I dance every Sunday morning, without exception, unless necessary things come up that I must tend to instead. But my Sunday mornings are for dance and have been for the past fifteen years.
My dance is a deeply spiritual practice. My dance holds my process of awakening and embodiment. The dance floor is a cauldron of alchemy, the place where I’ve come to know myself over and over again as layers of what is not me fall away.
I dance with close to 150 people each week through the practice of Open Floor. Sunday, on New Year's Eve, we were guided to find a word of what we were moving away from (2017) and one word for what we were moving toward (2018) as last year was drawing to a close and this year was on the verge of dawning. In one large circle, we stood hand in hand and closed our eyes, feeling for these two words. Mine came fairly quickly as I was already very aware of what I was letting go of and what I could feel I was longing for to be my focus for this new year.
Over the past week, I’ve noticed clarity around much of what has held me back creatively for decades. It has been the learned behavior of watching my environment for signs of trouble and threat (threats of rejection, abandonment, betrayal) so that I could choose my actions accordingly. I have seen how I learned to do whatever it took to be acceptable, amenable, nice — basically good. If I behaved in a way that was seen as not powerful, if I could acquiesce in a way that would diffuse chaos and potential conflict, then all would be well and I would continue to feel connected. But clearly, while this is a good strategy for a child in a dysfunctional home, it is not one for an adult who feels an incredibly strong push to create things that might help to push the arc of our evolution forward as a species.
This good girl strategy is pretty common for women like me. And like me, it is women who are finding ways to embody more of their natural creative power and expression.
And so, as I stood there in the circle, eyes closed, the word for what I was moving away from came to me — ‘hyper-vigilance’. I was, and am, moving away from the behavioral habit of constantly and consistently surveying the world for how I need to be in order to diffuse conflict and keep things safe — keep me safe. That behavior, while at one time completely necessary for my safety, is not helpful when creating things that will stir things up, even if that stirring comes out of Love. For stirring is necessary to upend the status quo. And true Love is all about overturning the ‘tables’ when they are not serving Love.
Then, I turned to what I am moving toward. With eyes still closed, I could see it was coming closer to Self, to the Beingness at the center of my heart, to the light that radiates from within, to the life force that is the cellular ‘push out of my own existence’. This word wasn’t as clear. I saw desire. Then I saw Self. And then I felt this push up and out from within me. I felt the insistence of expression of existence itself through me. I don’t have a word for this. It’s like drive but it’s not drive as we think of it. It’s like desire, but it’s not egoic desire.
And then we began to dance again and I danced this strong, organic, push from within me. And I saw that I want to simply BE the expression of this insistence of existence— even when, and most especially when, the unknown of this insistence frightens me. Because this insistence is not of ego — it is of Life. And Life moves how Life wants to move not how we want it to move. I am beginning to learn to trust the unknown more than the known as what is real and true and full of genuine possibility.
When I consider this in light of 2018, I don’t know where it will take me but I get glimpses of what wants to be lived through me. I feel a longing within me to experience certain things — not in concrete terms but in images of possibility. Creating art and feeling free in my experience of painting. I see myself at some point having my first gallery show. I long to write more evocatively. This insistence of expression will push through if I get out of the way.
One woman I shared this with said she longed to learn to play the guitar she purchased years ago but never got around to playing because she couldn’t find time for it.
What if you were to consider your year ahead not in terms of intentions and goals but rather in terms of what you long to experience?
What do you long to experience this year? You might long to feel certain feelings and sensations. You might long to experience people and places. You might long to experience accomplishing something you’ve had in mind for a long time.
If you’re looking for a different way to envision what you see 2018 bringing to your life, consider what you’re longing to experience as a way to get in touch with what you desire for bring forth this new year.