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“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” – MLK

Our annual exploration of the inspiring wisdom of the words and life of Martin Luther King Jr. this year looked at the inextricable interconnection of our lives and the world. Any sense that we are separate or that our choices don’t impact those and the environment around us is an illusion.

We can see evidence of this everywhere – in society, in our relationships, in the natural world and in our own bodies. One way of looking at any pain, discomfort, imbalance, even violence as stuck energy. In order to return that energy to its natural flow, we need to first see it with our awareness and then to look around it to see what needs unsticking. The next time you’re feeling pain in your body, look around the pain point. The next time you experience disconnection or discomfort in a relationship, look around the situation. And the next time you read the headlines about the suffering in the world, look around where the pain is to see what might be the source.

Below are our playlists for the week. If you’d like to listen to them, you can find almost all the music on Spotify where you can listen for free! And in general, please let me know if you have any questions about any of the music we dance to!

And first, some announcements of things that are happening!
Open Silent Retreat in Charlottesville ~ Saturday, January 26, 9am-3pm
An open silent meditation opportunity will be held 9 a.m. to 3 p.m (come and go as you like) on Saturday, 26 January at Park Street Christian Church (1200 Park St, Charlottesville; there is ample parking at PSCC). Format will be similar to that of Buddhist vipassana retreats, with alternating periods for sitting and walking meditation (PSCC has ample grounds for walking, and a labyrinth). Practitioners from any silent contemplative tradition are welcome; there are moveable chairs at PSCC but if you prefer other support please bring cushions or pillows. There will be some brief instruction at the beginning and a break for lunch, and you do not need to commit for the entire time. There is no fee, though dana (donation) to support the venue will be gratefully accepted. Contact Phil Schrodt (schrodt735@gmail.com) for any further details or go here to RSVP.

Thank you for Sharing Your Word for 2019
Every year, I choose a word as my focus. My word for 2019 is CLEAR. As part of embodying it, I am clearing my spaces … inside and out. I asked for your words and together, this is the art that emerged!
Thank you to all who shared their words and may Kriszti enjoy the Nia pendant!

Buddha Cat on Amazon
Buddha Cat is now also available on the world’s largest retailer! You can find both Kindle and paperback editions! AND if you are already a reader and fan, PLEASE would you write a review? A review is one of the most powerful things you can do to spread the word. Find the book listing here! Thank you for your energy and support!

Buddha Cat Available at Local Stores!
If you’d rather not order online and/or if you’d like to support an independent bookstore, you can find the book at some local establishments! Please go to my web site to find a complete listing of where to find Buddha Cat and more! http://www.susanmcculley.com/book-art-happenings/#/new-page/

Yoga Retreat in Mexico with Lynsie McKeown ~ February 9-16, 2019
It’s time to say YES to you and your well-being; to put you first. Join Lynsie McKeown, February 9-16, 2019, for 8 days of daily practice, luxury villas, delectable meals and immersive experiences in paradise. This retreat is designed to nourish, support and celebrate YOU. Immersed in beauty and nature, you’ll experience the benefits of a complete practice; asana (vinyasa tantra), pranayama, guided meditation and Yoga Nidra (a deep state of restoration, relaxation, and awareness). Body, mind, heart and soul will be rejuvenated. You’ll leave feeling full—full of more joy, motivation and inspiration to carry you through the rest of your year. Find out more here.

Author Fest 2019 at the Waynesboro Public Library
On Saturday, March 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Waynesboro Public Library will host its 5th Annual Author Fest. The event is free for both authors and the public. Buddha Cat and friends will be there. More information and details to come!

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

Monday, Jan 21, 2019, 1045am ~ The Interrelated Structure of Reality

Blackbird 3:09 Dionne Farris
I Shall Be Free 6:13 Kid Beyond
You Might Die Trying 4:44 Dave Matthews Band
Rattle And Hum 8.0 57
Interconnected (Dan Thomas Radio Edit) 4:45 Stéphane Nadal
So Beautiful Or So What 4:09 Paul Simon
One Billion Hands 4:05 Lourds Lane
Black Or White 3:19 Michael Jackson
Freedom (feat. Kendrick Lamar) 4:50 Beyoncé
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free 4:09 Derek Trucks Band
Woke Up This Morning 3:55 Ruthie Foster
Spiritual High, Pt. 3 5:14 Moodswings
Love Rescue Me 3:48 Playing For Change
MLK 2:34 U2

