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Decluttering : Space : : Detoxing : Body Part 2 – Team Family!

In chi, Clutter, Emotions, Life skills, Lifestyle on September 20, 2014 at 1:18 pm

To read part 1 click HERE

family

Remember the family who fell in love with their new home? Remember how pretty and fresh and organized it was? Now, remember how they all felt after a few months of living in it. It got all messy and jumbled up. No one really knew where anything was anymore. Josh kept needing new clothes to be bought because he didn’t know where to put them when he changed. And Mum kept losing her important work papers because she didn’t make a space in the new house for her own desk. And Dad was annoyed with the garage not being easier to use because he had forgotten to add some shelving and storage areas along the walls when they were first moving in. Everyone was feeling sad, and Mum had already started looking for another house. And poor, sweet Ivy was almost an afterthought, often being almost forgotten as everyone rushed out the door every morning. She felt like she was just another bag of stuff to be carted around with Josh’s swim and school things.

a list

There is a simple plan to help this lovely family so they can get back to loving their lives and enjoying each other’s company and new home. It starts with small steps that are repeated everyday.

1. Gather the whole family together and share feelings and thoughts about the house and how things look and the way things run. List both positive and negative things. Someone can take notes, and remember to keep this friendly and curious. This is not about blaming or shaming.

2. Decide together what is most important from the negative side and make that the top priority that everyone will help with first.

3. Everyone take on 3 things they will personally be responsible for. Adults will need to help the kids see their own rooms and clothes etc. as their responsibility, and adults will need to take on larger tasks affecting the household.

4. Create a weekly calendar that can be repeated for 4 weeks. This is easier than launching into a month-long plan as that can seem overwhelming. Just make it a week and repeat it 4 times. Post it somewhere bright and easy to see.

5. Group hug or high five or cheer as a family to boost energy and enthusiasm for working as a team! This last step may seem cheesy, but it’s truly the glue that keeps everyone connected to the goal. And keep the cheer or high five around when you see each other complete the tasks.

Now that list may seem a little abstract, so I’ll fill in some details based on our sweet, make-believe family, to illustrate.

Success Starts Here Freeway Style Desert Landscape

Starting with step 2, our family decides that the kitchen and dining area are the most important places to start with. Food and nutrition is important for everyone to think and feel well, so they started there. Mum and Dad both agreed that whoever did the cooking, the other would do the dishes. Josh volunteered to help the washer dry and put away dishes that wouldn’t fit, or couldn’t go in the dishwasher. Dad and Josh also said they could spend 5 minutes in the morning before swim practice to unload the dishwasher. Then Mum asked Ivy if she could be in charge of sweeping the floor with the dustpan and brush as part of the clean up process, and Ivy said she would love that!

Moving on to step 3:

Mum: 1. Morning laundry, 2. Groceries, 3. daily bedroom (master and Ivy’s) and bathroom monitoring and cleaning.

Dad: 1. Evening laundry, 2. daily front hallway, closet and shoe rack monitoring, 3. daily living room cleaning and vacuuming.

Now, Mum and Dad worked on helping Josh and Ivy list their 3 tasks. Josh: 1. put worn clothes in the hamper in the bathroom before having a shower/bath each night, 2. empty lunch box and place dirty stuff in the dishwasher. 3. Using designated fridge drawer (Mum sets this up as part of groceries), pack tomorrow’s lunch.

Ivy: 1. Put toys away in bins when asked, 2. help Dad with shoe monitoring in the hallway, 3. help Mum with laundry – find matching socks and fold small items.

