Posts Tagged ‘ego’

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New Year’s Re-Solutions for the Conscious Dancer

December 30, 2010

Groan….New Year’s resolutions….hate them and yet they nag at the consciousness…maybe this year I can actually hang on to one and follow through! Nope, not going to make any… but there’s that wee voice urging you to just try to improve some aspect of your life that may be bugging you… you’ll feel better. That’s the hope at least.
Ugh and double ugh…at least that’s how I feel about it. There’s a definitive lack of joy in this approach… a “should.”  Already doomed to failure….

So how to restore joy to conscious growth? It’s all in the dance.

The only New Year’s resolution you may need to keep is a weekly commitment to a conscious dance practice. Twist my rubber arm! The dance is truly meditation in motion and will reveal ego layer upon ego layer to you. While this may sound slightly terrifying… that is to the ego….we are anyway, constantly confronted with opportunities for self reflection in our daily lives. I just find that ecstatic dance is a delightful, conscious way to approach self-discovery. Number one, it’s fun. That really is the key to sustaining any sort of resolution.

The dance provides us with an ever-changing field where we can foster greater awareness and let go, practicing our perceived “self” disappearing into the One, the truth of who “we” are. Our bodies in motion unclench holding patterns and habits. Bound to…the dance is change. Every musical note, every step we take arises and evaporates like waves on the shore, never to repeat themselves quite the same way. We develop an ease and eventually an un-attachment to change and that is a true gift…how much suffering people cause themselves by resisting the inevitable!

And yet as dancers we have little habits that we hold fast… our choice in dress, the section of the room we tend to gravitate towards, the people we dance with, the kind of music that rocks us, the way we move our hips. Don’t get me wrong… I am not knocking our preferences as that self-expression is also part of our beauty. What I am suggesting is bringing greater awareness to our habits and perhaps having some fun experimenting with trying something new on the dance floor in the new year. What have you got to lose?

I notice in myself, for example, that I tend to stay in a certain area on the dance floor and that some other places in the room feel mysteriously awkward. The habit is to stay where I feel good instead of exploring the “weird corner.” I flirt with it for half a tune perhaps, conclude that it is still funky and move on. What if I were to stay there the whole time? I get nervous just thinking about it. There may be a gem in self-discovery that I may be missing in my habitual avoidance.

And then there’s the character that I call the “Energizer Bunny,” the fun, crazy party girl that wants to rev you up into a frenzy on the dance floor, a knee jerk reaction that is often my tendency. “Let’s go wild!” she says, “I’m hot and I’m happening. Happy, happy!” Trying to make “something” happen is more like it… instead of just meeting you. At times, I am covering up my vulnerability, other times it truly is fun to encourage wild let go. Walking this razor’s edge of awareness, seeing my ego, all is revealed in the dance and dissolves in it. Perhaps your inclination is to meet people as the soft, sensitive type, that you want to pull people exclusively into that sort of dance encounter… I have met you. The Energizer Bunny wants to shake you up and the softer side of me is attracted…the ego is afraid of not being “good at” sensitive…the oceanic self is ready to dive into the mystery with you. Aaaaah…such reflection and wisdom we can share! Above all, let’s foster a sense of humor about our masks… make that part of our re-solutions this new year… drop the habit of seriousness!

Here’s a fun re-solution for your dance wardrobe…and you know you’ve got one even if it’s your favorite ripped T-shirt and sweats… maybe approach unclenching your dance persona like a theatrical piece. It would be radical for me to wear a flowing, goddess outfit or come as a hippie queen with a leather, beaded halter top, feather arm bands and long skirt. Just to imagine it, I can sense how it would inform my movement with a fresh approach. I’m always in pants.

And those folks you’d rather not dance with…or your tendency to always be a loner…perhaps gently invite yourself to open to connect. There just may be a treasure trove of understanding in there about all your relationships. I see for myself that I want the dance to be a pleasurable experience so I might avoid “odd” people, parts of the room, clothes, “bad” moods…seeking pleasure is the function of the mind. While it’s also perfectly good to care to enjoy myself, I can really limit my experience this way. I’ve danced with people who were sad or angry; it was so beautiful to just be with their emotion and not try to change it or make it better. We are so socialized to put on a smiling face or to try to make ourselves happy…as part of a renewed approach to conscious dance, encourage yourself to come as you are…moody, tired, angry, joyous and share your truth on the floor. And if you are the ever moody, dark cloud dancer, explore this attachment…who are we beyond all this? Thank God we have the dance and community to help us see and celebrate it all.

