Nature never loses its muchness. A tree is always a tree, tall and rooted. A bird always sings its perfect song. Animals don’t pretend to be something they aren’t, unless you’ve trained your dog to play dead for a treat. So, one of my favorite things to do is go out into nature and meditate to the sounds of birds and wind blowing through the trees as a reminder of what it means to be authentic, natural and true.
One day, I found a majestic oak in an off-leash wooded dog park and sat with my back up against the tree and my legs out long. I hadn’t been there more than ten minutes when a family strolled by with three dogs. Their rather bouncy and happy Great Dane (this dog was HUGE) bounded right up to me and sat down next to me. He put his extra large nose right up to my cheek. I squeezed my eyes shut in preparation for a slobbery tongue, but he just gently touched my cheekbone with his soft black nose. Then in one bounce, he leapt over my legs and sat down on my other side. He repeated his gesture on my other cheek. When his family whistled, he bounced away, only to return within a couple seconds to jump over my legs several times. They whistled again, and he bounced away, only to return a third time! The extra-large dog leapt over me several times, bringing smiles and giggles out from places inside me that I didn’t know I had. He was honest, authentic, joyful, and fully present in life. He hopped and leaped and bounded through the woods with full zest for life. In just a few moments, he showed me what muchness looks and feels like. When his family rounded a bend several yards up the path they called him, “Mozi, come!”
It occurred to me that his name, Mozi, was a shortened acronym for "More Zest" (Mo’ Zee), and I knew that this Great Dane and his passion for life was a sort of mascot for my work. The word “mosey” means to wander freely, enjoying the journey without concern for the destination. Mozi the Great Dane was enjoying the journey of his life with great zest, living fully in the moment, unabashedly expressing his boisterous and playful authenticity to everyone he met.
My hope is that this book and the system of exercises provided within it can help you remember you own muchness and experience moments of moseying through your own life with zest and authenticity as Mozi did that day under the great oak tree. I invite you to mosey your way through this book, enjoying the process of the journey without focus on any destination, living fully in the moments of remembering your MUCHNESS.
The MOZI EXPERIENCE is a systematic Body-Mind-Spirit educational program designed to teach a simple and applicable practice for remembering your muchness.
Remember Your Muchness
"You used to be much more 'muchier.' You've lost your muchness." ~The Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's film Alice in Wonderland
Everything, absolutely every single thing about you is perfect. The decisions you make, the body you wear, the mis-steps you take, the beauty you shine, the scars you bear, the successes you live, the wounds you endure, the good deeds you offer, the messes you create, and the character you express are all PERFECT. However, in this ever-changing and chaotic world, it is easy to forget the precious gem that is inside you. People, circumstances, challenges, limitations, and frustrations are constantly trying to make you be something that you aren’t. Sadly, in this world, it’s so easy to lose your muchness.
Muchness – one’s most natural state of brilliance, radiance, beauty, strength, confidence and authentic greatness.
I Dreamed a Dream
On April 11, 2009, Susan Boyle, a frumpy woman from a small cluster of villages in Scotland, found her muchness on the stage of the popular talent show Britain’s Got Talent and shared it with the world in a very big way. With a cheeky attitude, the 47-year-old woman shook her hips at the judges and proclaimed she wanted to be as big a singer as Elaine Paige. Judge Simon Cowell flashed his trademark eye-roll prematurely because before she had finished the opening phrase of I Dreamed a Dream from the classic musical Les Misérables, Boyle received a standing ovation. Upon completion of her performance she started to strut offstage before even hearing the judges’ feedback. After being coaxed back to center stage, Boyle heard Judge Amanda Holden confess that she thought the entire audience was against Boyle, but that listening was a complete privilege. Judge Piers Morgan gave the biggest “yes” he had ever given in the history of the show. When Simon Cowell called her a tiger and said she could go back to the village with her head held high with three yeses, she threw her arms up in the air, stomped her feet on the ground, and pranced offstage. An international sensation had been born. Nine days later, the video of Susan Boyle’s performance had gone viral on YouTube. By 2013 she had sold over 19 million albums.
