Surrender to the Dream

It arrived on Monday, May 1, 2017. Beltane. A time when Spring is at her peak and the energies of Life burst forth with verdant abundance and fertility. Renewal, sensuality, vitality, joy...a time to bring ideas, hopes and dreams into action. This was the day in which the news arrived: 

Teresa Reid, this certifies that you have completed the Open Floor Teacher Training. 

Inhale. Exhale. Deep sigh. Tears. While congratulations swarmed in...support and love and encouragement from peers and mentors, family and friends...bittersweet tears flowed across my face. Relief. Praise. An echo of loss. Here I was, standing at the threshold and completion of my training, just one week after leading my final Monday Open Floor (for the time being). The irony was too much for my mind to handle. My ego, so full of ideas, perceptions, and dreams of how it was supposed to be, went into full blown tantrum!

"This isn't how the dream goes," it murmured, "If you align your heart and soul to the path that calls you and follow your bliss it's supposed to flow with ease, right? Doors are supposed to be opening rather than closing!"

I had crossed some kind of threshold, indeed. Arriving somewhere I never thought I'd have to come. I didn't know how I had gotten here. I couldn't see where I was going. The vision I had devoted myself to for the past 9 years, including an image of who I wanted to be, the work I wanted to share...the DREAM of self-employment and aligning my work with what I loved...all of it was up and ready for the Dance of Surrender. 

One of my teachers, Toko-pa, speaks of this place as initiation by exile. You'll know it, she said, when your world view crumbles and everything you know about how to BE in the world dissolves - when you don't know what's next and part of you wants to go back but you can't. It is in these moments of exile that the only thing left to do is INHABIT the place WHERE YOU ARE - to let the absence you feel enlarge your life.

To let the absences we feel enlarge our lives.

I have always believed and experienced this work as something that is ALIVE. It meets us where we're at; continually moving, shaping, and molding us within the fires of discipline and surrender. The Open Floor training taught me discipline. Commitment. Holding a clear, heart centered vector. And now, on this threshold I am learning a thing or two about surrender! How to serve the work as it is NOW, not as I wish it could be or as it is lived by another. How to orient to an internal compass rather than external value, opinions or attachments. How to discover my way to honor the work, the dance, and how it lives through me...at this point in my life. 

That may not look like ANYTHING I had imagined. In fact, it may look more like letting go. In some ways, by surrendering my dream I am finally learning to BELONG to my work. To know my love of movement is integral to Who I Am. It is the true calling of my medicine and although I can't always see or understand where the dance is taking me, I know it is dynamic. There will be moments of expansion and contraction, togetherness and exile. Some doors will open while others close. By holding a long vision of the dream while surrendering outcome...committing to endure while following the tiny whispers of my heart...I know, in time, something will emerge. Something beautiful will emerge.

I Love You ~ Keep Going ~ Teresa

Spring calls us HOME

What you encounter, recognize or discover depends to a large degree on the quality of your approach. Many of the ancient cultures practiced careful rituals of approach. An encounter of depth and spirit was preceded by careful preparation. When we approach with reverence, great things decide to approach us. Our real life comes to the surface and its light awakens the concealed beauty in things. When we walk on the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us. The rushed heart and arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience to enter that embrace. ~ John O'Donahue

Spring is one of my favorite seasons. It is a time in which I can most palpably feel and remember the vibrant and thriving web of life of which we are ALL a part. Although always present, always pulsating, there are times I forget  - my awareness lies dormant - particularly in a modern culture that has pulled itself out of belonging. And yet, every spring, my whole self irresistibly awakens to the electric aliveness and vibrational tone of ephemeral blooms, budding trees, birds nesting, and LIFE pushing it's way up through the moist soil, emerging anew. Spring beckons. Nature calls us home! 

To come into contact with the natural world - to attune with it's coherence and rhythms - is one of the most healing and nourishing practices I know. We can experience this powerfully in the wild, yet it is just as accessible in our urban environment. To slow down and listen - to come into Presence and encounter our nature IN RELATIONSHIP to nature - may just be the greatest invitation to (re)member where and what we belong to.

To belong is to RELATE. To relate to our bodies. To relate to those in our lives. To relate to the natural world. How are YOU relating?

Through the dance I have learned many things that support this process. It offers a space in which we can connect and come home to ourselves - to slow down and BE Present with what is arising, within and around us. Through movement we integrate, relate, and grow in our capacity to KNOW - in our bones - our connection, our belonging, our nature.  

