Coming Home Embodying Flow/Love

Hoop Path Flow/Love

Baxter hoops it up during the Hoop Path Flow/Love tour stop in Edmonton.

A week later and I’m still smiling after another amazing Hoop Path weekend with Jonathan Livingston Baxter, or Baxter (or Bax) as we know him in the hooping world.

These weekends are always magical for me. I love taking a whole weekend to delve into the subtleties of hoop dance. Baxter is able to share so much of himself  and the message he shares in these workshops are much deeper than just hooping alone. Every time I’ve taken a Hoop Path weekend, I feel like Bax is telling me exactly what I need to hear. This year’s theme was Flow/Love, something I can get behind for sure considering my word for 2015 is Flow and my last Halloween costume was a Love Bot.  Plus, there’s all the hooping too!

While many past Hoop Path weekends have spoken to me more on a deeper, spiritual level, I found what impacted me the most this year was the actual act of hoop dance. Who would have guessed? We played with techniques that I finally felt like I got after working with them here and there over the past few years. These techniques felt so foreign the first time Bax shared them with us. Off body stuff with no hands? Whaaaaa? This year I really felt like I found my flow with it though.

Baxter talked about embodiment over the weekend and while I know what that means, I feel like I didn’t really “know” it until now. I started off the weekend incredibly tired, still trying to recover from jet lag after returning from Thailand (or 14 hours into the future if you want to look at it that way) only a week earlier. My body was back in Canada, but my mind was somewhere else. My rhythms were all messed up. I don’t recall having such a difficult time adjusting last time I returned from the future, but I think age may have something to do with that.

What I found over the weekend though, was that the more I hooped, the more I arrive back in my body. My brain fog cleared up, the extreme tiredness I was feeling began to cease and piece by piece, I slowly arrived back home – in my body.

As I arrived in my body, I began to open and expand, which was my intention for the weekend. My body began to move more freely than ever before (in my life ever!), I experienced a state of flow where my hoop and I were so connected, there were no mistakes, even though I dropped my hoop. Instead of letting the hoop fall to the ground, another limb magically caught it, or bumped it and I moved in new ways that I never have before and may never move again. I felt as though I became flow and that I became love. I felt that I didn’t need to intellectualize what Baxter talked about, because I was experiencing it in my body.

What I love about hooping is that it has this way of bringing me completely into the moment. What I love about Hoop Path, is that throughout the process of the weekend, Baxter creates a space for us to be present in our bodies and from that state, flow emerges. That dance of mistakelessness only arises during true moments of embodiment, of pure presence.

Somehow, I have fallen in love with hoop dance even more. It is such a gift to use movement as an embodiment practice. So in addition to hooping meeting 7 needs I didn’t know I had, I now see it even more as a tool to bring me home, into my body and into my heart.

Thanks Bax, for delivering on your theme of Flow/Love. I can’t wait for my next Hoop Path weekend. To my readers, if you get the chance to take a Hoop Path workshop, do it! You won’t be disappointed.

The Hoop’s Got What You Need: 7 Ways Hooping Meets Needs You Didn’t Know You Had

"Maslow's hierarchy of needs" by J. Finkelstein - I created this work using Inkscape.. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs.svg#mediaviewer/File:Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs.svg

“Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” by J. Finkelstein

I remember first learning about the difference between needs and wants in elementary school. We learned that we need things like food, air, shelter, water and love to survive and we learned that wants are things like toys, brand name clothing, fancy cars etc.  I later learned about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which expanded my context further but I still didn’t put a lot of thought into the specific needs that filled up each category. I just tried to figure out where I was on the chart and knew I wasn’t at the self-actualization stage yet but I was above the physiological section.

Then, just a few weeks ago, I was given a needs inventory  handout from the Center for Nonviolent Communication in a Creator’s Code Creation Circle meeting. We were learning how we could meet our needs in clean and clear ways which first meant we had to understand our needs. The list of needs blew me away! I found it very comprehensive and in many cases I hadn’t previously considered the things listed as needs at all. In my mind they were wants. They are nice to have if I have extra time to focus on them, but not necessary for my overall well being. As I read through the list, I was delighted to see that much of the self care I do is actually helping to meet various needs and this list is just further proof that I NEED to practice self care regularly to operate at my peak performance! My husband calls this high maintenance, and maybe it can be seen as that, but all I know is I’m much happier when my needs are met.

