Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.

 ~ Thomas Dekker

How important is sleep to you? Does it seem like you get enough? How well do you sleep?

Sleep is such an underrated and little-understood part of our lives. Whether we embrace it or avoid it, somewhere in the neighborhood of a third of our entire lives is spent conked out and unaware of the cares of the day.

Our language is full of clichés and figures of speech about this vital part of existence. You might say “I slept like a baby!” or “I was tossing and turning all night…” Metaphors abound, “He was sawing logs all night!” or “She was out like a rock!”

Research is ongoing to unravel the mysteries of sleep, why we need it, what it does for our health, how we can improve our habits and relationship with it in general. In truth, it’s far more than a habit, it’s one of our most central biological facts of life, but if we want to have quality sleep, then the habits we surround it with are vitally important.

“There’s nothing like a good nights sleep!” is a phrase I’m sure you can identify with. And yet, all too often, and for far too many people, good, sound sleep is elusive. Restless, fitful nights are no fun, and taken to an extreme, sleep deprivation becomes a form of torture.

Your daily dance between wakefulness and slumber is nothing to take for granted. So much of your well-being depends on having a healthy balance of nourishing downtime in your daily life. Somehow our subconscious uses sleep as a way to unpack and reflect on everything that we do in our waking world.

If your relationship with sleep is anything less than blissful, ask yourself why and start to experiment. Is your room dark enough? Does your bed have the right combination of sheets, blankets, and pillows to provide the proper comfort level? Is that afternoon cup of coffee keeping you awake at night?

There’s something so nourishing about good sleep. I’ve heard that some of the detoxifying functions that our body does only happen while we’re asleep, so that if we’re missing out in that area we’re actually poisoning ourselves. Take a look at anyone who misses a lot of sleep, and you’ll see what I mean.

My relationship with sleep has certainly evolved over the years. In my pre-parenting years, it was fashionable to enjoy the quiet late-night hours while most of the world was asleep and not turn the lights out until three or four in the morning. Sleeping in every day until 11 or 12 is a luxury that is lost in the fog of distant memory for anyone with kids.

Then there were some hard-driving years when my daughter was a baby, and everyones sleep cycle was random and topsy-turvy. Seeking to pack more productivity into the 24 hours of the day, I would often fall asleep early only to wake up around midnight and fire up the laptop for three or four hours of wee-hour work before catching some more Z’s before dawn.

Left to my own devices, I’m an afternoon nap kind of guy. Six hours or so at night, plus another hour and a half in the afternoon is a great minimum daily requirement for me. But the real world schedules of work and school don’t always cooperate, so during the school year especially I’m known as Mr. No-Nap and sometimes I’ll indulge in a bit of mid-afternoon caffeine to keep up the pace.

For me, dreams are a real barometer of my quality of rest. If I’m somehow feeling some stress during the day, my dreams may reflect some struggle or anxiety in a strange mirror image sort of way. The themes that repeat during different parts of my life illuminate events or times in my life that have made a huge impression upon me.

I used to be an occasional consumer of cannabis long before it was an over-the-counter wellness product available legally in many places. I can attest to many of its remarkable benefits, but that’s another story. The main drawback that convinced me to leave it behind entirely some years ago was that it had the effect of making me forget my dreams instantly upon waking up.  I would have vivid dreams as usual, but my recall of the details would vanish from my memory immediately after opening my eyes.

Now I feel like my dreams are a vital source of information and feedback about my general state of mind. Here’s a couple of the ways that I’ve found to cultivate an active dream life, and get good sleep in the bargain.

First, try to always keep a good novel going. Quality narrative fiction has a way of helping our minds shift gear, (and is proven to help us cultivate empathy and emotional health ). So after all the screens are shut down, and before you go to sleep, drop back into whatever story your following between the pages of a printed book. Even if you can only manage to read a few paragraphs or a single chapter, it will help your mind shift gears into story mode, which your dreaming mind can then run with.

Second, if you’re ever trying to fall asleep, and your mind is running with facts, details, or the drama of the day, make a conscious effort to remember a recent dream. It may be one you had the night before, or an extremely memorable one that left a big impression on you. When you task your mind to remember the details from one of your dreams, you open the door for it to fall right back into your dreaming mode where your nourishing rest resides.

I trust you’ve made the most of your holiday, if you’re reading this in the USA, it’s the tail end of a long Labor Day weekend! I wrote this on the road home from Santa Barbara where I was down to DJ at theDance Tribe Sunday morning event that was by all accounts, “off the hook!” (That’s me at the altar with an ode to Aretha in the photo above.)

Take care and much love till next week!


Mark Metz
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine

Dance First Member Spotlight – Amara Pagano & Azul Conscious Movement!

This week’s Dance First Member Spotlight shines on Amara Paganoand Path of Azul ! One of the conscious dance world’s foremost leaders, innovators, and community builders, she’s a mover and shaker to follow on all of her offerings around the world.

Some of you may know here as the driving force behind the international One Dance Tribe gatherings that happen at different times of the year in Hawaii, Europe, and this coming spring, March 8-12, for the first time at the Garrison Institute in New York. Together with her partner and co-founder Pier Paolo de Angelis, they invite a vibrant and diverse group of fellow facilitators, modality founders, healers, and consciousness raising luminaries to collaborate on destination events that set the standard for the field.

You may also know her as the creator of Azul Conscious Movement. This innovative “Path of Personal Transformation” draws from several threads of wisdom to “support the awakening of consciousness.” Amara says “Azul harnesses the body’s intelligence to facilitate inner healing and evolution and utilizes movement combined with a psycho-spiritual approach as a vehicle for exploration.”

Using the spiral as a metaphor, to embark on the Path of Azul is to embrace the six core values of honesty, kindness, self-responsibility, service, dedication and beauty. “The Spiral offers an in-depth exploration of the various components and points of entry into the natural flow of life that we experience as love, self-expression and fulfilling of our life purpose.”

Azul is offered via workshops, retreats, The Azul Trilogy, and Teacher Trainings. The Azul Trilogy is a three-module series of 6-day immersions designed to illuminate and deepen your awareness and transformation at

The creative work of Amara as expressed though the Path of Azul is deep and diverse. Learn more about the various entry points and how you can engage in one of her dynamic transformative offerings.

Coming soon is Doorways to Love, one of the Azul Trilogy Modules, a six-day immersion at Camp Keanae on the island of Maui in Hawaii. There’s still time to register and make plans for this retreat coming up Nov 1-6, but you’d better hurry, space is limited and there are only a few spots left.

For your opportunity to become a facilitator of the Path of Azul yourself, you can apply now for Module One of the Teachers Trainingrunning from April 26th to May 5th in Assisi, Italy. The trainings are offered in two ten-day residential modules over a years time, first comes ‘Apprenticeship’ followed by ‘Certification’ with ample support and mentorship surrounding each.

Thank you for you wonderful work and innovation in the field Amara, we really appreciate the opportunity to represent you as a member of Dance First!

Azul Trilogy :: Doorways to Love
Nov 1-6, Maui, Hawaii

One Dance Tribe
March 8-12, New York

Azul Teacher Training Module One – Apprenticeship
April 26 – May 5, 2019
Assisi, Italy