Susan Boyle’s fame proves that the world not only recognizes, but also rewards those who find and express their muchness. What made Susan Boyle’s performance demand a standing ovation and earn the greatest “YES” of the show’s history? Some might argue that it was her talent, and others might say it was her unique character that seemingly didn’t match her powerhouse mezzo-soprano voice. But arguably, Susan Boyle isn’t any different than you or me. In fact, she faces challenges beyond what many of us could imagine. A childhood diagnosis of brain damage was revised in 2013 to Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition on the autism spectrum. Despite her challenges in social settings, Boyle is the subject of a feel-good inspirational story that proves anyone can find and express their muchness. So what exactly did she do or have in her expression of herself that made everyone who watched stand up and take notice?
The answer lies in her shaking hips and proud strut, her confidence and choice of song, her stomping feet and upraised arms. When Boyle strutted onto stage and shook her hips at the judges, she asserted a confidence and ease in her state of being. Her spunk coupled with the lyrics of the song I Dreamed a Dream indicated a mental state of passion and a belief in herself and her dream that spilled over into the audience. Upon receiving the news that she received three resounding yeses, she stomped her feet on the ground and raised her arms high, making herself not only bigger and taller, but more grounded and solid, almost as if she were symbolically stepping into her muchness.
Body + Mind + Spirit = MUCHNESS
Boyle’s performance was an example of ideal body/mind/spirit alignment. While she held her body in proud posture, she kept a mental attitude of confidence and even sang lyrics to a song that supported her mental intention. The third element of the equation, spirit, lies in her skill as a vocalist to breathe fully. The word spirit comes from the Latin root word spiritus, which means “breath.” As a vocal singer, Boyle had practiced and mastered her ability to breathe fully, and expressed her breath, her spirit, through her singing. An analysis of her Britain’s Got Talent performance reveals that Susan Boyle’s body posture, mental attitude, and spirit breath is the perfect integration of body/mind/spirit. The result was obvious: MUCHNESS.
Susan Boyle’s I Dreamed a Dream performance is only one of many examples of people living and expressing their muchness. Other examples might include: Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech, President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, or Steve Jobs’ Stanford University Commencement Speech. Lesser known examples can be found in the stories of everyday people. On the show Undercover Boss hard-working people do their seemingly unpleasant jobs with muchness. In 2009, the father of a precocious toddler named Jessica posted a video of his daughter shouting affirmations of muchness to herself in the bathroom mirror, and the video went viral. Soul Pancake, a website (www.soulpancake.com) that makes and posts various feel-good videos, posted a video of complete strangers in a ball pit on the street talking about life’s big questions, and deep connections and sharing of muchness resulted. Muchness is everywhere, including right inside yourself. You just need to open your eyes to it.
The word muchness was common during Shakespearean times. It means “the quality or state of being great.”
Identifying those who live and share their muchness is easy. They evoke standing ovations when they speak. They make you smile. They inspire others to want to take action and believe in the seemingly impossible. They give you a warm feeling in your heart and a fiery passion in your belly. They seem happier than the average individual. Like Susan Boyle, these individuals hold an aura of muchness.
The Looking Glass
Can Susan Boyle look in the mirror and see her muchness aura? What exactly does that aura of muchness look like? It is hard to define as it holds a sort of elusive “you know it when you see it” energy. A psychic who has practiced reading auras as colors and lights that surround people may be able to define the aura of muchness more specifically. However, how is it that those of us who cannot see colors and energies, auras, can instantly recognize when someone is fully standing (or sitting) in their muchness? Why is it that we can believe that we all have the ability to access our own muchness, as well as the ability to see the muchness in others even when they aren’t showing it fully, but we can’t see or access this muchness consistently in ourselves? Why do children seem to spout their muchness more naturally, and the older we get, the more our muchness hides like a cat under the bed? Why can we occasionally access our muchness in random moments, but other times it seems to be locked behind the tiny door at the bottom of Wonderland’s rabbit hole? What can we do to consciously evoke our muchness on a consistent basis?
Forgetting that when I was ten years old I had tucked my own muchness safely away in the sock drawer of my psyche with the tights I never wanted to wear because they were too itchy, I’ve spent the better part of thirty years asking these questions in an effort to find my muchness again. I have always wondered why, like the lion and the tin man and the scarecrow of The Wizard of Oz, we search for the courage and the heart and the brain that we have inside ourselves all along. I’m guilty of it myself. I was teased as a child for wearing the wrong brand of jeans, for needing thick glasses, for being the poorest kid in a wealthy suburban community. I was even hassled for being too smart and breaking the grading curve in math class. I learned to be ashamed of my four eyes and my poor fashion sense while I pretended to not know the answer when the teacher called on me. As I grew older, I learned that everyone, absolutely everyone, has stories of hiding their muchness like I did and often still do.
