DANCING A DIFFICULT DANCE, FROM JOY AND GRIEF
In the first year that I discovered conscious dance my experience was entirely wrapped in the feeling of joy… and it SAVED MY LIFE!!!! I had just turned 25 and I had been in and out of depression, overwhelming self-doubt, anxiety, self-harm and even suicidal thoughts from the age of 11, I was exhausted!
A Feeling of Joy?
Let’s go back a little, from 18 the only pleasure I found was in taking drugs and going out dancing. Literally all other interests disappeared, I no longer wrote poetry, played guitar, read books and I loved nature but unless I had a joint in my hand at the same time the only thing I could think of on a walk or at the beach was ‘are we nearly done? I don’t want to be here’ and then I would feel guilty of that thought.
Partying made me happy? I got to take a pill that made me feel good and dance, without a single care in the world? Talk to anyone about the wonders of the world?
The reality of the cycle that fake drug joy and the droning conversations going over and over with every party along with the deep sense of despair as I came down before the next one a few days later was becoming more and more vivid, more and more unbearable. No amount of drugs would bring me ‘happiness’ any more!
Drugs, certain people, and my environment no longer served me. Dance I could keep though, dance wasn’t doing any damage. Dance could still make me happy? But would it still feel the same? Surely it wasn’t going to be as good right?
A Feeling of Joy!
It was better, it was real!! The people in the space were so kind and open, some gave me wonderfully long hugs and present, loving eye contact. It was the kind of authentic connection I had subconsciously longed for, for a very long time. I felt safe and held and I had only known these people for 10 mins so far, I remember having an excited giggle to myself about this.
I experienced feelings throughout my first conscious dance that I didn’t realise were possible to feel on my own. I experienced an explosion of creative expression, a high like energy of power, knowing and love. Dancing with presence and awareness showed me I could feel joy right from within my body and soul.
That was it I danced at every opportunity and didn’t even think about drugs. I danced to feel my authentic elevated emotions of joy, gratitude, love.. and it SAVED MY LIFE!!! Many things can save us, a lot of what no longer serves us now once saved our lives. Life is a lot less about right or wrong but more inline with what is supporting us in our growth as a human being experiencing the miracle of life in each present moment.
Dancing to feel my true inner-world joy, allowed space for my love of so many things in this world to come back. I began to enjoy poetry again, I could be in nature in the present moment without expectation, people started coming into my life that were truly in line with my growth, I started loving myself and believing I was worthy of feeling joy. It was beautiful to learn that what I experience in my dance, flows into so many other areas of my life.
Dancing a Difficult Dance
When I was dancing I felt free, alive, and happy. I was okay with that, dance = good feelings. I had though, recently experienced crying during a dance. This was terrifying to begin with and would often feel like it came out of nowhere. For most of my life crying was the tight grip of depression ready to keep me in sadness with endless tears of grief and confusion. These spontaneous tears in my dance were not the same and I began to understand I could cry my pain with clarity if I wanted to. It didn’t have to not make sense it could make more sense than anything in that moment.
During my Dance Awake practitioner training it was becoming more and more clear that we can dance some really raw and painful feelings in these dance spaces and have profound experiences. With love, without judgment, with presence and awareness, patience and equanimity we can allow our bodies to innately move with these feelings allowing healing to take place.
I knew I had to experience dance in so many ways in order to facilitate with my truest potential but I was scared to dance my pain and my grief. For feeling so confused and hurt for so much of my life it terrified me to go there and stay there intentionally. Even if I knew the intention was to be present in the feelings and move with them, with love and acceptance, I feared I might get stuck there somehow.
I thought to myself… ‘If I could remember what it was like to feel authentic joy through my conscious movement then it would make sense I could learn how to safely feel and move through my difficult emotions too right?’
The day I danced my most difficult dance I was feeling completely awful. I was full of self judgement, sadness, frustration, lack, I was lost, not good enough, I was exhausted, grumpy, aching, had a head ache. I had had a really shit day and I was crying with confusion through almost the entire dance. I had had enough of my destructive habits of procrastination poor diet and lack of motivation. I was not being very kind to myself about it at all. This specific dance was offered as part of the Dance Awake training course to dance to and give feedback on the elemental wave within in the music and facilitation. I felt pressure on myself to do it that day even though I felt so shit. I thought ‘here goes, this is going to be tough!’
During the dance I thought to myself ‘this is barely a dance’ I was stepping one foot in front the other around the room shaking a little, occasionally surrendering to my body then freezing up again, mind full of thoughts, confusion and pain. I went from sitting down still feeling worthless, to standing up and then pacing then sitting down again. Then I remember having a little chat to myself ‘I love you! You can do this! Move with how shit your feeling, cry the entire time if it helps, everything is welcome everything is valid, don’t judge it, feel it, move with it’. I tried to allow any movement no matter how it presented to be welcomed as important. At the time I don’t think I was believing any of it, but I began moving with awareness to my body and feelings whether joy, pain or everything in between.
It was probably the most painful dance I have done thus far. It was this dance that I first danced through such challenging emotions without trying to shift them or ignore them.
I feel my, fairly unedited, notes from my feedback of this dance for my course will be of value here. So here they are as is:
Notes from a Difficult Dance
“I think without the facilitation guidance I may have switched off the dance before it began. The warmup was bringing me back to my body amongst all the chatter in my head and kept me on the dance floor moving. Possibly some of the questions for the feedback, I might not have been present enough to observe but I’ll answer what I can. My energy space was very chaotic not so much in the role of observation. From this dance and memories of other dances I recognised that I resonate quite a lot with airy tracks. I feel my flowing body take over more. I had a thought that I was going to stop during the fire tracks, that I just couldn’t do any more but then the air tracks came in and I felt really held by them. The fiery tracks were very challenging with such sadness in me. They made me notice I was judging myself for not feeling my inner fire. This did allow me to observe my judgment and come back to compassion. On reflection these were all very important moments of growth. It reminded me of a time I felt broken and vulnerable and didn’t want to be seen but a friend sits with me through it and when I finally calmed down and look them in the eye, it was hard to do but it reminded me that I’m not just the pain I’m feeling.”
Real Life Magic
Dancing with uncomfortable feelings gave me clarity and belief of how much a dance journey can really hold you in any space. After that challenging dance, I had a profound shift over the next few days in my body, mind, heart and soul. I was reminded that I believe dance is a part of the real-life magic in this world!! I felt an openness of space around me and I remembered my power.
Dance continues to be an almost daily practice in my life and I turn to it for many reasons. The biggest reason is to stay awake and aware to the miracle of this life, to feel it and live it to my truest. Conscious dance wakes me up to the hidden parts of myself, it holds me in my fragile grief and raises my vibration so I can grow wings and fly. If you’re curious about joining a Dance Awake class, I’d say… DO IT!!!! What’s the worst that could happen, you have a dance to some tunes?
Have a beautiful day in the Dance of Life, you miracle being you!