Saturday, December 13, 2014


I can worry like a champ about pretty much everything and everyone.  (If you need anyone to worry for you, I’m your girl!)  When it comes to choreography, I can obsess about why I’m not gaining any headway with a song I like.  What I have found is that the more I worry, the more creativity eludes me.  Even though I understand this, I still find it difficult sometimes to let go.  Knowing that worrying isn’t helpful (and is actually harmful) doesn’t seem to keep me from it. I need to exert an enormous strength of will to get my thoughts back on track.  Worrying has become a bad habit.

And then there’s the superstitious aspect of worry.  “I worried before so much about this person and it all turned out really well.  What would happen if I decide not to worry?”  (As crazy as that sounds, I know you get what I mean.)

I really want to break this habit.  But then the possibility looms that I might enter the vicious cycle of worrying that I won’t be able to stop worrying.

Sometimes, we can think that worrying about people we care about means that we are supporting them. Actually, the opposite is true.

If you think about the people you love and who love you, do you really want to send the vibration of worry in their direction?  Do you want to receive that vibration?

Wouldn’t we rather send and receive love rather than fear?  By sending love energy to our loved ones we are sending trust in their ability to manage.  I am sure we would all prefer to receive that as well.

So of all the bad habits I have, I want to be a warrior about worry.  I believe that “defending” or “fighting” only reinforces fear thoughts. A true warrior stands firm in what she believes to be true and doesn’t have to fight anything.  She turns her head consciously toward the light rather than focusing on the darkness. She decides to direct her thoughts toward the positive and travel her own path, focusing on love.

This is the kind of warrior I aspire to be.

If I can only stop worrying…

Photo by MaryEllen Hendricks

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Dance is my mantra.  While dancing, if I can let go of “thinking,” I can drop into the space between my thoughts.  At these times, dance helps me remember who I am.  It creates space in my mind and heart for new ideas and perspectives.

However, sometimes I can’t let go of my thoughts.  When I am trying to “think” my way to the next step it invariably causes me to immediately forget the choreography.  In those times, I am dancing but not allowing myself to let go of the words in my head. 

Whether I can get out of my head or not, I am still happy.  I still get to dance.  But the times when I can really go within while moving are heart-opening, joyful, and (potentially) transformative – like all forms of meditation.

When I am having trouble emptying my mind, I sometimes use a silent mantra in a sitting meditation.  Usually it’s just “ohm,” but it really works for me.

A mantra in meditation helps you suspend the relentless flow of words that usually crowds your consciousness.  It opens your mind.  It creates the space for something new and transformative.

And then there are the things we habitually and unconsciously say to ourselves that are negative and hurtful. (“I’m not good enough,” “I’ll never be successful at this,” “Why did I say such a stupid thing?”)

Because we repeat these thoughts over and over, they become a mantra, too, but one that is debilitating instead of liberating.

Habitual negative thoughts about yourself are dangerous when used like a mantra because they allow no other thought to come in.  Rather than opening the mind, they narrow it. 

It is worth looking within to see what negative mantras we have accumulated.  I know I have many.  Not as many as I used to, but still quite a few.

Examination and awareness of the damage we do to ourselves (and the healing of that damage) helps everyone.  Often healing comes just from the act of bringing the hurt into the light -- and in these troubled times, that is enlightened, not selfish.

I will close with this quote from Lao Tse.  It was posted on Facebook by one of my friends:

If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. 

If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself.

Truly the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”

--- Lao Tse

 Photo by MaryEllen Hendricks

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Circles. Part II

When I am teaching a class, I often see one of my clients doing something really interesting, like a movement that hadn’t occurred to me.  I love that.  The student is teaching me a different way to interpret the music.  It allows me to see from a new perspective, which gives rise to further innovation.  It is a gift. 

Teaching dance is really a gift to myself that I am so lucky to share with everyone taking a class.  My clients are also a gift to me.  I love to dance and I love it even more when I can share that love with others. 

