One of the things I love so much about our Dancing Mindfulness community is our inclusiveness. We celebrate members of all shapes, sizes, colors, belief systems, spiritualities, genders, sexual orientations, and career paths. I think this is one of the things that makes us strong and creates the safe container that we value so much within the community.
And yet. Sometimes I see things that feel exclusionary happening in our community, that seem clique-ish. Others have mentioned similar experiences of feeling excluded, feeling like outsiders. I don’t believe that members of our community deliberately set out to exclude others, but sometimes it happens, regardless, and I strongly believe we need to guard against such behaviors.
I get it. When I get around my safe people, my close friends, I want to be greedy and get as much connection with them as possible in the time we have. Some of them I don’t get to see nearly as often as I’d like. Sometimes I feel extra needy, because safe, healthy connections like I experience with these people were few and far between before I found this community. I want to make the most of it when we are together.
The reality is that even within our community, there is a hierarchy. Some of us have been in the community longer than others. Some of us are closer to the “inner circle” by virtue of geographical proximity or affiliate status or working directly with Jamie. Maybe the inner circle people, or the people who are close friends, need to find ways to spend time together, just us, more often than we have been. When we come together with others who are further outside the inner circle, or others who are only just coming into contact with our community for the first time, each of us is in a position of power over those newer or more distantly connected members. We need to behave accordingly.
Which means things like, we can’t all collect at one table that doesn’t offer enough seats for everyone. We can’t all cluster in small groups all the time we are together. We may feel that, of course we welcome anyone who wants to join us, so what’s the problem? The problem is that not everyone will feel welcome to sit there, not everyone will feel brave enough to approach what feels like a clique or a closed group and ask to join. It doesn’t matter how open you believe you are to letting anyone join you if they don’t feel able to approach you. If you console yourself by saying, “I welcome anyone and if they don’t have the courage to ask to join, that’s their issue,” then you are misunderstanding or misusing your power within the community. Because when you’re an affiliate and they’re not, you have more power than they do at our gatherings. When you’re a personal friend of Jamie’s and they’re only an acquaintance or trainee of Jamie’s, you have more power than they do at any event where they are present. When you’re a Dancing Mindfulness facilitator and they aren’t, you have more power than they do when they’re in the same room with a group of community members.
That may sound harsh and it is not my intention to shame, blame, or guilt anyone. It is my intention to bring awareness to the fact that even within our open, welcoming, inclusive community, there are power differentials. When we ignore them, we are excluding people. We are making people feel like outsiders. We look like cliques. And that is not what this community is about. We all bear the responsibility for exemplifying the messages of our community. Please be mindful of the messages you’re sending, even with an action as seemingly innocent or mindless as choosing a seat at a table. Please choose instead to reach out with invitations of connection to everyone who comes to our community events. Let’s keep our web of connection growing and expanding and make everyone welcome. Not all will choose to accept your invitation, but those who need us, those we need, will find us.
Gut feelings and intuition run my life. Always have and always will. I can’t ignore them because they are loud fuckers and do not like being ignored. Either the gut feelings grow louder to the point I cave in with a defiant, “FIIIIIIIINE!” Or tossed an, “I told you so,” when proven correct. My life would go a hell of a lot more smoothly if I didn’t argue with it so much. Gladly, I did not argue with it when I found Dancing Mindfulness.
How did I stumble upon it? I had an undergraduate professor who always spoke about mindfulness practices and how healing they were. She was big on walking meditation. This piqued my interest because walking and listening to music is something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. During the cluster of my life, it remained the only escape I had at the time. Curiosity eventually won me over and I began Googling the benefits of walking meditation.
During this Google escapade, I stumbled upon Dancing Mindfulness. Initially I was put off. Body’s natural healing properties? Fuck no! The sheer mention of body sparked distaste in my mouth. Did I enjoy dancing? Hell yeah. I went clubbing all the time just to dance. It was my escape. Who wants to be in their body? Not me apparently. Turns out, you cannot escape your body. Something about being human and what not.
Although I had that reaction, my gut was loud and clear. This was something I had to do. This was something I had to get trained in. It was so clear and distinct that I couldn’t argue with it. However, I did not seek out Dancing Mindfulness until I was in graduate school. So it was a curiosity that had time to brew. Eventually I saw there was a holiday class in December. At this point in time, I never made plans to do anything for myself. It was always for others. It was nothing short of a miracle that I allowed myself to attend the class. However, this warm, fuzzy thread of intuition tugged me along.
