Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dance, Sex and Death

When you are dancing, if you think about the mistake you just made, it colors everything that comes after it.  You cannot then be present in the moment to enjoy what you’re doing “right,” right  now.  The result of not letting go is that you end up re-creating what you do not want to re-create. 

Further, this is an age old theme.  I am a lover of Jane Austen.  In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth says to Darcy, “You must learn some of my philosophy.  Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”  This is a simple iteration of what we hear again and again.  What we focus on is what we experience.  And if we focus on the unhappy events of the past we color our present with those unhappy memories.  There’s no escaping that.

It is always amazing to me that these concepts are not new.  We think forms of dance are new, but they’re not.  We think we are the only generation that discovered real, enjoyable sex as if our parents and grandparents didn’t feel what we feel. 

I was told by one of my insane grandmothers (no baking cookies or bedtime stories there) that “I would rather see you dead and lying in your coffin than know you had ‘Gone Wrong.”  (As in, “You know that neighbor’s girl?  She’s gone wrong!”)

In my home, “gone wrong” meant pre-marital sex.   Really?  Dead?  You’d rather I was DEAD?!?!” Hmmmmmmm.  Sex and death.  You wouldn’t think they’d be associated post-18th century.  It’s a wonder I wasn’t the Mayflower Madam or Heidi Fleiss after all that.

My point is that no matter how traumatic or weird your past might be, it doesn’t help to dwell on it or believe that what your elders said was true.  If your dad was Atticus Finch, then maybe you should believe what he told you.  But if you are like the rest of us, just because there is a tape playing in your brain, it doesn’t make the words true. 

The past does not have to define you, unless you cannot let go of it.  I could be a whore or a nun, but I choose to be neither.  I choose to define myself by my own judgment.  And yes, sometimes that judgment is clouded by the past voices that still reside in my head.  But I know those voices are of the past and need not control my life now. 

At times, I have to literally say “stop!” to those voices and dig deep to find myself and my own reasoning in the choices I make. 

So dance in this moment; live in this moment.   You are who you are right now, judged only by your own internal compass, defined by yourself, regardless of the past.

You are who you say you are.  And that’s a really good start.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Just Be.

Sometimes when I meet someone and they express an interest in my dance class, they’ll say, “I’m not a dancer, but I really love to dance!” Well, to me, that means you ARE a dancer.  On the other hand, you can TRY to be a dancer.  You can take classes and practice and think about it. You can think about it a lot.  What you are saying to yourself is that I am not a dancer but I am going to strive to be one.  But what does that label, “dancer,” mean?  What qualifies you to BE a dancer?  Do you have to win a prize?  Go to school?  Be in a show? 

If you decide that you ARE a dancer now, everything you do is geared toward being a better dancer.  This is different than trying to BECOME a dancer by endless hours of TRYING.  If you realize that you are already a dancer, your intention is focused on becoming a more authentic dancer, a dancer who expresses his or her truth through movement.

When we try to “do” our way to happiness, love, or peacefulness it can elude us.  In the old paradigm of behavior (the one I grew up with anyway), you did, thought, and said things that you hoped would BRING you happiness, love, peace.  But when you think that way, the joy, love and peace are always elusive, in the future, a definite maybe. 
But if you decide, right now, that you are happy, you are love, you are peaceful, everything you think, say and do comes from that state of being rather than doing.   

When you decide to just be, you already are where you want to be.   

BE a dancer.  BE the truth of who you always wanted to be.  Right now. Simply decide to be it.

“You cannot ‘do’ your way to being…The way to ‘get there’ is to ‘be there.’”
---Conversations with God, Book 3, Neale Donald Walsch.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Core Truths

When you dance, you have many choices about how to express yourself in the movement.  You can move from the outside in.  Physically this means that you are mostly moving your extremities rather than allowing the movement to originate from your core.  Emotionally it means that you are more concerned about how it looks than about how it feels. 

Or, you can move from the core of your body so that the movement originates from your center and progresses to your limbs.  Emotionally this means that you are focused on expressing what is within you rather than what is outside of you.

Core movement in dance feels better and is much more beautiful and interesting to watch.  Core movement is infused with the essence of the dancer.

In life, we can express conformity to the majority, with our behavior reflecting the values of others.  Or we can decide to trust in what we believe to be right and express our own values and the truth of who we are.

Years ago, I became friends with a young gay man, Tom. (Not his real name).   It was devastating to hear him talk about his childhood.  He was tormented in his teenage years so much that he had severe diarrhea every day.  He couldn’t eat or sleep. 

His parents could not accept Tom’s sexual preference.  They did not understand and because they didn’t, they behaved in a way that was callous and rejecting.  Tom was on the verge of committing suicide.  However, he found help from friends and professionals.  His family, after several years, accepted the fact that their son is gay.  They have since built a new family foundation that includes Tom’s partner.

