Sunday, October 30, 2011


If there are two violins in a room and a string on one of them is plucked, the other violin’s string will start to vibrate on its own.  Or if there are two metronomes in a room set at different rhythms, they will eventually match each other and start to move in the same rhythm.   Quantum physics has shown that everything is made of the same basic substance and, further, particles that seem to be separate are intimately connected on a level that is beyond time and space.

When clients enter a dance class there is an agreement, consciously and unconsciously, that the teacher is the leader.  The group follows the teacher and becomes “one.”  They are individuals that make up an entity: the class.  This means that even though an individual has her own experience, she is a part of a greater communal experience.

As the music starts and the class starts moving, all the individuals become synchronous with one another.  When I am teaching and I realize I am not breathing, I can bet that half the class is also holding their breath. When someone allows a latecomer space, she has also, paradoxically, made more space for herself.

When we stop defending our “territory” we often find that we don’t need to defend our territory at all---that it was a situation created and sustained by our own thoughts and mirrored back to us.

Have you ever had an argument with someone and you decided to soften and own your part in the disagreement?  Frequently that causes the other person to soften, too.  Then an issue that seemed like a huge obstacle diminishes and sometimes disappears altogether.

The saying “what goes around comes around” takes on a new meaning; It is not some cosmic punishment/reward system.  It simply means that since we are all connected, what you do to or for another, you do to or for yourself.  When you give a person a break, you’ve given yourself a break, too.

I realize it is a fantasy to believe that everyone will respond positively to our realization that we are all connected.  But if we can try to keep that thought in our minds, we would start treating each other and ourselves with more kindness.

Every time we give another person encouragement, we are encouraging ourselves. 

Every time we acknowledge another’s beauty, brilliance or achievements, we give ourselves the space to recognize those qualities in ourselves. 

Every time I say, “I love you” I am reminding myself that I too, am loved.

It’s the Golden Rule in a single word: One.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Start with the Truth.

When you are trying to do something new in dance (or in anything) you always start with what you can do, right now.  For example, if you want to learn to do a basic turn, you start slowly.  You can walk through it a couple of times and when you get comfortable, you can speed it up.  Once you can do one turn, you know that you can replace that one turn with two or possibly three.  But you always start with what you know you can do right now.

Last week a friend (okay, it was really my therapist) said to me that when you have a problem, you don’t start by trying to fix the problem.  Instead, you start with what you know to be true.  Coincidentally, a couple of days later, I was watching a movie and one of the characters, who was a mathematics professor, said to his student, who had a personal problem,  “When solving a math problem you know that you never start with the unknown.  You don’t start with x.  You always begin with what you know to be true.”
I have a friend whose young adult son has completely rejected him.  For a while, he would try to regain contact, only to be rebuffed again and again.  For years, he obsessed about what he might have done differently and how on earth he managed to alienate his child.  But there is no cheese at the end of that maze.  It is another exercise in self-flagellation.  Even if he could go back in time, would he, could he do anything differently? My friend could not “fix” this estrangement by focusing on the problem.

So finally, instead of focusing on what he did “wrong” as a parent, he thinks about what he knows is true:  He raised his son with love and kindness. No one is a perfect parent, but everything he did was with his son’s best interests at heart.  He loves his son.  Between him and his son there is love underneath it all.  Love is what connects them and will always connect them.  That’s what’s true. 

If we can believe the idea that love is the only truth, that anything that is not love is not true, we can start to calm down a little.  We can stop trying to fix everything by looking back at what we think we should have done.  We can start with what we know to be true.

What’s your truth?  Begin there. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Well, Yes, You Really Screwed That Up. But I Really Like Your Hair!

The other day in class, the stereo was acting up. The sound wasn’t working right.  Suddenly it would get loud and then get very quiet.  Also, within songs, it would drop a few tracks.  I got very confused and distracted because of this.  What I realize is that there are places in the music, “rocks in the road,” that guide me when I need to change the movement.  I didn’t realize that I use some of these tracks unconsciously.  Until they were gone. 

My clients are actually used to my confused behavior at times.  Luckily they have a sense of humor.  A friend of mine who was in the class thought I was laughing at a bad hair day---I guess I was pointing to my head to indicate actually a bad brain day.  Anyway, she said to me from across the room, “I really like your hair!”  I said, “Thank you!”  But I love this because it reminds me that our friends will always find something good to say.  “Yes, you screwed up, but I really like your hair!”  It is a mixture of honesty and love that I am so happy to have in my life. 

