Ever since I was a little girl I liked dancing. I used to dance to John Travolta’s Staying Alive. Back then I think I had way better rhythm than I do now. When I was younger, I followed the rhythm of the music. As an adult thinking gets in the way of feeling the music.
I have been taking a bachata and salsa class for a few months now. I really want to learn to dance as it looks so fun. It seems like you can enter another realm when couples are attuned and flowing on the dance floor.
About 7 years ago I took salsa lessons and went out dancing to practice but got discouraged. Saying I have two left feet set me up for failure and was discouraging to myself. Some people get motivated when someone says they cannot do something but saying it to myself was a self-fulfilling prophecy. This time I am enjoying the learning process by being more gentle with myself. Sometimes I laugh at myself, mostly for my silly habits like bouncing and holding on too tight to my partner’s fingers. Hopefully no one has gone home to ice their hand. Lol. Still, I am determined to improve and have fun.
Over the weeks and months that I have been taking the group dance lessons I have noticed a few things. Guys have so much to juggle in terms of remembering, coordinating as well as keeping their dance partner safe on the dance floor. I have seen guys come in to the class needing to assert themselves so they can lead their partners and then after weeks of practice I can feel their lead because their self confidence has improved. For my part I am working on following rather than anticipating. Yes, following can be challenging if you like to be in control. Of course following should be easy when you have a good leader and a good connection (mutual resistance or tension through the hands). As I have learned -it is not about holding on tight.
It is this connection that has sparked my curiosity. Why do some men and women offer the right amount of resistance-connection than others? While I see a correlation between self-confidence and assertiveness translating to a good lead and follow, I still wonder about other factors. I am curious how what is happening inside us shows up on the dance floor.
I have heard instructors and other more experienced dancers say, don’t overthink when dancing and to “just let go.” I think this includes letting go of mental baggage or repressed emotions that create an inertia, slowing us down or throwing our beat off. In class there are times when I perceive others thinking too much about their steps. There are some things we cannot discern by thinking alone. Thinking too much makes the body stiff. Stress can make a body stiff. So a body in movement is also a flexible- more relaxed mind. I know that when I am relaxed I am able to learn more easily and quickly.
Sometimes it is remembering all the little things that makes something challenging. There are details to consider while learning to dance and they can make a huge difference. For instance, bending the knees, contracting the abdomen and keeping the eyes focused when turning and spinning keeps us from losing our balance. And as I take my dance classes I realize that consistent practice and patience are key.
Since I started meditating in 2006 I found it is a practice that requires discipline, determination and flexibility. Meditating is about going within and connecting to our self and Source. The more consistently we meditate - the more inner balance we gain. When we meditate it may not seem like much is happening. Overtime we release old habits that don’t serve us so we become free to be ourselves. In a way when we meditate we are dancing inwardly. In meditating we focus on our breath and posture. In dancing we pay attention to our frame and level of resistance. By being grounded or connected to self we are more self-confident & free-flowing on the dance floor.
Meditating, like dancing, can be a transformational practice. I am gently pushing myself to grow and evolve on and off the dance floor. I am tapping into the warrior within by showing up consistently to my class and giving it my best effort. Just as every breath reminds me I am alive - every step reminds me I have this body to experience life. It is a dance of deeper connection to myself and others. In this way dancing is an art that encourages me to move more freely and fully. There are moments when I’m able to let go of my thoughts and I feel the life force pulse through me & into my partners hands if only for a few seconds. It is a brief yet awesome giving and receiving of energies.
Life is more awesome and full through connection to self, others and Source. That connection gives meaning to dating as well. We know that a good date is one where there is a connection. Sometimes describing the connection is challenging and all we can share is that we feel it. I’m not saying a successful date is one where there is only a connection - but it is what keeps us open to dating that person.
Dating also requires patience and determination - like in meditation. And just like we should not anticipate the next move on the dance floor -we also cannot assume things while dating. Guys would not want the woman they are dating to assume they are boyfriend and girlfriend or exclusive when they are not and viceversa. Just as an assertive lead and follow on the dance floor keeps it safe and fun -clear communication and trust minimizes misunderstandings and keeps dating fun.
Learning to dance requires surrender and trust, not only in our partner but in ourselves. Sometimes not following my partner’s lead has kept me from being injured. When my dance partner is more experienced the dance is more effortless if I allow them to guide me. It is this allowing them to guide me that I need to surrender. As a recovering perfectionist I freeze when I think of making mistakes or getting hurt. Perfectionism kills the fun. As the dance instructor suggests the best thing to do is to keep smiling and continue with the basic step and beat rather than stop. If I happen to look silly, it is okay because I’m having fun and still learning!
I’m on earth to experience my soul in a body. Our bodies were meant to express themselves. Dancing is one way for me to experience my body. As I learn salsa and bachata -I hope my innate sensuality reveals itself with ease and grace. In the coming weeks I plan to challenge myself more on the dance floor. How we cope on and off the dance floor reveals our warrior within. Have you tried dancing to the beat of your soul?