Body-Full-Ness

mind-body-soul

Mindfulness has become a popular word, used widely to describe the mind’s awareness of what is happening in the present moment.  A state of being that can improve our health, relationships and work.  I believe it should be called ‘Body-Full-Ness’.  Part of the reason the word has become so popular in modern western life is because we can relate with the word ‘mind’ that is in ‘mindfulness’.  We love anything to do with thinking and cognition. Mind over matter.  What I have learned from my years of self-study and learning in mindfulness meditation and personal growth, is that my emotional experience resides primarily in my body. ‘Mindfulness’ is a paying attention, not just to thoughts, but (perhaps more importantly) to the direct physical experience that locates itself in the body.

The body is the resonator for emotional experience.  Like the body of my guitar that reverberates when I pluck the strings, my bodily experience resonates and responds along with my thoughts, perceptions and experiences.  When I really pay attention to what is going on in my bodily sensations, and the emotions swirling inside, I have a natural built-in compass that directs my course in the day-to-day and in life.  Easier said than done in a culture that so values the cognitive (thinking) aspects of experience.  It is all related and interconnected.  When I practise ‘mindfulness’ in my modern western lifestyle, I am getting acquainted intimately with my thoughts, but even more importantly, tuning into my body and the multiple facets of emotional experience and knowledge.  Every time I do that, I access a whole self, with a full range of awareness – not only of what is going on inside myself, but what is going on around me.  You could say my ‘Body-Full-Ness’ is a key that opens the door to a whole universe.

Today, see how many times you can notice physical sensations: the air going in the nostrils, the abdomen rising and falling, the feeling of your foot touching the ground with every step, the feeling of your hand touching a doorknob, the taste of the food in your mouth.  Simple.  Not easy, but simple.  This basic awareness sets a baseline for noticing when emotional ups and downs come rolling through the body like waves in a storm.

Marni

1-416-910-3114
@Move_N_Music
marni@move-n-music.com
www.move-n-music.com

Marni Levitt B.A.(Hons.), B.Ed. OCT, RYT
Founder Move-N-Music
Wellness Educator, Animator, Speaker

Ignite the potential for your body and mind

The Story of Move-N-Music Video
Marni Levitt Music on Soundcloud

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The Power of Music

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I can’t underline the importance of music enough.  In education, in wellness, in life!  In my 10 years experience teaching within the school board (and the past 5 years of private work), I have found over and over again that when I use rhythms, a musical way of talking, call and response dialogue etc., then kids listen! They literally TUNE IN when they hear the phrases I am chanting or singing.  Sometimes they tune in EVEN MORE when I add some simple body movements.  Adults are more reserved at first, but the effect is still the same.  They love music, and want MORE of it.  Yesterday I shared some of my newest original songs for kids at a special summer camp – they loved them!  Listening and tuning in can be a particular challenge for some, (and for many kids and adults alike these days, we are so distracted with technology!!!!).  When the kids knew I wrote the songs, and they felt the melody, rhythms and even the meaning of the words (words designed to instill positive self-image, relaxation and stress-reduction) – the calm and joy in the room was palpable.

That being said, you DON’T have to be a musician, a songwriter or a dancer to share music with kids.  Any teacher, education professional, social worker, yoga teacher or parent can learn some simple fun rhythmic phrases to engage young people.  I have seen it work over and over again – I would even say that children these days are CRAVING more music.  Humans need music, like we need water and food.  Our bodies are made up mostly of water, and water responds to sound vibrations, by vibrating in response.

Want more information? check out this article on the scientific benefits of music!

Like what you read? I would be happy to speak with you about professional development opportunities for teachers or anyone who works with children.

May the music find you!

Marni

1-416-910-3114
@Move_N_Music  
 
Marni Levitt B.A.(Hons.), B.Ed. OCT, RYT
Founder Move-N-Music
Wellness Educator, Animator, Speaker
 
Ignite the potential for your body and mind

 

 

 

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Heart Intelligence

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One of the greatest teachings of Yoga that I learned through my teachers at Sivananda, and have been learning experientially as I live life – is the infinite capacity of the heart’s intelligence.  On the first day I learned to meditate, at least 10 years ago, on a Yoga retreat, one of the teachers explained to me the difference between the way the mind and the heart process information.   The conscious thinking mind has a certain capacity to think, understand, analyze and process, but that capacity is limited.  It can only go so far.  For sure, the mind can help us understand and achieve many things – but there is another kind of intelligence that goes way further. WAY further.  That is the intelligence of the heart.