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2018 ~ The Interrelated Structure of Reality

Blackbird 3:09 Dionne Farris
I Shall Be Free 6:13 Kid Beyond
You Might Die Trying 4:44 Dave Matthews Band
Rattle And Hum 8.0 57
Interconnected (Dan Thomas Radio Edit) 4:45 Stéphane Nadal
So Beautiful Or So What 4:09 Paul Simon
One Billion Hands 4:05 Lourds Lane
Black Or White 3:19 Michael Jackson
Freedom (feat. Kendrick Lamar) 4:50 Beyoncé
Woke Up This Morning 3:55 Ruthie Foster
Spiritual High, Pt. 3 5:14 Moodswings
Love Rescue Me 3:48 Playing For Change

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2018, 11am ~ The Interrelated Structure of Reality ~ Look Around the Pain

We Are All Connected 7:07 Magic Sound Fabric
I Shall Be Free 6:13 Kid Beyond
I Know What I Know 3:13 Paul Simon
Pride (In The Name Of Love) 4:27 U2
Interconnected (Dan Thomas Radio Edit) 4:45 Stéphane Nadal
One Billion Hands 4:05 Lourds Lane
Waking the Spirits (African Travels Re-Awakening Remix) 5:56 Bob Holroyd
Once a Day (feat. Sonna Rele) 3:58 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Ain’t No Man 3:34 The Avett Brothers
Shine 4:12 Joshua
A Change Is Gonna Come 3:55 Seal
Imagine 3:27 Playing For Change
MLK 2:34 U2

Thursday, Jan 24, 2018, 840am ~ The Interrelated Structure of Reality ~ Look Around the Pain

We Are All Connected 7:07 Magic Sound Fabric
I Shall Be Free 6:13 Kid Beyond
I Know What I Know 3:13 Paul Simon
Interconnected (Dan Thomas Radio Edit) 4:45 Stéphane Nadal
One Billion Hands 4:05 Lourds Lane
Waking the Spirits (African Travels Re-Awakening Remix) 5:56 Bob Holroyd
Once a Day (feat. Sonna Rele) 3:58 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Ain’t No Man 3:34 The Avett Brothers
Shine 4:12 Joshua
A Change Is Gonna Come 3:55 Seal
Imagine 3:27 Playing For Change

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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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote from his Letter from a Birmingham Jail speaks to an essential truth: everything, all life, is interconnected. Everything affects everything else.

The examples are everywhere.
We know this in the body: when I have pain in my knee, it impacts my whole body.
We know this in our relationships: one angry member of the family impacts everybody.
We know this in on the Earth: the extinction of a species sends a ripple of change through an entire eco-system.
We know this in our society. As Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

To honor the work and life of Martin Luther King, expand your perspective. Notice with deep awareness how everything affects everything else.

And if you could use a little additional inspiration in these days of darkness and tumult, I recommend either reading or better yet, listening, to Dr. King’s Love Your Enemies sermon from November 17, 1957. This is a reminder I need every day.

For me, Martin Luther King Day is January’s bright spot.

The past couple of years, especially.

Every year, I hghlight an MLK quote and create a focus around it.

This year, I bring three.

Only the first isn’t actually an MLK quote.

Last January, I listened almost obsessively to Leonard Cohen’s song, Anthem. It struck me as the most beautiful and hopeful of songs in the middle of hopelessness. I think it speaks to our illusion of perfection. Our sense that we have to have it all together before we can really do anything.

One of the downsides of having a hero like MLK, is that we think we have to be as great as he was in order to make any positive change in the world.

Which is snorgle hockey, of course. But we forget. Cohen’s song reminds us that we just have to bring what we have.

It’s okay to be a mess. Everything’s a mess.

Thank you to Laura DeVault for reminding me about Cohen’s genius song but for pointing me to this wonderful Dharma talk by Sharon Beckman-Brindley from a couple of weeks ago that uses the song as a jumping off point. Check it out here. It is well worth the listen.

As is the song. Even if you’ve heard it before. Listen again. 

And from the man himself:

I love the idea of a “disciplined nonconformist.” Not someone who is bucking the system just to do it, but someone who is discerning, acting from their own sense of value and not afraid to go a different way than the crowd. Nia movers know all about this: our practice is all about sensing first, then acting rather than following for the sake of it.

Be a disciplined nonconformist and ring the bells.

I thought I was going to make a third piece of art around a third quote. But nope. It didn’t happen. Lots of other things happened this week, but not that. I guess I can forget my perfect offering.

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A couple of weeks ago I got a message from my friend, Pam:

Hi Susan, Manu wanted me to tell you about a show he just watched, The O.A., and he thought of you. If you haven’t seen it, you might want to check it out on Netflix, as he describes it as “a metaphysical show about the power of movement.”

Pam and her husband, Manu are religious studies/Buddhist studies scholars who are also fascinated with popular art and culture. When Oscar night comes around, for example, they’ve already seen every nominated film and they have rich, thought-provoking things to say about each one.

A recommendation from Pam and Manu, then, is serious stuff … but with the lure of “the power of movement”? My husband and I had the first episode of The OA queued up to watch that very night.

We devoured all eight episodes in less than a week. Its unusual story line, unconventional storytelling style, excellent acting with a tendency toward mysterious loose ends all appealed to me. But even if I hadn’t loved it, the whole thing would have been worth watching for the incredible and (literally) moving last scene.

No spoilers, but if someone asked me what The OA was about, I would say:

Two different sets of five people
each person is isolated and alone (for a variety of reasons)
each group comes together to learn 5 movements
when those movements are moved together
magic happens

Intellect and thinking are highly prized in our culture while the wisdom and power of movement is hardly even an afterthought. Physical movement that is revered in Western culture is centered on sports and competition. Domination and winning is everything. Collaboration and connection are only considered in the context of a team working toward that winning and domination. Even dancing is turned into a win-lose competition.

By overlooking the wisdom of moving individually and together, our culture clouds the truth of our interconnectedness and dismisses one of the joys of being human. The simple fact that each of us has a body gives us the fundamental right to the pleasure and power of moving uniquely and the pleasure and power of moving together.

Often, when I’m preparing to teach, I choreograph alone in my studio. The movements feel good and connected to the music, but nothing ever prepares me for what happens when a room full of people do those movements together. Each in their own particular way, and all together. It is breath taking. Every single time.

What’s true in the body is true in all realms.

BOTH
I am my own rescue. – Lisa Nichols
(click here for her interview with Steve Harvey)
AND
We are all just walking each other home. ~ Ram Dass

Life is full of paradox. Here’s a big one: we are all responsible for ourselves and we are utterly and inextricably connected to each other. Each side of this paradox is absolutely true. American culture celebrates self-sufficiency and independence to such a degree, though, that we forget that it is impossible to separate ourselves from each other. Impossible.

Martin Luther King Jr., whose life and work we celebrate this week, spoke to this paradox in his 1963 letter from a Birmingham jail:

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds. (my emphasis)

If suffering or injustice doesn’t precisely effect us, it’s easy to turn away. But that choice is a turning away from ourselves. The adage “every man for himself” is based on a deep misunderstanding of the inherent interconnection of all life. Instead of freezing or ignoring, bring all your particular skills, talents, and gifts and participate in the movement of everyone.

Dance your own dance and dance it together.


PS: Manu writes a blog about religion and pop culture and one of his recent posts was about The OA (check it out here but note that unlike me he DOES include a spoiler).

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Thanks to everybody who came out to move mindfully on these chilly days and for warming our hearts by honoring Dr. King. We also played with songs from the new routine, Pulse, that I’ll be rolling out in the next week and from the old routine, Spiritual High, that Anne & Mary Linn & I will be teaching at our Jam…which is not happening tomorrow.

Because, snow.

You may have heard about this snow storm that is supposed to hit our area tomorrow. 🙂 As a result, we’ve rescheduled the Jam and I’ve rescheduled my dance. sit. write. draw. workshop. See the details below. In general, please check the acac website for all the latest information about closings and classes.

What better thing to do on a snowy weekend than to go to Spotify and listen to our playlists! You can do that for free at Spotify! Sign up for free, follow me at “susanmcculley” and you’ll find my public playlists ~ just click and listen! I’m particularly loving the song I Am You by Kareem Salama (his name means Generous Peace), an American Muslim born in Oklahoma. In this song, he sings in both English and Arabic.

