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What to do when the plan doesn't work?  Make an Intuitive Vision Board

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What to do when the plan doesn't work? Make an Intuitive Vision Board

Create a buzz

Create a buzz

When my plan wasn’t working

Once upon a time, when my micro business was only a few months old, I was feeling overwhelmed by the myriad of tasks I needed to do. I’d already created my website, which was a marathon in itself. But I still had a list as long as my arm of tasks I didn’t have the skills for. Rather than wallow in misery, I did what I know best. I made an Intuitive Vision Board.

Smack bang in the middle of it was the large head of a Buddleja, otherwise known as the ‘butterfly plant’. You can guess why; it's a magnet to butterflies. Alongside I’d pasted the words:  “create a buzz”.

I had no rational reason for choosing a Buddleja but it was no surprise either because this is my creative process: to purposefully set out to distract my left-brain in order to have a conversation with my right-brain. This required me to let go of what I thought I should be doing by choosing pictures to represent this and allow the images to choose me. I wanted to open the windows and let some fresh air in.

The next day when I re-visited my vision board, I chuckled to see the Buddleja because the first thing I thought of was a hand-held microphone.   Little did I know …


Serendipity

Within seven months of creating this Intuitive Vision Board, here’s what transpired - absolutely none of which I’d considered or planned for beforehand.  Yet all of these, as far as I could tell, had some association with the ‘hand-held microphone’ and finding my public voice.

* I started writing newsletters and blogs regularly

* I appeared on TV for the first time talking about intuitive vision boards

* I had three separate interviews on the radio

* I began writing my book about Intuitive Vision Boards

* I sang my first-ever solo on stage in front of 150 people

* I made three commercial videos

On the air with Emma-Jane Taylor on Oxford TV

On the air with Emma-Jane Taylor on Oxford TV

At the same time I was intrigued to discover I actually had a large Buddleja growing at the entrance to my property, which I'd not noticed before because I’d moved house in the depths of winter.  

During the summer, while I was in full swing with the book writing, 30 large blooms formed a protective arch for me to pass under - a constant reminder of my current focus to create a buzz.


Risk

From a psychotherapy point of view the Buddleja on my intuitive vision board was a transformational symbol. At the same time it was directing me towards the most effective route to develop my business.  I had not previously considered any of those “microphone activities” yet as they came into my awareness, I tried them on - even when it was a stretch, involved a small risk, and an element of fear.

And what had my logical left-brain (LL) planned for me to be doing instead before my remarkable right-brain (RR) stepped in and redirected the course of history with the Intuitive Vision Board?  

It sinks my spirits just to recall the massive ‘to do list’ I faced every day, systematically addressing tasks I found tedious - like mastering each social media platform in turn and writing a business plan. My progress was slow and I was very frustrated. If I’d made a vision board in the traditional way to reflect the intentions I’d set for myself, it would have looked very different from the one I created.  

I’m not suggesting the logical left-brain is now redundant or the tasks on my “to do list” are not valid, ever. It’s simply these decisions were being taken too early by LL when it’s strength is not to propose solutions that provide a quantum leap forward. LL needs to be at the service of RR otherwise the outcome will always be limited.


It’s not LL’s fault; it can’t help itself. It only works with data that is known already, which has been speculated accounts for a mere 5-8% of our available intelligence.  RR on the other hand has access to that vast, awesome sea of possibility and a rich treasure trove of ideas and inspiration, which is the other 92% of our available intelligence.  Therefore by engaging RR in making my intuitive vision board, I entertained ideas that had never entered my conscious awareness before. And these RR nudges added momentum to my business life more effectively than all my LL thinking put together.

The Intuitive Vision Board is not a panacea but it certainly provided me with the best guidance I needed at this time. There is so much I could share with you about this particular intuitive vision board but I’ll settle for one final image, which also changed the face of my business.


Manifesting Woman-Friday

Woman-Friday

Woman-Friday

See the man above sat at the desk alongside the Buddleja?   When I first saw him I thought: he’ll do, he looks busy and creative to me but not a suitable romantic partner.”  Then I had the subsequent thought:  “He’s working for me.  He’s my Man Friday!”  

Until then I had not considered employing anyone in the foreseeable future.  Like many micro business owners, I didn’t think I could afford to.  But acting on this RR nudge, I posted an advertisement on-line.  It said:  “Wanted. Part-time Man-Friday to provide computer and social media expertise to a struggling creative.”