Step 4 needs to be as clear as possible. The most efficient use of space and time, in my opinion, is to get some fun tape (like Washi tape), and divide a white board into 7 columns and 2 or 3 rows. A narrow row at the top and a narrow one at the bottom for notes or important dates etc. The middle is for listing people’s duties. Choosing colours to represent each person is easy to see and visually pleasing. So all of Mum’s tasks are green, Dad’s are red, Josh’s are blue and Ivy’s are purple. You can choose your own colours of course! Then events that affect everyone can be black.  The only things that would change would be the dates across the top of the board, and specific events along the bottom. All jobs would stay the same for the four weeks. Organizing the rows is flexible too; if you prefer your special events nearer the top, right under the date, then do that, and keep the daily tasks in a wide row at the bottom of the board.

plain-wht-board

This white board idea is also fun because you can put little happy, messages or images on the board next to people’s jobs to say thank you, or well done, etc. And they can be erased and started again each week. I recommend a large white board so you don’t feel cramped, and mount it so that it can easily be taken down to be cleaned and written on again. And make sure those who want to write on it, can reach it easily! Those sweet encouraging notes to each other create a real magic energy that lifts everyone’s spirits!

Step 5 is pretty easy to implement. Start simple with easy high fives until you start to feel more enthusiastic. And you will as the tasks keep getting done! Some cheers or celebrations may lead to spontaneous expressions that might become special inside jokes with your family, and this creates a strong bond of fun and togetherness!

So there you go! 5 simple steps to create peace, harmony and efficiency in your home, just in time for new school routines to kick in! Now get over to  your local office supplies store and get a large white board and spiffy Washi tape and colourful dry erase markers!

Decluttering : Space : : Detoxing : Body – Part 1

In chi, Clutter, Emotions, food, Life skills, Lifestyle, mind, spirit, teaching on July 31, 2014 at 1:39 pm

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There once was a beautiful house with high ceilings, large windows, spacious rooms and a lovely warm light flooded in through those large windows. A family fell in love with it and decided to move in. They bought, beds and couches, tables and shelves. They stacked the shelves and filled the closets and drawers until everything was full. Everything had a special place, and they were happy and settled.

The new home was clean and cozy, a perfect retreat for the end of a busy day in their new town. School had its new challenges for the children, and work was tough and tiring for the parents. Most nights everyone was too tired to do the dishes after dinner. And first thing in the morning, Dad had to take Josh to early morning swim practice, and this made Mum mad and she didn’t want to do the dishes all by herself. Ivy was just too small to help her. But she did them anyway. Then Josh’s room started to overflow into the hallway, and Ivy’s toys were strewn all over the house. Dad’s shoes were never in a neat row and Mum’s work papers kept getting lost on piles of papers on the dining table – where no one ate anymore because there was no room! Josh could never find any clean clothes, so new ones would be bought. Mum couldn’t find anywhere to store her work things, so she went to Ikea and bought a bunch of lovely neat boxes to use. But when she got home, she couldn’t find a good place to put them! So they sat in the entrance way, unopened. Dad couldn’t find his golf clubs and thought he must have given them away, so he went to buy new ones. Now those live in the entrance way too. One day Ivy stumbled and fell into them, and the whole bag of hard metallic clubs fell on her and she got a bad bruise!

Mum got really angry and told Dad he needed to move the stupid clubs or she would throw them away! After a big argument Dad put his clubs in the bedroom which made it really difficult to open the door properly. Then Dad took Mum’s new Ikea boxes and yelled that she needed to do something with them because he had to move his clubs from the entrance hall, so she had to as well! So Mum took them and crammed them, still unopened into a corner of her closet, squashing all her sweaters making them all crumpled. So now everyone in the new house was sad, hurt and angry, and the house was all a jumbled mess. Getting ready to go took an extra long time, and coming home felt depressing because it was so confusing and ugly everywhere. It felt like they always had to eat in the car because they were always late and needed drive through just to stay fed. Soon Mum started looking at new houses because she didn’t like this one anymore…

 

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There was once a beautiful boy with bright eyes, curious fingers and strong legs. His name is Billy. Everyday he grew more and more and more and soon he could walk and run and chase other little children in the park and playground. He started going to school and learned to play sports and how to use his words to communicate. He had a lunch box to carry his food and always had a white bread sandwich with a slice of meat and cheese between them, a chocolate milk, a bunch of grapes and a granola bar. When he was learning his multiplication tables one day he suddenly got really tired. He couldn’t remember how to do this set of numbers, but he knew he had done it only yesterday! But then the bell rang and it was time for the nutrition break. So our beautiful boy went to get his lunchbox and have his grapes. He went to play on the monkey bars too and when he came back inside, he remembered how to do the  multiplication table! When he got home he told his parents and they were so proud they said, “You can watch an extra hour of TV tonight!”

