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I know how she felt. I’ve been in plenty of classes when I was hating on something. The room is too hot or someone throws open the window to winter winds. The music is too loud or I can’t hear it or it’s that annoying screechy electronic or repetitive Native American stuff. The teacher isn’t cueing enough or he’s talking too much.

And those are just my grumbles in Nia classes.

The list of things I’ve hated in life is laughably wide-ranging. It includes (but is certainly not limited to) pants without pockets, any nuts or fruit in stuffing, missed free throws, television in the morning, smoking, climate change protesters who drive Suburbans, and okra in anything.

Oh yes. I hate all kinds of things. So I know exactly where she is coming from when she approaches me after class and says, “What do I do if I hate it?”

She is quick to point out that she usually enjoys my classes but the freedance song I played that day, she really, really hated. So what should she do?

We all have preferences. Everybody likes some things and dislikes others. That’s just the way people roll. The problem isn’t preferences. The problem is what we do with them.

My freedance-hating friend wondered if she should leave the room when I play a song she doesn’t like. Or if she should ask me not to use that song/artist/genre in my classes. Or she could hum another song to herself to block out the song she hates.

The options are endless and I’ve heard them all.

“Don’t do freedance.”
“Do all freedance.”
“That music is objectively awful.”
“Those movements are too difficult.”
“Don’t make us get on the floor.”
“Do a whole class on the floor.”

And those are just things I’ve said (usually to myself but not always).

In Buddhism, avoiding that which we don’t like and clinging to that which we do is called shenpa. Traditionally, shenpa is translated as “attachment” but I prefer (ha!) Pema Chodron’s definition “being hooked.” She says,

It’s an everyday experience. … At the subtlest level, we feel a tightening, a tensing, a sense of closing down. Then we feel a sense of withdrawing, not wanting to be where we are. That’s the hooked quality. That tight feeling has the power to hook us into self-denigration, blame, anger, jealousy and other emotions which lead to words and actions that end up poisoning us. … Someone looks at us in a certain way, or we hear a certain song, we smell a certain smell, we walk into a certain room and boom. The feeling has nothing to do with the present, and nevertheless, there it is.  (see Pema’s post on shenpa here.)

When I began teaching, I knew not everyone would love my classes and I pretended that was fine. Bull hockey. I wanted everybody to love my classes all the time. If they didn’t like something, I would change it so they would. You can imagine how well that went.

Instead, the most skillful choice when we are hating something is to lean into it, to feel the direct experience of it without pushing it away, without running, without ignoring it. As Pema says,

The way to dissolve our resistance to life is to meet it face to face. When we feel resentment because the room is too hot, we could meet the heat and feel its fieriness and its heaviness. When we feel resentment because the room is too cold, we could meet the cold and feel its iciness and its bite. When we want to complain about the rain, we could feel its wetness instead. When we worry because the wind is shaking our windows, we could meet the wind and hear its sound. Cutting our expectations for a cure is a gift we can give ourselves. There is no cure for hot and cold. They will go on forever. (from When Things Fall Apart)

So when she asks, “What do I do if I hate it?” I answer, “Feel that feeling. Where is it in your body? Is it tight or hot or jangling? Work with that. Dance that feeling. Are you angry or annoyed or irritated? Use what is actually happening in the moment and go with that.” The ability to meet whatever it is – whether we love it or hate it – is skillful action — and it’s a skill I wish I’d learned a long time ago.

Perhaps paradoxically, by neither clinging nor pushing away, we can taste the uniqueness of the moment and actually be in our lives without wanting to be somewhere else. When you hate it, love on the hate.

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New heARTful Action Post at http://www.susanmcculley.com/heartful-blog/ !

“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.Please note that heARTful Action is its own blog now, separate from Focus Pocus. Please find it here where you can sign up to receive posts directly. And if they are helpful to you, please do pass them on.

On the day after the election, my beloved friend and yoga teacher, Amy Kidd read a parable from Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron called How To Defeat Fear:

Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. (Continue reading here.)

