyo
Vertigo 3:15 U2
Just Say Yes 4:41 Snow Patrol
Shining Path 7:23 Dreadzone
Redemption Song 4:10 Playing For Change
One Zero Two 3:02 Alucidnation

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016, 1215pm with Mary Linn ~ Welcome in the Details

Grateful 3:54 Nimesh Patel & Daniel Nahmod
Three Little Birds (12″ Mix) [Dub Version] 5:20 Bob Marley & The Wailers
Somptin Hapnin (Water In Me) 10:32 Adham Shaikh
We Come Together (Fishy Beat Mix) 3:48 Goldfish Feat. Sakhile Moleshe
Shoofly Pie 3:57 The Wood Brothers
Keep On Searching 5:08 Kraak & Smaak
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) 3:52 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Just Say Yes 4:41 Snow Patrol
I Am You 4:50 Kareem Salama
Thank you 4:19 Alanis Morrisette
sugar pie 3:39 The Subdudes
Gratitude 6:27 Jamie Catto & Alex Forster

Thanksgiving morning, Thursday, Nov 24, 2016, 830am ~ Welcome in the Details

Sweet Potato Pie 3:46 James Taylor & Ray Charles
Pavement Cracks 5:10 Annie Lennox
Home 5:05 Marc Broussard
Qalanderi 7:10 Cheb i Sabbah
Keep On Searching 5:08 Kraak & Smaak
Shoofly Pie 3:57 The Wood Brothers
Moon & Sun 6:02 Dalminjo Fjörd Fusioneer
What I Know 4:14 Parachute
Yes I Will 4:20 Michael Franti
I Am You 4:50 Kareem Salama
Sweet Potato Pie 3:14 Al Jarreau
Wiarthul 5:55 Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu

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!

%d bloggers like this: