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When I was a girl, my Nana had a wooden toy box in her living room full of old, unusual, fascinating things. There was an antique tin top with a plunger that would spin like crazy. There was an old set of tiddlywinks that were worth playing with just to say the word out loud. There was a classic set of Barrel Full of Monkeys.

But my favorite toy in Nana’s box was a kaleidoscope.

I could sit in the sun on her scratchy orange sofa and look through that thing for hours. (If you’ve never played with a kaleidoscope, here’s what it looks like when you look into it and turn it.)

“Life is like an ever-shifting kaleidoscope – a slight change, and all patterns alter.” – Sharon Salzberg

Our mindful movement practice reveals that all parts of the human body are connected. A movement in any part impacts them all. A misalignment in one place reverberates through your whole form. If one part of the body is in pain, instead of narrowing our attention only to that one part, the real practice and healing come from expanding our attention to the whole system. Sharon Salzberg reminds us that life is the same way.

Unbeknownst to us, when parking our beloved Le Que camper last fall, the roof got a crack in it that has left it open to the elements…for the whole winter. Which was, here in Virginia, the wettest winter on record. The inside of the framing is utterly soaked and ruined. The insurance company confirmed that it is a total loss.

It felt like a punch in the stomach. Traveling together in Le Que has been an adventurous joy. Despite the wretchedness of the discovery, I watched Frank turn the kaleidoscope of the situation. We talked about what we love about Le Que…and some of the things we don’t. We started to look into possible replacements and maybe even possible uses for the injured Le Que. What felt like a mess is shifting into a slew of interesting possibilities.

Kaleidoscope perspective isn’t necessarily one of sunny optimism (although that can be a happy side effect). Kaleidoscope perspective is about seeing the large and the small and all the ever-changing parts. Wayne Dyer suggests “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” If you are in a disagreement, can you see perhaps the fear behind your side and the unmet needs behind theirs? If you are looking at a sunset, can you see both the expansive swash of colors and the details in the silhouetted branches of the trees? If your team loses in the basketball tournament, can you see the joy in the other team’s faces? (Nope, I can’t do that, either.)

Sarah Susanka, in her wonderful book, The Not So Big Life writes about this phenomenon and how the kaleidoscope shift requires a spacious attention to whatever is happening. Rather than narrowing our focus on one particular thing, we can open our peripheral vision to see more. She writes,

The flow of moments and synchronous happenings occurs whether or not we are present, but it is only when we are present that those dynamics are observable. (p. 145)

Our bodies, minds, emotions, and lives are full of kaleidoscopic changes. Nudging any situation – even a little – can change a simple handful of beads and colored glass into a fascinating, radiant rainbow. All we have to do is stay present and open and see what there is to see.

CALL FOR KALEIDOSCOPES! If you come to classes this week and have a kaleidoscope you’d be willing to share, bring it for show and tell! 

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How many times do I say (or think), “I’ve got to figure this out.” This week we danced the possibilities of resting the “thinking mind” — the one that over-manages and over-plans and instead living from our “working mind” – the one that gracefully resides and chooses in the present moment. As Sarah Susanka reminds us:

“When you are trying to figure out the right thing to do, you are in thinking mind. You have set up a duality between what is right atnd what is wrong, with the implication that if you don’t pick the correct option, you’ll be screwing up. But in reality, you can’t screw up. Whatever you pick will produce a set of life experiences that will continue to reveal you to you, whether the content of what happens is pleasant to go through or miserable. All of it contains food for your growth. The part of you that’ trying to determine what’s correct is lost in appearances, whereas the nutrients for self-understanding lie in that vast ocean of peace beneath the surface.” ~ The Not So Big Life p. 195

In addition to Susanka’s book, inspiration for this week’s focus came from two talks by Tara Brach, meditation teacher and author. Those talks are Impermanence: Awakening Through Insecurity, Part 1 & Part 2, they are wonderful and I hope you’ll listen to them both.

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

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

Before the playlists, some upcoming awesome things!

Author Fest 2019 at the Waynesboro Public Library on March 16
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 and you can find out more here. I do hope you’ll join us!

Nia Jam on Friday, March 29, 5:45-7pm
The acac Nia team will offer a Nia Jam on Friday, March 29 from 545-7pm! More details soon!