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“We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged enough or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect. But from the point of view of someone who is awake, that’s death. Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and whole, self contained and comfortable, is some kind of death. It doesn’t have any fresh air. There’s no room for something to come in and interrupt all that. We are killing the moment by controlling our experience.” – Pema Chödrön, from When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

Perfection is seductive and destructive. Seductive in that we think we will be safe if we are perfect (nope). Destructive in that striving for perfection sucks the life out of everything (yuck). This week we played with dancing tight but loose and messing it up to breathe some life into our attachement to getting it right (whew). Plus Justin Timberlake (yum).

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

And first the announce-y things:

• ACAC Nia Schedule changes starting January 2, 2017
While all my classes will remain the same in January, there are several changes to the overall schedule:
– Rachel H will now teach the Tuesday, 535-635pm class at the Square
– Mary Linn will resume teaching the Thursday, 630-730pm class at the Square
– Anne will offer a new 5 Stages of Self Healing class Downtown on Friday mornings 830-9am (and her 9-1010am class will stay the same)
– Mary Linn will start a new class on Friday evenings Downtown in Studio A: 545-6pm Nia 101, 6-7pm class
– Jeanne C will now teach the Sunday, 1245-145pm class at the Square
– Loring M’s downtown Sunday class will now go from 315-430pm
There are also some special guest teachers making plans to come to Charlottesville! More on that soon.

• NEW ACAC Club Hours starting January 2, 2017
Starting January 2, acac Charlottesville hours will be:
mon-fri 5am – 10pm
sat & sun 7am – 7pm

New Kids Zone Hours
mon-fri 8:30am – 2pm & 3:30 – 8pm
sat 7:45am – 4pm
sun 9am – 6pm

• heARTful action ~ Join Us!
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. Our intention: We are 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
There is still some space for dance.sit.create 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. $125 / please register 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, Jan 2, 2017, 1045am ~ Dead Perfect

Aquarius 4:48 Hair, the Musical
What I Got 3:21 Gift Of Gab, Michael Franti & Spearhead
When Doves Cry 4:04 The Be Good Tanyas
Wristband 3:18 Paul Simon
Jogando Capoeira 6:20 Beatfanatic
Oye Como Va (Latin/Trance Mix) 4:17 Celia Cruz
Steal Drum 7:07 The Martin Brothers
Perfect 3:41 Fairground Attraction
Everythings Gonna Be Alright 4:33 The Baby Sitters Circus
Beauty & the East (Banco de Gaia Remix) 6:51 Bombay Dub Orchestra
What a Year for a New Year 4:06 Dan Wilson
Circlesong 6 7:50 Bobby McFerrin

Tuesday, Jan 3, 2017, 840am ~ Dead Perfect

Aquarius 4:48 Hair, the Musical
What I Got 3:21 Gift Of Gab, Michael Franti & Spearhead
When Doves Cry 4:04 The Be Good Tanyas
Wristband 3:18 Paul Simon
Jogando Capoeira 6:20 Beatfanatic
Oye Como Va (Latin/Trance Mix) 4:17 Celia Cruz
CAN’T STOP THE FEELING! 3:58 Justin Timberlake
Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars) 4:31 Mark Ronson
Everythings Gonna Be Alright 4:33 The Baby Sitters Circus
Beauty & the East (Banco de Gaia Remix) 6:51 Bombay Dub Orchestra
What a Year for a New Year 4:06 Dan Wilson

Wednesday, Jan 4, 2017, 11am ~ Dead Perfect

Wish U Were Here 6:12 Bliss
Let The Groove Get In 7:12 Justin Timberlake
Wristband 3:18 Paul Simon
What Do You Say 5:00 Haley
Oye Como Va (Latin/Trance Mix) 4:17 Celia Cruz
CAN’T STOP THE FEELING! 3:58 Justin Timberlake
Wake Me Up 4:10 Avicii
The Sound Of Winter 3:27 Bush
Drop It Low 3:45 Kat DeLuna
Fly 3:33 Bart Hafeman
Elephant (Dub) 6:07 Spiral System
Beauty & the East (Banco de Gaia Remix) 6:51 Bombay Dub Orchestra
Serengeti (Bliss Mix) 5:30 Infernal

Thursday, Jan 5, 2017, 840am ~ Dead Perfect

Wish U Were Here 6:12 Bliss
Let The Groove Get In 7:12 Justin Timberlake
Wristband 3:18 Paul Simon
What Do You Say 5:00 Haley
Oye Como Va (Latin/Trance Mix) 4:17 Celia Cruz
CAN’T STOP THE FEELING! 3:58 Justin Timberlake
Wake Me Up 4:10 Avicii
Drop It Low 3:45 Kat DeLuna
Fly 3:33 Bart Hafeman
Beauty & the East (Banco de Gaia Remix) 6:51 Bombay Dub Orchestra
Gentle Exit 4:15 The Happening*

* This is brand new music from one of Jamie Catto’s creative projects! You can find it here.