I remember my teacher at the retreat drawing a picture on a piece of paper – a circle that represented the intelligence of the mind – then, he drew another far bigger circle around that, encompassing the mind….he said, ‘the bigger circle represents your heart’.  The heart can understand, sense, intuit, and connect with a vast amount of information (in many different forms) that cannot possibly be understood or processed by the conscious mind.  The conscious mind naturally has to be selective about what information is taken in, processed and used, in order for us to be able to live our daily lives.  The heart, however, can hold, and connect with limitless volumes of material.  Sometimes all we can do is ‘sense’ that it is there, without fully understanding all the bits and pieces.  This large capacity allows us to love, to feel compassion, empathy – and to hold another person’s perspective, feelings or experience in the same space that we hold our own.  WOW.  Incredible.

Time and time again Yoga practise has helped me tap into that larger, intuitive intelligence – as a result I have made connections with information, or with others that I would not have otherwise.  I have created magnificent works of art (songs, paintings, poetry), and have been able to come to very useful decisions that I would never have arrived at simply through logical reasoning.  The implications of heart intelligence are phenomenal.  The Dalai Lama certainly agrees – have a look at this quote – as does the Heart Math Institute.

May your heart open to its potential this summer.

Much love, Marni

1-416-910-3114
@Move_N_Music
marni@move-n-music.com
www.move-n-music.com

Marni Levitt B.A.(Hons.), B.Ed. OCT, RYT
Founder Move-N-Music
Wellness Educator, Animator, Speaker

Ignite the potential for your body and mind

The Story of Move-N-Music Video
Marni Levitt Music on Soundcloud

 

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Did you know? The Body is Part of the Brain

Did You Know?

The body is part of the brain!  The spinal cord goes all the way down the back.  The spinal cord is like the fiber optic cables for the internet.  It is the passage-way, the pathway for the electrical impulses from the brain to be delivered to different parts of the body, and the way that feedback is delivered back to the brain.

When the spine is flexible, the mind is flexible. 

When the body moves, stretches and bends, the mind does too!  It is then possible to think of more solutions, more innovations – more connections, than could have ever been dreamt of without that movement.

I have experienced it firsthand over and over again (the idea that comes to me suddenly while walking outside or biking, the inspiration to solve a problem that I receive right after a yoga sequence, or the songs that I write in my mind while I am dancing!)  But don’t take it only from me, there are countless studies on mind-body relationship now that point to similar results.

These results can help you, and your team or family work better together – and express their best, while having fun!

Here is one article that pulls is all together.

For more information please contact

1-416-910-3114
@Move_N_Music 
Marni Levitt B.A.(Hons.), B.Ed. OCT, RYT
Founder Move-N-Music

Arts & Wellness Educator, Animator, Speaker

Ignite the potential for your body and mind
Move our culture forward, now is the time

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Guided Mindfulness Meditation

Find a comfortable position, sitting at the front of your chair, with your back straight, shoulders back, both feet planted firmly on the floor.

Close your eyes.

Turn your attention to the sensation of your body making contact with the chair, your feet making contact with the floor.

Notice how your body is feeling in this moment.

Are there parts of your body that feel more relaxed, or parts that feel tight?

Do a quick body scan and see if you can notice where you are holding onto any tension.

Take a deep breath and release the tension as you exhale.

Turn your attention to your breathing.

Notice the rise and fall of the abdomen with each inhalation and exhalation.

Take a slightly deeper breath than normal: INHALE….PAUSE….EXHALE (repeat a few times).

Now let your breath settle into a natural breathing rhythm, do not force anything.

Again, notice the rise and fall of the abdomen with each breath.

Notice the sensation of the air going in and out of your nostrils with every in-breath and out-breath.

Pay attention to exactly how the air feels as it is moving in and out of the nostrils.

Again, notice the rise and fall of the abdomen, the expansion and contraction of the lungs with every inhalation and exhalation.

Tune into the body, notice again how each part of the body feels as it makes contact with the chair, or with your feet, your shoes.

Turn your attention to your thoughts.

Notice the thoughts as they move through your mind.  You can imagine you are in a movie theater, watching your thoughts go by on the screen, or imagine you are watching a train go by – a train of thoughts.  Don’t get involved in the movie, don’t jump on the train.  Let each thought pass into awareness, then let it go, let it disappear.  Over and over again, continue to watch the thoughts pass by, doing your best not to get lost in those thoughts, but to let them go.  It takes a lot of practice to be able to let the thoughts go, so don’t worry if you don’t get it right away.

