Monday, July 4, 2011

In the Waves

On Sundays, I am particularly fond of two things; rich, creamy lattes in bed reading the Sunday New York Times (shared crossword, a plus) or…I like to dance. I call dancing my church, my form of meditation. Ecstatic free-style movement that while following a wave of musical rhythm only calls for one thing from each person in the gloriously open space I dance in…authenticity. is a perfect place to explore, accept, invite and make contact with oneself. The body knows when you are not being fully present, fully alive and fully honest. It’s hard, impossible actually, to fake dance. It’s an expression of your essence moment to moment, spark to spark and today I revel in the glorious fact that my desire to share the dance authentically and deeply is so clear and strong.  Desire is my fuel and always connects me to my authentic self.

My friend called me this Sunday morning to say she couldn’t make it to dance. She wasn’t feeling well, not contagious sick, just not quite right either. Our conversation reflected what I find most important about this body practice and that is that you don’t just go dance when you feel happy and joyful, you also go and dance when you feel sad or tired or lacking in resources. You make a commitment to dance whatever you are feeling. If you can take any preconceived notion of how something should look or feel out of the equation you invite a kind of co-creativity with the universe that includes your human experience, includes ALL feelings AND opens you to the divine inside yourself. I do not know how to reach that place in me unless I honor what is in the present moment. For me everything is included and that devotion to present time experience is not for the faint of heart.

 Our talk inspired a big yes from my friend…let's call her Jewel because she is such a treasure. So Jewel came and danced her feelings…danced her aches and pains, danced herself open, by being with her body honestly, letting it express in any way it wanted to. The beauty in all this is in listening to one’s own inner rhythm. Most people don’t.  They override their body’s information, especially if they don’t like what they are feeling. It takes practice to allow all feelings, to remain curious about them but not identified AS them. To say …wow...I feel rage, fire in my belly and I will breath into it, be accountable for it and let it pass and shift into whatever is next. It takes courage to not attribute ones feeling to another person and hold them hostage for one’s own experience. And as frightening as some feelings might be to feel full out, (helplessness for instance is not high on my hit parade), the very worst feeling in the world for me is not feeling at all…numb. It’s like the lights got turned off and no one is home.

Our culture delivers a mandate that it’s best to ignore feelings or at the very least evaluate them and get rid of the bad, only feel the good.  We have gotten messages from our families that we still follow dictating which feelings are acceptable and which are not. This is all quite crazy making to a child since a child cannot NOT feel. Their thinking brain doesn’t even develop until around the age of 7.  Saying don’t feel angry, or stop that crying to a child is like saying don’t exist and that is why so many people do not trust their own bodies. If they lived inside their bodies and felt all their feelings they would also feel their original childhood loss and the pain of what they made up about themselves when they were unable to follow the rules of their family system.

My choice and I think it is one that leads to an experience of pure acceptance is to invite all feelings knowing that when I do, I move through them with  grace and ease. I do not identify as the feeling, I simply have it. And with dance I include the physical expression of it. Now here is where it gets tricky for me. On my own I do this with ease.  I open to whatever comes up inside me, breathe, sit with it and it transforms. At the dance I close my eyes and do the same, waiting for the impulse inside that ignites and propels my body into motion.  That means letting go of any fixed idea of what the dance should look like and instead anchoring in simply being true. I won’t move if I don’t FEEL it. I stop and enter myself even more deeply to find that divine spark that is always there in the midst of chaos.  This is self awareness, and with practice can be mastered. The tricky part… relationship. Whether it’s a friendship or a lover, verbal or through dance, a whole other paradigm emerges when you are called to consider another person’s reality as well as your own.

My learning at the moment is around what happens inside me when I express my feelings verbally and the other person does not want to hear, see or receive them. In my head I know its fine, I can give them space to do what they need to do and that their reaction means nothing about me. In my heart I feel the desire for the kind of exchange that I have far less experience with…mutual, unconditional acceptance: human to human.
Spirit to spirit I feel oneness with everyone.
Human to human (and I believe we are here to include the human not avoid it) it gets somewhat murkier.

Humans are reactive, humans are messy, humans make mistakes and that will always complicate things.  I am still in the process of acknowledging that deep acceptance is one of my core values and holds a key that opens me to intimacy. I commit to being the kind of person who can offer it more times than not and I certainly desire to experience it. For me it’s not a just a solo process. Self awareness calls for discipline that one can manage and monitor. In relationship there is my part and the variable…another human being with their own set of needs and reality. Together we create either harmony and union or a cacophony of hell. Mastery in relationship is a far more complicated matter.

We have an altar at Divine Dance that changes weekly and often touches my core. Today it was watery and blue. There was a picture of women frolicking in massive waves, naked and free in the depth of unchartered water. The tail of a cruise ship was just passing out of frame as if the women had abandoned ship, thrown caution to the winds and plunged into the unpredictable depths of the unknown sea. For me, the moment of risking sharing a feeling with another person when it might be perceived as negative is like that dive into the dark vastness of the ocean. There is freedom in it yet also fear.

This is my current curriculum.  It’s hard when I experience my feelings impacting someone in a way that upsets them. I hurt when my feelings are interpreted and walls go up in response. I immediately want to contain my feelings or shift them and yet I know that for me the expression and reception around feeling is my path to intimacy. Clamming up would be like getting back on the cruise ship. That big stable boat is like an unexamined relation-ship…you may not feel the waves anymore but that doesn’t mean they are not there…churning up the waters just below the surface.

In the midst of our iridescent altar today, nestled amongst the waves of shimmery fabric was a large blue crystal. Midway thru the dance I was inspired to touch it…cool…glassy almost wet. While music swayed my hips in rhythmic waves I reached out and felt its smooth geometric face and then touched my throat. I allowed my desire for expression to be felt.  Impulse continued to move me as I brushed my hand up between my eyes to the chakra of intuition and it dawned on me with a zap of electrical charge that my intuition speaks to me when I speak out loud. That may be based on childhood wounds, a place with little sound or human connection and yet it is in fact a truth for me, how I am wired. Instead of seeing that as a limitation I could choose to see it as information and accept this awareness with the same grace that I endeavor to accept all the idiosyncrasies I discover about myself and others. Words and tone are very important to me. 
I discover myself when I speak out loud. I understand another when they articulate their inner world out loud. Some will like that. Others will not.
The dance will go on regardless as we learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Maybe that’s the great mystery, the ambiguity of human interaction.

One step forward… two back, one to the side, lean into real, chaos, stillness,  a gesture to soothe, a moment of bliss, false note, breathing, feeling one’s edges, joining, defining, locating…LETTING GO…and on and on.

Life may seem safe on that cruise ship, stable and habitually solid…until you hit an iceberg.

 I choose the waves, the depths and learning to expand and let go to the ever-present music. The key note as my anchor is to remember that ‘I am ok’ no matter what tune is playing. Or not playing.

And, one can have preferences. I prefer dancing out loud and in unison! It keeps me honest.

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