And then there’s our attachment to certain music…I love techno and have trouble getting into Balkan sounds personally. Others curdle when they hear Tracy Chapman or rock and roll. Over and over again, we are asked to practice un-attachment, neti, neti, neither this nor that. Re-solution: dive into dancing your resistance instead of going out to refill your water bottle. Move your contraction, your “no.”

Honestly, all your New Year’s resolutions can be solved in a regular conscious dance practice…saying “yes” to change, trying on a new self-image, total self-acceptance, exploring relationships and resistance, peace within… and it doesn’t have to be some grueling task like diets or 100 daily crunches or name your own self-torture. There’s a reason why the dance is called “ecstatic.” As the layers of ego fall away, the pure joy and peace that You are is revealed. That’s something to be ecstatic about!

Wishing you a glorious new year on the luminous dance floor of Life!

The earth has disappeared beneath my feet,
Illusion fled from all my ecstasy.
Now like a radiant sky creature
God keeps opening.
God keeps opening
Inside of Me.
Hafiz

 

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Freedom: Enter at Your Own Risk!

July 14, 2010

I’ve been contemplating the fear of freedom  lately. That seems to be the prImary stumbling block for people who have never attended an ecstatic dance. When I’ve attempted to explain the nature of the dance, and it’s challenging, I’ve had quite a number of responses like “I need to be drunk to dance,” “That’s scary,” “ There are no steps to learn?!” or silent looks of mistrust that say, “Danger… keep away!” It’s as if I am trying to seduce people with poison apples…not dance for heaven’s sake!

Has the world always been so frightened to step outside the box or is this a current issue? It deserves some exploration. Having grown up in California in the Sixties perhaps has warped my sense of the global Big Picture. Sausalito was full of artists, barefooted musicians hitchhiking, women rejecting their bras including my mom! The Seventies, coming into puberty, I witnessed crazy stories of swinging couples, wife-swapping and all manner of spiritual experimentation. Nude beaches were plentiful and have since disappeared. All this felt “normal” as I had nothing to compare it to as a youth. At the risk of sounding like an old fogie reminiscing about “the good ol’ days,” it felt like there was a more fertile atmosphere for encouraging risk-taking and freedom than I come across today.Especially in light of having encountered so many people terrorized by the idea of non-structured dance, yoga devotees in particular… go figure! After deeper analysis, it makes sense as yoga is linear, controlled, structured and ecstatic dance is non-linear, an open field, the chaos of creativity….hmmm…a wee epiphany… freedom = chaos or the possibility of it and that is part of the fear factor…. out of control. That belies a belief in a personal Pandora’s Box that would surely engulf one so better just keep a lid on it. How little we trust ourselves.

Having recently DJed a clothing optional dance journey for women, the revelation that it was a first-time experience for many to be even topless in public astonished me. Tears of gratitude poured down young faces. It was a totally healing and liberating event for all involved. Women of all ages and shapes celebrated themselves without inhibition, shedding clothing and self-repression. “Self” is the key word here. As adults, we can no longer blame family, religion, teachers or society for repression; it has been internalized and we are now our own jailers and judges.  Much easier to blame and not take responsibility for our liberation because that entails some deep soul-searching and work. And it might not feel great grappling with our self limiting behavior…I’ll deal with it next New Year’s resolution… yeah, right…

Who is afraid of freedom? The ego. The ego is afraid of looking like a fool, being shamed, embarrassed, not knowing, others’ opinions, being exposed. It is the internalized judge and jailer. The sad part is that the ego structure is a fiction and yet we constantly fall for it’s horse manure. It keeps us small. Tenderly bring awareness to judgement of self and others and investigate the truth of your beliefs. The Pandora’s Box is a mirage of our own making and we therefore also have the power to un-make it.

I write this to encourage us all to take the loving risk to question our own authority and be free. It doesn’t mean having to get naked necessarily but on a spiritual level it does… what have you got to lose? Only the ego that operates on fear. Burn the bra that binds you!

