Dancing teaches me about myself in big, honest ways.
Much like painting, but in a different way.

When I paint,
I am generally in my own cozy home studio.

When I paint,
I expect things to come up inside of me as I stretch in my practice,
but I have space that is all mine to fill as I work through it
unwatched.

That is partially why it is so mind-opening for me.
It is a safe vessel of expansion
that my introvert loves.
It is a guide for my life, a trusted confidant that challenges me just right,
and my practice is deepening.

There is a part of me, however,
that is committed to remaining in touch
with that awkward feeling of beginning a practice.
Especially as I begin to spread my wings
into the role of guiding, sharing and encouraging the practice of others (teaching).

It is important to me to not forget the power of this vulnerability.

Like a direct response from the Universe,
dancing has become a bigger part of this process
than I ever anticipated.

At the start of 2012, I chose a word for the year.
The word is SEA-Dance (SEA = Surrender, Enjoy, Activate).
The dance part was more metaphorical than literal at the time,
but became an actual vessel within which I would meet many parts of myself this year.

I have always loved dancing.
For the eye-closing, soul-opening trance of liberation in it
when the music begins to move through you.

Before my intuitive painting practice,
I never really recognized my deeper connection through dance for what it was, though,
as a gateway to the sacred spot in me.
I believe I felt it, but left it unnameable.

Until this year.
First, I intuitively brought dance into the second part of my class, AROUSE,
as a means to awaken a deeper relationship
with our innate creative joy & response.
It woke something up in me to pair dance with my painting practice.

Then I decided to go to a 5rhythms dance meditation class here in Asheville,
and I found the process to be so similar to how I paint
that I instantly became hooked.

But I found something else in dance, as well –
something that filled another need –
that need to stay connected to the discomfort of beginnings,
in honor of the cycle of learning and growing within myself and others.
And the chance to explore my own practice of sacred connection
in the living presence of others.

My dance {teacher} often says that when we leave the room,
we still have all the same stuff that we walked in with,
we just feel more centered within ourselves
to transcend the details of those circumstances.

It is so true.

On the dance floor,
I notice how I engage and express myself when in the presence of others.
And I am not comfortable
with being observed (or rather, judged), in my skin.

It alters my movements and interactions in the group.

Now, don’t get me wrong.
I dance my heart out – my body thirsts for this freedom,
and music has always been undeniable to my body.

In a dance meditation, I envision a cord of light
coming down from the heavens,
as if I were a marionette and Source was above,
connecting me to the roots of our mother earth –
and inbetween is me ~ dancing, sweating, praying
that my being, my life-energy
be used for the best expansion of all I influence and effect.

But still, my mind can play a heavyhand
on the forefront of my attention if I let it,
even as I surrender to my connection with Source.

It is part of the dance – moving in and out of this awareness.

This week, while dancing, I woke up to something I do in groups –
just a little posture
that makes me tighter, less open, less present
than I desire and intend to be.

I noticed that I hold my head low,
even when I’m deep in my own dance.

With my head, my gaze falls,
not meeting the eyes of others, not taking in the full experience,
simply because I am moving my body freely, uninhibited
and I am fearful of how I might interpret others seeing me.

I even convince myself this is out of respect for their privacy and dance,
as if my presence has no place in their experience.

I hold back.

I became aware of this self-consciousness,
how it shows up in my body, a protective pattern,
when I’m in a group, in-person, on and off the dancefloor –
just a little posture which keeps me from that which I intend:
the freedom and joy of a head held high,
a fearless spirit of presence
passing through the powerful gateway of vulnerability into possibility.

This is why I dance.
To see this.
To choose different movements.

This is why I dance, wildly true,
in a room with others
even though it is uncomfortable, inside myself, at times.

Deep within,
my essence is fluid and joyful,
interactive and unafraid.

This is what I feel in the best moments of painting and moving my body.
So as I noticed this holding myself back while I moved around the room,
I consciously chose to shift it each time it surfaced,
and I lifted my head to the light in the room.

I opened my eyes wide, continuing my dance,
moving through the discomfort and fear,
to notice it felt so much better just beyond it…

moving through myself into the light around me,
head held high by the connection of heaven to earth,
in a room of radiant souls just trying to do the same in their own beautiful dances.

There was even a particular moment that session
when a wave of familiar tingles kissed my spirit’s skin,
and I realized my hands and arms were moving as if I were creating
a big, intuitive, free painting in the air around me.

Even in my dance, I was painting.
I smiled, and held my head higher.

~hali
24 september 2012