I have come to be danced

Finally, after 4 and a half years of wanting to go and not-going, I made it to Barefoot Ecstatic Dance on Saturday. It’s a monthly ecstatic dance event in Halifax, and it was fabulous. Here’s what I wrote the day after the dance: 

 

The room was in twilight, half-lit by strings of multicoloured fairy lights.

We gathered in a circle, 20 or 30 of us. The organizers reminded us of the “rules” (no talking, let your inner dance out). We chanted OM, a continuous loop of sound reverberating through the space.

We spread out in the space, and the music began—slow, soft, pulsing. Some people immediately sank into trance and moved with that special quality of someone letting their body dance them (and not the other way around). Some sat or lay still at the edges of the room. Others, like me, began to move tentatively, warming up to the dance, sinking slowly into it.

Lights by sporkist on Flickr.com
Image by sporkist on Flickr.com

I kept my eyes down. To look up was to become distracted by the dance of another, to activate that inner judging voice comparing myself to them. I didn’t want to do that. Some dancers moved through the room, interacting with other people. I didn’t want to do that either. I feared them. I wanted to disappear, to dance invisibly in my own bubble.

The music grew. It pulsed and throbbed. I stayed more or less in the same area of the dace floor, focusing on the floor and my body. I kept my focus and consciously brought my training into play, grounding my feet and gently moving my joints as I would at the start of my classes. Gradually, my muscles warmed up, my feet found their rhythms. I felt more comfortable. I let go of my control. The music picked up.

And then…I don’t know if it happened gradually or all at once…things changed. Where I had consciously stayed on the edges before, an outsider, I found myself moving deeper into the room. Where I had felt threatened or crowded by the moving bodies around me, I no longer recognized them as “other.”

Light goodies by Georgie*S on Flickr.com
Image by Georgie*S on Flickr.com

As the music pounded through every cell of my body, and coloured lights began to flash through the room, the final vestige of my inhibitions, the last legacy of those years in the ballet studio…released. I was no longer the dancer and the observing inner critic. I was just me. My body felt clearer and more solid than it ever had, my mind was clear and open—still thinking, but with a stream of thoughts flowing through my mind like water.

I was one with the music and the dancers around me. My feet instinctively found the empty spaces in the room, and my hands stretched wide as my hand chakras opened and I sensed the energy that swirled through the space. I’d felt that before, when I first learned Reiki, but it had been a long, long time since then.

My eyes no longer sought the floor. They lifted—now to the play of coloured lights on the high patterned ceiling, now to the face of a nearby dancer, sharing a grin of connection and joy. I beamed…glowed. I shone.

Light painting by kevin dooley on Flickr.com
Image by kevin dooley on Flickr.com

 

It was deep in this trance that the message came. It came in my own voice, ringing through my mind as I danced in the half-dark. It said,

“What if you could be like this, always. Just you. Not afraid, not hesitating. What if you could leap joyously into experience, saying YES when the Universe asks you to dance, instead of freezing in terror. You can move past the fear you’ve been stuck in. It’s so simple. You just have to let go and be brave and be the person you are RIGHT NOW.”

 

A giant smile stretched across my face, and I lifted my gaze to the ceiling in gratitude and amazement. As the music shifted and I lowered my gaze, my eyes fell on the small altar at the side of the room. I went over to investigate what was on it, and I saw a crocheted bag with a note next to it: Reach into the bag and receive a message from nature.

Without thought, my right hand reached into the bag. It knew what to do. It pulled out a smooth, small piece of driftwood with one word on it:

Courage.

It took my breath away. I sat for a moment, imagining the essence of the word infusing my body through the hand that held it. Then I put it gently down. I got up and bowed to the altar. I stepped away and sank back into the dance—hair flying, sweat glistening. Aches and pains that would normally have me seizing up in fear came and went away again as I surrendered to the holy trinity of body, breath, and beat.

On and on I danced, one cell of a single living, dancing organism. The music grew sultry, then softer and lyrical, then quiet. One by one, the dancers moved to the floor and lay still. I kept moving until the very end…I wasn’t ready to stop.

When the music ended, I stood still for a minute in the dark, quiet room. I felt my bigness, the extent of my space in the Universe. I knew that this was only the first of many dances, that I was on the dancing path. And I knew that miracles and magic awaited me, so long as I remembered the message that this night had brought:

Courage.

Catch Light by SodanieChea on Flickr.com
Image by SodanieChea on Flickr.com

 

An epiphany…

I spent part of yesterday morning in a frenzy of self-doubt and worry. This in itself is nothing rare, sadly, and it usually makes me frustrated and sad in addition to the aforementioned frenzy (SO MUCH FUN!).

