Sunday, May 27, 2012

Body Language

Dance is like life in so many ways.  In every moment there are an infinite number of movements that you choose while dancing.  In life, every moment holds an infinite number of choices about what to see, think or say. 

Dancing is a way of expressing what cannot be said in words.  The body has a language all its own.  Many studies say that 93% of communication is non-verbal.  As Martha Graham said, “The body says what words cannot.”  In fact, words can be limiting.  Once you name something, you’ve taken away a part of its dimension.  You’ve brought it down to Earth rather than letting it be in the realm of no words. 

I was watching an interview with the actor Peter O’Toole.  Talking about his many roles, he said, “The parts chose me.  He knew instinctively when a part was his and when one wasn’t.  He also said, “Acting makes the words flesh.”   In the Harry Potter books it’s a widely known fact that the wand chooses the wizard.  The wizard then uses the wand to channel and create magic.

This makes me think about the difference between surrendering and allowing.  They are both about letting go and that is powerful, but somehow allowing feels stronger.  Allowing implies the trust that comes with knowing rather than just believing.  Surrender is doing. Allowing is being.    

In class, we use choreography, but even within that framework there are still an infinite number of choices.  Instead of choosing a movement, can we let a movement choose us?  Can we let the feeling and the music take over our bodies and just ride that wave?  Can we then be the movement?

It’s a little scary to give up what seems like control.  But control is an illusion.  Our power lies with our being, not our doing. 

His parts chose Peter O’Toole.  The wand chooses the wizard.  And dance chooses us -- all in order to create magic.    

The question is: can we allow it?

(Thanks to Beth Prins Leas for the Martha Graham quote!) 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Your Center, Part II or Letting Go (Again)

Dance, physically, originates from your core. The emotional experience of dance comes from your truth.  You move from what’s true at your center rather than what “looks good” or what’s extraneous – a process of letting go of what it looks like and dancing what’s true for you. 

You can’t make anyone else dance the way you want them to.  You can only affirm that they dance from their own truth.  Not yours.  You can validate their path, their truth, their way.  You have your own, as everyone does. 

I was thinking about how much letting go is, at least for me, the crux of the process that leads to joy and (dare I say it?) good things happening.  There was a time when I didn’t (couldn’t) answer my phone.  It rang and I was filled with unmanageable anxiety.  Even now the phone rings and I have to remind myself that it’s okay -- I can answer it and not implode.  I’m safe.
In reality, I was always safe, I just didn’t know it.  I didn’t realize that I didn’t have to hold my breath to ensure that everyone else could breathe.  I didn’t know that my being a time bomb waiting to be activated wasn’t really helping anyone, especially not me. 

When I realized that worrying and managing and taking Lunesta night after night so I could, please God, get some  $&&^^^*%$%#  sleep was only making me more of a pitiful wreck, I finally let go.  Kicking and screaming, yes, but I did it. 

And everything changed. 

I could breathe.  I could sleep (mostly).  But I had to trust that there was something bigger than me – call it the All That Is, the Higher Self, whatever -- that knew what it was doing and I had to let it be.   I had to get out of the way.  The funny thing is that I never had responsibility for the choices made by the people I love, even though I thought I did. 

All I can do is love them and see them as who they truly are at their core, regardless of how they might be showing up.  They are Light. Love. Joy.  As we all are.

These people I love each found their own path, in their own way.  And it really was (and is) miraculous. 

All the surface stuff is just that: surface.  I had to learn to trust what was true, what was at the core. 

And the truth, as always, is love. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Your Center, Part I

When you are dancing, you are moving from your center.  In order for the dance to be fully experienced, the movement flows from within you to outside of you.  Sometimes I can get confused and think that this one space on the floor is where the center is, but it isn’t. It might be the center (or the place I begin from), but it’s not my center.   My center is within me, not on the floor.  If I think it’s a space on the floor, I can’t take it with me and I move much differently when I’m focused on a center that is outside myself.  I’m then afraid to let go of that spot and that constricts and narrows my expression.  The boundaries are then too rigid.  And no fun.

When I basically forced marriage counseling on a man I am no longer married to, he was very angry with me as we went to our first appointment.  I felt frightened.  As we sat silently in the waiting room, I picked up a book, The Language of Letting Go, by Melody Beattie. I flipped to a page and read something like, “You know what the truth is.  Do not allow somebody else tell you you’re wrong or crazy.”  This was a good thing for me to read because my whole life, well-meaning people had been telling me that my feelings weren’t valid.  I learned to not trust my gut.  I accepted it because the repercussions of not toeing the line were so scary.  Weirdly, but predictably, I recreated that in this relationship.

In the therapist’s office, when my then-husband was speaking, I was very happy I’d read that passage of the book.  The life he thought we were living together was in a different universe than mine.  But instead of pretending that his perception was mine (which I might have done, so as not to embarrass him or rock an already sinking boat), I was able to say, “I understand that’s how you see it, but this is how I experience our life.”  I now know that he wasn’t lying.  He just saw things differently. (Reason number 323 that we are no longer married or even live in the same country.) Here I had a choice to make another person my center or to realize my center is within me. 

We all have to go to our core to find our truth, no matter who does or does not share that truth. 

Coming from your truth expands your boundaries and your field of expression.

And the best thing is it is always with you.  You don’t have to go anywhere.  Your truth lives in your center.

Dance from there.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Clown's Credo

In this blog I often write about serious situations.  But I was thinking the other night, as I watched an old sitcom, that allowing ourselves to be dorky and silly is important too.  To be able to feel the joy of dance without regard to what it looks like, to be able to let go and allow ourselves to expose what’s underneath—serious or silly—is a healing experience.  To be irreverent, yet loving, to be joyful yet aware of the realities of life, to be in the moment and unafraid of what we might be revealing to others -- that’s what dance is, that’s what life is.  

Certainly I have learned, and my life has been enriched by what I take from dance and from what dance gives me;  by what the people I dance with, and the people that I love, give me;  and by what I give, too. 

Sometimes, though, all that’s needed is a little laughter. 

So here’s a quote I was reminded of, in that old sitcom that I used to watch as a teenager and that still makes me laugh 39 years later -- the Clown’s Credo:

“A little song,
A little dance,
A little seltzer down your pants.”

~ Chuckles the Clown.

Dance happy.