Wednesday, June 22, 2011

View from a Hooping Plateau Part 2

While time on a hooping plateau is natural, no hooper wants to linger there. After all, we hoop-dance for joy and self expression. Thus when hooping starts to feel stale or frustrating, panic often ensues. Luckily there are many paths down from the mountains and obscure trails leading upward to new vistas of possibility. Here’s a few suggestions…and counter-suggestions.

Stick to it! In role playing games characters often have to accumulate experience points before they can level up. The same concept applies to hooping. The more time you spend in the hoop, the more experience you gain. A couple dull days practicing the same old moves might be enough to level up and break into new territory.


Take a break. Sometimes we need to step back and gather new resources to reinvigorate our dance. Let your hooping self rest and seek out inspiration from yoga, meditation, other forms of dance, long walks, and good friends. Remember, it’s ok to put down the hoop for a while. Your plateau may be a sign that it’s time to redirect your energy.

Refine old moves. Since hooping feels dull on a plateau, use the time for the more tedious work of polishing up old moves. Smooth out isolations. Find new poses while core hooping. Work in your reverse current. Straighten out your planes.


Learn new moves. The encyclopedia of hoop-tutorials on Youtube is constantly evolving. Search out new videos and expand your hooping vocabulary. Look for advanced tricks, variations, or adapt moves from other flow-arts like poi.

Enjoy body-rocking. You might be surprised by the things you discover when you bring your hoop back to your core.


Move off-body. There’s whole hooping worlds centered around isolations, tracing techniques, and mini-hooping.

Practice something that makes you giggle like foot hooping or tosses.

Reconnect to the hooping community by attending a hoop jam or workshop.


Reconnect to your solitary hoop practice. Rock out in your living room. Carry your hoop to the beach. Bliss our Hoop Path style with a blindfold. Solitary practice is especially important for hoopers who spend a lot of time performing or teaching. A while back on Elephant Journal I read advice from a yoga teacher that yogis should spend 1 hour in personal practice for every 2 hours they spend teaching or following a teacher. I think the same principal applies to hoop dance.

Hoop to a favorite song.


Hoop to music you don’t normally listen to. When you expand your musical horizons, you also expand your range of expression.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mandala Monday - Word Mandalas

A word-mandala brings together two techniques that C. G. Jung used to study the unconscious mind: word association and mandala drawings. Jung conceptualizes mandalas “patterns of order which, like a psychological ’view finder’ … superimposed on the psychic chaos so that each content falls into place and the weltering confusion is held together by the protective circle.”  The “sacred circle” of the mandala helps the artist bring order and find patterns in the chaotic flow of the unconscious mind.
An archetypal illustration from Jung's Red Book.

Mandalas are traditionally geometric drawings, but they can also be created with words.

In Memories, Dreams, and Reflections Jung notes that during word-association sessions patients often drew blanks at certain words. The patient might instantly respond “Frisbee” to “dog,” while “cat” receives a long silence. Jung links these silences to Frued’s concept of repression, but they have positive implications too. Certain words serve as keystones for larger ideas. So if you begin with Word A, the words will connect to Word A for a while, but when another keystone word appears, the words begin to connect with it instead. If you hunt through a page of word-associations, you’ll probably pick out the ‘big ideas’, the keystones that mark the flow of thoughts. Jung called them Complexes. So while the stream of words might appear chaotic, they map out patterns similar to the circles, squares, and crosses of hand-drawn mandalas. What the mandala maps thoughts kinesthetically, word associations map linguistically.

Or you can play with both sides of the brain and create a word-mandala that combines word association and mandala drawing.
  • Begin with either the word-association or the mandala. But first take a moment to meditate on your central thought. I chose Shakti, the Hindu goddess who awakens love and creativity.
  • After you've sketched the outline of your mandala drawing, begin a page of word association beginning with your central thought. Write slowly and mindfully. Let your mind wander freely from one word to the next. 
  • Next, study your word-association page and begin picking out the keystone ideas. Study your drawn-mandala to get a rough idea of how many words you need and how they’ll interconnect in the drawing.
My word-association began as: 
Shakti: Namaste ~ Pray ~ Play ~ Dance ~ Flow ~ Grow ~ Seeds ~ Beads ~ Tangled twine ~ Divine ~ Stars ~ Galaxy ~ Mind ~ Vibrant  ~ Rainbow ~ Crescent ~ Crescendo ~ Sound ~ Profound ~ Inspiration ~ Liberation ~ Revolution ~ Rise like lions ~ Slumber ~ Surrender ~ Submerge ~ Purified ~ Sanctuary ~ January ~ Stillness ~ Center ~ Spiral ~ Dancing ~ Flame ~ Never break the chain ~ Entwine ~ Sublime ~ Mystery ~ History ~ Storyteller ~ Grandmother ~ Spider web ~ Thread ~ Blood ~ Journey ~ Descent ~ Transcend ~ Living Light ~ Illuminate ~Poetry ~ Word Hoard ~ Dragon ~ Ancient ~ Prophecy ~ Raven ~ Trickster ~ Coyote ~ Horizon ~ Shadow ~ Glimmer ~ Glitter ~ Joy ~ Whirling ~ Rumi ~ Library ~ Treasure ~ 
And became:
Shakti:  Grow ~ Vibrant ~ Inspiration ~ Liberation ~ Sanctuary ~ Stillness ~ Center ~ Sublime ~ Transcend ~ Storyteller ~ Journey ~ 
  • Finally, begin placing keystone words inside the mandala outline. Add colors, symbols, patterns, and other decorations. I chose to add some lines of poetry, because I realized my association of lions with rebellion originated from a Percy Bysshe Shelley's "The Mask of Anarchy"
Word-mandalas are amazing tools, because they challenge the creator to link the intuitive lines and shapes of a drawing with the linguistic shapes of words. Word-mandalas are thus an example of what the Kesh in Ursual K. LeGuin's Always Coming Home call hand-mind: a task whose mindful motions makes space for mental exploration.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

View from a Hooping Plateau Part 1

The view is breathtaking: valleys, rivers, and luminous sky. I stand in awe of the heights I’ve climbed, while gazing, inspired, at the mountains still waiting to be scaled. Below me a landscape of new friends, new skills, and blissful memories unfurl like a tapestry.