Just like the tracks in the familiar song, your friends and loved ones are “rocks in the road” that guide you to yourself and your truth.   Let’s be conscious of and grateful to these angels.  What would we do if they were gone?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lalalala, I Can't Hear You!

Remember when you used to do that to your siblings?  Your fingers in your ears, “Lalalala, I can’t hear you!”  Sometimes that’s not a bad thing.  Sometimes others can say really damaging things to you that you internalize.  This can be unintentional for the person giving the message and the person absorbing the message. But there are myths that we have accepted as true.  One of the biggest misconceptions is that we must decline as we age.

You can only do what you can imagine is possible. If you can’t imagine yourself doing a leap or a turn in dance, then you will never achieve it.  Your body believes what you say.

Sometimes people will ask me, referring to my job, “How long do you think you can keep doing this?”  This is my answer: FOREVER.

I believe in my health more than I believe in any illness.  I believe that getting older does NOT mean decline—unless I believe it does.  And I don’t.

When I get a cut, my body automatically heals it.  All of the cells in our bodies regenerate constantly.  When I dance, I am rehearsing.  When you rehearse anything you get better at doing it. As we get older, we learn from our experiences, making us more able to cope with life.

Why don’t we just decide to believe that there are no limits around the self and see what happens?  If you continually put limits on yourself, you will surely experience limits.

We have friends, Don and Marcia, whom I always think of as our contemporaries.  They have more life and vigor than most people (of any age).  In their 6th decade they were doing things like: climbing Mt. Everest, dog sledding in Antarctica, horseback riding and camping across Mongolia, camping in the Australian Outback, to name a few.  They recently decided to just change their lives and move to Colorado.  They were married the year I was born: 1957.  And they don’t look anywhere near their chronological age.  They have not bought into the concept of decline, so it is not in their experience.

You are what you tell yourself you are. Buddha said, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.  The mind is everything.  What we think, we become.”

If you are a dancer, skier, professor, doctor or any profession, that will not change unless you decide to change it.  I don’t like to hear people saying that they can’t do something because of their age.  That makes me think that maybe the lie about inevitably declining with age might be real.

Well, I refuse to believe it. 

And if you try to dissuade me, then: “Lalalalalala, I can’t hear you!”

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Drop the Weights.

I was having some emotional trouble.  I was so worried and upset, I couldn’t sleep (NOTHING looks good at 2 in the morning) and was having trouble functioning.  My worry was only causing me turmoil. I was aware of that, but couldn’t seem to stop fretting.

I was attached to what I imagined was going to happen next in the lives of people I love.  And I felt guilt that maybe there was some way I could “fix” it and didn’t know how.  Somehow I thought I should know. 

My therapist would say to me, “What would happen if you just dropped those ‘weights’?”  I couldn’t imagine doing that. 

Years ago, I had a client who said, “I’m working on being attached to nothing and connected to everything.”  I never forgot that but I hadn’t really internalized what it meant:  attachment is based on fear and connection is based on love.

Attachment is when we are trying to control an outcome, as if we know what’s best for anyone.  (Do we even know what’s best for ourselves?) Connection represents what’s true: that we can love, but not control others.  We only have control over our own behavior.    

If I tried to dance with a weight belt around my waist, like they wear in scuba diving, I wouldn’t be able to move very well.  Trying to live with the weight of self-imposed guilt and anxiety around my shoulders was making me crazy. 

If you are attached to how you look when you are dancing, you cannot enjoy the experience as much as if you let go of the attachment and feel your connection instead. Feeling your connection to your body and the music gives you a deeper experience that is not infused with fear, but rather, with love.

For example, if you are worried that you don’t look good when you’re dancing, that is attachment and is based on fear of (my personal favorite) “not being good enough.” 

On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve your form.  Enhancing your skill is not based on fear, but on your connection to your body and dance.

I decided to let go of my attachment to how my loved ones were faring and trust that they could take care of themselves.  I dropped the weights of guilt, fear and attachment to what I imagined could happen.  This doesn’t mean I abandoned them or stopped caring.  I replaced that attachment with the knowledge and feeling of my connection to them.  The connection I have with them is love, which is eternal and real. 

This shift didn’t happen overnight.  It came to me gradually. And even now I still have to stop myself from picking the weights up again.  I have to remind myself what crazy felt like.  Then I can let go, again….and again.  It is a process.

If we can let go of attachment, we can find what’s real in by recognizing our connection to everything.  It is the same as choosing love over fear. 

Dance and live in connection, not attachment, and the weights will fall away.