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NIA: a mind-body workout that’s *breaking* out

Like Pilates, Nia started out as a secret of the dance community. Drawing on yoga, martial arts and ecstatic movement, it gives you the same kind of body-rush

GUEST COLUMN: KATY LEASK— I stood in the doorway of the studio, barefoot and skeptical. After a brutal day at a draining job, I had dragged myself to the gym. My friend, the Nia enthusiast, assured me that I would LOVE this class, so I filed in after a teenager, a couple hard-bodies in Lulu Lemon, a few middle-aged women, and a senior citizen.

It definitely wasn’t aerobics, though there were basic steps and choreography. It wasn’t the dance class of my youth, either.

There was the thrill of dancing in a group, especially with everyone adding frequent sound effects or vocalizations to tighten up the core as we kicked . . .

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A lawyer’s spiritual defence

Sometimes the best resistance to a sense of “raging chaos” is non-resistance

GUEST COLUMN: JANET SMITH WARFIELD — A good and spiritual friend of mine once posed the question: “How do you resist insanity?”

Then she answered her own question.

“The only way for me, as an individual, to resist is to hold on to who I am amidst all of the forces that want to turn me into something else.”

At first, I thought: “What a wonderful answer! It truly is all about staying centered when external chaos swirls around us. Each of us must stand tall when insanity claws at our clothes.”

But then I thought about all the physical forces in my life that have swept me away from what I thought was solid ground, and into the raging current.

What was the purpose of those experiences?

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Vanity hair

A Soul’s Code reader’s meditation on pain management begins with her own “Good Hair” journey, and a childhood brush with suffering

GUEST COLUMN: ELLEN FENNER— When I was a young girl I had long, thick hair. A few years ago, an old schoolmate told me that when she first saw me in the classroom, she stared with fascination at the sheer size of my braid, but when I turned and swung another one around, she nearly fell out of her chair, amazed that anyone could have that much hair!

My mother’s hair was thin and fine by comparison, so she was similarly awed by my coarse mane. But, like me, she dreaded having to deal with it when the braids had to be unraveled, especially when they’d been in for a while.

She would sit me down, and, with a brush and comb, we’d begin the process of returning my hair to “normal”. The mere anticipation of the pain for both of us was almost as bad as the reality.

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My last tango with fear

A shamanic teacher visualizes her lifelong fear as if it were a dance partner. When she faces him, she discovers that he isn’t so scary after all

GUEST COLUMN: DAWN DANCING OTTER — Lately I have been noticing how the words ‘fear’ and ‘free’ are phonetically mirrored.

I have run from fear in my life, and it has been a repeating pattern of habitual behaviour. I felt the discomfort/pain of fear, and I began to to recede from my “presence”, and to hide beneath masks of a false self.

The illusion was: ‘I am becoming free from my fear by running and hiding. It won’t follow me or find me — I will just keep running . . . keep hiding’.

In this game, fear made the rules and called the tune.  And I danced to the beat of fear with my eyes closed.

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Killing me with kindness

How I learned to forgive my parents for their easy-going, Dr. Spock style of parenting — and grow up

GUEST COLUMN: ELLA GRANT — Okay, what’s the most unpleasant parent-related memory that you have from your childhood? And what would be the best? If the nastiest episode comes to mind quickly, and the best experience not so quickly — maybe like me — you need to open up a little box of forgiveness and see what comes out.

When I was a young child my parents were very good to me — no physical beatings, no harsh words.   But as I came to realize later, perhaps their fatal flaw was that they were too good. Child psychology tells me that I was raised in a permissive manner: loving and child-centered, but totally non-demanding.

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Let’s play truth and consequences

My world is perfectly designed for me, perhaps yours is too

BY DAVID RICKEY — Sometime in high school I decided that I could do anything I wanted to, as long as I was willing to accept the consequences. It was a somewhat naïve and “adolescent” choice, but it has stuck with me.

However, my awareness has deepened considerably, and the truth behind that choice has become richer and more complex. I still believe that I am a completely free agent, meaning that my choices are my own. I bear responsibility for them and for the resulting “events.”

I am now aware that there is a more primal and profound energy behind my being here that, although it doesn’t direct or control my choices, exercises an amazingly mysterious and wonderful power.

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My “dream” career

An Irish immigrant and psychologist with a love of sleep, dreams up a new reality from a mystical past

GUEST COLUMN: HELENA DALY — I am as Irish as Irish can be . . . a nomad, a bit of a gypsy from the West of Ireland’s wild rugged beauty. On a visit home a few years ago, I sat in the kitchen one morning having a cup of infamous Irish tea, and watched with amusement out of the corner of my eye, my dad (who is now 82). Seemingly lost in his own world, he would shake his head every few minutes.

So I said, “Dad, did you sleep okay?”

“No,” came the energetic response.

“Why not?” I asked, to which he responded: “They came again.”

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How life works: Karma and Grace

How life works: Karma and Grace

Negative karma happens when we try to store up life’s riches for our own use. Positive grace takes place when lessons happen that an Intelligence wants us to know

BY DAVID RICKEY — Ever since I was kid, I’ve had an insatiable need to understand how things work. I used to take my toys apart to try and figure out what made them go. I even took my father’s pocket watch apart . . . which had the extended benefit of learning how to fix things. I learned, for example, that it was better to go slowly and not panic. Not easy, when the goal was getting it back together again before my father got home.

As my toys got more complicated, I took them apart less, and instead just experimented and observed. But still tried to make sense of what I saw.

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Meditative bliss with the most Zen-like creatures alive

GUEST COLUMN: JOANNE EHRICH —I’d always had this thing about Australia’s exotic creatures (when I was a girl, I had a pet cockatiel and parakeet, butterflies with scintillating blue wings and lime-green Aussie beetles in my insect collection).

But it would be a couple of decades before I made my ultimate discovery in the animal kingdom, and was utterly transfixed by yet another creature from Down Under — the koala.

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The art of being

Claire Elek’s paintings have names like, “The Hero’s Journey into the Bone Forest.” In a Soul’s Code exclusive, Elek reveals her own heroine’s path of self-discovery

The color-infused canvases of Toronto-based artist, Claire Elek, will float you into a world resplendent with dreamy, mythical images.

She has the depth of a spiritual teacher when talking about shamanism, Jungian theology and female archetypes — and not surprisingly, they are powerful influences in her paintings.

A catalyst for Elek’s highly-collectible art (one of her drawings is owned by Canadian author Margaret Atwood) were her Gauguin-like travels through South America and Southeast Asia.

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