Now Billy is 16 and he works out in the school’s gym because he is on the rugby team. You have to be strong to play rugby, and you have to be fast. So Billy lifts weights with his team mates everyday and he also goes running on the track. But sometimes he just can’t lift enough, and he feels bad because his team mates can lift more. And when they run, he is often left in the back and runs out of energy… his muscles just can’t go on. This makes him sad. But one of his team mates says, “Don’t worry about it. You’ll keep training, and you’ll get faster and stronger! I know how to make you feel better. There’s a party this weekend, you should come! It will be fun!”

At the party Billy has a blast. He drinks beer, tries smoking pot and likes it, plays strip poker with some pretty girls and falls asleep really easily afterwards. In the morning he walks home with some other guys who stayed over and they all agreed to party more often. It felt great, and it was fun. So the next weekend, they do it again. This time someone says they should order pizza, and it was amazing! That was their new ritual – order pizza at midnight to satisfy their munchies. The guys keep going to the gym and lifting and running, but the group who have the party every weekend keep getting slower, they get heavier, and some have trouble breathing while they run. So they drop out of the team. Billy tries to stay  on the team a bit longer, but he misses his buddies. So he drops off the team too.

It’s Billy’s graduation now and he has a great university offering a scholarship for him. Since dropping off the rugby team, Billy found out that he really liked gaming and that it also fit in really well with his enjoyment of partying, so he gamed a lot, and got really good at a lot of games. Then he started messing around with making his own games and this was fun because he loved numbers thankfully! But over the years of sitting at his computer, drinking pop and beer, smoking and eating fast food, he had developed bad posture, acne, and was overweight. He didn’t always feel very good, but he knew that once he got to university he would make a new start…

 

When we overload ourselves in some way and eschew a simple system to keep a basic routine, life can seem excruciatingly difficult and arduous. Stay tuned for the flip side of these two stories.

[Bliss] Bedroom Feng Shui – Your Headboard

In chi, feng shui, Life skills, yin and yang on January 10, 2014 at 12:27 pm

man-sleeping

Bliss – Beautiful Living IS Simple

A solid headboard is the best type to have. It literally represents a solid relationship (if you are in one). You have a sense of unity, solidarity and stability with your partner. Even if your bed isn’t a -headboardsrelationship bed, a solid headboard can reinforce personal confidence in your decisions in life. You are supported. You’ve got your back, as it were, by having solid reasons for your decisions and subsequent actions.


Headboards with bars or slats or other holes and gaps are not conducive to monogamous relationships and represent more open relationships. If a solid headboard isn’t possible at the moment, you can use fabric, ribbons or silk plants and flowers to weave in and around the spaces to create the connection and solidarity of one.


Materials used in headboards are traditionally wood, metal and fabric. Wood is the best choice because it is sturdy, warm, has a friendlier feel and represents life and growth (trees). It also carries yin chi (feminine energy) and is more in line with resting. Metal headboards are rarely solid (although wood-elementI’m sure they exist), and are often in the shape of bars or wrought iron swirls. The metal element is also yang chi (masculine energy) that is more in line with action and not rest, which is the primary purpose of the bed. The fabric headboards are usually solid and have some sort of wooden backing, and although it wouldn’t be my first choice, it is much better than a metallic headboard. The fabric also provides the restful yin chi that soothes us to sleep and relaxation.