But yesterday, as I began the tailspin into self-criticism and doubt, fear and smallness, I looked at myself in the mirror. And all of a sudden, rage shot through me. I stamped my foot.

“What the HELL is this?!” I thought out loud.

And things shifted. Suddenly, I saw my life so far as a whole, patterns revealed and easy to see. I saw my past and my present, my achievements and challenges, my triumphs and fears. And over and over again, I saw myself playing small.

I saw myself constantly worrying about what people thought of me and fearing they might “realize that I was worthless and stupid” (“Realize”?!…WHAT?!). I saw myself hiding my light, pretending to be “normal” (whatever that means) for the sake of fitting in. I saw myself limiting my dreams according to what “they” said could be done (whoever “they” are), not even giving them a try on my own. I saw myself avoiding other people because I was afraid of what they would think of me. I saw an awful lot of worrying, shutting up, and putting things off.

I’m not saying this in a self-critical way, I swear, but it IS what I saw. 

I saw my gifts, lined up and ready…no…ACHING to be used. I felt the rage of pent-up energy longing to race forward while I held it back out of fear of what other people would think or say (what about what *I* think? What about what *I* have to say?).

I walked into the living room and I looked at my son, who radiates his light without even thinking about it, without questioning whether or not he “can” or “should.”

And it really hit home…

…All the times I hid that unique glowing part of myself so that I could fit in, or because I was afraid of failure or rejection, came rushing back to me. And I almost quivered with rage. I wanted to find every person who (directly or indirectly) taught me that it wasn’t OK to be me, that it was more important, more prudent, safer to fit in than to be myself, and PUNCH THEM IN THE FACE (I’m not a particularly violent person, so this was unusual).

And then, with all of these images flashing through my mind, I took a deep breath…and I said “Enough.”

Enough of this. Enough selling myself short, holding myself up to invisible (and imaginary) standards of how I “should” be. Enough hesitating out of fear and waiting to be “perfect” before I do anything. Enough limiting what I DO do to what I know I can succeed at immediately.

Enough hiding and pretending. Enough trying to “play by the rules,” dimming my light to fit in, enough trying not to be the weird one at the party. Enough assuming that people will think I suck…enough worrying about what they think, period. Enough assuming that someone else knows what I can and can’t do better than I do myself. SCREW ALL OF IT.

I want to live my life out loud. I want to be 100% me 100% of the time. I want to do what I love, and thrive. I want to be the person who walks down the street radiating joy and confidence, complimenting strangers and dancing in the rain. I want to be the person whe asks “Why not?” when someone says, “Oh, you can’t do that!” And then, if that thing calls to my heart, I want to do it anyway.

I’m so tired of worrying that I’m not good enough, not fit enough, not creative or talented or driven enough, not original enough, too old, too tired, too shy, too…unworthy.

Enough of this.

I AM WORTHY.

More than that…I AM AMAZING.

Amazingness is my birthright. It’s mine because I’m human and I’m me. We all come into this world as glowing sparks of light. We all come into this world shining our unique and amazing light. You’re amazing in a unique way that is 100% yours. You’re amazing because you’re human and you’re you.

Maybe it’s because I walk by this sign every time I go into my kitchen, but dammit, I’m ready to shine my light in the world. I’m more than ready. In fact, I’m shining now. My light is bursting out of my chest and filling every space I move through. I am blinding, shimmering, radiating light. I am ON FIRE…in the best possible way. It’s not that there’s nothing wrong with me…it’s that there’s everything right with me. My true self is beautiful, whole, and perfect because that’s how each of us is born…we just need to remember it.

Imagine a world in which all you had to do was inhabit your You-ness 100% of the time. What kind of magic would you make? What would it feel like?

Let’s try it together. Let’s paint the world in a glorious rainbow of unique colours.

Watch out, world. I’m done hiding. Prepare to be rocked.

You have permission

Dear radiant, glowing soul,

You have permission…

To relax. To goof off. To play.

To lounge unapologetically.

To read a book for fun.

To eat chocolate and drink wine. Possibly together.

To wear colours that clash.

To dance like no one’s watching, even if they are.

To be excited about office supplies.

To go out in the rain and jump in puddles.

To spend the day on the sofa and watch movies.

To play Lego with wild abandon.

To say no.

To ask for help.

To get it wrong.

To be late.

To lose your way.

To lose your temper.

To follow your heart.

To do what feels right, even if you don’t know where it’s leading you.

Remember this:

You have permission.

 

(You have permission to give yourself whatever you need in this moment. For real. Just remember that.)

