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Fostering Resilience – Part One

By Francoise Netter

The subject of Resilience, I believe is one of the most relevant qualities that we can develop, nurture and sustain. It is a quality that we too often ignore in this fast paced, technological whiz of a life. In the next few blogs and articles, I will be addressing various ways that you can think about resilience and apply it to your life both personally and professionally.

Part One

Isn’t it amazing that on the day you think you have it down, meaning you are centered and acting from a place of being grounded and calm, a myriad of circumstances can enter your world to shake you from your stance? It is especially humbling when you feel you have graduated from a certain level of reactivity and think that you are no longer vulnerable to spouts of reactive anger, stress, sadness, fear or grief. So what do you do when circumstances arise that dismantle you?

I, like most of us, have an over developed inner critic, so I’m going to suggest the following steps that you can apply personally or professionally and individualize:

  1. Refrain from judging your “fall” and instead embrace a stance of loving compassion for “losing it.”
  2. Pause as soon as you become conscious to do so, breathe and become reflective. Is this new or a trigger from the past? What do I have control over? What can I do? What can I change? What do I need to let go of?
  3. This may take 5 minutes or it might go on for weeks or longer. Journal, pray, meditate or speak with a trusted friend or counselor.
  4. From this place of inner reflection, create an action step. It may be to simply breathe and move on or there may be various outer actions that need to happen.
  5. Know that life is very much like flying a plane. Pilots are rarely on course in their flight plan. They arrive at their destination by constantly correcting their course.
  6. Keep your vision clear and always make room for adjustments.

In the process of compassionately fostering resilience,



Laughing Your Way To Learning

By Francoise Netter

Last week, I met with Educators to teach a class on Creative Lesson Planning. The class was a blast from beginning to end. The environment may have added to the evening’s light and humorous quality as we met in a restaurant/bar instead of a standard classroom. Yet, it was not the first time that I had taught and given credits during a Happy Hour setting, but this evening had a special quality to it. Perhaps it was the synergy of the individuals present that allowed everyone to let their guard down and have a good time while learning. Whatever it was, after the class, I found myself asking why this quality was not more present in learning and academic environments. Don’t we learn more easily when we’re having fun? Doesn’t laughter and play take the edge off of our fears and feelings of inadequacy? Then why is school and academia so often devoid of joy, laughter and playfulness?

I am all for serious moments of concentration and focus, but the lightness of this evening brought smiles to everyone present and we ended up staying past the prescribed time of the class. Just think how our classrooms might benefit with the addition of this more informal, playful inclusion. Through medical research, we know that stress is the # 1 cause of immune deficiency, disease and even premature death. Last night was a stress-busting event for everyone present and they fulfilled their professional obligations of procuring credits and applying them academically.

Students of all ages can benefit from an approach to learning that integrates laughter and playfulness. How can creativity be explored and subjects we have labeled as challenging or serious be taught so that the students embrace them with glee and attentiveness? As an experiment, see what you can do to add joy, laughter and ease to your professional and personal life especially to the parts of your life that you label as difficult or drudgery. Have fun with it and then let me know your results.

In lightness and laughter,



Actualizing Your Yoga – The Evolution of Humanity

By Francoise Netter

I recently volunteered at the Boulder International Film Festival and one of the documentaries I saw, Modern Progress, while not as professionally crafted as I might have liked, did bring up some interesting points. They cited that although in the past 200 years we have progressed technologically more rapidly than at any time in history, we have not evolved biologically or in any other way humanly in 5,000 years. It implied that our evolution as humans has no congruity with our materialistic greed and technological advancement and it alluded that this same issue had been the cause of the fall of many civilizations prior to the advancement of our current one.

For decades we have been seduced and deluded by our beliefs that outer progress, fame and riches would somehow render us free and triumphant over the forces we fear and the conditions over which we have no control. What an interesting web of lies we’ve spun. Can all our technological advancement heal the common cold, a broken heart, the loss of a loved one, the conflict between neighbors or any personal fear? We have spent thousands of years practicing looking to outer events for our sustenance and reality. But how has that evolved us or really brought us what we, as a species, have always yearned for?

Yoga, which evolved 5,000 plus years ago and many other ancient philosophies poignantly speak to the evolution of humanity. For thousands of years, Yogis and other Mystics guarded the secrets of human evolution. But today “these secrets” are being revealed to the masses. The Yogis were not that different than modern man. They also sought what we all ultimately seek: joy, contentment, connectedness, knowledge and peace. They knew that the control and mastery that was needed began from within. The Mount Everest summits and rocket ship explorations started with mastering their own minds and bodies. They sought human evolution not outer technological progress and they revealed states of awareness that we are being summoned to explore and embrace today.