This Earth Day, take time to find a place of beauty in the natural world. Consciously feel the texture of the space around you - of the way in which your body comes into connection and communication with the environment. Stay mindful. Open your field. Notice where your attention is drawn. When we walk on the earth with this kind of reverence, beauty will decide to trust us. And then...in that moment...when nature reveals herself, RELATE TO HER. Feel into the exchange of energy. Feel your belonging. You ARE nature!

WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER!

I love you.  Keep going! Teresa

How the Dance can Transform your Life

When I first discovered Conscious Dance I was astounded by how delicious it felt to return to my body. To bring my FULL attention inward; first for health and well being, later to observe and awaken. Along with that came a conscious realization of how much time off the dance floor I spent distracted, numb, out of my body. Each time I came to the floor, the sense of relief was palpable; this coming home, this BEing present, this deepening into authentic, integral inquiry. Dance after dance, exploration after exploration, I was beginning to take stock of the tools that were supporting me, that were altering my being, that were showing me how to BE in the world more fully. From that moment on, the dance became my meditation. My discipline. The gateway that would take me from separation toward wholeness - from the dance floor into my life.

More and more people across the globe are dancing because it is GOOD for us. It enlivens us. Supports us. Awakens us. And, when we can give it our full attention, moving more and more from the innate intelligence of the body, it can literally transform our lives. The body, truly, can support us in living an AWAKE life; one in which we move from the heart, open to the breadth of wisdom that lies within while simultaneously unraveling the unconscious patterns that obscure our inner knowing.

What makes this form of moving meditation so effective? Here are a few essential keys:

Experiential Learning
When we enter a Conscious Dance space, we step into a powerful experiential field that invites us to explore what it means, in our own bodies, to live with authenticity and presence. The emphasis is not on attaining a goal, learning “how” to dance or “fixing” ourselves. It is a process of resting in and trusting our bodies, unraveling the wisdom that already exists within. Through experiential learning we open to inquiries with a curious mind, bring awareness into the body, and pay attention - again and again - to what is HERE, in the moment. We give ourselves space to follow what is pulsating beneath the surface - physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually – so we can become more and more aware of the aliveness; discovering how it moves us, how it shapes us, how it informs us. The real learning comes in acknowledging our own experience as valuable, wise, provocative. 

The Relational Field
We practice together, in community, recognizing both the healing potential of the personal and the transpersonal - honoring the uniqueness of the human being as well as the universal principles that shape us all. We come as equals, mirroring and supporting one another, wherever we are on our personal and collective journeys home. 

Relationships take practice. For openness to occur, we need to consciously pay attention to what is going on within ourselves and others. In the dance, we practice staying present in partnership, noticing what’s happening within ourself, one another and the space between. Relational dynamics and communication become part of our contemplation as we refine our listening and attune to subtleties. When we are able to look at the other and see their vulnerability, their humanity, the same sense of uncertainty in a groundless world, we can connect and awaken the part of brain that ignites connection, unity and a sense of togetherness.

Photo: Rolf Gibbs

Photo: Rolf Gibbs

Tracking Energy
The nervous system is a complex network that continually activates and settles depending on input and response. Through the movement practice we can practice activating and settling consciously by paying attention and adjusting to moments of aliveness or drain, ecstasy or depletion. The dance can show us when we are present and when we close down, when we are HERE and when we “leave the room”. The practice of noticing our cycles of activation and settling allows us to pandiculate somatically - to pay attention to what disturbs or disrupts and return, again and again, to a place of self-resource. It requires gentleness. Fosters self-responsibility. Asks us what we need and how to adjust so we can stay within our window of tolerance - in present tense awareness - where we learn, clarify, and choose. 

Movement as Meditation  
Our sense of presence and inner knowing can be overshadowed by activity, body sensation, emotion or thoughts, but if we practice conscious dance on a regular basis we can learn to maintain a certain amount of inner silence and peace within our movement. The still point within the dance. Through this stillness we can access a deeper field of consciousness, an intelligence greater than our own. We move with and from a radical openness that is always available, on the dance floor and in our lives. 

Photo: Rolf Gibbs

Photo: Rolf Gibbs

The Balance of Play and Discipline
One of the most provocative questions Gabrielle Roth asked her students was, “Do you have the discipline to be a free spirit?” Playfulness is a key to freedom, but we also need discipline to go deep, to move and include all that arises, to stay with sensation rather than story, to focus on what is enlivened, moment by moment. We need discipline to move through our resistance to practice, to move when we feel lazy or triggered, to turn to our practice when life gets too “life-y”, when entertainment or distraction are more interesting than our meditation. If you often find yourself in solitude, try connecting with another. If you move immediately toward connection, take time with yourself. Try something new. Discipline yourself toward practices that support both stability and fluidity. The less bound we are to our patterns, the more spontaneous we can be. We can emerge out the moment, not fixed to one way of being.