I had three replies within a day.  The first came from a man who looked like the image on my board and helped me over some initial hurdles. The second reply came from a woman who lived three minutes walk away. She offered to be my Woman-Friday and has been working for me every since.  

Am I grateful for Deborah?  Yes!   Could I afford her? No, my LL still proclaims!  But I went ahead and defiantly afforded her anyway. Her presence has allowed me to progress much faster than my scrabbling around trying to do everything myself.  The third reply was from another talented candidate, by the way.  

Do you see how this works?  

I didn’t make the vision board to reflect previously conceived ideas of what I thought I should be doing otherwise this exercise would be little more than goal-setting using pictures. There’s nothing wrong with the latter and it is more common but, it has limitations which you now understand.

Neither am I saying this style of vision board can’t work; it can.  But when the linear intelligence of LL alone decides what images should be on your board, it can’t take into account the biggest picture. Consequently you could potentially be focusing on the wrong things.  

And, if you've decided in advance of making your board what your goals and aspirations are, you’ll need to rely on your will-power alone to pummel them into existence.  The alternative is to align with super-consciousness via your intuitive vision board because then you align with universal intelligence and its will-power is limitless.

May the force be with you 

My recommendation is to get out of your own way.  Open up to your innate intuitive intelligence and allow your imagination free-range when it comes to making your intuitive vision board. Be excited and curious about the images that appear.  

And then make sure you stay alert to the gentle promptings to action you’ll receive in the subsequent months ahead.  Don’t ignore them just because they seem inconvenient to LL who will try to convince you to wait for a more opportune moment.  Do it anyway.   At least be curious enough to do something with the guidance you receive, otherwise it's like uncovering hidden treasure and then throwing it away.

Don't expect an overnight result from this creative process either.  It took me seven months in this example for the vision to complete its form. There is a perfect moment when it comes to manifesting a vision when providence moves with you too - but in its own time and on its own terms.  In the interim, it pays to cultivate patience, which is something I had to learn but now I’ve come to trust.

VISIT MY EVENTS PAGE for Intuitive Vision Board workshop dates. Private workshops can be arranged by request.

To request a copy of my book “Awaken Your Intuitive Vision - unlocking possibilities you never knew existed” GO HERE.

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#visionboard #arttherapy #creativemeditation #imagination #activeimagination #seeintofuture #desire #intentions #creativity #empowerment #mindset #goals #hope #dreambig #planning #gratitude #positivity #possibilities #motivation #progress #inspiration #creativity #intuition #visionary #emergence #mindfulness

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Moving with Mindfulness in the Landscape

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I walk along a near-empty beach and find my way to a black rock revealed by the receding tide.  Tenderly I lie down on my side and edge backwards so that the length of my spine rests against its face.

My body is laid on damp sand, my knees curled up in front of me and my head resting on my hands.  I drift into sleep under the watchful eye of Golden Cap, the highest point on this coastal section of Jurassic Dorset.

 

The density and stillness of the rock engenders a corresponding stillness in me so that when I awaken I am alert yet my mind is empty.  No instructions were given; the wisdom of my kinaesthetic body led me to this and it is nourishing to both my body and soul.

The harsh gaunt cliffs are like sentinels behind me, slumping their mass of black clay into the sea while fossil hunters risk their lives at the foot of them.

Rivulets of clay emerge from the base of the cliffs like molten lava coursing across the sand towards the sea. Shards of sunlight pierce the clouds and spotlight my dance across this rocky tide line.  I feel at home here.

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This is what Moving in the Landscape means for me.  A time when I experience myself most physically alive.  A time when I give my body permission to move in response to the immediate natural environment, in this instance the beach.  I have three glorious days of this ahead of me, the mornings spent in the studio in preparation for the afternoons when I am moving outdoors.

As my body finds ways to move naturally and organically in this unfamiliar terrain, I discover ways of moving I'm not accustomed to.  It’s a terrific workout for my whole body while my mind takes a break from an overloaded routine.

As my rib case expands my breathing deepens and this has a calming effect on my nervous system. My headache has cleared and my movements are no longer dictated by thoughts running through my head. I move with a new-found freedom and vitality.  I am present, centred in the very ground of my being and at one with nature.

 

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Floating around in Cork - a premonition on my Intuitive Vision Board

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I have a £800 Nikon strung over my shoulder and a JVC camcorder around my neck and I’m prayin’ to Mary that I don’t slip on the cobbled stones of Penrose Quay into the Atlantic waters while I'm here to make a video.

