This beautiful mandala is one of many different ones painted on my friends’ property in Santiago, Chile. I do not know of what artist to credit- but I am thankful for their creation. I love the 12 (paralleling astrological houses & signs, all 12-step programs, and the number of apostles, etc.) points on the rose-colored portion of the mandala. Within the 12-pointed flower is a 6-pointed flower- 1/2 of twelve and also my favorite number. Additionally, I enjoy seeing the light beamy bubbles peering from the 4 corners towards the edge of the circle- representing for me both the cardinal directions and seasons where I live. The mint-green colored square, scale-like shape reminds me to strive towards balance in all my pursuits. And finally, the triangular, sideways Star of David-like Venn diagrams resting in the center help me sit with life’s core complexities a little bit easier.
Archive for April, 2011
For many of us, hooping practice affords us a chance to clear our minds and be with our breath, grounded & embodied. Whether actively spinning the circle around your core- constantly hugging your hips and heart space, stretching with the hoop as your body follows the curve of the ring, or simply & peacefully sitting inside of the hoop & breathing (like Elsie the cat pictured above), the hoop is a gift to be present.
Many folks new to meditation have a hard time practicing the sitting still part- fidgeting & restlessness being a common experience. A solitary hoop practice can help by focusing on keeping the ring up… and through this physical, rocking back and forth body motion bilaterally stimulating the brain, thoughts & feelings more easily synthesize, come & go- and eventually fade from focus making way for that quintessential feeling of flow.
One way to dramatically enhance your ability to go inward with your hoop practice is to use a blindfold while you hoop. Hooping without being able to use your sense of sight helps to increase the kinesthetic experience of the hoop encircling your body. ‘Kinesthesia’ is defined as the sense that detects bodily position, weight, or movement of the muscles, tendons, and joints, or the sense of moving in space. Particularly with a rapidly moving object like a hoop whipping around the core, one’s vision can serve as a real distraction from being able to fully feel the hoop’s motion & the body’s innate rhythmic connection to it. Oftentimes when someone begins to hoop blind, they immediately find it to be easier, more calming, and even a transcendental experience. Do you yet practice hoopitation inside your ring? Let us know how it goes and any useful tips you have for finding your flow~
Anyone that has a hoop or two or twenty has likely become well-acquainted with the nature of what I like to call hoop funk shui- the challenge of flowful transport & placement of your hoop/s in your abode or practice space. It’s quite humbling (and often frustrating) after a super fluid and inspiring session of play inside your hoop to then try to clunkily traverse a space, doorway, or narrow passageway with hoops on your person, or even to set your hoops against a wall to have them quickly slide to the ground sometimes knocking over other objects along the way. There is actually an art and dance to simply walking through the world with your hoop (becoming exponentially more difficult when using crowded public transportation). Backing up or turning feels like one should have an accompanying beep like a big truck or otherwise ‘wide load.’ The sheer size and shape of the hoop require that there be intention and actual delicacy in where and how you decide to keep them. I have found the best sources of storage, both practically and aesthetically to be hanging your hoops- this could be from a single nail against the wall for a lone hoop, to a full on bike-rack protruding from the wall for a gang of hoops (make sure to place it above head level to prevent potentially injurious collisions). At a hoop class or jam where there are lots of other bodies around- sometimes a awkward lean against the wall is all you can hope for- but if there’s room to set the hoops flush against the floor- that’s a great option. Hoops demand our attention not just when we’re in them spinning ‘em around us; their mere existence is a cause for pause and thoughtfulness. A lesson we can draw from the difficulty of hoop travel and storage is that we are invited to find and cultivate flow in our lives both inside and outside of the hoop. Hoopdance and the hooping movement itself is indeed a great place to start. As we start to discover our inner dancer and rhythm from within the hoop- we can try to apply the same skill set to our life outside of the hoop. The consideration of how flowing and calm our hoop’s physical placement feels in our life can soon move into how flowing and calm does our communication feel, or our dietary habits, or our accountability for missteps in our relationships. The endless circle of the hoop symbolizes all of the possibilities life has to offer. We can chose to focus on what’s working, and actively work to improve that which is not working so well. There are infinite possibilities and paths- it’s up to us to truly consider what feels best and keeps our energy flowing optimally, each and every day.