Numbing Out, Noticing, and Stopping the Spiral.

Tell me if this rings a bell: You’re humming along in your regular routine. Weeks are passing like days, and while you’re not exactly happy, you’re keeping yourself busy and distracted.

You think you’re ticking all the boxes. You’re filling the void with food and movies and audiobooks (or whatever your particular vices are), and it seems like things are more or less OK (if a little depressing and stressful).

…you kind of feel like this guy. (Number25 by cliff1066 on Flickr.com)

And then…in the blink of an eye…you wake up.

You blink, and it’s like you’re coming back to yourself. The sights and sounds around you suddenly come into sharper focus. You observe things that you’ve been ignoring. When you think back, it’s like you weren’t even there for the past…however long.

Does this ring a bell at all?

I call it Numbing Out. And I haven’t been keeping an exact record, but I think I do it fairly regularly.

Like for the first half of this month, for example.

But hey, at least I’ve started to recognize patterns and symptoms…right?

These will vary slightly from person to person, but here are my top 5 symptoms of Numbing Out:

1. Not-moving. Honestly, not really moving my body in any way at all. Not even going for walks. Period. (Extra-fun bonus: when I don’t move, I get SORE. Lots of aches and pains)

2. Eating more. Medicating myself with food. Like I said, filling the emptiness. (Extra-fun bonus: Combine this with #1, and I end up outgrowing my jeans)

3. Avoiding self-care. A big one for me when I’m numbing out is feeling like I can’t give myself Reiki. It feels like things just aren’t flowing. Probably because Numbing Out entails a whole lot of not-being-centred. But this applies to other self-care-ish things too.

4. Not being Present with people you love.  For me, this is all about Xander. Everything about parenting feels like a chore when I’m in the middle of numbing out. (Extra-fun bonus: I feel terrible about it even while it’s happening, but that doesn’t make me able to snap out of it. It just makes me cranky and sad. Out of all of my symptoms, I regret this one the most).

5. Avoiding stillness and silence. I distract myself constantly. I listen to audiobooks non-stop. During a particularly bad postpartum depression-y period of numbing out, I listened to the Twilight Saga audiobooks on such a regular loop that Matthew half-joked that Xander would recognize the Twilight narrator’s voice before he recognized his own Daddy’s.

comfortably numb by rovingI on Flickr.com

And the verdict is in…Meg’s been numbing out.

Yup, even though we’re over halfway through my absolute favourite month of the year, I can categorically state that I missed a bunch of it. Every symptom was present, but the real clincher was the constant (and I do mean constant) need for audiobooks. It got to the point where I could feel my brain begging for stillness.

Now that I’m awake again and noticing things, I’m compiling a list of things I can do to (hopefully) keep this from happening again. I present:

Meg’s Top Six Things To Stop The Numbing-Out Spiral

1. Seek stillness and silence. Turn off the TV, close the computer, and just…shhh. Try reading a book or sipping some tea without any distractions. Just for a change. Look for ways to add stillness to your day.

2. Choose a better option. If you’re zoning out on audiobooks, try listening to music (music = more dancing!). If you’re noticing a tendency to snack a lot, try eating something your body actually wants…or have some water and see if that’s the real issue. If you really want to watch a movie, pick something that’s going to engage you and watch it with a friend. Making a conscious choice helps stave off the numbing.

3. Move. Walking, dancing, skipping, whatever. Moving is key. Ever notice how going for a walk can clear your head and make a solution to a problem just appear? That’s because moving your body is magic.

4. Take time to notice things. Make mental lists of noteworthy or fun things you encounter during your day. The other day I was on the bus and I saw a woman in a pink PJ set sitting out on the steps of her apartment building with a book and a mug of tea. And it made me grin all the way home.

5. Make real connections. Talking to someone in real life brings everything into focus so much faster than email or Facebook-wall-commenting. And focus is the enemy of Numbing Out. So is self-expression. Let’s bring back phone calls (or Skype calls, if it’s long distance). I miss conversation!

6. Clean something. It’s hard to get the momentum when you’re Numbing Out, but cleaning—really cleaning, not “functional-levels-of-tidy”-ing—can help because it moves the energy around in your home, and it actually feels nice to Be there.

There are definitely more ways out there, but these are the Big Six in my books. At least I think they are…I’m currently testing them out. So far so good, but I’ll keep you posted.

Bonus of not being numb? You notice things like this. (sky 2 by ~BrendaStarr~ on Flickr.com)

Do you ever find yourself Numbing Out? Do you have any good tricks to stop it? I’d love to hear them!