Each time you notice a thought in the mind, gently bring the attention back to the body, back to the rise and fall of the abdomen, back to the sensation of the air moving in and out of the nostrils.  Tune into the places where the body is making contact with the chair, the feet with the floor.

INHALE….PAUSE….EXHALE (repeat a few times).

Notice the rise and fall of the abdomen with each inhalation and exhalation.

If the mind wanders, don’t worry, that’s what it does naturally.  Like a young child that has wandered away, gently and kindly bring the mind back to the present, back to the body, back to the breath.

INHALE….PAUSE….EXHALE (repeat a few times).

Pay attention to exactly how the air feels as it is moving in and out of the nostrils.

Tune into the body, notice again how each part of the body feels as it makes contact with the chair, or with your feet, your shoes.

Energy follows attention, so let’s see if we can keep use our attention to keep more energy that we need for the day (or morning, or afternoon) inside our own body.

Turn your awareness to your abdominal area.

Imagine there is a big bowl, filled to the brim, inside of your abdomen.

Imagine that this water represents your energy for the day.

Pay attention to this bowl of water, watch how it sits calmly in the bowl.

See if you can keep 50% of your attention on the bowl of water – on how your body is feeling on the inside.

Again, pay attention to the rise and fall of the abdomen with each breath.

Keep your attention on the bowl of water.

Next, tune into the room around you.  Use 25% of your attention to tune into the room (still keep 50% of your attention on your bowl of water).  Notice any sounds in the room, see if you can sense the people sitting beside you, or how many people are near you, see if you can sense the space in the room – is it big or small – just get a sense of the room around you.

Finally, tune into the sound of my voice. Use 25% of your attention to pay attention to the words I am saying, the tone of my voice, etc… (still keep 50% of your attention on your bowl of water, and 25% of your attention on the room).

Again, pay attention to the rise and fall of the abdomen with each breath, and the feeling of the air going in and out of the nostrils.

If the mind wanders, don’t worry, that’s what it does naturally.  Gently and kindly bring the mind back to the present, back to the body, back to the breath.

INHALE….PAUSE….EXHALE (repeat a few times).

Tune into the breath.

Keep bringing the mind back to the breath and the body.

On each inhalation you can repeat to yourself: ‘breathing in’

On each exhalation you can repeat to yourself: ‘breathing out’

Let’s sit quietly for a few more minutes – gently tuning into the breath, labelling each in and out breath, bringing the mind back to the body when it wanders.

(after 2-3 minutes, or whenever you sense is best):

See if you can maintain your attention on your breathing, on the feeling inside your body, and on your bowl of water as we gently open our eyes….(PAUSE for a few moments)

I am going to count down from 5 slowly.  When I finish counting, slowly and gently open your eyes.  Look out your eyes as if looking outside the window of a house: the inside of the house is how you feel on the inside – keep the focus there as you look out the window, look at the person sitting beside you and smile.  See if you can remember this focus during the day (or morning or afternoon).

 

© Move-N-Music January 21, 2016
Move-N-Music
Ignite the Potential for your Body and Mind

Marni Levitt B.A.(Hons.), OCT, RYT
Founder

www.move-n-music.com
marni@move-n-music.com
416-910-3114

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Tips to integrate Mindfulness in fun, practical & inspiring ways in daily life

-Take a few more deep breaths during your day and see what happens

Take a deep breath, hold it for a couple of seconds, then let the air out slowly (like letting the air out of a balloon – you can even purse your lips)

-When you are walking to the bathroom, try to notice exactly how each footstep feels as your foot touches the floor

–When you are in the bathroom, turn your attention to the sensation of the warm water on your hands as you wash your hands (try this with dishes or housework)

At the computer, inhale while rolling your head to the right, exhale back to center, then repeat on opposite side

At the computer, inhale bring shoulders up, exhale bring them down and back; and reverse: inhale bring shoulders up, exhale bring them forward and down

-If standing at computer (or waiting in line at bus or grocery store, etc…) shift your weight from side to side, and forwards and backwards

-Develop a short (5-10min) sitting practice in mornings on a cushion: close your eyes, focus on the feeling of air going in and out of the nostrils, the rise and fall of the abdomen, the sensation of the body making contact with the cushion; don’t worry if your mind wanders, just gently bring it back to the present

-Entice yourself to sitting practice: it takes time to develop a new habit, be kind to yourself, reward yourself; bring a hot mug of tea or coffee to the cushion and just sip it slowly for 5min, paying attention to the warmth of the mug and liquid (that can be enough for some days!)