Driving to the class, I felt sick with anxiety. My flight response was in full gear; however, I am quite stubborn and made myself get out of my car. I felt small walking into the building. I felt small walking up the steps. Into the building. Passing people. I watched the floor as I walked and found myself at the correct room. Before walking into the room, my surroundings were a complete and utter blur. It was like I couldn’t look up, otherwise the realization of attending the class would sink in and I’d take off. When I stepped into the room, my surroundings sunk into high definition. The sun was pouring in from the windows and viney plants were basking in its rays. People were coming and going from the room and I stood there trying to figure out what the hell I was doing. At this point, the warm, fuzzy thread was the only thing keeping me there and telling me I belonged. My gut feeling and I argued about the whole this-is-where-you-belong. Long story short, the gut feeling won and I stayed.
The warm, fuzzy thread is also what had me jumping in feet first and engaging in a conversation with Jamie (Pragya) about being a facilitator. I must have come across as a nut, because I had never engaged in Dancing Mindfulness and said I wanted to be a facilitator.
“Have you ever attended a class?”
Now I did partake in the class. It was the first time in my life I was safely in my body. This just made the warm, fuzzy thread of intuition a certainty. I will always credit Dancing Mindfulness for my jump start on healing and kicking me out of freeze/dissociation mode. Always. I will always credit the incredible tribe that comes with Dancing Mindfulness as being my main supporters in learning how to connect with people safely. That healthy connections exist. Always. It started with intuition, which lead me to the class, which lead me to Pragya who immediately introduced me to Ramona as my trainer.
Ramona and I agreed on doing individual training, because I couldn’t fathom myself around a group of people. I couldn’t fathom myself getting close to anyone and being vulnerable. Not that I told her any of that or that I felt guilty making any time for things that interested me. I had work. I had class. I had a partner to keep happy. I had a house to clean. I had pets to care for. I had all these reasons to negate going to a Dancing Mindfulness weekend training. Honestly, I probably would not have survived the group training at that point, because I wasn’t ready. At that moment, I needed that one-point person that I could keep coming back to over a period of time rather than a weekend. Honestly, I probably would have disappeared. So, Ramona and I worked together over the course of a couple months. I do not regret not taking the group training because it was not what I needed and not part of my path at that time. It turns out, that time spent with Ramona turned into a beautiful friendship and she has been an integral person in my life and someone I view as family. I don’t think my walls would have fallen if I approached training or Dancing Mindfulness in any other way.
Dancing Mindfulness has become my tribe and I’ve met so many wonderful people through it. It has been a catalyst for so many wonderful changes in my life both personally and professionally. I don’t know where I’d be without it. It’s been the base point where I have found EMDR therapy, Expressive Arts, my family, my friends, and healing. All of these things have led me to connecting with my body, the courage to leave an unhealthy relationship, connecting with people, finding my voice, learning to have fun. That my body, me, should not take the brunt of my learned shame. It’s amazing how providing the space to move and really listen can have such a profound impact.
Each retreat and each class, Dancing Mindfulness helps me learn something new about myself, about the world. It helps me connect more with my body and heal. What I learn about myself and how it works, I turn around and share with others with the upmost excitement. I don’t know how else to describe Dancing Mindfulness’s impact on me besides, life changing.
And to think it all started with a gut feeling.
Marnie Cram LPC, LCDC III (pronouns They, Them, Theirs) is a Dancing Mindfulness Facilitator, EMDR Therapist, in the Expressive Arts Therapy certification program, artist, and life-long learner. They received their MSEd in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Youngstown State University and is currently the Outpatient Program Supervisor at Valor Recovery Centers. Marnie is also a Reiki lvl 2.
I want nothing.
Nothing pleases me.
I celebrate nothing.
I love nothing.
Nothing beckons me beyond the urge to strive,
a constant yen to stave off Zen.
I want no sound, no taste, no smell,
no color, shape, or texture.
Nothing has plenty of nothing,
respite for my senses,
and that is what I want,
for a bit of time every day.
- Velma Lee Barber
I am nearing the end of my journey
And I've been with you through much of yours
I was there when wanting to off yourself
Was still in your thoughts every night
And I'm glad that you stayed around to take care of me
And that you stayed around to let me take care of you
Remember, dear Jamie, you named me Joy for a reason
I am the only animal in your life you got to name
And you named me Joy
You needed more Joy in your life
And I was happy to give it
I still am
I hope that now, as I near the end of my time
You are closer to learning that Joy is within you
Love is within you
Light is within you
Like your beloved Dorothy, everything you need is
Already within you
I still have some time left, so I'll hang around
Until I know that you've gotten it for sure
At least I know that
You will never let anyone
Lock me up in a cold basement again
I AM a feather on the breath of God
Feathers come in different sizes, shapes,
colors and textures
God uses my uniqueness
to radiate the world
I AM one feather, and i delight
in the feather that i am.
I AM a flute through which the
wind of the hours plays music
There are a variety of flutes on this earth:
Different tones, different timbers
God uses my sometimes klunky instrument
to play in the symphony
I AM one flute, and i delight
in the flute that i am.