There is much more to the headboard than one would consider aside from aesthetics, but sleeping is so important for overall health. Therefore I advise deeper consideration of these points when looking at your bed. Other things to watch out for on headboards from a feng shui perspective:

headboard-ideas-fish-tank

  • avoid mirrors (or cover it when you sleep).
  • shelves that sit above your head. Don’t set anything on them except for intertwining plants, but make sure they are off to one side. Books and heavy objects should not be on the shelves.
  • extremely angular designs, like spikes or points along the top – they are too fire-like and action-oriented.


If you have no headboard you can create one with a heavy, soft fabric and hang it from the wall. Choose colours that are dark to add to the solidity, and avoid too much patterning. This can be a fun creative project as well where you (and your partner if you have one) can consciously fashion a headboard to suit and support your rest in just the way you need.

For information on how I can help you sleep well, visit my BLISS page.

Nia isn’t just “artsy”… she can get all “martial” on your ass!

In Aikido, chi, Nia, Nia Class, Tae Kwon-do, Tai Chi, Uncategorized on July 19, 2013 at 8:22 am

ImageSince making the connection with Black Belt School’s dojo as a place to offer Nia classes, I have found myself considering how the martial arts contribute to Nia in a deeper way. I have had a solid education of it due to my direct experience practicing Tae Kwon Do and Tai Chi. And that direct experience has also provided me with opportunities to master the physical demands of precision and safe execution of the movements.

But there is something more to it. Each of the 3 martial arts used in Nia bring a distinct energy with it. And each of those energies teaches us more ways to experience sensations of aliveness in our personal dances through life.

The first martial art to cross my own path was Tae Kwon Do. I took it up with a good friend Imagein university. I was lucky enough that our sensei used the last 10 minutes of each class to teach all the girls basic self-defense. It was the first time anyone had made the threat of being physically assaulted feel like a real possibility for me. And I am always grateful for that. I do not fall into the “oh, that won’t happen to me” category… which is the most dangerous category, by the way!

I now know that being hyper aware of your surroundings (360 degrees!) is the best defense. If you let a potential threat get close enough to touch or grab you, you are gonna get hurt (unless you are a highly trained fighting expert with real experience under your belt)! I know how to throw a punch without hurting my shoulder, and I also know that using punching and blocking sequences is one awesome, fun and VERY effective way to tighten and tone your abdominal muscles!

ImageTai Chi taught me about breath and balance. Within 15 minutes of my first Tai Chi class, I was dripping with sweat. Even though it may look like a cool slow-motion version of Tae Kwon Do that is the total opposite of dangerous and threatening, it is all about WHERE we get our energy and power from. The Earth. If you want wicked-strong thighs that sweep and curve in just the right places, Tai Chi is where it’s at! The mellow speed of the movements engages your muscles at a deeper level for a longer period of time than hopping up and down in jumping jacks or burpies. The movements are also very obviously rotational (round) mixed with some linear. This ensures strength in all muscle and joint connections because the human body is designed with both. Most traditional strength and fitness training rely on linear movements because they are easy to learn. However it is a major disservice to the athlete because it’s like only cooking your (gluten-free) pancake on one side! Eww. It’s just not right!

ImageAikido focuses on the movement of spherical motion. When used appropriately and with skill, the circular movements deflect oncoming energy away by using the opponent’s own strength and momentum to do so. Notice that I didn’t say “against them.” Many martial arts follow the principle that the best fight is the one that is avoided, and I love how Aikido can so clearly demonstrate this. Aikido teaches us to flow along and around the attacker or aggressive energy, and if at all possible to avoid engaging directly with it. We only need to be able to guide it past and away from us to stay safe. The swirling and spinning becomes very dance-like as the participants move in and away from each other. In Nia, Aikido gives us the grounded, balanced and graceful connection to the circle and turn across the floor. The knees are bent and we step in wide stances shifting weight seamlessly as we travel. Dodging toddlers, pets and misplaced household items becomes a lot easier with a grasp of the movements of Aikido!

