Saturday, September 27, 2014

Douche Bag and Other Idiocies

After I dance I feel as though my energy system has been douched.  I think that’s a good word. Douche.  It’s a cleaning out, a refreshing.  I have never understood the insult of calling someone a “douche bag.”  Why not “shower cap” or “hot water bottle?”  These are harmless and useful objects.  I get that the douche bag has an intimate function, but who knows what other people actually do with their shower caps and hot water bottles?  We don’t know.  That insult is just nonsensical to me.  So are the terms meant as insults, “ass-wipe,” “that’s so gay” and “N-word lover.”

The last makes me think of one of my very favorite books, To Kill a Mockingbird.”  Scout asks Atticus, “Atticus, are you a N word-lover?” And he says, “I most certainly am!  I do my best to love everyone.”  And he goes on to explain that “insults” such as “snot-nose” are meaningless.  (After all, every nose has snot, yes?) And that insults like these only show the idiocy (idiot being a true insult, one that actually makes sense) of the people who deliver them.

Okay. I digress.  I feel as if I have douched my feelings on this subject and I feel refreshed.

I started this discussion by thinking of how dance sort of clears me out – I feel like I have let go of my worries.  Not always, though.  Sometimes I just can’t let go of a nagging doubt or fear.  But I invariably feel better after dancing.  

In my classes now, I have gone back to basics. I have come full circle and I am teaching the way I did when I first started.  I once again do a relaxation and meditation after every class.  I don’t know why I got away from it, but now I’m back to it.

Dance is truly my church, and I can think about my truth much better after I’ve expressed myself in movement.  I am a believer in the idea that the body is an expression of the spirit and holds knowledge that we might not be aware of if we didn’t take the time to listen to it.

So whether you’re dancing in class or whether you just take any moment during the day to listen with your heart to what your body is telling you, trust the message.  

And don’t buy into the idea that you've been hurt just because someone flings a nonsensical insult at you.  If someone calls you a douche bag, to me, it just means you are refreshing.

Photo by MaryEllen Hendricks

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Slow Dance: Attachment or Connection?

When I am taking someone else’s dance class and the choreography is unfamiliar to me, I tend to dance too fast.  I am concentrating so hard on the movement – on what comes next -- that I lose the music.  Music is the soul of the choreography and if you are not in sync with it, you get lost and it’s impossible to feel the emotions that the music and the choreography evoke.  This makes the experience merely an exercise in going through the motions -- an example of attachment, which is always born of fear.  If I am afraid of not getting the choreography right it takes the joy out of the experience.

I just did choreography to Beyonce’s “XO” and the beat of the music is slow.  When I first did the song in class, I got way off course. I wasn’t on the path that the music was constructing.  Because I was nervous about presenting the routine for the first time, I went too fast and lost my way.

I had to really practice slowing down and allow myself to hear the music. For me, this is always a challenge.  But the rewards of staying on the path that the music provides are nourishing to the spirit.  This is an example of connection, which always comes from love.  

I remember the times in my life when I was “dancing as fast as I can.”  This was a learned response for me.  If I go quickly on to the next thing, I won’t have time to think about painful or difficult experiences.  I can just be the Energizer Bunny and skim the surface of my emotional life. 

Slowing down can be painful.  When you are quiet, emotions you are avoiding must come up.  This is why speeding along seems like a good idea.  And yes, it works for a time.  But it does not nurture your soul.  It is a denial of who you are.  

Slowing down can also be wonderful.  You are present in the moment.  If you are present in the now, you can, in dance, enjoy the movement; in day-to-day life, you can drop into the space between your thoughts and remember who you are underneath the surface.

So, as always, love (expressed as connection) is the answer.  It allows us to let go, to turn away from fear (attachment), and it nurtures our spirit.

The dance of our lives happens in the now.  Let’s slow down enough to enjoy it.

 Photo by MaryEllen Hendricks

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dance Around

When I have an injury – most recently a pulled hip flexor -- I need to find a way to work around it.  If I ignore an injury, it’s going to come back to bite me.  I have learned this the hard way.  If I keep using the muscle or tendon that is hurt, obviously I make it worse.  When I have to dance around an injury, I can often find a new way of moving that I would not have seen if I were completely healthy.  And this new way will help me heal the damage. 
Sometimes we don’t even know we have an injury.  We can experience it as a little annoyance that doesn’t mean anything, but little things that are ignored don’t always go away.  Sometimes they get bigger.  Especially if we ignore them. 
When someone else has an injury, there’s nothing you can do except offer your advice about how to proceed.  Just because you give advice doesn’t mean the other person will hear it or follow it -- nor should she if that’s not her inclination.  We have to accept that she, like everyone, has body intelligence and must make her own decisions.  

If I have a quarrel with a loved one, especially if it’s over an old conflict – you know, that one argument that pops up disguised as something else but is in reality the same old issue, one you thought had been put to rest long ago.  The one that is never really finished and done.   The one that comes back to bite you if you ignore it too long. 

It’s these arguments that reflect, not our faults, but our wounds.

When it’s my own injury, I can try to work around it.  If my major issue is that I was overly controlled as a child, I don’t heal by trying to control others.  I heal by allowing others freedom to be who they really are.  And giving myself that freedom, too.

I can work around it, if I am not in denial about it, and find a new way.

And when the people we love can’t see their wounds, we have to find a way to work around them.  I am not suggesting suppressing our own will or behavior merely to placate.  I mean understanding that reason won’t work against a deep emotional wound.  But if we pick at the wound and tell our loved one exactly what they need to do and how they need to think in order to heal the wound – well, good luck with that.  The more we pick at it, the more infected and deep-seated the injury becomes. 

Recognizing and re-identifying faults as wounds changes the way we deal with these issues.  We can choose to pick and nag at the other person’s injury or we can decide to have compassion and trust that our loved one will see the injury and find the way to healing.

And for our own wounds we can dance around them, giving to ourselves and others the compassion we didn’t get in the past.  We can find a healthier, happier path – a new choreography – for our lives.

Photo by MaryEllen Hendricks