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!

hillel-keep-dancing“I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing.” – Daniel Hillel

She texts: “Happy New Year! I am so in need of a Nia class and was hoping to come to your class tomorrow…”
I text back: “Oooh! Yes, please!”

My friend Susan has moved back to town. She was one of my first Nia teachers until she moved to Seattle years ago. In 2006, we did our Black Belt training together. Even though she’s been far away, I have stayed fond of and lightly connected to her.

Now she’s coming to class.

I know myself. I’ve been in this situation before. I know how I get when I want things to go a certain way. I want things to go perfectly. I want to welcome Susan to our community and I want to teach well in her presence. I’m also working on a new routine which can sometimes be a bumpy ride.

So I do what usually do: I over prepare. This time, though, I see that I’m doing it. I tweak and tweak the playlist. I practice my choreography. I plan what I want to say. I see what I’m doing but I do it anyway.

When I get to class, she’s there and beautiful and radiant like she is. I’m relaxed since I TOTALLY know what I’m doing and how it’s going to go (perfectly, right?). I set up the room, choose some upbeat welcome music and clip on the mic. I stand in front of the class and I welcome Susan to Charlottesville.

So smooth, am I.

I glide to the stereo to start my perfectly perfect playlist and … it’s not there. I’ve somehow synced the wrong music. I have a playlist but it’s not the one I’d planned. The class waits quietly.

“Okay, Universe / The Gods / Nia,” I laugh to myself. “Thanks for the reminder. This is not going to be perfect. That’s cool. Let’s see what happens.”

I take a breath. We start dancing.

Then the mic cuts out. And comes back. And then cuts out again. We keep dancing while I change the batteries.

A few songs later and I realize that this playlist is 10 minutes too short for this class. I need to add more music somehow. While we’re free dancing to Brown Eyed Girl, I find a song to insert. I make a joke about “a little iPod burp” as I fumble with the plugging and unplugging and we keep dancing. Near the end and I’m still short so we dance into a meditation to a sweet, contemplative David Wilcox song.

And then class is over. It wasn’t perfect…it was alive.

In her classic book When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, Pema Chödrön, writes:

We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged enough or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect. But from the point of view of someone who is awake, that’s death. Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and whole, self contained and comfortable, is some kind of death. It doesn’t have any fresh air. There’s no room for something to come in and interrupt all that. We are killing the moment by controlling our experience.

The class didn’t go as I’d planned, thank goodness. It was alive not in spite of the snafus and missteps but because of them. There was space for laughter and breath and singing to Van Morrison. It had fresh air.

Perfect is an illusion. Perfect is dead.

Part of me does know this. I know that life is stepping into the river and letting go of the shore. I know this, I do. But evidently, I need reminders.

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One of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had was on the streets of Boston’s North End. I wasn’t mugged and no mafia bosses wanted me to sleep with the fishes, but it scared the life out of me just the same.

On a Sunday afternoon, my boyfriend and I were double-parked in front of our apartment so we could unload our car. As much as Bostonians love hockey, football, and baseball, their two favorite sports are double parking and yelling at each other for double parking. So it was no surprise that a man in a Jeep pulled into our street and yelled about how stupid we were for parking like that. What was surprising was when my boyfriend, John, said something back to him, the guy jumped out of his car, flew across the sidewalk and smacked John in the face.

As scary and upsetting as this was, it was only then that the truly terrifying thing happened: I. Lost. My. Mind.

In a flash of white hot rage, I ran up to the man, got inches from his face, and screamed at him about his cowardice and lack of intellectual acuity (not my actual words). I bumped his chest with mine. I told him what a craven loser I thought he was. I dared him to hit me. He didn’t. Instead, he spit some hot words and drove away.