Dance after dance, exploration after exploration, I was beginning to take stock of the tools that were supporting me, that were altering my being, that were showing me how to BE in the world more fully. From that moment on, the dance became my meditation. My discipline. The gateway that would take me, from separation toward wholeness - from the dance floor into my life.

These are just a few key points that I have noticed make the practice of conscious dance such an effective discipline in awareness, transformation, and life change. What has the dance revealed to you ~ what medicine does it impart on your own life and living? Tell me about it! 

Love, Teresa

 

Winter Solstice - The Birth of a New Year

We look with uncertainty beyond the old choices for clear-cut answers to a softer, more permeable aliveness which is every moment at the brink of death; for something new is being born in us if we but let it. We stand at a new doorway, awaiting that which comes...daring to be human creatures, vulnerable to the beauty of existence. Learning to LOVE.
 - Ann Hillman

 

Birth is rarely a pain free process. Creation nothing short of transformative. It tests my tolerance and trust more fiercely than any other experience. Nearly ((every single)) time I find myself on such an edge, I waver. Pause. Sometimes, even, try to turn back. And yet, every time I stay with the ache in my heart, every time I willingly enter, knowing the experience at hand is the very thing I need to experience in order to move forward, I am guided home. 
 
This journey into the depths toward Solstice has challenged me deeply, revealing layer upon layer of grief - some my own, some belonging to others, some rippling out from world events. It has taken my heart through a landscape of loss...of place, of peace, of wellbeing, of self or who I believed myself to be. Clear answers, once readily available, as well as practices that once served as my foundation, for one reason or another, have felt out of reach.

We look with uncertainty beyond the old choices for clear-cut answers to a softer, more permeable aliveness which is every moment at the brink of death.

When there is more happening in our lives than we believe our hearts can take, when the ripples of the earth's heartache reach the shores of our own bodies, there is potential of losing our ground, being tipped over edge beyond our range of tolerance into overwhelm. More than ever, we need our practice(s) to buoy our tender hearts so we may stay present and receptive to both the suffering AND joy of the human condition - so we may stay open to seeing and uplifting the beauty and goodness of the world - so we may expand our hearts in order to be intimate with all of life, with all of the places that beseech our love. This is where growth and healing take place. Where we remember our wholeness. Within the fire(s) of life. Learning all we can learn about LOVE.

We stand at a new doorway, awaiting that which comes...daring to be human creatures, vulnerable to the beauty of existence. Learning to LOVE.

I may always be perplexed by the imperfection of the human condition. I may always walk a brilliantly beautiful, yet messy path. But if I can call on my practice to keep my heart open, if WE can remind our selves and others of how lovely and whole and complete we already are, I believe we can shine a light so bright we guide the heart of humanity home. Join me in this dance!

Love, Teresa

The Great Turning: Moving Through Transition

This is quite a moment to be alive. A moment of great initiation. All around us people are waking up. Asking questions. Deconstructing walls. Challenging beliefs.  Personally and collectively. 

For generations, many have actively dreamed a new world into being. Prayers have been offered, songs have been sung, dances have been danced…all for a vision of a world that is vibrant and just, diversified and sustainable. A world in which natural resources are honored, interdependence is valued, and humanity is upheld. 

Structural alternatives cannot take root and survive without deeply ingrained values to sustain them. They must mirror what we want and how we relate to Earth and each other. They require, in other words, a profound shift in our perception of reality—and that shift is happening now, both as cognitive revolution and spiritual awakening.
— Joanna Macy

We have reached a tipping point as a human race. More and more of us are expanding our awareness of ourselves and our world. We are aligning with what our souls truly want AND seeing and feeling the cracks. This is a time otherwise known as the Great Turning.

In their book, Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re In Without Going Crazy, Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone described three paradigms of our world.

The first is Business as Usual. Think consumption over creativity. Economic progress based on overuse of resources. No change is recommended anytime soon. When faced with this story, I often feel hopeless. Distracted. Disempowered. My nervous system responds by going into a deep FREEZE. Into non-action.

The second story can feel more compelling due to it's sense of urgency over apathy, however, The Great Unraveling is held together by dense dire truths, fear based thinking, and a landscape in which the only direction is imminent destruction. It’s doomsday. To survive, my response is to FIGHT or FLIGHT.