 Those colourful boats on my Intuitive Vision Board (top left) have been working their Irish magic again.  Only a few months ago they took me on an all-expenses paid trip to a rural suburb of Dublin as a visiting “tour guide”. This time they've led me to Cork for a week.

I’m working on a building site in a cleverly reclaimed wharf, accompanied by two engineers.  It was never supposed to be a building site but work is so far behind schedule that I’m surrounded by men of all trades doing their thing.  It’s dirty, noisy and fascinating.
 
I've never worked alongside men who use their bodies and hands each day. I'll be honest and say I held a prejudice there would be a lot of testosterone flying around and vying for position in the hierarchy.  What struck me more was the courtesy and respect shown by the men towards each other. 

The only firework moment was when a man pasting vinyl didn’t realise the touch-activated shower on the wall behind it was switched on - and it drenched him.  His swearing in a Cork accent, incomprehensible at the best of times, was really more entertaining than scarey.

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I was on my feet for 8-9 hour days filming.  So were the engineers I was accompanying to install the two float rooms.

 It went through my mind how satisfying it must be to make something and see it materialise before your very eyes, channelling all that masculine energy into it rather than just being sat behind a desk every day.  

Meanwhile I was very grateful to be able to retire to a comfortable, elegant spa hotel and peel off my dusty clothes to relax and freshen up.

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This is a float room (right) by the way.  It's a private, ambient bath tub where you lay on your back in silence, darkness too if you prefer, suspended on a dense Epsom Salt solution - a bit like floating in the Dead Sea. 

For the past three years I’ve worked part-time for the market leader selling their float rooms around the world. The UK, Holland, Canada, USA, New Zealand and Australia are the biggest markets.  I even attended a Float Conference in Oregon last year; it's a growing industry.

The people who gravitate to this business are inclined to be spiritual by nature and have a desire to foster that in others.  I enjoy encouraging them to establish their havens of floating tranquility where they can let go of all the stresses, tensions and worries of life for an hour at least. For those of you who've worked with me will know how well this sits alongside my own modus operandi.
 
How did my floating life transpire?   Just over three years ago my practice was fledgling while I was slowly emerging from the roughest, toughest period in Mary Nondé recorded history.  At that time I attended a Tango dance lesson and found myself paired with an Aussie.  When I heard he was a business owner, I asked whether he knew of anyone who could offer me part-time work.  He wasn’t looking but he liked the sound of what I could do.  No CV, no interview.  Just a month’s trial - and I've been working for them ever since. 
 
Yes, there's a woman floating on my Intuitive Vision Board below!    I made this board before the floatation company came on my scene six months later.  Up until then I'd only floated once at a Spa.  She was a premonition for sure,  alongside the three photos of the ocean and including the bed-on-the-rocks beside the sea (to dream for), and Daniel Craig walking towards me.   

So here's the craic. The floatation company I've been working for is called Ocean Float Rooms.  It's like having a bed by the sea.
And the owner has the body and stature of Daniel Craig, as far as I can tell.
 
Warm and ambient wishes, Mary

Floating.jpg
 

 

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Sunflowers, bullfrogs and no Costa   

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I never grow tired of flying into the beautiful city of Toulouse.   It's aptly known as La Ville Rose because of the pink terracotta bricks used in many of its buildings.  It's a wonderful place to explore on foot - for a romantic weekend perhaps - with the majestic river Garonne coursing through it.  The boutiques, restaurants and cafés are decidedly chic and it's very easy to part with your euros.
 
Toulouse is also the landing spot for my Soul Alive Retreat.  There are flights here from all over the UK but I favour British Airways from Heathrow Terminal 5; it's easy and accessible.  Then it's only a 45-minute drive to the villa in this lesser known department of SW France where you can quickly feel as if you're stepping back in time.

I host two Retreats a year - in the late Spring and early fall.  In June, everything is bursting forth with new life.  In September the weather is still glorious and the grapes just harvested to make the delicious Gaillac wines for which this region is famous.  

The Retreats take place in the tiny village of Vieux, which means 'old' if your French is a bit rusty.  You won't hear a plane passing overhead but you may hear a tractor passing through or a busy bullfrog if it's the mating season.