What terrified me wasn’t the angry Boston driver. It was me. I had no idea I had a lunatic living just under my skin. No idea about the fire in me that could be released so fast. It wasn’t the fight with a stranger but my own explosive fury that scared the bejeezus out of me.

Compare my story with one of my favorites from “Flip the Script,” an episode in the latest season of the Invisibilia podcast*: two families gather on a summer night on a backyard terrace for dinner and celebration. In the midst of their happy evening, a man walks into their midst with a gun. He points it at one of the women and tells them that if they don’t give him all their money, he will shoot her. But the group was outside, having a meal. No one had any money. None. The gunman didn’t believe them and ramped up his threats.

Then a woman at the table spoke up. “Will you have a glass of wine with us?”

Her question disarmed him in every sense. He put down his gun, had a glass of wine, ate a little cheese and asked for a hug. He thanked them and quietly left, gently setting his empty glass on the steps as he walked away.

Psychologists call the woman’s offer of wine noncomplementarity or doing the opposite of what the other is doing. The most natural response in any interaction is complementary behavior: to treat the other person as they treat you. If they are kind, it’s most natural to be kind back. If they are aggressive to you, well, remember me and the Boston guy?

But sometimes, the most powerful thing to do is noncomplementary: to get out of sync with the other.

Noncomplemenarity isn’t easy. It requires us to override our natural instinct and intuition. And as the Invisibilia story (ans any nonviolent protest from Gandhi to civil rights) points out, making that unnatural choice can completely turn situations around.

Buddhists call it tonglen: a practice which Pema Chödrön describes as “…a method for connecting with suffering—ours and that which is all around us…. a method for overcoming fear of suffering and for dissolving the tightness of our heart.”
(read a helpful article about tonglen by Ani Pema here.)

Simply stated, tonglen is the practice of breathing in suffering and breathing out ease for that suffering. (Do a short tonglen practice with her here.)

My favorite description of tonglen and the one I return to over and over comes from the book How Yoga Works by Geshe Michael Roach**. In it, we imagine suffering as inky black tar around the heart of another. As we breathe in, we draw the sticky black suffering out of their heart and pull it into the flame of our own heart which explodes the blackness into white light.

We can practice tonglen or noncomplementarity whenever we encounter suffering: in our own bodies or minds, in relationships with our nearest or with strangers, in our communities and organizations, and in animals and the environment, in countries and the world. Instead of meeting suffering with suffering, instead of turning away, meet suffering with the heat and light of the heart.

The fire that exploded in me on that Boston street was instinct and reflex. I regret it as it felt terrible and did nothing to put more love into the world. Although I haven’t witnessed that kind of attack since then, I see and am aware suffering every single day. I do my best to practice and breathe and use my flame as best I can.

It doesn’t always work. I can still get lit up with all kinds of complementarity especially when I see someone inflicting suffering on someone else. But I practice now with the intention of using my fire more skillfully to burn away suffering’s black toxic tar wherever it is happening.


* Did you click on the link to the Invisibilia show? The whole episode is great but at the very least, listen to the actual participants tell the story. Click here.

** I’ve included the complete passage from How Yoga Works by Geshe Michael Roach here as it is visceral and powerful. May it be of benefit.

“’Inside your heart is a tiny red flame, like the flame at the top of a candle. This flame is the power of our selfishness – the habit we have of taking care of ourselves first, and neglecting what others need or want….Look into the Sergeant’s heart. Right there in the middle is a dark, rotten little pool of blackness. It is his sadness, it is his pain; it is the reason why he drinks, and it is his drinking….You want to take this pain away from him, forever. It’s the compassion we spoke about before; it is the real reason why you are doing yoga. And you decide that you want to take his black pain away so badly that you would even take it into yourself, if it meant you could save him from it….And so you begin to take say seven long, slow breaths. The first time you breathe in, that little evil pool of darkness in the center of the Sergeant’s heart stirs and moves; it starts to rise up out of his body, like an ugly cloud of blackness. And as you take more breaths it is sucked up out of his chest, up his throat, and then out of his nostrils. And knowing you would take it on yourself to save him from it, you take all his drunken misery in that little cloud of darkness and you keep breathing it in, and in again, drawing it towards your own face. And then hold it there, just outside your own nostrils….And now something will happen; it will happen a little quickly and so you have to concentrate well upon this part. In one breath you will suck the blackness in through your own nose; you will take it upon yourself. The blackness will come down your throat, into your chest and then slowly – very slowly – it will approach the little red flame of your selfishness: the part of you that would never even imagine taking away someone else’s pain, if it meant having it yourself instead. And the blackness floats slowly towards the edge of the flame, and then suddenly the black makes contact with the red, and there is a burst of beautiful golden light, like a bolt of lightning shining in the purest gold. And in that moment, because you are willing, in that moment, to swallow all the Sergeant’s pain into yourself, the crimson fire of your own selfishness is extinguished, forever. It is gone. And in this explosion too the blackness of the Sergeant’s pain is destroyed: destroyed for him, destroyed for you, destroyed forever. For this is the power, the power of the grace of selfless compassion for others.” (How Yoga Works by Geshe Michael Roach pp 93-95)