I am looking forward to dancing in Black Belt School’s dojo and absorbing the direct, powerful energy of the martial arts practiced there. For me, the martial arts in Nia give a steady and reliable weight to her; she isn’t a fluffy, bouncy noodle (all the time!). She is strong. Has direction. Won’t be pushed around, and is willing to fight what she believes in… as am I.Image

Next week we are offering 2 free classes of Nia at the dojo. Pick a time and date that fits with your schedule and join us! Classes will be starting in the Fall, so we’d love to see your support!

Let us know when you are coming by contacting me or the dojo.

Thursday, July 25th, 8pm
Saturday, July 27th, 2pm

Black Belt Schools
1555 Bishop St. East
Cambridge, Ontario,

N1R 7J4

519-621-2364

For map, click HERE

Smokers have it right… sort of.

In chi, Life skills, mind, music, Nia, Nia Class, spirit, Tai Chi on February 15, 2012 at 6:31 am

Smokers have something going for them that non-smokers don’t. It’s the required 15 minute break every few hours throughout the day. No one seems to question them. No one tells them they can’t go. After all, they are addicted. They are sick and cannot help themselves. I mean, who else do you know, who doesn’t smoke, takes a 15 minute respite away from their job, desk, daily routine, whatever! totally and completely for themselves at regular intervals through the day? Ha! Speaking from personal experience here, I have been both: a smoker and a non smoker. I am currently a non smoker, and sometimes I miss the nasty, stinky cancer stick just because it gave me a “legitimate reason” to have some me time. Because, you know, if you have been around a smoker who hasn’t had a cigarette for a while, they can match even the meanest PMSing woman! So without much ado, we let the smokers slink off to poison themselves into a stupor where brain fog is reset, disallowing clear thought and fresh emotion to rock their lives into something more creative and lively. Creativity and feeling alive can be unpredictable and a little scary from time to time; but now that I am a non smoker, I wouldn’t want my life any other way.

However, I would like to take back my regular 15 minute breaks! But, instead of huddling a minimum of 10 feet away from the building in the freezing sleet or blistering heat (depending on your time of year!), I would like to roll out my yoga mat and stretch. Or, play some music and dance.

In some large airports there are specific locations designated for smokers that don’t require them to entirely leave the terminal. This convenience allows them to smoke without the hassle of having to leave and trudge back through security again. Outside many public buildings there are large garbage receptacles with a plate of sand on the top where the smokers can easily put out their butts. And it’s only been a few years in some cities where smoking has been prohibited in most public social establishments. At least now going out dancing doesn’t include inhaling second hand smoke as necessary evil of the activity! But as evidence grows and people wake up to the devastating effects of smoking to health, these little details of convenience will also continue to disappear. Soon, even the smokers won’t have any recourse to public areas to satiate themselves and relax in this mad world!

So, what if we replaced all the little conveniences smokers have and had, with a healthy and progressive collection of spaces to put down a yoga mat to stretch or meditate or dance? Each hotel, office building, grocery store, mall and airport could afford a room for this. It could be a sanctuary to calmly and quickly recharge with short stints of one’s personal favourite centring activity, be it yoga, dance, mediation, tai chi, Qi gong or whatever! The closest I have seen to this idea is the super short massages (or massages by the minute) in airports. It’s perfect really. If you are spending lots of time cramped up without much space to move and stretch while traveling, getting someone to give your muscles a quick shake up and rub down is very helpful. So why not take it one step further and provide spaces to take on the responsibility ourselves? Wouldn’t a movement to create small oases all over the cities for the sole purpose of rejuvenation and relaxation send out ripples of peace through our civilization? I feel we desperately need more access in our day to day lives to peace and relaxation. After all, it is frequently touted that it is from a place of peaceful relaxation where most creativity stems. Being hunched and tense and stressed only makes us weak, tired and irritable. There is no room there for open and free thought or inspiration!

