Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dance Lessons or Everything I Know I Learned in Dance Class

Start at the beginning.  Do what you know you can do.  The rest will then come to you.

Don’t hurt yourself or others.

Move, sweat, have fun

Stay in the moment.  Don’t think about what you just did or what’s next.

It doesn’t matter what it looks like to anyone else.  It matters how it feels to you.   

Stay with yourself.  You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.  Do it your way.

There are no mistakes, only opportunities to learn.  Sometimes mistakes lead to new avenues of creativity. 

Take chances, especially ones that make you uncomfortable.

When you make a choice, own it.

That person who continually pisses you off (the one who takes your space, crowds you, ignores you) may not be your rival, but your teacher.  She could be telling you something about yourself you might not otherwise think about.  (See “The Mirror,” posted 9/25/11)

Making room for others gives you more room, too.

Remember, we are pretty much all the same.   At some point, we've all been "the new kid."

Focus on the joy, not the struggle. What you focus on is what you’ll experience.

And most important:  trust yourself—and follow the music in your own way.

In other words, dance with life.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Trying can be so trying (Part 2)

When you dance and you let your body just go without judging yourself, or trying to be perfect, you can truly relax. 

When you relax and let go of the struggle, you create the space for what you already know to come through.  “What you already know” can often be something that you don’t consciously understand that you know.  Relaxing causes stillness of thought.  It allows the words to go away.  In that stillness, you find the truth of who you are. 

I wrote about knee jerk reactions in another blog.  What I have found, while attempting to make major behavior changes, is that my body is the last thing to let go of a behavior and the last part of me to integrate a new behavior.  So when I’ve tried to change knee-jerk reactions that don’t serve me anymore, even though I KNOW the change is “right,” my body is reacting with, “NO, STOP, THIS IS WRONG!!”  And I have to calm myself, take a breath and just go ahead with what I know is right in my life.  It’s like my body is my unruly child that doesn’t want to change anything because she doesn’t feel safe with the unknown.  So I have to soothe her and take charge.  I really hate to be in charge, but I don’t have a choice if I want to be unstuck.

What I have found lately is that the more I allow myself to be in silence, the more my body falls in line with new, healthier behaviors.  She has fewer tantrums. (A tantrum really is, after all, fueled by fear.)  By silence, I mean letting go of the constant chatter in my mind.   I don’t mean sitting in meditation for hours.  (That can be daunting and difficult.) You can drop between your thoughts while you are dancing, running or washing the dishes.  Even if I periodically take a deep breath, as I exhale and drop down behind the words, I feel much steadier.  Dropping between your thoughts connects you to the truth of who you are--although you can’t ever be really disconnected, anyway.  If you think about it, the space between your thoughts is the part of you that you can remember from your earliest memory.  It is the part of you that is eternal, that is behind the words. 

My point in all this is that if we really trust that there is something more to us than blood and bone, we can find a guide within by relaxing (or dancing) to stillness.  We can trust that our bodies and minds are in alignment.

When you discover the truth of who you are, you can fully be and express that truth in your life.

I love this quote:

“When you are confused and perplexed and looking for answers from the universe, if you will just turn off the part of you that desperately wants to figure things out and turn on the part of you that knows it has access to every answer—if you will stop trying to decide what to do and start choosing what you wish to be, you will find dilemmas dissolving and solutions appearing magically right in front of your face.” ---Neale Donald Walsch, “Home with God in a Life that Never Ends.”

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Trying can be so TRYING. Part I

When I try too hard to remember choreography while I’m teaching, it eludes me.  I cannot, in the moment I am trying, find what I know I already know. 

I was having a mental block about a combination in another teacher’s class. I had done it the week before without any trouble at all.  The more I tried, the worse it got---by focusing on what I couldn’t do, I created more of what I couldn’t do.  The more I focused on that combination, the less room I had in my head for anything else, so I wasn’t getting the add-on choreography either.  It was like a traffic jam in my head.  I ended up creating confusion and mental blocks because that’s what I was focused on.

