I want to share a story with you.
Three (or was it four years ago?! The year before the pandemic), I went to do my 200 hour yoga teacher training in Spain with Frog Lotus Yoga (and loved it so much I'm going back this year in November to do the first part of my 500 hour training!).
During that time, we had yoga lessons, yes, anatomy lessons, sequencing, meditation, a lot of philosophy but we also had some pretty cool one-off experiences/workshops too.
And this one was called 'ecstatic dance'. Ever heard of it?
I'm sure some of you are already thinking 'worrrrrsssssst nightmare' before I even go further.
Let me tell you what it was like.
So, there are a few ground rules: no phones or cameras etc, so that we are all in space together. There's a playlist that allows the energy to start slowly and build gradually. And you move. But that's pretty much it as far as rules go.
Now, I am someone who has always loved dancing butttttt, this experience felt initially: self-conscious, tiring, a lot of thinking, a bit silly, trying to move in ways that felt 'normal' or 'acceptable', and I was in admiration/curiosity of what other people were doing and how they were moving
And then about 45 minutes in, I can only really describe it as a 'door opening' for me. It was like every filter had been removed and I was pure movement. There was definitely no self-consciousness: it felt like the ultimate expression (for me) of wildness, freedom and connection with myself.
Yet, let's just point out that to reach that point of freedom, me, someone who actually LIKES dancing, it took me 45 whole minutes.
I can't say it's an experience I rave about even until this day, but it did strike me this week, that that sense of freedom has been closer and more accessible ever since that day. If I want to dance now, it doesn't take me 45 minutes to lose myself. And I dance like that far more often now, than I ever did before. I dance to connect to a feeling of space, abandon, joy, wildness, sexuality, and pure fun.
Still thinking you're not a dancer?
And even why it might be important to dance?
You're not alone if you are. A good friend of mine completely, utterly and unequivocally announces that he hates dancing. Will not do it ever. Ever.
If I were a betting woman, I'd still bet as a little boy he'd have enjoyed wiggling his bum. To music or without.
The point is: our hatred/rejection/self-consciousness with dance is learned.
I know dancing can be really scary for some. know some of us NEVER do it. We say we don’t like - or hate- dancing.
But babies dance, before they even know what it is.
And to move to a rhythm is in fact innate.
So if you are not a dancer and hate it, I give you the words of Brene Brown (from her book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’):
“There are many shame triggers around the vulnerability of laughing, song and dance. The list includes the fear of being perceived as awkward, goofy, silly, uncool, out of control, immature, stupid and foolish. For most of us, this is a pretty scary list. The gremlins are constantly there to make sure that self expression takes a backseat to self-protection and self-consciousness.
There are many ways in which we hustle for worthiness around these issues. but the two that keep us the most quiet and still are hustling to be perceived as cool, and in control. Wanting to be perceived as cool is our effort to minimise vulnerability in order to reduce the risk of being ridiculed or made fun of.
We hustle for our worthiness by slipping on the emotional and behavioural straight jacket of call and posturing as the tragically hip, and the terminally 'better than', being in control isn't always about the desire to manipulate situations, but often it's about the need to manage perception. We want to be able to control what other people think about us, so that we can feel good enough.
Betrayal is an important word with this. When we value being cool, and in control, over granting ourselves the freedom to unleash the passionate, goofy, heartfelt and soulful expressions of who we are; we betray ourselves.
The Hopi Indians have a saying, ‘To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak.’ I know how much courage it takes to let people hear our hearts speak, but life is way too precious to spend it pretending like we’re super-cool and totally in control when we could be laughing, singing and dancing.”
Start in your kitchen. Choose a song you love. Turn it up loud. Tap your feet. Go from there.
It’s not about being good at it. It doesn't matter about looking cool or attractive or anything else.
No one’s watching; this is for you.
I say: dance for your deep health.
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