Darbella’s Articles — Memoirs of a Phaser, part 3

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the dance

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.

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