Bless me with the
Wisdom to know when
To fight and when
To be patient
Infuse me with a
Hunger for justice and
Resources to fuel this vessel,
To see it done
Burn within me each day
Warm me with the
Certainty of my being,
Teach me what I need
To know so that I may
Celebrate the small
Victories in each day.
Thanks to Coach Jim Bundy for capturing the picture!
The Wisdom of the Body: Review of Christine Paintner's Newest Book with Link to Teleconference with Dr. Jamie Marich (3/10/17)
What an honor and privilege to interview Dr. Christine Valters Paintner, a graduate of our Dancing Mindfulness facilitator training program as she celebrates the release of her 10th book, The Wisdom of the Body: A Contemplative Journey to Wholeness for Women (Sorin Books, 2017). Christine is the abbess of Abbey of the Arts, a vibrant and active ministry. Although based in Galway, Ireland, the abbey is global in its outreach, especially through a variety of courses, retreats, and other offerings made online (including the popular Facebook group, Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks).
In Christine's latest book, built from decades of personal experience of her own journey with embodied healing, readers are led through a self-directed retreat experience. Various topics of struggle for women are covered, such as desire, emotional expression, and depletion from true nourishment. Each chapter invites readers into a series of exercises where they can explore, and if they so choose, embody the content inherent in this journey. Expressive arts practices (including conscious dance), yin yoga, and invitations to reflect on wisdom of the ages (presented through Christine's own vibrantly lived experience) make this content come alive. A special feature is that in each chapter, Christine offers a sacred feminine guide for the journey. Women like St. Hildegard of Bingen, Eve, Amma Syncletia, and many others are presented in refreshed light so that modern women may be inspired to draw on these guides, and their teachings, as sources of wisdom.
I had the distinct pleasure of offering Christine consultation on her manuscript (and am delighted to be included in the acknowledgments), specifically in the area of trauma-informed presentation. Although Christine writes from a Christian ministry perspective and as an expressive arts educator, I believe that her work should be required reading for therapists who work with women. There are so many solutions offered within The Wisdom of the Body that can help women in their healing, especially from legacies of trauma that wreak havoc on the body.
Listen to an interview that I conducted with Christine on 3/10/17 (a live teleconference) as we talked about her own experiences with learning to honor her body, her work with Abbey of the Arts, and of course the newest book. The interview wraps up with a dynamic discussion about why this work is so relevant for women in modern times. Learning to love and embraces one's body in the face of cultural messages suggesting otherwise is a supreme feminist action! -Jamie
Listen on Website (above) or Download (below)
This is a guest post from Wisdomfeed.com. WisdomFeed helps you make sense out of this complicated world so you can live a richer, fuller, and simpler life.
Are you one of those people that cannot sit still when a good song comes on?
Are you overcome by the irresistible urge to get up and dance, and often find yourself dancing around the house or even in supermarkets, when the right song presents itself?
You're not alone, my friend. We are kindred spirits.
As Samuel Beckett once said, "Dance first, think later. It is the natural order."
In childhood we are instinctive dancers. Unfettered by that joy-killing tendency to become self conscious as we age, young children bounce, sway and otherwise boogie when the urge strikes. Somewhere along the way we begin to care what people think. We begin to monitor ourselves according to what we think others expect, and often random bouts of dancing is one of the first things to go. It's developmentally appropriate, but it still sucks.
What we need is an uprising, people. We need to fight back against the social constructs that squelch our dancing spirits! Flash Mob has the right idea. We need more of that, and here's why:
*Dancing has been scientifically proven to improve memory, cognition and mood. PET scans of the brain indicate that while music activates the pleasure centers of the brain, the action of dancing promotes activity in the brain known for sensory and motor function. So our inclination to dance benefits us emotionally and physically.
*A study published in 2003 followed 469 seniors over the course of five years. The study indicated a preventative connection between dancing and the onset of dementia.
Innovative dance studio owners are also working with children from foster care and children who have ADHD and have found that these children greatly benefit from the emotional and physical outlet of dancing.