As I scanned the list, it struck me quite quickly that hooping meets so many needs, particularly needs that I didn’t recognize as needs in the first place. Yipee! Now I have at least seven more reasons to keep hooping! Here they are:

1. Community – Hooping has connected me to a local and international group of beautiful souls. Any city I visit, I try to hit up a hoop jam so I can make new friends. It’s amazing being able to connect with a group of strangers wherever you go, where you feel like you belong almost immediately. I didn’t feel this sense of community on a large scale growing up as I wasn’t part of religious organizations and wasn’t involved in many extra curricular activities. As a hooper, I definitely feel the love and connection that comes from being part of an amazing community.

2. Authenticity – The hoop invites me to be my authentic self. To move my body in such a way that expresses exactly how I’m feeling in that moment. It can be challenging to be authentic in a world that encourages you to conform, but the hoop continues to teach me how to be myself. I knew it was important to practice being me, but I didn’t realize that I NEED to be me!

3. Play – When I saw this one on the list, my first thought was, well play is good for people who aren’t that busy, but most people aren’t going to make time for it, so it can’t be that important. Good thing I’m not what I think most people are like! Hooping is all about play and I make it a priority all the time. Play brings fun and laughter and silliniess. I guess we need all that too. Who knew that playing with a plastic circle was so important? When we play, we’re actually meeting a need!

4. Inspiration – It can be easy to get caught up in the day to day actvities of life, but what is the point of living if you’re not inspired? Watching other hoopers bust out is always inspiring and gives me motivation to grow and expand. I can now see this is a need because when I feel I’m in a rut, I head over to YouTube and watch videos of my favourite hoopers to kick my creativity into high gear. I need that to keep going some days.

5. Creativity – And speaking of creativity, that need made the list too. I often think of people as either creative or analytical. Before recognizing creativity as a need, I thought about it as a treat if I completed all the things on my to-do list first. Now that I know creativity is a need, I will give myself even more time to play and explore in my hoop. I love taking time to ask what if, like the time I asked what if I try to combine sustained spinning with breaks & reversals? The results were great and I even based a workshop on it! I would have never discovered that combination had I not taken time to nurture my creativity.

6. Learning – I appreciate being able to learn but didn’t think this was something I needed. The hoop teaches me so much. I’m not just learning tricks and developing my flow, I’m also learning about life. Some of my favourite hoop life lessons are captured here. And what’s more, when I teach, I learn. Both kids and adults teach me so much as I teach them. The learning never stops, I knew this but again, never thought I needed to learn to be satisfied in life.

7. Movement – This one might be more obvious but I just wanted to add that I’ve recently gained some weight as the result of meeting a need to experience joy this summer. I ate and drank everything I wanted! I would like to feel healthier now and have been playing with what I call Hoop Aerobics. Doing lunges, squats, toe lifts etc while hooping. It’s the only way I can really enjoy myself while “exercising” and exercise has to be fun for me or I won’t do it. It’s been great so far and I’m excited to keep going with it. One rule I’ve given myself that will be sure to get me fit in no time is that everytime I drop my hoop, I have to do a burpee! Or perhaps, I’ll just develop more core control with the hoop to avoid doing burpees, we’ll see.

NoMo hooping

A shot of a group I was teaching at a small music festival a few weeks back. I see a lot of needs being met – play, learning, exercise, connection and more!

In addition to learning about the types of needs we have, I also learned that we can always tell when our needs aren’t being met because we are unhappy in some way. I think back to before I started hooping over six years ago and can honestly say I’m a much happier person now. I consider hooping to be one of my essential self care practices and understand why it fills me up, it’s because it meets so many of my needs. Hooping truly  fulfills me! It allows me to feel my core desired feelings (abundance, support, connection, flow and joyful radiance) each and every day. I even spotted some of my core desired feelings on the needs list, proving to me that daily connection and joy are even more important than I previously thought. What a beautiful gift I’ve received from this little plastic circle.

