Wednesday, December 12, 2007

December 2007

:: relationships. communication. intimacy. ::

oh my, what an experience. 2 weeks ago, i was spending 12+ hours a day with carlos rosas (one of the creators of nia) and 41 other blue belt trainees. it's called an intensive for a reason...

the nia blue belt is focused on relationships, communication and intimacy. several months ago, during a live interview w/ kdnk, carbondale's public radio station, the interviewer, amy hadden marsh, asked me how one gets a belt in relationship. i did one of those pregnant pauses in which time seemed to stand still as the big black microphone in front of me grew ominously bigger and then (divine intervention) i realized, and said aloud, "well... i don't know, i haven't done the training yet."

well, 77 training hours later, and the blue belt is... well... under my belt.

so here's my short answer:

i showed up... every day, hopping the bus at 6 am to get me across town for the first nia class at 7 am... i showed up with an open heart, an open mind, and an eagerness to experience whatever the day held. how do you show up in relationship? on time, late, tired, full of expectations, willing to let go of old ways of being, thinking, doing...

i brought a mind settled, quiet, and cleared from a daily meditation in which 42 of us sat in stillness and silence with the intention of removing distractions in order to create the space for learning. what do you bring to relationship? the work day, a happy heart, lingering resentment, an argument with your boss, love, fear...

i was in the conscious practice of speaking with impeccability, not assuming anything, not taking anything personally, and always doing my best. how do you honor these four agreements in your relationship to your self, another and the world at large?

i was mind-full in removing "try", "hard" and "because" from my vernacular and here are the reasons these three little words are not in alignment with impeccable speech: there is no "try," only do, or don't do. as i say it is "hard", so it is hard (remember: my thoughts create my reality?). and when we say "because", we are either giving excuses, manipulating, or laying on a guilt trip. how do you use these words and how do they affect your relationships? pay attention to this... in nia, we define intimacy as "attention to detail".

and last but certainly not least, a shaman's pearl (in nia, a pearl is a word or phrase that is succinct, polished, and clear); "relationship is god's gift for self-awareness."

so i learned alot about myself and myself in relationship-- how i show up, what i bring, how i communicate, and what it means to be intimate... with myself, with another, with my surroundings, with my body, my mind, my spirit, my emotions. i have been given the next and
deeper level to share with you, my students, and here is where the real learning occurs... at home, with my tribe, in relationship. and man, am i ever bursting at the seams!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

November 2007

:: blue belt gratitude ::

my deepest thanks to all of you who have so generously supported me (beginning with that first sol nia jam in april!) as i embark on my next level of nia training.

the blue belt is focused on relationships, communication and intimacy. what a natural next step, it seems, not just in nia, but as a deepening of what i have already experienced in the past year.

two summers ago, before i had even moved here, my first thought as i walked into sopris park to enjoy the live music was, "i've found my people." earlier this month, on a saturday afternoon drive to aspen when the leaves were at their most brilliant gold, i realized as i looked at the beauty all around me, "i've found my home."

this valley is my home... and i have been searching a long time. for all of my gypsy ways these past 15 years, i am ready to sink roots deep into mother earth. this valley called me just in time, as most things happen for me... in the 11th hour. i used to fight this trait of mine, calling it procrastination, and then, several years ago, someone re-framed it for me. "you're pressure-prompted," she said, "you do your best 'under the gun'."

so i've stopped fighting against my true nature, and i'm learning that life flows easily when i get out of my own way. one of my students said to me on the phone yesterday, "julie, i'm surprised at how easily things come to you... it amazes me." and i replied, "you know, if there's one thing i've learned it's that there are enough doors swingin' open wide for me... i don't have to push against those that are shut."

this path of ease and grace feels right, kind of like when i am in right alignment in my body. there's an effortless quality that feels vast and nurturing... like all i have to do is show up and give thanks for what already is.

presence. receive. gratitude.

you gotta show up to win, and then you darn well better say, "thanks!"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

September 2007

:: full moon ::

check out the night sky tonight and witness the face of mother moon in aries, full of fire... a time for action and self-expression; a time of emotional sensitivity and clarity. the full moon is a time of peak, illumination, revelation, climax; a time to celebrate beauty, produce, receive, express, distribute, intuit, surrender and fulfill.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

August 2007

:: the sounds of healing ::

i took a gong bath last tuesday night in aspen. my tailbone felt like it was vibrating at 5200 rpm's for the entire hour. gong bath? vibrating tailbone? whaaaa?