*Dancing enables access to emotional experiences of the past and reconnects us to our bodies. Certain songs can quickly transport us to a particular place and time in the past that may not be on the surface in our daily lives. The way our minds process music is different than the way we process other stimuli, offering a unique format to access emotions that may not fit neatly into words. Combining the physical exertion of dance to the emotional component of music offers a connection to a more primal part of our brains that modern life tends to undermine. It relieves stress, builds confidence and self esteem and offers a plethora of physical and mental health benefits.
Whether you embrace dancing by joining a dance studio to learn some new moves, go to a club and dance around in front of giant speakers under flashing lights, or simply turn on some tunes and have an impromptu dance party in your living room, there is no wrong way to do it. With all of the physical and mental benefits, getting in touch with your inner dancing queen has never been a smarter endeavor.
So, what songs are on your "gotta dance" play list?
Check out WisdomFeed for more on how to help you make sense out of this complicated world and live a richer, fuller, and simpler life.
Paula H. Cookson is a freelance writer and psychotherapist living in Maine. She dances in random places, much to the embarrassment of her daughter, at times. Check out her adult coloring book, "Funkadelic Designs" on Amazon.com.
An app for expressive art? Sounds like a bit of an odd concept, right? Well, don’t look away just yet. Whether you’re a dancer, a painter, or just want something to help you with Mindfulness, there are a decent amount of apps out there which may be of use to you…
Unless you’ve been living under a stone the past few years, you’ll have encountered the ‘adult coloring’ phenomenon. It’s taken the world by storm - and a lot of people say it’s really helped their mindfulness practice, reduced their stress levels, and given their creativity a boost. However, if you aren’t able to carry coloring books and pencils around with you wherever you go (who is?), there are plenty of adult coloring apps you can download. One of the best is Recolor - a slick, well-presented app which manages to pretty faithfully recreate the act of coloring, despite being on a tablet or cellphone! There are thousands of designs to choose from, and a bigger selection of colors than you could ever fit into a pencil case! Lots of the designs are free, but more are available via in-app purchases.
Using an app to help you dance is not the easiest thing in the world. After all, unless you’re seriously well covered for accidents, nobody wants to dance with a phone or tablet in their hands! However, apps can give you a decent spread of pre-dance info, and help you not only to perfect your moves, but to learn new ones, and gain a greater general understanding of the world of dance. Pocket Salsa is one of the better dance apps out there. It provides dance-lesson vids and plenty of genuinely helpful advice to really improve your salsa!
Chromaldry is another coloring app - but with a difference. This one will take your smartphone photos and turn them into coloring pictures. It offers a nice paint palette, where users can mix their own colors by swirling them together with their fingers. It’s a lovely idea, and very well executed. The ability to turn your own photos into art adds a nice personal touch, and can really help those wanting to improve their artistic ‘eye’!
See Me allows you to turn your own photos and/or designs into wearable art. For $32 per tee, the app will print your design onto a t-shirt (which you get to customise to your own specifications) and send it out to you. Perfect for commemorating something lovely, or for providing someone with a unique gift! Of course, customized t-shirts are nothing new, but this app goes the extra mile to make a truly personalized tee easy and intuitive to create.
If you want to incorporate your phone into your dance (and why not), Air Pencil is a great way to do it. Basically, the app transforms your phone’s flashlight into a strobe light, which can be used to ‘draw’ temporary designs on the air. The app also captures your motions on its screen, allowing you to create beautiful designs with light. The app was inspired by artists like Picasso and Mili, both of whom experimented extensively in the arena of painting with light.
Lots of people are interested in pole dancing - and it is an excellent way to get fit and build confidence - but not everyone is comfortable with the idea of going to a class. Pole motion teaches you pole dance from the comfort of your own home. It’s suitable for both complete beginners and those who already know what they’re doing, so you don’t have to worry about getting in over your head! The app is free, so all you’ll need to purchase is the pole - but do be careful not to hurt yourself, and always do the app’s warm up before starting!
iDance is a dance and fitness app, which teaches dance steps through nifty little animations. There are plenty of styles to choose from, and it’s a great place to start if you’re new to dance, or thinking about taking it up but aren’t really sure whether it’s for you. While it may not be suitable for more advanced dancers, it does provide a great grounding for those starting out!