On an aside, I think this short, frequent practice is different from a regular exercise routine. This practice will surely enhance one’s physical body, but it should not replace longer workouts. Just think of smokers who workout! I know that many professional dancers smoke, yet they are very physically active. This 15 minute repeating interval is for our holistic sanity. Within the swirl of daily activity there needs to be accents of stillness. From the stillness we can reconnect to our inner guiding voice or higher/authentic self. The more we connect with it, the easier it will be to forgive  – being cut off while driving, waiting in line when in a hurry. It will be easier to see the beauty that surrounds us everywhere and let this Love buoy us along our path. I know that my Nia practice can only improve from these 15 minute respites. I can already sense my creativity gasping for the space to reboot and tap into the musical cosmos that sends me magical messages about new music and fun focuses to use in class!

I am starting today! I may not have a specified location to roll out my mat or play music, but I know I can find a place to stretch. I have actually done yoga in airports while waiting for the next leg of my journey to start boarding. I take a space out of the way of traffic and move through a selection of poses that call to me. And every single person who looked my way, either smiled, nodded in silent agreement, or spoke to me in passing about what a great idea that was. People are ready to embrace these places of restful rejuvenation. I just need to find a way to start them! And for the time being, I will start with myself. This is where all great change across the world starts – the self. I will take 15 minutes every 3 hours today, where I stretch through a few of my favourite yoga postures. I will focus on my  breathing to energize my cells with plenty of fresh oxygen, and I will quiet my mind, sending my clamouring thoughts to my internal answer machine to pick up once my 15 minutes are done. When I am at home I will most likely dance for 15 minutes or meditate, since I can control my personal environment more.

I would love to hear what you will do to start this movement. Comment below and share this post with others! Let the Conscious Movement begin!

Change is the only Constant

In chi, Nia, vocalising on August 31, 2009 at 1:25 am

Over the past few months I have experienced much upheaval. I have moved homes, and unwillingly ended a beautiful and romantic relationship. On top of these I injured my foot! So no Nia as healing medicine for me! At first I was bitter and resentful that my body would rebel in such a way when I needed the cradle of Nia most. After getting it checked out by a podiatrist, and using orthopedic arch supports, I began to ask my body why it was – quite literally – telling me to stop moving. Once voicing those very words, the answer seemed obvious. My soul was tired and needed rest. As a dancer I move in a very yang (masculine) way. I throw my entire body into the music. It is infrequent when I make the soft, sensual, gentle yin (feminine) energy my partner in my practice. And here my body was demanding that I engage my yin chi (life energy) only. I need to nurture myself. According to sociological research, moving homes, divorce, and death, are the top three most stressful events humans deal with. Well, I was (am) dealing with two of those. So now what? I couldn’t easily walk for about three weeks, so how could I heal and move on without my fail safe method for processing all of life’s curve balls?

Chair Nia

I have a great rolling desk chair in my living room, and with hard wood floors, it’s super easy to roll it all over the place! This served me in my need surprisingly well. By focusing on more core and upper body and arm dancing I accessed deeper parts of my trunk – moving energy that had been lodged in my power chakra (chakra is an energy center in the body) up through my heart chakra and flicked, swept, wiggled, and snapped out through my arms, hands and fingers. Another wonderful experience I had with rolling chair Nia was how much more breath I had for vocalising (and crying!). My usual vocalisations are strong but relatively brief. Moving less allowed me to release energy through my throat chakra as well in the form of sound vibrations. I used my rolling chair for about 2 weeks, and then invested in some excellent running shoes with built in custom arch support.

Nia in runners

For shame! I hear some of you cry! Or, Horror! Shock! But of course, you are joking! Following the pleasure principle is simply the best thing about Nia sometimes. If it feels good, keep going. If it hurts, stop. I am dancing in these great shoes now. I am still careful however, to focus on my yin more than the yang. But I am aware the two energy personalities need to come into balance. I still must tenderly nurture my broken heart, but also find strength to continue facing the world with enthusiasm and joy. And I’ll tell you, that is hard these days. When your heart is broken, it doesn’t get into anything. When your heart isn’t “in it”, as the saying goes… well, you can finish this thought.

