Notes on Practice: Bringing the Dance to Life

June 28, 2014 - Meghan LeBorious

Kiera taught in Tammy’s stead on Friday. I loved her comments on Stillness in particular—that in Stillness, ingrained patterns or ways of moving rise up as a repetition, then fall away again. Although I have heard this teaching before, somehow she enhanced my understanding of Stillness. I have often been confused by instruction about making shapes with my body. Thinking about letting movements rise up changes the directionality. Instead of me imposing something on my body, I am letting it tell me and the world a secret about my unconscious life. This is much better aligned with how I actually experience Stillness.

On a totally different note, something lead me to visit a book I wrote about a trip to the Dominican Republic in 2004, which I hadn’t read since I wrote it shortly after I returned to New York. In the book, I write about how after some time wandering, I found myself in a small vacation town, Las Terrenas, in the northern state of Semanà. There, I learned that many people had been dancing nearly every night for their entire lives. I met many cherished friends, including a master dancer named Nelson, who swept me away and became my mentor. In a short period of time, thanks to his empathy and input, I became competent with bachata, merengue and, to some extent, salsa. Toward the end of my time in Las Terrenas, he and I would break into dance any time we heard music, no matter where we were—on the beach, in the street, in the billiard parlor, in the local store. By the end of a night at the local discotequa, we would be sweat-drenched and exhausted. At the time, I was in a committed relationship, but the passion and affection with which we met each other on the dance floor surpassed many sexual encounters I have experienced.

Why am I writing this? Maybe it is just for the sheer love of living it again. Maybe because it has something to do with dance. Thank god I am dancing, thank god for 5Rhythms. If it weren’t for 5Rthythms and the people who have held space for it, I might have let dancing drift away, just as I lost contact with Nelson and with my Dominican friends. How can it be that ten years have passed since this life-changing trip, and how can it be that I have never pointedly asked myself how I could possibly fail to return?

I sit waiting to know if there is a strain here that has to do with the recent themes I have addressed in this blog. I can’t find a thread, though my eyes fill with tears, my throat wells, my heart grows swollen and I know there is something important for me to take in.

Kiera reminded us on Friday, “Gabrielle always used to say that the practice is really about what we do in our life—how we take it into the world.” Obviously, I need to visit the Dominican Republic as soon as possible; and I have spent the entire day trying to find a way to work with the strong emotions that have come up. There is gratitude—for having been blessed to live such a beautiful story, for my younger self who took the time to write this story I can now re-visit, like personal terma. There is nostalgia, for a younger version of myself, for a place that I will certainly find changed, for moments of un-hesitating, clean, boundless joy, even as I learned about the dark sides of the community that adopted me during my brief visit.

Grief is most cutting when I realize that I have missed a chance to love; and when I look into my heart after reading the book I wrote I find layers and layers of grief. Why didn’t I return every year, as I promised? Why have I not traveled with such a wide open heart, fearless and shining, since my trip to the Dominican Republic?

I love the man I spent the intervening time with, but when I look with unflinching honesty, I see that I grew into a constrained and smaller version of myself—one who cared very much about being in a stable relationship, even to the detriment of my mission to mine the entire world—including my own heart—for love. I have been too afraid of something vague—something unpromised and unrealized that falls apart even as I try to articulate it.

This, now, is the part of the practice that is life. Maybe, with the guidance of my heart and the blessing of practice, I can live the next ten years fearlessly, in service to love, without the useless constraints that I impose on myself.

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