Embodying the Beauty Way

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I recently began a new blog series where I am interviewing people who have touched my life through movement in a beautifully deep way and have inspired change and growth for me as an individual. I love starting the blog series off in this way and look forward in continuing to share more stories and inspiration with those I come in contact with and with those who are embracing an embodied life of movement, love, and connection.

So that being said I was instantly called to reach out to my dear friend Meredith Hogan for an interview. Meredith is a movement extraordinaire and all around beautiful human being. In this interview we talk about movement (duh) tapping into the soul and heart, releasing limiting beliefs, shamanism, despachos ceremonies and more.

One of my favorite things about Meredith or Mer as many know her, is that she a master of embodiment. She is so spiritually connected to the  true beauty in life and you can jam with her on some heavy and rich topics, and yet she has a sense of humor and ease about all of it and doesn't take herself too seriously. Meredith always holds each person, all living things, and situations with such compassion and love and I am honored to call her my friend and hope you love this interview as much as I do. 

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Hello movers and shakers! Today I am with Meredith Hogan, founder of the The Beauty Way. (thebeautyway.net) Whether Meredith is holding space for free form dancing, leading students in an enlightened yoga class, offering shamanic teaching, or holding full moon fire ceremonies, she has this magical ability to lead and teach all those she comes in contact with and offer a richer and deeper expression of the mind, body, and spirit connection. So I know I've thought it and said it as well as others expressing it too, but Mer is as close as a walking goddess that I have come in contact with (serious giggles).

Oh my gosh my cheeks are so blushing right now, thank you. (More giggling) Well I'll say takes one to know one. Ha!

I dig that :) Okay so how I would like to start is with the question; what do you love about movement?

Whoa, how much time do we have?! I love that movement is a way of climbing down from the minds tower and into the sea that is this body, this incredible vessel and ship that our soul resides in, and that when we move we can come out of our "stuckness". We can dissolve patterns so quickly by just allowing ourselves to move and be. There is a huge range within where can offer really specific more structured forms of movement that require a lot of mental focus and concentration and then practices that really come from the heart rather than following the steps and I have come to really have a particular passion for the heart centered style of movement.

Yes, and I think certain people are called to practice and learn from you because you embody that space in movement that resonates so deeply within our heart and soul level of being. How to did you come to love this particular way of movement because I know you have many pages to your movement story?

I started out as a more traditionally trained dancer in tap, ballet, modern and all of those beautifully sweet things, and that was the really the love of my childhood. Then as I became a teen the love turned into more of an obsession/discipline way of dancing and it started to not be a healing modality. I also had some issues surrounding food, which unfortunately is fairly common issue with women and young girls. But during that "injured" state I experienced my first major depression and lots of things that I had been dancing past with the disciplined movement started to surface. Lots of pain, lots difficult emotions and I realized how much of an empath I was; like someone would sneeze and I would burst into tears. So there was this major power forming to love deeply for myself and others but I didn't know how to deal with it or where to take it without the dance path. I began practicing yoga as a teen and that was immensely helpful for me in my healing journey.

But soon after this darker time I turned to acting and singing in combination with a dance in college. However, it was during my last year in college that I traveled to Brazil and the experience really blew me wide open. I was exposed to Afro-Brazilian styles of energy and the way that passion was in constant flux. I was traveling in the eastern part of Brazil which was/is still very poor but so culturally and energetically rich. The trip was a huge turning point for me.

My passion was going to towards styles of movement where there could be enough room for the spirit to come in and move you, where you could take the map of the choreography or the map of the rules and blow it to pieces. It really is an ancient way of being and moving in your body. I think that our current culture is wanting to remember this way again but we have been trained to categorize and split people up into areas of, well these are the dancers, and these are non-dancers, or these are the singers but these people can’t sing, and quite honestly, not sure if cussing is allowed, but that way of thinking is total BULLSHIT!

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Amen sister and you can swear any damn day on my blog :) I totally agree and see and feel what you are saying about people getting put in these categories of creative or not creative, artist or not artist. Would you say then that you think movement can break down some of those barriers that society has put in place?

Yeah I think movement can really do that by beginning to strip away the layers of judgement by saying hey you move your body the way it feels good not how it looks. That is when transformation can really take place at a soul/heart level.

Not to say that disciplined or a structured style of movement where there is choreography, or working towards correct form is bad in anyway but I think time where one can fall into repetitious pattern of living and moving in life without the connection to the soul or heart can easily turn into a not healthy situation and can be used more as a distraction than for healing and living life more fully. Has there been any one defining style of movement either dance, or yoga that has led you to your path?

When I first experienced a 5 Rhythms class back when I was in college is when I was able to see how these particular rhythms of moving your body could be used to specifically call in the soul and give people the opportunity to shift away from an unhealthy structure and drop into what the body should be experiencing. I mean what is life without access to the soul? We can get so lost in the linear and so lost in time frames, like this class is one hour or one hour and fifteen minutes or I any have 30 minutes to run, or I've only been dancing or doing yoga for this many months or years. But really you can tap into your soul in like two minutes if you are able to give yourself the space to really let it go. If you feel nervous it's okay, be nervous for a moment. You don't know what you're doing, it's okay that's fine. Just be okay without knowing what exactly is going to happen next.

