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Flowing With Diversity

Author Tomi Jennings talks about the diversity of people who enjoy hula hooping, and how we should all embrace the diversity in life!


Allow me to introduce a topic that may be a little touchy. Does any Hooper ever feel the cultural divide that seems to happen almost everywhere, especially if we’re walking in a place with a bunch of hoops hanging off ourshoulder? For instance, walk into a McDonald’s and you’ll see seniors gathered in a corner chit chatting, teenagers hanging out by the bathrooms and skater kids chilling near the windows. Or at a festival, Rasta joners (is this the correct term? I’m not sure) in an isolated area, musicians huddled together by the stages, and hoopers are typically all gathered together in an enchanting cleared out space and so on… Well, being the individual that I am with more biracial family members than not, I seem to notice this more often than most. It may be because I was raised not practicing any form of ‘societal segregation’, so it’s safe to say my personality reflects this. I don’t typically feel pressures that most of my friends and flowmies experience. I have held countless conversations with friends and strangers discussing the anxiety that overcomes them when they are in unfamiliar territory. How, when surrounded by people of different backgrounds or of different taste, they generally become immediately consumed with an intense feeling of nervousness, as opposed to walking into a crowd and noticing clothing styles or music similar to your liking in which you can relate to and be comfortable. It’s a very different approach that gives you permission to open up. When people are surrounded by others who induce feelings of familiarity instead of questions, it becomes a different environment for that individual. My experience is completely altered. I cannot relate to these social inhibitions. The second I feel anxiety socially I face the source head on. I notice these types of social situations and try to mend the gap. I know that at a flow event every being that arrives is there because of a common interest; flowing and giving whilst getting lost in the music. I also know many of us use our hoops (or other flow toys) to help work out confusing feelings like anxiety. ShelLED Hoops has the ultimate range from heavy (PE) to light and tricky (PolyPro) hoops. Her site offers information to allow you to make an educated purchase for exactly what you need. For meditating and anxiety relief, I’d recommend a heavy, larger hoop (between PE & HDPE). The slow flow helps me think out my inner conflicts.

Sometimes, I sit back and think of a society that doesn’t condition us to be so aware of our differences, but of one that focuses on the positive potential that could come about if we HONORED each other’s differences in one another. Just because my lifestyle or beliefs and my environment may differ from someone else’s doesn’t mean one is any less important than the other. It’s true that our upbringing shapes us into the people we are. It is also true that a lot of us are misunderstood or are criticized because of where we find our joy. Where in our lives did we pick up the notion that someone else’s joy is our business?
With that being said, when we come together from all over to flow and jam, try to consciously avoid conducting yourself in such a stand-offish manner. I, too, am guilty of the initial (and nearly sub conscious) pre-judgment issue. But I think I am unique in the fact that I do not allow any of my premature judgments or ideals of beauty keep me locked into a narrow comfort zone. We need to break the barriers of conditioned segregation. I force myself to get uncomfortable, especially in social situations. The moment anxiety creeps up in a social setting, whether it is a cookout with lots of new people or a flow event with many familiar faces, I overcome it. I ask questions and I force myself to engage and interact until that feeling is no longer relevant.
The social conditioning that we are all exposed to has to become something from which we break free. I have an idea that social anxiety is caused by the unknown. Let’s fight back by educating ourselves, make the unknown KNOWN.
We as a community have the power to undo this social conditioning. Being aware gives us opportunities to be more united as a people than ever before. I also believe it should be easier for us flowmies, since we gather together under a common interest of positivity and artistic expression. I don’t like seeing the community limiting itself to specific interactions because we are intimidated by each other’s differences.
Generations before us have died trying to prevent these types of social stigmas. Let’s make a choice as a group of artists and performers, as a new generation, to explore these feelings of anxiety and to ask ourselves why they occur. To not allow society’s ideas control our natural yearnings.
Next time your song comes on, no matter where you are, break out in song and dance. Even if you feel like you’re not any good at it! Next time you are in line at the store and the person behind you has less items, permit that person to go ahead of you, even if they don’t appear to attend the same church as you. Or the next time you see someone embracing their own tune, give them a thumbs up instead of an awkward stare.
If we as a community spread acceptance and kindness, maybe we will be less intimidating towards one another. That alone could possibly break down a dividing barrier. By facing our fears we can change the world, one conscious act at a time. Stay strong, positive, and flexible through every uncomfortable experience. Discomfort causes inevitable growth, so let’s start welcoming it on a spiritual level, and not a human one.
Love You All ~|~