Rather than repressing his true nature to conform to a family script, Tom allowed his deepest truth to guide him to a happy, fulfilling life.  Tom’s parents allowed their love for Tom, the love that exists at their very core, to ultimately be their guiding force.  They accept Tom and love him exactly as he is.

Both Tom and his parents eventually acknowledged and expressed their own truth.  Because they did so, they can live authentically.  They all opened themselves to understanding what is true and they embody and express that truth. 

In the book, The Gnostic Gospels, the Gospel of Thomas quotes Jesus as saying, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.  If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

If you live a life of self-loathing and repression, you will break your own heart.  If you try to deny the love you have for another, you are crippling your spirit.  It is against nature to deny our true selves. We are on earth to embrace and celebrate our individual worth and beauty.  And no one is left out.

What’s your truth?  Acknowledging it allows you to live joyfully from the core of your being.   

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Stuck. Again. (Revisited)

You know how the music leads you in dance to express yourself? The more you try to absorb the choreography, the harder it gets.  When you relax into the music (without judging yourself) you can dance in a more expressive and fulfilled way.

Last week I wrote about being stuck. Again.  And so I resolved to just relax and allow myself to be led rather than doing my usual “I’ll-never-be-able-to-do-this-again” thing.

This is what happened.  Periodically, my iPod blows up and I lose music.  I wanted to do Let the River Run by Carly Simon, but it was no longer in my iTunes library.   I have TWO CDs of the soundtrack for Working Girl which has the song I wanted. I looked everywhere for one of those CDs and couldn’t find either of them.  So I figured I’d just buy it from the iTunes store.  However, I couldn’t just buy just that song.  I had to buy the whole album of Carly Simon’s greatest hits, (Reflections).  So, I thought, “grrrrrrrrrrrr, I just have to do it.”  I bought the whole album.  As I was listening to some of the songs I came across one that I had always loved and had searched for, and couldn’t find because I didn’t know the name of it.  Well, there it was.  So that is my first new song.  I was led and because I didn’t get crazy, I found exactly what I needed.  (By the way, the song is:  Coming around Again.)

Further, the next day I woke up dreaming about an old Beatles song: I Saw Her Standing There.  This is my second new song.

I am writing this, yes, to share, but also to remind myself of what happens when I let go. 

Of course, my next thought is: What if these two songs are it?  What if I get stuck again?

I am taking a deep breath here and going out on a limb.  I am going to continue to let go and trust.

And reread this every day.

What’s the next song to inspire me?  I’m waiting to find out...peacefully (sort of)...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Stuck. Again.

Sometimes when I’m taking a class and learning something new, I do something “wrong.”  Maybe I’ll turn the wrong way the first time I try it.  Somehow that can became ingrained in me and I can’t seem to re-learn another way to turn.  The more I try to NOT turn that way, the more ingrained that turn becomes. I’m stuck.  The more I try to get “unstuck,” the more stuck I become.  The more I focus on trying to remedy what’s “wrong,” the more I experience it.

Once, after a class with a lot of new choreography, one of my clients said to me, “Oh, you’re going through a creative period.  Your life must be in tatters!”  And, actually, that was true. I was going through a divorce and had two young children.   Creativity doesn’t have to come from pain, unless you think it does.  Then it does. 

Buddha said, “The mind is everything.  What you think you become.”

OK, right now I am so stuck.  I want to do new choreography, but here I am.  Nothing.  Crickets.  Tumbleweeds.  Howling wind.   People try to give me new music suggestions and it’s like I have a tin ear—none of them move me. 

This is a pattern for me that this year I want to break through. This is what happens:   It’s time for me to do something new, but I can’t find any music I want to dance to (how is this possible?).  So I fear that I’ll never do anything good again.   What I have to remind myself  is that when I feel this way, after a time, I do find music.   It’s like I’m waiting for the train and it finally comes.  I get on it and hold on.  If I get off the train too soon, I’m in Stuckville again, and the hellish process begins anew.

Is it really necessary for me to go through this EVERY time?  Apparently, yes. Why can’t I let myself go through this process without fear and angst?  I find that most of my clients are very forgiving and not demanding.  After all, this is not Broadway—I’m only going to be excoriated by my ruthless inner critic.

What I have learned is that the more you resist something, the more you are focused on what you DON”T want (what you are resisting), but that focus is what creates the experience.  At the most elementary level, if you think about it, that is true.  If I’m worried about what may happen, I am actually bringing that experience into my thoughts, and my thoughts create my reality.

This year I want to be easier on myself and just TRUST that I am led to where I need to go.  I don’t have to go kicking and screaming and biting my nails. 

So right now, I am choosing to just relax, keep my eyes and ears open and trust that I can choose the harmonious path to do the work I want to do.

 In 2012, I am choosing to nurture and be kinder to myself.  How about you?