-If you start to become aware of your thoughts or feelings more than before, (even thoughts that are negative or make you uncomfortable), BE with them, make friends with them, accept and embrace them… over time they will hold less power!

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Move-N-Music in February 2015

How can we slow down to be present in daily life?
As I write this newsletter, I am lying on the couch, laptop on lap, breathing, typing, coughing, and recovering from a (long-lasting) winter cold.  In the fast-pace of modern life, I have been forced to slow down and listen to my body.  #Mindfulness is about listening, being present, getting into, and inhabiting the physical experience of the body.  As a solo entrepreneur, I do spend a great deal of time on the computer, so I know firsthand how computers can ‘take us out of our bodies’ in a way…they can help us get lost in concepts, in thoughts….Annnnd we can easily lose track of time.  As an entrepreneur, it is also easy to focus only on your goals, while forgetting about how your #body and #mind feel in the present.

This weekend, while resting and recovering, I did take time away from the computer (my eyes were hurting)…and with an achy body, my movements slowed down, became more gentle…and I noticed how my clothes felt making contact with my skin, how my socks felt against my feet, and what my socked feet felt like inside my favourite slippers.  At times, while standing in the kitchen or the living room, I swayed back and forth, shifting my weight from side to side – noticing how the weight-shifting felt in my hips, my legs, my feet – the rocking motion was #soothing as well.  In bed, and on the couch, I tuned into the sensation of the #breath going in and out of the nostrils – this helped me to feel #calm and #centered.  I also listened to many You Tube talks and lectures on #Mindfulness, while resting.  I felt inspired by the words of #Dr.JonKabat-Zin – the link is below if you would like to have a listen. Wishing you a deep inhalation of #wellness this #winter! Be #kind to yourself!
Feel free to send an email: marni@move-n-music.com to let me know how @Move_N_Music can help.

Jon Kabbat Zin Talks about Mindfulness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_If4a-gHg_I

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Move-n-Music in January

Does integrating mind-body awareness

and health into daily life have to be complicated?

 

No. Not at all.  Sometimes the simplest change can yield great results.  Plus, simple can be an easy place to start.  Start simple, then add.  There doesn’t always have to be a huge investment of thinking, time or money either.    Breathing is a wonderful, under-rated activity.   Take a few more deep breaths during your day and see what happens.  You can take a deep breath, hold it for a couple of seconds, then let the air out slowly (like letting the air out of a balloon – you can even purse your lips).   When you are walking to the bathroom, try to notice exactly how each footstep feels as your foot touches the floor – when you are in the bathroom, turn your attention to the sensation of the warm water on your hands as you wash your hands.   Think of the number of times we go to the bathroom every day – each time can be a reminder, an anchor to the present moment.

 

If you do crave more guidance, inspiration and motivation to jump-start your mind-body awareness and health, I delight in offering fun, simple, engaging and creative programs to inspire mind-body awareness.   Family mind-FUN-ness tutoring is a great way to light a spark, to get the whole family going on a path towards mindful habits.  We aim to give you moments of ‘aha’, or ‘I never thought of trying it that way before’, or ‘this is fun and not that hard!’.   During our 1-hour program at your home, I will provide guided meditation and visualization, games, songs, movement and phrases – all designed to help you connect mind and body.  The program is structured so parents can participate, and also watch, learn and be inspired to guide their children in fun simple mind-body re-integration practices on a regular basis.

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Move-N-Music Blog: Dancing From The Heart

Marni Levitt's Move-N-Music Blog

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May 30, 2014

I am sitting in my office in Toronto, staring at a list of videos to upload to YouTube.  I sit at the computer doing the writing and administrative work that makes Move-N-Music move.  However, I am not moving, I am still – I am reflecting.  By now I have adjusted back to life in North America, after 2 and a half transformative months in Guinea, West Africa.  I am now staring at a yellow post-it note, and on it are written the names of the traditional Malinke and Soussou rhythms that my Balafone (xylophone) teacher, Bouba, was teaching me when I was in Guinea.  I use these videos as a reference in my ongoing revision and studies.  Each rhythm has a different history, a different meaning, and a different feeling.  Bouba played these rhythms for us (along with djembe drummers), while we danced.  We danced our hearts…

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Move-N-Music Blog: Dancing From The Heart

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May 30, 2014

I am sitting in my office in Toronto, staring at a list of videos to upload to YouTube.  I sit at the computer doing the writing and administrative work that makes Move-N-Music move.  However, I am not moving, I am still – I am reflecting.  By now I have adjusted back to life in North America, after 2 and a half transformative months in Guinea, West Africa.  I am now staring at a yellow post-it note, and on it are written the names of the traditional Malinke and Soussou rhythms that my Balafone (xylophone) teacher, Bouba, was teaching me when I was in Guinea.  I use these videos as a reference in my ongoing revision and studies.  Each rhythm has a different history, a different meaning, and a different feeling.  Bouba played these rhythms for us (along with djembe drummers), while we danced.  We danced our hearts out.