It is only the third paradigm, The Great Turning, that empowers individuals to imagine a better world - to commit to major transitions in their lives and actions that will shift (in whatever way, small or large) human culture toward a more sustainable relationship with our planet. To lead in this way, we cannot freeze, fight or flight. We must FOCUS…both on the many things we love about this life and the pain and suffering that exist alongside it. By holding the paradox of grief and praise we can remember what is worth fighting for. We can envision, love and celebrate a new way of Being - bringing this Great Turning into life.

That’s not to say we won’t be challenged. Seeming chaos and deep polarities are part of transitioning toward a new way. How do we stay the course? Those of us who are willing and able are uniquely poised to foster this movement, and as dancers, we can use our practice as a resource to stay centered, grounded, present…to nourish and feed ourselves…to stay sane! Our practice cultivates conditions within ourselves to root like trees and rise to greater heights, to uplift consciousness with our joy and turn the tides toward an embodied, heart-centered way of BEing. Dance is integral to transitional times, as it fosters our capacity to: 

  • Listen. Hold Space. Integrate.

When faced with potential changes in our world, it’s important to listen to the body - to note what that body already knows. By focusing our attention and softening tension, we can settle our nervous systems and find our breath amidst moments of imbalance. Setting intentions and creating boundaries allows us to build and activate our energy while ensuring we are resourced.

Listening is a skill that serves all of life. Tuning into our emotional bodies, for example, and learning to move and include what is present increases our emotional intelligence and resilience. We need both to hold space - to recognize what is ours or another's, to stay present without trying to fix, change, suppress or judge, to hold ourselves and others through the fire(s) of transformation. 

And as we bring that full circle, releasing attachment to our own ideas and allowing ourselves to be shaped and informed by the experience, we learn to sit with one another, just as we are. Open, present, willing to be with change. 

  • Be vulnerable, authentic and willing to make mistakes.

Life transitions are full of unknowns, which can ignite our fears and desire for stability. Yet, the truth of life reflects constant change, unpredictability and many, many unknowns. This is vulnerable terrain. One supported by the practice of showing up, again and again, onto the dance floor. We can never know what will arise in our movement, but the more we’re able to stay true to our experience and allow what is present to be seen, felt, known and witnessed, the more trust will follow. It takes time to soften into our own vulnerability, but when we do, we can trust the process more and more.

We will make mistakes. Even with the purest of intentions, what we say or do may still offend or hurt others. Practice on the dance floor getting comfortable with mistakes rather than becoming defensive. Play. Laugh at yourself. Apologize and acknowledge when the experience didn't match the intent, then move on. Taking ourselves too seriously very rarely serves. 

  • MOVE through conflict and become intimate with life's challenges.

Truth is not simple these days. We each have our own lens through which we see the world. Holding a “both/and” perspective rather than an “either/or” teaches us how to live with paradox and move through conflict.

I have found no better place to practice moving with conflict or challenge than in the dance. Explore polarity by moving up, then down. Forward, then back. Embody your fear, then your love. Slowly invite your challenges in. Give them gesture and life through your dance. Then immediately try on the opposite. Differing views, differing perspectives…can we locate them in our body, can we explore them fully, can we choose where to place ourselves between the two?

Thank goodness we are imperfect. Our ability to be aware of our own challenges while being kind to ourselves when we make mistakes is imperative in these times!

  • Rejuvenate, relieve stress, and tend to oneself.

Just as we expand our capacity to hold the challenges of life, we must also expand our capacity for rejuvenation. Our joy matters now more than ever. Self-care is more essential than ever. Make your own well being a priority! Use the dance to refill and relax. Breathe deeply. Move your body! Reconnect with yourself, others and Spirit. There are few other practices that are so abundantly good for YOU on so many levels; physical, emotional, mental, spiritual.

If you want to "change the world" tend to your own needs first. Keep your well healthy and full. DANCE! Acknowledge your unique skills and abilities and the ways in which you feel called to contribute to a better world. Some of us protect our waters. Others speak against inequality and injustice. Some of us teach or tend or love. Others dance and sing and pray. There are innumerable ways to contribute. Inexhaustible ways to show up in this world and take part in the Great Turning. Start by choosing the work that is directly in front of you - within yourself, your families, your communities. Stay present to the work that life presents and contribute as much as possible to the joy of the great unfolding.

In these times FOCUS your attention. Soften your body. Open your chest, your heart, your back, your whole life. Live wholeheartedly and I will too.

Love, Teresa