My desire to answer these elusive questions about muchness has led me to go about my life sporting a rather stylish pair of rose colored glasses that help me to look underneath the wounds and scars of the people I meet and see the precious gem underneath that just requires a little spit shine. As a result, I have this gift (which sometimes feels like a curse) to see the muchness of every single person I meet. I can relate to Kermit the Frog who adores his Miss Piggy for her ambition and passion to defend what she loves despite her irrational temper tantrums and fits of jealousy and insecurity. I feel his pain when he sings It’s Not Easy Being Green, yet I find his greenness rather beautiful.
While some might say that my ability to see colors and lights around people is a psychic gift, the truth is that I have just spent the better part of thirty years practicing and developing a keen sense of observation. I pay attention to body language, especially as a result of my work as a yoga instructor. As a writer, I am acutely aware of and intrigued by figurative language, word choice, tone, and mood. For the last several years I have made a career as a spiritual coach. I sit with people one-on-one as they tell me their stories. I get to meet the most fascinating people (absolutely everyone in this world is fascinating) and help them discover, or rather, remember the shiny brightness inside them that I observe through these ever so subtle cues. I watch their body language, take note of their facial expressions, and listen carefully for cues in their tone of voice and diction. I am so lucky! On a daily basis, I get to show these radiant people their muchness in the reflection of my rose colored glasses. I dream a dream of one day providing everyone I meet with a looking glass of their very own that they can use to remind themselves of their muchness.
The MOZI METHOD is that looking glass. It is a step by step series of exercises, a methodical system of body/mind/spirit practices that you can incorporate into your everyday life to remind you in just a matter of seconds, in the moment, of your muchness and help you to behave and express yourself as your TRUE SELF in any scenario, situation or circumstance. Like anything, through consistent practice, your body can develop the muscle memory of body/mind/spirit integration so that living your muchness and expressing your true self becomes more automatic.
Body - Posture
I first discovered the power of body movement and language over my moods and emotions when I suffered clinical depression in my early twenties. I felt like my muchness had been taken hostage by a big ugly demon that lived deep inside a black hole that had consumed my heart. In an effort to get off the anti-depressants, which produced side effects that were almost worse than the depression itself, I began a rigorous workout regimen. I was able to wean myself off the drugs through an addiction to cardio-kickboxing, weight-training, and step aerobics. I literally beat my depression demon into submission every day, and I needed to be in peak physical form to do so. While I was extremely strong, I was not calm. I kept my depression demon knocked out, but my muchness (which I have since learned requires a balance of strength and calm) stayed hidden inside the folds my boxing glove wraps. While I was no longer depressed, I wasn’t exactly happy. My kickboxing ferocity intimidated even my own muchness.
Then, one day my weight training coach suggested I try yoga, and everything changed. With each posture, I felt both strong and calm. I left the class feeling true happiness, and I tasted the delicious flavor of muchness that I hadn’t experienced since childhood. My keen sense of observation noticed that the students in the class exhibited a greater expression of their muchness during the practice. I traded in my boxing gloves and dumbbells for a yoga mat and embarked on an intensive study of muchness.
Since the human body is the vehicle through which we all experience life, I figured that muchness is rooted in using the body as it was designed to be used, to its greatest efficiency. Yoga helped me to find that mechanical efficiency. While weight lifting and kickboxing were exercises in exertion, endurance, and effort, yoga taught me to use effort AND relax. My practice showed me that doing less always resulted in feeling more. Feeling more always resulted in feeling muchier. I always walked out of my yoga class feeling more of my muchness. Looking back through my fitness journals and comparing my comments during my aerobics and weight training days to my yoga days, I discovered that one hour of yoga produced better feelings than I could attain with four hours of aerobics and weight training.