“You cannot control an ecstatic man; it is impossible. You can only control a miserable man. An ecstatic man is bound to be free. Ecstasy is freedom. He cannot be reduced to being a slave. You cannot destroy him so easily; you cannot persuade him to live in a prison. He would like to dance under the stars and he would like to walk with the wind and he would like to talk with the sun and the moon. He will need the vast, the infinite, the huge, the enormous. He cannot be seduced into living in a dark cell. You cannot make a slave out of him. He will live his own life and he will do his thing. This is very difficult for the society. If there are many ecstatic people, the society will feel it is falling apart, its structure will not hold anymore.” ~ Osho

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Dance of Power: The Third Chakra, Manipura

April 26, 2010


An ancient council tribe of warriors meeting in a circle…better yet, peacekeepers or Superheroes…grounded, spines straight, hearts and eyes ablaze, fully present…that’s what we all were radiating when we closed our dance dedicated to the Third Chakra, Manipura. Everyone was relaxed and rooted in their power, very earthy feeling until you caught the fire burning in a dancer’s eyes, challenging you to match them in greater integrity and strength. So inspiring to behold! Personal power embodied and not ego-driven. It feels important to experience our friends and family more often as warriors and warrioresses, fighting for their and others’ highest good, co-igniting ourselves towards achieving this ideal.

The Third Chakra deals with issues of power and will… enter the Ego. How do we get what we want? Manipulate? Dominate? Beg? Or simply ask? Watch out for the “selfless” act too, a wolf in sheep’s clothing…Yikes! My ego’s already squirming, comparing and wanting to feel “better than” as I write these words! That’s it’s job. So we might as well have fun with it and learn to laugh at our ego masks.

When I was researching the third chakra qualities, I came across a great explanation that emphasized the ability to laugh; to laugh at oneself or a situation is to have power over it. Makes total sense…you have to be detached from your trip to find the humor in it. This concept inspired the evening’s dance experiment.

Normally, an ecstatic dance experience is an open field for you to explore your inner world. So I wondered how it would be to very specifically direct the energy of the dance, enacting roles…loved what transpired from this creative risk, thanks to courageous souls who went for it with gusto. We cycled through a progression of five archetypes of the Manipura energy: Beggar/Victim, Anger, Diva, Clown/Fool and Warrior. I asked everyone to exaggerate these masks, to really become a caricature of these roles, with the intent of ultimately being able to laugh at ourselves. Great exercise to do with yourself if your ego is getting difficult…let it have a voice, daring to say the most outrageous things that you are too polite to say…”I’m the best. I am the hottest. I totally suck. I am the most pathetic. I am the most giving…”  Go for it… put a costume on and play it up and let it go bananas! That’s what it’s doing in your head and what you are trying to resist. It’s not going away… might as well enjoy your own hissy fit and  be able to crack yourself up at your own ridiculousness.

As part of the role-play dance, I invited the participants to connect with the energy of trying to out-do the other, try to out-victim or out-diva one another. The Beggar role had everyone on the floor in a wee ball of misery….no connection really wanted to happen. Anger… whoa! The room exploded and we got in each other’s faces. As in the sacral chakra, we had to be invited to explore our sensuality in dance, anger was also by invitation. And by the sound of it, most were thrilled to go there. Talk about fire and energy! It’s exactly that fire that helps us burn through our own inertia. The room was so alive… it was a celebration! The climax of the music came on with the Diva. That character was more cool and controlled though, an interesting juxtaposition. The Clown character helped us start to laugh at the whole thing and to allow ourselves to be even more ridiculous. Ending with the Warrior and meditation, we were brought back inside to a state of dignity and inner strength. And from that place, we gathered into a closing circle, silently acknowledging our power.

Giving space to anger was a huge piece of reclaiming our power. It needs healthy expression. And not taking ourselves too seriously, having a good laugh. You feel so cleansed after. De-toxing the physical body is all well and good….yet we neglect doing an emotional de-tox from time to time. Find a fun way to purge your sludge… no one however, should get hurt in such an exercise, especially not you. Be sure that if you don’t do your sludge, it will do you. May the Force be with you!