Below are the playlists for the week, but first here are some groovy things you want to know about:

• Winter Nia Jam: Spiritual High with Anne, Mary Linn & Susan ~ RESCHEDULED FOR Friday, February 5, 545-7pm at acac downtown

DUE TO THE INCOMING STORM, WE HAVE RESCHEDULED THE WINTER JAM TO FEBRUARY 5. SEE YOU THEN… We are returning to the music and focus of a long-ago Nia routine originally created around 1995 by our teacher, Carlos Rosas. Together, we’ll create a new take on the music, movement and magic. Free for members and members can bring a friend for free!

• dance. sit. write. draw. Saturday, February 20, 2016 – RESCHEDULED DUE TO INCOMING STORM! STILL ROOM TO JOIN US!

We’re dancing, sitting and writing again and this time, we’re drawing, too! Join me for a day of exploration at the intersection of movement, stillness and creativity. Find all the information at http://www.susanmcculley.com/workshops-retreats/ and register at http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop/dance-sit-write-draw-day-retreat-1 on http://www.susanmcculley.com

• TEDx Charlottesville Talks Available Now on YouTube!

In November, I had the great good fortune to coach two of the amazing TEDx speakers at the Charlottesville talks. Elliott Woods’ talk on war and veterans changed the way I see and appreciate those who serve in the military. Leslie Blackhall’s talk on end of life, changed the way I think about dying and the way I make choices every day. I hope you’ll watch them. You can see Elliott’s talk here and Leslie’s here. And there are LOTS more incredible talks from the Cville event. Just go to YouTube.com and search for “TEDx Charlottesville 2015” to see them all.

• Two Essays Published by Elephant Journal!

I’m delighted and excited to say that elephant journal has picked up two of my essays this week. Whew! You can check out the one about Intentions vs. Resolutions here and the one about the wisdom of Martin Luther King, Jr. here. Help out a budding writer by reading and sharing!

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, Jan 18, 2016, 1045am ~ Legacy of Love: Martin Luther King Day

Freedom 3:07 Madonna
I Shall Be Free 6:13 Kid Beyond
The Obvious Child 4:10 Paul Simon
You Might Die Trying 4:44 Dave Matthews Band
One World, One People 4:43 Xcultures
Pride (In The Name Of Love) 4:27 U2
So Beautiful Or So What 4:09 Paul Simon
Higher Ground 3:22 Red Hot Chili Peppers
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free 4:09 Derek Trucks Band
Spiritual High, Pt. 3 5:14 Moodswings
Woke Up This Morning 3:55 Ruthie Foster
Shed a Little Light 3:43 Maccabeats & Naturally 7
Imagine 3:27 Playing For Change
MLK 2:34 U2

Tuesday, Jan 19, 2016, 840am ~ Legacy of Love

Here We Go 5:59 Deep Dive Corp. Ft. Hush Forever
Beautiful (Radio Mix) 3:54 Audio Adrenaline
Just the Way You Are 3:41 Bruno Mars
You Might Die Trying 4:44 Dave Matthews Band
Pride (In The Name Of Love) 4:27 U2
So Beautiful Or So What 4:09 Paul Simon
Born This Way 4:20 Lady Gaga
Higher Ground 3:22 Red Hot Chili Peppers
Inspection (Check One) 6:29 Leftfield
Everythings Gonna Be Alright 4:33 The Baby Sitters Circus
Love Rescue Me 3:48 Playing For Change
Plegaria para el Alma de Layla 3:19 Pedro Aznar

Wednesday, Jan 20, 2016, 11am ~ Legacy of Love: Love Like a Signal

Here We Go 5:59 Deep Dive Corp. Ft. Hush Forever
The Flame 6:51 Deep Dive Corp.
Heartbreaker 5:24 Crazy P
Born This Way 4:20 Lady Gaga
Take It Easy 3:32 Eagles
Spiritual High Part I 10:09 Moodswings
Inspection (Check One) 6:29 Leftfield
Everythings Gonna Be Alright 4:33 The Baby Sitters Circus
I Am You 4:50 Kareem Salama
Shed a Little Light 3:43 Maccabeats & Naturally 7
Love Rescue Me 3:48 Playing For Change

Thursday, Jan 21, 2016, 840am ~ Legacy of Love: Love Like a Signal

Here We Go 5:59 Deep Dive Corp. Ft. Hush Forever
The Flame 6:51 Deep Dive Corp.
Heartbreaker 5:24 Crazy P
Spiritual High Part I 10:09 Moodswings
Inspection (Check One) 6:29 Leftfield
Fever (Adam Freeland Extended Remix) 7:03 Sarah Vaughan
Everythings Gonna Be Alright 4:33 The Baby Sitters Circus
I Am You 4:50 Kareem Salama
MLK 2:34 U2 The Unforgettable Fire (Super Deluxe Edition)

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!