I became a sort of mad yoga scientist. I attended intensely crazy yoga bootcamps, twisted my own body up into knots, and crashed on my face way too many times while attempting what I now call stupid human tricks. I filled dozens of journals documenting my practice and my experiences. Scientifically, I came to understand that putting my body in optimum alignment, specifically the alignment of the spine, provides a more direct passageway between the body and the brain. When I put myself in a certain position, for example, mimicking a warrior, my body sent the message to my brain that I need to be warrior-like, and my brain responded by sending hormones into my system to make me FEEL warrior-like. The more aligned my body was in the posture, the more warrior-like I felt, as if the message from my body to brain was clearer and the absorption of the warrior hormones into my system was more efficient with better postural alignment. I studied the science of hormones and the nervous system, and experienced this science in my own body on my mat and documented the benefits in my journal.
Three years into my yoga practice, I started teaching yoga. My yoga students became my lab rats as I paid close attention to posture and alignment as body language of the inner state of my students. I took copious notes and compiled thousands of case study files of students who were eager to let me sit with them one-on-one and listen to their stories.
In working with people who claimed they weren’t flexible or strong enough to do yoga or had various injuries, I had to adapt and bring the practice to its very fundamental foundation. My students couldn’t twist into the pretzel poses or balance in the stupid human tricks I had practiced at retreats on the beaches in Mexico. I discovered that stupid human tricks were just that, stupid and unnecessary. When my students complained of what they couldn’t do, I took their issues into my own body and performed the poses with the modifications I gave them to see if the effects were the same. I discovered that the effects were, in fact, better if I took the modifications AND focused on my breath and spinal alignment. As a result, my own practice has evolved. Today, I literally roll out of bed onto my yoga mat. Still in my pajamas, I breathe my body through twenty minutes of simple poses, focusing entirely on breath and spinal alignment rather than the pose as it appears in pictures. Referencing my journal testimonies, I can argue that I am in much better health now than I was when I was doing pretzel poses and stupid human tricks in overheated sweaty rooms.
So, I started teaching the concept that less is more and brought my students’ focus to breath and basic fundamental spinal alignment. Their muchness becomes even more muchier! One day, while teaching a teacher training class, I saw this muchier muchness appear in my students’ bodies, and I said, “Wow, you are all full of muchness! Let’s just hold this pose for a moment and affirm your MUCHNESS!” And right before my eyes, the room filled with a dozen Susan Boyles singing I Dreamed a Dream in their bodies. I was blown away when I experimented with giving my students simple mindful affirmations to link to their focused breath and simple alignment.
After nearly a decade as mad yoga scientist, tens of thousands of hours on my mat, thousands of pages of notes and journals, and with the support of thousands of willing students in my laboratory, my research has boiled down to the simple theory that good posture linked to breath and mental intention makes the brain and the body function better, producing the effect of muchness.
The MOZI METHOD teaches the magic and science of yoga without the crazy pretzel positions or the stupid human tricks.
For MOZI, you don’t need to be flexible or strong, wear fancy yoga clothes or even able to sit cross legged with your hands in your lap. The MOZI METHOD employs simple body posture to activate the intelligence of your physiology to do what it is meant to do. It’s not complicated. It’s practical.
Mind – Education
When I was young, I loved school. While I enjoyed every class, my passion for language and literature emerged when I won a creative writing competition in third grade. I became obsessed with words, poetry and figurative language as a means to describe what went on in my creative imagination. I loved language mostly because, aside from the rules of grammar, there were no wrong answers in analyzing poetry and prose. I relished the idea that literature gave everyone the right to their own opinions and provided the means for people to express themselves in full honesty without the fear of getting the answer wrong. Rather, literature challenged me to dig inside myself about how I felt about something I’d read and be able to defend my opinion, to assert my inner beliefs and values. In other words, studying literature was a way to dig into the muchness I had hidden, and creative writing was a way to express it.
I took Latin in high school because I wanted to really understand the evolution of language. I enjoyed learning Latin vocabulary because it gave me a better understanding of English vocabulary, such as the fact that the English word spirit comes from the Latin word spiritus which means breath. Another significant example to me, the word education comes from the Latin root educare, which translates to “to draw forth from within.” In other words, to educate, is to bring out what already exists inside. The day I learned the etymology of the word educate I decided I wanted to be an educator when I grew up, to help people pull wisdom out from within themselves. A decade later, my yoga teacher shared the etymology of the word educate with the class, and TA-DA, two of my loves, language and yoga, merged.