My next step (get it? step?) is to do the warm-up in bare feet, and then replace the shoes for the rest of the routine, and slowly extend the time I spend without the shoes on, until I am back to bare feet all the way through. I don’t have a set time-line because I shall listen to what my body tells me it needs.

So there it is. Or rather, this is where I have been. I have been changing, as this is all we really can do. Change IS the only constant in our lives. The real magic comes about when we roll with it and follow the sweep of the curve, not fight rigidly, kicking and punching against that which is ultimately more gentle and insistent on our movement along the path of life.

Teaching Practice 2

In chi, Ekhart Tolle, mind, music, Nia, spirit on May 22, 2009 at 1:35 am

The music in the Nia routine is my constant, my rock. It guides me where I need to go. I know the music so well that my mind doesn’t even register that I have moved onto the next movement pattern; similar to an activity that has become second nature to the body and mind, such as driving the car, or cooking a favourite dish. When we participate in these ‘second nature’ activities, our minds are free to be still, and our spirits are free to soar and gain perspective. It is part of the Nia instructor’s job to bring the students along and create a similar relationship with the music for them, and verbal cueing makes this possible. Once a pattern has been established through repetition, the student can relax into his body and explore the different sensations the movements create. The instructor will speak to the class giving sensory tips such as, “Notice your knees” or, “Focus on the crown of your head.” These directions are meant to bring awareness to parts of the body that you may not think about consciously. Through this pointed focus your practice becomes deeper, and you are able to delve into unfamiliar realms within your own body, mind, and spirit.

A note on ‘bodies’:
When I refer to ‘the body’, I mean the corporeal form that is made up of bones, muscle and tissue. It grows and changes from day to day, and it is our responsibility to care for it and keep it in good health. When I refer to ‘the mind’, I mean the intangible thoughts that run through our heads – inner monologues we may largely be unaware of. In Nia (and many other movement practices), there is a focus on quieting the chatter of the mind. A wonderful guide for me personally, is Ekhart Tolle. His books, The Power of Now, Stillness Speaks and A New Earth, all deal with ways to bring awareness to our minds, and also to find methods to calm and quiet the mind. I highly recommend Tolle’s work to everyone. It is not based in any particular religion, but deals in depth with behavioural and, some would say, spiritual matters. Moving on now; when I refer to ‘the spirit’, I am not indicating a specific religious definition of spirit or the soul. What I want to describe is the, again intangible, but none-the-less very noticeable, energy or life force that surrounds all living things. It can be called ‘Chi’, or an aura. There are many words in many languages to describe this. However, spirit in the sense I use, is individual to each person. No one’s spirit can be the same. I sense my spirit as a quiet, wise presence. It takes a few minutes to tap into it, but if I rush through my days without being aware of it, I find myself forgetting things, stubbing my toes, whacking my elbows on doorframes, etc. You know the days I am talking about, I’m sure! The spirit is hard to pin down. It is not the emotional part of us, but our emotions can be very effected by the spirit. Visualise a pyramid. The base is the body; the middle is the mind; the top (that floats above) is the spirit. It has a bird’s eye view of all that surrounds it. It is part of the whole, but it remains slightly detached so as not to lose perspective. But it is always within reach. This spirit body is important in Nia practices because Nia applies to our entire being. Each routine gives us the opportunity to connect with and explore and play in any and all of these bodies. Each body lends a different quality to the same movements. This not only feels different, but it reflects differently in how your body changes and moves through space from day to day.

There is an emotional body as well, but I will save that topic for its own blog entry!

Enlightenment is a big word. I fall back on ‘balance’ as something to strive for on a daily basis. Balance within my bodies will naturally lead to balance in my life – professional and personal. Then once that state is achieved we can work on the bigger words!

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