Beloved St. Hildegard, sacred doctor of spiritual knowing
A woman, a leader who spoke truth to corruption and power
Long before power was ready
A sage, a mystic, a healer who guided us towards
Nourishing the greening power in our lives
A creator, a vessel of the expressive and
Cultivator of the sacred, verdant fruits of
Watering our true natures with faith.
We find ourselves in a bit of a bind
Here in 2017, and we beg for your leadership as
Women are under attack in a new way
By the systems of power long seeking to silence us.
New leaders take the helm, put there by
Campaigns of fear and systems who feed from
The vulnerable and the weak
The green thread that binds humanity is severed.
We call upon you to teach us how to heal
The green thread.
Show us the way to water,
Help us to cultivate the soil.
Remind us how to nourish our lives with
The elements that service our souls and
The earth entire...
Grant us the patience as we realize that
Sometimes healing is slow---
Indeed, the richest healing usually is!
Help us to savor, to find the greening
Miracles in each day
To recognize that each morsel of healing
Will help us to repair, to replenish the earth.
Poem and painting by Jamie Marich
I behold my favorite summer tree
Today in the midst of winter
Helping me to rest into the gifts of the season
Awaiting my possibilities
Guarding my inevitable bloom
Caring for my journey at every turn
Photograph by Jason Fair
Poetry by Jamie Marich
Overcoming Awkwardness: How to Let Go of Self-Criticism and Open Up to Self-Expression (Guest Post by Anne Haley)
Self-criticism is not necessarily a bad thing. That little voice which tells us when we’re doing something wrong is essential to give us some self-awareness, to ensure that we learn from our mistakes, and to prevent us from becoming narcissistic, over-entitled individuals. However, sometimes that self-critical inner voice gets a bit over-active. It starts shouting us down when it doesn’t need to, telling us that we’re going to fail, to make fools of ourselves, that everyone is going to hate us - so we should reign ourselves back and simply not try. Quite obviously, this can be very restrictive. Many who come to dance workshops may find themselves hindered by their self-critical inner voice - unable to express themselves as freely as they would like because they’re pre-emptively criticizing their performance. If this sounds like you - don’t worry! There are ways to conquer and incorporate your self-critical inner voice, so that it helps rather than hinders you. You can then unlock your full self-expressive potential, and feel the benefits of mindful dancing as you should. Here’s how:
Remember What Your Self-Critical Voice Is For
If you suffer from an excess of self-criticism, it is important to remember what purpose self-criticism actually serves. Self-criticism, if it’s working properly, should be a teaching and protecting tool. It’s not there to beat you down and make you hate yourself. Far from it. It’s there to flag up when something’s going wrong, and to help you think of ways to put it right or to do it better next time. The self-critical ‘teaching’ voice helps you develop self-awareness, which in turn helps you to navigate your way successfully through the world.
It’s also there to protect you from negative outcomes. If you have an overactive self-critical voice, it’s likely that you’re vastly overestimating (or misunderstanding) the importance of certain situations to your life as a whole. This is likely to be because you’ve been bullied in the past, mocked and abused until you started analyzing every tiny action for any potential it presents others to pick on you. When your self-critical voice starts up, what it’s doing is trying to protect you from the bullying you subconsciously expect to follow whatever action you’re contemplating. Of course, in practice, your self-critical voice has basically taken over the task of bullying, pre-emptively.
So what can you do? It’s simple: remember that your self-critical voice is about protecting and teaching you. If the situation it’s trying to muscle in on is not one from which you, realistically, need protecting, and not one from which you’re going to learn any ‘negative’ lessons, there is simply no need for it. In a dance situation, nobody is going to mock you - however ‘badly’ you dance - and you’re unlikely to encounter any ‘negative’ lessons. So, when your self-critical inner voice pipes up, acknowledge its input, but don’t pay undue attention to it. There’s no need to take what it’s saying too deeply to heart - it’s just not relevant in this situation.