As much as I loved school as a child, college and grad school were my playground. I triple majored in creative writing, literary studies, and education, eventually earning a Master’s Degree in teaching. If my advisors had let me, I would’ve added Latin as well. At a small, private liberal arts college in southern Wisconsin, I became obsessed with integrating what I learned in my general education courses with what I was studying in my majors. My personal journals were filled with diagrams and essays linking what I learned about Pythagoras in math class to what I learned from Ptolemy in astronomy class to what I learned about the metrics and tempo of Shakespearean iambic pentameter in my poetry classes. In short, college not only provided me with a vocation as a high school English teacher, but it taught me one very big lesson that I take with me in every part of life: absolutely everything is connected.
One thing I did for myself in my journals through my college years was to summarize what I had learned in a course in one simple sentence. For example, for astronomy class, I wrote, “The universe is really big and magical beyond imagination.” For Survey of Women’s Literature I wrote, “Women are complicated and brilliant and very powerful.” For Introduction to Mathematical Thinking I wrote, “Mathematicians are extremely creative.” I call this practice my “take-away,” and I have employed it in every class I have ever taught, high school and yoga. As a teacher, I continue to write what I learn in teaching in take-aways, and I often ask my students to do the same. It’s an exercise in affirming what it is that was drawn out from within through the learning process. In essence, a take-away is the mindful affirmation applied to the practice. In the MOZI METHOD, take-aways are both provided as simple affirmations during the exercises and extracted from students in the interactive assignments, journals, and surveys.
After years of teaching and thousands of take-aways, the take-away I have for what I have learned about teaching and education is “students learn best when lessons are kept simple and personal.” In other words, the best way to draw the wisdom out from within my students is to provide a very simple road map for them to navigate themselves. In order to do this, no matter what I teach, I follow a few very specific rules in my teaching
Keep content basic and simple
Provide many opportunities for repetition and practice
Encourage interaction among students
Foster independence so students eventually don’t need the teacher
Support personalization so students can apply what they learn to their own lives
While everyone has something to share with the world, and thus is a natural teacher, I have discovered that the majority of yoga teacher trainings produce instructors and teachers, not educators. The industry is filled with thousands of qualified and talented individuals who deliver entertaining instruction and quality content, but for the most part, they do not educate. They lecture and instruct as a means of installing information in the student, but they do not often draw the wisdom out from within their students. I believe that while the yoga industry has boomed in the last decade, a huge population is still not exposed to the magic of body-mind-spirit integration through yoga because the industry (while it has excellent instructors) is lacking in quality education.
The MOZI METHOD seeks to provide a quality educational experience to anyone and everyone who wants to benefit from body-mind-spirit integration.
The MOZI METHOD employs the best practices of learning as simplicity, repetition and practice, interaction, personalization, and independence. You don’t need to be flexible, or strong, or confident enough to go to a yoga studio. You don’t even need to invest in any trendy yoga apparel or be able to quiet the mind and sit in meditation. The MOZI METHOD is designed to educate, to draw forth from within, all the wisdom you already have and remind you of the strength and flexibility and confidence you already possess inside you. Through mindful affirmations (take-aways) linked to body posture and breath, the MOZI METHOD reveals the muchness you already are.
Spirit - Breath
Breath is spirit. If you don’t believe me, just try holding your breath for a half a second longer than you are comfortable and see what happens. As I have already said, the word for breath in Latin comes from the same root as the word Spirit. Spirit in Latin means “he or she breathes.” Breath is energy. Breath is life. Without breath, everything goes flat and eventually dies. The human body requires energy to survive. If you stop breathing for too long, you die. It’s that simple. Without breath, the spirit leaves the body. 80-90% of the energy you receive in your body each day comes from breath, leaving only 10-20% of our energetic fuel to come from food. This makes sense because we breathe continually all day long, but we only eat food in small portions of our day. Breath is spirit.