One of the classes I teach, Yoga for the Academic Environment, touches upon the relevancy of the use of ancient wisdom in today’s educational environment. True Yoga bridges the gap between the mind and body, the breath and life and offers us a practical wisdom for this time where we must also bridge the schism between our inner evolution and our outer progress. Our minds and bodies are busier and more preoccupied than ever. We are plugged in to some form of technology 24/7—some people even sleep plugged in. We must begin the process of not only slowing down, but also turning our attention to what we can control: our responses, thoughts, beliefs, feelings and actions. We have placed such importance to reacting to what happens to us and around us while keeping up with the pace of life, that we have forgotten the simplest of practices of being self-responsible and looking within for our answers.

Children are incredibly open to these teachings of Yoga. Can you imagine the progress of this planet if we were taught at a young age how to control our thoughts, breath, heart rate, and digestion? What if we learned how to understand our negative emotional states and transform them? What if we understood that we all are intricately connected and part of a living, breathing universe that is made up of the same essential energy? What if we learned how to focus, concentrate and control the ceaseless chatter of the mind? What would our world look like if we learned how to be kind, gentle, generous, and loving with ourselves and others? If we combined these practices with the ABCs, just imagine how we might begin to evolve humanly.

Progress would no longer be measured by political power or financial success or by the speed of technical toys. Simple isn’t it? Begin today. Do something different. Spend ten minutes a day looking behind your eyes. Breathe, watch your thoughts, sit in gratitude, pet your cat, hug your dog, take a walk and just watch—no iPod, no words, and no distractions. Everyday add a new practice to simplify, observe and get acquainted with the reservoir of quiet, wisdom and joy that lies within you.

In loving practice,



Movement For The Mind®

By Francoise Netter

For those of you who have been following my blogs, articles and column, you know that I refer back to allegories and stories of my Yoga Master whom I went to study with in India in 1978. He knew me as a dancer and dance therapist and would murmur “dancer” whenever he would see me even though he did not speak English.

Dance and art were my first experiences of “Actualizing my Yoga”. It was in these moments of creative involvement that I experienced my first encounters with true meditation and Yoga—that experience of oneness, focus and bliss. Although my practice of Yoga evolved on its own, it was always inextricably linked to my life and to my work with dance, which came to be known as Movement For The Mind and the name of my book.

In these blogs, I will be sharing excerpts from the book. It is my hope that they will inspire you and open you to new levels of thinking, feeling, moving and actualizing. Please feel free to contact me for a copy of the book, which will be available in a downloadable form on my website: shortly.

The Power Of Dance

Physically, dance is the creative translation of what we do in this body: move. Dance speaks to every aspect of our being.  It challenges us physically and at the same time satisfies the human need for self-expression, communication, and meaning. It demands that the mind be clear, focused, and attentive. Each movement must be birthed from emotional integrity, so that when people dance, they may experience the oneness that mystics speak of reaching in the highest spiritual state. Yogis refer to the creation of the universe as the Dance of Shiva. French author, Anais Nin, coined the phrase “life is a dance,” and countless poets and philosophers have made similar analogies between dancing and living.

However, in Western culture dance has been less accessible to the general public than perhaps any other art form (not withstanding the current craze of the TV Reality show, “Dancing with the Stars”). When I was a child, everyone was encouraged to draw and learn to play a musical instrument whether they showed specific artistic talent or not. Although I was offered ballet classes as a child, my brother never took dance lessons. After I stopped taking ballet, I don’t remember taking any other class in school that encouraged creative self-expression through the medium of the body.

The purpose of all art is to communicate. Dance communicates through the language of movement. The dancer needs only the body as a vehicle for creative expression. All content comes from the inside and is brought into form through the body. Dancing, singing, and acting are the only art forms that can stand alone without any other embellishments or supportive props. But even the singer and actor need words. Silently, the dancer uses what connects us all to this earth, the body.

In ancient and primitive cultures, symbols and rituals were significant components of everyday life. These cultures, which revered and lived closely with the earth and nature’s cycles, utilized movement intentionally as a metaphor for living. They did not rely solely on words to communicate, but understood the power of the symbolic and the power of living in the body. Dance, through its use of gestures, incorporates the symbolic in the acting out of movement. It also allows man to embrace the sacred within his own body.

In the early twentieth century the pioneers of modern dance—including Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Ruth St. Denis, and Doris Humphreys—used dance to express once again the passions, pains, and spiritual elements of life.  Their dances told stories that contained the emotional and soulful aspects of human experience.