Like yoga, my experience with African dance, is that is pulses, it weaves, it pushes, it bends and stretches your entire body and being.  There are many dance moves that require the upper body, (chest), to expand and contract on regular pulses – along with your entire torso.  When did I really get into the feeling of the dances while I was in Guinea? When I was learning the life lessons I needed to learn! When I was stretched and pushed and pulled into a softening of the heart – a softening of the spirit.  When I surrendered to life – I was able to surrender my body to the rhythms!  Eventually, it felt like the music was moving ME – rather than me moving my body to the music.  With help from my teachers, and with my own letting go, my upper body expanded and contracted more than ever before.

What is inside of the chest?  The heart.  I know from my experience with Yoga – when I do poses that are designed to open up the chest area (like cobra pose), inevitably emotions come to the surface.  There are times during cobra pose that tears have sprung to my eyes spontaneously, and rolled down my cheeks, helping me to clear any feelings or emotions that might have been stuck inside my heart.  When I was in Guinea, doing dances that opened my chest area over and over again, my emotions really had a chance to be wrung out of my body and cleared!  Yes, there were lots of tears in Guinea – the dance, the heat, becoming friends with people living in intense poverty – all affected me, and pulled my heart open.  It felt like a purification. Sweating so much as a result of dancing in the heat also helped to purify my body and spirit.

I know from my experience learning from Dhyani Ywahoo, Cherokee Elder, at Peace Village in Vermont last summer, that there are electrical charges and a magnetic field around the heart.  The pumping of the heart ventricles actually creates a type of electric current –  What I feel is that when I exercise, when I dance and my heart is really pumping (like it was in Guinea!), not only are endorphins pumped through my bloodstream, but my heart is being magnetized to attract what I want in life! There are ‘good vibes’ coming from me – I feel great!

Each time we had dance class, the Djembe and Dundun drummers played (about 10 of them at once).  When they did, the air around us filled with rhythm and vibration.  It was impossible to stand still.  Even when I was sick, and lying in bed, I almost had to strap myself there to keep from getting up and moving!  The live drumming gave me so much energy and inspiration to dance!  It felt like a thousand hearts beating right in front of me, as my own heart was beating in response.  The dancing is highly aerobic, and it isn’t easy! It takes time to build up stamina and strength.  The drums were my cheerleaders to help keep me going.

My fabulous teachers also encouraged me.  As people often say to each other in Guinea, ‘COURAGE’.  The root of the word ‘courage’ is ‘coeur’ in French, which means, ‘heart’.  Being brave means opening up your heart, forgetting about yourself, and expanding out to others. I was out there on the dance floor, having my chest opened – dancing my heart out in front of the drummers – letting go of whatever I needed to let go of.  Emotions, sweat, tears were often flowing.  Even if I wanted to, I don’t think I could have held on to anything while I was on the dance floor – or while I was in West Africa.  I felt beautifully vulnerable. I felt in direct contact with what was true and real.

Different than being in North America, where we often suppress or disguise our feelings or reactions.   I was in the intense heat and life of Guinea – inspiring and beautiful, and also not easy.  Daily reminders of how many people are living just to survive day to day.  Daily indications of the generosity of spirit and friendship.  So in Guinea, whether you want to or not, I can almost guarantee your heart will be opened.  Especially if you have the courage to DANCE!!!!!!

Love, Marni

Marni Levitt B.A. B.Ed. RYT

Artist, Educator, Innovator

Owner & Director Move-N-Music

Inspire. Empower. Transform. Connect Through the Arts.

Inspirer. Habiliter. Transformer. Relier. A Travers Les Arts.

www.move-n-music.com

marni@move-n-music.com

011-416-910-3114

Skype: Marni.Levitt1 Facebook: Move-N-Music, Marni Levitt

alternate booking contact: april@move-n-music.com    

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