We teach our children, but our children are truly our Buddhas.  We are in relationship with our significant others, with our friends, with our co-workers, with the guy we buy coffee from -- sometimes we are teaching, but always we are learning.  Life is never a one way street.  That is an impossibility. 
The best student is one who teaches; the best teacher is one who is also a student.

The person we admire is our teacher; the person who makes us crazy is also our teacher.  And in our interaction with them as students, we are, in turn, their teachers. 

If we believe that we all spring from the same source, what we do for ourselves we do for everyone else as well.  What we do for others is a gift to ourselves, too.

To give and receive are one and the same.

Life is a circle.  (Which came first, the phoenix or the flame?) Since a circle has no beginning and no end, we can only hope that the circle spirals upward into higher levels of understanding.

So I am grateful this Thanksgiving (and every day) for all my teachers and all my students. 

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Photo by MaryEllen Hendricks

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Circles, Part I

One of my favorite things to do in dance is turn.  It feels wonderful.  It’s like you are drawing a circle of energy on a blank canvas or the (seemingly) blank space of energy that surrounds you.  Sometimes you spin and end up back at the beginning.  Sometimes you pass the starting point and turn multiple times, always returning home.  Sometimes you circle and end up pointing in another direction – maybe one you didn’t anticipate.

In our lives, we are always in movement in our emotional and spiritual growth.  Sometimes we end up back home, right where we started but with a different perspective, a deeper point of view. 

There is a joy in the spin.  There is a sense of complete letting go, until you are ready to use your strength to slow down or stop (at “home” or pointing in another direction) and take stock of where you began and what you have learned on the journey.

As always, in dance, it is ideally our core strength that controls the spin and the stop.

In our lives, what is deep within us determines our journey.   Where we begin and where we choose to go is directed by our hearts.

Our journey can be filled with joyful abandon, so wherever we land – even if it’s a surprise – can be a place to leap forward, propelled by all we have learned on the way.

Photo by MaryEllen Hendricks

Sunday, November 9, 2014


One of the things I like to always keep in mind in dance class or when creating choreography is that there’s no right or wrong way.  There’s only what is right for me and my clients.  Further, my clients may or may not like what I’m presenting but they have their own sensibilities about what feels good and can change the movement so that it does feel right to them. 

Everyone owns their own dance.  Sometimes the dances are similar and sometimes widely different.  And that’s good. 

Certainly we can call a movement “wrong” if an injury occurs in class.  But in the moment when the injury happened no one thought or meant to do something “wrong.”  Mishaps – and missteps – happen, but not with conscious intention. 

My husband and I watched a really good movie called, “Locke,” which is the name of the main character.  In the story, this man has made a decision about how to go forward in dealing with a “mistake” he made.  A mistake that most people would judge as wrong.  His choice turns out to have many repercussions.  Injuries (not physical) occur. Calamites happen, all stemming from one action Locke made.  I could empathize with every single person immersed in the consequences of his choice.  And when I look from the point of view of every character involved, no one is wrong.  

I find that fascinating.  And I would say that there are universal acts of evil that we would all agree are unequivocally wrong.  But in the course of our everyday lives – in our relationships with our loved ones, our families, our co-workers, when we look through the eyes of others, at their choices, even if we don’t agree, we can often understand and believe that the other is not “wrong” – at least not in the context of her own experience.  

I am not often able to do this, but I would like to be more adept at seeing the other person’s point of view, especially when I am upset. Even if I don’t agree, even if I feel hurt, I hope that I can at least try to understand.   This understanding has nothing to do with being a doormat or denying negative feelings, but I believe it could soften the hard edges of disappointment. 

I would really like it if someone would do that for me, too, when I’ve angered someone.  It would go a long way to forge bonds of comprehension and promote intimacy.   

I am making it my intention now to remember that just because I don’t agree with someone it doesn’t mean she is wrong.

We are all dancing our own dance to the music that plays in our own heads. Comprehending this might make us hear someone else’s tune and understand her dance a little better.  

Photo by MaryEllen Hendricks