Hooping Toward Love: Hooping Up Our Love Lives
by Philo Hagen
The night that I discovered hooping, I’d recently had a break up. I wasn’t feeling festive and only went to that party out of obligation. Avoiding others, I spent most of my time there hanging out on the back deck, and that’s where I was when Jason Strauss handed me a hoop. I gave it a spin and within minutes I felt transformed. All of the negative chatter in my head was suddenly silenced. Listening to the song the DJ was spinning, all that seemed to matter was the beat, the hoop, my body, the rhythm. I unknowingly found myself in the here, the now. Hooping brought me into myself, out of my head and back into my body, and as a result I felt truly present in a way that I had not felt in years.
All too often these days, far too many live their lives disconnected from their body, rarely recognizing that we have one unless it is in pain. Hooping changes that. By spending time inside of the hoop we awaken our physical selves in a way that is most unexpectedly wonderful. We feel the hoop meet our body in the spin and in return we meet it back. We need to in order to keep it spinning, to become the center of our own rotation. While some have ignored their pelvic region as a result of abuse or assault, ultimately viewing an important part of their physical selves as somehow detached or separate, the simple act of waist hooping – using our pelvic area to keep that hoop spinning – breathes new life, feeling and value into our physical world. The hoop creates a safe space for us inside the circle to do so and the more we hoop, the more we begin to own, discover and enjoy who we are. It’s a fundamentally important step in spinning a path towards love.
When we are learning how to hoop we willingly take responsibility for keeping our own hoop spinning too. We often give hooping the time, focus and attention that the process deserves. If we want to learn a new move we might find a tutorial on Hooping.org and watch it several times, breaking what we want to learn down into smaller and more manageable pieces. Following directions and holding our palm open, keeping our arm straight while turning in the direction the hoop is spinning, we find that we are quite capable of creating beautiful movement, movement that is much greater than the sum of it’s individual parts. This same willingness, open mindedness and attention to detail in our learning process inside the hoop can be cultivated into our love lives as well. We may not see ourselves as being able to nail that move today, but we can take another step towards love whenever we want. We can look back on our hooping lives and think of what we thought we were capable of and realize how wrong we were. The same thing can happen in our love lives as well.
Before trying something new, we have to be willing to walk through fear. We all did it the first time we picked up the hoop. Worried that we couldn’t do it or that we would look foolish in front of others, we did it anyway. While it may have taken a few times we soon discovered that we could hoop after all, that the FEAR was just False Evidence Appearing Real. We did it and even if we looked silly in the eyes of others, we lived and we discovered our joy. The same goes for hooping a path to love. When we want to talk to someone we are interested in, have that relationship conversation with someone we’ve been seeing for awhile, tell someone we think we love them, chances are fear will arrive first. Yet we can open our hearts a little more and find our willingness toward taking risks with others. And if it doesn’t spin the way we hoped, we can always pick it up and try it again.
As children, many of us are taught to recognize our boundaries with others with a simple hula hoop illustration. If it’s inside my circle, it’s my business. If it’s not, well, it’s probably not. Others of us learn these life lessons later as adults via a therapist or a twelve-step program, but the message is still the same. When my focus is on what is going on inside of my own hoop, I don’t feel the need to fix you or change you or have you be anything other than the perfect creation of a human being that you are right now, right where you are, on your own perfect path. When I’m concerned with what is going on inside of my own hula hoop, I have the golden opportunity to take a look at my own stuff, my reactions to life, to identify and acknowledge how I feel and be present enough to keep my own beautiful and sparkly hoop spinning.
Hooping in public is, believe it or not, an important step on our journey towards love as well. Why? It helps us develop our capacity for not caring what other people think of us, which is really none of our business anyway. Love requires us to be willing to look a little foolish, to be a bit of a dork. Guess what? There is nothing dorkier than feeling like one person is the greatest thing in the entire world. Worrying about what others think of us can be crippling. Hooping in the park helps us begin to own our own space, our desire, our heart, our joy, and do so in a way that is entirely our own. We find in doing so that nobody really cares that much anyway. Someone might even applaud or want to join in the fun. We recognize that it is more important to be ourselves, to have fun and to embrace life, than to simply let it pass us by.
When I first started walking my own path towards love, before picking up a hoop, I must admit I was routinely guilty of taking matters of the heart too seriously. It’s not that they have any less value today, but hooping has given me back a sense of play in life, a sense that has spilled over into how I live and how I love. George Bernard Shaw once said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” Love, at it’s very best, requires a sense of playfulness. Hooping truly spins a path toward intimacy as well. It is only in knowing one self that we can truly know another.
While it may be an attractive idea to forego my hoop and simply climb inside of yours with you, ultimately we can’t do that very well and expect both of our hoops to continue to revolve, can we? From inside my own hoop and my own joy I can be present enough to truly hear you, see you, and support you in keeping your hoop spinning as well. In my independent, casual and random surveys of those who have found love and are in successful, happy, healthy relationships, I’ve heard time and time again that each partner takes responsibility for themselves and their responsibilities, for keeping their own hoop spinning.
When dating, experts always tell us the best advice is to be ourselves. Easier said than done? Hooping before, during or after a date can really help. If it’s too easy to future trip on what’s to come and/or rewind and rerun previous episodes that failed, grab your hoop. When we open our hearts to ourselves, and thus open our hearts to others, we are truly able to start to be and become the love that we’ve been looking for, and that is a very attractive thing. Rather than expecting it to come from somewhere outside of our plastic circle, as hoopers we begin to vibrate quietly with the radiance of our beautifully loving hearts and it’s been my experience that when we do, the world often responds in kind.
Perhaps it’s a very practical thing. When we are happier and present, noticing the world around us, others notice us as well and respond in kind. Or perhaps there is something a little more magical at play, a little more magnetic, spun within the very laws of attraction itself. What I do know is that the healthier and happier we become in our lives, the healthier and happier people we attract. Every day our hoop is ready to put a smile on our face and a spring in our step, spinning us forward on our loving path towards love.
Philo Hagen is the Co-founder and Managing Editor of Hooping.org. He’s been spinning things up online and off since April 2003. Co-Founder of the Bay Area Hoopers and LA Hoopers hoop groups, Philo has performed internationally and has won Hoopie Awards for Male Hooper of the Year and Video of the Year. He lives in Los Angeles, California, USA.