Our home from home for six days is the 14th century property called Le Presbytere and we have the exclusive use of it.  It sounds a bit 'churchy' doesn't it and that's because it was once the home of the village pastor who took in weary travellers on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage trail, which passes right outside the door.  

The solid wooden door of Le Presbytere stands opposite the old church built at the same time.  It's the perfect location for head-weary folk to take time-out from their uber-busy lifestyle to rest and regroup. We use the villa and its charming gardens in the mornings for creative contemplation using the somatic arts and mindfulness practice as starting points.

Not confined to the walls of villa, however, we venture forth to a different restaurant each day for lunch. The afternoons are spent exploring the Tarn Valley with its picturesque Bastide hill towns and countryside peppered with sunflowers and vines.  A suitable balm for the nervous system and the opportunity to stop ‘thinking’ and ‘doing’ and to absorb the riches that life offers so naturally and abundantly.

You won't find Costa on every corner here, not even in the city.  I take my hat off to the French for honouring their traditions and preserving their history so tastefully.

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With your own en-suite double room, this is a rare opportunity to take time-out to muse and to linger on whatever you fancy and to escape the need to be on call to anyone. 

I encourage people to switch off their mobiles and not access the internet for these 6 days for their own benefit  - but I don't forbid it!  Out of respect for others I ask that any connection with the outside world is made quietly and discreetly from your own room.

 

Maybe September suits you better the weather is still glorious and the grapes just harvested to make the delicious Gaillac wines for which this region is famous.  Just let me know.

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If you've hit a metaphorical brick wall or know someone who is rather jaded and in need of a break, this all-inclusive Soul Alive Retreat might fit the bill.

 We can always talk it through by phone on 0782 7017188.  

Or I'm happy to meet for a coffee if that's practical.

A toute a l'heure, Mary

 

One participant from Sweden recounts her experience:

"I enjoyed Mary's week-long retreat very much.  A beautiful place to stay and beautiful places to visit.  I particularly liked the combination of inner work in the morning and exploring the surroundings in the afternoon.  The silence before breakfast worked well for me and the writing, drawing, and sharing activities gave me a lot of useful insight and inspiration." 

"I've continued writing and drawing since arriving back home.  I've also been out into the woods gathering mushrooms and into the garden to pick apples for baking and juicing.  A lot of creativity was aroused in me during the week and this has helped me find my way through a career change soon after my return".  

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Your body never lies...

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When I attended a 4-year dance-movement therapy training, there was a performer in my group from  a prestigious London Contemporary Dance school.  Karen had a vast movement repertoire and a highly tuned body.  This was her first real taste of dance-movement improvisation however. 

During the  first module she touched on something through free movement and began to cry.  Something that had been buried in her subconscious for years was surfacing but she didn’t yet know what. 

As she continued to explore over the months/years so too did she unravel memory of incest that had remained a family secret until now.  The trauma now surfaced completely to be released, her shame located and healed through movement, simply by allowing her body to move of its own accord, at its own speed, with its own mode of expression.  The result can be more immediate than any verbal analysis. 

When Karen later turned her experience into a performance piece, her sister was in the audience.  Without providing a verbal description of what her piece was about, Karen conveyed her story through the dance.  Her sister received it - through her body - and remembered her own experience of incest that she too had buried.

I don't want to suggest this happens in every somatic movement or dance-movement therapy session.  It’s just to illustrate how informed the 'soma' (the inner intelligent body) is. 

Here's a more typical experience from Caroline, whose husband bought her a movement session as a present. 

“Wow … I want to give a shout out to Mary Nondé.  After a 2-hour movement session with her I feel like I’ve had a deep massage and my body is aligned in a completely new way; I feel freed up and relaxed at a whole new level.  

“If you’re feeling stressed, stuck or want to be more in your body, I would highly recommend this.  It does require you to be open to moving and really get into your body, and to park the old thinking brain for a while.  But that was a relief to be honest!” 

Caroline Burr, Your Relationship Coach.

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When one door closes make a vision board to open the next

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Recently I was faced with a conundrum.  I was ready to let go of my lovely flat in Marlow which had served me well for two years, yet where I was to move to instead was a mystery. With my daughter due back from University any minute for five weeks, I chose to park fretting about it and enjoy my time with her instead.

