It happens the moment you hold the hoop around your body, you ask yourself: “Can I really do this?”
Then there are only two impulses that can follow: It’s either 1) you put the hoop down thinking you’ll only embarrass yourself, or 2) you answer your curiosity and say, “Hey, why not have a little fun?”
It’s the everyday dialogue in our head, but there is always that joy in allowing yourself.
I remember the first time I got the hoop spinning around my waist. I felt so connected to my body. I experienced the kind of relief that came with giving my body the chance to move naturally, or maybe it was the wounded child within me finally having the permission to play. I felt myself free up, little by little each time I held my hoop, and it felt comforting to know that I could access this freedom without changing much but my attitude towards the process. The rest will follow, as it always does.
Restoring The Body Sense
Hooping has done a lot for me in restoring my body sense. It has been a direct way for me to experience how my body responds to sensation as the hoop circles around different parts of my body, how I interact with my space as I move with intention, and how instinctively my emotions come up to the surface.
Before hooping, writing was my only medium of expression, until the time came when I stopped writing because I was no longer comfortable with how limited words became in processing how I felt. When I began hooping, I began to move this energy that I felt wasn’t being fully expressed. I began to include my body and let it speak. I began to listen. Suddenly, there was harmony.
Flow States and Being in the Moment
Flow states happen when we are totally immersed in what we are doing. The quality of my flow varies depending on my mood, my energy level, and the time I have in the day.
There are days where I’ll put on some good music and spontaneously dance with my hoop. There are days where I’ll spend hours breaking down tricks in silence so I can assimilate it to my flow. Either way, there’s movement. When there’s movement, there’s flow. In hooping, your body becomes attuned to the movement of the hoop. You learn that how the hoop moves depends on how you react to it. How fast or slow, how gentle or forceful, how patient or impatient you are being in relationship to it. The key is mindfulness.
Creating Pathways and Making the Most of Where You Are
What excites me most is the set of challenges that hooping offers. Sometimes I enter my hoop practice with an intention to work on a skill; other times to work my way out of “flow blocks”.
There comes a time when the challenges become harder (as with life) and you’ll realize that often this is a choice of our making. Hooping taught me how to be creative in solving problems. I learned that I can always change the way I think and therefore change the outcomes. I could also change the process if I needed to and try another approach. I started to understand that there was no wrong way to flow if I let things happen, even the mistakes, for it was because of all the mistakes that I learned to be more mindful and make wonderful results out of them. Where could I go from this mistake? Even better, what could I do with this mistake and make most of where I am?
And when I find myself stuck in hooping (as with life), I imagine there is always a way in, out, and around. It’s a matter of creating the pathways that make it possible for me to get through the most impossible challenges. The way I see it, the more we choose to be resilient through our trial and error, the more capacity we have to release our failures and actively work on ideas that are effective.
Hooping as Movement Meditation
“The fastest way to still the mind is to move the body,” are words I summoned from Gabrielle Roth, (founder of 5Rhythms) that sums up the experiences I have felt while hooping and dancing- dancing in a way that makes me feel alive in this world. Not perfect, not pain-less, but always present with all the little things that make up who I am.
The rest will follow as it always does.
Bernice Mathay is the founder of The Hoop Experience. She is a hooper, fire dancer and an advocate of the movement arts. She is an active member of Flow Arts Philippines, a community of flow artists, fire performers, tribal drummers, and circus enthusiasts promoting a culture of play across the Philippines and South-East Asia. Watch out for her upcoming hooping workshops, check http://www.thehoopexperience.com or her Facebook page: http://facebook.com/thehoopexperience