Monthly Archive: January 2014

Endings and Beginnings

endings-and-beginningsThis past weekend I held a workshop I had been dreaming in for a long time. It combined the history, meaning and physicality of dance – in this instance, flamenco – with our emotional and spiritual health and well being.  I’ve long known and appreciated how our values really come alive through physical movement: my years as a dancer and yoga teacher gave me a felt and first-hand experience of the power of our bodies on our souls; my studies in philosophy, psychology and shamanism deepened my appreciation of and hunger for that connection.

And so we danced in the spirit of the fugitive peasants of long ago Spain, transforming our beliefs into physical values in the process.

The workshop is over. What now?  New opportunities for making this workshop better and more affordable, refining it for specific audiences , collaborating with other disciplines and professionals, even possibly creating a new business.

My point is – it took me courage and a great deal of energy to birth this dream, and by sticking with it I have opened up possibilities that I would never have even suspected otherwise.

What was it Goethe once wrote to all if us… What you can do or dream you can do, begin it. For boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit http://www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

The Unbroken Spirit

gypsy flamenco artistThis Saturday January 25th I will host my workshop “The Unbroken Spirit” in Toronto. It is a gestalt flamenco workshop for stomping out old beliefs that don’t help us so that we can rediscover our own inner truth.

Why flamenco?  Flamenco is about truth and spirit.  It is said to have developed as a result of the Spanish inquisition, when so many people were cast out and down, including Moors, Jews, Gypsies, and dispossessed Christians.  These diverse peoples escaped to largely uninhabited mountain regions, creating their own community.  Flamenco is thought to come from two Arabic words meaning “Fugitive peasant”, and came to be the song, music and dance of these people.  The songs were at that time often about suffering and death, expressed with passion and conviction.  In doing so, it strengthened the people, and they endured as a result, with their own beliefs in tact.

Flamenco is, as Esmeralda Enriques states it, an expression of contrasts – of strength and personal power and vulnerability.  Everything about it expresses and encourages the expression of our own truth in who we are.  It is, therefore, the perfect vehicle for stomping out old beliefs and rediscovering who we really are.

Guitarist Nuno Ribeiro, passionate lover of flamenco, will be there to accompany us on his guitar as we dance, and Esmeralda Enriques, whose dedication to flamenco is surpassed only by her knowledge of the culture of flamenco and her own dance, will guide us through the final transformation.

For more information about this workshop and how to register, visit http://www.thejoyofliving.co.

 Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit http://www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

New beginnings, new challenges

challengeHow was 2013 for you?  Was it prosperous?  Filled with abundance and contentment?  Or was it troubling, difficult, challenging?  For a surprising number of my friends and acquaintances, including myself, it was a difficult and very challenging year.  Not “challenging” in terms of exciting new opportunities, but “challenging” in terms of continuing to put one foot in front of the other in spite of setbacks.  2013 was indeed a difficult year.
How does this difficulty inform my hopes and expectations for 2014?  Here is what Neil Gaiman says:  “If you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world.  You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.”
We made mistakes.  We made significant changes and along the way made more mistakes.  And now, this year, as a result, we are embarking on paths that are new to us.  We are bound to continue to make mistakes, and for me that is hopeful.  Putting one step in front of the other no matter what is sometimes what we need to do.  The other thing that helps me in times like these is the knowing that change means better times ahead.  And I look forward to it.
What are your hopes for 2014?

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit http://www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

La Guitarra

Gypsy Guitar Player, by Marvin Steel

Gypsy Guitar Player, by Marvin Steel

Last week I wrote about genius and duende.  This week I want to give a poetic instance of this in Federico Garcia Lorca’s poem “La Guitarra”.  One english translation from D. E. Pohren’s book “The Art of Flamenco”, is

The cry

of the guitar begins.

The crystals of dawn

shatter.

The wail

of the guitar begins.

It is useless to silence it.

It is impossible

to silence it.

It cries monotonously

like water cries,

like wind cries

over frozen peaks.

It is impossible

to silence it.

It bemoans

distant things.

It is the hot Southern sand

craving white camellias.

It is an arrow without destination,

the afternoon without tomorrow.

Here is a beautiful and powerful spanish recital of that powerfully moving stanza … enjoy!

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit http://www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.  Sign up for her upcoming workshop The Unbroken Spirit, on celebrating our beliefs through Flamenco.

On Genius and Duende

spark of enlightenmentOn January 25th I am hosting a workshop called The Unbroken Spirit.  It is a workshop designed to explore our beliefs and make them our own through dance, specifically through Flamenco.  I will say more about this workshop, and about flamenco, throughout January.  Today I want to focus on the concept of spark of genius, and a related Spanish concept, duende.

“I’m a looser!”  “I am never going to get this!”  “I guess I’m just not cut out for this.”
Sound familiar; this feeling of utter misery and dejection?  This belief that I am not going to realize my dreams because I’m just not good enough, or smart enough, or … ?
What if what I realize in my life isn’t entirely about me or because of me?  That I personally contribute something to my dreams, and fate – the universe – contributes the rest.  What if all I have to do is show up (as Woody Allen says) and be ready?  The Greeks and Romans thought so.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love speaks of the idea of the external genius – or genie – that periodically visits us mortals in her TED talk On Genius. She begins by speaking of the anguish that every creative person goes through in trying to capture those moments of creativity that move us.  If we believe that we should be able to capture those moments on demand or at will, this can make us truly miserable.  But on the other hand, if we see them as gifts  that enlighten and delight, that turn on a light within us, then our misery disappears.  It is the difference between “having” a genius and “being” a genius.
 
We can think of this as a source of divine inspiration that comes into our lives from time to time and leads us to great and wonderful creativity.  It is not something we can conjure up or control; it is outside of us.  But when it enters our lives, it enriches us and all those around us.  It is a universal gift.  All we have to do is be open and ready for it when it comes.
 
Elizabeth went on to give an example of a dancer  who, in a rare moment, transcends his or her part and becomes the embodiment of the dance, shining and stopping time, as if “lit up with divinity”.  At these times, the spectators would shout God! God! God!, or Allah! Allah! Allah! in honor and recognition of this rare moment.  When the Moors settled in Spain, this morphed into what we hear now as Ole! Ole! Ole! during bull fights and flamenco.  When a flamenco dancer, singer or guitar player is so inspired, he or she is said to have duende.

Pino - Flamenco in Red

Pino – Flamenco in Red

Duende means having soul, expressing authenticity with passion and with no apology.  In the flamenco world, it is a spirit that temporarily possess us, an essence that shines through us and is more than us.  It begins with our own passions and beliefs that are turned into dance and song and music for the eyes and ears of everyone, expressing the spirit or genius, not of that person, but for all people who are touched by it.
What do you strongly believe in?  What moves you to express through song or dance or music?  Have you ever experienced a moment of genius, or duende? 
Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit http://www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.