Treat Yourself With Compassion
We’ve said above that self-criticism serves a useful purpose when used correctly. This is true. However, self-criticism only really operates correctly when it is working in conjunction with self-compassion. Without the compassionate side of the equation, your learning and protective mechanisms will be terribly lopsided, with the self-critical element of the mechanism grossly swollen out of all proportion. Self-criticism tells you where you’re going wrong. Self-compassion helps you to put yourself right. When things are operating as they should, the whole mechanism should be something like a kindly teacher. “Look, you got this sum wrong. But it’s ok! Here’s where you went wrong, it’s an easy mistake to make. Next time, you’ll know how to do it right, and you’ll get better and better!” Without self-compassion, however, you end up with a hectoring bully. “Look, you got this sum wrong. You’re so STUPID! You’re awful at math! How did you ever think you could do math? Why do you even bother to come to this class?”. To get things working as they should, start fostering your sense of self-compassion. Understand your humanity, learn to forgive yourself, and change your restrictive, self-hating narratives to ones of self-compassion and growth. Self-compassion leads to positive change, learning, and personal development. Without it, you’ll find yourself stuck in a particularly horrible rut.
To truly express yourself through mindful dance, you need to let go of the self-criticism which is holding you back. These classes are safe spaces, you have nothing to fear. This is a good opportunity to exercise your self-compassion, and let it help you to develop greater self-expression. Which in turn will lend you greater self-awareness and bring forth a good deal of personal development. Taming an overactive self-critical voice is often a tough process. It needs work, it needs vigilance, and it doesn’t happen overnight. But, trust us, it’s very much worth it.
POEM OF INSTRUCTION: SEASONAL RHYTHMS
Every winter when the snow gently falls,
take some time to walk in it.
To smell the crisp air companioning the journey
To play, making snow angels as you did in seasons past
To hear the crunch, the music beneath your boots
Every spring when the flowers follow rain,
take some time to dance in it.
To feel the warming water glisten your skin
To move through the earth with renewed wonder
To sing in harmony with the birds newly returned
Every summer when the sun warms your face,
take some time to relish it.
To savor the blessing of heat and warmth
To swim in the lakes and oceans craving life
To taste the freshness of the seasons' fruits
Every autumn when the leaves golden and shimmer,
take some time to breathe in the festival of transition.
To soak of the color and feed on their wonder
To dance along with the leaves as they journey to the earth
To thank Divine order for this blessed circle
The American experiment has long intrigued me--
Although as I return after another sojourn abroad
I can't help but conclude that the experiment failed.
Although I've never swallowed the rhetoric that
America is the greatest country on earth
I now feel great shame for what we have become.
I own my part, take responsibility for my role in it
As I travel home I notice that the skies are still beautiful
And in this beauty I can draw hope.
Drawing hope from the beauty of the skies--
The same skies blanketing places far more magical
I can perpetually visit this veil of wonder.
To nourish myself with strength--
Strength from her healing majesty
Gifting me breath for the journey ahead.
Works of art in gestation
Are often called
Works in progress
The slogans and inspirational
Cliches call for
Progress not perfection
We judge students and employees
With the metric of a
What if we were to change
Every use of the work "progress"
With the word "process"?
What if works of art in
Gestation are called
Works in process?
What if we encouraged
People to focus on
Process not perfection?
What if our metrics of
Evaluation took on the tone of
What if we were to live our lives in process?
All life could transform
Into a journey of art making,
Fueled by the expressive spirit
We could refrain from
Judging ourselves so harshly
And instead savor the unknown
From the unknown and yes,
Even from our mistakes
We can discover a new way of being
From what we once labeled failures
We may unearth a new solution,
A new way to solve a problem
By creating in the moment and
Not forcing the big picture
May we encounter the essence of meaning.
Photograph by David Reiter
Dr. Jamie Marich
Curator of the Dancing Mindfulness expressive arts blog: a celebration of mindfully-inspired, multi-modal creativity