I was four years old when I took my first dance class. It was an Indian classical dance form called Bharatnatyam. I took to it right away, absolutely loving every minute of it. A few years later I enrolled in Classical Russian ballet. Such different styles, but both forms brought me so much joy.
A few days ago cleaning my closet I came across a silk bag. Bells jingled as I picked up the bag. My mother’s dancing bells. Mommy was a classical dancer. She performed all over the world. She was also an accomplished actress, singer, writer, director, and still is to this day.
She had given me her bells and I would wear them and dance in the house. She taught me some basics and I would improvise from there. I had such fun dancing. I would love getting lost in dance. But something happened this week that shook me to the core.
My heart leaped with joy with the sweet remembrance of the days I used to wear bells around my ankles and dance. Wanting to recreate this memory and share it with my middle daughter I decided to wear the bells and show her some of the basic moves my mother had once shown me. What happened next brought tears to my eyes and flung me down a deep well of shame.
I could barely reach my ankles. When I finally did manage, it was really hard. My back hurt, my hips were tight and it felt like there were parts of me that were simply getting in my way. Who am I? Whose body am I in? I felt such shame and dissociation in that moment, it terrified me. How did I come to this?
I know how. This didn’t happen overnight. This is years, if not decades of self-neglect all culminating into this moment. The effects of self-negation, self-limitation are cumulative. A little bit at a time the negative inner dialog chips away at your core. You start out as a child believing, knowing and living like you are valuable, precious and special. Over time that changes. Abuse, trauma, family of origin dysfunction, and the subsequent life choices continue to add new layers to our thinking patterns. How I got here is no accident. I was practically groomed for this all my life.
When I was a child I believed that if there was one thing I would do for the rest of my life it would be to dance. Somewhere along the way an immense amount of distance got between me and that vision and version of myself. Has this ever happened to you? You suddenly snap out of a trance-like state and are practically confused, disoriented even, to find yourself in the position you are in.
Self-awareness and reconnecting with your essential self, the you that never got messed with, in my opinion, is the only way out of this deep dark well of despair and loss. I did cry over this, almost as if grieving the loss of time caused by my state of delusion over the years. But everything that has happened in my past has led me to this very moment in time, so as much as I want to resist the the “as-is-ness” of this moment, I must appreciate it, I must move through this resistance and CHOOSE LOVE. This is the only way back to your healing, transformation, love, and peace. Quoting from, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, resistance is futile!
So what do you do when you hit a block? A physical, mental or emotional block? Do you go around it? Over it? Or through it? When I was in 5th grade I sang the morning hymns for our school assembly. There was this hymn that went, “God’s love is so wonderful! So high, you can’t get over it. So deep, you can’t get under it. So wide, you can’t get around it. Oh! Wonderful love!!!” I remember this hymn to this day. Sometimes our blocks feel like this too, don’t they? Too big to get our arms or even our minds around it? Could it be that our blocks are actually an invitation from God to recognize his love for us? What if we saw our blocks as the very thing we are seeking? What if the answers we are seeking are actually in the very pain we are experiencing? Would we love, nurture and hold ourselves long enough to allow the block to melt away? Would we be open to seeing, receiving, appreciating and celebrating God’s Love in our Life?
I believe our healing, transformation, and recovery from our past, trauma, or abuse are already here, ever present and ready for the taking. If we open ourselves to see the possibilities in front of us we start to acknowledge ourselves for being the valuable, vulnerable, open and precious beings that we are, created by God’s love and here to do this very work. By making another excuse or finding another reason to not address these blocks now, we also BLOCK the natural flow of the very love we are yearning. I have a friend who says “why wait” a lot! And I couldn’t agree more. Why wait? Which is why I decided to dance anyway.
Of course, at first I struggled, but I finally wore the dancing bells around my ankles. I then proceeded to get up and dance for my daughter and show her what I initially had intended to show her – a few basic moves of an Indian Classical dance form called Kathak. It felt great, and although slightly painful at times, I still did it.
Moving forward, I intend to choose to do those things that make me happy, that nurture me, that demonstrate to me the love I have for myself and appreciate myself. I intend to live my life like I deserve love, respect, and kindness. Hence I believe that I will dance, sing and do the things that open me up to joy and healing in my life.
As much as I want to be in service of healing, humanity, and transformation on the planet, I can’t do any good in the world if my house is on fire. As they say on the airplanes, wear your oxygen mask first before trying to save others, even the children. My commitment is to take radical responsibility to heal and transform my life, so I may be fully awakened, aware and then act in that knowledge. I wish you the same.