About a week later out of the blue a very good friend called me.  Her mother had just died after a long and graceful decline and she asked me if I'd go over the next day and give her some Reiki.  As I lay my hands on her shoulders, she said:  “Mary would you like to come and live here until I get around to selling this house.  You can finish writing your book.  There’s a room for Celine too.  And Willow is accustomed to sleep overs here anyway.”  I was gob-smacked - and delighted. Here was a clear way forward without me having to use willpower and must to arrive at it.

I recalled the two doors at the top of my Intuitive Vision Board: one door closed and the other slightly ajar. When the imagery of front doors appears on Vision Boards, it frequently represents moving house. Front doors often and also sit in the “Career/Path in Life" area of the Bagua map used in Feng Shui, which is the entry point of chi into the home and the area to work on to encourage movement generally.  I had no plans to change home when I made this particular Vision Board but the deeper part had clearly known otherwise. 

"Hidden Treasure."  The words alongside the two doors resonated with me too. The value of the intuitive work I do with Vision Boards is to help people to reclaim their hidden treasure - the diamonds in their back yard which so often get overlooked because they're right under their noses.

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Ou est Marie? Now folks to find me you cross the white ornate bridge with Marlow behind you and zig-zag up the steep gradient of Winter Hill, heavily populated by cyclists at weekends since the Olympics.  Be sure to take in the wonderful view from the summit before dropping into Cookham Dean and coming to rest at my friend’s home nestled in the trees opposite Herries prep school.  All that playful, creative energy coming my way surrounded by nature.  It affords me the perfect environment to complete the writing of my book. 

We have our own dance studio too. YES!  Since we’re both dancers we’ve dedicated the large open-plan lounge, with floor to ceiling views of the garden,  to somatic movement. Now anyone wanting to book in for a dance-movement session it's easy peasy.  Drop me a line using the sign up below, or email mary@marynonde.com, or give me a call on 0782 7017188. 

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Prizewinner uses her intuitive vision board to stream into flow

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In the summer of 2016 I ran a prize draw to win a place on my Intuitive Vision Board workshop and gather data for my book.  The winner was Lisa whom I’d never met before.  The day I informed her of her prize she was giving birth to Esme.  Not surprisingly it was week’s later that she accepted her prize 

Seven months on... and an Intuitive Vision Board workshop and coaching session session behind her, and a Feng Shui consultation later (to create her home congruent with her vision), both Lisa and Esme are flying.

“Hi Mary, I just thought I’d let you know the Vision Board and our conversations have worked wonders.  I got a camera as a gift for Christmas and so far have completed two photography courses as well as online study.

“It feels so good to have the excitement and creativity back into my life beyond being a mum and homemaker.  It’s all new learning and it’s driving my confidence back up without the need to look to someone else for it.”

“We have also started digging the foundations for the extension so it looks like the magic of the board and the Feng Shui is working very quickly this year.”

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Here are some of Lisa’s photos...  You can see above how baby Esme has grown.  And with three other children too, Lisa is a full-on full-time mum and needs her home to be just right so she can function at her best.  

Her husband’s a brick.  Yes, literally, he’s a builder.  And this is rather handy because the extension they are planning is a large and visionary undertaking.

Lisa's story reminded me that once upon a time I was raising my daughter solo and running a Feng Shui practice. The latter was becoming increasingly difficult to manage alongside and I needed to make changes.  Someone suggested I go back to University to study dance and the somatic arts.  It was something I loved to do for myself and I thought it might sit well alongside parenting.  All it took was a 5-minute Google search to find the perfect course.  

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Within months I was accepted as a mature student and underway with a PGCE in Dance.  I was delighted.  Chichester was 2 ½ hours drive away from home but I managed it there and back in a day.  The degree evolved into an MA in Somatic Arts Psychotherapy and so it came to pass that between the ages of 7 to 12, 'mother' was re-educated too and involved her daughter in as many of the dance and creative activities as she could.

Similarly to Lisa I stepped into my creative stream which was just ripe for me to explore yet without compromising my other important commitments.   I’d loved the learning.  I enjoyed the contact with my peers.  I had no real idea where it would lead beyond teaching creative dance in local schools and a weekly class for adults.  It was never going to be a massive money-spinner, but neither was it time-intensive. However, it was fun, thought-provoking and very creative - and I loved facilitating it.

What might you take from this?

1.  Have you found your stream – something that awakens and excites you?  It doesn't matter how seemingly crazy and not related to anything that's gone before it is.  The discontinuous the better.  If you don’t know what it might be, come and make a Vision Board with me and it will become very evident.