I AM a being through which the Divine river flows
All rivers return to the ocean,
Taking different routes to get there
God has wound my river on a
weird and wonderful path
I AM one river, and i delight
in the river that i am.
-Poetry and artwork by Dr. Jamie Marich,
based on lines from St. Hildegard of Bingen, Khalil Gibran, and Rainer Maria Rilke
What began as a challenge for an Expressive Art project led to a fun family experience with my most difficult medium. After taking a class at our local library, I decided this was too fun to keep to myself. First, we prepared our surfaces and gathered the materials to experiment with some acrylic pour paintings.
Acrylic Pour Supplies:
Next, we covered the working surface with plastic or newspapers. To keep the canvas out of the run off we, placed push pins on the back (corners) of each canvas. To mix paints, each color is mixed in individual cups with a 3:1 ratio of paint to mixing medium and thinned with water as needed (should drip or flow from the stir stick). Cells are created by adding a few drops of silicone which is folded in a few times. The mixed paints are poured or layered into a primary cup and this is known as a “dirty pour”. Place the canvas on top of the cup in the center while flipping the cup and the canvas over. Allow the cup to sit a few minutes and gradually raise the cup. Tip the canvas from side to side and cover the entire surface. Use stir sticks to wipe dripping paint from the bottom of the canvas. If the sides are not completely covered, dip your finger into the runoff paint and tap until all white canvas corners and sides are covered.
From the first pour my daughter said, “I feel like I lost myself in this project. It was fun to focus on colors and what naturally happened. There was no need to try to control the design, but just let what happened-happen.”
“It was a relaxing experience and fun to watch what happens as the cells appear. I am looking forward to making the next one.” This from my husband who doesn’t consider himself artistic.
Second pour, my daughter said, “I really needed this!” This project was such a success with my family members who are excited about trying new methods and taking the time to relax, create and embrace art with each other.
Suggestions for bringing Acrylic Pour to the clinical setting:
The formulas are a mixture of acrylic paint with an extending medium. The following pictures were used with the “dirty pour method”. Paints were mixed using a 3:1 ratio of mixing medium (floetrol) to paint. Three to five colors were selected. I would recommend joining an online support group to determine which combination of mediums you prefer and introduction to new methods:
The earth and sky are one
Just as Jesus and Hanuman are One
How could one ever go back to sleep
After being this awakened?
How could anyone hear their name
Shouted in anger again
When they've finally heard it
Whispered with such love.
The earth and sky are one
Just as Jesus and Hanuman are One
The truth finally found me
May I never get lost again
Photography (of Jamie) by Ola Sobanski
Old with new
Child with Adult
Kid like heart
It is tough
Truth with Lies
oil and vinegar
They don’t mix
Sometimes holding on
Who does she want to be?
What is real?
What is her present moment?
32 next week.
What makes her go on her own?
Playing with going
No one else
Fireworks Beautiful colors
Just wanted to see.
She drove through traffic
Testing her ability
She felt fear and she felt...
Guilty for going alone
and no one directs this life anymore.
She just cannot wait for someone to say “lets go”
She’s got perseverance.
She’s got Community Damn it.
Go try. Break fear.
Wallowing chokes out growth.
Transitions are meant with tears
and that’s okay.
Didn’t see that one coming.
Space opened just for you to feel
other people’s presence
She opened-up her
Not everyone sees.
How she copes
reads and challenge
that not easy.
They have been trying
and she dropped her wall
She doesn’t want to live in fear
that’s not cool at all
She’s worth more than
Thankful for a moment
spoken into her life
Speaking to her “let them control their own boundary”
And the body is hers for purposeful slowing down reasons
Not to ignore the fact asking for help-- is in that lesson
Logic with emotion
Won’t work hand and hand
and hers is human
Expression is in discovery
It will come through play
Allowed to create
Silence and with speaking
Silent no more
She works to speak.
Yes, it’s tough
And well hell
She meant to be heard.
Slow and steady
She gains momentum
Nothing to prove just gains for herself
A Voice, Freedom, Living, and Personal
Blessed to be among
people who see this when she has fallen
And helps dust her off
and stand her back on solid
Painted rock image featuring the expressive arts therapy practice of Irene Rodriguez
"Bacchus, how are you so in the moment?"
"What is moment? You mean chew and stretch? Yawn and sigh?"
"Yes - Those! How do you do all that?"
Bacchus then yawns, repositions his head, and closes his eyes,
thinking to himself,
"Human is asking weird questions again. No wonder she needs me to protect her."
Rose Kormanyos, LMFT is a Dancing Mindfulness facilitator and student in the Certificate of Expressive Arts Therapy program; she (and Bacchus) are based in Cincinnati, OH.
Dr. Jamie Marich
Curator of the Dancing Mindfulness expressive arts blog: a celebration of mindfully-inspired, multi-modal creativity