Notes on Practice: A Tiny Sunshine

March 1, 2015 - Meghan LeBorious

Today’s Sweat Your Prayers class was held at the Martha Graham Studio on Bethune Street in the West Village rather than at the Joffrey Studio.  I arrived on time and whisper-stepped onto the one-step-up sprung floor.  I found movement easily, and felt rising emotion as I started to find my feet.  The room was neither too warm nor too cold, and I sensed the flush of spring’s optimism despite the tenacious grip of winter.  I hadn’t danced (officially) for two weeks.  My two most recent dances before this hiatus had ended painfully, with constraint and distraction.  Today, it was like my body re-set itself.  I found an entirely new dance—investigating suspension with many tiny articulations inside of big, expressive gestures.  On the floor, I began to stretch and twist, attenuating the farthest reaches of myself and letting the end of the stretch curve back in, moving naturally into circular motion and to Flowing.

I very much wanted to connect and moved around the room, falling into step with everyone I encountered.  I noticed that although I tend to be bold about approaching people to dance with them, I am very quick to move away if they are not immediately receptive.  There are often many layers to intention; and I note that, in part, I don’t want to invade anyone’s space.  And I sometimes like to move through the whole room without settling in with anyone so I can enjoy the experience of being in the human field.  Also, I think part of me is afraid of being rejected.

When someone else approaches to dance with me, it might take me awhile to key into their advance and to warm up to the idea of accepting it.  If someone is persistent without being aggressive, I might appreciate that they really want to dance with me in particular, and that they have made a conscious choice to connect.   I vowed to experiment with staying a little longer in instances when I approach someone to dance but they don’t immediately (or obviously) engage in partnership.

I note a parallel in my job-work life at the moment.  Sometimes I start out gung-ho, then if I encounter resistance, I pull back.  Perhaps it is unrelated, but simultaneous to this noticing, I managed to find a new angle—a new way to approach my work with integrity and excitement, rather than by giving up and retreating when I feel like I am running into a wall.  For some reason, I still have to remind myself to look for the empty space, especially when I am in partnership.

I was slightly apprehensive about dance this morning.  Sometimes when I have a run of unpleasant experiences, I start to fear that the dances of freedom, athleticism, creativity, insight and connectedness that I often experience have evaporated forever.  Tears came and went as I was swept by inspiration, repeatedly raising my hands high overhead and arching back with my eyes upward, taking in the antique tin ceiling and stage lights as my head swept back and then rolled forward dramatically again.

During the Stillness after a recent yoga class, the instructor suggested that we should invite what we need into our lives.  For me, the first word that came to mind was “inspiration.”  The winter has been long and grueling; and although I am not consciously begging for spring, I feel emotionally exhausted.  Money has been tight, work has been rock-and-hard-place-y, sleep has been brief, and long dormant issues have reared their heads with unexpected vehemence.

Tammy reminded us that the neighbors below the Martha Graham Studio do not appreciate dancers’ feet pounding heavily on the floor above them, and I experimented with gentle feet, only occasionally forgetting and punctuating a movement of the hips with a sharp, percussive stomp.  Knowing how to be powerful without making loud noise is a skill I would do well to learn.

After the first wave, I felt connected and porous.  That is to say, I felt like my energy field was uncompressed and could easily mingle with the energy fields of other practitioners.  I was able to do what I call “passing through practice,” something that was taught to me by an ancient spirit.  I mean, that I imagine an ancient spirit taught to me.

I wrote this at the time:

“A couple of weeks ago during Jonathan’s class, I (imagined I) was seeing everyone’s
spirits including my own: light bodies, pain bodies, and a diffuse kind of
light.  One of my spirits—I think a very old male ancestor—really wanted
to interact with me.  At first I felt nervous because he was
manifesting differently than what I usually see. He was more like a shadow
spirit. But I told him, it’s OK, I am not afraid, I am totally porous and I
am not afraid of you.  So he started to dance with me, to overlap with me,
and to pass through me. It had never occurred to me that possession could be
so gentle. At times both our spirits were intermingled.  Then, everyone
else’s personal energy fields were kind of passing through mine, and mine
through theirs.” –January, 2009

This practice is absolutely not available unless I am in a connected and porous state, but if I am blessed to arrive there, it is simply a matter of intention and shifted perspective.

My energy faltered slightly as we moved toward the end of the class, but I left feeling uplifted and re-connected with myself.  Stepping out onto Bethune Street, I found deep slush, hard winds and steadily falling snow.  But my heart held a tiny sunshine, reminding me that after a particularly aggressive winter, the awakening of spring is all the more glorious.

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