Today on the blog we have the wonderful Niurca Marquez! Niurca has a host of different creative outlets, she’s a Flamenco and Contemporary dancer and choreographer. She is also a Feldenkrais teacher and scholar.
Feldenkrais is a system designed to promote bodily and mental well-being by conscious analysis of neuromuscular activity using exercises that improve flexibility and coordination.
We had a great chat with her, read on below for more with Niurca!
(SE) What does Mindfulness mean to you?
(NM) For me mindfulness is intrinsically tied to presence. It is being present in everything that I do; fully present, aware of the fullness of a moment. Any moment. This is what allows me to not take things for granted and live a life filled with gratitude. It’s what I attempt to do, it doesn’t mean I’m always successful.
(SE) That’s a great definition of mindfulness. What tools do you think are essential for living mindfully?
(NM) An awareness of the world that surrounds us, and the effects we have on it. Most importantly, establishing self-awareness. In particular, how our daily actions affect the people we come into contact with. How a very small gesture can make all the difference in someone’s day.
(SE) Do you have a mindfulness practice? If so, what does it look like?
(NM) I do and it takes many shapes. I am quite restless by nature, so each day is a new adventure. It always involves some connection to my physical self (my thought body). Whether it’s a Feldenkrais lesson, my Vedic Meditation practice, or simple tasks that I set for myself each morning, such as: making sure to smile to at least three people I don’t know, remaining aware of a particular body part and my use of it, making sure to call someone I haven’t spoken to in at least a week and engaging fully in that conversation. I’m very aware of what my sense of Self is telling me and I try to respond as best I can. I cannot be mindful of others if I am not myself centered first.
(SE) When did your practice begin?
(NM) What came first, the chicken or the egg? Thinking about this always makes me laugh. I would have to say that it was after my first marriage fell apart and I realized that despite being an artist and having an innate zest for life, I had somehow fallen asleep. That scared me. It was there that I began looking for ways to stay “awake.”
(SE) How did you get started?
(NM) It started with my dancing and reclaiming the sacredness of my sexuality. I found that when I was fully present in my body, I could handle the stresses of daily life much more effectively and that I had a better sense of responsibility for my own actions. Practicing mindfulness intensified my connection to others and deepened my innate spirituality that is very tied to my ancestors. This led me to search out new ways of perceiving the world around me and eventually to a more mindful state.
(SE) What has this practice done for you as a person?
(NM) It has made me immensely grateful for the life I live and for the people in it. It has made me acutely aware of how the simplest acts can make a very big difference. The Feldenkrais practice in particular has led to a deeper understanding of healing and the complexities of our physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual selves.
(SE) What advice would you give to someone who would like to incorporate a mindfulness practice into their daily routine but cannot find the time or the headspace?
(NM) I’d say it has less to do with taking time out of your day and more to do with viewing daily life through a different lens. It’s like going to an opthamologist and getting your vision checked. They have that funny contraption where they adjust the lenses for better vision. It’s the same thing, except this time it’s inside of you. Adjust it a few degrees and you’ll be surprised at what it can do for you.
(SE) I love that metaphor. Is there a particular practice you would recommend to cultivate mindfulness?
(NM) Start with simple things. For example:
1) Decide that you are going to pay attention to each step that you take and how your right foot bears weight. It’s much harder than it seems. Just make sure you’re not looking down at it as it might get dangerous. Just feel it, from the inside.
2) Take a moment to sit cross-legged or in a chair and bring yourself to a full-bellied laugh. If you’re having a hard time, just look up a video on YouTube of a baby laughing.
3) And if all else fails, go out and dance in the rain, really dance. Or do some gardening without tools, using just your hands. Both of these are what I do when I need to reconnect with the physical world around me and everything else if failing.
(SE) Dancing in the rain is always fun! Can you list three, everyday things that we can do to stay in the present and live a mindful life?
(NM) 1. Be conscious of everything that comes out of your mouth. Don’t say things like “Good Morning” or “How are you” because you feel you’re supposed to, really mean them.
- Look people in the eye when you pass them on the street or they walk into the elevator.
3.Give/receive at least one hug every three days. I’d love to say everyday, but I know that is sometimes not possible. But make sure it’s a hug, not a half-hearted pat. Really give them a hug and receive the hug they are giving you back.
(SE) Do you offer any type of mindfulness training? If so, can you provide details?
(NM) I am a Feldenkrais Teacher. You can find quite a bit of information on the Method online, but my favorite way of explaining it is with a quote from its inventor Moshe Feldenkrais: “We make the impossible, possible, the possible, easy and the easy, elegant.” It’s a wonderful system of re-learning that can benefit anyone with any amount of self-awareness. I am always available for one-on-one lessons.
I am also a dancer and choreographer and no, this would not be your typical dance class. I work closely with both men and women who are interested in discovering a different kind of physicality to get to a place of reconnecting with their sexuality in a way that is healing and “whole-ing” through a variety of different approaches. That work is very personal and tailored to each individual. Think of it as a mid-wife for birthing your sacred sexual self.
(SE) Are you currently working on anything you would like to share with the Soulful Essence community?
(NM) In addition to my on-going artistic projects, I am currently developing a series of group classes from the Feldenkrais Method (Awareness Through Movement or ATM’s) that I can teach one-on-one or in a group setting. I am in conversation with a studio in mid-town to begin offering regular classes there.
(SE) Is there anything else you would like to share?
(NM) I just want to congratulate you on this 30-day share. It’s such a wonderful way to get to know different approaches. We human beings are so unique and full. It’s nice to read the different interpretations and approaches to mindfulness and I think it gives readers a sense that they are not alone out there and that there is always a way to connect on a deep and meaningful level. Live life fully. It’s what you’ve got right here, right now.
Thank you for your time Niurca!
Are any of you familiar with Feldenkrais? We would love to hear about it! Drop a comment below!
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