Week 1 – Dancing Through Life
I grew up with dancing. My mother danced all her life – with a big heart for different african dances. My father dived into modern dances such as contact dance and 5 rhythm dance. Not surprisingly from a very early age onward my parents took me to dancing events. I vividly remember the smiling, expressive, and lively faces of people moving their hips to the cheerful sounds. After telling my parents about the self-experiment and the first topic ‘dancing’, my mother pulled out a DVD which was called “Breath made visible” with Anna Halprin.
It was the first time I heard her name. Apparently Anna Halprin is a pioneer in experimental postmodern dance. In her work, she pushes boundaries and uses dance as a therapeutic form as well as a means to connect and harmonize with nature. In her words “every day movement can become a dance. It is how you bring awareness to your experience. If I bring my awareness to the tree and then to my body. Then this becomes a dance experience to me.” I love this example, as she presents dancing as something natural. Too often, I see people who are afraid of dancing; who don’t want to make a mistake on the dance floor… But if dancing is our natural movement, how can we make mistakes?
Halprin also describes dancing as a powerful tool to bring presence into our lives. It creates bodily awareness, and helps to explore thoughts and feelings. With movements we can express and sense what is going on within us. In the past week, I have tried to use my body to sense and visualize my inner world. In moments of stress, I could sense a nauseous and tense feeling around my belly area. Sometimes it was subtle, but strongly enough to indicate my stress level. By observing my bodily sensation with curiosity, giving it a color, a form, a purpose, I could better understand its origin. Suddenly I could locate its position, accept its existence, nourish it and thereby integrate it into my whole being.
While dancing is a great tool to investigate the inner side, it is as useful to connect to the outside world. When I fully let go and immerse myself in the movement, I can sense the calling of nature, the music and sounds, the emotions of others. That’s why I love dancing with others, because I am carried by the dynamics and expressions that we create together in a group.
My most intimate dancing experiences with others happened on ecstatic dance events. It is a dance with certain rules: Dancing barefoot, no drugs, no talking. Only the music and the people. It is a sacred place to be yourself, to move freely and gently. To connect with yourself and others. After warming up, my heart starts beating, I feel safe and seen. This is the moment where I can express freely, without limiting beliefs and thoughts. I am just there with the energy and presence of the people and the transcendent music. I can only recommend to join such an event. No prior dancing experience necessary 😉
Dancing is also about leading. Either leading someone or being led by someone. As a leader it is important to be confident, to give direction, to make decisions. As in life, leading requires taking responsibility for what is happening around us. We take lead over life. Allowing someone else to lead us means trust, letting go of control, and fully connecting with what is. This is as important as leading through life. Sometimes, life takes its own form and the best we can do is to accept what is happening.
Dancing lightly and fearlessly is easy when everything feels right. But what if we are down, stressed, exhausted? Can we dance then so lightly through life? The past week surely reminded me that there will be days where the dance feels not like a flowing swing or as activating as an ecstatic dance.
But dance is not always about smiling – it is also about fear, sadness, and pain. Through dance, however, we can give these inner obstacles room and space. We allow them to be and are not fighting against them.
Or like my peer-coach Vero said so beautifully: “My meditation teacher taught me that in the West people try to fight their dragons. In the East they dance with their dragons. I really love this idea and use it when times get rough…”.
So better choose, are you dancing with or fighting your inner dragons? Are you flowing with the music and movement or resisting it?
**The next topic is ‘self-love/compassion’. I will investigate the question ´How can I love myself unconditionally?’ I am curious, how are you practicing self-compassion and self-love? What meaning has self-love in your life? Do you see a connection between self-love and happiness?