❤ Nicole

She’s Got the Power

Last week, I had the opportunity to teach a beautiful group of 32 12 – 15 year old girls at NAIT’s G-Force Summer Camp. The camp focuses on personal empowerment and I love the opportunity to not only teach hoop dance, but to use the hoop as a metaphor for teaching important life lessons.

This is my third year back at the camp and I’m always astounded at the girls’ wisdom. I started the workshop by asking each girl to share her name and one characteristic of a strong woman. Their answers were amazing and they even addressed some of my ideas of a what a strong woman is. To them strong women are empathetic, intelligent, they follow She's got the powertheir dreams, they know what they want, they are stubborn! (I think she meant someone who sets her boundaries and doesn’t give into peer pressure), they don’t care what anyone else thinks about them, they have high self esteem, they are loving, they are compassionate, they are beautiful on the inside,  they are brave and they ask for help when they need it. They listed more characteristincs, but these are the only ones I can recall. It truly fills my heart with joy to see that there are so many aware and awake young woman growing up in the world today. I’d like to think that I would have given an answer like theirs when I younger, but I truly don’t know how I would have answered. Today though, I do have some solid thoughts about what a strong woman is. Below are the characteristics of strong women we touched on in the workshop.

A strong woman only focuses on the three things she can control in her life – her thoughts, her feelings and her actions. A strong woman does not spend time worrying about what other people think about her or about what other people are doing. She chooses to create her reality, she explores her feelings, she chooses to be aware of her thoughts and will consciously choose to change them if there is any judgement of self or others. I asked the girls to pay attention to their thoughts during the workshop. To notice if any self judgement creeped in if there was a trick they weren’t picking up as quickly as some of the other girls. I invited them to shift their thoughts from self judgement to self love, instead of saying something like “I’m stupid and I can’t do this”, I invited them to shift to “I can do this and I just haven’t figured it out yet”. Our thoughts are so powerful and we need to choose them wisely. It is only when we are aware of the thoughts in the first place that we can choose to change them. When we accept where we are, we can redirect that misused energy to become more productive. We’ll likely figure out a trick faster when we’re not judging ourselves for not getting it right away.

Pony

Here’s me, expressing myself at a recent music festival and being brave enough to share it with the real world.

A strong woman is brave. She goes after what she wants, even if takes a lot of time or if she has to stand up against what others want her to do or be.  She walks her path and allows herself to be seen, even if it feels uncomfortable, she is committed to living her truth. She follows her heart. I shared with the girls that when you see a woman like this, you will likely be attracted to her because she is confident. As a teen, I wanted to conform but also wanted so badly to express myself at the same time. I encouraged the girls to be brave in the workshop and use the hoop as a tool to express themselves and the emotions they’re feeling. I encouraged them to find a healthy way to express their emotions in their regular life, because emotions are completely normal and they just want to be acknowledged and felt, not to be pushed away or ignored. I encouraged them to find something that makes them as happy as hooping makes me and use that as a tool for self expression.

A strong woman asks for support. She recognizes when she is struggling and asks for help. In my experience, this is a tough one for so many people, something I’m only starting to really explore myself. I think we often feel like unless we know exactly what we need,  we can’t ask for help. The truth is if we knew what we needed, we’d probably try to help ourselves. If we just allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and access the vast support networks we likely have, we’d be doing ourselves such a service. I think there can be a stigma around asking for help and I believe that needs to change. I asked the girls to not be shy to ask for help in this workshop if they needed it. I hope that this gave them the opportunity to practice asking for help in a small way so they could feel more comfortable asking for help when they needed it in bigger ways, like when they were feeling depressed, isolated or heartbroken sometime in the future. Many of the girls did ask and I can only hope this reinforces that it is not a weakness to seek support.

There are so many characteristics of strong women that I could write and teach about it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few. I love being able to start the dialogue about this topic so the girls can begin to explore and appreciate all the ways to be a strong woman. I think they are already well on their way.

❤ Nicole