As we move through these days of division and anxiety fuelled by the pandemic, by war in Europe and by global warming, I’d like to ask you how you are and to tell you a little about how I am. In between I will drop bits of Rumi poetry that seem to me to speak to our hearts, bodies, minds and spirits. 

2021 was such a tough year for so many. Need I spell it out? Job losses, homelessness, grief, fear, anger, isolation, division. Here in South Africa we have had all of that, and many of us were devastated by the travel bans – our loved ones unable to come for the summer holidays yet again. Never mind a parliament in flames! And now a war in Ukraine….

So how is your heart? 

come on sweetheart
let’s adore one another
before there is no more
of you and me (Rumi)

Our hearts have been battered by loss of connection. I read it and hear it all the time: We are wired for connection. We are social creatures. We are meant to be together, to work together, to play and eat together. Zoom just doesn’t quite cut it. My heart has felt nurtured and cuddled by being able to spend time in December/Jan with my beloved daughter and son-in-law, who did manage to defy the travel bans and make it here. Also heart-warming was having their long-time friends come around to our house, seeing the  adults they’ve become, with sturdy strong hearts, and yearning dreams. And my special niece and her sweet family are here now – finally made it to SA! My heart has felt opened recently to friends, long-time, wonderful friends, having lovely, long lunches with them on summer afternoons. And now preparing for a very casual singing gig that we are doing with friends and family – this has been such fun! Singing is a heart-opener all on its own. My heart is grateful to think that I will soon have my husband back by my side after a trip away, making me my ginger tea in the morning, his small kindnesses. And I am nourished by every single coaching client who shows up with the desire to find another way through life, and the willingness to do the work. My heart is warmed by every Nia mover who comes to class to find joy through movement, and to share that joy with me and everyone in the class. 

How is your body?

be happy with your beloved
you can’t find any better
the world will shimmer
because of the diamond you hold (Rumi)

Our bodies often do a lot of unnatural things, like sitting all day at a computer, walking in shoes or worse! high heels. Our bodies cry out for sleep, and very often never get enough. Over the holidays I slept so well as I was in Hermanus,  and it’s quiet there. But more than that, I slept so well because I completely slowed down. I spent days just reading books, swimming and walking. And my body feels lighter. I have recently shed 6kgs of extra weight that I had been carrying around for years, and that had made it quite a bit harder to climb mountains and run on the beach. It feels good. Daily I am grateful for my healthy body, which thrives on its regular doses of Nia, walking, swimming and hiking. How is your body? Does it get enough sleep, enough movement and enough good food? And how do you feel towards it?

How is your mind?

why are you so busy
with this or that or good or bad
pay attention to how things blend (Rumi)

We live with a dis-ease called busy-ness. I see it everywhere around me, and I feel it in my life, day by day. We live with permanent, ongoing distraction on our screens. I see parents walking with their kids on the beach, and they are on the phone (on holiday and still connected, answering their emails and WhatsApp messages). There are no boundaries between work and home life,  (even less so now with covid home offices) and our brains find it hard to focus, to switch off, to just be in the present moment, with our surroundings and our people. What has happened to long, heartfelt conversations, with long slow pauses and silences? I remember dinner conversations with my parents always talking and listening, with us, with each other, and then all of us reading until bedtime. Now many minds are jumpy, hopping from one TV channel to the next, from one youtube video to the next, from one social media platform to the next. When did being busy become a virtue? Technology has given us so many tools to make life easier, to free up time, and to stay connected. But where is the time to just be? To be still? And what is the quality of our connection?

On holiday in Hermanus I felt the stress layers falling off me. I felt how my brain needed some time to adapt to less, and less and less. Fewer emails, less news, less work, less admin, less on my to do list. Less distraction. (And my mind has been so distracted lately that I haven’t even been able to read a novel!) My mind is asking me why I have been so busy, what drives that? I am still searching for the answer. My word for this year is “Observe”. I want to observe what’s going on in my body, my emotions and my mind, more and more. And that will require stillness. And regular meditation. 

And how is your spirit?

why talk about all
the known and the unknown
see how the unknown merges into the known

look at spirit
how it fuses with earth
giving it new life (Rumi)

In Nia we see spirit as your authentic self.  We talk about spirit as “life force”, your unique, animating spirit. Movement, for me, is a spiritual practice. I have recently watched some Sufi whirling on Youtube, and found it deeply meditative, and wholly sacred. It is peaceful and profound. Nia can feel like that to me. I love how Nia allows and encourages each unique spirit its own expression, its own natural timing, its own body’s way. When I walk on the beach or in the mountains, and I am aware of sounds, smells, sights, textures and sensations,  I can feel deeply connected to everything around me.  When I feel my breath, I am aware of my life force.  The word “spirit” comes from the Latin “spiritus” meaning “breath.” What does spirit mean to you? And how is your life force?