But I’d rather be somewhere else. Almost anywhere else.

I stand, grateful but impatient, on a hooping plateau.

You’ve probably reached one or will reach one some day. It’s the place in your hooping journey where everything seems a little stale. You’re comfortable with your skill-set and flow…too comfortable. Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve learned something new, and you worry you’ve reached the limits of your dance. Maybe you’ve poured your energy into the hooping community, and you feel burned out. Whatever path you’ve followed, you know you’re on a hooping plateau because all the birds are singing, “Same old. Nothing new. Same old hoola hoop.” It’s not a danceable tune.

The tricky thing about my hooping plateau is that nothing has really changed. I’m still part of a fantastic community. The crowd still crows when I bust out a pizza toss from my knees. I still adore the murmur of flames before I launch my fire hoop into motion. Nothing external exiles a hooper to a dreary plateau. It’s internal. It’s a state of mind.
Solanaceae surveys the hoop-scape.
Believe it or not. It’s a good sign.

Hooping plateaus are part of the natural ebb and flow of a dynamic hoop journey. They acknowledge accomplishment and skill. After all, I’ve worked long and hard to build the plateau’s foundation. They also promise change…if I persevere. They’re a resting space before plunging into the mountains of possibility. Like the proverbial calm before the storm, they signal a lull before a flood of new energy, inspiration, and flow.

So enjoy the view, hoop-friends. Set your hoop in the sand and meditate. Take inventory. Write a hymn in honor of the circle. Be patient, because the journey never ends.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Spin Gypsy

Spin Gypsy celebrates self-discovery through dance, movement, and music. We are a collective of hoop dancers, fire spinners, flow artists, and performers who connected through the Sedalia Farmer’s Market in the summer of 2010. We host performances and workshops throughout Mid-Missouri, including a weekly spin-jam in Liberty Park. 

We hope you join us in the circle!  

June 17th- Randomly at the Sedalia Lion’s Club Blues &   BBQ

June 18th - Spin Jam at Liberty Park, 4-7pm

June 24th - Friday Spin Jam at Sedalia Farmer’s Market, 4-7pm 

June 25th - Performance with the Hulagans @ Beach Party 101 in Columbia, MO, 9-midnight 

June 25th- Summer Solstice Bonfire Party in Leeton. Contact  Jeluna for details.
July 2nd - Spin Jam at Liberty Park, 4-7 pm

July 4th - Fire Spinning Performance at Dresden Community Center (free food & fireworks!!!)

July 8-11th - Zenfest at Camp Gaea, Kansas. 

July 16th - Spin Jam at Liberty Park, 4-7pm 

July 21st - 3rd Thursday Celebration in Warrensburg. Details TBA

July 22nd - Spin Jam at Liberty Park, 4-7pm

July 30th - Friday Spin Jam at Sedalia Farmer’s Market, 4-7pm

If you're a musician or pro-spinner interested in sharing your talents, please contact Heather Hughes @

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mandala Monday - Shadows and Sight

In the center of this mandala by Yen Chua, the mediator dissolves into bliss. Beyond the shadow of the ego, the eyes of the mind open and reveal universal harmony.  

Friday, June 10, 2011

One Tribe, Many Voices

The sound extends the circle wide,
Draws the dancing souls inside,
Gathers strength, ignites the tribe,
Quickens feet and sooths the mind,
So that thoughts take flight and leap
In silent prayer or kindly greeting.

Like the rambling waters flowing,
Like leaves of trees and breezes blowing,
A current carries dust and jewels
To anoint the dirty hair of fools,
Thus all are blessed who cup their hands
To grasp and drink this moment’s wine.

If I wander drunk and dazed,
Stomping rhythms, singing praise,
The moths may fold their wings in prayer
and linger, trembling in my hair,
For I exchanged my mask for light
And mingled my voice with the song of the tribe.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Spark of Basic Goodness

Khristian Snyder Photography

You have an inclination: in the flash of one second, you feel what needs to be done. It is not a product of your education; it is not scientific or logical; you simply pick up on the message. And then you act: you just do it. That basic human quality of suddenly opening up is the best part of human instinct. You know what to do right away, on the spot—which is fantastic.

That is what we call the dot of basic goodness and unconditional instinct. You don’t think: you just feel, on the spot.

Basic trust is knowing that there is such a thing as that spark of basic goodness.

Chogyam Trungpa, The Ocean of Dharma

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mint Tea Recipe

Last night I made this yummy tea with mint from my garden. It's the first time I've ever eaten something I've grown. Pure magic....and delicious.

Steep 6 mint leaves in 2 cups boiling-hot water for 1-3 minutes. 
Remove leaves
Add a splash of orange juice
Add a swirl of honey.
Stir and enjoy. 

"Louisa was slow and still in her movements; it took her a long time to prepare her tea; but when ready it was set forth with as much grace as if she had been a veritable guest to her own self."

-From Mary E. Wilkins Freeman's "A New England Nun"