While I already knew the power and magic of breath as spirit through my yoga practice, my real understanding of breath as spirit came to me through an intensive study of the natural elements of earth, water, fire, nature, and mineral. In 2006 I met an African shaman who travels the world teaching westerners the spiritual wisdoms of his indigenous tribe in West Africa. During an intensive two-year shamanic study program, I learned that the five elements are symbolic of five essential qualities of life: earth for grounding, water for flow, fire for passion, nature for connection, and mineral for expression. The one thing that all five elements are completely dependent upon is air, or breath, OR SPIRIT. In effort to understand these elements better and how to integrate their spiritual wisdoms into my body, I moved my yoga practice from the comfort of my climate-controlled home into the world of the glorious outdoors.
Going outside to get a breath of fresh air took on a whole new meaning when I planted my bare feet in mountain pose on the earthy soil of a river bank. My shaman teacher taught me to bury my feet in the ground to feel safe, fill my pockets with stones to feel the vibration of my bones, wash my pains away in the river, burn my fears in a fire, and dance to the songs of birds. In accordance with my college take-away that everything is connected, I instinctively applied what I was learning about the five natural elements in my shamanic study to my yoga practice. I discovered that, like everything else, the five natural elements exist inside me. I could feel them activate in my body through the simple practices of yoga, and more so when I set breath to intention to posture.
The MOZI METHOD is the practice of moving your muchness through your body with your breath.
How to MOZI?
So how exactly does one MOZI? You’ve already started. You picked up this book and you’ve read this far. Keep reading. This book is the MOZI EXPERIENCE Basic Training. In Basic Training you will learn five three-second body/mind/spirit techniques that are simple, realistic, practical, and applicable to everyday life as tools to remember your true self. You will learn to:
Stand Your Ground
Go With the Flow
Access Your Strength
Relate to Others
Speak Your Mind
But the MOZI METHOD isn’t just words in a book, it’s a full immersion experience. There’s so much more to MOZI than what you will read here. I encourage you to immerse yourself in these teachings, to incorporate the practices in your daily life. Allow the process to coax your muchness out in the open. The more you put into your MOZI experience, the more you’ll get out of yourself. Yet, you need not dive into these teachings with intense fervor. Instead, I encourage you to mosey through them like a leisurely stroll. Take them as fast or slow as you like, just be sure to fully enjoy every step of the process, like Mozi the dog stopping to touch his nose to my cheek.
My high school literature teacher once said that the best way to read a book is to read the whole thing in one sitting. Naively, I read all fourteen hundred pages of Victor Hugo’s unabridged Les Misérables over Thanksgiving weekend of my senior year. Talk about dreaming a dream! I don’t recommend reading historical tomes in one sitting because I not only alienated my extended family on a major holiday, but suffered sleep deprivation, temporary mal-nutrition, disorientation, and nightmares of being forced into prostitution during the French Revolution.
On the other hand, I don’t blame you if you devour this book in one sitting. I actually encourage it. I wrote it to be a very easy read so that it doesn’t end up on the bottom shelf with all the other half-finished books of the world. The high school English teacher in me encourages you to go back and re-read, re-do, re-view, and re-evaluate the chapters of this book several times and often. Mark it up. Make notes in the margins. Underline passages and highlight your own notes. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Mozi, the Great Dane, returned to me several times that day, each time, showing me a slightly different side of himself. The more you repeat the content of a lesson, the more likely you are to remember it. The more you practice an exercise, the more likely you are to develop it into a habit. Each time you work your way through the content, you will discover new things about yourself. My hope is that after you make your way through this book several times, eventually the words you write in it will far out number the words I wrote. You see, writing your own thoughts helps personalize the experience for you and make it more real and more YOU.
Unlike the effects of immersing myself for three days in the beautifully written words but incredible darkness of Victor Hugo’s prose, the effects of completely drowning myself in The MOZI Method completely changed me. The word change is somewhat deceptive because I don’t think I really changed as much as I remembered who I was all along. I speak from personal experience that employing these simple practices over and over and over made me be more ME. I stopped pretending to be what other people expected, or what I thought other people wanted me to be. These exercises made me find a more natural and easy way to go about my life without pretention and effort, but with ease and freedom. On a physical level, these practices helped me learn how to use my body more efficiently. On a mental and emotional level, these practices helped me respond to the everyday challenges in my life more appropriately. While the only thing I remember about Les Misérables is the names of the characters were Jean Valjean and Cosette, the content of the MOZI METHOD is knitted into the very fabric of every muscle and tissue in my body, mind, and spirit.