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

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

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

Monday, Mar 11, 2019, 1045am ~ Feel (Rather Than Figure) It Out

Delirium [Dub Mix] 6:15 Euphoria
Back to the Earth 5:27 Rusted Root
Sweeter Love 8:09 Blue Six
Serpentine Fire 3:50 Earth, Wind & Fire
Mothership 3:14 Kid Beyond
It’s Alright 3:28 Dar Williams
Crazy Knowledge (Soul Of Man Remix) 6:29 Dreadzone
Feel On Baby 5:07 The Rolling Stones
CAN’T STOP THE FEELING! 3:58 Justin Timberlake
Domination 7:26 Peace Orchestra
Elephant (Dub) 6:07 Spiral System
Far Away The End 2:19 Jeroen Elfferich

Tuesday, Mar 12, 2018, 840am ~ Feel (Rather Than Figure) It Out

Delirium [Dub Mix] 6:15 Euphoria
Serpentine Fire 3:50 Earth, Wind & Fire
Mothership 3:14 Kid Beyond
It’s Alright 3:28 Dar Williams
Crazy Knowledge (Soul Of Man Remix) 6:29 Dreadzone
Dance Little Sister 3:55 Terence Trent D’Arby
Domination 7:26 Peace Orchestra
Elephant (Dub) 6:07 Spiral System
Far Away The End 2:19 Jeroen Elfferich

Wednesday, Mar 13, 2018, 11am ~ Feel (Rather Than Figure) It Out

How Does It Feel 4:57 Afterlife
Back to the Earth 5:27 Rusted Root
Sweeter Love 8:09 Blue Six
Mothership 3:14 Kid Beyond
Crazy Knowledge (Soul Of Man Remix) 6:29 Dreadzone
I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ 4:48 Scissor Sisters
Feel It All – Band Jam 3:50 KT Tunstall
Domination 7:26 Peace Orchestra
Elephant (Dub) 6:07 Spiral System
The Essence One 3:24 Jeroen Elfferich

Thursday, Mar 14, 2018, 840am ~ Feel (Rather Than Figure) It Out

How Does It Feel 4:57 Afterlife
Back to the Earth 5:27 Rusted Root
Sweeter Love 8:09 Blue Six
Mothership 3:14 Kid Beyond
Crazy Knowledge (Soul Of Man Remix) 6:29 Dreadzone
I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ 4:48 Scissor Sisters
Feel It All – Band Jam 3:50 KT Tunstall
Domination 7:26 Peace Orchestra
Elephant (Dub) 6:07 Spiral System
The Essence Five 2:21 Jeroen Elfferich

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In May, my mother-in-law and sister- and brother-in-law are driving from Minnesota to Virginia for a visit. After the excitement of getting the dates in the calendar, my first thought was, “I need to figure out what I’ll cook for them!”

After a sleepless night, I walk to yoga thinking, “I’m tired so I should figure out how many Wheels to do in class today.”

A friend announces her upcoming birthday party and I think, “Hmmm, now to figure out what to wear!”

It happens when I’m driving. And when I’m falling asleep. And doing chores. It happens a lot.
I catch myself figuring things out that aren’t actually things that need to be figured out.

In her book, The Not So Big Life, Sarah Susanka makes the distinction between “working mind” and “thinking mind.” She says,

…the spontaneous response to situations in the present moment is “working mind,” a label coined by the author and teacher Ramesh Balsekar. This is mind without baggage, with out preconceiving and second-guessing. As soon as you find yourself planning how to cope with a situation or with an eventuality that might come about as a consequence of a projected sequence of events, you are in “thinking mind” — the mind that believes it is up to it to orchestrate reality. (p. 186)

I notice that when I say “I need to figure out…” the space between my eyebrows contracts, my eyes (and brain) get a little tight. This is the sensation of “thinking mind” and it not only takes me out of the present moment, it is exhausting.

“It is not half so important to know as to feel.” – Rachel Carson

I’m married to a man who was born to build things. He creates furniture, cabinetry and beautiful spaces to live in. One of the results of his gift is that I’ve moved quite a lot in the past 20 years. We’re about to move into our sixth home together (not including our rolling camper home and various other places we stayed when we were between houses). Usually when faced with a move, I go into full-on FIGURE IT OUT mode so I can “cope with an eventuality that might come about as a consequence of a projected sequence of events.” This time, I’ve done my best to approach the move from “working mind.” I’m doing my best to be more in the flow and the inspiration, clearing spaces and making decisions from how it feels rather than from between my eyebrows.

This is not to say that planning is a bad thing, or even that thinking is a bad thing. Planning and thinking are tools that are extraordinarily helpful. Instead, I’m practicing noticing when I am over-planning, over-controlling, over-managing. When I find myself spinning and grinding and trying really hard to figure something out, instead I’m feel it out. Often, this means trusting that I will know when I need to know with more wisdom than I could possibly know now.

In her dharma talk on impermanence, Tara Brach quotes poet John O’Donohue:

“We’re so busy managing our life so to cover over this great mystery we’re involved in.”

What would happen if you dropped unnecessary managing and controlling and stepped into the mystery? What might it be like to trust that the present is unfolding and that you can sense what is the most skillful next step.

Instead of figuring it out, feel in.

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