2.  Don’t start to future-scope where the stream is going and whether you’ll be earning enough money at the end of it.  Try it on as a hobby and bring your full presence and joy to it.  If the activity makes your soul sing, it will have a splendid knock on effect on everyone you come into contact with; spread the joy.

3. Your stream is likely to be at the bottom of your garden.  You might think you're seeking a BIG river with a massive flow.  Not necessarily.  Lisa found her stream in photography and took courses at Jessop’s in the next town.  Okay so I went further afield but I enjoyed the travel (most of the time) for the time to be with my own thoughts.

4. Accept the stream won’t always flow smoothly.   It may be rocky at times and downright challenging to stay in it.  But ultimately it can lead you to longer-lasting, eudaimonistic fulfillment versus a shorter hedonistic thrill.   It is the place you can return to when the world feels like a fearful place and doubts and uncertainties threaten to take you over.  Peace reigns over your land.  

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"I'm not interested in how people move but what moves them"

Pina Bausch, dancer and choreographer extraordinaire strikes a powerful chord.  Dance is not just about technical perfection which means only a minority should pursue it.  It's also about giving the soul a voice through movement.  And this practice is inclusive and as old as the hills.

I’m in the throes of learning West Coast Swing.  There’s a woman in my class who’s in her late 70s.  You’d never believe it to see her move, let alone the way she dresses.  She always has a big smile on her face when she dances, while her husband is at home watching the rugby.  I’ll wager a bet on which one of them lives the longest.

While I’ll always try my hand at any dance form, the method I believe offers the greatest potential for restoring your equilibrium on all levels has no prescribed form.  It’s organic.  It’s natural. And has nothing to do with following the prescribed moves of the teacher. 

The fastest route to stillness.  I currently call my practice Moving with Mindfulness. I used to call it Dancing for Joy.  But since we're all very familiar with the concept of mindfulness, it requires only a small stretch of the imagination to see how mindfulness applied to the whole moving body can have a marvelous effect.  It's also described as Somatic movement.

It’s the fastest route to stillness, returning you to the inner river-of-life and at a pace and a rhythm that is nurturing for you.  And believe me, anyone can discover this for themselves.  You don't have to be a dancer to arrive there.

With the impulse to move arising from within, who's to judge whether it’s right or wrong, good or bad; it is as it is.  You have total freedom to be spontaneous.  

With the subtleties of movement taking priority over getting steps right, this practice creates a bridge to deeper intelligence which is impossible to language through words alone.  Carl Jung called this engagement with the unconscious 'the active imagination'.  To explore this way is both liberating and delicious - like arriving home to your playful self after a long time away.

Moving with Mindfulness is an embodied practice that awakens your creative spirit and refreshes your relationship with your living, breathing body.  As you grow to recognise what it is you feel (through the sensations, intuitions, emotions and instincts that arise naturally), so  too your trust in your yourself to know what's right for you grows.  

When you over-ride these feelings because you don't understand their value or can't find a file to put them in can leave you disenchanted with life - and then wondering why.

If you'd like to find out more about what moves you please drop me a line: mary@marynonde.com or call 07827017188.

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#dancemovement #organicmovement #naturalmovement #somatic #imagination #sensoryplay #presence #embodiment #phenomenology #kinaesthetic #engagement #relationship #responsive #sensuous #standyourground #gettingcreative #confidence #connection

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Being comfortable in your own skin is worth more than the bigger house.

A personal epiphany that began 8 years ago ...

My relationship with Catherine began when she attended my weekly dance-movement class. What a great class it was too! Both men and women lapping up that liberating feeling that moving freely to music gives you.

Catherine arrived without expectations.

Since she’d never done any dance-movement improvisation or expressive art before, she anticipated Moving with Mindfulness would open her up to new experiences and she was ready to bring them on.  

After these classes she came along to make a Vision Board with me.  

Then she joined me for two Soul Alive Retreats in a row.  

More recently she returned to the studio for a Moving with Mindfulness workshop. 

“My creativity has snow-balled," she says.

And finally Catherine is now embracing Feng Shui & Decluttering as a valuable mainstay for living an authentic life.  As a person inclined to hold on than let go, she would never have believed she'd find herself getting into that at the outset!

I remember Catherine in her first class.  She had a big smile on her face throughout the movement section.  But when it came to capturing on paper what was alive and moving through her in that moment, she declared that she might skip this because she had trouble drawing anything beyond matchstick men.  I gently told her it was not about being artistic but giving her inner creativity a voice .... and so she continued to draw.