Modern dance pioneers’ vision of dance as a universal expression of life is not limited to the relationship between audience and dancer. Without an audience, the process of expressive communication can be an internal experience.

The Movement For The Mind® technique I created integrates the symbolic value of dance with the healing legacy of dance therapy, and includes Modern Dance’s vision of authentic expression. It brings back the power of dance to the individual and provides a vehicle for creative self-expression, integration, healing, and for better understanding ourselves and connecting to others.

If you feel that you don’t have rhythm or if you would like to experience your body’s innate rhythm and energy, take a moment to do this exercise. (Read the instructions a couple of times and then just repeat them to yourself mentally.)

Stand up. Close your eyes and take four complete breaths and then continue breathing normally. Remember to keep breathing through your nostrils. Now begin to listen to the rhythm of your breath and see how your body responds energetically. You may begin swaying or rocking. Let movements occur spontaneously. Go with any impulse. If your body does not move, continue listening to the breath for a few more moments. Do not strain or try to make anything happen. The point is to let go and become more sensitive to the subtle rhythms inwardly.

If you felt your body moving at all, you may have also become aware of your heartbeat and the rhythm of that pulsation. Listening to these simple rhythms helps us to connect to ourselves and to the moment. It also allows us to move and respond more spontaneously and with less restriction and judgment. The rhythm of the breath in this way is used to quiet and focus the mind and to awaken us to the subtle energies within us. In Movement For The Mind®, we can use this awakening for various purposes. The process alone of pausing to breathe deeply and then observing the breath will relieve the imminent effects of stress, but we can take this alleviation further.



© 2010, Françoise E. Netter, M.A.



Beauty in Stillness

By Francoise Netter

As many of you know I have taught and trained others in Yoga and Movement For The Mind for over thirty years. I currently teach various graduate seminars for educators integrating body/mind wellness, creativity and inspiration in the classroom. I recently received a paper from one of my educator students and thought I would share the following excerpt with you.


Beauty in Stillness

By Vanessa

Sleep comes at a struggle for me.  It is not so much falling asleep but awakening in the middle of the night and relaxing enough to fall asleep again.  I try many techniques to reduce this nuisance, such as yoga, meditation even Benadryl.  They have all helped me a lot and I am better able to cope with these midnight wakings.  With the years of struggle I have had with sleep, it should not be a surprise to me that my daughter has trouble falling asleep at night.

My daughter is five years old.  She leads an active happy life full of play, learning and love.  At bedtime, I know that she is tired, even exhausted from her day.  We bathe in the evening, and read story.  It still takes her at least thirty minutes and, on most days, one hour to fall asleep!  I cannot believe it!

After taking the “Yoga for Educators” class with Françoise and working on my own meditation and relaxation techniques learned in class, I decided to start sharing some of these techniques with my daughter.  Over the summer, I worked with her on breathing deeply, relaxing her muscles one at a time and visualizing beautiful scenes.  Every night we tried something, rotating these relaxing activities before kissing her goodnight.  I was hoping that slowly one of these would catch on and she would be able to fall asleep more easily.  For a month, we worked on this.  She still would come out of her room 2 or 3 times asking for something else and still not able to fall asleep.  On some nights she even would stay awake, in bed, singing, or talking to herself for two hours!  WHY?!

I approached the question with her.  Really there is no explainable answer at this time.  I cannot put my finger on it.  So, I tried lying with her to relax her.  What a wiggle worm!  I would fall asleep before her but except that she moves so much that she disturbs me.  Ah ha! Maybe she needs to practice stillness.

So, again we worked on the relaxation techniques, as we had before, but this time we added stillness to it.  Each night I help her visualize just before kissing her good night and make sure that she is comfortable. I remind her to practice stillness and to find a beauty in her mind.  This conscious stillness is difficult and has taken some time.  A month later, it works!  Now, she still gets up on most nights but her wake time in bed is now from 15 to 30 minutes instead of from 30 to 60 minutes. Wow! What a relief.

Stillness is hard to come by in our busy lives.  In the waking hours of my daughter’s day, I probably don’t model any time to stay still myself.  Why would she know what it is like. Plus, this little one is definitely precocious.  It must be harder for someone that is constantly exploring and on the move.  If she can find stillness at five years old, it will be a skill that will help her throughout her life.  I hope our practice will influence her to take time to herself and absorb the day.  I have found beauty in the stillness of my life, when I present myself the gift.  I hope I can give her a sense that she too deserves it daily.