Anyway, I came back to class the next week and that combination was no longer a problem.  I simply decided to let go of being perfect, relax and trust that I knew what I knew, without trying.  (Trying really can be trying.)  This created the space for what I already knew to surface.

We were watching “60 Minutes” and I was marveling about how Steve Jobs, in his relatively-modest-compared-to-his-wealth lifestyle, could be so not----what?  I was trying to think of a word that I knew but couldn’t remember it.  I knew the meaning of it was between presumptuous and ostentatious, but I couldn’t think of it. I knew it was in my brain, but I couldn’t find it.  My husband and I were wracking our brains---“it’s like presumptuous, but that’s not it—it’s like ostentatious, but that’s not it either.”  I finally decided I was going to run upstairs to use the thesaurus on my computer.  I had given up—as I got up off my chair to go upstairs the word popped into my brain. As soon as I surrendered, there it was: pretentious.  Letting go made room for the word to surface---my holding on to TRYING to remember the word blocked any chance of it coming to me.  By letting go, I created a space to let what I already knew come through.

Sometimes we stumble toward the “right” answer (if there even is such a thing.) 

This makes me think of the times that I have been so hysterical over trying to make something “right” that I prevented any rational thought from entering my brain.  I created a huge wall where nothing could penetrate.  I was frozen.  But after the storm was over, it turned out that doing nothing worked out really well. What if, instead of getting crazy, I calmed down and realized that I had done all I could do and that, since I had no other ideas, maybe the “right” thing really was non-action?

What happens when the storm comes and you just let it rain?  If you don’t know what to do, maybe the best thing to do is nothing.  Maybe it’s best to just let it go, let it wash over you.  Resisting too much can create more of what you are trying to resist—what you focus on is what you experience. 

When we allow ourselves the space to make mistakes, we make fewer of them.  We have unblocked the traffic jam in our heads. Allowing inner spaciousness is allowing flexibility of thought.  We don’t realize how much we know.  We know a lot. 

Trust yourself.  You know what to do.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Just Say It.

The first time I taught in Westport, people were vocalizing during the class.  I didn’t know what to think.  Did they hate it?  Did they like it?  I asked Carla (who has a third degree black belt in karate) and she told me that vocalizing is a way of letting go and also of finding your breath.  In karate, the “kee-yi” helps with breathing and puts more focus and power behind the movement.

I notice that some of my clients don’t like to use vocalization.  It does feel weird at first, and it certainly isn’t necessary to vocalize during a class.  But vocalizing is a way of letting go, both physically and emotionally.  When you dance, you are absolutely stirring up energy and emotion, positive and negative.  Using the voice can help you release what you do not need:  anger, tension or frustration.  It can affirm what you do want: joy and freedom.  Also, it gives you space to breathe.

Finding your voice can make you “unstuck.”

In life, vocalizing how you feel will often dissipate uncomfortable feelings.  It’s like the monster in the closet.  The more you pretend he’s not there by not opening the closet door, the scarier he becomes.  When you open the door, he disappears. 

I used to read a Sesame Street book to my kids called, “The Monster at the End of This Book.”  Through the book, Grover is flipping out and trying everything he can to stop you from turning the pages.  At the end of the book, he realizes that he himself is the monster.  There was, of course, nothing to be afraid of.

Once when I was hanging around with my friend who is an amazing Shiatsu/Cranial-Sacral practitioner, I was having one of my attacks of “not good enough.”  I said to her, with a sigh, “I wish I had a skill.”  She fell off the couch laughing at me.  Vocalizing the fear that I had no skill made me realize that it wasn’t true. 
When I first started therapy, I remember telling my therapist that therapy was like throwing up, but, you know, in a good way.  When you are physically ill, you feel really nauseated and sick and you try to keep it down but once you barf, you feel much better.  In therapy, there are words you are afraid to express because they are scary or they make you look petty or crazy.  But once you spit out the words, they generally are not nearly as bad as you thought AND you feel much better.

Whether or not you feel comfortable vocalizing in class, saying what you need to say in your life can empower and free you.  The people you need to speak truth to are also empowered and freed because now they know how you really feel.  That is a gift.

So just say it.