Catch the rhythm and join the dance of life
The last two weeks I have been writing about staying in the anxiety as a way to avoid shutting down. In the place of shutting down the body becomes numb. Numb to the feelings of anger that I did not want to express, numb to the feelings of sadness that I thought I would get lost in, and numb to any feelings of joy and happiness in my life. I closed off the anger and sadness out of fear of experiencing them. In the same manner, I closed off the joy.
I have learned in the experiences of opening up over the past couple of years and in the Haven laboratory of life that hidden under many of the feelings that I was quick to judge as negative were feelings of joy – the ones I saw as positive and wanted in my life. In fact, the extent to which I allowed myself to experience the anger and sadness determined the extent to which I could experience the joy of life.
My goal is to be open to the feelings in my body and giving up on the control my mind has had over my being – getting me to buy into the rules that have been set up in my life. My goal is to experience the feelings and give up on the idea of a particular feeling being either positive of negative. My goal is being.
Living in my body allows me the freedom of living in the moment when all else does not matter. For longer and longer periods of time I am able to give up on the “shoulds” of my life and the worries of what the future may bring. I wrote an email to our group cyberspace check-in this past week. In the email, I was reporting on the process I was going through in dealing with the potential changes that I perceive to be happening in my life. I wrote:
I find the process very unsettling. I’m learning to breathe into it and not allow the fear to overwhelm me. I am okay if I don’t have every little detail figured out in advance. That can be a difficult place for me. I want to know it all now! Change can be quite unsettling for me, and I see how change has been a positive thing in my life. Living in the moment can be quite scary. Breathing helps and I continually remind myself to breathe.
Within a very few minutes the computer dinged that a new email had arrived. It was from my very dear friend that I wrote about last week -my friend who, while I was at Haven, was one of my key resources to keep me in the present. From across the country she remains one of the resources I value in my life. She wrote:
I just wanted to comment on your “living in the moment can be scary.”
From the book Power of Now, I have learned that in the very present moment, there is almost very little to be scared of. It’s the unpredictable future that we cannot possibly deal with (because it hasn’t happened) that makes us scared.
Right here, right now, look around you. What is happening…. probably very little that you have to be scared of. The right answers and actions happen exactly in the moment, never before, never after. Have faith in that.
And I took a moment and did that. I looked around, and there was nothing to be scared of. Life was. The full range of choices in the moment were there. In my worry for the future, I found much to be fearful of – and what was the point? The future has not happened yet and no amount of worry or thought on my part will change what the future will be. I have only to live in the moment, where choice is possible, and let the future look after itself moment by moment.
Blanton writes in Radical Honesty that there is a fund of unacknowledged joy buried under the unacknowledged anger and grief. He also says that the joy is buried so deep that most people do not suspect that it exists inside of them. Children express joy freely and adults have learned to repress the joy for fear of getting hurt.
Part of my fear that has helped keep me shut down and numb for so many years was that I might lose myself in the sadness, the anger and the great void of nothingness. I might fall into the pit of unhappiness and never find my way out. If I allow those fears to start, they may never stop. I have heard others express this same fear so I imagine it is common to many people.
Time and time again I have seen this theory proven wrong, yet part of me still attempts to hold on. Over and over again, I remind myself of the many times I have allowed myself to cry and the tears do stop. I have allowed myself to get angry and the anger runs its course as it needs to in the moment and it stops. In the groups at Haven and in other workshops I have helped Wayne with, I have witnessed participants have a similar experience. The tears and anger last as long as needed in that moment and then they are done.
When I have allowed myself to deeply feel the feelings of sadness and anger, underneath I have found great joy – the joy of being alive and being in my body in the moment. I have also witnessed other people in this place and laughed with them in their joy. It is truly a glorious place to allow myself to be.
During my Phase One experience at Haven, I felt a shift in the bodywork experiences that I have had. ( For more information on bodywork check out the section on Wayne’s website.) In the past, my experiences with bodywork have been a pushing away of things in my life that I wanted to be rid of. There is a sense of being suffocated by life experiences and pushing away and out of my life those experience. I was able to experience anger by screaming and sadness by crying. I felt a great release.
Something shifted in my life during the spring of this past year. I was aware of day-to-day changes in how I was choosing to experience life. June is traditionally a very difficult month for me. I had set it up this way for many years and each June was further proof that my belief about my life was “right.” Until this past June, when life was not difficult. It was very busy and I made choices to look at the experience a very different way. I chose to have fun and enjoy myself in June rather than choose to be miserable. So now I have a new belief about June and in this moment the old belief is no longer “right” for me. Beliefs change.
In this new frame of mind, it was the perfect time to go to Haven for the Phase One experience. I did some bodywork in my individual session with one of the leaders and my small group leaders. The experience I had in that bodywork session was different for me. Instead of kicking all the old stuff away, I pulled life in close to me. I struggled and worked hard to get what I wanted where I wanted it and in the end I held “life” close to me.
In that place, I laughed from the depths of “me.” The laughter came from deep inside me and resonated throughout my body. I experienced the “joy of life” as I looked into the faces of those around me as they laughed with me. I will always cherish the depth of the joy I felt that day. I left the session with a feeling of lightness in my body. I made a choice to bring the joy in close to me. That choice is always available to me.
In another bodywork experience in the large group, I expressed the joy by dancing in the middle of the circle. Just to let all of you know, this is something I believe myself not to be able to do. Dancing is a big part of the Haven experience and again and again I threw myself into the middle of the dancing experience no matter how uncomfortable I felt.
Many times throughout the month people commented on the courage I showed in participating in the dance experience. I appreciated their comments and truly felt “seen” within the group. AND there I was dancing in the middle of the circle with one of the leaders dancing “my dance” with me. I felt incredible joy in that moment. Next, the dance snowballed as more and more people were included in the dance, until everyone was dancing. The energy in the room was amazing and it started with me allowing myself to be me. An amazing experience and one I will never forget. It was delicious.
My constant reminder to myself is “to catch the rhythm and join the dance of life.” This has not been forgotten since coming home. The other day, it rained for the first time in a long time in Southern Ontario. There was a little bit of a drizzle as I started to walk my dog. I felt like the world was coming alive around me. The rain started to fall a little harder and by the time I returned home I was feeling quite wet and quite alive. I dragged Wayne out into the rain to share my experience and dance with me on the front lawn in the rain. I felt very alive.
In closing, I invite you to catch your rhythm and add your dance to life.