I love it! All these things that hold us back like there's not enough time, feeling like I'm not good enough, professional, strong, or fit enough to do something are these big mental barriers that can constrict that heart and soul based way of moving through life and in our bodies. I have been fortunate enough to experience your dance class which has been called "Lose Yourself to Dance,” and it is based on the 5 Rhythms but could you explain the basis of that style of dance a little more because I feel like it's a practice of movement that I want everyone to know about and I just want to shout from the roof tops all over town.

Hahaha, yes shout away! It’s one of many, but it is a foundation conscious movement practice created by Gabrielle Roth who has passed but in her time was considered an urban shaman and she got thousands and thousands of people dancing all over the world who didn't think they were able or had labeled themselves non dancers. But it is a movement that is based on five rhythms that are correlated to the elements, the rhythms are 1) FLOWING- where you are letting the body flow and surrendering from that linear way of being and move towards an opening point. 2) STACCATO- this is the direct form of moving your body, I like to think of it as your bones are dancing, or like your body is a drum. Gabrielle Roth dictates staccato as more of a masculine form of expression. She brilliantly correlated all of the rhythms with different archetypes so for example flowing is the feminine mother and shadow because you are opening and flowing through motions while at the same time still hiding. The next rhythm is CHAOS- and it is where flowing and staccato meet so it’s the dance of really losing control, the dance of the feminine and masculine crashing into one another. It's like a leaf in a tornado, which to move your body like that without restriction is just so good for your cells on so many levels. LYRICAL- is the next rhythm and it is whimsical and light, it’s like after the storm of chaos where there is this innocence. Then finally the last rhythm is STILLNESS- which is coming into a place of compassion and witness and really really slowing down. Think very slow movements. It is a beautiful practice that I am so grateful to Gabrielle Roth for bringing into the world.

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WOO! I love how even the description of the rhythms has me feeling it in my body as we speak. I had known about this style of class that you had been offering for some time and I had friends that were trying to get me to come but for a while I was really resisting coming. I mean I like to think of myself as adventurous and trying new things but I was really scared to let go like this, there is so much judgement we put on ourselves about stupid shit in our life. So I'm really happy when I finally did get to experience this dance medicine, WHEW! major shifts happened.

Me too Had, I mean there is power in this type of movement and expression even by talking about it. I know this type of opening and release can be tricky for people but I believe it is necessary for us all. This medicine has shifted for me and now how I use this dance in my own life is I blend it with what I practice in shamanic energy wheel, so for instance lyrical rhythm would be the hummingbird archetype found the in the shamanic practice. The archetypes in both shamanic teaching and the 5 Rhythms are very close so it’s an easy shift to make and I just love the experience you can have with it and then giving it to others. Lately I've been taking this style of class on the road and its fun because people get to check it out for a brief moment in time and see it they like it and from there we grow the community and culture that supports this type of dance.

So what are you feeling really good about in life right now? Any other forms of movement or practices that tap into this kind of heart based energy and passion?

Well I recently finished my studies with the Four Winds Society which is the shamanic school of energy medicine which I am so thrilled to share more of those teachings with people. I have a couple retreats planned for the 2017-2018 year where we focus on a lot on the elements in particular earth based living and ceremony; I am really passionate about holding space for ceremony. To clarify when we go into ceremony we go into a place of spirit and our mind and nervous system relaxes when we do that we give ourselves meaningful and beauty to create and to share, its medicine for everyone.

More dancing of course, and working with the medicine wheel, still holding fire ceremonies, creating despachos which is a form of gift giving and also co-creation and community. It’s a gorgeous tradition to recognize and celebrate and I have a passion for bringing magic back to our eyes and reestablishing that vertical channel of imagination that has always been so important, and I feel like is  now even more so since we are living in this technological age. We have to time time and make space in life and root down and get connected with the earth as much as possible and be able to look past our gaze, past our literal vision and touch the stars and remember that life is so incredibly magical and sacred if we see it that way. If life is kept on a more mundane level than its exhausting and it’s just not the whole story. We are so much more.

Mer as always you fill me with hope. I thank you for being a shining light in the world and helping people get back in touch with their reality and help people remove these dimmed glasses that we see our world through at times. It is the dimmed glasses and limiting beliefs that leave an impression us ourselves about who we are and what we can do, about our abilities in life, our abilities as dancers, creators, movers, and I just embrace so firmly that movement whether its dance, yoga, sticking your feet in the ground or climbing rocks can help us get a little closer to what we are all searching for which is the truth about ourselves in this world. Love you woman, thank you for your offerings!

If you live in the Cincinnati area and are looking for some in person inspiration through public classes, workshops or looking to connect with Meredith about services that she offers, check her out at thebeautyway.net