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“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Hard Times

When I was a teenager, I took every art class that my little rural Connecticut high school offered. I painted and drew and made silk screens and prints. I took weaving and mixed media and pottery.

I even learned how to throw pots on a wheel.

I was terrible at it. I never made anything bigger or more interesting than a thick, squat, jar-ish thing. And while I wanted to make thin, light tea cups and tall, elegant vases, what I really loved was the feeling of working at the wheel. There was something satisfying about thumping a clump of clay onto the middle of the wheel, getting it slick slippery wet then bracing my elbow against my leg and centering the bumpy clump into a smooth-spinning column of clay.

Then, pressing into the spinning center with thumb and fingers, I would experiment with pulling up sides on the bowl/jar/cup. What I found (over and over) was that I’d be gently pulling up the little wall of clay and it would seem to be going fine. Then something somewhere would come slightly out of center and — whump-whump-schlump — it would fly apart into a bowl/jar/cup tangle. Hunks and chunks of my piece flung in all directions.

I’ve returned to Pema Chodron’s quote about coming together and flying apart many times in the past week. Every time I read it, I see myself hunched over the wheel, gathering the clay together into a cohesive mass, beginning to create something when it suddenly flies to pieces. Then I see my young, perfectionist self, frustrated, shaking my head at my lack of skill, picking up the stray clay hunks and pressing them together to start again.

“Things come together and fly apart. It’s just like that.”

If I’d known about Ani Pema’s teachings then, I would have been cranky and petulant about it. Who am I kidding? I’m still cranky and petulant that my life and the world doesn’t spin into the shape I want it to. I have a vision for how I want it to turn out and how sweet it will be to sip from the cup of my perfect design, but the wheel has other plans. There are irrefutable forces at work that I simply have to work with.

Like it or not, it is the way. Nature is constantly cycling in this way. Waves gather and organize themselves only to scatter on the beach. Plants collapse in and then expand out. Our bodies do it, too. Our blood collects in at the heart and then flies to every cell from fingertip to toe. Breath pulls in and then flies out. Every relationship you have is in some stage of pulling together and separating apart. The entire Universe is constantly expanding and contracting on all scales from incomprehensibly small to unfathomably big.

The cycle is everywhere, happening all the time in everything and yet I resist it. I resist it the most in myself. This week, I’ve fought back tears for fear that once I started crying, I wouldn’t stop. I feel waves (tsunamis sometimes) of anger that I feel like they will consume me. But of course, that isn’t what happens. The tears subside, the anger cools…and then it comes back again. And as Ani Pema teaches, The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

It’s silly to fight it. And yet I do. Even 35 years out from high school and my pot-throwing days, I’m still frustrated by the cycle. I want things solid and stable and as I like them. I’m afraid of the flying apart. Ani Pema’s words remind me to keep coming back and keep making room for all of it.

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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:

• heARTful: a space for the artist in everybody ~ a 3-minute survey
Rebecca George and I are launching a new creative adventure and we would love your input! Please take this 3-minute, 3-question survey: let’s build it together! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YT9R3VJ

• 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 projects 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!