first off, let me explain that "gong bath" is a bit misleading (but it sure sounds juicy, doesn't it?). there is no water involved in a gong bath, and i remained fully clothed, along with about 40 other people. but it was juicy because what struck me most when i walked into the room at the yellow brick was the floor strewn with mats, blankets, pillows, sleeping bags and bodies in repose. it looked like a co-ed high school sleepover in the gymnasium! juicy. and what we were all there to bathe in was not water, but sound. the primordial sound of "aum"-- the sound that started it all, according to ancient vedic wisdom.

well, i don't know about that, but what i do know is what i felt in my body as i lie on my back, crown of my head facing toward the gong in the middle of the room. we were encouraged to quiet our mind by focusing on our breath, and we were assured that eventually, the sounds emanating from the gong would naturally focus us.

ummm... yeah, not this monkey mind. so i watched my thoughts dart this way and that, like moths around a light, never staying in one place too long-- non-attachment. what did seem to attach itself to me was this vibrating tailbone of mine, thrumming along, steady, unwavering. it was as if the soundwaves knew exactly where they needed to go in my body for maximum healing, and they glommed onto my tailbone with single-minded focus.

the body doesn't lie, and on this night, my body's truth was that it was finally ready to allow in the healing salve of sound in order to break up years of tension, holding and frozen energy. tailbone = root chakra = survival, trust & feeling safe in one's body. as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, i spent years trying to leave my body; my body was not my safe space.

the advent of nia in my life 6 years ago was nothing short of my salvation-- a reclaiming of my power, my sensuality, my sexuality, and my body as my temple, my safe space. the gong bath the other night was a body-centered reminder that although the gifts of healing i have experienced through nia are profound and life-giving, they are not all.

my life is my art, my healing journey and my soul's evolution. to those ends, i am in the creative stages of planning several special workshops over the next several months, which i am so excited to share with you.

we do not walk the path of our healing journey alone. together, sisters and brothers at our side, ahead, behind and all around our heart, we witness and are witnessed in our joy, our pain, our fear, our shadow and our light.

i leave you with a quote from dogen, 13th century zen master: "to let the self be awakened by all things is enlightenment."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

July 2007

:: body + mind + spirit + emotions ::

in preparing last night for the transformational nia workshops next week, i came across a pearl. actually it was a strand of pearls, and it looked like this:

spirit is the energy that allows you to be you.

striking in its simplicity, in its truth. in my experience, this is the essence of nia.

yes, we start with the body, this temple with which we are gifted in order to experience life on earth. and with the right and left brain activation inherent in every nia workout, we have the opportunity to re-wire ourselves: a flexible spine = a flexible mind.

then there's my favorite, the emotions. i quote the founders of nia, debbie rosas and carlos rosas: "emotional involvement empowers you and supports physical movement from the inside out. when you become personally motivated, involved and interested in what you do, more of you is involved in working out. this means more bang for your buck and a greater return on your investment."

but the most bang and the greatest return is when you meet, face to face, your own dancing spirit. you being you: joyous, unleashed, ecstatic, raw, authentic, primal... in a word, Real.

in the end, the most bang and the greatest return is, shall we say, priceless.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

June 2007

:: Your Body's Way ::

Your Body's Way
is not
Her Body's Way
is not
My Body's Way.
When I stop
jealously eyeing,
yearning to be Her...
I turn my gaze inward
and silently ask for Grace
that I might,
For Once,
What I have...
Who I am...
What I've done...
Where I'm going...
Where I've been...
Knowing that:
This place where I am right now
God circled on a map for me.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

May 2007

:: fitness is the business of the body... ::
... is principle #11 of nia, but when i read it, my first impression was, "this is dry." and then i explored it and felt into what it means to me and i soon found the juiciness within.

of all four realms we explore in nia-- body, mind, spirit and emotions-- the only tangible one is the body. so it is with the body that we start.

through movement of arms and legs, hands and feet, hips and head, chest and heart, we dance our way into not only physical fitness, but also mental, spiritual and emotional fitness.

how do we condition and "work out" these intangible and yet oh-so-real and powerful realms? through the visualizations that we use, we gain access to the part of the brain that creates, and in this creative mode, the mind expands, and with an expansive mind, new ideas, thoughts and possibilities suddenly have room to grow. with every authentic movement we make, every vocalization that comes from deep within, we are expressing our spirit, our truth, through our body. and we strengthen our emotional "muscles" by giving ourselves, through our dance, a chance to "try on" different emotions-- be that joy or rage or freedom or ecstasy or... -- that may be unfamiliar or forgotten to us.

so it may look from the outside like we're in a class for physical fitness, but if you've danced and allowed yourself to be moved, you know the power inherent in nia to strengthen and transform not just your body, but your mind, your spirit and your emotions.

even the new york times gets what nia is about: "an emotional fitness odyssey, nia is just plain exhilarating."

yeah, we know!