MLK your day 011816
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.

Martin Luther King, Jr. lived an extraordinary life. He was, of course, a great teacher, preacher, leader, activist. But he was also a man. As we honor his life and his legacy of love, I often feel intimidated by all he did and the lasting positive impact of his work. I think, “I could never do that.”

For this week’s Art in Action, let’s follow six quotes from Dr. King and remember that we can all make a positive difference if we act in the name of love. Even small acts of love ripple out – from ourselves, to our lives, our communities, and ultimately our world.

1. “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Yourself –
Two or three times today, ask how you can offer yourself service. Treat yourself like a friend. Do yourself a kindness. Make yourself a cup of soup. Take a break from your screen in the middle of the day to stretch. Read that article you want to read.

Others – Look at a chore or an aspect of your job that feels like an annoyance, a drag or even a dread. Can you see that chore as service? Reframe the work in terms of who you are helping and the gift you are offering by doing it.

2. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Yourself – If something matters to you, say something. Especially if you tend to let others’ needs come before your own, make a point of speaking up for yourself. You don’t have to be all bossy pants about it, but if it matters, say so.

Others – Pay particular kindness to someone with less power than you (perhaps a child, an elderly person, an immigrant or a waiter/cashier). See them, thank them, help them, if you can. And if you notice that someone with less power than you is being mistreated — in a small or big way — stand up for them. Staying silent is complicity.

3. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”

Yourself – We all make choices that run against our intentions, goals and even our best interests. Instead of seeing yourself as your own worst enemy, see if you can look at those choices with love. What need is at the heart of the “enemy” choice? Is the choice for more cookies actually a need for comfort? Is the procrastination around a difficult work project actually a need for freedom? Is the frustration with a child or partner a need for clear communication? Make friends with the need at the root of the “enemy” choices by approaching them with love.

Others – Seek out someone who disagrees with you…and treat them with love. Suspend your judgment and hear them out. Listen carefully to what they are saying and to what is at the root of their position. Have a conversation with someone on the other side of a political position, participate in an online discussion of something you care about, read a news source that you don’t usually read. Be as open and kind to the other side as you can. You may learn something about them and about yourself that you didn’t know before. (For more on this, check out this great piece, “The ‘Other Side’ is not Dumb.”)

4, 5, 6. (The Love/Hate Triumvirate)

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

“Hatred paralyses life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”

I used to date a man whose friends joked that he “hated everything.” He hated certain football teams. He hated bar soap. He hated squash. He hated people who had more money than he did. He hated it when Christmas was over. He definitely hated a truckload of politicians. After a while, all that hate was tough to be around. For me, his hate was too great a burden to bear.

Notice if you find yourself bristling at or hating something. Whatever it is, experiment with loving it instead. Hate your knees because they hurt when you go down stairs? See how they feel when you love them for getting you around the best they can. Hate traffic that snarls your morning commute? See how it feels to love the luxury of having a car and living in a thriving community. Hate the politicians on the other side? See how it feels to love them for doing their best – and get behind those who are motivated by love. They are the ones who will lead us to freedom.

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FUN NEWS: elephant journal picked up two of my essays! As an aspiring writer, I’m delighted to share my work with more people, so I would love it if you would check them out by clicking here and here and if you think they would be of benefit, please share them! I am grateful for your help in spreading the word!

“Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

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In celebration of Martin Luther King Day on Monday, this week’s post is published on elephant journal! Please click here to read it and if you’re moved, please share it with anyone who might benefit.

And if you’d like more MLK inspiration, enjoy these two archived posts on his legacy of love. Find one here that features new glasses and foot walking and other acts of love and a super short one (and one of my favorites) here.

Happy Martin Luther King Day.

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