Reflecting back on this 8 years later, she recognises the limiting beliefs operating and had been in place since her childhood.  But working with expressive creativity over time has helped her to salve these wounds – not that this was visibly top of her agenda at the outset because she wasn’t aware she was holding those beliefs.

As the only child growing up in the early 50s, her mother worked in the home while her father was the breadwinner.  She remembers with fondness her mother encouraging her to cut out images from greetings cards and sticking them into scrapbooks. Colouring in was also very popular and she enjoyed that too. She cannot remember being encouraged to do any freestyle drawing.  “You simply weren’t allowed to unless you evidently had a talent for it.” How curious is it that artistic talent is expected to descend on us from the heavens without any cultivation while other subjects like Maths, say, don't carry this expectation. 

When it came to writing, the pressure for Catherine to get it right, "i-dotting and t-crossing" she recalls, removed any joy for her and burdened the task with perfection.  This was before the days of computers; writing was long-hand - and in pencil - and you were only allowed a rubber if you were lucky. In using a typewriter, any mistake required you to rip out the paper and start all over again.

Hardly surprising Catherine developed a creative block – a fear of committing pen to paper in case she got it wrong and was reprimanded.  Coupled with the fact that she was the youngest in her year group, resulted in her repeatedly finding herself near the bottom of the class which was tough on her self-esteem.

She remembers her mother as the grounding force in her life, consistently encouraging Catherine in all her extra-curricula developments including amateur dramatics and Scottish dancing.  Then suddenly age 10, her mother died.

Catherine’s first thought as she watched her mother being wheeled into an ambulance from an upstairs window was: “Oh no, there’s going to be lots of letter-writing now!” 

Catherine was left alone with her father and dog.  After 10 months of being shunted between relatives, Catherine arrived at a Royal Masonic boarding school at the other end of the country.  To her horror she’s learned that she would be required to write home every week.  From school she went to catering college and from there took a job as an au-pair girl in the South of France.  Returning to the UK for a holiday, she stayed with a friend in High Wycombe and has lived and worked there for 40 years since - and still thinks of herself as a Lancashire lass at heart!

"I am convinced that the creative journey enabled me to become fully myself for the first time ever."   What a profound realisation!  Catherine believes that by eradicating her fear of not needing to be perfect restored her confidence in herself. And with my encouragement, she came to realise it was more than ok to just do it – move, write, draw, make – and not have to worry for one moment about the end result because the transformational power was in the process itself.  

"It could be make-believe, abstract, representational – whatever.  My creative expression didn’t need to be anything in particular.  I came to trust that it was only and always about me being authentic with whatever I was feeling, sensing or imagining at the time.  This enabled me to become unstuck from my old story, which was most liberating.

Her journaling and freehand drawing has continued in spurts.  Over time Catherine has clearly observed themes emerging in her writing as she reflected on issues she was working through at the time.  

“Journaling slowed me down and allowed me to look over my own shoulder so I became much more self-aware.  In the beginning, the theme of 'time' was very evident in my creative work, particularly during the first retreat; what I was doing and how I was spending my days preoccupied me.  

I’ve now moved into a ‘sifting and sorting’ mode that comes out in my journalling too.  It also compels me to condense, clear and clarify all my belongings and this focuses my mind and body in the home.  It's highly creative and productive work yet demands a lot of my energy so I can only get stuck-in on my days off.”

With only 12 months to go before retirement, Catherine’s creativity is clearly preparing her for this major life transition and will guide her in deciding “what next?”  The sorting helps her prioritise what is truly important and how best to arrange her life for easy access to this – and to ditch the rest.  

“What began as an exercise in ordering my material things has turned out to be all about sorting me out - and it’s very satisfying.”  "I am now very clear what my life is about and what I truly enjoy.  As a young woman I needed to be accommodating in order to survive.  I've now released the need to do so and I only accommodate what is right for me." 

"I can see how the creative process opens doors to different people in different ways depending on where they are in their life.  For me it’s been all about my giving myself permission to be authentically me.”

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#humanspirit #self-reflection #contemplation #timeout #sensuous #possibilities #mindfulness #sensoryplay #intentions #creativity #mindset #goals #hope #passion #motivation #inspiring #inspired #somuchlove #supported #encouraged #motivation #thelittlethings #progress #gettingcreative

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