Monday, April 2, 2007

April 2007

sol nia dance jam 2007...
a gathering of the tribe

it's time to gather in celebration of the music, the third principle of nia. the music of nia is what moves us-- body + mind + spirit + emotions-- into deeper places, possibly unknown or forgotten places, places where our truth resides... if we will only listen.

on this day, you are invited to come and tune in... to the music, to your movements, to your body that is the temple you have been given to experience your soul's deepest longings. and we all know that moment in our dance when we touch truth, when we glimpse for a moment that sweet face of our deepest desire. it is as if we have come home... to ourselves.

the music... the dance... and you... all together, so powerful, so power-full.

"it is your soul's only desire to turn its grandest concept about itself into its greatest experience." -- neale donald walsch

come experience your Self!!

Monday, March 5, 2007

March 2007

:: focus. create. joy. ::
i'm focused right now on writing an article, so i feel a bit reticent. besides, again this month, i'm late (to get the newsletter out, that is!). i feel lucky that my work, my life, and my passion are all so intimately intertwined. i have 8.5 x 11" sheets of paper scribbled with my ideas for the magic playshop wallpapering my bedroom walls. my beloved took one look and said, "all work and no play makes a dull julie," or some-such like that.

i'm so glad that's not true. my work, my play and my relationships all so richly inform my life and give me the raw material from which to create. and right now, that creation is an article that, like ever-widening circles, will extend past our dancing tribe.

it has to do with that which we danced to, 17 of us, on saturday morning, as the sun streamed in the windows facing mt. sopris. we danced to joy-- around joy, in joy, between joy, among joy, underneath joy, playing hide-and-seek with joy, the joy that lives right beside the pain, but we can choose joy... always choose joy, even in sadness, despair, grief. they are both sides of the same coin, and just as our thoughts create our reality, so can we choose which side of the coin to look at.

ahh... i think i'm on my way to focusing on and creating an article on the relationship we can have to joy.

thank you... blessings... and i look forward to seeing you on the dance floor.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

February 2007

"Don't worry about what the world wants from you, worry about what makes you come more alive. Because what the world really needs are people who are more alive."
--Lawrence LeShan

After naming when in your life you are most alive during last week's class, have you noticed even more moments of aliveness this week? To name something is a powerful gesture.

Monday, January 1, 2007

January 2007

::2007 intentions::

this past week, as we've crossed over into the new year, i've offered my students 1/4 sheets of goldenrod-colored paper titled, "intentions for 2007," with the sub-headings, "let it be different," and "do something different."

letting it be different (the realm of thoughts and emotions) and doing something different (the realm of action) are intentions i held for 2006. they served me well-- my creation of sol nia, my move to glenwood springs and my exploration of conscious loving in a new relationship are a direct result of my wanting something different for my life.

doing something different is easy to understand, but what do i mean when i say, "let it be different?"

for me, letting it be different is about being present in each moment and being mindful of my thoughts and emotions, and not falling into old patterns or storylines that no longer serve me. a courageous self-inventory, letting it be different is about being honest with myself and consciously choosing new ways of being, thinking, feeling.

as i explained to one of my newer students after sunday's class when she asked what effects nia has on a person, nia helps us to be more flexible in our thoughts, because that is what we are experiencing in our bodies.

so many of the moves in nia cross the physical mid-line of the body; as a result, new connections in the brain are formed, as right brain crosses the corpus callosum to talk to left brain and vice versa.

and, one of my a-ha! moments in nia came years ago when, after throwing a block and saying, "no!" ferociously, i turned right around, lifting my arms heavenward, opening the flute of my body and said, "yes!" with just as much emotion. in that moment i realized, "i am not my emotions!" they can change on a dime and i am in charge of that change. what a breakthrough that was for me.

having and holding intentions are important... they are the cornerstone of change and transformation. at the beginning of each nia class, we set a focus, an intention that we focus our attention on for the hour we dance together. nia is about disciplining, exercising, freeing, sensing, opening, expressing, liberating the body + mind + spirit + emotions. it really is all connected: all one. we really are all connected: all one.