• SPACES LEFT! Going Below The Surface: Nia, Yin Yoga & Words Saturday, November 12, 1-4pm
REGISTER NOW, 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.
Space is limited. Register now at either acac Albemarle Square (434.978.3800) or Downtown (434.984.3800) ~ NOV 12 WORKSHOP IS AT ALBEMARLE SQUARE!
$60 members, $65 non-members

• Thanksgiving Day Nia with Susan! Thursday, Nov 24, 8:30-9:30am
Start your day of gratitude with dancing! Join Susan for an inspired hour of mindful movement and enthusiastic tail-feather shaking on Thursday, November 24 from 8:30-9:30am (not 8:40am, y’all). Bring a friend or visiting family ~ guests come for FREE on the holiday! Or sneak out for a little sweaty You Time. Happy Thanksgiving!

• 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.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1005937516202153/1005937536202151/?notif_t=like&notif_id=1478023288853680
“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 http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop/w9knh9ft0g5o6c7jwh6741t07b0t5o

• Art prints now available on Susan’s web site!
New art now available on my web site! Inspired by the dance.sit.create. retreats, these pieces are part meditation, part inspiration, part poetry. Printed on heavy matte paper with original signatures, may they be reminders for creative connection. Free shipping to US addresses. For other options, please inquire! http://www.susanmcculley.com/shop/

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 7, 2016, 1045am ~ Your Relationship with Now

Love Will Find a Way 3:43 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Nourah 6:51 Makyo
Dubuasca (with Michael Kang) 6:55 Bassnectar
Smokey Quartz 6:59 Shakatura
Braided Hair 4:03 Neneh Cherry/Speech
Sometimes 4:06 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Shadowman 6:36 Afro Celt Sound System
All People (feat. Gina René) 4:09 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Wherever You Are 3:15 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Good to Be Alive Today 4:15 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Gratitude 6:27 Jamie Catto & Alex Forster

Tuesday, Nov 8, 2016, 840am ~ Your Relationship with Now

Love Will Find a Way 3:43 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Nourah 6:51 Makyo
Smokey Quartz 6:59 Shakatura
Braided Hair 4:03 Neneh Cherry/Speech
Sometimes 4:06 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Shadowman 6:36 Afro Celt Sound System
All People (feat. Gina René) 4:09 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Wherever You Are 3:15 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Good to Be Alive Today 4:15 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Gratitude 6:27 Jamie Catto & Alex Forster

Wednesday, Nov 9, 2016, 11am ~ Your Relationship with Now

Passing Through 5:19 Bob Holroyd
Journeyman – AO 6:41 Bob Holroyd
Vision: O Euchari In Leta Via 6:08 Hildegard von Bingen
Desert Wind 7:48 Banco de Gaia
Raag Trance 5:32 Biddu
Domination 7:26 Peace Orchestra
Central Reservation [Ben Watt Mix] 4:02 Beth Orton
Hey World (Don’t Give Up Version) 4:09 Michael Franti & Spearhead
The Sheer Weight of Memory 5:28 Bob Holroyd
Hide And Seek 4:22 Imogen Heap

How to Defeat Fear by Pema Chödrön
“Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, ‘May I have permission to go into battle with you?’ Fear said, ‘Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.’ Then the young warrior said, ‘How can I defeat you?’ Fear replied, ‘My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.’ In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear.”

Thursday, Nov 10, 2016, 840am ~ Your Relationship with Now

Dunya Salam 2:55 Baaba Maal
My Culture 5:39 Maxi Jazz/Robbie Williams
I Shall Be Free 6:13 Kid Beyond
Ma’ Africa 4:49 Mahotella Queens/Ulali
Braided Hair 4:03 Neneh Cherry/Speech
Sometimes 4:06 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Sometimes 5:14 Kaskade
Radio Nowhere 3:19 Bruce Springsteen
Passion 5:46 Michael Franti
Holy War 4:22 Alicia Keys
Lux Aurumque 4:16 Eric Whitacre Singers

May the roots of suffering diminish. May warfare, violence,
neglect, indifference, and addictions also decrease.
May the wisdom and compassion of all beings increase, now
and in the future.
May we clearly see all the barriers we erect between ourselves
and others to be as insubstantial as our dreams.
May we appreciate the great perfection of all phenomena.
May we continue to open our hearts and minds, in order to
work ceaselessly for the benefit of all beings.
May we go to the places that scare us.
May we lead the life of a warrior.
~ Pema Chodron, The places That Scare You, A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

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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